Monday, July 24, 2017

MEMORY WORK: This Week's Catechism Questions (7/23/17)

This Week's Memory Work:

First Catechism Questions:
FCQ. 28 – What is sin? Any thought, word or deed that breaks God's law by omission or commission.

Shorter Catechism Questions: 
SCQ. 25 – How does Christ execute the office of a priest? Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.

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UPCOMING EVENTS: This Week's Announcements (7/23/17)

Upcoming Events / Announcements 

July 26 - Missionary visit on Wednesday night
August 3-7 - BPC General Synod at Edmonton BPC
September 11 - Women's Fellowship at 6:30pm
Last Updated 7/23/2017
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why Serve God? - Pastor Tito Lyro - Malachi 3:13-18

AUDIO LINK -- If you find these lessons helpful, or if you have questions please write to us at or visit us at We would love to hear from you and learn how we can serve you. 

#OBPC #OlympiaBP #BiblePresbyterian #Sermon #Bible #TitoLyro #Malachi #service #ServingGod
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Why Serve God? Mal. 3:13-18

Do you ever get discouraged in serving God, to the point that you feel like quitting?  I read recently that 1,500 pastors a month in the United States are leaving the ministry.  Some leave because of sinful actions, but many leave because of spiritual burnout or discouragement because of opposition or contention in their congregations.

There are many in the church who have served God, sometimes for many years, but they feel burned out and they are not involved in serving any longer.  In some cases, they drop out of church altogether, claiming that they can worship God better by avoiding the church.

The people in Malachi's day had grown indifferent to God's great love.  The theme of Malachi is, "I have loved you," says the Lord.  "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' (1:2).  The prophet seeks to show them that the problem was not on God's part.  It never is.  The problem was their sinfully selfish, temporal perspective.  They needed to see things from God's eternal perspective and serve him by faith.

Behind their wrong attitude was the age-old subject: why do the wicked prosper and the godly suffer?  God knows that we wrestle with it, and so he graciously addresses the subject repeatedly, so that we will maintain his perspective when we are tempted to think that it is vain to serve him.  The prophet shows us: God notices and cares deeply for all who serve Him.

There are two groups in our text.  Group A (3:13-15) grumbled against God, complaining that there is no reward for serving him.  They thought that you might as well be an arrogant, wicked person who tests God and escapes.  Group B (3:16-18) feared God and esteemed his name.  They encouraged one another to continue serving God in spite of the temporal prosperity of the wicked and suffering of the righteous.  God takes special notice of them and promises that he will spare them in the day of judgment because they are his special treasure.

I.             Overview of Group A.

A.  This group spoke arrogantly or harshly against the Lord, but when the prophet confronts them, they ask, "What have we spoken against You?"

1.   As verses 14-15 show, they weren't directly shaking their fists at God.

2. Rather, they were complaining to one another, but God was eavesdropping!

3.   These people were not God-oriented, and so they spoke boldly to one another, voicing their common complaints as if God were deaf or non-existent.

B.  Their complaint was, "It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts?", 3:14.

C.  They called the arrogant blessed, and said that wicked people are not only built up, but also they test God and escape, 3:15.

{TRANSITION: There are four characteristics of this group to avoid.}

II.          These people were sitting in judgment of God, rather than submitting to his dealings with them.

A.  Whenever we grumble about our circumstances or the wrong treatment that we have received, we are really elevating ourselves above God.

1.   We are in effect saying, "God, I could run this universe better than you are running it!  I'm just trying to serve you, and all I get is unfair treatment and trouble.  But the guy who arrogantly defies you is living a happy life.  I'd fix this problem if I were in charge!"

2.   What arrogance, to think that somehow I'd do a better job of running the universe than the Lord of hosts!

B.  One of the most prevalent sins of the Israelites in the wilderness was their spirit of grumbling and complaining against God.

1.   They would rather have returned to slavery in Egypt than to trust God and endure hardship in the wilderness!

a.    He had delivered them from bondage in a dramatic and miraculous way through the Red Sea.

b.   From there, they went three days into the wilderness, found no water, and began to grumble, Ex. 15:22-27.

2.   Later they grumbled about the boring manna that God faithfully supplied every day, and so the Lord graciously provided quail, Num. 11.

3.   They grumbled at the report of the spies about the giants in the land, and talked about appointing a leader to return to Egypt, Num. 14.

a.    Because of that (faithless grumbling) God was displeased with their grumbling.

b.   That entire generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, who trusted God, died in the wilderness, Num. 14:26-38.

C.  Whenever we grumble about our circumstances, we are questioning the character of God and exalting ourselves above him – we are saying, "God doesn't really love us, or he wouldn't let us be in this difficult place," and, we are saying, "I know better than God what is good for me."

"But in the service of God the chief thing is this— that men deny themselves and give themselves up to be ruled by God, and never raise a clamor when he humbles them."  John Calvin

Phil. 2:14-15 – Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world….  (from a prison cell)

III.       These people had a self-centered attitude.

A.  They ask, "What profit is it that we have kept his ordinance...?" (3:14).

1.   What's in it for us?

2.   The Hebrew word translated "profit" was a technical term for a weaver cutting a piece of cloth free from the loom.

3.   They were grumbling that God hadn't given them their fair share.

B.  The flesh is inclined to self-pity, self-focus, and self-centeredness, and the world feeds this.

1.   If there's nothing in it for you, why do it?

a.    If the church isn't meeting your needs, bail out.

b.   If a relationship is not meeting your needs, bail out.

c.    You deserve some happiness.

d.   You can't worry about the needs of others! God understands.

e.    Your needs come first!

2.   This passage informs us that we need to be careful about how we present the gospel.

a.    If we approach it as, "Come to Jesus and he will meet all your needs," we aren't giving the full picture.

b.   It's true, of course, that Jesus satisfies the deepest longings of every heart that trusts in him.

1)   But he is not Aladdin's Genie, waiting to grant our every wish.

2)   While following Christ brings us deep and lasting joy, the path to that joy is daily self-denial and the cross (Luke 9:23-24), which are not immediately pleasant experiences!

c.    What's in it for you, if you serve the Lord?

1)   He gives abundant blessings, both in this life and in eternity.

2)   But don't forget the persecutions! "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution," 2 Tim. 3:12.

3)   Self-centered people don't last long in serving God.

IV.        These people had lost the motivation for holy living.

A.  They asked, "What profit is it that… we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts?" (3:14).

1.   Outwardly, they went through the motions of fasting and humbling themselves before God.

2.   But they were not doing these things out of a heart of love and devotion for God.

3.   Inwardly they were thinking, "This religion stuff is a drag!  We want some fun out of life!"

B.  Motivation is everything when it comes to obeying and serving God.

1.   Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus in Rev. 2:1-4.

a.    They were doing many good things.

b.   They had persevered and endured for Christ's sake.

c.    But they had left their first love for him.

2.   When Jesus restored Peter to service after his fall, he asked three times, "Do you love Me?" With that as a foundation, he said, "Tend My sheep", Jn. 21:15-17.

3.   Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.", Gal. 2:20.

4.   Love for the Lord Jesus, who gave himself on the cross for me, should be the motive behind everything that I do for him.

V.           These people had focused on the temporal prosperity of the wicked, but had lost the eternal perspective.

A.  While saying that it is vain to serve God, they were calling the arrogant blessed.

B.  From all that they could see, there was no reward for following God, and there were many rewards for defying God and seeking their own prosperity.

C.  Whenever we start thinking that way, we have lost God's eternal perspective and adopted the world's temporal perspective.

1.   Asaph wrote about this in Psalm 73.

a.    He contrasted the prosperity of the wicked with his own trials and he almost concluded that he was following God in vain.

b.   This was troublesome in his sight until he went into the sanctuary of God.

c.    There he considered the end of the wicked and the reward of the righteous.

2.   Also, read Paul's great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15.

1 Cor. 15:9If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

a.    Why serve Christ if this life is all there is? Rather, "eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," 15:32.

b.   But, if Christ is risen and if we will be raised from the dead also, Paul's conclusion is, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (15:58).

{TRANSITION: Then we come to group B.}

VI.        Group B seems to be the minority group.

A.  God always has a faithful remnant that serves him in spite of many difficulties.

B.  Note that Group B, those who serve God, are called righteous, whereas Group A are called wicked, 3:18.

1.   That is not to say that serving God earns the label of "righteous."

a.    We can do nothing to commend ourselves to God.

b.   Our righteousness is in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is imputed to us as a gift of God's grace through faith.

2.   But serving God is a distinguishing mark of the righteous person, whereas not serving God marks the wicked, who lives for himself.

C.  There are two, and only two, groups here.

1.   Either you have not trusted in Christ and you live for yourself.

2.   Or you have been justified by faith in Christ and now you live to serve Him.

VII.     Three characteristics mark Group B:

A.  These people fear God and esteem his name above the opinions of others.

1.   Twice verse 16 emphasizes that these people feared God, and it further adds that they meditate on his name.

a.    To meditate on something, means to regard it, and thus to set value on something.

b.   Isaiah (13:17) uses the word to describe the Medes, who "will not value silver" when they invade Babylon.

c.    In other words, they would not be bought off with silver, because they did not value it above victory.

2.   In our text, this group valued the Lord and his character ("name") above the majority opinion.

a.    They didn't go with the prevailing flow of their day, because they looked to God in his majesty.

b.   They feared him and valued him above everything else.

3.   The Christian world today needs a revived emphasis on the proper fear of God.

a.    We rightly emphasize God's love, because "God is love," 1 Jn. 4:8.

b.   But we are out of balance if we emphasize God's love to the neglect of the fear that is due to his holy name.

"When God comes to bring a soul news of mercy and salvation, even that visit, that presence of God, is fearful.  [In God's presence] even our best things, our comeliness, our sanctity and righteousness, all do immediately turn to corruption and polluted rags."  John Bunyan

c.    The proper fear of God causes us to hate evil and turn from it.

Pro. 3:7 – Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.

Pro. 8:17 – The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.

Pro. 16:6 – In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.

B.  These people encourage one another in the face of surrounding evil.

1.   "Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another," 3:16.

a.    "Then" refers to verse 15 where the wicked called the arrogant blessed.

b.   Group B had to counter the evil talk of Group A.

1)   They had to be as bold for God as Group A was bold for evil.

2)   They did it by getting together and talking.

2.   The point is, we need fellowship with like-minded believers in order to stand firm against the wrong ideas that come at us from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

a.    If all you do is attend church and leave, but you don't fellowship with other Christians during the week, you will struggle to maintain a godly perspective in the face of the evil around us.

b.   That's why Hebrews 10:24-25 commands us to think about how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, and not to forsake assembling together, but to encourage "one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near."

Heb. 10:24-25And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another,and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

C.  These people are especially noticed and cared for by God, 16.

1.   The Hebrew word translated listened means to prick up the ears, as an animal does when it hears something.

2.   The word heard means to bend over so as not to miss a word.

a.    The picture is that of a parent, eavesdropping on the conversation between his children.

b.   The book of remembrance probably refers to the record book that Persian kings kept with the names and favorable deeds of those who had helped the king.

3.   God hears and remembers everything said by everyone at all times, of course.

4.   But these human pictures applied to God remind us that he is not forgetful of his children when they take a stand for him or when they pay a price to serve him

Heb. 6:10For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

a.    God promises that they will be his on the day that he prepares his own possession, or treasure, 17.

b.   He will spare them when he judges the earth, as a man spares his own son who serves him.

5.   So God is assuring his people that he hears and takes notice of that which the world overlooks or despises.

a.    The world notices the powerful, rich, and famous.

b.   God notices those who fear him and serve him out of love.

c.    They are his special treasure.


We should not despair at the seeming prosperity of the wicked or at our own trials.  When God judges the earth, the line between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not, will be clear (3:18).
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