Lord’s Day Gathering Sermon Notes for 3/13/2016.
Malachi 3.13-4.6: Too Much Sugar for a Dime
You ever heard the phrase, “Too much sugar for a dime”? One of my Clarke County sayings, right alongside, “Momma and ‘em,” “Outchyonder,” and “It’s all chicken but the bill, and that’s chicken still.” Too much sugar for a dime. It’s a saying I’ve picked up in Clarke County that means something like “too much trouble for what it’s worth.”
That’s what many of the Israelites in Malachi 3-4 believed about their relationship with the Lord. That it was too much trouble for what it was worth. Why keep on keepin on, when keeping on seems pointless? Nothing good coming from it, so why not just quit altogether?
I wonder if you’ve ever thought that way. I think if we’re honest, in our world today, it’s much easier to neglect God than to honor him. To quit along the way than to continue in the fray. Because the truth is many begin with Jesus, but somewhere along the way conclude that following him is too much sugar for a dime. You’ve seen it, no doubt. And we are all tempted to do the same.
And so God, through Malachi, speaks to those Israelites and to us by His Spirit who are tempted to give up. Let’s look to Mal 3:13-4:6 and see what God says to deal with the question: “What will we do when we are tempted to believe that following the Lord is too much sugar for a dime?”
Overview of verse 13-16.
Some people will fall away.
Notice that there were some who honored the Lord (3:16-17), which, of course, means that others didn’t (some didn’t fear the Lord). Some were “special possessions” (the repentant). And some who weren’t.
Those who fell away heard the same words, but responded to the Lord’s confrontation exactly differently. We can guess that after 4:1-6, where God warns them that he’s going to judge the world, this same group still thought of following God as not worth it. In all likelihood, they fall away.
Soft Alarm Clock Analogy
They hear God’s words (4:1-6) like we hear a soft alarm clock. Alarm clocks are great, but they’re also things we love to ignore. We all have them, but we don’t ever really use them like we should. They come with snooze buttons. A subtle, soft alarm clock is something you don’t feel bad about ignoring and snoozing through, because, after all, it’s really just annoying.
That’s how some people in Israel were hearing God’s call to repentance in 3:13-15 and 4:1-6. Like that subtle, soft alarm clock. How about you, friend? Do you hear God’s call on your life as something that is annoying?
Some of you might. Your heart, I’m afraid, is likely as hard as iron. And you won’t repent until the hammer of God’s Holy Spirit breaks you. Turned away, turned away, turned away. Too much sugar for a dime. And you need a miracle, don’t you friend?
This is like Noah.
Rains coming, for years, the rains coming, and nobody repented.
Heard the call. Just didn’t hear it. Every plank in the boat is a preaching moment. Every day of his life some opportunity to warn people of the judgment to come. But they let his message be a squeaky wheel. And the call to repentance was just more trouble than it’s worth.
Is this you? Tired of the noise? Tired of the call of God on your life? Even after you hear the warning in 4:1-6? Will you be saved today? Look at me, rebel. Look at me friends. Hear the call of God: “Behold I am coming…
Others will Double Down on the Lord.
You know what I mean by “double-down”? I mean, that some people will put more of their lives into the hands and plans of the Lord.
Look what happens in 16-18. Book of remembrance, fear of God, sincerity in a together-pledge, spoke to one another to decide, awakening and revival. Isn’t that amazing?
They got so irritated, they just couldn’t stand the idea of sin, apathy, bitterness towards the Lord in their lives. We can’t believe we’ve been this arrogant, wrong-headed, and rebellious. And they double down because they know the call of God is…
Not an Alarm Clock. It’s an Emergency Siren
Alarm clocks you ignore, but emergency sirens are meant to get you to do something. They hear the emergency siren. They understand 4;1-6, and they get busy.
In this bleakest of times, the people of God rise to resolution. They show their metal. I wonder: do we have some iron in the room today? Real metal? Some Paul’s; some Deborahs; some Christians made of metal.
Well, I wonder: what’s going to keep you on the course? I mean, I think we all want to be metal. No one signs on to follow Jesus and hopes to flake out when it gets tough. But the truth is, we are flawed and weak. So what’s going to keep the metal, metal? What does God do to keep us going?
Reminds us that He keeps his promises.
4:1-6 promises. Partially happened already. Rest is yet to come. That’s how God wants those Israelites to keep the fire burning. God reminds them, that He is faithful. “You stay the course, because I keep my promises.” That’s how God keeps us on course. He reminds us, that He keeps his promises. And so we obey, though thick and thin, because God is faithful.
Listen, you’re going to lose things when you follow the Lord. In this world you will have trouble. And it’s going to feel like too much sugar for a dime. Unless you believe that God will keep his promises. Promise to reward the faithful. Promise that those who persevere will see the glory of God, the inheritance of the Son, and the beauty of the New Heavens and the New Earth. To judge. To sort. To honor. To be with Christ. You’ll bring your family to church if you believe the God will do that. You’ll order your financial life if you believe God keeps his promises. You’ll endure suffering. You’ll obey the Lord, if you believe the Lord keeps his promises.
How do we know He’ll Keep His promises?
He promised he’d take your sins away. Heal you from destruction of sin and the wrath of God. And He did it at the cross, for you, sinner. He rose from the dead in defeat of death and made all these promises to us certain. We know He’ll keep his promises because he has a long track record of keeping all of them.
Too much sugar for a dime? Cost more than the trouble it’s worth? No,
Friend. It’s a small inconvenience in comparison to the glory of his promise to those who love Him, to those who are called by His name.
Conclusion: Matthew and the Rich Young Ruler
All this is brought to color for us by comparing Matthew and the Rich young ruler: One Counted the cost, and the cost was worth all he had. Another, counted the cost, and he figured the cost was too high. Same offer; same terms; same person. Two totally different reactions. Friend, which one are you? Will you love him, and in repentance, resolve to follow him. Or will you ignore the call, and think it’s too much sugar for a dime. Lord, have mercy.