Reality Check (Faithfulness)

Reality Check  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  59:58
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Good morning church family and friends. Let us look at the Catechism question this morning.
Q. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell? A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
Pastoral Prayer
Tori’s Parents
Health of the Church
Let us Pray
Well we are on our 6th week of Malachi. It is a challenging book. I think we are starting to get some of the major themes of the book. 1st is that God’s people Israel have turned from God to their own selfish desires. 2nd they are blinded to the state they are in because they are “doing the right things” and do not see anything wrong with that. 3rd they are blaming God for the lack of blessings that they believe their facade of worship and obedience deserve. These all add up the the fact that even though they we doing the right things, their hearts were not in it. This book really boils down to heart issues of people and when they follow their selfish ways the Holy things of God become defiled. God has been giving examples to Israel to see if they will wake up and snap out of their deception.
He reminded that he loved them and that they were his chosen people.
He revealed their false worship lead by the Priests. That they were giving lame and sick animals as an offering to the Lord instead of the best of their animals.
He rebuked them for calling the worship of God, the sacrificial system a nuisance.
He rebuked the priests for failing to give the provide sound teaching and knowledge of God’s scriptures.
He rebuked them for divorcing their wive to go and marry the women from other nations that worshiped other Gods.
Because of all of this Malachi predicts two messengers will come. The first with be John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord and the second would be Jesus. And the in the end Jesus would come to refine and purify the people.
We pick up here today with God back accusing Israel of wicked behavior that reveals their lack of faith in God and his promised blessings.
Open you bibles to Chapter 3 we will be starting in 7 and reading till verse 12.
Malachi 3:7–15 (CSB)
7 “Since the days of your ancestors, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Armies.
Yet you ask, “How can we return?” 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!”
“How do we rob you?” you ask.
“By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing me. 10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the Lord of Armies. 12 “Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of Armies.

Malachi 3:7-8 Return to God

The Lord of Armies starts this section with a call. A call to return to him. Since the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you have turned from the statutes of God or the scriptural instructions and commands of God. They have not kept them. He says return to ma and I will return to you.
We know from the scriptures that Israel was very successful and consistent in one thing. Rebellion against and turning away from God. I still cannot wrap my mind around the Golden Calf.
But they respond with “How can we return?” This is not a sincere question, it is a sarcastic response from a people who believe they are with God but he is not holding up his end of the bargain.
Based on the book so far and the next section that is coming. What does return to me mean? It means to repent. To turn away from their current state of sinful living and to re align their hearts with God.
Turning back to God is a theme in the new testament all the way to revelation. To the church at Ephesus he writes
Revelation 2:4–5 (CSB)
4 But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Five of the seven churches in revelation are called to repent or to turn back to God. This returning to God has been a theme of the Old Testament and this would not have been the first time they have heard this.
Jeremiah 3:10 (CSB)
10 Yet in spite of all this, her treacherous sister Judah didn’t return to me with all her heart—only in pretense.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
Zechariah 1:3 (CSB)
3 So tell the people, ‘This is what the Lord of Armies says: Return to me—this is the declaration of the Lord of Armies—and I will return to you, says the Lord of Armies.
Jeremiah even says that eventually there will be those that will return to God,
Jeremiah 24:7 (CSB)
7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God because they will return to me with all their heart.
This is what God is asking Israel to do, to return to God with all their heart. But they do not get it. They see their actions as close to God but their hearts are not in it. Here is a picture that might help.
As a kid, I would come home and go straight to my room. I would though on the TV, pick up the phone, play a video game. I would come up for dinner and wolf down a gigantic amount of food. Do dishes and then run back down to my room. Was I engaged with my heart towards my family. Nope. I was going through the motions of what was expected. I was engaged in only one thing. My life, my path.
God says if they return to him he with return to them. This isn’t that God had left the building and will come home. God is just and he has removed blessings or cursed Isreal because they have turned from him. When they right themselves before God he will remove the curses and restore the blessings.
After they ask How do they return? God then goes into another specific area that they have turned away from him in:

Malachi 3:9-12 Robbing God

Malachi 3:8 (CSB)
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!” “How do we rob you?” you ask. “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions.
This rhetorical question of will a man rob God. The answer they would be thinking is of course not. Who would ever do that. So they would be taken aback when he says you are robbing me. Of coarse they were like how? God’s answer by not bringing the tenth or the tithe an the contributions. He continues with:
Malachi 3:9–10 (CSB)
9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing me. 10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. ...
They must have been bringing something to God but it wasn’t all of it. He tells them that they are suffering a curse because of this and that even though their blessings have been removed they have not recognized that they are robbing God. God is very clear that it wasn’t just a few people. There are enough people that he defines the whole nation as falling into this sin.
In the old testament there were many different types of tithes and offerings that would come from the people to God. Since the Levites and the priests did not get an inheritance of land the other 11 tribes were to give to God in thanksgiving for the land he had provided to them to steward. It was not theirs it was God’s:
Leviticus 25:23 (CSB)
23 “The land is not to be permanently sold because it is mine, and you are only aliens and temporary residents on my land.
I wanted to go through the scriptures to show where these tithes are called out in scripture but there just isn’t enough time. There are a couple of slight differences in exactly what all of the requirements of God were on Israel but this summary sums it up well for our purposes today.
It is important for people to understand what Israel’s tithes and offerings included. The Israelite under the Law had to bring first the priest’s due (either 2% or 10%). Then he brought the basic tithe, 10%. But he was also required to pay a second tithe (another 10%) that was to go to Jerusalem and its needs—it could be spent in Jerusalem on the three annual pilgrimages, somewhat of a pilgrimage budget. But if they could not go to the holy city, they had to send the money. And then, every third and fifth year of the seven-year cycle there was a third tithe that went to the poor. So the basic tithing was probably more than 22% any given year, possibly 27%. Now this did not include the offerings, the animals that were to be brought to the three festivals. It did not include the extra money to be paid for sin and trespass offerings, which could be high, based on the sin. The tithing system also called for the people to have a sabbath year, one-seventh of their income over a seven-year period would be given up, as well as a forty-ninth of it over a forty-nine-year period if they kept the Jubilee. Then they were to leave the corners of their fields for the poor to glean; they were to give to charity; and they were to take care of the widow, orphan, poor and the stranger. On top of all that, they could at any time offer a freewill thank offering, which required more animals and gifts. So then, if someone today wanted to live under Israel’s laws of tithes and offerings, the amount would exceed 40% a year. That amount was for giving to the LORD, but it was also for charities and taxes since Israel was a theocracy.
Ross, Allen P. Malachi Then and Now: An Expository Commentary Based on Detailed Exegetical Analysis. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.
Like I said the specific numbers could be different depending on how how you look at the scriptures and reference historical information. The main points are this.
1. Tithes and offerings were a requirement of God. They were to be considered Holy.
Leviticus 27:30 (CSB)
30 “Every tenth of the land’s produce, grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.
2. They were to provide for the Levites and the priests who did not receive and inheritance of land.
3. They were stewards of the land and were to remember who provided the land to them in the first place.
Deuteronomy 6:10–12 (CSB)
10 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would give you—a land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, 11 houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
Deuteronomy 8:17–18 (CSB)
17 You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ 18 but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Since all of this was given to them by God then God required a portion to be returned to him. This was to be in thankfulness and out of love for the Lord.
But they had forgot all of that and know were only giving what they wanted to. They were unwilling to have faith that God would provide for them like He had provided by the ancestors. God says test the promises that I have made.
Malachi 3:10–11 (CSB)
10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the Lord of Armies.
We know we are not supposed to test the Lord as we see in
Deuteronomy 6:16 (CSB)
16 Do not test the Lord your God as you tested him at Massah.
So what is this test. Massah was the place where Moses was instructed to strike the rock to bring water for the people who were being rebellious and unfaithful.
Exodus 17:7 (CSB)
7 He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The difference in Malachi is that God is telling them to do what he has asked them to do and see if he is proven faithful in blessing them as he has already promised them he would. They have not recognized that the hardship they are in is because of their own action and not the inaction of God.
Have you ever had that child that just will not stay out of trouble. And their lives have been restricted because you have put consequences down for their behavior. As a parent sometime don’t you just say to them, “Just do what I ask you to do and I will remove all of the restrictions. Not only that I would love to reward you and bless you for good behavior, Test me in this and see if I will do what I say”. Have you ever been there. The child is not challenging the parent just seeing if the parent is proven faithful to their promise.
That is much different than a child that gets in trouble and has consequences and say “You hate me, you never loved me, You love so and so more than me”. This child is testing the character of the parent. this is test we are not supposed to do.
Israel has not come to the place that, if I just do what God wants me to do then he will do what he says he will do.
The result he promised Israel was that he would open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing. Who has heard this verse before? Who has heard this verse in relationship to giving to the church. We must be careful here to she what God actually said to Israel and then to carefully decide what applies to us today?
So what is God saying. It says he will open the floodgates of heaven. The word for floodgate literally means window. An opening. The floodgates here refer to rain. As they have been under a curse it is likely that God has withheld the rain as part of the curse that has been on them to repent and turn back to him.
Genesis 7:11 (CSB)
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the sources of the vast watery depths burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened,
God says that he will open the floodgates of heaven, he will bring the rain that will bring life and abundance to their crops. The blessing that is here in context of the whole passage is the the blessing of abundance of crops that will come. It is funny in Spokane you have two types of yards. The green ones and the brown ones. In my yard the only difference is the amount of water I put on it. It does not take very long for my grass to dry up with out water. This was a specific blessing for a specific curse in a specific place at a specific time. The result would be … well this part is translated a couple of different ways: without measure, overflowing blessing, until there is no need, or that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
In the end the main point of this is not how much they get but that God would remove the curse if they would just obey. He then gives two more ways the blessings will return, he will rebuke the devourer and the vine would not cast off its fruit.
This is not a transaction or a barter, it is an obedience issue and blessing and curse issue. I want to look at Leviticus chapter 26. This is the Covenant blessing and curses. We will look at a couple of sections of it that pertain to this.
Leviticus 26 (CSB)
1 “Do not make worthless idols for yourselves, set up a carved image or sacred pillar for yourselves, or place a sculpted stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. 2 Keep my Sabbaths and revere my sanctuary; I am the Lord.
3 “If you follow my statutes and faithfully observe my commands, 4 I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest, and the grape harvest will continue until sowing time; you will have plenty of food to eat and live securely in your land.
14 “But if you do not obey me and observe all these commands—15 if you reject my statutes and despise my ordinances, and do not observe all my commands—and break my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring terror on you—wasting disease and fever that will cause your eyes to fail and your life to ebb away. You will sow your seed in vain because your enemies will eat it.
18 “But if after these things you will not obey me, I will proceed to discipline you seven times for your sins. 19 I will break down your strong pride. I will make your sky like iron and your land like bronze, 20 and your strength will be used up for nothing. Your land will not yield its produce, and the trees of the land will not bear their fruit.
40 “But when they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness that they practiced against me, and how they acted with hostility toward me, 41 and I acted with hostility toward them and brought them into the land of their enemies—and when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob. I will also remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land abandoned by them will make up for its Sabbaths by lying desolate without the people, while they make amends for their iniquity, because they rejected my ordinances and abhorred my statutes.
God is faithfully following the covenant that was laid down with Israel and he is telling them to turn and come back to him. To re align with the covenant.
Malachi 3:12 (CSB)
12 “Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of Armies.
It always comes back to God’s Glory. Why does he want Isreal to repent and return? Why does he want them to give the full tithe and contribution is so that he can remove his curse and re-establish his blessing on them. That way his name will be known by the other nations as they see the delightful land.


Today we have seen God’s call to Isreal to return to him. He has been systematically pointing out the areas that His word has described as Holy and how the people are treating these areas. The irony of all of this is that Israel’s hard heart could not see that they were in error. They have come to the conclusion that God has failed to uphold his end of the covenant and now questioning whether it is even worth it anymore. God is telling them just repent and turn towards me.
All of the issues presented so far are the result of the people turning from God towards themselves. The solution is repentance and turning towards God.
The question must be asked. Are we doing the same? Do we feel we are close to God but we are blind to our selfish comfort? Are we arrogant and in need of humbling or are we on the right track are we being blessed by the faithfulness of God or do we have our blessings withheld because of our sin?
How do we know? We well do know that we must continue to repent and turn towards him as we walk in our faith of Christ. The church today in general is quite content with where it is at. I found this quote and whether you agree with it or not it does cause one to think about some things.
I would say that this is pretty much the picture of a great many folk in the church today. Ritualism has been substituted for reality. Pageantry has been substituted for power. The aesthetic has been substituted for the spiritual, and form for feeling. Even in the orthodox, conservative, and evangelical circles, they know the vocabulary, but the power of God is gone. They are satisfied with a tasteless morality, they follow a few little shibboleths, and they feel that everything is all right.” J. Vernon McGee
We must become a people of repentance and a church of repentance. That is not a bad thing it is an obedience thing. It is a humility thing. We know we are sinners and will need to turn back to him in many ways.
And what about the specifics of giving today. Based on the passage today:
God is faithful to his promises but we must do our part.
This is not a trade it is a transformation of the heart and mind.
We are stewards of what God has given each of us.
We still use what God has given to us for his Glory.
Whether it is ministers, the poor, each other. We should use our resources in a God honoring way for God honoring purposes.
We do not have the specific amounts we must give. We are called to give according to their heart.
2 Corinthians 9:6–7 (CSB)
6 The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.
This is actually a higher standard as it puts the amount based on the guidance of the heart. We must be careful not to apply old testament giving to the new testament church. I have had people tell me they give their tenth and that God require no more. If a person is using that logic then they are in error since all of the other tithes would be required and without the Levites, Priests or a trip to Jerusalem you cannot actually fulfill the requirements.
It also sets up a barrier of giving. Each is called to give accordingly to their heart. Whether it is the two tiny coins of the widow in contrast to the rich.
Mark 12:41–44 CSB
41 Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. 43 Summoning his disciples, he said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on.”
Or the selling of of possessions of the early church
Acts 2:45 CSB
45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need.
in contrast to Ananias and Sapphira.
It all boils down to a heart for God. And from that heart with be the correct offering to God.
If you have questions about what God’s desire is for you with regards to giving. Please ask. Not to tell you how to give but to open the word to help you understand how to follow God.
Let us pray.
Romans 15:5–6 CSB
5 Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice.
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