Return to Me…May the Lord be Great

A pronouncement. The Lord’s word to Israel through Malachi. I have loved you, says the Lord; but you say, “How have you loved us?” Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother? says the Lord. I loved Jacob, 3  but I rejected Esau. I turned Esau’s mountains into desolation, his inheritance into a wilderness for jackals. Edom may say, “We are beaten down, but we will rebuild the ruins”; but the Lord of heavenly forces proclaims: They may build, but I will tear them down. They will call themselves a wicked territory, the people against whom the Lord rages forever. Your eyes will see it and you will say, “May the Lord be great beyond the borders of Israel” (Malachi 1:1-5, Common English Bible).

God speaks through the prophet Malachi. Malachi is one of the minor prophets. He isn’t lesser because what he said was unimportant. Malachi is a minor sheerly because of the amount, the volume fo his pronouncements.

Malachi most likely lived after the completion of the second temple and during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, most likely around the middle of the fifth century B.C.

Today’s lesson reminds us of the origins of the Hebrew faith. Malachi speaks of Esau and Jacob and how God loved Jacob and rejected Esau. Malachi also reminds of some of Israel’s enemies and how God had and would continue to put them in their place. Israel would remain in God’s favor.

Then God, through the prophet says Israel will proclaim, “May the Lord be great beyond the borders of Israel.” The assumption here is, first God is already great in Israel. Well, that one is really beyond assumption. Because of the return to the Promised Land following the exile, as earlier prophets had previously prophesied, Israel was back on the God bandwagon again. At this point in history, they would believe God was great for Israel.

Here God is speaking that the Israelites will desire God’s greatness throughout the world. This idea speaks of God as omnipresent, always present. This speaks to the Christian understanding of God being with us in all times and in all places.

Often times we may want to say, “God where were you when….” What follows could be any number of things. All too often we want to know where God was when God was with us all along. We tend to blame God when in reality what we experience comes from our own poor decisions. Perhaps we experience crisis because of the poor decisions of others. We may even experience these difficulties because of natural laws work. If you drop a 500-pound weight from 100 feet in the air, it is going to crash to the ground. It is a natural law. Gravity works. And, just because a natural law works does not negate the presence of God in the world around us. The biggest trouble is, all too often, we fail to see God at the very times we could use the divine most. It doesn’t mean God failed to be present. It means we were unable to see.

The point of this lesson is, God is present and God is great. We shouldn’t need the Israelites to tell us this. We have our own history. We have our own experiences to lean on. We know the traditions of the Church. We know what this lesson and others say about the greatness of God. From that knowledge, it is a reasonable assumption to know that, just as God has always been present, God will be present for us too.

What a blessing. The Lord will be great.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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