The temple and the walls of Jerusalem have been rebuilt and the Israelites have returned home from exile in Babylon and now, not many years later they have turned away to religious indifference. Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, calls the people back to faithfulness.
Bible Reading: Malachi 3:6-10, 4:5-6
"I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?' "Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
It is easy to call on God when times are hard and when we struggle with difficulties but, as the people of Israel discovered, it can be much harder to remain faithful when things are going well. Distractions arise and make demands on our time, our gifts and our money, and before long our relationship with the God who saved us slips down our list of priorities.
Sometimes it is good to take a spiritual health check. Where am I today in my relationship with God, compared to where I was a year ago? Five years ago? Am I moving towards in my journey of faith, or have I slipped back? Am I more committed to the things of God's kingdom, or has my zeal for the things of God waned?
Although our love for God might ebb and flow, Malachi reminds us that his love for us never changes. When we turn away from God he calls to us to return to him. He does this, not to constrain us but so that we can know his protection and his blessing. God challenged the people of Israel over their giving, not to impoverish them but to bless then. ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse… and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’
Generosity is the way to blessing, not just with our finances, but with our time and our gifts. Are there areas where you are holding back with God and in so doing, limiting the blessings that he can pour out on you?
Malachi refers to God as the Lord Almighty. We often refer to God as our loving Heavenly Father, rightly reminding us of the relationship we have with him through faith in Jesus. But let us not forget that he is also ‘Lord Almighty’. James Hudson, a Christian missionary to China said, ‘Christ is Lord of all or not Lord at all’. In all that we do, let us do it to serve the Lord Almighty, whose desire is only to bless us.
Lord Almighty, give me the discipline to serve you in the good times and the bad, and to trust in your abundant blessings at all times.
Here is love, vast as the ocean