Tuesday, August 30, 2022

             Malachi is the last of the minor prophets and the final book of the Old Testament.  He was the last prophetic voice until the emergence of John the Baptist who heralded the coming of Jesus as Israel’s long-awaited and long-anticipated Messiah.  As the last prophet for a long-time, we would reasonably expect that his message should be heard and applied.  One of Malachi’s key words is “return,” as in God’s people returning to Him in all the ways they have departed from Him.  We read this promise in Malachi 3:7, “Return to me and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.  This recipe for revival works anytime and anywhere for anyone who wishes to walk with the Lord.  Sliding away from the Lord can often be a gradual, glacial thing.  The pace away from the Lord is often not fast or sudden.  It can be a slow, compromising slide where we begin to think more highly of our ways than we do His ways.  In perhaps a distinctly Baptist way, we often call this “backsliding.”  The expression makes sense because we could be thinking more with our backsides than the brain God gave us.  We become less vigilant and less diligent in our walk.  We begin to put some distance between ourselves and spiritual disciplines that we know to work whenever they are tried—worship, Bible reading, prayer, tithing, serving, testifying and faith-sharing.  Slowly, other things begin to take over and take priority. 
              Return.  That word can come to us as both a command and an invitation.  God says to return because nothing else is right when we are separate and disconnected from Him.  If we have departed from Him, then nothing else really matters until that breach is repaired and we have come back to Him.  But God also loves us and enjoys fellowship with us.  Return is an invitation to come back to the One who loves us more than anyone else and desires to enjoy us more than anyone else.  Return could be an inviting command and a commanding invitation.  It is a declaration that God’s hand is both open to us and extended to us.  He is like the father in the parable of the prodigal son who is looking for the wayward and wandering boy long-before the boy sets his sights on his loving father.  Like an old advertisement for a motel chain, God has left the light on for us anticipating and calling us to return to Him. 
            Malachi 3:17 says, “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.”  God treasure us!  That statement might seem overwhelming and even too incredible to believe but He does.  We have it on the authority of His Word.  God lavishes His compassion on His people just as an earthly father enjoys and lavishes love on his son.  Those who return to the Lord are spared and saved from the pitfalls and missteps that come from wandering away and rejecting the Lord’s entreaties and invitations.  As the days of summer begin to run out, perhaps you would ponder if there are ways where you can return to the Lord.  Perhaps you are looking at a season of separation and disconnection where the Lord has been little more than an after-thought or an often overlooked distant relative.  The good news is you can return.  As the Old Testament prepared to transition into the New Testament and the new covenant that God was making in Christ, the people were called to return.  God’s last word before Christ was "return."  And, as Malachi pointed out in his last verse, a return to the Lord pays dividends in the family as well, as parents return to their children and children return to their parents.  Bring a blessing to your life and home today.  Return to the Lord.  Walk with and enjoy Him again.  Have a great Tuesday and remember you can share our worship at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.   

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