Questions that Matter

Malachi 3:2-5 stopped me in my tracks at the end of 2022.

What will it be like to face God?

For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver…

At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against…

Curious about the list of what God is against?

  • all sorcerers
  • and adulterers
  • and liars.

I will speak out 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)

What will God look like?

One description is found in Daniel: I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge. His clothing was white as snow, his hair like purest wool. He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, and a river of fire was pouring out, flowing from His presence.

How many angels surround Him?

Millions of angels ministered to him; many millions stood to attend him. Then the court began its session and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9-10)

Curious about the list of what God desires?

One description is found in Zechariah: This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows or orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. (Zechariah 7:8-10)

Curious about how people responded?

But the people

refused to listen

stubbornly turned away

put their fingers in their ears

made their hearts hard as stone

That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them. (Zechariah 7:11-12)

People aren’t going to face God at the end of their lives and say they didn’t know.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Once each of us face God, I wonder if we will become aware of and regret all the times we refused, turned away, and put our fingers in our ears, and as a result, our hearts turned to stone in those seasons of life.

Cross-reference the lists.

Notice the commonalities between what God is against and what God desires: orphans, widows, foreigners, and harming each other deliberately (lying and cheating versus “scheming against each other”). It is a universal principle that when God and people desire something, we do not like when the opposite of what we desire occurs.

Dare to ask the questions.

These verses beg some questions. I encourage us to let the questions land. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Pause between each one. Don’t just ask, but also answer with the truth.

  • Do we have widows, orphans, foreigners and the poor in our lives?
  • Do we have godly perspectives about widows, orphans, foreigners and the poor?
  • Do we have any wicked elements in our relationships with people – lying, cheating of wages, adultery, or injustice of any kind?
  • Do we access sorcery in any way?
  • Are we refusing to listen to God about something?
  • Are we stubbornly turning away from God in any area of our lives?
  • Are we putting our fingers in our ears when God speaks?
  • Has any part of our hearts become stone?

God is holy, but God is also LOVE.

I had answers to the above questions that I didn’t like. What about you?

  • Do we have widows, orphans, foreigners and poor in our lives? My answer: Not enough
  • Are we stubbornly turning away from God in any area of our lives? My answer: Something came to mind that I won’t share here, but it was specific.

Honest answers are not to lead us to despair. Yes, God is holy, but He is also love.

God is holy love.

If your heart was pierced with regret about any of the answers above, there is forgiveness! If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Nothing above; Nothing below.

No honest answer scares God away. Nothing uncovered by the questions above can separate any of us from the love of God through Jesus. In addition, nothing in the comprehensive list below can separate us from the love of God through Jesus!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

Let’s stop refusing to listen, turning away, and putting our fingers in our ears. Our holy, perfect, magnificent, awesome God draws near to those who draw near to Him: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8). And we can draw near to Him because

God is love (1 John 4:8).

Picture Explanation: My husband serves others better than me, by a lot. This week I watched him turn our kitchen into a bakery and create a Valentine’s spread for the pediatric cardiac floor where our daughter works. I don’t know many men who could or would do such a thing, including the beautiful presentation. I didn’t lift a finger. He wouldn’t let me. All his giving.

It was a week about hearts in our home. A holiday about love, and a new baby born, named after the man who serves food to show people he loves them. In the last picture, the baby named after my husband is clasping the thumb of my son who is named after my brother. And so the family grows…

Speaking of getting to know a God of holy love:

If you are interested in being contacted to participate in a One Gritty Blink Bible study in 2023, click on the Oaks Ministries link below and contact me by email. There are plans for an evening online study April 4-May 9. There are also plans for a face-to-face study this summer. Let’s focus on things that count for eternity!

© 2023 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.


8 Responses

  1. Such a good post! I will read it again at home with my pad and pencil, as I search my heart for answers to your questions. Your grandson is precious and so is your whole family! Love you!

    1. Thank you for being keen on having a clean heart. I love that about you.
      Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

  2. I love how you wove those scriptures together, asked good questions, and were honest, Laurie. Love the generous ways of your husband and the beautiful display he created to honor your heart-baby-nurse daughter. Love all of the people in these pictures! Happy Valentine’s Month to you all.

    1. I am glad you noticed the weaving of the verses together and honesty. I had fun watching that come together. Thank you for loving our whole family.

  3. Great post, Laurie. Widows, orphans, and foreigners in the midst of Israel were vulnerable. A take-away principle is that God calls the church to love and serve the vulnerable. He has a special place in his heart for them. Those with the power and ability to do what is just, merciful, true, and right are called to serve and to protect those who are victimized or potentially harmed by forces outside of their control. We so often don’t see our responsibility to bend to the vulnerable (as Diane Langberg puts it) in the same way that Jesus bends for us in our vulnerability! He left heaven, he stooped down to help and to heal, and he washed feet. He spent time with the vulnerable: everyday illiterate people, foreigners/gentiles, Samaritans, children, women, lepers, the infirmed, the demonized, those victimized by the religious elite. He died naked. May God help each of us to understand who the vulnerable are in our midst that we are to serve. Thanks for this prophetic post!

    1. I pray…I plead along with you, “May God help each of us to understand who the vulnerable are in our midst that we are to serve.”

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Planting and Watering

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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