The Need for Converted Wallets

February 19, 2017 in Bible - NT - 2 Corinthians, Bible - OT - 1 Chronicles, Bible - OT - Ecclesiastes, Bible - OT - Malachi, Giving, Meditations, Quotations
Malachi 3:8–10 (NKJV)
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Martin Luther once remarked that every Christian undergoes three conversions: the first of his mind, the second of his heart, and the third of his wallet. Of these three, it may well be that we find the conversion of the wallet to be the most difficult. Charles Spurgeon writes, “With some (Christians) the last part of their nature that ever gets sanctified is their pockets.”
In the last few weeks we have explored various traditions that our elders have established to guide our corporate worship. As we continue in this vein, let us address our practice of presenting our tithes and offerings before the Lord. Each week we sing a song about giving as we bring our tithes and offerings to the front of the sanctuary. Why do we do this?
Consider just a few of the many reasons: first, presenting our tithes and offerings to the Lord in worship reminds us that God lays claim to our wallets. God is the owner of all we possess and appoints us as His stewards to manage all our wealth in a way that honors Him. And Malachi insists that one of the ways we honor Him is by giving Him a tithe, or ten percent, of our increase. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse. Alongside such tithes are offerings, free-will gifts above and beyond the tithe which can be the fruit of vows we have made, an expression of gratitude for the Lord’s generosity, or an effort to help others who are in need. Presenting our tithes and offerings reminds us of God’s claim on our wallets.
Second, presenting our tithes and offerings reminds us that worship is not confined to Sundays. What are our tithes and offerings but a token of the work that we have done throughout the week? The tithes represent the fruit of our work – all of which is done to the glory of God. There is no division between “secular” work and “sacred” work – all our work is sacred, performed in the presence of God to the glory of God. Presenting our tithes and offerings reminds us of this.
Finally, presenting our tithes and offerings to the Lord reminds us that all we are able to achieve in our employments is a gift from God. As David prayed after collecting supplies for the construction of the Temple, “But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You” (1 Chr 29:14). Of Your own we have given You – it is God who gifts us with intelligence, with opportunity, with ingenuity, and with skill to get wealth. So we are to give Him thanks – and one way we do so is by giving Him a portion of the wealth He gives us.
Presenting our tithes and offerings weekly reminds us, therefore, that God lays claim to our wallets, that all our work is to be done to the glory of the Lord, and that all we are able to achieve is a gift from Him. But it is not enough to know whywe do this; it is also important to consider how we are to do it.
So how are we to bring our tithes and offerings to the Lord? The other Scriptures we sing as we present our tithes give us sound counsel. First, Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 urges us to give generously. “Cast your bread upon the waters,” it says, “…give a portion to seven and also to eight.” These words counsel us to spread our wealth abroad. In Jesus’ words, we are to make friends by means of unrighteous mammon that we may be received into the heavenly dwellings. The tithes and offerings presented here are to reflect a pattern of generosity that characterizes the entirety of our lives. Like the Good Samaritan, we are to help those who are in need. We are to give generously.
Second, Paul urges us in 2 Corinthians 9:7 to give “not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Even as God has freely given to us, He wants us to freely give to others. We are to give, not because compelled to do so, but because we recognize God’s generosity to us. He has saved us from our sin; He has provided for our daily needs; hallelujah, what a Savior!

So reminded of why we present our tithes and offerings to the Lord and howwe are to do it, let us confess that Luther was right – our wallets do stand in need of conversion. Let us confess that we are often stingy, and often give only grudgingly. And, as we confess, let us kneel as we are able and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Rescuing Creation

January 7, 2013 in Bible - OT - Malachi, Eschatology, Meditations, Postmillennialism

Malachi 4:5–6 (NKJV)
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
When God created the world, He created it a realm of righteousness and peace – a place of blessing. When human beings rebelled against Him, however, the entire creation became twisted and distorted, it came under judgment. Where once there was only blessing now curses touched the animate and inanimate creation.
This was no surpise. After all, God Himself had announced that were our first parents to reject His Word they would surely come under His judgment. Further, since God Himself is the source of righteousness and peace, to turn away from Him is to sever ourselves from all that is good and right, from that which gives us blessing; even as a lamp depends for its light upon the electrical outlet, we depend for blessing and joy upon the living God. To reject God and imagine that we could preserve righteousness, peace, and joy is foolish – yet this was the sin of our first parents – and it is a sin repeated by countless millions of human beings to this day.
The ultimate end of rebellion is always judgment. Satan’s intention in tempting the man and the woman was to destroy all creation, to destroy that which God had designed and made, by bringing it like himself under God’s wrath and curse. Human beings became his tools, his instruments, to accomplish this objective.
But God had other plans. God intended to rescue the world not abandon it to the folly of our first parents or to the malevolence of the Evil One. He would rescue His creation. And it it this intention that is celebrated every Epiphany Sunday when Jesus was revealed to foreign kings, to the magi. It is also this intention that is announced one final time in the closing verses of the Old Covenant:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
Uniformly the NT interprets the promise of Elijah’s arrival to refer to John the Baptizer. He is Elijah who was to come before the arrival of the Messiah; he was the one commissioned to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers – a worthy theme for discussion in and of itself. But I’d like you to note the reason God gives for sending John. Why send John to restore family relationships and bring people back to the Lord? “Lest,” the Lord declares, “I come and strike the earth with a curse.”God sent John as the forerunner of His plan of salvation, His plan to rescue the entire creation from the bondage in which it was trapped.
And this is precisely what Jesus declares to us. “For God so loved the world, the kosmos, the creation which He had so lovingly and painstakingly crafted, that He sent His only Son that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life…He did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.” God acted in Christ to rescue the creation from its bondage to decay. And how did He accomplish this?
Remember that the ultimate end of rebellion is always judgment. In justice our rebellion must be judged. And so, wonder of wonders, the eternal Son of God took on human flesh by being born of the Virgin Mary, he lived among us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He bore the judgment that was due to us because we had rebelled against Him. And what’s more, God raised Jesus from the dead. In this way, He broke the power of death, reversing the curse that once enslaved all creation. He came lest the earth be struck with a curse; he came to rescue all creation.
So what of you? The ultimate end of rebellion is always judgment. Either we face that judgment ourselves – the end of which will be our condemnation – or we turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the judgment for all His people, and so receive blessing from the Lord in Him. None of us can face the Lord in ourselves; we have all rebelled against Him. And so, as we enter into His presence this day, He commands us to seek refuge from judgment through Jesus. Reminded of our need for a Savior, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.

Why did Jesus come?

January 2, 2012 in Bible - OT - Malachi, King Jesus, Meditations

Malachi 4:5–6 (NKJV)
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
When God created the world, He created it a realm of righteousness and peace – a place of blessing. When human beings rebelled against Him, however, the entire creation became twisted and distorted, it came under judgment. Where once there was only blessing now curses touched the animate and inanimate creation.
This was no surpise. After all, God Himself had announced that were our first parents to reject His Word they would surely come under His judgment. Further, since God Himself is the source of righteousness and peace, to turn away from Him is to sever ourselves from all that is good and right, from that which gives us blessing; even as a lamp depends for its light upon the electrical outlet, we depend for blessing and joy upon the living God. To reject God and imagine that we could preserve righteousness, peace, and joy is foolish – yet this was the sin of our first parents – and it is a sin repeated by countless millions of human beings to this day.
The ultimate end of rebellion is always judgment. Satan’s intention in tempting the man and the woman was to destroy all creation, to destroy that which God had designed and made, by bringing it like himself under God’s wrath and curse. Human beings became his tools, his instruments, to accomplish this objective.
But God had other plans. God intended to rescue the world not abandon it to the folly of our first parents or to the malevolence of the Evil One. He would rescue His creation. And it it this intention that is celebrated every Epiphany Sunday when Jesus was revealed to foreign kings, to the magi. It is also this intention that is announced one final time in the closing verses of the Old Covenant:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
Uniformly the NT interprets the promise of Elijah’s arrival to refer to John the Baptizer. He is Elijah who was to come before the arrival of the Messiah; he was the one commissioned to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers – a worthy theme for discussion in and of itself. But I’d like you to note the reason God gives for sending John. Why send John to restore family relationships and bring people back to the Lord? “Lest,” the Lord declares, “I come and strike the earth with a curse.”God sent John as the forerunner of His plan of salvation, His plan to rescue the entire creation from the bondage in which it was trapped.
And this is precisely what Jesus declares to us. “For God so loved the world, the kosmos, the creation which He had so lovingly and painstakingly crafted, that He sent His only Son that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life…He did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.”God acted in Christ to rescue the creation from its bondage to decay. And how did He accomplish this?
Remember that the ultimate end of rebellion is always judgment. In justice our rebellion must be judged. And so, wonder of wonders, the eternal Son of God took on human flesh by being born of the Virgin Mary, he lived among us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He bore the judgment that was due to us because we had rebelled against Him. And what’s more, God raised Jesus from the dead. In this way, He broke the power of death, reversing the curse that once enslaved all creation. He came lest the earth be struck with a curse; he came to rescue all creation.
So what of you? The ultimate end of rebellion is always judgment. Either we face that judgment ourselves – the end of which will be our condemnation – or we turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the judgment for all His people, and so receive blessing from the Lord in Him. None of us can face the Lord in ourselves; we have all rebelled against Him. And so, as we enter into His presence this day, He commands us to seek refuge from judgment through Jesus. Reminded of our need for a Savior, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.