Series 41


Malachi Wants Marbles

This is just what I wanted,” Malachi said.

A single marble. Malachi swooped it up. And with great joy he examined his new treasured possession.

Now eight-year old Malachi, who has a Bible-prophet’s name, probably never considered that God looks upon some people with these same kind of eyes.

From the Bible, Malachi 3:17 says: “And they shall be Mine, says God Almighty, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels—My special possession, My precious treasure.”

So who qualifies?

The verse before reveals the criteria. “Then those whose lives honored GOD got together and talked it over. GOD saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God's presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the GOD-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored GOD's name.”

(1) Their lives honored God: The setting was similar to today. It seemed like evildoers were    prospering. Arrogant, God-mockers appeared to be blessed. God was looking for people who stood firm regardless.

(2) They talked openly about God, fully considered His ways: God was not a side issue. Not a God for Sundays, special occasions, or emergences only. A Monday-through-Sunday God—fully integrated into life-decisions.

(3) God-fearers: Not cowering fear, but recognizing the awesomeness of God. And His mercy. Yet, a clear knowing that disobedience and sin has penalties.

(4) They honored God’s Name: How does a person honor God’s name? How do friends, neighbors, and co-workers think of you regarding your association with God?  Is honor or dishonor bestowed upon God because your manner of living?

My friend Malachi told me he wants more marbles. Likewise, God wants more special, treasured possessions. People whose manner of living, make Him say, “This is just what I wanted.”


Is Your Rest Work?

“I had to work at making it a Sabbath day,” Sandy said.

We laughed while musing about the quirkiness of linking the words “work” and “Sabbath” together.

Sandy was talking about Sabbath in the Seventh Commandment context: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…”

In practical terms, Sandy follows this by attending church on Sunday and then attempting to make the remainder of the day restful and God focused. But like most of us, she has a never ending to-do list. And it doesn’t go away on Sunday. So when Sandy was taking a much deserved Sunday nap, her brain wanted to churn through all the tasks she could be doing.

Now here’s where the “work” part comes in. Laying there she had to make a definitive decision to resist plunging into her project list. She had to intentionally draw her mind toward trusting God. She worked to the point where she was able to say: “I decided to just lay there and let Jesus take care of me.”

Hebrews 4 focuses significantly on “Sabbath and rest.” Here’s one particularly revealing verse: “Let us therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example.”

What was their example? This was the people Moses led around the desert for forty years. A restless people marked by disobedience to God. They substantially lacked trust and faith in God—a trust that God would take care of them.

Sandy has it figured out. Sabbath and rest equal trust. Trust in God.

Let her words be yours: “I decided to…let Jesus take care of me.”


Let Me Give You the Wrong Answer

My mind was pulling up memories of high school test-taking. My approach aimed at the best grade. This meant memorizing the facts presented by the teacher. Answering correctly. My wife recalls her method: “Lots of guessing.”

Our friend Timothy’s dilemma sparked our discussion. A middle school student, he had an upcoming science test. He approached it with thorough study of the subject, blended with his zeal to live out his Christian beliefs.

What the teacher would mark correct was at odds with his Bible. The question:“What is the most likely explanation for how the universe was created?”

Timothy is unabashed in believing the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” By His Word. In six days.

Timothy is intelligent, completely able to explain the atomic-level manifestation of random chance theory. He understands it. But for him, scientific theory pales next to God’s fact: “In the beginning God created....”

He answered the test question in alignment with God’s truth.

I asked Timothy, “What was your teacher’s response?”  Nothing. She simply marked it as wrong.

2 Corinthians 3:2 says, “Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.” Timothy’s God-as-Creator answer in essence wrote several sentences to his teacher. It may have sounded like this: “I am a Christian. I trust God. I study and believe the Bible.”

His test answer decision has put Timothy in the company of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel…just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” 

My distant high school tests mean little now. They serve as a reminder of when I was in the category of people, “Ashamed of the Gospel.”  Unable…unwilling to live by faith.

Dear Timothy, “I love you.”


Jesus at Wal-Mart

Red-light. My turn signal blinked left as tears welled up in my eyes. Close to my destination, I could see where I would be in two minutes.


Nearing 10 at night, I wasn’t heading there to shop. I was going to work. This was week three at Wal-Mart as an O/N STOCKER. Over/night—10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Stocking shelves.

For any significant life-decision I rely on what the Bible says: “My sheep will hear My voice.” I pray, seeking God’s direction.

When I did this, I felt led to apply for a job at Wal-Mart. God quickly presented me assurance this was correct. Within a few days, I received calls from two stores with job opportunities. This was as newspaper headlines were proclaiming: “Worst Unemployment in Fifteen Years.”

Still, I couldn’t help asking, “God, why did you give me this job?”

God, I’ve been the boss at every job I’ve worked at for the last 28 years. Now I put Drano, bleach, toilet paper, and a blurring-stack of stuff on never-ending steel shelves.

God, I’m a writer. Did you know I write for a bunch of newspapers? I wrote a book. I’m a pastor with a degree in Christian ministry. 

The light turned green. I sucked in my emotions. Stifling the urge to flat-out start crying.

I could even be asking, “God, have you forsaken me?”

Actually, the tears were because: “I love my job.” I’m serving God at a location and capacity off the radar of my human reasoning. People need Jesus at Wal-Mart too!

The Bible says, “For, You LORD have never forsaken those who seek You.”

Forsaken: deserted; abandoned. Never. Not even in the middle-of-the-night at Wal-Mart.

Human reasoning will fail us. There is a better way—the faith-adventure. Listen to Jesus, “Hear My voice…follow Me.”


Credit for Your Account

Dear Ron and Merna,

Nancy and I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate you two.

The Bible says, “Whatever you do, do as unto the Lord.”  Each load of clothes, household items, books, etc. you haul to the Free Store, (the ministry God has given Nancy) and your manner of doing so exemplifies the way all of us should serve Jesus.

We know at one time you had a much more public ministry—pastoring a church and being on the radio. Still, you were willing to do whatever God asked of you. Reminds me of Isaiah the Prophet’s encounter with God. God said, “Who shall I send.” Isaiah quickly responded, “Send me.”

Ron and Merna, can you imagine how the world would radically change if just half the Christians said, “God send me. Whatever you have for me to do, I’ll do it.”

Sometimes it feels as if nobody sees or cares much about what we do. Sure we should only want God’s recognition. Yet, we’re weak frail humans. Having someone say, “We’re with you. We see what you’re doing. We appreciate what you’re doing,” carries us a long ways through the multiple challenges of serving God.

The hundred dollars you sent, said all those things by your loving action. 

And more.

We received well beyond a hundred dollars worth of blessing. God used your gift as a way of significantly uplifting our spirits. And the money just plain-old helped us to make-it financially.

Nancy and I agree with the words of the Apostle Paul: “It is not that I just want to receive gifts; rather, I want to see profit added to your account.”

May God richly bless your account for serving and giving with your Jesus-like attitude.

We love you both,