Today we complete our reading through the One Year Bible! Well done! It has been a privilege to serve as your tour guide.

Over the past year, hopefully, you have developed healthy habits of Bible reading, prayer, meditation while staying connected to God’s global mission.

Perhaps you know someone who would like to join our next trip through the Bible, starting tomorrow on January 1! We will be pointing out some of the amazing sights as we journey from Genesis to Revelation with two trips through the Book of Psalms and once through the Book of Proverbs. We also visit every country on the planet with updates from “Operation World Prayer Guide” and “Prayercast.com”.

If you wish to continue receiving this guide or know someone who would appreciate this encouragement for reading through the Bible, this is the link for signing up for the new year:

http://eepurl.com/hmI3bP

TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- MALACHI 3:1- 4:6

We learned yesterday that the name Malachi means ‘Messenger’. Whether Malachi was his actual name or whether he chose to be an anonymous messenger, we don’t know for sure. Malachi was not a common name. In fact, we have no record of anyone else in the Bible being named Malachi.

As far as we know, Malachi is the last prophet giving the last message to Israel before 400 years of silence, which will not be broken until John the Baptist (prophesied in Chapter 3:1) will herald the arrival and prepare the Way for the Messiah.

In this short book, we have more direct words from God in proportion to narrative than any other of the Biblical prophets. Notice how much of what is written is actually in quotes as directly from the Lord!

The exiles who returned to Israel rebuilt the temple and repaired the wall, hoping their nation would be restored according to God’s promise as ‘a light to the nations’ and ‘the joy of the whole earth’. But as the years passed, nothing changed. They were still dominated by foreign rule and would be for centuries to come: Persians, Greeks, and Romans. This hope deferred made their hearts sick. A spiritual disease set in. Worship and obedience to the One True God was no longer their delight. At best, it was ‘duty’. Their mindset was to put in ‘the minimum requirement’. What is the least amount of money I should tithe? What is the least amount of participation required to be considered a member of the faith community?

There were no more episodes of rallying to build under the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah. There were no more leaders challenging them to action like Ezra and Nehemiah. The Messiah had not yet come. The glory of the Lord had not yet risen upon them as predicted by their prophets. The temple was no longer special in their minds. People settled down to their immediate materialistic and domestic preoccupations. They just didn’t care. They did not see engagement with Divine Revelation and obedience to God’s commands as being worth the effort.

Malachi’s goal is to wake God’s people up and cause them to see their poor spiritual condition. They think they are worshiping God, but in reality, they are just going through the motions.

Their worship, their efforts, and their offerings are half-hearted. In the Lord’s eyes, they are contemptible.

Malachi warns them. If they don’t care to draw close to God, He will not draw close to them. Unless they repent and engage with Him through the obedience of faith, they will experience the curse and the wrathful punishment that their sins deserve.

Malachi 2:1-2 1 “And now this commandment is for you, O priests. 2  “If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,” says the LORD of hosts, “then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart.

Malachi 3:8-10 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 10  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

One sign of spiritual sickness is a loss of sensitivity. Malachi exposes that they are living in denial. When he presents them with the facts that they are indifferent to God’s love and unthankful for His favor, they protest: ‘How have we been indifferent? How have we shown contempt for Your Name? (1:6)

Malachi exposes their half-heartedness by pointing to their giving little attention to what concerns God. He predicts that one day, the Gentile nations will show far greater respect for Him than they do (1:11-14).

The Lord says that He has made Himself known as their Creator (2:10) and as their covenant partner, their Husband. As they have broken faith with Him, they have broken faith with their spouses (2:14-16). The breakdown in their relationship with God soon affected their marriages and home life. Spiritual malaise leads to a moral malaise. It is in this context that we hear the Lord say, “I hate divorce” (2:16). The outworking of their disregard for God led to their disregard (and violence) towards their fellow man (2:16).

The people of Israel have grown apathetic, waiting for the Messiah. The prophet reminds them that God has not forgotten His promise to Israel. God’s delays are not denials. He will fulfill His promise.

Malachi 3:1 1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.

The first and second comings of Christ are in view. The first coming will be announced by John the Baptist, who will cry out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord.” After a long period of silence, he will call Israel to humble themselves, receive the word of God and repent.

We also have the second coming of Christ in view. In the first coming, God comes as merciful Savior. In the second coming, He comes as judge.

Malachi 3:5 5  “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts.

The Lord makes His plea, “return to me and I will return to you.”

What about you? Are you in a state of denial? Has apathy crept into your soul? Are you just going through the motions? Do you see participation in corporate worship as a mere duty? Are you looking to put in just the minimal amount of effort to still appear to be a Christ-follower? Does your financial support of God’s work reflect that you want His Name to be honored above all?

The Lord Himself gives a word to Israel, and there are applications for us. We may not be under the law of the tithe as were the people of Israel, but our participation in God’s purposes, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially will reflect the truth of our spiritual condition.

Malachi 3:10-12 10  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. 11 “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts. 12 “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts.   

The Lord hears their protests. They have said, “It is futile to serve God.” “How has God shown love to us?” “Where has our worship brought us?” “What did we gain by all our years of service”?

In contrast to those who join in complaints against the Lord (see Malachi 3:14-15), there are those who know the blessing of true fellowship (Malachi 3:16). Their names are recorded in God’s book.

Malachi 3:16-18 16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17  “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18  So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. 

“The day of the Lord” is spoken of in Malachi 4:1. It is a day of judgement. For some, it will be a day in which they are consumed by God’s wrath. For others, it will be a day of victory and joy. It will be a day of healing, salvation, and triumph over their foes.

Malachi 4:2 2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.

What kind of day will it be for you? God makes a distinction between those who are made right with Him through faith in Christ Jesus and those who do not.

God will send His messenger and accomplish His work of reconciliation.

Malachi 4:6 6 “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

As He sent His messenger, John the Baptist, to prepare for His first coming, He promises to send Elijah before the great and awesome day of the Lord (4:5).

So, the Old Testament ends with the word ‘curse’ to highlight that apart from the intervention of the greater Messenger, Jesus Christ, that is our end. But God, who is rich in mercy, made sure that Malachi’s last word would not be God’s last Word, for He has not forgotten His promise that all the nations of the earth would be blessed by Abraham’s seed. God’s Word is good. His Word would be made flesh and would dwell among us. His is the Fullest Word and the Final Word.

May every heart prepare Him room!

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 22:1-21

What a glorious visit we have today! The new heavens and the new earth are presented to us. The angel shows John the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Notice that the single Throne is shared by the Members of the Godhead. The Life of the Enthroned Sovereign Godhead is central to all commerce. The life-giving water flows down the middle of the great street. His life is the main street. His life is our Source of Supply and our place of interaction. His life brings forth its variety of fruit. Notice one ‘ tree of life’ is mentioned, and yet it appears on both sides of the river! The tree produces 12 crops for the twelve months. The number 12 symbolizes His people. 12 tribes. 12 apostles. Christ is enough for His people. The leaves of His tree are for the healing of the nations.

The curse is not only reversed. It is gone. There is no remaining evidence of its existence, but the nail scars born by our Savior, who became a curse that we might be delivered from it.

In the future age, our lives will be fulfilling in every way. In our service and in our relationships, in our commerce, and in our industry. All will be for His glory and in His Name. The Lord is the light who enlightens all.

Three times we hear Jesus saying in this chapter, “I am coming soon!” (Rev 22:7, 12, 20).

John is told that the Book of Revelation is authoritative, final, and to be read today because the time is near (22:10, 18-19). People’s natures will be revealed as condemnable or holy based on whether or not they are identified with Christ by faith (Rev 22:11).

Unrepentant sinners will have no place in this royal city (Rev 22:15) but only those who have come to faith in the blood of the Lamb (22:14).

Yet the invitation call goes out throughout the church age! How appropriate that this book of blessing ends with an invitation to salvation:

Revelation 22:17-18 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. 18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 

Whereas the Old Testament ended with the word, ‘curse’, the New Testament ends with a blessing!

Revelation 22:21 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 150:1-6

How fitting that we end the year with a symphony of praise for God’s greatness. We lend our voices to the praise given by the angels of heaven (Psalm 150:1).

The Holy Spirit inspires this great sounding together of musical instruments even as He calls forth the praises from our hearts. We hear from the brass, strings, percussion, and woodwinds (v.3-5). But the greatest instrument of praise is the regenerated spirit of the believer purchased by the blood of Christ- those who were dead in their trespasses and sins and have been miraculously resuscitated by Divine Breath!

Psalm 150:6 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 31:25-31

Proverbs 31:25-31 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. 26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28  Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29  “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” 30  Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. 

PRAYER: Thank you Lord, for Your faithfulness to bring us through this year! Our lives have been so enriched as we have received Your Word. In Your light, we have seen things in a new light, and our minds have been renewed! Thank You for so many answered prayers! Thank You for calling out in the darkness and bringing the dead to life! Thank You for showing us Who You are, the Alpha and the Omega, the entire alphabet of Truth! 

May we know Your favor as we are positioned and abide in Your Promised Land, our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know Your loving eyes will be upon us and caring protection will be with us according to Your Word:

Deuteronomy 11:12b the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year. 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Pastor David

So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)

New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742

www.newlife.org

Meeting Sundays at 10:15 AM at the New Life Ministry Center, 221 Baker Avenue, Concord, MA 01742

Church Office- 978-369-0061

New Life Fine Arts

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