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R.E.S.P.E.C.T
The great theme of the Book of Malachi

Scripture reading: Romans 13

What are different ways of showing or expressing respect?

-"Yes Sir/Maam"
-Omaneem -- korean for "respected mother" which is what you would say to any Korean woman older than you
-Addressing someone by their title (unless otherwise directed)
-In some cultures it entails bowing, the lowering of ones eyes, the holding of ones forearm as they shake hands, a fist bump

In thinking about today's lesson, which is going to be all about respect for God, I listened to Aretha Franklin's song "Respect". In this song she sings about wanting a little respect from her man. If respect in our human relationships is important, how much more so in our relationship with God??

Today, in talking about respect for God, we are going to take a look at the Book of Malachi together.

-The Book of Malachi dates to the mid to late 400's B.C
-The themes of Malachi overlap with Ezra and Nehemiah (Hence these 3 books, in terms of time, are the last 3 books of the Old Testament)
-On a topical level the Book of Malachi is far ranging: addressing the issue of divorce, marriage, tithing, the Coming of the Messiah, the future ministry of John the Baptist
-The tone of Malachi is quite fascinating for in some respects it stands as a multi faceted complaint on God's part-- a complaint directed towards His people who have once again backslidden
-The key theme that ties the Book of Malachi together: RESPECT FOR GOD

Texts from Malachi that illustrate that the Book is all about RESPECT FOR GOD

1. "A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty." Malachi 1:6

Note how God's complaint is framed as a question. Note also how God identifies himself "The LORD Almighty"-- He, the creator, Lord over all the armies of Heaven, the one who spoke our world into existence and who sustains it, the one who is Sovereign over all things.

Note how in v.6-14 God gives an example of His people disrespecting Him-- their bringing half dead, lame, or diseased animals to His offering table and then complaining of what a burden it was to worship God

2. "For I am a great King," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations." Malachi 1:13

How fascinating: After calling out his people for the garbage they were bringing to the offering table, God reminds His people of who He is" A great King, the LORD Almighty, one is to be feared and worshipped the world over.

As it regards God's kingship, I'm reminded of Isaiah and Ezekiel's visions of God-- He on the throne in awesome radiance, worshipped and served by the angels before Him. A similar vision is depicted in the Book of Revelation. And yet, what is it that God says "I'm not getting the respect that I am worthy of" However note, v.11 "My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.

Further: See Malachi 2:2,5; 3:16-17; 4:2

While there are many other passages in Malachi that clearly illustrate that the central theme of Malachi is RESPECT FOR GOD I want to take another step with you and turn the focus now to "How we are to show Honor and respect for God"

HOW TO HONOUR AND RESPECT GOD-- according to the Book of Malachi

Honor-- to regard as weighty

1. Talk to and about Him in a reverential and respectful, deferential way

Throughout Malachi, God examples a number of ways in which the people were disrespecting Him--- challenging His declaration of love for them (1:6), complaining about God's requirements for sacrifice, denying that He was a God of justice, contradicting His commands and holy standards (2:17)

I'm also reminded of the command "Not take the Lord's name in vain". All too often I hear people say "O my God" or swear using His name. This is not to be-- especially from the lips of those who call Jesus Savior.

2. Serve the Lord with zeal-- bring and offer your best.

Note the negative example of Malachi 1:7ff

In Romans 12:11 it says; "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

In Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In whatever you or I do, we are to remember that it is Christ we are serving (Colossians 3:23). Hence we are to do and bring our best to the table. This means no half efforts, no shoddy work, no in completes, no last minute "by the seat of your pants" performances.

This contrasts with the people who disdained bringing offerings to God's table-- though they brought the worst of the worst- and then proceeded to say that it was a waste of time to follow God (Read Malachi 3:14)--- all the while expecting God to bless them (Malachi 1:9)

3. If you are a follower of Jesus, marry a fellow believer.

See Malachi 2:11 which speaks of how the Jews were marrying women of other religions.

Note how 2 Corinthians 6:14 teaches that Christians are to marry Christians

The Bible explicitly and repeatedly forbids those who love the Lord from marrying people who do not have the same commitment. In short, the followers of Christ are to marry the followers of Christ.

Further note:

a. For those of you who are married to someone who is not a follower of Christ.

-pray for their salvation
-set a great example of what a follower of Christ is
-persevere

b. For those of you who are looking

-wait upon the Lord. Be patient
-don't view dating and marriage as a witnessing opportunity. You can't save anybody
-the color of a person's skin is irrelevant-- what matters is that you share a living and real commitment to Jesus Christ.

4. Honour your marriage vows

In Malachi 2:10-17 the subject of marriage and divorce is raised. While I have no idea what the divorce rate was, it must have been pretty high for God to say in v.16 "I hate divorce"

Note: The Bible allows for divorce in very limited circumstances: Marital unfaithfulness, abuse

While the Bible allows for divorce in those circumstances, it stresses reconciliation

5. Teach the truth about God and don't contradict Him when it comes to right and wrong. Read Malachi 2:7,17

Note what James 3:1 says; "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly"

6. Tithe

If you want to truly honour God with all your life, you are going to have to surrender Lordship of your wallet to God.

In Malachi 3:8-12 God says; "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-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 you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.

My parents taught us to tithe when we were young. I have never been in need. I've never missed the money. I've always had more than enough. I have personally found that God to be faithful to his promise to bless obedience in this area

Some other things:

Tithing teaches a person how to budget. Tithing is one way of putting God first. When we tithing our attitude is key-- it is not to be a habit but a joyful act of worship.

7. Obey the Lord. Commit to following God no matter what

In Malachi 3:14-16 it says; "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'" Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

One of the messages of Malachi 3:14-16 is this: While most people were not into following God- any more than lip service-- there was still a remnant who took God seriously and who had it in their hearts to worship, serve, and obey God. We are to be in this group, not forgetting that God has said "Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained" 1 Samuel 2:30 and "This is love for God, to obey His commands" I John 5:3.


GOD'S REWARD FOR THOSE WHO HONOR HIM

1. He blesses them, protects them, guides them, empowers them, and listens to their prayers. Malachi 3:17-4:3

How interesting in the Book of Malachi that God criticizes those who presume upon His blessings while all the while "dissing" God. The fact is, God's blessings do not belong to those who disrespect Him or who change or ignore His commands, or who purpose to walk in rebellion against Him. Rather-- God's rewards, His favour, His blessings: They rest on those who are living for Him

2. They are ready for the Day of Judgment that is coming. Malachi 3:17-4:3

In Romans 8:1 it says "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." The point is: The Day of the judgment holds no fear for those who are right with God-- on His terms.

Note what God says of those who feared the Lord and who hearts were set on honoring His name "They will be mine" says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." Malachi 3:17-18.

Note further what Malachi 4:1-3 says "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty.


CONCLUSION

Our Lord is a great King. He is the King of Kings. He is the only Lord and God. We are to honor him in our words, with our attitudes, in wholehearted zeal in whatever we put our hands to, in our relationships and marriages, with our money, and in loving obedience to His commands.

Serving Christ is not a futile action- as some think. It is to be our joy and continual hearts desire. For such, God will reward. It is the path to blessing.



Benediction

Revelation 4:11- depicting a scene from God's throne room in Heaven- featuring the angels- says; "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."