Short and Not So Sweet
God works on His own timetable for each person He is dealing with. Often times, though, we make ourselves so busy with activities, thoughts, goals, what-have-you that we often miss out on what He has in mind for us. We miss out on Spiritual insights into His will and His word, we miss out on being a blessing and even in being blessed ourselves. There is a Psalm I like to use, I call it the “Sit down, shut up, and know that I Am God” Psalm (Psalm 46:10).
There are days where we need to remember that God works best when we do the least. I needed that myself this week. My post from the other day showed where I had gotten myself so busy with preparations for being done with His plan – thinking that there couldn’t possibly be more to what He has in mind. After all, I am now a successful two-time cancer survivor because of Him. How much more could there be? Well, to put it bluntly, the rest of it – where IT is His plan to receive all glory, honor, and praise.
I didn’t know he wasn’t done, and I apparently hadn’t been listening closely enough and wound up getting myself up in a tizzy over even more treatments at a seemingly accelerated pace. Once I slowed down enough to listen, He spoke to me through the prophet Malachi. With only four “chapters” of verse attributed to his name, Malachi was able to show me all that I needed to know.
The Not So Sweet
The First Lesson
The first lesson was the toughest to hear, and as I sit here typing out my thoughts, I am reminded of a scene from Facing the Giants where Coach Taylor is making Brock Kelly do the death crawl, blindfolded and with 160lbs of human on his back. In this scene, the coach is not only demanding Brock’s all, but also his best. God did the same in Malachi. God wanted all of His people fully devoted to Him and He wanted there best. Not the cast-off animals no one else wanted. Not the last bits of lint from the shekels purse. He wants our first, our best, and He wants truly sacrificial giving from those who are willing. Remember Christ’s cursing of the fig tree? It wasn’t just because it wasn’t bearing fruit. It was because it was a mature vessel of God which was not fulfilling its God-given purpose of bearing fruit. It stopped listening to God, it stopped doing what it should be doing and was just basically a bump on the log. I would like to thank my Brother and church Elder David Cook for letting God use him for this last bit to this message I needed to hear. God has a value and need of us to be His light-bearers, but if we have no use for Him what use should He have for us? We’d be like that fig tree, taking up valuable space where something productive could be.
The Second Lesson
The second lesson is over tithing. He repeatedly commands us to bring in the tithe to the storehouse, starting off with a statutory (mandatory minimum) amount to get us both in the habit and understanding of what is going on. In the beginning, Abraham and the Jews had to tithe the first (and best) 10% of all income. It was both for the care of the priests and the poor. In the New Testament, there was no longer a statutory amount but there was still the command to tithe, this time exclusively for the care of the poor and indigent members of the brethren. The leadership was to be gainfully employed in their own right (Paul was a tent-maker (or whatever else was needed) by trade) so as not to be a burden to the brethren, but the command to tithe was still there and we are indeed called to follow those brothers and sisters who give past the point of it hurting, and all in joy.
The point was never about the money, or the food, or clothing, or whatever. The point was and always has been that our focus not be on the money, clothing, food, or whatever. If our focus really is all on God, then those things will not matter (and we don’t have to worry about them, as Christ teaches in Matthew 6:25-34).
The Third Lesson
Tying It Together
Our focus, whether we are being healed, tithing, or working needs to be on what God wants. We need to stop busying ourselves to the point of distraction. If we are truly devoted and radical enough for Christ to call us His own, our focus can’t help but be upon Him. He’s already said He’d take care of the rest. He knows when we are really committed and He knows when we are a bump on the log. He has commanded us in His ways and expects nothing less than our very best, whether its carrying 160lbs of human on hands and feet across 100 yards of football field or going to the store to pick up groceries we can’t afford because our brethren can afford it even less than we.
I committed to God almost three years ago – and every day since then – to give Him my best, to follow His will and His way and leave the rest up to Him which means that for now, I continue through with chemotherapy, not knowing when it will stop. In a life full of hard decisions, this is probably one of those that feels hard now but was probably the easiest I ever made.
To God be the Glory, Power, and Honor now and forever, Amen.