Well, at this time, I want to jump right in. I've been gone for a couple of Wednesdays. It's so good to be back and we're going to go back into the Book of Malachi. We have at least a couple more sermons there. So some of you were not with us in our study through Malachi in the summer.
You chose to go to a men's class or a women's class and you know, we're so glad for that. And we're glad to have everybody back together. So Malachi chapter three. We do have a couple more sermons.
If you have your place there, you're welcome to stand at this time. We'll read verse 13 down to verse 18. We do have our recovery ministry starting back up tonight over in room 200 back there.
So just wanted to make everyone aware of that. So be in prayer for those guys. Malachi chapter three, verse 13. We're going to read down to verse number 18. The Bible says, And what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy, yea, they that work wickedness are set up, yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it.
And a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts. And that day, when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him, then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. Father, we again are so overjoyed that your word is with us. We pray that you would grant us inside understanding, but not only that we would understand the truth, but that we would apply it, that we would be gripped by God and his word tonight. And I pray that you would do that work and not only this sanctuary, but in the teen ministry and the youth ministry, the Children's ministry, the recovery ministry. Bless all that said and done tonight that Christ would be exalted. We ask it in Jesus name.
And God's people said, Amen. You may be seated this evening. Anybody here hate to waste time? You ever feel like that can happen on the road? One of the worst things for me that I found that my sanctification is tested probably more than any other area is if I get off on a wrong exit. Not that that happens to us men, but when I get off on some exit, you ever notice they're like, turn right ahead and there's like two or three different turns and it's like, which one is this? You know, there's 15 in front of me and you end up somehow, you know, if you just put that away and focus, you could get off on the right exit. But when you have all that stuff going on, but the stress of wasting time, the frustration, doing a project and then finding out like it was done wrong and that whole thing needs to be flipped on the back and you've got to remove every little item and then change that around.
You know, it's usually like a bookcase, 500 pieces, and then you find out the backboard was turned the opposite direction, you know, and just the stress of wasting time and feeling like, man, if I would have just done something different, I wouldn't have wasted time. You know, the world looks at the church and they see what we're doing tonight is a waste of time, that what we're doing is foolish, is robbing us of what would be valuable. The world sees money as valuable, as pleasure is valuable, as love for things is what's really valuable. God calls Christians, though, to love God more than we love anything else, that our affection, our heart's desire would be chiefly for God and that those who are truly rich may be poor in the eyes of the world, that those who are rich in the eyes of the world may be very poor in the economy of God as well. But the world would serve, would see serving God as a complete waste of time, energy, resources, whereas those who love God are seeing serving God as the greatest investment of their life.
There's really nothing that you and I can do that would invest our time, energies, resources better than investing them into the things of God. So I would ask you tonight, how do you view serving God? How do you view serving God? What do you base God's goodness on and your service to God upon when you think about is God good because or is God good?
Like, which one do you land at? What do you feel God owes you? What would you stop serving God for, may be another way to ask that.
What would cause you to say, I'm done serving God? The people in Malachi's day had a religion that had become an external system and it had no internal reality. Just to bring you into the context, if you're new to the book of Malachi, Malachi or Malachi, we called it, is the last book of the Old Testament. And it was written about 400 years before John the Baptist came on the scene.
The great voice in the wilderness crying, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. So you have about a 400 year gap, but this was also about 100 years after the rebuilding of the temple. The Jews had gotten back into the land after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. And so Ezra has already reestablished some things. The book of Ezra has happened.
Nehemiah has already built the city walls that had been broken down. So this is several years, about a decade past those times. In Malachi, the people had become stale in their religion. It had become external to them. It had no internal reality, as I mentioned. And so God sends Malachi to, and his name means messenger, and he calls Malachi to go and be a messenger of repentance.
That he would call the people to God, that they would see that they're in sin. They need to become right on the inside. They're going through the motions on the outside, but their inside is not right with God, and can that happen to us?
You ever have the external, but there's no internal, and that can become very problematic. But this section of verses reveals the deterioration of the heart of the people who believe that they deserved more than what God was giving to them. They had based God's goodness on their temporary life, and they began to question God because of what they were going through. And throughout this book, the people could not see their sin. They could only see their goodness. Every time God questioned them and said, you're doing this wrong, they would say, where are we doing that wrong? You need to work on this.
Where do we need to work on that? And God comes in Malachi chapter 1 verse 2, he says, God loves you. And they said, where do you, how do we know that you love us? I mean, they questioned everything as like a rebellious teenager. And that was their spirit, their attitude. They brought God sacrifices that really reflected their feeling toward God. They brought God, they were supposed to bring God their first and best sacrifice, the best of their flock, the best of their herds.
But instead, they were bringing God their leftovers, and it was really reflecting how they viewed God. What you offer to God with your time, energy, service, resources reflects the value that God has in your heart. Our life in service to God and what we do with that life reflects our God's value in our heart. In the same way, what God did with the life he had reflects the value that he sees in us. And so you say, what did Christ give up for us? Well, he who is rich became poor so that we through his poverty might be rich, right?
Jesus Christ gave up his life that we might have life, the value and love he showed to us. But they questioned God's love. They robbed God of tithes and offerings in Malachi 3 verse 8 and 9.
He says, you've robbed me. And they said, where do we ever be robbed, and he says, in tithes and offerings. And so here the rebellion continues as their words increase against the Lord. This is such an important text for us because all of us in life are going to face trials that will test our faith. It will cause us to step back and say, how could God be good if such bad things seem to be happening in my life? How could God be good if such seeming injustices are happening to me? And we will begin to attach the goodness of God to temporary situations. We will base God's infinite glory and his great majesty on vapor length situations.
But that is exactly what happened in Malachi's day. And tonight is really a warning of that and maybe some things we can do to help us when we traverse valleys. Because I can tell you, it's OK to say, you know, God's great, God's wonderful. And that's easy to do when you're on a mountaintop or life's going well. But you know, if you've lived any length of life, that life can really put you in some sticky places. You can be in some situations where you're just trying to make it through the day.
You're not thinking about next month or next year. You're trying to think about how do I get through this day when breathing is tough, when living is difficult, when you're so pressed by pain and inward or outward suffering. And you begin to say, God, why? And so when we look through this tonight, I think it will help us as we look at a message I've entitled to serving God in vain.
And this is really where the people in Malachi's day had landed. And so, first of all, let's look at what I call the divine accountability. And that's in verse 13 through 14. He says to them in verse 13, God says, your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord.
And what that means is the word stout there is a is a Hebrew word that means your words have been very harsh against me. They have been very hard against me. They have been aggressive toward me.
They have been strong. They have been criticizing against me. And they're criticizing God with harsh language.
And this is more fierce than what they were doing back in chapter two. Malachi chapter two, verse 17 says, ye have wearied the Lord with your words. And their response is always, yet they say, wherein have we wearied him?
I mean, this is what they always do. And when you say everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord and he that delighteth in him. And where is the God of judgment? They begin to question God's justice in chapter two.
It continues with a more fierce response in chapter three. But that is the kind of language, this stout spirit and verbal assault against God that really reflects the heart of Pharaoh. Do you remember when Moses came to Pharaoh and said, let my people go? Remember how Pharaoh responds to that in Exodus 5, 2? And Pharaoh said, who is the Lord that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. Who is God?
Who does he think he is? Well, you're about to find out. So that's that harsh language. That's that spirit of rebellion. And in fact, the word stout that's used in Malachi chapter three verse 13 is the Hebrew word kazakh, kazakh. It's, you know, these H's in Hebrew is like you're hawking something, kazakh is how you say. But it's the same word used for hardening when it's when it later talks about that in the book of Exodus, when Pharaoh's heart was kazakh, it was hardened. So he gave hard speech against God because his heart was hardened toward God.
This is this is what happens. Benson's commentary says, your words have been blasphemous and void of all reverence and duty. You have spoken injuriously of me and have uttered such things as dishonor me. Now, how did God know their words were stout, fierce and hard against them? How did he know that?
Was he listening? Question is, can he not listen to God? God not only knew they had harsh language against him, but he actually knew the exact words that they used. It takes it to a whole nother level, because in verse number 14, notice what he says. Well, sort of verse 13, it says, your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord.
Notice how they respond. Yet he said, what have we spoken so much against the verse 14? Ye have said, and then God begins to quote the things that they say. This is what I call the divine accountability. This is this is our ever present accountability.
You ever said, boy, I wish I had a good accountability partner. Heaven's like, OK, we and it's important to have a physical accountability partner. I do understand that.
But you need to understand there. And I want to lift this tonight up to the place that it deserves. But there is a level of accountability that we should feel from the weight of God's presence that is always with us. Flip, if you would, with me to Psalms 139. I just want to highlight a couple of things that are Psalms Chapter 139.
Because David here understood this. David was really pressed by the reality of God's ever abiding presence. And I kind of want to break down a few of these verses in Psalm 139 to touch on this.
He says in Psalm 139, and if you've not been familiar with this chapter, it is a chapter that is worth reading repetitiously and memorizing. Psalm 139 says, Oh, Lord, thou has searched me and you've known me. The word for searched here is actually a word used for mining and extracting precious metals out of the earth. Oh, Lord, you have mined me. You have unearthed me. You have dug into my soul. You know what's inside of me. You have excavated me, is the idea. And as the divine miner, you have known me.
The extracting nature of your search has caused you to now know me. You have what is on the inside has now become manifest. And he begins the chapter with the fact that applies to the knowledge of the omniscient mind to the most intimate thoughts of the heart. Why is it important for us to reflect upon the greatness of God's knowledge of our detailed lives?
You think it's important for us to reflect on that? How does it affect a person when things become out in the open? How many sins in your life do you think you would have said no to if you knew they would be out in the open?
If you knew everyone would know about it. If all the wrongs of your life were put on a big screen to show others that you committed in the last seven days, how reformed do you think you would have lived in the last seven days? Would you have changed some wording? Would you have changed some attitudes?
Would you have changed some thoughts? It is light being shed on the dark areas of our life that really help a person to turn the dark sins of life into right actions. That's why you will notice people who sin run from the light. They want to get away from accountability. You know why some people just don't want to ever be around church is because they don't want the light. They don't want accountability.
They don't want the exposure. John 3, Jesus nails it on the head, doesn't he? Men love and this is condemnation that light has come to the world. And men love darkness rather than light.
Why? Because their deeds were evil. Verse 21 goes on and verse 20 goes on and says, For everyone that doeth evil hates the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved, or he would be rebuked for that. But he that doeth the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifest, that they're wrought in God. And so Jesus made it very clear that people don't want to come to the light because the light brings exposure and that most people don't commit sin at noon in the day.
It's not when they're like, hey, let's let's have a big party at 11 a.m. How about 2 p.m.? You know, I know when I was a young rebellious kid, nighttime just lured us in. It was like a fishing lure to the young sinner.
I mean, it's you you you wanted the cover of night. And so God's knowledge of our lives is extensive. He says in verse number two here, Thou knowest my down sitting and mine uprising.
What does that mean? Well, this is to say that God knows the time that he knows us from the time we go to bed to the time that we rise up and everything in between. God knows all that we do both in the resting times of life and in the activities of life. Today we have watches and cell phones. I remember when I had my one of my first smartphones and I remember taking a walk and I got home and the phone said, do you want to record your walk? And I'm like, how dare you follow me around like you tracking predator, you know, and you know, and now we have watches to see how many steps I got today. Forty seven thousand steps.
Is that possible? I don't know. My wife's like, whatever.
So she beats me every day, every day. But we we we have things that track us to give the detail of our heartbeat, to give the detail of of where we've been, where all this information. And if we have gadgets that can do that, how much more do you think God can do that? How much more does God know the details and Jesus relays that he knows the very hairs of our head.
They are numbered. I can only do that for a couple of you, but God knows that. I don't know why that's so sensitive to the two in here, but watch me next week, I'll be cursed with a bald head, just come right off straight off. I can tell you if it starts going, it's gone, OK? I'm not coloring it black or brown or anything else, and I'm not hanging on to what's back here.
OK, I had a professor in college. He could loop it. I mean, I thought that stuff has to be 30 inches long.
I mean, it was working all the way. We literally walked through the the grounds and I mean, the wind picked up and I was like, he doesn't have any hair under there. It's just all from the back.
It's just all from the back hanging on, buddy. Let it go. Let it go. But God God knows us and he knows what what we think. In verse two, he says, You understand my thought of far off.
This statement is important, verse two, and I want you to get this. This doesn't mean that God is far off in heaven and knows our thoughts, for God is near all the time. What this statement means is before our thoughts are actually fully developed, when they're simply in the germination form, God already knows what they will become.
That's literally what this is meaning. God knows every single detail of every single thought that we have. All the inside thoughts are as clear as outward words and actions. He knows our thoughts when our thoughts are far from full production. Well, that should cause us to make sure our thoughts are moving in the right direction.
He's not. Do you see how inward he goes? You see how how God just and David grasped that, that you searched me and you've mined me. You're you're looking past the external.
Anybody can look good on the outside. God is looking for the heart that is clean. And he and he says in verse three. God, you know where I go, you can pass my path and my lying down, you're acquainted with all my ways.
The word compasses come from a Hebrew word that means to winnow, as the Jews would winnow grain by casting it up in the air, the heavier grain would fall and the lighter chaff, the useless part would be blown away. Here, the meaning David gives is God is sifting him to rid his life of the useless chaff of his life. And so it was real and good that remained. You can pass me, you're winnowing me. You're seeing what's what's good, my path and my lying down, speaks of God winnowing and evaluating life in every way the whole entire life from what's active to what's inactive. He says you're acquainted with all my ways, all the past that I tread, the whole course of my life. All I do in all places is fully known to God. Now, God then is seen as knowing all the believers ways as he sifts the believer, evaluating what goes on in his life to see what is good, what is useless. This is reflective of First Corinthians chapter three, right? When we stand before God and he puts us in a fire of his judgment, at the beam of seed or the judgment seat of Christ to see what is gold, silver, precious stone, what is wood, hay and stubble. Let me ask a question. When is the last time you stopped and thought God is here right now and would he be OK with what's going on in the place that I'm at?
Say, well, tonight right now would be a good decision. But in our life, can we say that when we're wherever? Would God be OK with us watching this? Would God be OK with us and how we are in our marriage? Would God be OK with how I'm talking to my husband or my wife?
God be OK with how I'm treating my family, my I'm parenting my children. Verse four, God knows what I say, he says, for there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it all together. Well, I tell you, it's a pretty intense thing when you think about God knows every single word that's ever been given.
God's knowledge of all of our thoughts extends to the words. He says, you know it all together. You know what that what that statement means, you know it all together. You know how somebody can say something and then they realize they probably shouldn't have said that. And they try to turn the statement around. Well, that's really not what I meant, what I was really trying to say. God says, I know it all together. I know the words and the intention. There is no there is no squirting out of this.
There is no I don't know if that's the right way to say, but there is no getting out of this. Let me give an example. You remember when the angel of the Lord being the Lord Jehovah who came to Abraham in Genesis 18. He says, Abraham, you're old and well stricken in years.
It's kind of a kind way to say it isn't only English way. And he says, and your wife is also very old and stricken in years. And but you're going to have a wife come this season about a year from then or so they had a child.
He says, you're going to have a child in your old age. And the Bible says Sarah was inside the tent and overheard the Lord say that to Abraham and Sarah laughed. And the Lord responded and said, why did your wife, why did Sarah laugh?
Is anything too hard for the Lord? And here's what Sarah said, I did not laugh. She did exactly what we would have done.
Right? And you know what the Lord said? No, but you did laugh.
She didn't respond. You understand that's how this is going to work. There is no there is no way that's not really. No, that's what you did mean. No arguing.
He knows my heart so much better than I know myself. And so. Matthew 12, 36, Jesus made a very heavy statement, he said this. But I say to you that every idle word that a man shall speak, he shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment. Every idle word.
That's not even every important word. Every casual statement, every. Fullish jest, every whatever you say.
You'll give an account thereof. What is the last time you stopped and thought, should I say this, because I know that God knows exactly what I've just said and what I'm going to say. God will hear me when I say that. First, Peter 310 says, For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile. Ephesians four twenty nine says, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. You know what the next verse says? And grief, not the Holy Spirit of God, you know what grieves him when corrupt communication comes out of our mouth.
Oh, how I love Jesus, and then we're cussing by the time we're pulling out here on progress. That is that is that is that shouldn't happen. Amen.
I hope it doesn't happen. And so. Let no corrupt communication, we got to guard our lips. And then he says in verse five, Thou hast beset me behind him before and laid thine hand upon me. God, you've you've encompassed me. The word beset here means to enclose with the hedge.
It's used of an army surrounding a city so that there's no way to escape. The idea here is that God has enclosed us on every side and there's no way to escape God, no matter what direction we try to run. He said, You've laid your hand upon me. And isn't this reflective of David? You remember what he said in Psalms 32 after he had sinned with Bathsheba? He broke in his vow and with his wife, but he also violated the wife of Uriah and he sleeps with Bathsheba and God brings judgment down upon his head. And David said in Psalms 32 three, When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
David didn't tell anybody about it. And he says, For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me. God was literally crushing David because of David's unrepentant of sin. Have you ever had the hand of God just press you?
Just squeezing your life. Have you ever tried to get away from God and live in rebellion and find God's hand just pressing you? Aren't you thankful for that? Aren't you thankful for the hand of God that squeezes when we try to get away from him? God's knowledge is so overwhelming. Look what David says in verse six.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. He says, It is high, I cannot attain it. It just you could just hear the breath go out of David's life. He's just overwhelmed with omniscience.
He's grasping the the. Just touching, if you would, the hem of the garment of God's omniscience, and it's just taking his breath away and and he concludes that it just transcends me. God, I've held my eight ounce cup of my knowledge to the ocean of your omniscience, and it just has caused me to be in silence. It's like Job who said, I've spoken once, but I put my hand upon my mouth and I will not speak twice.
I spoke of things too wonderful for me. You understand there is a day when we're going to be dropped in silence. Not because God says be quiet, but because our own soul would say you can't have a word be uttered in the presence of such glory. We will be so overwhelmed with the glory of God. I think all of us, when we get to heaven, we're just going to go. There's we're going to be overwhelmed with how horrifying our sin is. And then we're going to be overwhelmed with how great the grace of God is, and our hearts are going to be in such an allegiance to God. We're going to begin to grasp even greater how great the sacrifice was. We're going to gaze upon the scars and say, God, how could you?
We're going to look back at Earth and say, how could I? How reformed I would have lived, how more devoted I would have been. David concludes Psalms 139 with one of perhaps one of the greatest prayers that I've I've used this. Really, probably every week of my life, I grasp these verses and just incorporate them into my prayers. But if you're not familiar with Psalm 139, 23 and 4, that's really the that's the conclusion of a heart that begins to get this.
You come to this like this is what you end at. If you get Psalm 139, you'll get this because there's nowhere else you can land. You won't run from God because there's no way to run from God. You won't be a foolish Jonah. You will say things like, search me, O God. And know my know my heart, try me and know my thoughts. Mine out from me what you see there and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Show me if there's any sin that I could repent of it, that I could get on the right path and live for you. I don't want to hide sin from you. What a fool I would be. I want to be revealed to myself how wicked I am so that I can repent and get right with you.
Search me and let me know what your search has concluded. Grieve me over what grieves you. Let me see my sin as intense as you see it. Draw me to my own brokenness and humility over my sin. And so with that, let's go back to Malachi, chapter number three. And from Psalm 139, I just want you to see how now Malachi's day responds to the omniscience of God.
Listen to how the people of Malachi's day respond. God says, your words have been stout against me. I know what your words have been. Oh, Lord, there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, you know it altogether. But they say, what have we spoken so much against thee? And notice what they say about God in verse 14. Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Ye have said, it is vain to serve the Lord. It is vain to serve God. And what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? Here, the rebellious heart of man does not praise Psalm 139, 23 and four.
Wouldn't that have been wonderful, though? God says, your words have been stout against me. And they said, oh, God, search us, know our heart, try us, and if there's any wickedness, lead us in the way everlasting.
Wouldn't that have been a beautiful ending to Malachi? But instead, they reject God's divine accountability, God's accusations, and then they challenge God. When God calls them to account for their actions, they're now calling God to account for his actions. The creation is now calling the creator into question. Their pride had so inflated themselves that they became the judge of God.
Self deification is always the result of the prideful person. Man will always profess himself to be wise when they remove the creator, and they will ultimately become fools because the fool has said in his heart there is no God. And they will say, God, you owe me the answer. How dare you question me? I question you. Sarah, as I said, tried to escape the accountability of God.
She could not do that. Let me ask you, how do you treat God's divine accountability in your life? How do you treat God's divine accountability? Secondly, we see the rebellious response to God there in verse 14 and 15. He has said it's vain to serve God. What's that mean?
It literally means this. When they say it is vain to serve God, they're saying it is completely useless serving God. This is a waste of our time.
It's wasteful. What profit is it to keep his ordinance? They saw obedience to God as being a taker instead of being a giver. They saw disobedience to God as the real way to fulfillment.
Well, isn't that the lie that Satan gave? You want to be fulfilled, Eve? It's not obedience to God that brings fulfillment. It's disobedience. You need to sin to be fulfilled.
Isn't that how people do? And it says, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts, the word mourning comes from the verb to be dark or perhaps having darkened their face with grief and sorrow for some plight of their nation and some sin. But they concluded these acts were completely useless. Why do we put dark clothing on and put dirt on our head or throw ashes and put ashes on us? Why do we walk around mournfully wanting God to bring blessing upon the nation?
This is a waste of time. They had the externals, but there was nothing internal to it. Verse 15, it says, and now, what verse 15 is saying, and now, or literally, and from now on, we will call the proud or the arrogant and sinful the happy ones. So from now on, we're going to call prideful people who are arrogant and boastful and sinful the happy ones.
Yeah, they that work wickedness, they're the ones who are set up. They're the really blessed ones. They that tempt God, they're even delivered. They do evil and they escape the judgment of God. Nothing bad ever happens to the people who tempt God. The great error of the people of Malachite's day was due to their pride. It was such a vicious assault against the goodness of God. Again, these were the people, God's chosen people, and if they're in such darkness, what do you think is happening to the world at that time?
If God's people are in the dark, how dark would the world be? So first, they thought that they earned more than they received. These are some things that cause problems. They thought they earned more than they received. They believed they had worked for more than they had. They questioned God for their sin, for the punishment that they were going through, the trials they were going through. They questioned God, why God would accuse them of sin. So in the midst of some of their difficulties, instead of them looking inward and saying, perhaps some of these things are being caused because we're sinning.
No, no, no. They got mad because God allowed trials to come upon them. Secondly, they attached all of God's blessings to the here and now. They made earth their heaven and were wanting their best life now.
Tell you what kind of church they wanted to go to. How foolish to base God's goodness on the temporary, isn't it? How foolish to build sandcastles and say, God, if you don't give me the best sandcastle now, you know, I should write a book, Your Best Sandcastle Now, by...forwarded by Joel Alstein. But Psalm 73, if you're not familiar with Psalm 73, you can flip over there. I want to read some of this to you. Who is very familiar with Psalm 73? You know what I'm talking about.
Raise your hand. Okay, so I'm going to read through this because this is the chapter that was written by a guy who struggled with this issue. Why do believers go through trials and why do the wicked prosper? Why do...in the terminology of the day, why do bad things happen to good people and why do good things happen to bad people? The reality is there's none good, right? Question is not why do bad things happen to good people. The question is why do good things happen to anybody? Psalm 73, one, I just want to walk through some of this chapter with you.
It's just it explains itself, so I'm just going to go pretty quick. Psalm 73, look at verse one. He says, truly God is good to Israel even to such as of a clean heart. Like that's true. Verse two, but as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well nice slipped.
He said I was in a slippery place, I almost fell. For I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. And he begins to detail this from verse four all the way down. Look at verse 12, we'll pick that back up. He says, behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world.
They increase in riches. Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain. I've gotten clean before God for nothing, is what he's saying.
And wash my hands in it and see, for all day long have I been plagued and chastened every morning. He's here attaching the goodness of God to temporary circumstances. Verse 16, he goes on.
When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me. You ever have a thought that harasses you that's just you can't deal with? And you know what brought him back to sanity is verse 17. Let's read verse 17 together. Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I there. You know what the word end means? It means you've just removed yourself from the temporary and you've cast yourself into the eternal.
When I get so focused on the microcosm of my temporary existence and not the macrocosm of the eternal glory of God, I can get messed up. And he says it was there that I, verse 18, surely thou didst set them in slippery place. I'm not the slippery one, they are. They're building sandcastles. The waves are coming. They're building sandcastles. They don't realize high tide's coming in, right? You ever build a sandcastle in that heaven?
Surely thou didst set them in slippery places. Verse 19, how are they brought into desolation as in a moment? They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakens so, O Lord, when thou awakens, shalt thou despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved, I was pricked in my reign. So foolish was I and ignorant, I was a beast before thee. He's like, I was like a dumb animal. How many times does God look down and say, you're just like a animal?
I mean, just so foolish. You ever have a, you ever work with animals? Who here has worked with animals?
Okay. They can be extremely stressful. My grandpa had a pig farm.
We got there. Pigs can be very stubborn sometimes. And so you would, you'd like walk a line of them into like a faring barn or another building or something like that. And sometimes they get real stubborn.
They like wouldn't want to go into a building. And you get one of them shockers. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Like you, oh, we'd shock each other, man.
We were kids, man. Like, ah, you know, get the pig, you know. And we'd get these boards and try to, but boy, I tell you, they get, you get so frustrated and sometimes it gets so stubborn and it's like, just go in and you're like shocking them and pushing them and hitting them and do everything you can and I don't even think they can feel it, man.
These big 500 pound pigs are just like, you know, what are you doing back there? Scratch a little to the left. You know, I'm trying to get them in there. I'm wearing myself out here. But, but that's how we can become like a foolish animal to God.
We just, we try and we're bent to go the wrong way. Verse 23. Nevertheless, he says, I'm continually with me. Why? Why am I continually with God? Why am I still there?
Why are you still here? What thou has holding me by my right hand. You are the one who is holding me. You have held me by my right hand. What did Jesus say? You're in my hand and no one's going to pluck you out.
Anybody thankful for that tonight? Verse 25. Whom have I in heaven but thee? There is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh, my heart fails.
So what? But God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. For lo, they that are far from thee shall perish and thou has destroyed all them that go hoarding from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord God that I may declare all thy works.
That's how he ends. Let me give you some keys to why this man in Psalm 73 and why these people, Malachi, these are some of the reasons why they began to slip from their faith. First of all, as I mentioned, they elevated the temporary prosperity, basing God's goodness on temporary prosperity. God is good if these tangible things work well for me. What we do when we do that, again, is we're creating a sandcastle system and saying, God, your goodness is based upon this little sandcastle, and God says, I don't build sandcastles.
I don't play in the sand. God's a God of eternity. He is El Olam, the God who sits in eternity. They said, what profit is there in serving God, yet the Lord speaks to such foolishness in Mark 8. God says, what profit is there if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?
You talk about what profits you. Jesus says, if any man comes after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. You come into the kingdom naked, stripped of everything.
Was it church of latest? He said, you think you're rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, yet you're naked and destitute and poor. You are impoverished. What was the church at Smyrna?
The church at Smyrna had nothing, right? Nothing. He said, you, you are poor, but you are rich. What happens when God calls you rich? How rich do you think that is? Anybody want God to call you rich and the world call you poor? That's a deal I'll take. The world says, you're so poor, and God says, oh, you're rich.
I'll take that economy. In Matthew 7, 24 through 27, the man could have built a castle in sand. The man could have had a small home on the rock, but in the great storm, who would you rather be? Luke 16, the rich man had everything.
Lazarus had nothing, but when they died, it sure changed, didn't it? Facing God's goodness on the temporary, not on the eternal, looking at the physical and not the spiritual. Remember, people may look good on the outside, but the fulfilled life is not the life filled with things. The fulfilled life is the life filled with God.
And let me give you some keys to staying balanced and stable. First of all, base God's goodness on what he's done for you spiritually, not what he's done for you physically. God's goodness is not bound to a temporary earthly timeline, but on eternity. I give the illustration many times, but if you had a timeline stretched from that door over that wall, some 110 feet or so, and say it was a billion years, and every little tiny thread of carpet, just one little tiny thread of carpet was one million years, and you had millions of years spread across this room, billions of years, I should say, and that's just a picture of eternity. And God says, what was this 70 or 80 or 90 year lifespan look like on such a timeframe? You couldn't even draw a dot big enough to see. Is God's goodness based on that little fraction of a dot or the expanse of eternity? God, you're only good if in that little dot down there that my knee doesn't hurt and my back doesn't ache and my ankle's not skinny and my, you know, is that what we do? My fridge went out, where are you at?
My battery died, I won't even start this morning. Where is God? I went to church Sunday.
I mean, that's how, I remember early on, this happened all the time. I mean, because we started with eight people, it's just all new believers. Many of them new believers. And people say, you know, preacher, after I got saved, I really thought things would get easier in my life. And I'll tell you what, things have gotten difficult. I thought, boy, I go to church, God, you know, kind of start paying me back a little bit here. You know what I mean?
People kind of get, they use that language to me all the time. And I'm like, oh, we're going to have to take you over to Mark chapter number eight, a little conversation over there. Maybe Luke 13 and 14, Jesus says, if any man come after me, there's a denial process. Anyone who hates his life shall save it. You think, you think Jesus is going to go to a cross and you're going to be given comfort? You think life's going to be a bed of roses? This isn't our, this isn't paradise for us, folks. This is the field of labor, isn't it? And I tell you, we have a pretty good field of labor.
I mean, this is like paradise for some people in the world. We're so blessed. And so 2 Corinthians 4 17 says this, I love what Paul says. I mean, you know, you could preach on this for like an hour and then read this verse and we'd all be like, oh, but Paul went through so much and this is what he says after he had been beaten and shipwrecked and in prison and all these injustices happening to him. He says in verse 17, for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, it's light and it's momentary. I can tell you, we would not call light momentary what he went through if it happened to us, worketh for us at far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Where we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are what?
Not seen. The things which are not seen, they're just temporal, but the things which are not seen, they're eternal. What does he say in Romans 8 18? For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time, they're not even worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
It's not even comparable. What God is going to eternally bless us with compared to what we go through for him, you can't even compare the two. 1 Corinthians 15 58, you need to understand this. Nothing you ever do for God is ever a waste of time. Not one, the most tiny fraction of service with honor to God in your heart, of devotion to him, of prayer, of suffering for him, of even suffering and trusting God. Nothing you'll ever go through for God is ever a waste of time. First Corinthians 15 58 says, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I'm glad your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
I have labored on my car before and I'm like, this has been a vain project for me. I've broken stuff. I've made it worse. Back off, Josh. I'm not.
I don't even feel saved right now. Okay. Okay. I need some. I need somebody. I'm gonna put myself on the prayer list.
You know, I work on my car. Stop doing that stuff. Mark 9 41 for whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name because you belong to Christ. Verily, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. Isn't that something?
You know, in Matthew 25 he says, I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty, you gave me drink. They're like, when did we do that? He says, as much as you've done it to the least of these, these little acts of service you did on the earth, you don't even remember them, but I remember them. You understand you're gonna be rewarded for things you're like, I did not even know. How do you know you'll do that?
Because that's what they did. They're like shocked. Isn't it gonna be good? We're gonna be shocked because God has forgiven all of our sins and we're like, am I not gonna be judged on any of these things? No, it's under the grace of God. Like amazing grace, I mean, we'll just, and then God will say, you remember when you did this? We're like, I don't even remember that. Put it up on the big screen.
I'm sure there's a way to see it. I mean, he's gonna, he's gonna bring all these things back and you did this and you did this and you did this for this person. You think that should make us all come to church with a spirit to want to serve one another? You think that should make us when we leave here say, you know what, when I go to Walmart, I'm gonna, somebody, you know, I'm gonna hold that door for that person for the glory of God and for the love of Christ and for the love of that. So I'm gonna share the gospel with my neighbor. I'm gonna, I'm gonna see how I can minister to that person every day of your entire entity. Every little thing you do can be done for the glory of God in the most infidescent, just the tiniest thing. You know what I'm saying?
Say that we're wrong. So Galatians 6, 9 says, let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we'll reap if we faint not. And so Dorothy Salyer wrote on Jesus is suffering on the cross for a guilt. The guilt of humanity.
She said this, and I think this is good. She says, For whatever reason, God chose to make man as he is limited and suffering and subject to sorrow and death. He had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine he has made. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience from the trivial irritation of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty, died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile. Whatever we go through, we can look to heaven and say, But he's been there.
He's gone much further than me. Let's close with the last thought in verse 16 through 18, the right response to God. This is then they that feared the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of the wisdom, right?
Sinners have no fear of God before their eyes. Jesus says they speak often one to another. When you fear the Lord, your mouth will testify of it and guess who you'll attract?
Other people who fear the Lord, and you'll love to talk about the Lord. He goes on and says, And the Lord hearkened and heard it. Here the divine accountability hears the conversations of his people as they reflect on God. And notice how God responds in verse 16. And a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought or the word there means meditated upon his name. This book or scroll was written before God and had the names of the people who were meditating and conversing about God who had feared the Lord, the true believers. Henry Morris says in heaven, God keeps records of not just the actions of his people, but even their thoughts. This verse indicates his particular pleasure when people truly fear the Lord and he occupies both their conversation and their inward thoughts, even perhaps, especially when most of their contemporaries ignore or reject him. So in the midst of a nation rejecting God, you see God saying, Get out a scroll, write a book. Why did he have to do that? Because there was such pronouncements of judgment upon the nation. He wanted them to have sweet assurance who were his that they would not be caught up in such judgment, that they were kept by the power of God. You know, God wants you to have that peace. I mean, look how far he goes.
This is just awesome. He says a book of remembrance written before them for them that fear the Lord and thought on his name for 17 and they shall be mine in that great safe the Lord of hosts in that day when I make up my jewels and I will spare them as a man spared his own son that serve with him. And so God wants us to have assurance.
He writes the book. He even declares that we are like jewels to him, like a precious treasure, special to God. And he says, I will spare you like a man spares his son with his own children. And then verse 18, he says, Then shall you return and discern between the righteous, the wicked between him that serves God and him that serves him not. And so to the foolish, the hard and standards of of God, God says, You don't want to serve me.
You don't want to fear me. You want to use harsh words against me that in that day, you're going to see the rewards that I dump upon the people who do fear me and serve me. And you're going to see everything burned up when the earth is consumed in judgment and the wicked are destroyed. Friend, tonight, are you living for God and serving God? We have a divine accountability. God knows us inwardly. He knows us outwardly. You know, this this should bring great, strong accountability to us to cause us to say, You know, Lord, search me. Know my heart.
Try me. Know my thoughts. It's fantastic. But it also brings us sweet assurance in the sense that God knows and he still says, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. I love what A.W. Tozer said. He said, How unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No tail bear can inform on us. No enemy can make an accusation stick. No forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to ambush us and expose our hidden past. No unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us. Whatever may befall us, God knows and cares as no one else can. Isn't that just good? So thankful God's not shocked.
Can't learn anything about us. He already knows that in life you will face trials. And friends, there's going to be some things that you and I face that are not always going to be an easy answer for.
There's going to be some times in life where pain can be so intense that there's there's no there's no words of that can take that pain, you're just going to hurt. But it's in those times that we can just say, God, I trust you. Lord gives, the Lord takes away, but blessed be his name. And we need to know this, that every single day of our life, there is a book being written about the actions of our life. The Bible says in heaven, the books were open. Another book was open, which is the Book of Life. Well, there's at least three books there. One is the Book of Life. Another is the Bible, because the Bible will be in heaven, according to the Bible. Psalm 119 89, Psalm 119 160.
But also there's a book of records. The Bible speaks of every idle word of the man still speak of giving account of God's writing that book down. How's your chapter 2022 looking? How are you been writing lately? You know what, if you say the pen that's been writing down this chapter of my life has been in my hands, why don't tonight you just turn that over to God and say, God, why don't you take that?
Why don't you begin to write the rest of this year? You know what? God in his mercy can go back. You know, the good news is he doesn't erase the good things that we've done, but his blood can cover the sins of our life. I want to be great to come before God and say, God, could you just do remove as far as the east is from the west, the sins of this year of my life cleansing me. And if you're saved, it doesn't save you by saying that. But there is a sanctification, isn't there? There's a washing of the feet.
You don't need your whole body wash, but your feet get dirty when you walk through life. Just, just be confess our sins and get right with God. So tonight, let that be true of us that we say, God, I'm turning that pen over to you.
Let's all stand tonight. Father, we thank you for your word tonight. It's so comforting.
It's so encouraging. We thank you for mercy, grace and salvation that I thank you for the dear saints that are here tonight, the people of God. Lord, you're looking on an imperfect church because I'm here and these people are here, but we have a perfect savior. And so we do come and there's challenges of life, difficulties and tears and pain. Sometimes we don't understand, but give us grace and faith to trust you in those valleys. Be with each person tonight. If anyone doesn't know Christ, that tonight they might come and be saved. And I pray that Christians tonight that we would surrender our lives to you to be fully devoted to our King, in Jesus name.
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