Saturday, March 24, 2007
Malachi 2:17 Why AMWAY Rallies Don’t Last.
" What a piece of work is Man," says Shakespeare, looking up for a moment from his absorbed contemplation of the endless human drama that so fascinated him, " how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a God, the beauty of the world " ; and then, without a pause, he adds, " and yet to me what is this quintessence of dust!” and launches out into hot scorn! Sometimes Shakespeare loves us, for our sheer bigness : at others flames out into a searing contempt, that bites like fire, in description of such ugly sordidnesses of mankind. He will draw you by the score of characters so noble that we look up at them reverently, proud to belong to such a breed: yet, turn the page, and he will show you man vicious, drunken, sensual, horrible, crawling his slimy way among the mud—surely the pitifullest of insects after all. Quick ! Set your foot on it, and squelch the noxious thing! And is it not indeed a strange enigma, this mystery that haunted him, that out of the same stuff of human nature there have been fashioned a Nero, and a Jesus Christ ? And that in every one of us, in you, in me, there is something akin to both of them—a something clean and stately and spiritual, whose home is the stars ; aye and, God pity us, another something, no less surely there, low and grovelling, that pulls us fiercely down with a dreadful haul of steady strength; that all our days that lesser and that greater in us tug us staggeringly to and fro, spilling and overturning things into a wild disorder; trampling our characters into a confusion of broken bits of things—sins of which we tire; and virtues, half won, and then dropped again. For we are earthy and of the earth, yet something more : are august creatures with immortal spirits, and yet something less : only poor, frail, passionate after all:
Browning pictures us, " Sadly mixed natures, self-indulgent, yet Self-sacrificing too; how the love soars, How the craft, avarice, vanity, and spite Sink again, sliding into silly virtue, and slipping into stupid crime” big and little, good and bad, lovable and selfish, a babble of a hundred contradictories shouting each other down.
Meredith in one of his poems has a vivid metaphor in which he tells us that the progress of the world, mental and otherwise, is like that of a drunk man, in that it lurches all but into the ditch of the extreme upon one side, and saves itself only by staggering with a sudden tipsy run all but into the hedge of the opposite extreme upon the other; and so to and fro unsteadily, never advances fairly down the centre of the road.
We are, like Emerson, emerging that night from the heated meeting of men so passionate about what seemed to them so all-important, taken aback and daunted by the placidity of Nature, to whom it all meant just nothing at all. " Why so hot, little man, why so hot ?. " After all, what is human history, they ask, with all its pomps and sacrifices but the heaving of a restless ant heap ? This earth, that seems so vast to us, is literally a mere dust speck, lost in the infinities of space; so tiny, that the nearest star has never noticed it is here ; so trivial, that, did our whole solar system drop out of the sky to-night, it would make no more difference in the illimitable heavens of God than when in a forest, miles long and more miles wide, one leaf flutters to earth somewhere at its heart.
Man is such a mixture. Christians are such a mixture. Today in the Christian church world wide, who do you think is winning? God or sinful man?
I had a short discussion with a missionary leader this week regarding a painting.
The painting “Waiting for the Tide” shows a fishing boat loaded with nets and rods and lines, ready for fishing. It lacks only one thing. Water under the boat. The tide has gone out. What a picture that is of the church today! Where are the deep and lasting conversions of 50 years ago? Where are the times of real and true revival where communities were transformed by the power of the gospel? Where is the faithfulness to scripture? And faithfulness to evangelism that was the dynamic of Baptist work 40 , 50 and 60 years ago? 50% of people attended church 40 years ago, now it is less than 10% and less than 3% of the community attend an evangelical church! The tide has surely gone out. things are desperate!
Where are the Tinsely’s and Ridley’s that led aggressive evangelistic missions into the hearts of our cities?
Oh there are some good things. It has been encouraging to have a few of the young conservative pastors become lecturers at out Baptist theological college. I would never have dreamed of that occurring 15 years ago.
But Is the tide going in or out?
Are we really seeing God at work? Will there be revival? Will what purports to be the Christian church in Australia become evangelical again?
Like Shakespeare we feel ourselves saying “What a piece of work is the church!” its such a mixture. There is the sublime, godly men preaching the gospel. There is the ridiculous, ungodly pastors performing ungodly antics to draw a crowd. There are characters so noble that we look up at them reverently, proud to belong to such a breed: yet, go to the next church and we will see man vicious, drunken, sensual, horrible, crawling his slimy way among the mud.
What a mixture is the church! And what are we? Sadly mixed natures, self-indulgent, yet Self-sacrificing too; how the love soars, How the craft, avarice, vanity, and spite Sink again, sliding into silly virtue, and slipping into stupid crime”
Is the tide of God’s power displayed in Australia coming in? Or is it going out? Are we on the brink of revival or the brink of ruin? Malachi is “the preacher” “My Messenger”
His first appeals have been individual in nature, calling priest and people individually to repentance.
His call now in chapter 3 is more a corporate call. Here we have described the general backsliding and the general renewal.
1. The General backsliding: The Tide goes out. Wearying
2:17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied [Him]?” When you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”
God does care about man. God does care where your heart is at. God is concerned and finds it wearying when our spiritual state is like the tide going out.
You may have heard that there was a meeting for women this last week where 16,000 women attended. It was a great rally I heard some interviews state. “You really felt the Holy Spirit grinding down deep inside you.” Do these rallies work? Is our lifestyle any more godly? A typical statement by a speaker was that wives need to lose a few more pounds because then you can get up to sexual antics in bed better with your husbands. Well…sounds like a great Amway rally, but where is the dealing with sin as sin. Where is the call to an ongoing godly lifestyle?
1. By Empty Profession
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Words without heart. Mouthing religious phrases, but where is your heart really?
Matt 6: 19 Don’t collect for yourselves treasureson earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! 24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Is the tide going out or coming in?
2. By Evil Persuasion
“Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,”
Eccles 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
Is the tide going out or coming in?
3. By Easing Perimeters
“Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,”
We have tended to become a society that highly values human autonomy. You are free to decide and do and be whatever you want to be. In the main that’s not a bad thing. There’s a term for that: Liberty.
But sometimes liberty goes too far:
In the days of the Judges human autonomy was its height. Judges 2 The Angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, “I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your fathers. I also said: I will never break My covenant with you. 2 You are not to make a covenant with the people who are living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me. What is this you have done?
When the Angel of the Lord had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly.
10 After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. 11 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the • Baals 12 and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They infuriated the Lord, 13 for they abandoned Him and worshiped Baal and the • Ashtoreths.
Judges 21 25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.
There is always the tendency for water to find its own level. And its usually the lower level. Corruption in government shouldn’t surprise us. It’s the way people are! Downgrade in the church shouldn’t surprise us. It’s the way people are. And the tide seems to be going out fast these days.
Here are some things that folks have said to me of recent days:
“Divorce is a good thing, I am glad for divorce so I can try a variety of relationships”
“He is homosexual. Its a good thing, it makes him a better actor”
“God intends you to be rich and wealthy so you can enjoy your dreams”
These statements were made to me by Christian people. Is the tide going out or coming in?
4. By Evil Profanity
“Where is the God of justice?”
Ecc 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.
I have heard supposedly Christian people giving up on Christianity because they didn’t have their lives work out exactly they way they felt they should work out.
They get angry with God because they are not wealthy or healthy enough. I think its quite sad.
Is the tide going out or coming in?
3:1 “See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of • Hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. 3 He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
4 And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by.
5 “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny [justice to]the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Hosts.
6 “Because I, • Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.
2. The General Renewal The Tide Returns Reviving
Emotion driven commitments generally fade: i.e. the effects of the Welsh revival in 1905 weren’t as deep and long lasting as the revivals of the 17th and 18th and centuries. Finney’s revivals had a much greater fall out rate than others in the same era. What was the difference? Pietistism versus convictional.
1. The Lord Enters On The Scene 3:1
- 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:"
Isaiah 40:3-5, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see [it] together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]."
People were Looking For Elijah To Come: The Scribes were sure that Elijah would come before the Messiah.
Matthew 16:14, "And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias (Elijah); and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets."
Mark 6:15, "Others said, That it is Elias (Elijah). And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets."
Luke 9:8, "And of some, that Elias (Elijah) had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again."
There is always an Empty Chair reserved at the Oxthodox Jewish Passover Feast, to be Ready For Elijah when he comes again. A child is sent to the door to see if Elijah has come.
The Time of The Second Coming of Elijah. Malachi 4:1, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." --- V. 5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:"
Matthew applies Isa. 40:3 to John the Baptist. Matthew 3:3, "For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
Jesus applies Isa. 40:3 to John the Baptist. Matthew 11:9-10, "But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."
John Denies that he is Elijah. John 1:21, "And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No."
However, Jesus says that John The Baptist Is Elijah. Matthew 17:9-13, "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
John The Baptist was the Elijah of the First Coming of Jesus. Luke 1:15: For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17, "And he (John) shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Matthew 11:7-14, "And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft [clothing] are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And IF YE WILL RECEIVE [IT], THIS IS ELIAS (ELIJAH), which was for to come."
What’s it all about? God stepped in! Lord .. the Messiah! “and the Lord, whom ye seek”
This is a pun on the depravity of the people. The Lord whom you seek .. do you really seek Him?
He comes suddenly to His temple. The Messiah comes to the temple! He has come.
Judaism says that they have to build the temple so He can come! But here it says He comes suddenly. Ezek tells us He comes to build His temple. The messiah has to have already come!
Lk 2: 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
Later in John 2, we see the Lord entering the temple suddenly: And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
Clearly the Messenger was John the Baptist, preparing the way for the Lord!
Prepare! To deal with hardened hearts. To confront them. Like Elijah! Like John the Baptist!
The Lord emphasises the convictional aspect. We need to repent because… we feel we need to? Or because, it is a way of getting blessings? Or because He is Lord and confronts us with His reality!
behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
Yahweh! He changes not! This is His plan!
2. The Lord Exposes The Sin 3:2,3
2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. 3 He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
Revival is not the discovery of some new secret. You may have seen of recent days that Oprah Winfrey is offering the “secret to success” on her TV show. Revival, the tide turning is the rediscovery of old truth. Its first of all discovering the truth about our sinfulness.
Revival firstly takes place in the church, where our sins are exposed by the Lord to our hearts. It is us dealing fairly with our sins.
3. The Lord Establishes The Saint 3:4
4 And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by.
Revival is us discovering that the there is a way to please the Lord, its by the sacrifice system. Itws not our sacrifices that please the Lord, but the one true sacrifice that takes away our sins.
Heb 10 But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said: You did not want sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me. 6 You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. 7 Then I said, “See, I have come— it is written about Me in the volume of the scroll— to do Your will, O God!” 8 After He says above, You did not desire or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings, (which are offered according to the law), 9 He then says, See, I have come to do Your will. He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. 11 Now every priest stands day after day ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.
4. The Lord Embarrasses The Sinner 3:5
He shows what their life is about. Is it about profit? Look at how men perceive preaching as profit:
5 “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Hosts.
The Lord deals directly with sin. If we will not repent of it, God will expose us in it.
1 Timothy 5: 24 Some people’s sins are evident, going before them to judgment, but [the sins]of others follow them. 25 Likewise, good works are obvious, and those that are not [obvious]cannot remain hidden.
1 Peter 4:17For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
Folks may i share with you a few words about the tide going out in the disciple Peter's Life, and how the Lord came back to him. It takes place in a personal encounter on the Sea of Galilee.
Matthew 14:30 Beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me
The Pathos of a Wasted Life There are two sights in human life which fill the heart with profound sorrow. The first is that of a person who has sunk. When we see a face made loathsome by iniquity and think that once it was innocent and childlike; when we hear of somebody who bore an honoured name, but is now in the depths of degradation, that is one of life's most piteous spectacles. It arrests even the worldly-minded who cherish no ideals for humanity; how much more must it sadden one who has anything of the vision of Christ Jesus. Men who are sunken—women who are sunken—are the heartbreak of the home and of the city. There is such infinite pathetic waste in a wasted, miserable life. But to the seeing eye and the perceiving heart, there is another spectacle which is not less tragic—it is that of the man who is beginning to sink.
Our Best Qualities May Be Our Ruin Peter's temperament put him in this danger. He began to sink because he was Simon Peter. The other disciples were all safe. It never occurred to them to leave the vessel. They were men of sagacity and common sense and knew the difference between land and water. But Peter was reckless, headstrong and impetuous, acting on impulse
Sinking amid Familiar Surroundings Simon Peter was a fisherman, and all his life had been spent beside that lake. He had played on its shores as a little child; he had known it in summer and in winter. And it was there, in these familiar scenes, amid what was habitual and customary, that he began to sink.
Sinking after Loyal Discipleship He had known Christ and had loved and followed Him before this hour of peril on the lake. We all remember that great hour in history when Peter had been called to the discipleship. Then he had left all and followed Jesus; he had made the full surrender to the Lord. And from that hour he had companied with Jesus and seen His miracles and heard His words and enjoyed the infinite blessings of His friendship. No one would doubt the reality of that. That self-surrender was intensely real. And Peter loved his Lord and knew His power and was never happy except in His companionship. And it was after all that rich experience—that self-surrender and devoted service—that Peter on the lake began to sink.
Sinking While Obeying Christ Our Lord had not forbidden him to come. And so do I learn that on permitted paths—on ways that are sanctioned by the voice of heaven—it is possible now, as on the lake of Galilee, for men and women to begin to sink.
Peter Began to Sink When He Began to Fear
But the Lord Jesus Christ Is Never Far A way When Peter began to sink, his Saviour was not far away. Immediately He put out His hand and grasped him. How far Peter had walked upon the water the narrative of Scripture does not tell us. Shall we say fifty yards, or shall we say a hundred yards?—it matters not whether fifty or a hundred. If the nearest human hand was fifty yards away, the hand of Christ was not fifty yards away; immediately He put forth His hand and helped him. My brother, just beginning to sink, will you remember that Christ is at your side? All human help may seem very far away; remember that He is not very far away. He is near you now; near you where you sit. You need Him sorely and He is there for you. Cry out now, "Lord, save me, or I perish," and He will do it to the uttermost for you.
The Lord Jesus Christ is not far away from you. He wants to draw near to you. he wants to revive you. he wants that the tide should come back in on your life?
What a mixture is man? "What a piece of work is man?" Let the Lord go to work on you. Experience His cleansing and refining. Then maybe the tide will come in on our nation once again.