Do you ever feel uncertain as to whether God really loves you? Especially when you consider that the Bible uses the word "hate" in reference to how God feels towards some people? This first message in a series on Malachi begins by looking at how this Old Testament book fits into the whole of Scripture and why it is relevant for us today. And focuses on the fact that God has a deep love for all people even though we may not feel or understand this and might wrestle with the word "hate" being associated with God. Discover that God desires that we respond to His love with lives devoted to Him in complete surrender.
He said: 'Return to Me.' We say: 'How'
He said: 'You are wearing me out.' We say: 'How'
He said: 'Marriage Matters.' We say: 'How?', part 5
He said: 'Marriage Matters.' We say: 'How?', part 4
He said: 'Marriage Matters.' We say: 'How?', part 3
He said: 'Marriage Matters.' We say: 'How?', part 2
He said: 'Marriage Matters.' We say: 'How?', part 1
He said: 'You have turned away.' We say: 'How?'
He said: 'You've despised me.' We say: 'How?'
He said: 'I've loved you.' We say: 'How?'
About 10 or 11 years ago, there was a young man by the name of John Gray who took a very biblical idea and decided to extrapolate that into series of books that has made him a man who is walking in the green. John Gray took this biblical idea that men and women are equally created in the eyes of God, coheirs for eternity. Yet, though we are equal in our value to God and equal in our significance before him, we are not the same. As a result of our lack of sameness, there is sometimes a misunderstanding and conflict between the sexes.
He explained how, using a metaphor that has become almost a part, now, of our culture (that men are from Mars and women are from Venus)… He talked about how for a long time Martians and Venetians got along great because they understood that they were from different planets, and so they had different cultures, if you will, different systems of thoughts, and different worldviews even.
They were then sent to cohabitate earth (in his metaphor). When they got there, they forgot they were Martians and Venetians on earth and started treating each other like they were all earthlings, and they could not understand why half the race was so clueless. It led to all kind of problems. So this little book was written. I'm sure many of you (at least) are familiar with it. It's called Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, and it says it's a practical guide for improving communication and getting what you want in your relationships.
For those of you who have seen the Caveman when he's come through Dallas, he talks about how men are hunter-gatherers and women are, in fact, just the opposite of that: women love to dwell and they love to cultivate and they love to have relationships, and how these two think the other one's crazy, and they miss each other. People have laughed and learned something at these Cavemen comedy episodes.
Gray uses cave in a different way. He says when Martians come and cause a problem, they love to retreat and go into a cave and process their problems because Martians are very conquer-oriented, they're solution-oriented, they're driven by competency and fixing things themselves (not having somebody fix it for them).
Sometimes when they get stressed out at work or places and they can't fix their problems and conquer things well with their competency, they love to retreat. Sometimes they retreat in a newspaper or they retreat in yard work or they retreat in a television show or maybe just watching sports. About 95 percent of themselves default to that activity, and the 5 percent that is left interacts with the world that is around them.
On the other hand, he says when Venetians see somebody who is experiencing stress or they're experiencing stress, they want somebody to come into it with them. They don't want to retreat. They want somebody to love them and come in there and ask about those things and talk about them. So when they see somebody start to do that, they go and try and process it with them and say things to them. They often have great conflict as a result of that.
He takes one little idea in this little book, and he develops it. This is what he says in here. He talks about how sometimes Venetians will say to Martians (women will say to men), "You don't listen." The men say, "What do you mean I don't listen? I can tell you everything you just said." What he goes on to say is when a man is in his "cave" (when he is away), he can record what she is saying with the 5 percent of his mind that is listening. A man reasons that if he is listening with 5 percent, then he is listening.
However, what she is asking for is his full, undivided attention. Can you relate to that? Have you ever said that? Your wife says, "You're not listening to me," and you turn, and you want to say, "I am listening to you. I can tell you everything you just said." She says, "No, no, no. You're not listening to me. Lookat me. I want all of you."
Or this one, when she says, "I feel like you're not even here." He says, "What do you mean I'm not here? Of course I'm here. Don't you see my body? Yes, I am here!" He reasons that if his body is present, then she shouldn't say he is not there. However, though his body is present, she doesn't feel his full presence, and that is what the Venetian needs. The guy says, "What do you mean I'm not here? I'm watching the game, but I'm here. That's why I'm at the sports bar where you couldn't interrupt me every 15 seconds! I'm here." So all this conflict comes up.
The author explains to you how you can work through this. This guy wrote this little intergalactic guide, if you will. He says on here: "A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships."
Let me tell you what we're going to do these next seven weeks. There's another book that was written more than 10 years ago (about 2,000 years ago) where God efforted with us to clear up the misunderstanding about what it is that he meant when he said some things. We're going to have some fun.
For the next seven weeks, we're going to deal with the fact that sometimes it seems like God is from Mars and we're from Venus. We just miss each other. We're not going to look here at a practical guide for improving communication in your relationship with others. We're going to look at a prophet's guide for improving communication and experiencing what you want in your relationship with him. This is going to be our fun that we're going to have with a series in the book of Malachi.
It's as if sometimes God says something to us and we completely miss him. It's like we're just from two different worlds, but God prevails, and God continues. The reason I came up with this is as I was looking through this book that I wanted to share with you guys over these next few weeks…we're going to teach it from front to back…I found a little phrase that showed up about seven or eight times in this book of Malachi. It kept popping up, and I thought, "This reminds me of that book."
In verse 2 of Malachi 1, God says, "I have loved you."We go, "What do you mean you've loved us?" In verse 6 God says, "Like a son honors his father, like a servant honors his master. If I'm the father, where is my honor, where is my respect?"It says in Malachi that those folks responded, "How have we not respected you?"
It says a little bit later, "You have defiled my altar and despised me."We say, "What do you mean we've despised you? We're here worshiping, aren't we?" In chapter 2 he says, "You have wearied me with your words." We say, "What do you mean we've wearied you?" In verse 7 of chapter 3 he says, "You've left me. Return to me." We say, "What do you mean return to you? We've been here all along worshiping in the temple, in the eyes of a Jew and back in that day in age." We'd say, "We're at church every week. What do you mean return to you?"
In verse 8 he says, "You are robbing me,"You go, "What do you mean I'm robbing you, God? I've never stolen a single thing out of the offering boxes at Watermark. How can I be robbing you?" Then at the very end of chapter 3, he says, "Your words have been arrogant against me…"We go, "How have we been arrogant towards you?"
It's like, throughout this entire book, God's from Mars and we're from Venus. We just keep missing each other and missing each other. God wants to say, "I'm going to clear up this misunderstanding, and I'm going to state the case in order before your eyes, and I'm going to make it clear to you what I'm trying to say.
Let me tell you what I want to do today. I want to tell you squarely where Malachi fits in your Bible. I'm going to explain to you how it's relevant to you today. In fact, if I could only teach one book to the majority of churches in America today, I think it'd be the book of Malachi. The book of Malachi was written largely to church-going folk, and I've said that there are two great mission fields in America today.
The first are those folks who would never so much as grace the front steps of a church. They wouldn't have any reason to go there. They would never go there. They are un-churched. They are committed to not being a churched people. We love those folks. So much of what we do here is to draw them in and to blow some of their paradigms and reintroduce them to one whose love is amazing.
My other heart goes out to those I would calldead-churched, folks who are in church every weekend who have no relationship with a Godwho keeps saying, "You've despised me. You've robbed me. You don't love me. You are arrogant me," and they go, "What do you mean we've left you? We're here every single week."
The second greatest mission field in America today is folks who are at church every weekend who think because of their geography, their location, or their practices they're satisfying what this God who loves them is looking for. The book of Malachi is written to that group specifically. It's written in the context of history to a group of folks who were in the middle of practicing all the things that God wanted his covenant people to practice.
Here's what I want you to do. If you've not yet turned to Malachi in your Bible, you can do that. Go to Matthew and go one to your left. It's the last book in your Old Testament. It's God's last effort with a specific group of people to tell them, "We have to get this thing right, or our relationship is going to go into a serious time of isolation and dysfunction. This marriage, this intimacy, this closeness that we wanted… If we don't begin to understand one another, there is going to be a terrible divorce. I don't want that." So he efforts with them one more time to clear up what it means to experience a relationship with God.
Once you get to Malachi, I want you to turn with me to the table of contents. That's right. All the way back in the beginning. I want you to look at the beginning of your Bible, at the table of contents, where you will see the 39 books of your Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament written. I want to show you where this book fits. It's so important to understand how your Old Testament is put together. A lot of folks get frustrated when they read their Bible because they don't know what goes where.
What they don't know about those 39 books that make up your Old Testament is that only the first 17 are in what we would call chronological order. That's from Genesis through Esther. Frankly, Esther should be tucked somewhere back there right around before Ezra. Genesis through Esther are called your historical books. It's God's newspaper. It's God's revelation about the history of his seeking after humankind who he created, loves, and wants to know intimately. Genesis through Esther. Draw a line under Esther. Those are your historical books.
What you have in the remaining 22 books of your Old Testament are different genres of literature that comment on the history that is the creation of man all the way through about 400 to 500 BC So when you read one of those 22 other books you have to ask yourself, "Where does this poem reflect in the context of history?"
For instance, if you read Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, it's maybe a decent read (with its Lilliputians and its Yahoos and all the other stuff that's in there), but until you realize the satire that Swift intended dropped over a specific time in political history of his native language, you can't fully appreciate the satire and the meaning of that little book. You have to understand what that satire was written for in order to be fully enlightened by it. The same is true with basically Job through Malachi.
The next 5 books, Job through Song of Solomon (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and the like), are your poetical books. What's that mean? They're books written in a certain genre of literature: poetry. Those books are efforted to communicate stuff to us, but often with a specific language that uses parallelism (not always rhyme as we would limit poetry to). It's just a certain type of prose.
It comes from all throughout that 17-book history that's already there in your Old Testament. For instance, Job fits way back by Genesis 12. They think that Job was a contemporary of a guy by the name of Abraham. There's another guy who wrote, named Moses. He wrote Psalm 90 among a few others, and Moses is an Exodus creature. Also, you have to understand David back there in 2 Samuel. Where these poems were in the context of history allows you to get the full meaning from them.
The same now is true with the other 17 books starting with Isaiah and going through Malachi. Those guys are what you call your prophets. These are men who God raised up to speak into the context of history to tell folks, "If you don't straighten up and fly right, if you don't get it right about who I am and how I love you and what it means to respond to me, then there will be a break in our relationship."
If you will, the John Grays of your Old Testament are Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah… Are these names ringing some bell? These are the 17 guys the Lord used to speak to the nation specifically. All in all, there are many more prophets than that, but 17 of their books were preserved for a reason.
Malachi is what is called a post-exilic prophet,which means he is not an exilic prophet or a pre-exilic prophet. When you listen to those three things you go, "What?" Let me explain to why I said that. It's significant stuff. When you read those 17 prophets, they fit in one of 3 categories.
They are either guys who wrote before the great separation… That was called an exile. It happened for 70 years. They wrote during the 70-year exile where, if you will, the Venetians were sent to their room to sulk and realize that separated from God from Mars, to beat this analogy to death, they want him and would want to come back to him. Then there were folks who wrote after that separation when they were restored back to their locale, living in the same geography, if you will, as God revealed himself in that day in age, who said, "Now remember what you were supposed to learn so you don't get sent off again."
Malachi is a post-exilic prophet. Your Old Testament is God's effort to reveal himself through a group of people that he, for no reason other than his kindness and goodness, chose to develop a relationship with so that they might walk with him and become a kingdom of priests: an entire nation who knew him who would describe to others what it meant to live in a relationship with a God who created all people and will call all people into account.
He did not love the Jews more than he loved anybody else in the sense that he only wanted a relationship with the Jews. His desire was that he would use Abraham and Abraham's descendants to be individuals who would get this word from God, that he would introduce himself to them and develop a relationship with them, so as they prospered and walked in the way of truth and light, others would say, "Can you explain to us how to live that way?" And they would say, "Not only can we explain to you how, but we can also explain to you who told us and who he is. He's not just our God; he's the God of creation. We want you to know him."
God decided to use a young man by the name of Abraham to do that. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a couple of twins: Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau, we find out, were warring from the moment that they got in the womb. They were fighting to see who could come out first that they might receive the double blessing that the first son got. If there were, in effect, 21 shares of their father's belongings, the first son got a double portion. He'd get 14. The second would get 7. That was the custom of the day.
The first son would carry that name of the father forward and would have a double blessing in order to be able to do that. Well, Esau came out of mama's womb first, but it says that Jacob was grabbing him at the heel. That's why he got the name Jacob. Esau got his name because it says he was hairy and a red-headed one. He had red all over his body, so they made a play on that, and they called him Esau.
The one that was coming behind him grabbed him by the heel. The grandson of Abraham, a guy by the name of Jacob, which means to deceive or to grab or trip up at the heel. Meaning you get what you want by fooling, tricking, or tripping up another. If you watch the life of Jacob through your Old Testament, you'll find out that is exactly who he was.
He was a young man who did not trust God, did not seek God, did not honor God, and did not want a relationship with God. What he really wanted was to get what he wanted his own way. So if that meant tricking his uncle Laban, if that meant tricking his brother Esau, if that meant deceiving his father, if that meant going into an unhealthy relationship with his mom to get what he wanted, that's what Jacob did.
If you look at Jacob and Esau, you'll find out that those two guys… Most of us men today would probably relate to Esau. Esau was a man's man. He subscribed to Field & Stream. He would always bring in the biggest rack every year during hunting season. He would have the venison. He would be the guy who would throw a barbeque in his backyard.
Jacob would be the guy who would make sure everything was laid out nicely. He got Better Homes and Gardens. He was hanging out in the kitchen with mom. Mama loved him, and Mama wanted Jacob to have this special blessing. So Jacob and Mama came up with a plan in order to allow that to happen. Jacob connived to get what God in his sovereignty had already determined that he would get, but Jacob didn't understand that.
You'll find out that God loved Esau just like he loved Jacob, but what he was going to do because of his sovereign goodness is use Jacob in a way to accomplish his purposes that he wasn't going to use Esau. That doesn't mean he didn't love Esau. It just means that he was going to use Jacob differently. Esau could still have a wonderful, satisfying, fulfilled, and tremendous life, but the descendant of promise would come through Jacob.
Jacob had, you'll find out, 12 sons. Those sons took the name of their father, Jacob. What happened with Jacob is through his entire life, he tried to make things happen in his own way until God eventually humbled him and broke him. This man who used to try and get things on his own will or whim by tripping others up at the heel, by tricking them, being smarter than them, working his way to greatness, God finally showed him that he just couldn't make it happen.
One night, when Esau was coming to clean young Jacob's hide, Jacob got scared. For the first time in his life, he wrestled with God like he never had before, and God dislocated his hip. He did a physical thing to him in the midst of a wrestling match that God created with Jacob in order to teach Jacob something.
"Jacob, you thought you could prevail on your own effort. I'm going to show you that not only are you weak to begin with, but I'm going to make you even weaker. Every step you take is going to be a reminder of your weakness and need to depend upon me. I'm going to change your name from 'one that strives to make things happen on your own' to Israel, which means God strives for." So Jacob became Israel, one that God strives with, and he had 12 boys who became the nation of Israel.
Now Esau, Jacob's brother, had some kids as well. They became the Edomites. From Genesis on, you have a little battle going on between the descendants of Jacob and the descendants of Esau. You also have a little struggle going on between this God who created both of them, who loves both of them, who wants to call Jacob into a relationship with him and Esau into a relationship with him, but they both mess up. They both go their own way continually.
What you will find out is that God efforts in a specific way to Jacob's descendants, but never to the exclusion of Esau's descendants. Jacob's descendants are told by God repeatedly, "If you don't do what I've asked you to do, it's going to cost you." He tells them they're going to go through a time of great judgment, and they did for 70 years. (If you care, it was 606 BC, largely down to 536 BC).
He raised up some wicked folks, starting with Assyria to wipe out 10 of the tribes in 722 BC. A little bit later, Babylon, which is modern-day Iraq (the scriptures call them the Chaldeans), came and wiped out Assyria and went further than Assyria went. They hauled off the two remaining tribes of Benjamin and Judah and took them into 70 years of exile, where he had exilic prophets like Ezekiel and Daniel and Jeremiah write to them.
Then, they got back in 536 BC, and he raised up Medo-Persia to wipe out Babylon. The king of Medo-Persia decided to be, in his grace, an instrument of God to allow these Jews to go back now to their homeland in Israel and to live there again, to rebuild the rubble that was there, to rebuild the people that went back, and to rebuild the wall that gave them protection as a city. He then sent some other prophets, like a guy named Haggai and a guy named Malachi, to tell them not to miss what they should've already learned.
There's your Old Testament. You now know it. This is significant. God is telling the descendants of Jacob, "That little 70-year stint you just went through where you were slaves again, even though I delivered you prior to this from Egypt when you were slaves, I took 2 million of you out of there, I plundered the Egyptians, I put you in a place of promise, I drove out seven nations greater in number and power than you, I gave you what you want you wanted, and then you turned from me.
I kept warning you through Elijah and Elisha, I kept warning you through Isaiah, I kept warning you through Amos, I kept warning you through all these guys, but you turned from me. I told you it was going to cost you, and it did. While you were over there and it was costing you, I told you this is why you're here. Then I got you back. Now, look what you're doing. You've gone right back in the same old rut, and if you don't get it right this time, there's going to be a serious consequence to it."
Malachi was God's last-shot effort before there was such a separation that some people had even come to believe that he will never accomplish what he said he would accomplish, which is to love Jacob's descendants forever. They're wrong. He will, but I'll tell you what. It's been a pretty rough 2,500 years for those who God loves.
In the context of that 2,500 years, he's introduced a new group of people that he would woo to him and we would start, if you will, dancing with Israel's date. He would love us, and he would take us as his bride. It's a group and a nation made up not of physical descendants of Abraham now but of physical and non-physical descendants of Abraham, people who are rightly related to God by faith. Guess what the church is doing. They're doing the exact same thing that Israel did.
We think that because we show up certain places, give certain tithes, do certain things, give them 5 percent of our ear, that he should be satisfied. God would say, "Oh no. You don't get it. I want your whole heart. I don't want you just to hear me. I want you to listen. I don't want you to just be physically near me. I want your relationship and your heart." This book is so incredibly relevant to where we are as a nation, to where we are as a Western church, that it's worth going through. You're going to find it incredibly impactful to your life.
What I'm going to do today is introduce you to the first five verses of this book, and I'm going to introduce with it, the most confusing, difficult doctrine in Christendom. You ready? I'm going to clear it up like I don't think you've ever had it cleared up before. I hope this blesses you. Let me pray right here in an unusual way.
Lord, this is some good stuff. We have covered some ground. We've already spoken more Bible than some of our guests and friends have maybe heard in a lifetime. They're swimming right now trying to figure out why Malachi is a post-exilic prophet and what that has to do with them being here today and their discomfort, their marriage, their hurt, their pain, or their loneliness.
We've talked about an exile that happened 900 years ago. They're going, "This is so irrelevant to my life." I pray that Lord, you would allow us now, as we look at your Word specifically, to hear from this prophet who wants us to clear up our misunderstandings about who you are and how you have loved us.
Lord, we're going to tell you, just like Israel, who was put back in this place with you, wanted to know how you loved them because their city was still in rubble, their industry wasn't developed, there was no security or army to protect them, there was no prosperity amongst the people, their circumstances weren't good, and they were confused. "What does it mean you love us?"
There are many folks in this room today, Father, who are ridden with disease and sickness who are lonely, whose hearts are heavy, whose businesses aren't clicking, whose life isn't described by joy, who have seen people who they care about suffer greatly, or who have seen addiction overtake their life, and they want to understand your love for them and where you are. They are saying, "What do you mean you love me?"
I pray today, Lord, that we could clarify what you meant and that you would draw them to you in a way that would change everything about how they view you, and it wouldn't be as if you're from Mars and we're from Venus; it would be as if we're one as a result of your Word. In Christ's name, amen.
Look at Malachi 1. This post-exilic prophet written about 440 years before Jesus came. The Bible goes cold and silent for 400 and some-odd years after this book. It is God's last-ditch effort to restore the relationship. "Are you going to get the message?" It says, "The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel…" Who's that? Jacob. "…through Malachi. 'I have loved you,' says the LORD. But you [Israel and people today] say, 'How have You loved us?'" Now God responds right there in verse 2.
"' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?' declares the LORD. 'Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." Though Edom…" **Which is the location that the descendants of Esau settled in."…says, 'We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins'; thus says the LORD of hosts, 'They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever.' Your eyes will see this and you will say, 'The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!'"**
What in the world? As if God wasn't already confusing enough, I just told you that this loving God hates Esau, and that's his evidence for loving Jacob. It would be as if I said, "I have loved the true church of Jesus Christ, and I hate anybody else who doesn't, by faith, turn to God through Jesus Christ. I hate them."
You would go, "Wait a minute, God. That's fine, but first of all, you say you love me, and I don't really feel your love in a material, circumstantial way. Secondly, how in the world does that make me comfortable with you that you love me and hate others? That doesn't sound like a good, fair God. I hope you don't say that too loud because they might hear you."
I had an interesting opportunity this week. I had a chance to sit down with Morley Safer with 60 Minutes. Morley was interviewing me. 60 Minutes is doing a segment on the end times, and through a long series of events, they asked if I would spend some time with him. So I went over with his producer and him and sat down at a hotel here, and we talked for about an hour and fifteen minutes.
In the context of this, as we were talking about this event commonly known as the rapture, which we've addressed in our little series, The Last Things You Need to Know…If you're wanting some information on that, we'd love to make that available to you. Morley looked at me, and one of the things he said was, "Are you telling me that your God, this God of love, is going to leave all kinds of people here on this earth to go through what you've described to me as what sounds like a living hell?"
I go, "It'll be worse than that, Morley. Yeah." He goes, "Well, where is the love of God in that? I'm not going to get raptured." I said, "Well, as of now, no, but let's labor together here a bit more, and we'll see." We talked, and we had a great conversation. Morley said, "Todd, I don't like your God. You tell me that one of his evidences that he loves you is he's going to remove you from what he's leaving for me. Where is the love in that? Todd, I loved. Morley, I hated. What about all those Muslims and Buddhists? What about all those Mormons?"
It was really interesting. He was talking about the Left Behind series specifically, and he talked to me about how that book has been accused (among other things) of being anti-Catholic. He asked me who the Antichrist was. We talked about that and how I didn't know specifically and I don't think anybody really could.
We talked about how it was a great problem when people associated their interpretation of the Scripture to the same level of inerrancy and credibility as the Scriptures themselves are because when their figure comes and goes, people scoff (not at their interpretation but at the very Scripture themselves) and the problem that I had with that.
He said, "In the book Left Behind, isn't it anti-Catholic that the Antichrist, in effect, becomes…or at least the dragon that weds himself to Nicholae…is the successor to the pope? In that book, the pope was raptured and the one who takes his place becomes the whore of Babylon. Isn't that anti-Catholic?" I looked at it him, and I said, "Not for the first pope that was raptured. He liked it. Didn't bother him a bit."
He goes, "Are Catholics going to get raptured?" To which I said, "If they love Jesus Christ and believe that he alone is the means through which they can be restored into relationship with God through his gracious provision and his sacrifice on the cross, absolutely. God doesn't care what you are. He cares what you do with Jesus."
Morley, in the midst of all that, said to me, "How can your God of love leave me here? Why do you know this secret thing that I need to know to get what you tell me is where I need to go?" So we had a great conversation about that on and off camera. What I want to describe to you is what I described to Morley.
What I described is that God did do something to me that I can take no credit for. What I believe about God affected the way that I saw Morley that day, and it affects the way that I see others who don't yet know Christ. This is what it's called. You ready? It's called the doctrine of election.
You can read your Bible. It shows up in Genesis. It shows up in Exodus. It shows up all through your Old Testament. It shows up in the poets. It shows up in historical narratives. It shows up in the prophets. It shows up in the person of Jesus Christ. It shows up in the Pauline epistles. It shows up in the book of Revelation. It is there from Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to end…the words election, calling, choosing, predestination, foreknowledge.
People hear this, and they go, "Oh my gosh. You have to be kidding me. You believe that God calls some to himself and leaves others that he doesn't bring?" I'm going to tell you that I only believe it because the Bible teaches it. I'm going to explain it to you today in a way that hopefully will allow you to swallow it and be blessed by it like never before. How does it even relate to you and me? How does it relate to Malachi 1:1-5? Here we go. Are you ready? It relates this way.
At this time, he's saying to the people of Jerusalem, "You want to know how I love you? All you do is you look around at your marital status. You look around at your bank account. You look around at your health files. If those things aren't like you want them to be, you don't think I've loved you. There's something much biggergoing on here," he would say to the Jews, "than how your business is doing, how your body looks in the mirror, and how your dating life is going. I have dealt with your greatest issue: your separation from me. I've done it for you in such a way that in comparison to all others, it looks like I hate them compared to you."
Let me just show you something. Anytime you find this hate and love relationship used in the Scripture, it is always in the context of comparison. First of all, look with me at Matthew 6:24. It says, "No one can serve two masters…" This is Jesus speaking. "…for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." Right here, Jesus is saying, "If you have two people telling you what to do, you have to listen to one. In listening to one, it's going to look like you completely ignore the other."
Yesterday I was teaching my little 1-year-old Golden Retriever puppy, who has more puppy in him than anything right now, what it means to listen to one master. So I had my sweet little 8-year-old girl Kirby out there with me, and I had the tennis ball in Kirby's hand. I said, "Crockett, you stay," and then I had Kirby fire that tennis ball.
Everything in this retriever is wired to go retrieve that tennis ball. I said, "Stay." Then I said, "Kirby, get him to go, " and she'd go, "Come on, Crockett. Come on, Crockett. Come on. Get it, Crockett." He would want to start to move, and I'd be over there right behind him. I'd go, "No." Doesn't matter how loud you say it, you just have to grumble it.
It's just like a young dog who's nursing at mama. He has the little, sharp puppy teeth down there where he's trying to milk from mama. He starts to get those puppy teeth a little bit disrespectful to the tenderness that's associated with that particular part of mommy's body part. You'll hear mama growl, and you'll see that puppy start to back away.
What happens if that puppy doesn't listen to the growl? All of a sudden, there will be more aggressive barking sounds, and then the puppy will yap and run off. That's exactly how you train a dog. You stand behind him and go, "No." Then when it doesn't listen, then there's a bark, and he learns. That's why a dog who's trained well can respond as easily to a "No," as they can to a big bark. Mama doesn't need to bite every time. Just one time. That dog learns that there's a warning and then there's a consequence.
So I was teaching Crockett that there is a consequence to not listening to this (your master). I let that Kirby know, "Listen, Kirby. You're going to have to have that dog despise you and not respect you. When that dog learns to listen to its master, then I can transfer that trust, hopefully from me to you and to the wife and to others. But we have to get it started right here."
I made that dog act like he completely despised Kirby so he could love me. It was to see if could love my commands and hate hers. He can't serve two masters. If I tell him to stay, how can he go? This is what Jesus was saying about money.
"I'm going to tell you how to live this life. I'm going to tell you how to order your life. I'm going to tell you how to prioritize your life. I'm going to tell you how to get value and meaning out of your life. Money is going to tell you how to pursue pleasure in life. Money's going to tell you how to get meaning and value out of your life. Money is going to tell you how to prioritize your life so you can get it.
You have to ask yourself…Are you going to serve the god of mammon, or are you going to serve the God of life? He says, "You can't serve us both. There will be sometimes when you serve me that I will allow you to prosper (I will give you some money), but if you ultimately try and serve both of us, you're not going to serve either one of us.
The truth is, every decision you make shows who you love. Jesus was saying, "Don't love money. Love me. In fact, love me so much that it looks like you hate money because you're concerned about honoring me with everything that you do, first and foremost, not about your own material comfort or prosperity."
Look a little later in Luke 14. It says, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." Question: Does God want you to hate your mom and dad? Answer: No. Question: Does God want you to hate your life and commit suicide? Answer: No.
So whatever this means, it doesn't mean that he wants you to be somebody who has such a disregard for your life that you just regularly go skydiving without a parachute. It doesn't mean that you play Russian roulette as a thing of leisure. It doesn't mean that you hate your mom and dad where you are absolutely antagonistic towards them. In fact, the Bible attributes that kind of behavior with a curse.
What it means is, if Mama and Daddy are telling you to go down this road, and I have made it clear that this is the road that you go on, you make sure you give Mommy and Daddy all the honor in the world, which means they always get an audience. It means they always get a voice. It means you always listen attentively and kindly, and when they're done, you say, "Thank you for loving me. I believe what you just told me, you told me because you love me. Now, I'll run that through the filter of God's Word. Mama and Daddy, if what you asked me to do contradicts that, then and only then will I not respect you."
He's saying, "I don't want you to check with Ma and Pa. When I ask you to go, you go. When I ask you to obey, you obey. I don't care what Mom and Dad have told you. I don't care what you grew up in, what kind of racist home, what kind of view of women, what kind of activities that Mom and Dad endorsed. If I don't endorse them, you act like you hate your mom and dad because of the way that you love me."
I want you to make decisions to your life that aren't going to necessarily propel you in business. I want you to pursue a road of integrity. I want you to pursue a road of others-centeredness so that sometimes people will look at you and go, "Man, if you lived that way and operate that way, it's going to cost you. You can't do that."
The way you obey God and honor him, people are going to say, "Wagner, it's like you hate yourself. It's like you hate your career. It's like you love to put yourself in a position where people are not going to like you. What you're doing is so politically incorrect you're crazy to do it. Don't you know it's going to kill your opportunity to have influence? Don't say it. Don't go there. I don't care how tenderly you say it. You're foolish. You hate yourself if you say it."
Jesus says, "If I ask you to say it in love and grace and truth, you say it. Let me worry about the consequences." He doesn't say, "Go around and be abusive and ugly and destructive to yourself and others just for the sake of it being destructive to others." He saying, "In comparison to your love for obedience, make it look like you hate me."
By the way (husbands), when you say, "I will love you and cherish you and honor you," it means that the way that you treat your wife should be so far above the way that you treat other people that it looks like you hate all other women in comparison. Convicting. Most of us are incredibly kind to women that we don't know or wives of our friends. We would never speak to them the way we speak to our spouses. It should be just the opposite according to our covenant oath before God.
That's what's going on here. Let me just lay this out for you. This is the deal. God loved Esau. Man, he loved Esau. He prospered Esau. He blessed Esau. Do you know that one of those 17 prophets in the Old Testament that God sent to tell folks about who he is was a guy who wrote specifically to address Esau? Not all of those guys who are in your Old Testament wrote to Jacob's descendants.
For instance, those of you who are Veggie Tales fans, in Jonah with the big fish, where did God swallow up Jonah? Jonah was going to go one direction, but God said, "I want you to go that way. I don't want you to tell God's people in Israel how much I love them. I have other folks doing that, Jonah. I want to use you as a messenger to tell somebody else how much I love them. If I have to swallow you up with a fish and spit you up on their shore, I'll do it, because I love them."
Who were those folks? The Ninevites. Those Ninevites were so nasty that some of the war atrocities that you hear that have been done by the Germans and the Nazis and the Croats and the Serbs during their war, stuff that we've heard Saddam Hussein has done to the Kurds and all the folks in the northern part of Iraq…I'm going to tell you something…are like children compared to what the Assyrians and Ninevites would do.
Those folks were nasty. God said, "I love them, and I'm so sorry they're taking that course. Jonah, you go preach to them the gospel of repentance, and you tell them to turn to me, or they will wish they did." Guess what? God loved Esau the same way, so he sent Obadiah to the folks in Edom.
In fact, it's only 21 verses. It's the shortest book in your Old Testament. I've taken 3 or 4 verses out of there, and I'm going to read it to you. In Israel, there were volumes of books that were written to them warning them about their turning away from God. Yet, he took a Post-It note, and he stuck it right on the head of Esau. He said, "Don't miss this Esau."
In some ways, he's kinder toward them than he is toward Jacob because he makes it abundantly clear. He says, "Esau, I'm not going to ask you to endure a lot with me, but I'm going to give you one thing. Look at me, Esau. Cut it out. Repent of your wickedness. Deal with me. Acknowledge me as your God, or it's going to cost you everything." End of story. Twenty-one verses. Case closed.
About 400 years before Malachi shows up, Obadiah shows up. This is what it says. "The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom [the dwelling place of the decedents of Esau] —We have heard a report from the LORD, And an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, 'Arise and let us go against her for battle.' […] ** The arrogance of your heart[Esau]has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to earth?'''**
God is saying, "Look, Esau. I know where you are in Edom. I know you live in this beautiful place where there's a narrowing of the rock that goes into this chasm area. I know you built for yourself, carved into this beautiful red rock, dwelling places with an elaborate transportation system within them, that nobody can get to you (in that day and age) without coming through this little throat of an entrance place where you can wipe them out and annihilate them.
All of Egypt could come against you, but they can only get through about 20 at a time, and you can kill them row after row after row after row after row. So you can go out and, like pirates, rape and maraud and steal and plunder and rush back to your little hiding place, and you'll never be dealt with, or so you think. I'm telling you, they may not be able to get to you, but I can."
He says, "For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations," Esau. It draws near on Israel. I've been trying to get it through their thick head, and I'm trying to get it through yours. I'd tried to get it through Nineveh's head. I'd tried to get it through Rome's head. I'm going to try and get it through the United States of America's head."
"As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head…" **"There's going to come a day, Esau. You're not going to like it.""…then the house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph[another one of the sons of Jacob]a flame; but the house of Esau will be as stubble."** What happens when you put fire by stubble? It consumes it quickly.
He's saying, "Esau, you have seen me be incredibly harsh on the sons of Jacob. I've even used you as an instrument to get their attention, but I will continually get their attention until I have their attention, and then they will be my people. When they're my people, I will bless them. I'm going to use them to execute judgment back on all those folks who didn't learn that walking with me was the key to why you could execute judgment on them. So if you don't get rightly related to the God of Jacob, the God of Jacob is going to use Jacob to set your little world on fire."
"And they will set them on fire and consume them [Esau] , so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau, For the LORD has spoken." Do you see that? Obadiah is a Post-It note to the Edomites and the Esau-ites by saying, "Know God. Fear God. Turn to him." He loves them, and he prevails with them, and they miss it. To this day and age, Herod was probably the last great Edomite, the last great descendant of Esau, that we knew.
Was Esau having his way with Israel? Yes. He was lording it over Jacob's descendants through Herod. But God, 70 years later, pretty much wiped out the Edomites as they participated with Jerusalem in their rebellion against Rome. The descendants of Esau were wiped out to where we don't even know that they exist anymore today. They've never rebuilt the land that they were driven from.
Right now, it's a great archeological study, but there's no Edom today, and there will never be again. Do you want to show the Bible wrong in prophecy? Go rebuild it and then look out. God said to Jacob, "You want to know how much I've loved you? Look at the difference between you and Esau.
The difference between you and Esau is I told Esau one time not to jack with me and who I am, to repent, to turn to me. I told him that I love him, to come into relationship with me, that there were consequences to his wickedness, and then I left them on their way. I gave them all the revelation they needed, but then I let them choose what they chose.
The difference between you, Jacob, and Esau? Do you want to know how I love you? I have sent you prophet after prophet, I've disciplined you after disciplined you, I sent you away to a seven-year exile, and I'm about to send you away to a 2,500-plus-year exile. All of this to get a group of you, descendants of Jacob, who are a remnant, who will walk with me, that I can lead you to a place that I promised your father, Abraham, I would get you."
Not all descendants of Jacob know Jesus Christ. Not all descendants of Jacob knew God then, but he always worked within the descendants of Jacob that some might come to him. Not so with Esau. None of them turned, and he let them go their way until they were extinguished in the earth.
Now I'm going to show you an illustration. I'm going to close this idea. I've asked some friends to come up. I'm going to show you something that will clarify what this doctrine of election is. This is a fact. God chose Jacob. That doesn't mean he said to Esau, "I know you want to come. You just can't come." He just chose Jacob. He chose to use Jacob in a way and to work in Jacob's life in such a way that Jacob would eventually respond personally and that there would be certain descendants of him that would respond personally to where they could know him.
Watch this. I'm going to walk over here. I've put my friends in a place of great promise. This stage represents all that is good. I'm going to tell my friends that behind that door there's Walt Disney World. There's every kind of delight in a restaurant and food and delicacy that you would ever desire. There are all sorts of entertainment available to my friends. I've offered that to them. I've had them come sit at my table.
I've told them, "All that is mine is yours. All the abundance that is in the world is mine. Enjoy it. Love it. Know it as an expression of my desire for you to be delighted. The one thing I want to ask you, my friends, not to do in the midst of all that I've given you is to have all of that [because I want you to enjoy life as I've created for you to have it], but please…this is a funny thing, and it seems like an odd request…I just don't want you to play with fire.
Fire will bring pain and suffering into your life. It will bring about loss of limb. It will bring destruction. It will choke out all the life that you now have to enjoy. It seems like a silly thing even to mention. Enjoy all that I've given you, but just stay away from that which will lead you to certain death."
Female: It's beautiful here.
Male: Let's play with the fire.
Female: Why not? Sounds like fun. I wonder why he didn't want us to have any fun? Have you ever thought about that?
Todd: Hey. Wait. I'm absolutely sure you understood me. I asked you guys that you would not introduce fire into your life. I told you why. I told it would bring certain destruction and death. It would bring pain in a way that you would never have to experience it if you didn't. I didn't go away but for a moment when all of a sudden fire is there. There's a consequence to that. It's hurt our…
Male: Blah. Blah. Blah. Look…Smokey Bear here. "Only you can prevent forest fires." Go away and let us play with our fire.
Female: Did you notice how unhappy he seemed? Like he didn't want us to be happy? Why should we be unhappy like him? I like to have fun. It's freezing in here. We're making it a little bit warmer.
Todd: Wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!
Male: Whoa! Whoa! Oh, I'm on fire!
Todd: Yeah, I see that.
Male: I'm on fire!
Todd: Yes, you were.
Male: I'm okay.
Todd: All right. Hey, listen.
Todd: I see now that there's already pain in your life. You've had scars as a result of this thing that you're playing with. It's getting worse all the time. I'm asking you to please, stop that. Come over here with me.
Female: Don't listen to him.
Todd: In grace, I will allow you to have a new opportunity to experience life like I intended.
Male: Enough. Give it a rest.
Female: We're all going to have fun.
Male: Yeah. We're done, all right?
Male 2: That's a bunch of hocus pocus anyway.
Male: Go over there. Go talk to your people and be like, "Oh. I'm real warm over here."
Female: Well, I'm going to show y'all something. Watch this.
Male: Wooo! Oh yeah!
Male 2: Oh, oh. Look at that.
Female: Try it!
Todd: All right. Now, we're getting to a place where there is no escape. Certain death is all around them. Even if they wanted out now because of the suffering they couldn't.
Female: I'm not dead.
Male 2: Yippee!
Todd: Y'all listen. Please. Come. You must come right now. If you don't get out right now, you'll die in the fire. Please.
Female: Fire is fun.
Male: Just call me Pyro.
Female: Oh my gosh. There are all these we haven't lit yet.
Male: Having a good time here.
Todd: There's no way I can reach my people. There's a wall that is eternally fixed. There has been from the beginning. Now it's consumed them.
Female: We're not consumed.
Todd: The destruction that they've chosen is certain. Yet, I love them.
Female: I know, and it is great.
Todd: The only thing I can do is take my only son. Come here.
Female: Oh my gosh. What are you doing?
Todd: Come here, Cooper.
Male: Playing with a little fire.
Todd: Come here. I love these people.
Male 2: Ah! No!
Todd: Cooper, this is going to cause you pain. I know it is, but I love these people, and I want you to know something. There's no way they can get out unless you, Cooper, sacrifice for them. I'm going to lay your body down, and you're going to put out that fire. Only through the fire break that you provide will they have a way to come out. So please, Cooper, excuse me for this pain. It hurts me like it hurts you.
Female: What are you doing?
Todd: I want to sacrifice you.
Female: Your son! Oh my gosh.
Male: This guy's an idiot.
Female: How mean.
Male: That's your son there.
Female: How cruel.
Todd: Come through my son.
Female: That is odd.
Male 2: Forget it.
Male: You're nutty.
Female: Oh my gosh. The poor little boy.
Male: Having a little fire here, and he throws his kid on?
Male: There are flames here. Man, he's crazy.
Female: He's just lying there?
Male 2: Yeah.
Male: I don't know who this guy is.
Female: Oh my gosh. I hope he won't listen to him. He'd better not leave us. I thought he liked us.
Female: Why is he even listening?
Male: Hey. Yeah.
Female: What did he say? What did he say to him?
Male 2: I have no idea. It's kind of looney, if you ask me.
Male: Fools. Fools.
All right. What you just saw is about the clearest picture that I can show you of what it means when it says, "Jacob, I loved. Esau, I hated. When you understand what the Scriptures talk about, how God prevails with some and does a special work of grace, he unconditionally elects, he chooses whom he will make his children, and he chooses whom he will allow to continue in their own way. He is the potter.
I want you to read this with me. The Scripture says in Romans 9:14, "What shall we say then [in light of what you've just seen] ? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, 'I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.' So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy."
In other words, he's saying right here… Like when you saw this metaphor from the very beginning, that they had all that life had to offer. I said to just stay away from that which can bring death, destruction, and despair. What do they choose? Immediately, they rebelled against me, and they brought into their life that which separated me from them in their rebellion and also brought pain and death. It brought gross deformity (if we took the illustration all the way out), anguish, and destruction.
I went back. I prevailed with them again, and yet they said, "Leave us alone. Smokey Bear here." Then I went back yet again. The fire was all around them. It was clear that left to themselves there was no life there, and then I made a fire break the only way that I could. I provided a sacrifice that would allow them to come to me. Even in doing that, they all scoffed at me…every one of them.
Then, in a way that can only be explained by mercy upon mercy, instead of being angry at the rebellion, instead of being offended at the rejection of my son, I entered in, and I prevailed with Aaron in a particular way. I spoke to his heart in a way that allowed him to understand the certainty of his end. He took the way I had provided. By faith, he walked across it and made his way across that death to life.
Then I went back in. I pointed to the scars and the pain that was in Georgia's life. I showed her how I could bring healing and work with her and take away the years the locusts had eaten and led her to life. Then I went on my way and left Joe there right where Joe wanted to be. I prevailed upon Georgia and Aaron to let me take them to where they did not want to go so that they might have what only I, in my mercy and compassion, would want to give them.
I did not keep anybody who wanted to come from coming. In fact, was my word clear to all? What's your response when you see this illustration? "Don't give your son for those wicked people. Don't love them. Don't reach out to them. They're getting what they deserve, every one of them." God isn't unjust. God is merciful and compassionate.
Do you want to know what the great mystery of my life is? I want to know why God came and sat with me around that table. I want to know why God brought about events in my life, whether it's through scars, through the decisions I had made, or just a tenderness he gave in my heart…that though I love fire, I mocked at the consequence of fire, I played with fire, I had my own fire and bonfire parties…that he brought me to a place that I understood that there was life and forgiveness available through the incredible sacrifice of his Son. For reasons I will never understand, he was merciful to me. He called, and I heard his voice. He said that the reason I heard his voice is because I was his sheep.
This is election and calling, people. Nowhere in the Scriptures…nowhere in the Scriptures…does it say that God prevents people who want to come from coming. All through the Scriptures it says individuals who don't want to come, he works in an irresistible way to draw them to him. This is foreknowledge, predestination, election, calling, and sovereign will.
Now let me just say this. No one is going to be condemned because they were prevented from coming to a God they wanted to know. In fact, the opposite is true. All who come to God by faith will have come because his mercy, his compassion, and his grace and kindness will lead them there despite their long indifference to his call. Let me explain to you what this doctrine does.
It changes my view of me. It is a completely humiliating doctrine. It humbles me beyond belief. I don't stand here before you and tell you that I'm smarter than you or better than Morley. I am not. I am a trophy of grace that for reasons I'll never be able to understand, God prevailed with me, he humbled me, and lead me to life.
It changes how I view you. I see you as majestic loved ones of God in whom he delights. I have no choice but to give you great honor and dignity.
It changes how I view those who are far from God, those who are lost, those who have not come to the light, or those who haven't yet gone through the way that Christ provided. How can I be arrogant towards someone when if it wasn't for the kindness of God in my life leading me to life, I would have never come myself? In a moment, God could make them like unto me and like unto him. There's no room for arrogance. All there is is love and concern and care.
It changes how I view evangelism. It takes all the pressure off of me from having to persuasive or convincing or articulate. I have a friend who said when he first came to Christ and started speaking, a buddy told him, "Here's how you do it. You tell a joke, and you run to the cross." It's your job and my job to be clear about the cross and to speak about who this God is with such clarity that you have a chance to hear his voice and that you then can come. That's my job. It changes my view of evangelism.
It changes how I view my security. He is the Alpha. He'll be my Omega. He is my beginning. He will be my end. He took me from Egypt. He will get me to Cana. God has done the work. He will finish the work. I am secure. Why? Because I'm not saved because of anything I've done, but what he has done for me in his divine calling and his sovereign will in my life that is expressed in my repentance and conviction and accepting his special call of mercy into my life that gets me here.
It changes how I view God. I see this as no 50/50 deal. It's no 90/10 deal. This is God creating such a work in my life that it causes me to worship him and love him and to die for him if that's what it takes. It takes away my sense of, "What do you mean you love me, God? I'm single, and I don't want to be. What do you mean you love me, God? I'm not as pretty as I want to be. What do you mean you love me, God? I'm not as successful as you want me to be." Oh, that's what you mean when you say you love me.
Folks, there are two kinds of people who are here this morning. There are folks who are going to hear what I'm about to say who will come or have already come and there are other folks who are checking their watch, and they're saying, "When's that oaf going to shut up so I can get out of here?" There's nothing that I can say that's going to let you know about the love of Christ. But it's my job to be clear with his voice.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, andGod demonstrates his love for you in that while you were yet sinners Christ died for you, that if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Jesus says, "Come."
I don't know what heaven is going to be like, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to involve pearly gates and big banners. But if there was a banner that you looked at over the gates of heaven, this is what it would say. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." That is a cry that goes out to all of you in this world filled with matches, fires, and gasoline that we play with and mock with and that we suffer from. It is not as God intended. He says, "Are you sick? Are you being choked out by the smoke? Are you filled with pain? Come."
I'm going to tell you something. If you (like me) by grace, have walked underneath that banner and I have come to my Savior…though I've been wearied, and I found life…when I get underneath that banner, and I am over, and I look back on the other side of that very same banner, I see this. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I am humbled, and I worship him.
So here is my call upon you this morning, church…people who gather in a building that we call a gathering place for a church. Are you part of his called-out ones? Do you know how you know? You come. You come, and you accept his provision. You go, "You know what? I'm pretty sick of this smoke-filled life. I hate the scars. I hate the deformity. I hate the pain. I'm sick of the suffering. You hear his voice, you see his incredible love, and you come. Will you come this morning?
Father, I pray for my friends that they would be forever be freed up from the distortion and the confusion that is assigned with this incredible doctrine. We see that you have prevailed with us in the West in a special way. You have prevailed with everybody in this room this morning in a special way. There has been prophet upon prophet, telling upon telling, illustration upon illustration, to make clear your love.
There are others, Father, who simply through the glory of creation, the absolute perfect conviction of conscience, there is already enough evidence in every heart that you are who you said you were, that we are rebels against you, and that there is an infinite gap that we can never breach apart from your kindness towards us. There is no such thing as one who has never heard, Lord, but there is such a thing as men and women like us who have heard it as clear as it can be heard who still won't come, and who get (like all), exactly what we deserve.
The wonder, Lord, is not why you don't draw all by your irresistible grace. The wonder, Lord, is that you save even one. So this morning, I call that you would save another. I pray for the sheep that is out there who now knows you as their shepherd who wants to be drawn to your offer of love out of this world that is rapidly moving towards destruction and extinction, as exhibited in our individual journey towards death and the constant horror that is around us.
We know, Lord, one day you will make it right here when you vanquish wickedness on this earth as you have the descendants of Esau, but for today, you call all, whether they are children of Ishmael or Isaac, Jacob or Esau, to come, and I pray that some would. I pray they would come, Father, and accept your provision, they would repent of their love for fire and death and sin, and they would find your way through the shed blood of your Son who is alone the path to life. In Christ's name, amen.
When it comes to communication, men and women often struggle to understand one another. Even though we care, at times we just can't make sense of what's being said. In the same way, the nation of Israel misunderstood what a relationship with God should look like, even though He repeatedly revealed His heart to them. And even today, churches and followers of Christ miss what He's trying to say. In "God is from Mars, We are from Venus", you'll see God's effort to clearly communicate what a vital, abundant relationship with Him entails as expressed in the book of Malachi. You can learn volumes from this small book that caps off the Old Testament as you consider who God is, who we are, and what it takes to live in right relationship with Him.This series includes the 5-part sub-series on marriage entitled "Why Marriage is a Big Deal to God".