Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 15 December 18:
Note: Here is a short video overview of the book of Micah: https://youtu.be/MFEUEcylwLc
1. Micah 1:2 – “Pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.” God is calling out to the whole world, to anyone who will pay attention.
2. Micah 1:8 – “For this I will lament and wail.” Neither God nor God’s people want to see anyone condemned. However, God gives everyone freedom to choose.
3. Micah 2:1, 2 – “Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.” Powerful money handlers place the poor in debt to them and then foreclose on their properties, leaving them with nothing. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
4. Micah 2:6-7, 11; 3:5 – “’Do not preach,—thus they preach— ‘one should not preach of such things;
disgrace will not overtake us.’ Should this be said, O house of Jacob? Has the Lord grown impatient? Are these his deeds?… If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, ‘I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,’
he would be the preacher for this people!… Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry ‘Peace’ when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths.”
– Most people don’t want to hear the truth, and they surround themselves with people who will tell them what they want to hear.
– The congregation tried to pick the sermon topics in order to only hear what interested them rather than what they needed to hear from God. False preachers provide false security.
– “Thus says the Lord the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry ‘Peace’ when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths.” Many people turn the Gospel into a money-making venture, preaching what is profitable to them rather than what is profitable for the soul. Too many preachers are talented motivational speakers who turn the Bible into a self-help book that promises a better life on earth.
5. Micah 2:8 – “But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly.”
– When we don’t treat people the way God wants us to, we become God’s enemies.
– Micah had a message that God’s people didn’t want to hear – the Lord was preparing to punish his people because of their sin – disaster was coming! They had compromised their holiness to the world around them and were now part of the problem in God’s eyes. They had been infected by society, and now there was no cure (Micah 1:9). Meanwhile, the “preachers” and “pastors” were failing to address the sin but were rather preaching a “positive, more uplifting message.” But in the face of criticism from the “church” Micah responds: “Do not my words do good to the one whose ways are upright…. Should you not embrace justice, you who hate good and love evil; (Micah 2:7; 3:2)?” More importantly, God responds: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat…. Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness…. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them…. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God (Micah 3:5-7).” Micah, however, stood out as holy among the “preachers” because he was “filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin (Micah 3:8).” Today’s readings from Psalms talk about exalting and praising the Lord before the world. An important part of that proclamation is God’s demand for righteousness, justice and obedience to His commands as Lord of all – this call to obedience reveals the need for God’s mercy, grace, and salvation through Jesus. However, we don’t talk much of sin anymore – let me know if you hear the word in church today. More and more the church is failing to serve as the conscience of the nation, and it shows. As the Bible says, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim 4:3).” Perhaps this is a good time to “weep and wail,” to “go about barefoot and naked,” to “howl like a jackal,” and to “moan like an owl (Micah 1:8).”
6. Micah 3:4 – “Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil.” A person’s sins can cause their prayers to be rejected.
7. Micah 3:7 – “There is no answer from God.” Sin prevents you from hearing God.
8. Micah 3:8 – “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.” The powerful one is the one filled with the Holy Spirit because of their fidelity to God. Micah’s message was not his own but came from the Holy Spirit which had filled Him.
9. Micah 3:11, 12 — “Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say, ‘Is not the Lord in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.’ Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.’”
– Today we have career politicians and career preachers who make tremendous amounts of money and who are worth tens of millions of dollars.
– God says that national destruction is precipitated by BOTH corrupt political leaders and corrupt spiritual leaders. Concerning corrupt politicians, God says they are driven by personal gain. Question: At the national level, are you familiar with any poor politicians? But politicians today are an easy target. So, what about our Nation’s spiritual leaders? In Micah, God condemns spiritual leaders who “teach for a price” and who “lead my people astray” by declaring ‘Peace’ (with God) when there is really enmity between God and the people due to their sin. Of these religious leaders, God says, “Therefore it shall be night for you, without vision…. for there is no answer from God.” They might be popular, but they are powerless, void of true spiritual vision and revelation or the Power of the Holy Spirit. In contrast, Micah could boldly proclaim, “But as for me, I am filled with the power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. Faithful Old Testament religious leaders, preachers, and prophets delivered the same ‘message’ as John the Baptist and Jesus – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance…. repent and believe in the gospel…. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance…. unless you repent, you will all likewise perish…. there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance…. go, and from now on sin no more.” Sermons on sin, humility, repentance, submission, surrender, selflessness, sacrifice, and suffering don’t sell well. Therefore, you won’t hear many sermons on the ‘s’-word (sin) or repentance. Most sermons in the popular churches today preach some form of self-actualization, self-help, or personal success model using Bible verses as validation. For example, looking at the website of one of our Nation’s most popular preachers what first popped up was a pre-selected opportunity to receive his latest sermon series and to “invest in his ministry” for $125.00 – “Are you ready to enjoy your life more? Let this motivating message give you the spiritual tools to know exactly what you should let go of and how to let it go so you can walk in joy and reach your full potential in a relaxed way….” How much did Jesus charge people to hear the word of God? Jesus warned, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark.” (Matthew 24:37, 38) The ‘church’ had lost all sensitivity to the spiritual reality around them, were completely blind to the truth of God’s pending judgment, and preached ‘Peace’ when there was no peace. But Noah stood out as different – “He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) Noah, one of eight to get on the ark, was a ‘herald of righteousness’ who ‘walked with God’ and dedicated his whole life to serving God. Who are our heralds of righteousness today who are walking with God and proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel? Are you one of them?
10. Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Emotional intelligence is popular topic today which many believe is the primary predictor of a person’s success. Emotional intelligence is basically a person’s ability to control their emotions and the emotions of others. The Bible tells you what you need to know on the matter.
11. Proverbs 15:1, 18 — “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Do your words bring peace or escalate strife?
12. Proverbs 15:4 — “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Do your words bring healing or pain?
13. Proverbs 15:7 — “The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” Do your words instruct or distract?
14. Proverbs 15:8 — “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” Don’t ask for things from God while you knowingly continue to disrespect Him in sin.
15. Proverbs 15:10 – “There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.” Discipline is pain delivered in love designed to protect you from destruction.
16. Proverbs 15:13 — “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” Do your words lift people up or tear them down?
17. Proverbs 15:14 — “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.” Do you talk when you should be listening and learning?
18. Proverbs 15:23 — “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” Do you know when to speak and when to be silent? Do you have a good, constructive sense of timing when providing advice to others?
19. Proverbs 15:24, 29 – “The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath…. The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” Sanctification is a life journey that will naturally make your worldly friendships grow distant.
20. Proverbs 15:26 — “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure.” Are your words gracious, always seeking the best for the other person rather than your own personal interests?
21. Proverbs 15:28 — “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Do you think before you speak?
22. Proverbs 15:31 — “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” Do you receive correction well?
23. Psalm 145:4 – “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” We are called to pass our faith on to the next generation.
24. Psalm 145:18, 20 – “The Lord is near to all who call on him…. The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.”
– This is a conditional statement. The Lord is not near to everyone, not even to everyone who calls on Him, only to those who call on Him in truth.
– You cannot approach God in falsehood and half-heartedness. God knows the difference between love and flattery.
25. Psalm 145:20 – “The Lord preserves all who love him.” Who does God save?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 Dec 18: Love God today in truth by loving all around you, walking in holiness, and declaring His mighty works. (See today’s readings)