Sunday School Material 8-30-15: A Plea to Return to God

(Malachi 3:1-10; 8/30/15)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God wants His people to repent, so He can bless, instead of punish. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to repent, so we can experience God’s blessings, instead of His punishment.

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Read Malachi 3:1-5

I. What to Expect. The Lord talks about sending His messenger to His people. However, His arrival will not be as pleasant as those who desire His arrival may suppose. A trial will take place. God’s people will have to answer for how they have been living.

Applications –

- God’s return. Notice in vss. 1-5 of our Sunday School material that God will come with judgment. First, God will return. He has come to a great degree in history, but as believers, we believe that there is future return of the Lord. God has not forgotten about this world, His people, nor you.

Second, God will judge, and those who are wrong will have some punishment to face. Everyone who claims to desire the Lord’s return will not necessarily enjoy the Lord’s judgment, when He returns. Sinful behavior will be dealt with, when the Lord returns.

Let’s work on living like we believe that God will return. Such living should be known for keeping our hopes in the Lord, not the things of this world. Such living should be known for obeying God’s will, so we will not punished, when the Lord returns and judges our lives.

- Fearing God. Notice in vs. 5 that a root of sinful behavior is a lack of fear of God. Where there is no fear, we do what we want to do. That is, we do what gives us pleasure and avoid what gives us pain. But where there is fear and reverence of God, we do what God says do.

We obey because we believe that God will bless obedience and punish disobedience. Let’s live like we fear God. The greatest evidence of really fearing God is not what we say, but what we do.

Read Malachi 3:6-10

II. How to Prepare. In our Sunday School material the Lord declares that He doesn’t change. His people have a long history of being disobedient to the Lord. The Lord is calling them to repent, specifically in the area of paying their tithes to the Lord.

Applications –

- Unchanging God. Notice in vs. 6 that God is unchanging. He is our rock in a world that seems to always be changing. This should move us to prayerfully study and obey God’s word with the assurance that no matter what is going on around us, the right thing to do is to obey God.

God being an unchanging God should help us to keep on praising Him, even when things look bad. We can trust God to take care of His own, as He has done so many times in the past.

Let’s live like we believe that God is an unchanging God. We should confidently obey God and trust Him to take care of His own.

- Repentance. Notice in vs. 7 of our Sunday School material that God is calling His people to return to Him, to repent. Instead of continuing in the sins of our fore parents, those around us, and what we have been doing, God is calling us to turn to Him.

With our attitudes (mindset) and actions, we are to place Him first in our lives and avoid all other distractions.

In exchange, God will bless us. Let’s live like we believe that God is worth coming back to. Saying “amen” to this concept and living by this concept are two different things.

- Robbery. Notice in vss. 8-9 that God wants His money. First, believers are not under the law. We should strive to live above it. As those who model our lives after Christ, we are not limited to 10%, and we should not strive to give less.

Second, as believers are greatest motive for giving is love, not law. We give because we love God and think that He is worth more than we give.

Third, whenever we fail to do what God says do that is a sin of omission. A failure to give to God, as God has given to us, is a sin of omission. And God punishes sin.

Let’s make sure that we don’t play with God’s money. Let’s pay our tithes and offerings, because our lives are challenging enough without God allowing or sending a curse or any kind of punishment into our lives.

- Floodgates. Notice in vs. 10 that God invites His people to test Him and see if He is trustworthy. God essentially throws down a challenge and says, see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out more blessings than you can handle.

It is embarrassing to see how many believers will give their last dollar to the lottery or casino because they might win but will not give God their first dollar. We behave as if we don’t trust God to make up 10% of our income.

Any God who is either too broke to make up 10% of our income or too mean to make up 10% of our income is not worthy of our worship and allegiance. But thank God that the God of the Bible has a long track record of always giving more to those who give than what they gave to Him.

Let’s give like we believe that God will open the floodgates for us. The level of our faith is demonstrated in our behavior, not our words.  

“What about fixed income, retirement, and low income”? Every believer should give to God in proportion (10% +) to how God has blessed them. The poorer you are, the less your 10% will be, and the more you need God to open the floodgates for you.

As for fixed income, unless you are working for commissions, most working people are on a fixed income. As for retirement, when you give because of love and because you trust God to bless the giver, it becomes obvious that you should continue to give.

The only reason not to keep on giving is because you were giving because of the law and you think you have a loophole that allows you to safely stop giving God His money. Remember in Leviticus 27:30 that God called for 10% of what the seed produces.

That is very similar to how God wants 10% of our return (fruit) on investments (seed). God is the source of our wealth and we are to honor Him with our wealth (see Deu. 8:18; Pro. 3:9-10).

Conclusion: Let’s work on repenting or living obediently, so we can experience God’s blessings, instead of His punishment. God has much for those who obey His will.

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