Malachi #2 – Learn to Honor (Malachi 1:6-14)

Malachi #2 – Learn to Honor (Malachi 1:6-14)

– Alrighty. If you’ve got a Bible go to the book of Malachi, it is actually in the Bible. It’s the last book of the Old Testament. Little book we’re gonna spend about six weeks studying, and it is God’s final written word to his people. It’s– it’s the last thing that he has to say, preparing them for the first Christmas, and the coming of Jesus, which would occur 400 years later. And so, it is kind of like an audit, it’s an examination, it’s an investigation. And it’s one of the three major themes of scripture. So, as you read the Bible, and we’d encourage you to be reading the Bible, there are three major themes. One is sin and how God forgives sin. One is suffering, and that’s how God helps those who are hurting. And one is stewardship, and that’s really the theme that we’ll be studying today. It’s a theme that Jesus spent 25% of his teaching on, and that is stewardship. And that is that our lives belong to God, our money belongs to God. Our company belongs to God. Our house belongs to God. Our car belongs to God, everything that we are, everything that we have, everything that we do, every word that we say ultimately belongs to God. That God is the owner, and that we are the manager, the manager. Meaning we need to invest the resources that God gives in a way that God decrees. And what we do this time of year, personally, corporately, even as a church family, we do a bit of an audit. Look back at your year. Okay, what was our spending? How did our investments go? Were we good stewards? Look at our time. Are there things that we would add next year or cut? We also look at our energy. What are the people or things that took our energy? Was that good stewardship, good investment, good return on investment? This is what you should do individually. This is what we do with our company, and that’s what we do at our church family. When you come to the end, you sort of have an audit, look at everything and where are we, and how did it go? In the end of the Old Testament, this is kind of like God’s audit. This is a family meeting where he is looking at how things have been going. And God has been working in and forward through his people for a few thousand years. So, God’s been super gracious. How many of you wish your boss would give you 2,000 years before you got a performance review ? Like, that’d be amazing. God’s very patient. He waits a very long time, and he is going to look at how things are going. And so, I just ask you, did you come here today to hear a hope filled, encouraging, inspiring sermon?

– [Audience] Yes!

– That’s not gonna happen. It’s not gonna happen. I want to– I want to just tell you right out of the– right out of the shoot, it’s– you’ve come to the wrong place on the wrong day. This is– this is God giving them a very bad report card. Well, we’ll look at first the priests. Starting in Malachi, chapter one verse– it’ll still be fun though, I promise. Hang in there. I’ve been in Mexico for two days. I’m full of the Holy Spirit and . So, I am ready to go. This is gonna be good, even though it’s a little bit rough. All right, the priests failed Malachi, 1:6. So, before we get into the text, let me explain. In each of these scenarios, sin has created a problem, and then God has made a solution. And the problem here is that sin has caused suffering. So, there is death, and poverty, and hurt, and shame, and guilt, and grief, and– And as a result, that’s– that’s the problem that sin creates. So, then God has a plan, and he’s going to send forth a group of people called the priests. And this is from one generation to next, it’s supposed to be family ministry descended from an Old Testament man, named Aaron, and through him were to come the priests. And the priests were kind of like pastors, they teach people the Bible, they love them, serve them, lead them in worship, encourage them, visit them at the hospital, officiate the wedding. Be there for the times that people really have need. And God is first going to start with the priests, and kind of give them his examination, his evaluation. And here’s what God says, Malachi 1:6, “A son honors his father.” So, the concept of God through the course of Malachi, is that God’s like a dad, and we’re like his kids. And this is kind of like a family meeting where God pulls the family together, says, okay, let me just– let me have a family meeting here to tell you how things are going. “A son honors his father, and a servant, his master. If then I am father, where is my honor?” God says, really all the problems that we’re having in our relationship is because there is dishonor. This is a key principle for relationships. It’s hard to have a healthy relationship with someone who continually dishonors you. If they honor you, it’s easier to have a relationship with them. What God is saying is, we have relational problems, and it starts with the fact that you dishonor me. You don’t honor me. “If I am a master, where is my fear says the Lord of hosts.” That’s the God who rules over the angels and the demons, “To you, o, priests.” So, those are the leaders, “Who despise my name.” You know you’ve got a problem in your relationship when you hate the name of the other person, right? So, let’s say, not you, but somebody you know, they’ve got a rough marriage, okay? So, let’s just hypothetically say, you know somebody with a rough marriage, and I meet them and I say, okay, tell me about your spouse. They’re like, I don’t want to talk about it. Well, what’s their name? I can’t say it. It’s a trigger word for my PTSD. And you’re like, I– I am a prophet, and I perceive that perhaps you have a relational strife . Yeah, well, when I say their name, I get a nervous eye twitch, and I shake, and then I clean my gun and read lamentations, and think about naughty things. So, I don’t say it. You can’t even say their name. Their name is a trigger word for you, right? So, what God is saying is, you guys hate my name. You don’t even say my name. You don’t even say my name. “O, priests who despise my name, but you say, how have we despised your name?” So, they’re even kind of mocking God. God’s like, you’re not respectful. They’re like– we are. God’s like, uh, that– was an indication that you’re not. And they’re like, well, we voted. They’re– they’re disrespectful to our God. They’re dishonoring toward God. And what I need you to see here is the priesthood fail. We created a problem. God created a plan, and then the priests failed to execute God’s good plan. They failed, the priests here are a failure. These are the leaders, and so, five principles here for leadership, and– and the first is this, honor goes up and blessing comes down. See, if you read Malachi, and I encourage you to do so, you could read it all in about 15 minutes. They keep asking, hey, where’s our blessing? Where’s our blessing? Where’s it? We don’t feel blessed. We don’t feel blessed. Their concept is that God is piñata, prayer is a stick. They’re like, hey, we asked for stuff, We haven’t seen any, where’s our blessing? God’s asking them, where’s my honor? They want blessing to come down, but they’re not sending honor up. Okay, how many of you are parents, and this is how it works with your kids? Your kid’s like, I hate you, and I would like ice cream. You’re like, well, you know what? No, I have a wooden spoon, and it’s not for ice cream. It’s for you, right? Like you’re– you’re not gonna get any ice cream. You’re like, I don’t bless dishonor. I don’t bless dishonor. If you will honor, if you will respect, if you will obey, if you will try, if you will respect, then I can bless you. But parents, hear me in this, what happens if you bless a disobedient child? You rewarded and you encouraged what? More disobedience and rebellion. So, bad parents with bad kids have come up with something called, reverse psychology, which is, I know they’ll defy me. So, I’ll tell them to do the opposite of what I want them to do, and then when they sin, I’ll get what I want. Shizam, we’re both evil, okay. That’s bad parenting. God show– some of you are like, uh, this is so discouraging. We’ve only begun. Okay, so it’s gonna get worse. You’re gonna look back at this moment as the good old day in about half an hour. Okay, so what happens is, God tells them, hey, you’re not honoring me. You’re not respecting me. You’re not listening to me. You’re not following me, as a result, I’m not blessing you. So, honor goes up, blessing comes down. Leadership principle number two, people are like their leaders. Jesus says in Luke 6:40 that students become like their teachers. Here, God is going to speak to all of his people, but he speaks to the priests, that group of people first, because people follow the leader. And if the leader is going the wrong direction, everything is askew and astray. So, the key is to get the leader straightened out first. So, God speaks to the priests, and so, for me as a pastor, as your leader, I love ya. It’s first examining my heart. Am I walking with the Lord? Am I honoring the Lord? Am I serving the Lord? I mean, before I get frustrated with anybody, I got to look in the mirror and see if the problem doesn’t begin with me. And so, this is first a word to those of us who have the honor of leading at home, at school, at church, or at work. People become like their leaders, and so the result of the priests not honoring God is the people don’t honor God. And here’s the principle, God holds those in leadership to a higher standard of accountability. And as a result, they’re not just accountable for themselves, but others. So, I’ll give you an example, for those of you that are parents. If you have a kid who is freaking out, will we first go talk to the kid or you? No response, amazing. Man, parents are like, I don’t know. I don’t know, that– that kid’s naughty. You should start there. I don’t know. We start with a parent because if the parent is not leading the child in the ways of God, just telling the child isn’t enough, the child also needs to honor their mother and father, and follow their leadership. So– so ultimately leaders are responsible for more than just themselves. And the reason that God starts with leaders is because people are following leader leadership. Principle number three, culture is created by what you teach and what you tolerate. Some of you lead at home. You’re a parent. Some of you lead at work. Some of you lead in ministry, even here at our church. Culture is set by not just what you teach, but also what you tolerate. What you’re going to see is prior to this, all of the Old Testament was written; this is the last Old Testament book. God taught them a whole bunch of things. Are they doing them? Yes or no? No. If God tolerates those who are not obeying his teaching, he is setting a culture. That’s why an exception to the rule negates the rule. And so, culture is not just what you teach, but it’s what you tolerate. And God shows up and says, I have taught you to do this, that’s not what you’re doing. I don’t tolerate disobedience to my teaching. Think of it this way, how many of you, if you brought your boss today, don’t raise your hand. But how many of you, you’ve got a job where when you got hired they handed you a big manual, and brought you through an employee orientation? And you’re like, okie dokie, and then you go onto the job, and they’re like, yeah, we don’t do any of that. You’re like, well they wrote it all down. They killed a tree. Like this is important, right? No, it’s not– that’s what they say. That’s not what we do. And what happens is, so oftentimes, things will be taught that are not obeyed, and if you allow disobedience, then you are setting a culture by what you tolerate, even if it contradicts what you’re teaching. Amen? And so, God shows up and he says, I have taught you and I am not tolerating what you’re doing. Number four, godly governance is theocratic. Big word. What it means is God down, not people up. So, the priests were like, hey, it’s working for us. And we met with the people, we took a big church vote. We all think it’s going fine. God said, I don’t agree. Well, the people think it works for them. God says it doesn’t work for me. And the question is, is church, is ministry, is life supposed to be what works for us, or what works for him? Oh, there’s no response whatsoever. This feels like it’s going in a bad direction for me. I feel like he’s gonna put a bucket out, and expect me to do something at the end. I– I see where he’s going. That’s exactly where he’s going. Okay, so– so what happens here is that they are living people up, not God down, meaning they are– the leaders, they are torn. So, the priests here, they’re between God and the people, and God says, here’s what I want, and the people say, here’s what we want. And the priests, the leaders decide, well, we’ll give the people what they want. And as a result, God shows up says, that’s not what I want. We live in a world where everybody wants what they want. And the key, this is the last point, the key to leadership is finding, and following the will of God. See, the people are getting up every morning and they’re saying, what do we want? God says, no, no, you’re supposed to get up every morning and ask, what do you want? The key– the key to being a leader is finding and following God’s will, and then helping others find and follow God’s will. I’ll– I’ll give you an example. Somebody meant very well, they were at the church here recently, they’re sweet. But they came up and they said, I want us to have, or do blank. I won’t tell you what it was, it doesn’t matter. And I looked at him, I said, well, I appreciate that. You seem kind. I said, but, let me ask you this, is that what God wants? Here’s what they said, I don’t know. I said, well, that’s an important question. Amen. I said, well, I don’t know if God wants us to do that or not. But what I would say is if– if it’s something that you want, ask God if it’s something that he wants. If you are convinced that it’s something that God wants, then we could talk about that. I said, but if you’re not convinced it’s something that God wants, you gotta start with God. So, ultimately we want to start by figuring out, God, what do you want? We do this through reading the Bible. We do this through prayer. We do this through wise counsel because everybody is showing up, and they’re all saying, here’s what we want. And nobody’s asking, what does he want? Let me– let me tell you this. Just as a– an aside, most marriages, the war is, are we gonna do what he wants, or do what she wants? And a lot of this gets resolved when we ask God, what do you want? Thy will be done. Thy will be done. Thy will be done. God, what do you want? And so, the problem here with leadership, they’re giving the people what they want. They’re not giving the people what God wants, and ultimately what the people need is not what they want. What the people need is what God wants. How many of you, you’re parents, and you don’t say yes to everything your kid asks. If you’re a good parent, you say no, right? Otherwise they’re gonna just drink Mountain Dew at bedtime. They’re gonna light off fireworks in the house, and horrible things are gonna happen to the dog. Okay, that’s what’s gonna happen. Sometimes a parent says no, I can’t give you what you want because what you want is not good for you. I love you. God here is a father, these are his kids. They’re like, this is what we want, and God’s like, but that’s not what you need. And when I say no, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I do love you. Trust your dad. Okay, second thing, so the priest failed, the sacrificial system failed. So, here’s the problem, we sin, sin brings what? Death. So, God devises a plan, and that is the sacrificial system that rather than the person dying, we’ll put in place a sacrificial system, where an animal will be the substitute, and the sin will be imputed or reckoned from the sinner to the substitute. The substitute will be sacrificed so that the sinner doesn’t need to die. That’s God’s plan for the problem that we have made through sin. It’s a great plan. And God says, okay, this has been going on for a long time. Let’s see how it’s going. “O, priests who despise my name, you say, how have we despised your name? By offering polluted food upon my altar. You say, how have we polluted you?” They keep arguing with God. Children and the children of God argue, hey, you’re being disrespectful. How am I being disrespectful? Maybe by interrogating your parent. Right, it could be one example . God’s like, this isn’t going well. They’re like, I disagree. They’re arguing with him. “How have we polluted you? By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil?” Next slide. “And when you offer those that are lame, sick– what kind of sacrifice are they bringing? Blind, lame, sick. How many of you, your kid wants a puppy for Christmas, you’re not gonna get em that one. Dad, I want a puppy, oh I found one. Here you go. Why does he just lay there and throw up? He’s sick. He’s a sick puppy. He’s literally a sick puppy. How come he doesn’t run to me? He’s lame. It’s a one legged puppy. Does he fetch? No, he’s blind. Don’t complain. You got a puppy. That’s what they’re bringing to God, blind, lame, sick. It’s not like, well, I’ll let the animal walk to the priest. He can’t . It’s a– these are terrible sacrifices, right? Oh, gosh. Let me– anyways, so I was gonna say some stuff, but the Holy Spirit was not involved, it would have been hilarious, and we’ll just read the Bible now. “Present that to your governor,” political leader, “will he accept you and show you favor? Says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God that he may be gracious to us with such a gift from your hand.” He’s being a little facetious. “Will he show favor to any of you? Says the Lord of hosts.” So, the sacrificial system is bring a sacrifice, unblemished pure, holy unto the Lord, because worship is a sacrifice. They bring blind, lame, sick. God’s like, I can’t believe this. I mean, this is like, how many of you have worked at a charity or a donation center, and you see what people actually drop off, right? You’re like, I was at the food bank and a guy drove up, he’s like, yo, I got a tuna fish sandwich I left in my car this summer, can I give it to the poor? No. How about a deduction? How bout you drive away, right? Sometimes people just give the worst stuff, the worst stuff. And that’s what they’re doing here under the Lord, and what God says is, you know what? You don’t do this to the governor, and what he’s talking about there is the government. Now, how many of you, you pay your taxes, right? Of course you did, that’s why you’re still here and not doing prison ministry from the inside. What happens is, when the government takes our money, they don’t really give us a choice, right? God does cause God wants your heart. So, he wants you to give cheerfully. He wants you to give sacrificially. He wants you to give out of your heart. The government does not care about your heart. They just want your money, right? That’s why the government doesn’t say, get up in the morning, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and have a quiet time with America. They don’t care. They just don’t care. How many of you, when you got your first paycheck, you realized that the government took your money? I could still remember. I was a high school kid and I got my first check, and I did the numbers. I was so excited I got it. It was less money. I was like, who’s FICA? Who’s FICA? I’m gonna find him. We’re gonna talk about this. FICA ripped me off. I didn’t talk to FICA. I didn’t agree with FICA, and what I found out is FICA’s the Greek word for demon. It’s the government. Okay, and they took their money first. I didn’t even– it’s not like they said, would you please, out of the overflow of the love of your heart, give a percentage back to the government. I would have said no, cause I hate what you do with my money. Most of what you do with my money is naughty. And so, I’m not gonna give you any more money. And what happens is, the government takes their money, but God wants you to give it because he cares about your heart. And what he says is this, everybody’s paying their taxes to the governor , right? How many of you would not send to the IRS? Sorry, don’t feel it. Right? By the way, I got a tuna fish sandwich I left in my car for the summer. I’m sure that’ll cover my property taxes. The Bible says, don’t judge. Right, what happens is– he’s saying you’re a lot better to government than you are to God. And how many of us actually think that giving money to God does some better things than what our government does with it? I don’t care what political team you’re on. We all agree on that. And all of God’s people said?

– [Audience] Amen!

– Amen, okay, that being said, the point here is the discount religion is always really popular. And– and the problem here is worshiping is different than shopping. Okay? Worshiping is different than shopping. What are you doing in shopping? You’re trying to spend as little to get as much, amen. How many of you did this on Black Friday? Okay. How many of you went out on Black Friday? You people are crazy. You people are putting yourself in harm’s way. Black Friday is– it’s prison riot at the mall. That’s what it is. Okay? It’s where– it’s where moms show up with knee pads, and elbow pads, and helmets, and tasers, and knives, I mean, it’s– it’s a situation. Because if you stand in line, and you can hold your ground, you can get in first, and you can buy a 60 inch TV for 37 cents. And you’re just like, you know what? I did it, I did it. I did it. I plundered the Egyptians. I’m bringing this loot home for the family, and that’s what happens is when you’re shopping, we’re trying to get the best deal, right? Shopping is different than worshiping because shopping is about getting, worshiping is about giving. Shopping is not about being generous, right? How many of you have walked into Costco and said, it’s on sale, I was hoping to pay full price cause I wanna be generous toward Costco. I’m worried about Costco. I want to make sure that Costco has a really profitable year. You all chuckle except for the guy who owns Costco. He’s like, I hope that’s the takeaway. Okay, now what happens is in worshiping, it’s about giving, it’s not about getting, it’s about worshiping, it’s not about shopping. And what happens is that sometimes God’s people spend all of their life shopping, and they show up to worship, and they think I’m a customer, and the customer’s always right. And the staff’s job is to do what the customer wants, and to give the products that the customer demands. And God says, no, worshiping is different than shopping. Worshiping is different than shopping. So, the sacrificial system, it invariably failed. Okay, next slide please. The temple failed. So, here is the problem, sin comes, sin causes separation from God. God is holy, we’re unholy. God’s in heaven, we’re on earth. There is separation, this is relational problem. So, what God does is he devises a plan for the problem that we have made. He creates something called the temple. The temple is the connection point, the bridge between heaven and earth. It’s the place where the God of heaven comes down to earth, and as a result, everything orbits around the temple. The temple is a massive, massive undertaking, huge construction project, exceedingly expensive, lengthily construction project over the course of decades. Hundreds of thousands of people would show up for the high holy days, and so you’re looking at massive infrastructure among largely poor rural people. And the whole point of the temple was you would go there for worship, you would go there to be in God’s presence. You’d go there to deal with your sin. You would go there to pray. If you didn’t know God, you would go there to learn about God. If you were a leader, you would go there to learn the Bible. If you had a baby, you would go there to dedicate the baby. Everything orbited around the temple. It was the spiritual center of the universe. It was the holiest place on earth. It was the place that God’s presence dwelt. It’s amazing. The first temple stood for a while then was destroyed. They went to great expense to then construct the second temple, and here’s what God says. “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors.” Here’s what God is saying , shut it down. God, we have spent a ton of money and generations of our family to get the thing open. God says, shut it down. “That you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain. I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts. And I will not accept an offering from your hand.” Wow, those are strong words, amen? This is where I tell you that I love ya. And you know what? I didn’t pick this book because it fits. You guys are actually doing good. So, you’re doing way better, like we’ll take an offering. I don’t think a lame animal’s gonna be in the bucket. So, we’re doing good. How is our giving? It’s actually pretty good. How is our serving? It’s actually pretty good. Our staff has half the size of a church our size, because you guys serve. You guys give, you guys pray. In two years, as our baby church has grown and taken root, everything we’ve asked, you’ve done. I didn’t pick this because this is my, I am sick of these people. How can I yell at them, right? And no, no. What– these were people that started good. At some point they had some enthusiasm, but it waned over time. So, we’re not, okay you’re not, right, if God were to write you a letter, it would not say this, but this is a good check of our heart. Okay, God, things are going pretty good, but we can see that sometimes in our lives we can lose heart. Sometimes our children, or our grandchildren, they don’t carry forth the faith that we have, or the passion that we have. And so, this is not for us a crisis, but it’s a warning, and it’s an encouragement, right? And a hope that he who began a good work in you will see it through to completion. But here God says, “I have no pleasure in you and I will not accept an offering from your hand.” Here’s the key to ministry, God is the focus, people are the beneficiaries. God is the focus, people are the beneficiaries. Here, the problem is people are the focus. People are the focus. People are saying, it works for us. God’s saying, it doesn’t work for me. The people are saying, this is about us, and God’s saying, no, it’s about me. God has to be the focus. God has to be the focus, and then people are to be the beneficiaries. Some of you will think that it sounds selfish for God to be the focus. Actually, it’s the best thing for you. You’re not meant to be God. You’re not meant to be the center of the universe. That we are not independent, we are dependent. God doesn’t need us, we need God. Back to the language here, father, child, God says, he’s a father. What a good parent does is, they tell the kids, you follow us, we don’t follow you. You’re little. You got some things to learn. So, we’re gonna teach you, but we’re not here for you to teach us, and us to take notes, and for you to be the boss. The reason that a parent puts themselves in authority is to love, protect, bless, lead, and mature the child. When God is the center, when God is the focus, he is the father to love, bless, protect, lead his children. And even if we’re big, we’re still God’s kids. Amen. And here, what happens is, the whole sacrificial system, it is declared by God to be a failure. Number four, tithing failed. Our problem is that we sin and sin brings suffering, and shame, and strife into the world, and there’s not enough resources to meet the needs of people. And so, what God does is, he devises a plan where his people would give first fruits and generously, so that ministry could happen, so that people could be cared for again. God is the focus, people are the beneficiary. And ultimately the way this is supposed to work, there was something called a tithe. Think of it as two pockets, tithe is 10%, literally means 10% is a tithe, and then the second pocket was offerings. So, tithe this 10% of gross off the top of your income to the Lord, and then there were feasts, festivals. There was gleanings for the poor. There were other things that would account for a grand total, depending upon which scholar you prefer, of 25 to 27% of your gross income. Now, there’s two ways to look at this. One is, why should I give God my wealth? The other is, God, how much of your wealth do you want me to keep? Do you see the difference? Is– is your wealth, his wealth? Is your family his family? Is your car his car? Is your job, his job? Okay? And this is an issue of ownership, and what God wanted is, he wanted his people to be generous, and you would give out of what you had. So, if you are a rancher, you bring your animal. They brought blind, lame, sick animals. If you were a farmer, you would bring the first fruits of your crop. But what they bring, you’ll see in a moment, it’s rotten food, Okay, here’s what God says, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, my name will be great among the nations.” What God is saying is, everybody on the planet is hurting, and most people don’t know me. So, if you’re my kids, let’s help get the word out, and let’s help some people. “And in every place, incense will be offered to my name and a pure offering for my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts, but you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted.” That’s rotten offering, and it’s fruit that is– it’s food may be despised. This is the thing that nobody wants to talk about. So, we’ll talk about it. And that is, you either worship your wealth, or you worship God with your wealth, okay? Four reasons, biblically, principally that this is important. Number one, Jesus says you can’t serve God and– money. Right? That ultimately when you’re giving, you’re worshiping and worship, ultimately is sacrifice, that’s the big idea in principle. And some people will say, why does God want to get the money out of my hand? And the issue is, he– he actually is trying to get the idol out of your heart, because Jesus says, principle two, where your treasure is, your heart is. Heart is. If God is your treasure, right, then your giving should reflect your deepest commitment, your love for God. Number three, in the book of Acts, they quote the Lord Jesus, Acts chapter 20:35. The Lord Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Here’s the key, giving is a blessing. There’s a false teaching that says, if you give God will give you a blessing. And it’s like a Ponzi scheme. Give God a dollar, he’ll give you $100. That’s not true. The giving is not to get a blessing. The giving is the blessing. Some blessings are external. God is generous. Some blessings are eternal. You store up your treasures in heaven. Some blessings are internal. How many of you have met a need, and there was just a tremendous joy in meeting the need? How many of you, you were able to help somebody, you’re like, I am so overjoyed that I got to help? That was amazing. The blessing is not in the getting, the blessing is in the giving. That’s why we live in the richest country in the history of the world, where people are racking up unprecedented debt, and everybody’s miserable. Because they keep trying to get joy, and happiness, and contentment by taking, and it’s only found by giving. Let me prove it to you. Christmas is coming, how many of you are gonna buy a present for a kid, or a grandkid, a little guy? Is your favorite moment at Christmas like, is it my turn, can I open my present? Can I go first, please, please, please, please? If you’re the grandpa, don’t do that, okay? That’s weird. When you open a present, it’s a joy, but when you give a present, and you watch the joy that someone else has when they open the present, true or false, that’s the greatest joy of all? It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing. God is blessed above all because God gives above all. And number four, Paul says that God loves a cheerful giver. Giving is cheerful. Giving is joyful because when you understand this, everything I have is a gift from my father, and he asked me to share some of it. Right? It’s amazing to me. How many of you have kids, and you’ve realized that they do not have a decent income stream? Have you noticed that with kids? They’re not like when you do your finances at the end of the year, you’re like, yeah, they didn’t– they didn’t add a lot. They were sort of an expense, these little people. Everything they have, they get from their? Parents, and one of the things we should teach them as parents, is to share what they have. Hey, Johnny, here’s two popsicles. Yay! Give one to your sister. Why? That’s not your popsicle. That’s– that’s a gift to you to enjoy and to share. Okay? Here’s the point, all the popsicles are whose popsicles? They’re all the father’s popsicles. You’re like, why would I give you my popsicle? He’s like, it’s not your popsicle. I– I gave one for you, I gave one for them. When you give it, you’re gonna share in my joy. I’m happy to give it to you. You’ll be happy when you share it with them. I have cheer in giving to you. You’ll have cheer when you give it to them. Because the world is filled with two kinds of people, takers and givers. And takers are never joyful and cheerful, and givers are joyful and cheerful. Here’s the big idea. If I can get you to be a giver, I could change your life. Let me– let me tell you how this works. If I can get you to give, I can get you to forgive. Because giving is not just your money, it’s everything. If you will give, you can forgive, which is, I’m gonna give you love, and grace, and mercy, and compassion, and not vengeance, and not violence, and not justice. That’s what I’m gonna give you. If– if you can give your words of encouragement and hope, and life, you’re gonna build people up instead of beat people up. If you can give your time to lift burdens and to help others, you’ll be– you’ll be a burden lifter and not a burden giver. If I can– if I can give you to give your heart to someone, you’re gonna make a better spouse. If I can give you to give your heart to someone, you’ll be a better friend. If I can give you to get your energy away, then you’ll be a better employee. I’ll give you a– a weird analogy. I don’t have a lot of notes. I’m a little tired, I’m doing the best I can, but just bear with me on this. I’ve got two beautiful daughters sitting in the front row today. They’re now embarrassed that they’re my children, and I’m gonna use them as an illustration. I love you girls with all my heart. So, I apologize in advance, love dad. Okay, so– that being said, someday, these girls that I love with all my heart, and I do love you with all my heart. Where did the other girl go? She was just here. She’s a Ninja, she’s gone. Okay. So, so let’s say a man comes one day, okay, I’m prophesying, hoping grand babies. So, one day, let’s say that a– a man comes to me and says, I love your daughter, and I want to be with her. I will ask him, are you a giver or taker? And if he says, I’m a taker, then that’s not going to work. Right? Because you can’t have a healthy relationship with two takers. You can’t have a healthy relationship with a giver and a taker. That’s an abusive relationship. You can only have a good relationship with what? Two givers. Two givers. Behind all of this, it’s not about the money, it’s about the relationship. God’s saying, I give, you don’t give. I talk to you, you don’t talk to me. I serve you, you don’t serve. I love you, you don’t love. You’re takers, I’m a giver. For us to have a healthy relationship, you need to be a giver too. It’s all about the relationship. True or false, we live in a world that is primarily filled with takers, and it’s really hard to find a giver? God’s not like that. And God doesn’t want our relationships to be like that. And so, what God is saying is that giving is the key to living. Okay? Giving is the key to living. Number five, ministry failed . It’s really– do you see a theme? So, so here– here we are so far, if you’re not discouraged, let me fix that for you. The priests failed, the sacrificial system failed, the temple failed, tithing failed, ministry failed. So, here– here’s our problem. Sin creates a world filled with needs. So, God’s plan is that his people would do ministry, loving and serving, and helping, and blessing, and participating in the needs of others. And then God calls a family meeting after waiting thousands of years, and says, “But you say what a weariness this is, and you snort at it.” Right what I would say what? I don’t– How many of you– how many of you, when you’re so frustrated, you’re like, I don’t even say things, I just make noise like– That’s how I feel about you. “But you say what a weariness this is, and you snort at it says the Lord of hosts.” What God is saying is, I’m asking you as my kids to help other people, and you’re sick of serving. Okay? This is– This is what happens when people forget that God is always serving them. This is what happens when we forget that we’re not the only ones that are having a hard day, other people are too. And that– that, that, that– there’s an opportunity to be helpful, and that’s called ministry. Now, this being said, let me distinguish between wariness from ministry, and wariness of ministry. How many of you have served the Lord? And you’ve discovered wariness of ministry? You got tired, you got exhausted. You’re worn out. We are blessed as a church family with an exceedingly high percentage of leaders. Okay? When you open a church like Lord, I hope the nice people show up. Okay? And the nice people did show up. We love you. Actually, things are very healthy. Your giving is good, your serving is good, like everything, there’s room for improvement and maturity, but I’m overall encouraged. But we have a lot of leaders that show up, a lot of former senior pastors, missions leaders, church staff, people that have been to Bible college, been to seminary. When they first show up, here’s what we often hear, I love the Lord, I’m looking forward to participating. I’m just exhausted, I need a break. Is that okay? That’s totally okay. That’s wariness from ministry, right? Like Jesus did ministry, did he ever get tired? He took a– a nap. God, God took a nap. That means it’s exhausting, amen? And I would say, be like Jesus, take a nap, okay, be like Jesus. Paul says he pours himself out like a drink offering, and he’s like, I got no energy left. I am emptied out. I got to get charged up. There are times and seasons that you need a break, take a sabbatical, take a rotation, take a break. That’s not a problem. That’s wariness from ministry. This is wariness of ministry, and it’s like, I’m done. God, you’re not worth it. I’m sick of it, I don’t want to be involved. I don’t wanna do anything. I don’t want to be a worshiper. I want to be a customer. I want other people to serve me. I don’t want to serve them. That is their attitude, and it’s– it’s not an attitude of gratitude. While there’s one more category, so there’s still hope. And now we’ll dash it. Malachi chapter one verses 13 through 14, right? Worship failed. Worship, so the problem that we created through sin is rather than worshiping God, and enjoying the things that he gives, we worship the things that he gives. We worship our money, and so we’re workaholics. We worship alcohol, so we’re alcoholics. We worship our perception in the light of others, and our reputation, so we lie. We– we have addictions to food, and sex, and money, and fame, and power. And all of that is a worship issue, it’s worshiping someone or something other than God. We’re made to worship. We worship someone or something other than God, that’s the problem that leads us into sin. So, God’s plan is worship me. Then everything else will be done in relationship to, in obedience of me. And here’s what they– you bring what has been taken by violence . This is crazy! They’re tithing stuff they stole. That’s what that means . This is crazy. Like this is– okay, I’m having fun. I appreciate you participating. This would be like, we’re doing work on the property, some guy shows up and is like, I noticed you’re doing work here at Trinity. So, I’m gonna donate a truck. Thank you. Thank you. Hey, where’s the VIN number? He’s like, don’t ask, can I get that receipt? And then you see lights, and a cop, and they cuff the guy. He’s like I– they– they’re tithing things they’ve stolen. Now, it’s one thing not to give it all, it’s another thing to be like, well, I’m gonna give generously, from them, right? That’s a whole other thing. This has only happened once in the history of our church. I kid you not it was early on. We go to go into the office one day, and there’s this scooter there, parked right by the office door. And we’re talking, we’re like, did somebody tithe the scooter? Why don’t we call the police? They’re like, that was stolen. Somebody stole the scooter, and left it to the front door of the church. I kid you not, stolen scooter. If that was you, we forgive you, but that was wrong, okay? “Shall I accept that from your hand says the Lord, cursed be the cheat who has ma– who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet does not sacrifice to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.” They’re saying, God, we would have given you better, but you didn’t give. God’s like, I gave you. I gave you the unblemished animal, and you ate it. All right . And then you stole your neighbors blind, lame, sick animal and tithed it. So, their worship failed. The end. Thank you Lord for this word of discouragement. We’re now gonna– all gonna– all just gonna cry and go home , right? Yeah, this– this is– this is crazy, right? Like let me just summarize it for those of you that were checking football scores and missed the low lights. The priests failed, the sacrificial system failed, the temple failed, tithing failed, ministry failed, worship failed! That’s it, that’s the Old Testament, this is the end of the book. And here’s the big idea, cause Jesus hasn’t shown up yet. And everything is a total disaster, it’s a wreck, it’s a failure until Jesus shows up. You can have a great plan, and it’s a failure unless Jesus shows up. Whatever you have planned, whatever you are working on, whatever you are aspiring to, whatever you are hoping for, until Jesus shows up, it’s all a complete and total failure! Total failure! So, all of this is to prepare people for the coming of Jesus, and the first Christmas. And so, everybody’s looking at it, and the people are like, well, God, this failed . You failed, and God’s like, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. Right, I’m pretty sure it was you. So, as you read the book, please read the book, they’re blaming God for the failure, and God is saying actually, no, you are the ones that have failed. So, here’s the point, where’s the hope? Who’s gonna fix this mess? Jesus is coming. So, here’s what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna yell really loud for the last 13 minutes. Plus, however many more I feel like using. And then, it’s gonna get awesome. Okay, so here’s what I want you to see. The priests did what, the priests what? They failed, but– but Jesus is faithful. Jesus is our priest, and here’s double, double craziness, he gets us to be his priests. I’ll read it to you, here it is, Hebrews two, Jesus is our faithful, what? “High priest in the service of God.” The priests failed, but our high priest, he is? Faithful. Now– now, we don’t follow a failed priest, we– we follow a faithful high priest. His name is Jesus. He lives to intercede for you and me. You can trust Jesus. You can follow Jesus . You can depend on Jesus. You can bank on Jesus. You could follow Jesus to your grave. You can follow Jesus through your grave. He is a faithful high priest in the service to God. Oh, you gotta clap cause I’m old, and I need to breathe, and I need a break, and I need your help. I don’t wanna preach my own funeral here . So, I got– all right. Not only that Jesus is our priest, and we are his priests, 1 Peter, 2:9, you! You guys, this is crazy! Are a chosen race . Right, let me tell you this. God didn’t pick us for the team cause we’re awesome. Right? God picked us for the team cause he’s awesome. A chosen race. A what kind? How many of you like, I gotta get me a tiara. I am– Men go with the crown. It’s– it’s a confusing day, we wanna clarify that. Right, a roy– shouldn’t have been said, hilarious, inappropriate and right. Okay, a royal what? Priesthood, your Kings and queens. “A Holy nation of people for his own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Priests failed! Jesus is faithful. What’s the spirit in you? Now you’re a priest, everywhere you go, how can I minister? How can I love? How can I serve? How can I with my works, how can I with my words, proclaim the excellencies of him? The love of him, the provision of him, the protection of him, the presence of him. You have a great high priest, and the Holy Spirit empowers you to be priests in service to God. At work, at school, at the grocery store, everywhere you go. You’re on kingdom assignment, bringing the love of Jesus to the people who need it the most. Number two, I told you as well that the sacrificial system failed, and Jesus is our sacrifice. And he allows us to offer our lives as a living sacrifice. 1st Peter 1:19 speaks of Jesus precious blood of Christ, a what? “A lamb without blemish or spot.” They’re bringing lame sacrifices. Jesus is not a lame sacrifice. They’re bringing polluted offerings. Jesus is not a polluted offering. Jesus is sinless. Jesus is pure. Jesus is good. Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is our Passover lamb who has been slain. Jesus comes as your substitute. Jesus takes all of your sin. He takes all of your suffering. He takes all of your shame, and he goes to the cross, and he lays down his life so that you might live. And Jesus Christ took care of everything. He took care of everything. My friend , you can be forgiven, you can be loved, you can be reconciled. You can be reunited with the father who loves you. And this is crazy! You get to offer your life as a sacrifice. Here’s how he says it, 1st Peter, 2:5, “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.” He says it again, “To offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Every sacrifice you make, if it is for Jesus Christ, it is acceptable. And some of you, I want you to know that you’re storing up your treasures in heaven, and you’re making sacrifices today for a return on investment forever. Because you love Jesus some of you are making less money than you could. Because you’re walking according to biblical principles, some of you have had some conflicted relationships. Because you’re seeking to obey God with your behavior, there are some things in life that are more complicated or difficult for you. God is not punishing you, this fallen world is opposing you. And every time that you do what is right in the sight of God, regardless of the consequence, that is a sacrifice. And I need you to know that your sacrifice is not in vain. That your sacrifice is in response to the God who loves you so much, that he sent Jesus to be sacrificed for you. Number three, I told you as well that the temple failed, and Jesus is our temple! This is mind blowing. We don’t go to a place. We go to a person, whose name is Jesus. The reason the temple no longer exists, it was destroyed in 70 AD, is because we don’t need it. We need Jesus. Jesus is the connection point between heaven and earth. Jesus is the place that sin is forgiven. Jesus is the place that prayers are heard. Jesus is the place that people are saved. Jesus is the place that nations are reached. Jesus is the place that burdens are lifted. Jesus is the place that destinies are altered. Jesus is the place the demons are defeated. Hey, uh, come on! Man! Come on. Jesus answered them, so they come to Jesus, and he says, destroy this temple, and I’ll rebuild it in three days. You’re crazy, it took 46 years they say to build this temple. And in three days, Jesus says, “I will raise it up.” He was speaking about the temple of his what? Body. Body. Jesus Christ is the presence of God. Jesus Christ is the connecting point between heaven and earth. It’s not just a pithy statement. It’s a prophetic truth on your Christmas card. That Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. That God came down to earth, that God came down to be with us. That God came down to be like us, that God came down to seek us. That God came down to save us, and as a result, we don’t go to a place, we go to a person, whose name is Jesus.

– [Audience] Yeah.

– And this is crazy! You get to be a temple. That’s crazy. Alright. All chubby temple. That’s amazing! That’s amazing. I’ll read it to you, do you mind? Okay, 1st Corinthians 6, your body is a– I didn’t make it up. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you. God, the Holy Spirit used to dwell in the Holy of Holies. Once you belong to the Lord, Jesus and your sin is forgiven, your body becomes the Holy of Holies. That means that you don’t go to God, that God goes with you wherever you go. And some of you, this explains the opposition, the hostility, the trouble that you have because I don’t know why, when I go there, they oppose me. I don’t know why when I interact with those people, they hate me. I don’t– I don’t know why they’re against me, because you’re bringing the presence of God.

– [Audience] Yeah.

– And as darkness hates light, when the light of Christ shines through the people of Christ, some people oppose the dark, and they love the dark, and they resist the light. Don’t take it personal, you’ll make it personal. When they reject you, if you are walking in faith, if you were walking in truth, if you were walking in grace, if you were walking in the spirit, realize that the opposition is to the presence of God. Don’t make it personal. Love, forgive, bless, care, share, and let it be between them and God. But friends, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How many of you didn’t know that? That your body is sacred, hallow ground. That the food we eat, the– the drink we drink, the words we say, the places we go, the images we see, the decisions we decree, the things we hold in our hand. Those are all in the presence of God, and they’re all opportunities to be worshipers of God. In addition, I told you that tithing failed, and first fruits failed. And here’s what’s amazing, Jesus comes to give himself as a sacrifice of first fruits. First means first, and best. And here’s what we learn about Jesus, 1st Corinthians 15:23, Christ is the? The first fruits, he’s the first and best. Here’s what it says, God so loved the world that he? Ga– loving is demonstrated by giving, and giving is one way of loving. And you don’t love if you don’t give, love, grace, mercy, time, patience, money, everything. Not just some, but all, all it is to be given first fruits to God because God gave us his first fruits. Jesus is first. Jesus is best. God so loved the world that he gave. And then he invites us to give our first fruits, not so that God will love us, but because he does. Not so that God would be pleased with us because in Christ that he is, not because we have to, but because we get to. And it says it this way, honor the Lord with all your wealth, and the first fruits of all. They gave their worst. God gave his? Best, that’s amazing. I told you as well, that ministry failed, and Jesus comes as our servant, and he comes as a servant that does not fail. The son of man, that’s a designation for Jesus, he uses it some 70 times. He’s speaking of himself, he’s quoting the Old Testament prophet, Daniel, the son of man came not to be? Served, a taker, but to serve a– giver, and to give, to give what? His life as a ransom for many. All the ministry failed, and one servant shows up, and he doesn’t fail. Can I tell you something about Jesus? He doesn’t fail. He doesn’t fail. He’s faithful. Bible says, even when we’re faithless, he’s faithful. They asked the Lord, Jesus, how do we be the greatest? It’s an arrogant question. He doesn’t rebuke them, he redirects them. He says, to be the greatest, you must be the servant of all. Because God opposes the proud and he gives grace to the humble. And as a proud person, I could tell you that that’s true. That if we humble ourselves, God lifts us up. If we lift ourselves up, eventually we are taken down. Jesus, humbled himself. He came down to the earth to serve us. Jesus then went to the cross to serve us, and then Jesus went to the grave to serve us. He went as low as one can go, and God has raised him up to the highest place. And today, Jesus is seated on a throne, and it just goes to show that the best leaders are those who are lifted up by God after faithful, humble service. Our world knows nothing of this. Our world knows nothing of this. This is the kingdom of God. It’s not the cultures of the earth. That’s amazing. Not only is Jesus a faithful servant, now back real quick, I’m not done. I got more yelling to do. Go back. Romans 7:6, we serve in the new way of the? Spirit. So, here’s what ministry is, God does something for you through the life, the death, the burial, the resurrection, the ascension, the triumphant eternal cosmic victory of Jesus. He does something for you, and then he puts the spirit in you, and he does something in you. He changes your desires. He changes your nature. He changes your identity. He changes your power source. He changes your destiny. And then the ministry that was done for you is something that God does in you. And then it’s something that God does through you. And all of a sudden now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, ministry is from God to God. That is the cycle of ministry. I receive and I give, I’m forgiven and I forgive. I’m loved and I love, I’m served, and I serve. And this is the rhythm of the soul that is filled with the spirit and relationship with Jesus. My friend, it’s the best life. It’s the joyful life. It’s the satisfied life. It’s the significant life. It’s the eternal life. And I told you as well, last one, maybe that worship failed. People weren’t worshiping. Jesus shows up. Satan comes to him, and says, you don’t need to be a worshiper. You could be a consumer, or a customer. You don’t need to sacrifice. You need to indulge yourself. Worship failed, Jesus shows up. And in this moment, Jesus answered the devil. “It is written,” he quotes the Bible. “You shall worship the Lord, your God and him only shall you serve.” The problem is not money. The problem is worship. The problem is not sex, it’s worship. The problem is not fame, it’s worship. The problem is not alcohol, it’s worship. The problem is not drugs, it’s worship. The problem is not gambling, it’s worship. The problem is not anger, it’s worship. The problem is not lying, it’s worship. That when we worship God, everything else gets straightened out. And Satan comes ultimately to the Lord, Jesus, and says, here’s the deal, worship me, and I’ll give you all that you want. And Jesus says, I will take nothing but a relationship with the father because that is the most treasured possession. That is the most sacred relationship. And Jesus comes to a position where everyone else in the history of the world has failed. They worship someone other than God. They worship something other than God. And Jesus said, I am here to worship the father, and to worship the father alone. I say no to every temptation. I say no to every indulgence. I say no to every selfishness. And I say, thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Not my will, according to your will. And Jesus in that moment, worships, he worships God, and as a result, he says no to sin. You worship your way into trouble, you worship your way out of trouble. And Jesus is the perfect worshiper, and then here’s what’s crazy, he gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can worship. He says it this way, “Present your bodies,” Romans 12:1, “As a living sacrifice.” Sometimes people die for Christ, and sometimes it is harder to live for Christ. Because dying for Christ means your suffering ends, living for Christ means your suffering continues. Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God. This is your spiritual spirit filled spirit empowered worship. God comes as Jesus, Jesus lives a life of worship. Jesus makes you a temple. His presence is in you. Jesus places you in relationship with God. Jesus declares you to be a priest living in the presence of God. Jesus then empowers you to live a life of worship unto God. The one thing that you were made to do, the thing you were created to do, the place that you’ll find your greatest joy, that your burdens will be lifted, that your hope will come. That your life will change. That your destiny will be altered is in the presence of God, worshiping God. So, guess what we’re gonna do now? We’re gonna do all of this. That’s why we’re here. So, ushers come forward. We’ll collect our tithes and offerings, right? If you brought a blind, lame, sick lamb, we love you. Don’t stick it in the bucket. In addition, guess what we’re gonna do with the band? Rise up. Dang it, really, come on. Jeez, come on, we’re gonna worship . I hate to wake you up, but we’re gonna worship. We’re gonna partake of communion, which is remembering what? We have a faithful high priest who has laid down his life as a sacrifice. His body was broken, his blood was shed, that he is not a failure. He is faithful. Amen. And if you don’t know Jesus today, if you’ve missed the big idea, you need Jesus, you need Jesus, you need Jesus. We all need Jesus. Religion fails, spirituality fails, morality fails, human attempts fail, nations fail, politics fail, leaders fail, fundraising fails. Jesus never fails.

– [Audience] Woo!

– So, we’re gonna worship him, is that okay?

– [Audience] Yeah!

– All right, why don’t you stand and sing with us?

Mark Driscoll
[email protected]

It's all about Jesus! Read More