In the Fullness of Time – Luke 1

As foretold by the seventy-weeks prophesy delivered to the prophet Daniel by the angel Gabriel, God had a plan and a timetable for His Son, Messiah Jesus Christ, to be born and live among His people as a human being. 

Gabriel would return five centuries later to announce the unfolding of the Father’s plan, beginning with the priest Zacharias, whose aging wife Elizabeth would give birth to John the Baptist, Messiah’s prophetic herald.  Gabriel would return again six months later to visit Elizabeth’s young relative, Mary, chosen by the Father to become the mother of Jesus.  Mary would faithfully consent to go along with God’s plan.

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
31 Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.

36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”  Luke 1:26-36 (HCSB)

Mary had found tremendous favor with God, so much so that the Creator of the universe chose her to be the mother of His only begotten Son.  What was it about Mary that God found so special?  In the case of David, chosen to establish heaven’s eternal throne on earth, it was his deep faith that made such a strong impression with the Lord.  David was not a perfect person, but his faith stood out on many occasions, such as when he took on and defeated the warrior Goliath because the giant had been threatening Israel’s armies while blaspheming the Name of the Lord. Perhaps it was her humble faith that brought about such favor from God.

45 She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!” Luke 1:45 (HCSB)

Jesus would be born the Son of the Most High and called the Son of God.  In fact, He would be both 100% God and 100% human at the same time.  He set aside His divine power and relied on faith in His Father and the presence of the Holy Spirit to do the Father’s will at all times, from preaching the kingdom to healing physical illness or driving out demons, to laying down His life on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  He would rise again and ascend to the Father’s right hand, one day to return to reign on the throne of His father David, the fulfillment of the genealogy of Jesus Christ

Mary conceived as a virgin after consenting to allow the Holy Spirit of God to overshadow her.  Many have great difficulty with this concept.  It is not very difficult for me to believe that the One who created both the seen and the unseen worlds, the spiritual and the physical, from the smallest DNA to the furthest and most sophisticated heavenly bodies, joined the human and divine building blocks of life to allow God to live among us as a sinless human.  He did so, and in the fullness of time, He will return to be with us forever.


Why might God have picked Mary to be the mother of His only begotten Son, Jesus? In His mercy and grace, He has picked us, as well, to be His followers and faithful servants.

Father God, grant us the faith to walk closely with Jesus today, following in His light, and grant us the power through the Holy Spirit to love, serve, and forgive others according to Your will.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Restored Voice – Luke 1

God’s angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias while performing his priestly duties in the Holy of Holies in the temple to inform him that, after a long childless life, he and his wife Elizabeth would soon have a baby boy.  Having prayed so long without result for this very thing, Zacharias could scarcely believe it.  In fact, he didn’t believe it.  Especially after being told that their child would fulfill Malachi’s final prophecy and come in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the nation for Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.  The old priest knew well of the angel Gabriel from the book of Daniel, and all of the Old Testament prophecies pertaining to this important herald of the coming Messiah. But here was Gabriel in person, and it all sounded just too good to be true.  At this point, this righteous and faithful old priest, chosen to become the father of John the Baptist, became filled with spiritual doubt.

18 “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. 20 Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he could not speak to them. Then they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept making signs to them and remained speechless.  Luke 1:18-22 (HCSB)

Because of his unbelief, Zacharias was unable to speak at all until the child would be born.  Nevertheless, he faithfully completed his time of service in the temple, and then returned home with Elizabeth.  Shortly afterwards, to their great joy, the words of the angel came true, and Elizabeth conceived.

When the child was born, Elizabeth informed their relatives that they were planning to name the boy John, per Gabriel’s specific instructions.  The relatives questioned this decision.

61 Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 62 So they motioned to his father to find out what he wanted him to be called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote:


And they were all amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.  Luke 1:61-64 (HCSB)

Zacharias’ first words after almost a year of silence were those of praise and gratitude towards God.  He had had plenty of time to meditate upon the goodness of the Lord, and he was not going to waste this opportunity to express his true feelings and the joy within his heart.

The Lord poured out His Holy Spirit upon Zacharias, and as he prayed, the Lord gave him prophetic words to speak about the Messiah and his newborn son, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for the Lord.

67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has visited
and provided redemption for His people.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David,
70 just as He spoke by the mouth
of His holy prophets in ancient times;

76 And child, you will be called
a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare His ways,
77 to give His people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.

80 The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.  Luke 1:67-70,76-77 (HCSB)

Difficult as it was, Zacharias’ imposed silence and restoration was a further testimony to the power and presence of a miracle working God. 

Several years ago, a pastor came to our church to share his testimony about losing his once-strong speaking voice due to vocal cord damage from a flu virus.  He sought countless specialists to get his voice back, but no one could help him.  The best sound he could produce, only with the greatest effort, sounded like a very weak and distorted laryngitis. 

After three years of desperate but failed attempts at healing and a resulting deep depression, the pastor came very close to losing his faith and committing suicide. 

Pressed into service the following Sunday morning to teach a Bible class on Psalm 103, the pastor was struggling through a reading of the assigned text, insisting all throughout it that God still does heal today even if He does not heal everyone, including himself. Though speaking these truths and these verses, in his heart, he barely had the faith to believe it.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion… Psalm 103:1-4 (NIV)

As the paster quoted the final verse about being redeemed from the pit, suddenly, after three years, his voice began to be restored.  This miracle of God was recorded on tape and can be heard through the linked story at around the 4:30 mark of its enclosed video.

God is good, is very real, and is here with us today.  Let us rejoice and give Him thanks and praise as He is working even now to restore all of our lives.


Lord, in Your great goodness You restore us wherever we have been broken.  We rely upon You and Your care to see us through all of the challenges we face.  You have never abandoned us, even in our darkest hour, and You never will.  We come to You, the Great Physician, for complete restoration and healing. We thank You and praise You, lifting our prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lifting the Curse – Malachi 4

The prophet Malachi closed out the Old Testament with both a promise and a warning from God.  Afterwards, there would be no further scriptural word from heaven until the coming of Christ four centuries later.

Malachi concluded his prophecy from God:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5-6 (NKJV)

The Good News is that the spirit of Elijah did come in John the Baptist, a herald who prepared the people for the arrival of Jesus Christ.  And in Jesus came abundant blessings, not curses – in fact, He became a curse for us so that the gates of hell could not prevail against us.  As the apostle Paul wrote in the book of Galatians:

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Galatians 3:13-14 (NKJV)

Jesus is still extending blessings to all who would reach out to Him in faith today.  He is not only our source of forgiveness and eternal life, but He has promised to always be with us and to hear our prayers.  Though He may choose to answer them at different times in different ways – God is sovereign – however He does it, He will do out of great love for us. His answer to our prayer is often “yes”, sometimes “no”, or at times “not now”.  He will often come back later to answer those as a “yes” long after we remember that we prayed them.  That is why it is good to write prayers down in a journal to be able to go back and see where, when, and how the Lord has answered them.  It can be a real eye-opening and faith-building experience.

Every so often, as a demonstration of His great goodness and love for us, God answer will our prayer in a remarkable and sensational way, one that we will remember for the rest of our life.

But what about Elijah, the great prophet who called down fire on Mount Carmel in the great spiritual battle between the Lord and the prophets of Baal?  What exactly does it mean when Malachi speaks of God sending Elijah before the Day of the Lord?

This is specifically addressed in the gospel of Luke, where John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, is addressed by the angel Gabriel, who had previously appeared to the prophet Daniel five hundred years earlier to proclaim the coming of the Messiah and provide a time frame, the seventy-weeks prophecy.

Zacharias was serving in the Holy of Holy’s in the temple as his friends and family were praying and worshiping just outside.  It was a great and rare honor for a priest to serve in this capacity, as it was the holy site of the Presence of God.  Suddenly, the angel Gabriel appeared beside him, and the priest became frightened.

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John…16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.  Luke 1:13,16-19 (NKJV)

The glad tidings that Gabriel brought to Zacharias herald just as loudly for you and I today.  There is no good thing that the Lord will hold back from us.  He even offered His life in exchange for ours on Cavalry.  May we all walk in the light of His blessing and presence today.


What curse do you need lifted from your life today?

Father God, Jesus has authority over all temptation, sin, demon, or disease.  We ask Him to lift the curses off us and from around us today.  May we be free to live in health and peace in Your joyful presence, with all the provision we need.  We ask this in the wonderful and powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

The Sun of Righteousness – Malachi 4

One of my favorite times of day is the thirty minutes or so leading up to sunrise.  The lightening sky manifests itself in any number of ways, sometimes with an artist’s palette of soft pinks and oranges spread upon the clouds, other times with a single, brilliant vertical pillar of light.  Couple these visual masterpieces with times of peace and serenity through prayer, meditation, and scripture, and the joy of life seems to overflow.

Spiritually, we need the Light of God to illuminate and instruct us in the things that are truly important to Him, valuable and worthy things for us to pursue, the goals and achievements that lead to an eternal harvest.  The prophet Malachi wrote about the divine Light which is there to enter any willing heart. 

But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.  Malachi 4:2 (NKJV)

The word “fear” used in the scriptural context of a loving God who freely offers us a life forever with Him is not about being literally “afraid” of Him.  Instead, it refers to us having an attitude of reverent respect and a desire to obey the will of the Lord.  

Scripture tells us that the harvest of a life lived in spiritual darkness is only stubble, worthy only to be trampled underfoot.  Before the light of God shined into our lives, we were in dangerous ignorance on such a path.  That all changes with the illumination of God.  Though once held captive by sin and darkness, Christ lights our way to free us from our shackles so that we may break forth in freedom like those young calves bounding from their stalls into an open field.

John the Baptist’s father used similar imagery in his prophetic prayer about the coming birth of Jesus:

78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 To shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1:78-79 (NASB)

Many of us did wander aimlessly in the darkness at one time or another in our lives.  But by the grace of God, the light of Christ has risen upon us, beginning a new day, and shining a beacon of hope and salvation for all who would reach out to Him in faith.  Jesus will gladly grant all who turn to Him divine blessings, a great benefit of being called children of righteousness.

As Jesus walked throughout the land of Israel, His light shined wherever He went.

13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
    the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned.”  Matthew 4:13-16 (ESV)

And from the gospel of John:

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12 (ESV)

May the Sun of Righteousness rise and shine upon us as we walk together in the Light of the Lord. Have a very blessed day today.


What is your favorite way to spend time with God?

Father God, shine Your Light into the dark corners of our lives to remove everything that does not reverently honor You.  We seek to walk in Your light – help us to be successful on our journey, bearing good fruit as we pursue Your will in the righteousness of Christ.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

God’s Jewels – Malachi 3

Speaking though the prophet Malachi, the Lord tells us how He observes and regards our attitude towards Him and the ways that we reflect that in our actions.

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. Malachi 3:16 (ESV)

First, we learn that it is important to the Lord that we “fear” Him, so much so that He even keeps a record of it in a book of remembrance.

God is not referring here to the type of fear we might have in a threatening situation.  Rather, this fear is a deep reverence and respect for who He is and what He has done, and an esteem for the goodness of His name and the love and power that we tap into through faith in Him.

We also see from the text that He pays attention to our conversation and listens for the fruits of our faith to be reflected in it.  When we reflect His loving attributes in our listening, comforting, encouraging, and exhorting, He is pleased.  So pleased, in fact, that He considers His faithful followers to comprise His most-treasured possessions.

17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.  Malachi 3:17 (ESV)

The King James version of this verse has a powerful way of describing God’s people of faith: His jewels.

17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth himMalachi 3:17 (KJV)

We are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ, and He loves us unconditionally.  But Jesus also said that we will be known by our fruit.  It is a road of progress, not perfection, and there will be many slips and falls along our journey.  But with God’s help, when we fail, we turn to Him for forgiveness, get right back up, and follow Him to allow the Holy Spirit to produce good works in our lives.  This is a righteous fruit that will bless others as well as ourselves, with benefits that last into eternity.

The Lord loves everyone, but He goes on to tell us that there is still a distinction.

18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.  Malachi 3:18 (ESV)

Like many who might read this, I am a person of faith.  But my biggest challenge in day-to-day life is this: who am I seeking to please, myself or God?  This seems to be the fundamental question at the root of how I choose my various activities or how I treat others who may or may not be respecting me.  If I truly “fear” God and have a proper appreciation for who He is, pleasing Him will always be the top priority.  And the vast majority of the time, when seeking to please Him, we end up experiencing a peace, contentment, and joy that far exceeds anything we could possibly achieve on our own.

That is a benefit all believers have for being One of God’s most treasured possessions, His jewels.


How can I focus more on pleasing God instead of only myself today?

Father God, we want to bring pleasure to You, the One who watches over and protects us every moment of the day and night.  Help us to bear divine fruit for Your kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Help us to revere and reflect the goodness of the Father and the Son as we go about our day.  Forgive us for each time we fall short and help us to get back up into Your light and service whenever we do.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Larger Shovel – Malachi 3

Who can outgive God?

It has been said that no one can outgive the Lord, for whatever charitable gift we shovel His way, He will return it back to us using a larger shovel.  But there is a caveat – do it discreetly, or the praise of other people will suffice as our reward.

As Jesus taught:

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.  Matthew 6:1-4 (NKJV)

As the writings of the Old Testament drew to a close with the prophet Malachi, he shared God’s message regarding the importance of faithful giving.  Moses had spelled out in the Old Testament law that God expected ten percent, or a tithe, of all income.  This amount should be returned to take care of the needs of the temple and the poor out of love and gratitude for the countless blessings the Lord has given us.  Many New Testament believers go beyond that amount today and have seen the windows of heaven open for them.  As Malachi wrote:

10  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11  “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

12  “And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.  Malachi 3:10-12 (NKJV)

Jesus expanded upon the concept of quiet, generous, and faithful giving in His teachings:

38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

Like so many other things on our faith walk, such as with sincere prayer for another, we may not even notice God’s returned blessings and benefits until He points them out to us.  The Lord is not saying here “give and you will automatically become materially wealthy”.  I believe He is saying “be faithful and a little sacrificial in your obedient giving out of love for me and others, and I will make extra sure that you get everything you need when I see that you need it.  And I will rebuke those that seek to strip you of your sustenance”.

New Testament giving is less dogmatic than the strict ten percent, pre-tax, tithe spelled out in the law of Moses.  Many believers today give 10% of their income for their home church and go beyond that in supporting widows, orphans, and other faithful missionaries.  Giving is to be done in secret with the amount chosen strictly between a family and God.

With many unpaid bills and few funds available, it takes a great step of faith to even begin the process of working towards the giving of a tithe.  Many find that as the purse strings loosen towards God, the clutches of debt and unpaid bills seem to loosen, as well.  One step leads to another, and the stress of financial insecurity begins to dissipate.  Eventually, we reach the point where we can ask ourselves the question, “How big of a shovel do I choose to use for God”?


Lord, teach me to give faithfully, generously, and discretely, with love and gratitude.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Settle Out of Court – Malachi 3

God watches over all of us but pays particular attention to the weak and helpless.  When Christ returns to rule and reign on earth in the last days, we will be held accountable for any abuses we have committed against the humble.  Best to approach the Judge now to confess and make amends for any offences we have made, as best we are able.

“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 

“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  Malachi 3:2,5 (NLT)

Scripture tells us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  But it also tells us that if we confess our sins, by the grace offered through Christ, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Our human nature is a stumbling block that often gets in the way of righteous living.  It is quick to return to its old ways and behaviors, flashing negative emotions when we get angry, envious, or selfish.

Even the act of admitting and confessing our sins is often difficult for us to do.  My friend Wendy recently listed four things we tend to do when confronted with a wrong we have committed:

  1. Deny it.  “I did not do it.”
  2. Make excuses.  “I was not aware of what I was doing.”
  3. Minimize it.  “Oh, it was not that big of a deal.”
  4. Blame someone else.  “If they had not done this, I would not have done that.”

Does any of this sound familiar?  Unfortunately, it did to me.

God knows we are not perfect.  But He does expect us to admit when we are wrong and seek to make things right.

In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul highlighted some of the areas we believers struggle the most with:

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Colossians 3:1-10 (NIV)

These temptations are common to all people, but the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of believers to clean them out.  It is a journey of progress, not perfection.

All sin is subject to God’s judgment.  But in Christ, we live in an era of grace where we can go to the Judge, confess our sins, and be completely forgiven.  As Jesus worded it in a parable, we are free to approach God now to sponge away our record of wrongs before being confronted by them at His final judgment.

25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.  Matthew 5:25-26 (NLT)

As we have now been forgiven, the Lord expects us to extend the same forgiveness to others who have harmed us.  This can be difficult to do, but it is important to try, with His help.

Jesus has given us a gracious opportunity to settle all of our offenses “out of court” with Him now.  This allows us to enter into His presence unashamed, fully redeemed for eternity by the blood of Christ.


Father, we come to You confessing our sin today, specifically these items on our hearts and minds.  We come to the cross of Christ for complete forgiveness.  Help us to make things right with those around us, making amends where we have done wrong and forgiving others for what they have done to us.  We ask this in the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

A Purifying Fire – Malachi 3

The prophet Malachi foretold of a day when God Himself would appear at the temple in Jerusalem.  This would happen a first time when Jesus Christ was born of Mary to share the good news of the coming kingdom of God and to offer Himself as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world.

This will happen a second time when Jesus returns as King of that kingdom, to rule and reign over a purified earth, as foretold by multiple Old Testament prophets.

Malachi saw both future events, but as with what sometimes happens with two mountains, one closer and one distant, both events appeared to him as one.

1 “See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts.

But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by.  Malachi 3:1-4 (HCSB)

John the Baptist, another subject of Malachi’s prophecies, would further elaborate on what Messiah will do when He comes:

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.”  Matthew 3:11-12 (HCSB)

We still live in the age of grace that was begun with Christ’s appearance as He offered the supreme sacrifice on the cross for all believers, dying in our place and rising again for our eternal life.  Those who reject Him and God’s ways to choose wickedness will be dealt with consequences when Christ returns.  Jesus discussed this in the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Matthew 13:30 (ESV)

Jesus went on to explain the meaning of the parable to His disciples.

37 He replied: “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!  Matthew 13:37-43 (HCSB)

The people represented by the wheat seek to live in righteousness but those represented by the weeds choose wickedness, rejecting the generous outreach of God and instead tormenting and leading the wheat astray.  All people have sinned and done selfish things, but God offers a remedy through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. The window of God’s grace is open to all, but scripture tells us that the window will close at Christ’s return, and the time to turn away from evil is now.

Two years ago, a good friend of mine was taking a shower when he received a word of knowledge in his spirit from the Lord.  (For some reason, it does seem that the Lord likes to speak to people when they are in the shower.)

The word spoken into his spirit was: “Let both the wheat and the weeds grow together until the harvest, which works if someone is planting and attending to the wheat”.  After he told me about it, I borrowed it as a theme for this series of meditative studies.  I pray that God is using these writings to do both planting of and tending to the wheat for His kingdom harvest.

May the purifying fire of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit burn away all of the worthless chaff in our lives and bring us closer to Him as we walk through our life’s journey.


Psalm 1 warns us that the way of wickedness has its natural consequences and wicked company is something that we must seek to avoid.

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.  Psalm 1:1,4,6 (NIV)

Father God, help us to reject those who would tempt us towards wickedness, and to choose company with those who build up our faith and lead us to live a better, more holy life.  Teach us patience, love, and forgiveness towards all those You have placed around us.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

God’s Messenger – Malachi 3

Malachi, the final prophet in the Old Testament, foretells of another prophet who will arrive four hundred years later, John the Baptist.  John would be the herald for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

1 “See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of Hosts. Malachi 3:1 (HCSB)

After Malachi’s prophetic mission was complete, God closed the book on the Old Testament and His word was silent until John the Baptist’s and the Messiah’s coming.

In the fullness of God’s time, Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem by the power of the Holy Spirit, as prophesied through Isaiah and announced by a visiting angel, Gabriel. Mary then agreed to God’s plan and will.  Gabriel is the same angel who had given God’s timeline for the appearance of the Messiah while visiting the prophet Daniel centuries earlier.

John the Baptist was born of Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, and was six months older than Jesus.  When both men were around thirty years of age, their public ministry began.

1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:

A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make His paths straight!   Matthew 3:1-3 (HCSB)

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father would use John to draw many people to prepare their hearts for the coming of Christ.  As Jesus later said,

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.  John 6:44 (NIV)

It was not a very convenient thing for most people to come hear John speak.  Large crowds traveled from the Jerusalem area down to the Jordan River to hear him and to be baptized.  Their trip was around 40 kilometers or 25 miles one way, quite a long journey to be taken on foot or on a donkey.  The power of the Holy Spirit was evident to draw them to experience God, and He is still doing that with the hearts of women and men today.

Participating in John’s baptism was a sign of willingness to turn away from one’s sins and to turn back to the Lord, cleansing and preparing oneself for the Messiah’s arrival.  The process of turning away from our sins and towards God is also referred to as repentance.

While John was baptizing, he spoke of the arrival of Jesus, who would later arrive to teach at the temple in Jerusalem, fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy.  John spoke to the crowd of the Messiah who was near at hand:

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  Matthew 3:11 (HCSB)

Soon, Jesus Himself appeared at the Jordan River to be baptized, having made the long trip down from Galilee.  John objected, saying that Jesus is the One who should baptize him.  But Jesus insisted, so it was done.

16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17 And there came a voice from heaven:

This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him!  Matthew 3:16-17 (HCSB)

The presence of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and the approving voice of the Father at Jesus’ baptism is a scriptural appearance of the Holy Trinity.

May the Lord continue to draw you and all of your loved ones into His glorious presence through faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.


Father, we lift up our loved ones and all those You have placed in our lives, asking You to draw them to Yourself and to Your salvation in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, just as You drew the multitudes to the Jordan River to hear and be baptized by John the Baptist.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Good Spouse – Malachi 2

From the earliest scriptures, God states that He did not design people to live alone.  He takes the marriage relationship very seriously and has a deep interest in the way we are treating our spouses.

The gift of marriage does not come to everyone, but if God wills it for us, we have certain responsibilities to fulfill.

After assuring His people that He deeply loved them, the Lord spoke through the final Old Testament prophet, Malachi, to address some of the areas where the people and their priests were falling short of His desires.  One way was in how they disrespected His prescribed sin sacrifices, keeping back the very best offerings for themselves.  A second way that led Him to sadly reject even their good sacrifices was the way they were treating their spouses.

14 Yet you ask, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant. 15 Didn’t the one God make us with a remnant of His life-breath? And what does the One seek? A godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously against the wife of your youth.  Malachi 2:14-15 (HCSB)

For those chosen to experience it, the gift of a good spouse is one of the greatest joys God has created.  A loving partner who supports us through both good and difficult times is a precious and vital sustainer throughout our life’s journey.  The author of Proverbs 31 writes about the blessings of a wife, but the same applies to a good husband:

10 Who can find a capable wife?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will not lack anything good.
12 She rewards him with good, not evil,
all the days of her life.

25 Strength and honor are her clothing,
and she can laugh at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom
and loving instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the activities of her household
and is never idle.
28 Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:  Proverbs 31:10-12,25-28 (HCSB)

The marriage relationship, like life itself, has its many challenges and difficulties.  But God offers to help get us through even the worst storms and bring us into the light of gratitude and appreciation for what He has provided. 

God watches over our marriages and has certain expectations for them and for how we treat each other.  Scripture tells us that the Lord will even hinder our prayers if we are not treating our mate with the love and respect that we have promised.

 Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.  Hebrews 13:4 (HCSB)

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (NLT)

It is my belief that IF God wills marriage for us, He will go to great lengths to pair us with the right spouse.  Their entrance into our lives is not a random occurrence, but one that that He has choreographed from the beginning of time.  The Lord knows far better than we what is best for us.  If we are wise, we will follow His word and trust Him to get us through the dark and difficult moments, whether in singleness or in marriage.

May we all experience serenity, gratitude, and peace in the loving care of God whether in marriage or in singleness.


Lord, if You have placed us in a marriage relationship, help us to follow Your will by honoring and loving our spouse today.  Help us to listen carefully to them and to provide them with all the love and support they need to live a joyful and fulfilling life in You.  Help us to move forward together in whatever holy direction You have chosen for us.

And if we are currently single, show us the paths You have planned for us from the beginning of time.  Whatever Your will for us, help us to avoid harmful relationships and to pursue holy ones.  May we live a fulfilled life honoring You either in singleness or marriage, whichever situation You have chosen for us in this season of life.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.