Malachi has been a tough book to hear from so far. In the first few verses in today’s passage, the people are coming before the Lord with tears and weeping, wondering why God is not answering them. The reason was their lives were filled with un-repented sin. They had violated their marriage vowels, and had not separated themselves from idols as God commanded. They did not want to change their way of living; they just wanted to change their immediate circumstances. Ever found yourself in that kind of situation. Let’s say you want to lose 30 pounds, but you refuse to limit the amount of sweets you eat. What will the outcome be? You will not reach your goal because you refused to give up the culprit. The same can occur in a spiritual sense. We want to see God’s blessings poured out in our life, yet we don’t want to obedient in order to receive them. We want our cake and eat it too, so to speak. Everything we do that is worthwhile will require sacrifice. Satan is always in our ear saying: What do you get from tithing? What do you get from teaching Sunday School? What do you get from being in the choir? What do you get from always trying to do the right thing? What do you get for sacrificing your time? What you get is God. Sometimes we belittle this statement because we have limited who God is or can be in our lives, but in reality we are getting EVERYTHING! He is the alpha and omega; he is our Abba father, great physician, redeemer, our rock and fortress, Savior, our everlasting life!
He is telling the people if they will stop robbing him and bring their full tithe, full talents, and full devotion, he will bless them. He says if you do these things see “if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Do you hear what that verse is saying? You be faithful and trust me, and I will pour myself out so much you will have no needs. About 10 years ago Chad became ill. We were in the hospital for a while, and had some serious bills because we did not have good insurance at the time. We got a bill in the mail for $482.63. I remembered thinking we cannot afford to pay this bill. I was doing the Beth Moore Bible study Believing God, and I began to pray. That afternoon when I went to the mailbox I had an unmarked envelope. As I opened it up there was 483.00. There was no name attached, or markings of any kind. He met me where I was because I had a need, and I was relying on him to meet it. I am sad to say I have not always lived my life in that way. Sometimes I have allowed Satan to discourage me so much that I am not expecting deliverance, or for God to meet a need, so therefore I have limited God in my life, by my own choosing. However in other times like the one above he more than graciously opened the windows of heaven for me.
I want to leave you with one last story. This summer was a crazy summer. I literally was out of the office for a month with camps, etc. During this time God spoke to me about starting AWANA. I tried to put it off because I knew it would be so much to undertake and my summer was crazy already, plus I had other things to try to get into place as well. I finally agreed in my spirit this was the right thing to do, and then announced we would be bringing AWANA back. I can remember sitting at my desk one day, getting off an hour-long conference call with an AWANA ministry consultant, thinking I have lost my mind. I said, “Lord this is just not possible in this amount of time, not to mention the fact that I have never done AWANA and have no clue what I am doing. I don’t even have a budget. I have so much going on I just can’t do it.” He quickly reminded me that I was not the only one capable of serving the Lord in a church of 500 people. So I repented and ask for him to take this project on because although I was not capable, he certainly was. In a matter of a week I enlisted a commander and a main secretary, both, which did not even have kids in the program. From that point in about four weeks we recruited four directors, four assistant directors, four secretaries, and almost fifty volunteers. If you have never worked in children’s ministry, you cannot even begin to comprehend what a miracle that was. Then there was the problem of a budget. I didn’t know the Lord was going to lead me in that direction so therefore; I had not budgeted for AWANA. I needed a portable AWANA game mat which was going to cost me $2,000, and material that was going to cost at least that much to get started. So then I began praying about finances. I called a church to check and see how their game mat had worked for them, and the man said it’s in our attic. I proceeded to ask if he would consider letting us buy it. Needless to say it is in our activity room floor right now, and is the exact size we needed. He is letting us use it for a month to try it out, and said they would take a donation to their children’s fund. Another church was not doing AWANA and said I could come pick up all the material they were not using. I packed my van full of curriculum, T-shirts, etc. for only a nominal donation. This literally saved us thousands of dollars. Then there was a question of how we would get everyone fed because we would start at 5:45 on Wednesday, leaving people in a bind for feeding their family. Chick-fil-A was so nice to help me set up a plan where families could have their food waiting on them when they arrived at church. Our first night was last night, and it was great! I tell you this story for no other reason than to once again praise God that he can do anything. I stood in need of knowledge, and God placed people around me who were very experienced in the AWANA format. I stood in need of volunteers, and God filled all my positions. I stood in need of money, and God delivered the materials. It only took the act of obedience for him to open up the windows of heaven and pour out blessing after blessing until all the needs were met.
I encourage you today --Do not rob God, but instead experience the blessings he longs to pour out on you!