So during that very same prayer event as we were discussing the state of the the nation and our woes of the community... we were each sharing how we could see where God was at work and come along beside Him in that effort... and it was if everyone around the group had the same message.l. at least in my mind I was hearing
"Prepare" "Prepare" "Prepare"
"Be prepared" "Be prepared"
Wow! Isn't this exactly what had been bombarding me in my circle of friends... "OH how much food are you hoarding? How many gallons of water do you have on hand? Have you gotten your generator yet? No, what do you recommend? The same rhetoric that had been driving me many sleepless nights!
But NO! Knowing this group as well as I know them, they aren't into that kind of preparedness! Praise God!
So I went home that night thinking about "prepare" and there it was a gentle nudge from above... reminding me of a study I had done about 10 years ago.. on a book written by the actual host of the previous prayer event... entitled God's Cure for the Post Christian Syndrome by James Tarter. All of Jim's awesome books are found for free download at www.lulu.com.. Just type his name in the search bar. I highly recommend this book! But be ware he is brilliant, deep, and and goes into great explanation about who God is, who we are and what the church should be doing instead the the lukewarm mess that it is today!
At any rate, I remembered that the premise of the book was that just as the Ministry of Elijah fell on John the Baptist to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, Jesus, which is prophesied in Malachi, so too, in the last days, there will be that same calling on the church to prepare the way of the Lord for His second coming. I felt I was receiving a call to prepare ye the way....
and in my waywardness I was a bit paralyzed is the only way to describe how I was... Immediately the enemy gave me the image I remembered seeing as a child of an old rough looking man carrying a sign that said Prepare the Way of the Lord on it.... and I remember hearing people say, 'Look at that crazy old man? with ridicule and haughtiness..... I am ashamed to admit that but it was probably my very first experience of witnessing christian persecution here in our own land and I shamefully didn't recognize it as that at the time.I immediately turned to God with repentance in my heart, but at the same time I did not immediately go searching for the book or even read Malachi to refresh myself... I allowed other things I 'needed' to do get in the way. But God wouldnt leave me alone... it wasnt exactly like a prodding, but I felt His fingers on my back and suddenly the last couple of days an old malady came over me that plagued my gut so much in recent past.... and I was horrified it was coming back on me... then I had the thought.. Ok, I dont really feel like doing this now, Lord, but with you I will read the book and get started on the message you want me write. That was last night.... and even before I fell sweetly asleep my gut issue had subsided. I can only think that as I do not ever believe in coincidences, God has put a rush on me to get this done, whether it is just for my sake or the reader's, as well.
But I do think the message is super important.... as it was 10 years ago when I first read the book, but even more so now with the world and nation in the place it is in.
The intent of the book is to demonstrate how that just as in the days of Malachi, the people were so arrogant and self seeking they had turned their back on God. They grumbled about seeing no purpose in serving God, they saw no personal gain in it for them, so in their complaining they ignored Him ( sound familiar?) and in so doing, it created a spiritual wilderness in the nation. Grumbling gave way to arrogance, hypocrisy, and judging. These very same features are found in our post Christian age in which we are living...today here in the US. We, like they, are spiritually sick and blinded to God...the ultimate, just judge of all. They had lost sight of God as judge in their ungodliness.
So too our churches today are weakened through the lack of solid Biblical teaching.. preachers' sermons seem to be ala carte.. they pick and choose from the menu that either they themselves think need to be taught because they they have set themselves up as judge , or they tickle the ears of the their flock. Many have their services so micro managed down to limiting each part of the service to the number of seconds.. leaving absolutely no room for the Holy spirit to show up. And He doesnt. Thereby, sin becomes excused, God's Word becomes irrelevant for life today, leadership becomes corrupt, goaded by power and greed. So the people are perishing in the wilderness of the own making. Treachery becomes commonplace in society, sin escalates alarmingly, and the people grow weary living in a barren wasteland.
My next portion will be taken from Malachi 3 and 4. if you are following... you really ought to read the book of Malachi... it is a great read!