In the third dispute, found in Malachi 2:10-16, God accused his people of being faithless to his covenant with them by being faithless to the covenant of marriage. This timeless message calls each one of us to marry within the faith and stay faithful to our spouse.
As God continued talking to the priests in Malachi 2:1-9, he rebuked them for failing in their two duties: offering sacrifices and teaching. If they refused to change their ways, God threatened them with extinction. Although they lasted another 500 years, they eventually disappeared and became obsolete, once the perfect high priest offered the perfect sacrifice.
In God’s second dispute with his people, recorded in Malachi 1:6-14, he accused the priests and the people of despising him. After they objected, God demonstrated how they were cutting corners in their worship. Their failure points to the need for a perfect priest who would offer a perfect sacrifice for sins, which is just what we find in Jesus.
As God’s beloved people were in very difficult circumstances and doubting God, the LORD spoke to them in Malachi 1:1-5 a simple message: I love you. After they challenged his love, God proved it, but not nearly as extravagantly as he has proved his love to us.
In Acts 20:17-38, Paul passed the torch of ministry to the elders of the church in Ephesus. In his speech to them, Paul described the character of elders and their work of ministry. With a few such elders as Paul described, the church has the team it needs to fulfill the mission that God has given it.
As the number of non-Jewish believers in Jesus began to overwhelm the original Jewish Christians, some wanted to make it harder for non-Jews to become Christians. As recorded in Acts 15:1-31, the church met in Jerusalem to discuss the matter and reaffirmed that both Jews and Gentiles receive salvation in the exact same way: by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.
In all times, and especially during a pandemic or persecution, it is better for churches to focus on making disciples, not on building and maintaining structures. However, some structure is necessary to send out missionaries to make disciples elsewhere. In Acts 13:1-5 we meet the first church that sent out its own missionaries.
Although there was one lone Ethiopian who became a Christian, in Acts 10:1-48 a whole house full of non-Jews heard the gospel, believed it, and was baptized. Their conversion was a big surprise to the first Christians, all of whom were Jewish. Yes, God loved those people too.
It is hard to imagine what the world would be like without Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul), but it would have been harder to imagine that such a violent persecutor of Christians would become a Christian and a missionary. His conversion and call, recorded in Acts 9:1-22, teach us not to despair of anyone or of ourselves, because God’s grace is sufficient for them and for us.
In Acts 8:26-40, God took Philip from a growing church to a deserted place to talk about Jesus with one African man who came from the ends of the earth. Then God guided Philip to a Scripture text about Jesus. These are the two elements we need in order to evangelize: people and a message about Jesus. To whom is he guiding you today?