TEXT: Malachi 2; Rev. 1:16, 2:18; Matt. 7:24; 1 Tim. 6; 2 Cor. 11; 2 Tim. 4
1. Jesus, filled with righteous anger, goes straight to the temple upon arriving in Jerusalem (on the date that will be remembered as the initial Palm Sunday). It appears as if there will be a transition of power and that Christ will soon establish His earthly kingdom with powerful and visible rule. But the disciples were mistaken, and we are left with a poignant question: why did Jesus angrily flip the tables on the first Palm Sunday? The religious leaders of the day had perverted truth and routinely touted the traditions of men as biblical truth (traditions that they themselves conceived and established). Jesus was angry because His people were approaching biblical truth with a ‘whatever’ attitude.
2. Jesus cares about where we receive truth from. He has given each body of believers all the necessary giftings and personality types needed in order for that body to flourish and grow. When we ‘sidestep’ what the Lord has provided and seek ‘outside’ sources as the primary motivators for our spiritual growth we open ourselves up to be deceived.
3. Earthly trials and suffering are shaping and preparing us to be trusted with power for eternity. The children of God will forever rule and reign over the new heavens and earth with the One who saved us from sin and suffering!
4. One sign of a false teacher is promising hearers that if they give, they will get. Many false teachers manipulate believers into the giving of their finances under the pretense that they will receive back a greater blessing from the Lord.
5. The Book of Malachi reveals that, at the close of the O.T., God’s people had wandered away from pure, biblical truth. Their understanding of God’s Kingdom and their motivations for obedience had become distorted and selfish. The Lord refers to this as having “poop (dung) on their faces.” This jarring visual is designed to reveal the negative impact that their ‘wandering’ will have on them (and future generations). And we must be aware and understand that we can make the same mistake today. We can wander from biblical truth, make it a common practice to receive teaching from unhealthy sources, and turn serving Christ into a selfish endeavor.
6. Satan’s primary objective is to ‘slip’ into churches unaware. He aims to subtly steer the people of God into the receiving and practicing of unbiblical truth (that is presented to them as solid, biblical truth).
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. How would you define what it means to approach truth with a ‘whatever’ type attitude?
2. How does Satan subtly slip into churches and steer believers away from the gospel truth? Does this deception only take place through the teaching/preaching or does he employ a variety of methods to accomplish his goal?
3. Using the context of 21st Century American evangelicalism: what does it mean to have “poop on our faces?” What are some examples of teachings and principles that contribute to God’s people having dung on their faces?
4. The Bible seemingly reveals that blessing and favor come into our lives as we seek to serve and obey Him (a common principle and practice throughout the Bible). There are many nuances associated with properly understanding this principle, but the majority of Bible scholars view this concept as a healthy understanding of what the Bible teaches. So, why is promising believers that they will ‘get if they give’ so dangerous? Is it different when we are dealing with finances? What is the Lord trying to protect us from by revealing the crookedness behind the message of ‘giving to get’?
5. YouTube, podcasts, and social media. These are simply a few of the many ways in which virtually every American can access biblical teaching and Christian content. Given that this is the culture and world that we are serving Jesus in, how should we approach receiving truth from outside sources and from the local church the Lord has placed us in? What are some help us navigate this area of life in a healthy way? What are the most important truths to remember as you discern and make decisions about the teaching and preaching that shapes and influences you?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- Wisdom regarding where we receive truth from
- For the right motivations to be within our hearts as we give, serve, and obey