Last October, our area got hit with one of the worst snowstorms in history. Millions of people were left without power - some of them for weeks. My son John and his wife Amy had a one-year-old at the time, and I was especially concerned about them. When I got in touch with Amy, she was rejoicing over the fact that she had been in the middle of baking blueberry muffins when the power went out, so the oven was still warm enough for her to heat the baby's bottle in. I marveled over how, instead of complaining or asking why God let the storm happen, she was talking about His mercy and goodness. And it made me think of a passage in the book of Malachi which I had read many times before.
It's a passage that starts out with God accusing His people of speaking harsh words against Him. "You have said terrible things about Me," says the Lord. "But you say, 'What do You mean? How have we spoken against You?' "You have said, 'What's the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying His commands or by trying to show the Lord Almighty that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will say, "Blessed are the arrogant." For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them go free of harm.'" (Malachi 3:13-15 NLT)
Think about the unbelief and cynicism that are behind these harsh words spoken against the Lord. Consider the self-pity and self-absorption that must have prompted them. Is it any wonder that the Lord sounds insulted and disgusted with His people? Jesus never told His disciples that if they followed Him, life would be easy and free from pain and hardship. If that were the case, millions of people would serve God for the wrong reasons. No, Jesus never said that it would be easy to follow Him - but He did say that it would be worth it. I was almost 40 years old before I got serious about my relationship with God, and I can tell you without hesitation today that, as hard as life can be serving Him, it is infinitely harder when we don't. Now, when problems come my way, I can face them with confidence, knowing that the Lord will be right there with me - strengthening, guiding, and upholding me - as I place my trust in Him and His promises.
This passage in Malachi goes on to say: "Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared Him and loved to think about Him." (Malachi 3:16 NLT) The Lord always listens intently to what we say about Him and His dealings with us. He longs to hear us speak words of gratitude and praise. In every situation, He desires that we expect Him to keep His promises to us - even His promise to cause all things to work together for our good. (Romans 8:28)
Chapter 3 of Malachi concludes with the Lord's commitment to reward and honor those who remain loyal to Him. "They will be My people," says the Lord Almighty. "On the day when I act, they will be My own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient and dutiful child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." (v. 17-18 NLT) If you have committed your life to Christ, then the Lord is committed to protect you and provide for you, as you walk in close fellowship with Him throughout each day. It may look like those around you who aren't living for God are prospering more than you are, but one day the tables will be turned, and it will be you who are reaping the untold rewards of faith and obedience. Today, take comfort in the fact that you are the Lord's "special treasure," and that He has glorious plans for you!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times that I grumbled and complained, instead of finding something to give thanks for. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Remind me often that it's Your will for me to be continually "overflowing with thankfulness". (Colossians 2:7) Teach me how to speak words that honor You and delight Your heart. Thank You for the special rewards and blessings that will be mine as I serve You with wholehearted devotion!
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