Yesterday, I ended my preaching series on Malachi. Pastor Matt preached one of the sermons, of which I am grateful. This is the second time I have preached through Malachi; the first being back in 2011 at a church I pastored then. I must admit, this time it was much more difficult to preach through this book. There are many reasons why this would be so, but I want to mention three main reasons:
- I have a different preaching style now than I had then. In 2011, my preaching style was very factual, but not practical. Today, I think my preaching is much more applicable, while remaining factual. At least I hope it is. To preach through Malachi, which is very much a “prophetic” book set in the 5th century B. C. (indictments and condemnations of post-exilic Jews), and to apply that to modern lives was quite the challenge.
- I have grown as a pastor. I do not say that in any braggadocio way, but simply as a matter of what the Holy Spirit has done in my soul. I have sought to love and care about the people I pastor in the past, but often it was in a buddy-buddy, friendship way. That isn’t to say that friendships within the church are wrong or bad for pastors, Norris it to say that I do not have friendships within the church, but rather to say that shepherding a people is different than befriending a people. Shepherding a flock through such a book as Malachi has been heart-wrenching to the soul knowing that much of what is preached may not be liked, may not be appreciated, may not be welcomed, but absolutely is necessary for the good of the people.
- I preached through it at a faster rate. I don’t recall how many weeks I spent in 2011 going through this book, but this time, we only spent 6 weeks in Malachi. There was a lot to cover and not much time to do so. I probably wearied many a person with my near hour-long sermons, and for that I apologize. I would venture to say that Malachi would probably be an 8 or 9 week series. As someone said once, the mind can absorb only as much as the seat can endure. I was well aware of how long my sermons were going to be before ever stepping into the pulpit (in fact, I told Pastor Matt just before service one day that the sermon would be about 5 minutes shorter than the previous week. After looking at the video length it was just over 5 minutes shorter). Every Sunday I stepped into the pulpit fully aware that service would go late, and no matter what people say, they eventually get tired of services ending later than expected.
That being said, preaching through Malachi developed some doctrines for me, personally. That means that I cannot be wishy-washy on certain subjects and toss it up to the fact that I hadn’t had time to study this or that. It strengthened my convictions on other doctrines as well. I hope and pray that I was faithful to the text, and I hope and pray that God’s name was magnified. “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts,” (Malachi 1:11, ESV).