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Are You Ready…to Make a Move?

January 25, 2019

Malachi 2:17-3:617 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and he is delighted with them, or else where is the God of justice?” 1 “See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in—see, he is coming,” says the Lord of Armies. But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will be able to stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s bleach. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by. “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the hired worker, the widow, and the fatherless; and against those who deny justice to the resident alien. They do not fear me,” says the Lord of Armies. “Because I, the Lord, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

Throughout the first two chapters of Malachi, we have seen the children of God get blinded by their own selfishness. They are bringing lame and sick sacrifices, the priests are allowing it, they are weeping and crying out to God in prayer with no response, and now they are griping and complaining that those who are not “in the church” are not receiving the consequences for their behaviors. 

God is quick to remind them, through Malachi, that it is the covenant He made with Abraham generations ago that is keeping them from being destroyed themselves. In verse 6 of this text, God reminds them that “I, the Lord, have not changed”. In other words, His promise to His children is to keep them and not destroy them.

In this text, God tells them of the Messenger that is to come. Actually he speaks of two messengers. The first one (small case m) is John the Baptist, who will come to prepare the people for the coming of Messiah (the 2ndM, upper case – referring to Christ). In that day, the messenger would come to prepare the way and remove any obstacles for the one who was to come. Just as Jonah, once he accepted his calling, went to Nineveh and gave a seven word message, “In seven days, Nineveh will be destroyed”, resulting in many repenting and turning to God, John the Baptist will come and challenge the Israelites to repent and prepare for the coming of Christ. 

With that preparation comes a refining and a cleaning. The text alludes to the refiner’s fire. The refiner’s fire burns off the unnecessary things in our lives and sharpens the good stuff. It does not come without pain though. Fire hurts, but the results are a purified vessel ready to be used.

The text also refers to the launderer’s bleach. The actual meaning refers to the “fuller” of Old Testament day. The fuller would be responsible for removing stains and beating cloth, which would cleanse it and make it thicker and more useful. The results of the launderer’s bleach and the fuller’s work cleanses us from sin and “thickens” us for more useful service. Again, this does not come without pain. 

The theme for our walk through Malachi is “It’s Time to Make a Move”. God has been stirring my heart in regard to putting into practice all of these spiritual disciplines we learn, all of these lessons we hear, and really ramping up our focus on making disciples. With that in mind, let me ask you…

Are you ready to make a move to embrace the refining fire?

  • The refining fire burns off the stuff that we don’t need and allows the good stuff to grow. It also exposes weak areas.
  • The fuller or the launderer’s bleach comes in to scrub the sin stains away and to beat the cloth and make it stronger.
  • If you are ready to grow, if you are ready to make a move, you have to be ready to embrace the refining fire
  • Let’s acknowledge that as fire exposes weak areas, as fuller beats the cloth into shape – it doesn’t come w/out pain
  • It also doesn’t come without difficult choices – without a cost – Luke 14:28 reminds us that we should “count the cost”

Are you ready to make a move from consumer to producer?

  • We are so spoiled to the world coming to us–TV in our homes and through our mobile devices.
  • We are spoiled to restaurants bringing us our food, even serving us through drive-thru windows. 
  • We are so used to paying for a service and then receiving it that we often treat the church the same way.
  • It’s like going to the movie – we walk in, we pay the ticket and concession price and we sit and enjoy the show.
  • Yet, Christ’s last instructions to the church, were to GO make disciples. We need leaders to create more leaders

Who are you intentionally building relationships with IN the church (accountability partners, connections, etc.)

Who are you intentionally building relationships with OUTSIDE the church?

Our goal should be to build a culture of discipleship. It takes time, but potentially has exponential growth. 

Are you ready to make a move?

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

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