"The Windows of Heaven"
There was much that was wrong in Israel in the days of Malachi, but God did something strange - He called upon them to test Him. Didn't Jesus say, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test"?
The Windows of Heaven
A. There are some things that are difficult to believe. How is it that Jesus watching people put in their tithes and offerings and mentions to his disciples to look a poor widow woman. Listen to the story (Mk 12:41-44).
B. How does a person do that? I understand that giving is important, and I would guess many of you give generously. But sit with this for just a moment. What does this woman expect to happen next? Will she starve to death? Will there be miraculous food in her cupboard each day? And the Bible doesn’t even tell us the rest the story.
C. Yet, Jesus pushes the point when a person wants to be his disciple, Jesus flat out tells that man (Luke 9:58). But doesn’t Jesus get it? It takes money to live?
I. Return To Me
A. I want you to look at our text in Malachi. God brings up a strange point that needs our attention today. I want to begin with Mal. 3:7. First, understand the love that God has for these people, and for us who read this passage. The teaching here is that these people had willingly walked away from God and God is calling them back into relationship. His calling is simply, “return to me.”
B. There are people who really wonder if they can ever “return to God.” I have met people who have so messed up their own lives that the idea that God would or could still love them seems too far from their understanding. They feel lost and alone. But God is always there with outstretched arms, calling people to return to Him.
C. But God makes it clear what repentance looks like for the people in Malachi’s day. Listen to Mal. 3:8-9.
D. Robbing God is quite an accusation to make. When we teach people today about discipleship, we don’t spend much time on the topic of giving. It sounds so money-hungry that many Christians would rather the preacher talk it.
II. Test God
A. It’s a good topic to discuss because of what being a giver shows in the relationship we have with God. God continues in our text (Mal. 3:10).
B. Examine the teaching here. First, God says, “bring the FULL tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in MY house.” Understand, that while the promises of material blessings were given to the Jews of old, we don’t find that promise given to Christians. What we find given to us, is that when we learn to let go, it is a way of giving thanks to what God has done for us and what God continues to do for us.
C. It takes faith to let go of what you have. Giving from our extra is one thing, but giving of our little is another. When that widow gave all she had, the only thing left was faith. Would God really open the windows of heaven? What if those windows are not financial? Is that worth the test?
C. God calls upon us today to act in faith by letting go of the very thing we need to sustain us – finances. In what way am I to let go of them? That is not specific. Under the Old Covenant it was through tithes and offerings, but I don’t live under that covenant. Under the new covenant, God calls upon me to hear a similar sounding teaching (2 Cor. 9:6-8).
III. God’s Blessing
A. It is important to understand that God’s blessing is not some game that we manipulate. People who teach that if you give God your 10% He will give you ten times back. It plays on our desire for more physical and God will not lead us down a pathway of materialism. God does bless His children. God does give us everything we need for life and godliness. That is true, but I don’t give simply to get. I give because I already got. I have been given salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ and that is enough. It is time for me to let go of the sin that so easily entangles me, and turn my eyes to God.
B. For the people who heard Malachi, God made a promise to them (Mal. 3:11-12).
C. It is interesting to me that God offered them so many physical blessings if they would simply follow Him, and what we find is that wasn’t enough or they didn’t believe God would keep His end of the bargain.
D. The windows of heaven opened up to bless so much that there would be no more need. The nations around them would see the gift of God to Israel and say, “They are blessed people.” It was a beautiful offer that history tells us they refused.
E. Today, God still calls upon us to learn to let go of our dependence upon finances. In fact, Jesus calls mammon a god that contends for our devotion. But I only see this life. I only know this life, so living by faith that there is something greater than right now is difficult. But the promise remains from God that when give ourselves over to Him, He will give us eternal life. But do I really believe that? Do I believe it so much that I see my money as a tool to bless God and serve others? Do I believe it enough that I will invest my emotions, time and energy into serving God and you?
A. It’s not about what you get when you choose to give. Yet, I can experience freedom from the bondage of this life when I realize that not ten percent, but one hundred percent belongs to God. I am simply a steward of what God has given me.
B. When the world looks at me, I want them to see how blessed I am by God. I have been given spiritual blessings and physical blessings. I have been given joy, peace and love. Yes, I really do believe the widows of heaven are still open and pouring out God’s goodness upon me.
C. How about you? Do you experience the joy, peace and love that comes from God? If we can walk beside you, pray for you, or help you come into a saving relationship with God through Jesus, then come as we stand and sing.
May God Bless You,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister