Malachi’s Message

Steve Arterburn

The prophet Malachi brought a message of hope to a nation that knew repeated failure.  After being restored to their homeland, the Jews had forgotten the one who had delivered them.  We often make the same kind of mistake.  As soon as we overcome our pressing problems, we forget the one who delivered us from them’God.  Without a continued relationship with God, our hope of sustaining spiritual growth is slim at best.  You and I need to keep our eyes on God, the source and means for our continued spiritual growth.

God’s love to the people of Jerusalem and to us cannot be explained.  God knows the depth of your sin; he knows how weak you are; yet he still loves you.  There is nothing that you can do to lose this love that you never deserved in the first place.  God’s love has the power to heal all the broken places in your life.  Your failures, setbacks, and defenses cannot stop God from wanting to heal you.  This fact should give you hope, no matter how terrible your failures in the past.  He already knows about the anger, betrayal, addiction, lies’you’re not going to surprise him.  But it’s time you confess and seek his will for your life.

Are you willing to turn to him for healing and forgiveness?  He was patient with the people of Israel for hundreds of years, in spite of their sin.  In his grace, God patiently waits for you as well.  

Naaman

Steve Arterburn

Situations that are out of your control will show whether you’re operating with pride and self-sufficiency or with humility and dependence on God.  If you’re willing to humbly depend on God and recognize you inability to handle everything on your own, you’ll see the power of God bring great changes in your life.  

The experience of a man named Naaman illustrates how this is true.  Naaman was a powerful military and political figure, a man of wealth, position, and power.  He also had leprosy, an incurable disease that would slowly destroy his body.  Lepers were made outcasts from their families and society.  Ultimately, they faced a slow, painful, and disgraceful death.

But Naaman heard that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him.  He found the prophet and was told that in order to be healed he needed to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River.  He went away outraged, having expected his power and money to buy him an instant and easy cure.  In the end, however, he acknowledged that this situation was beyond his control.  Humility was the key that caused Naaman to surrender to God, follow his instructions, and receive the healing that only God could give him.  

Humility should not be confused with humiliation.  God doesn’t allow you to face situations beyond your control in order to humiliate you.  He does so to draw you to himself and lead you to healing and spiritual renewal.

God On Divorce

Steve Arterburn

There are two ways to give a command. You can take a positive approach, such as, ‘Follow God!’ Or you can spell out things to avoid, like, ‘Flee the devil.’

 

In Malachi chapter two, God uses both approaches to emphasize the sacredness of marriage. First, in verse 15, it’s stated positively: ‘Guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.’ Then, in the very next verse, the same message is put quite another way: ”For I hate divorce!’ says the Lord, the God of Israel.’

 

Why is God so zealous about marriage? One reason among many is that God knows real contentment comes from the deep union of two souls, the kind found only within the security of an exclusive, lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. That’s the way He designed us.

 

Unfortunately, most of us’including me’have seen, or even been in, marriages with little evidence of such oneness. Today, divorce is increasingly common among both Christians and non-Christians alike. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s okay. I speak from experience when I say divorce breaks God’s heart.

 

Yes, God can forgive divorce. If He could repeatedly absolve the nation of Israel for its many sins over the centuries, He too can forgive a husband and wife who’ve wrecked their marriage.

 

But guys, make no mistake: God would much rather see your commitments kept, commitments made before God and witnesses at your marriage ceremony. He’d like to see your loyalty honored, and the spiritual oneness between you and your wife kept sacred. Strive for it!