Monday, August 12, 2013

God's Character > Your Circumstances

God's character is greater than your circumstances.
God's character gives peace to your circumstances. God's character gives hope to your circumstances.

This is the reminder that Malachi the prophet has for the people of Judah, a people who have recently returned from exile in Babylon and are living in a desperate time. A time where the religious, moral, and economic fabric of the people of God was at an all-time low.

The circumstances in Jerusalem were desperate.
Harvests were poor. Locusts plagues were eating up crops. There was little economic vitality anywhere in the city.
The city looked like the bad parts of Detroit, still under the ruin of the Babylonian invasion.
The people were morally bankrupt and the priests were no longer worshipping Yahweh as God had commanded them to.

Into this darkness God sends the prophet Malachi to remind His people of the character of God.

Malachi 1:2 begins with this glorious declaration...

"I have loved you" declares the Lord, but the people respond...
"How have you loved us?"

It is not a totally unreasonable question. We are Your chosen people God, but everything around us has been destroyed. Your actions don't seem like love, this doesn't seem like what love looks like to us!

In truth, we have all asked this question, "How have you loved me God?"

We all have expectations of what our life should like that. We expect certain things to happen to us. If I do this then this will happen, if I pursue this then this will happen to me. And these expectations usually revolve around our pursuit of happiness.
And when anything disrupts our happiness we can begin to freak out, when the circumstances we find ourselves in are totally different from what our pre-set expectations of our life then our emotions can being to unravel.

For the people of Judah in the book of Malachi their expectations of what their lives as God's chosen people would look like were probably far different from the reality they were experiencing. And their reality was making them question the love of God.

Malachi runs through the sins of the priests in verses 6-14 of chapter 1 and shows that the priests were going through the religious motions without any fear or awe of the Great King (1:14). The priests had forgotten the character of God, they had forgotten Yahweh and were letting their present circumstances define their worship of Yahweh. And their present circumstances were not creating in them a desire to truly worship God in any real sense.

But the truth of God's love for His people has never changed. The circumstances of the people have changed, but His love for them has not changed. God proclaims "I have loved you".

And this is what God says to you. I have loved you. All that I have done is for your joy, is for your good, and I am calling you to the pursuit of holiness and not the pursuit of happiness.

The pursuit of holiness makes us look more like Jesus and through it all brings you joy.
The pursuit of happiness makes us look less like Jesus, and in the end makes us miserable.

God is holy. And He calls us to live holy lives and He gives us the Spirit to sanctify us and remind us of His covenant love for us. The key to personal revival is found in remembering the God of covenant love, remembering his declaration that "I have loved you." Just look at your biography and see all that God has done for you and then look at the Cross and see the length to which he showed you this love.

When the storm comes we must call to mind this great truth--that God loves us. And we must remind ourselves of the character and nature of God--that is He is good and longsuffering and patient and loving. That he is our strong tower, our refuge, and our peace.

The character of God gives peace to your circumstances.

Whether you are in a good place with the Lord, it can be easy to become complacent and settle. Don't settle. Keep pressing into Him, keep learning about His character and nature, keep growing, and pursuing holiness.

Or you may be in a difficult place and your circumstances may be consuming you--remember His character. Press into His character, hold fast to Him through what you are walking through, through what your family or friends may be walking through.

Desperate circumstances require desperate dependence on Jesus. And in desperately depending on Jesus we give up control and trust the One who made us, who knows us, and who loves us.

He is trustworthy. And He is enough.

Would the truth of God's character and nature rule and reign over all the circumstances of your life, so that Christ's glory might shine through your life and that your character would begin to resemble the character of Christ more and more.

"How have you loved us"? the people ask...

To the one asking the question we can always look to the Apostle Paul's declaration in Romans 5:8...

"But God shows us His love in this way, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

1 comment:

  1. My husband and I just moved here as well! This was our third Sunday at Door Creek and we had our friends up from Willow Creek church. We all loved your sermon and the delivery. Thanks so much for preaching exactly what we needed to hear this week!