Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 16 December 18:
1. Micah 4:1-5 — “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever. For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.” In the latter days, God governs the world but still gives people a choice as to whether or not they will follow Him. God’s people are those who are committed to serving and obeying only Him while everyone else chases after self-interest.
2. Micah 4:13 – “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.” Our strength does not relay on military, economic, or political might. Our strength is in God and the power of the Gospel – “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
3. Micah 5:7, 8 – “Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.” God has spread His people amongst the nations to infiltrate their worldly systems, subverting the powers of evil, and tearing down spiritual strongholds with spiritual weapons. Christians operate “behind enemy lines” to seize territory in the Name of the Lord, not by military might but by the power of God through the Gospel and transformed lives committed to living for Him as King. “Be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth.” God has called His priests and Ambassadors to be united in purpose, across the globe as a Kingdom among the kingdoms of men, conducting ‘distributed operations’ with unity of effort and unity of action, making disciples from among the nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey God, all under the authority and power of Jesus Christ. All of Christianity should see themselves as a ‘people’ on a mission for the King, working in unison to prepare the way for the return of the King and His physical reign on earth. Of course, His people will never be fully united and the Kingdom will not be fully established on earth until, “then…. In that day” when Jesus returns, but blessed are those who the King finds doing His will when He does return, those diligently working towards “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” So why don’t Christians today feel connected to a powerful, global Kingdom that is advancing God’s Kingdom, one heart at a time across the planet, tearing down evil strongholds, usurping evil empires, and defeating their adversaries? Perhaps, in part because the church has trusted in the strength and protection of the earthly kingdoms in which they live (confused Ambassadors); because the ‘priests’ of God’s Kingdom have ‘bowed down to the works of their own hands’ and have been consumed by the ‘worries of the world.’ We don’t see ourselves as, first and foremost, Kingdom People. We do not see ourselves as truly ‘on mission’ day-by-day to “be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth.” We are not united as a Kingdom as ‘stones of the Temple.’ Too often we see our faith as a means to achieve the ‘American dream’ rather than a call to serve the Master at all costs. God is at work, accomplishing His plan, with or without you. Are you part of our generation’s Gideon’s army, or did you skip the fight to go back to the comfort of your house? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17; spoken by Jesus not to the ‘unchurched,’ but to those who claimed to be God’s people).
4. Micah 5 — In Micah the Lord challenges His people who are being punished and exiled: “Why do you now cry aloud— have you no king? Has your counselor perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor?” (Micah 4:9) As the Magi understood, the King of kings is Jesus, born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6). “He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord (Micah 5:4).” Until Christ’s return, His ambassadors, His kingdom of priests, will be “in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind (Micah 5:7).” The Kingdom People “will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue (Micah 5:8).” This is not a passive, weak, compromised church that has lost its saltiness and hides the light under a bowl – this is a bold church that powerfully proclaims the Gospel throughout the entire world, making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey ALL that the King commands (Matthew 28:19). This is not a church that surrenders to the enemy the institutions of influence such as media, schools, arts, government, etc. but rather dominates them in order to “tear down all your strongholds (Micah 5:11).” Again, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds (stated in 2 Corinthians 10:4).” God’s people are a Kingdom among kingdoms, and they serve the King of kings. They “do not put [their] trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save (Psalm 146:3).” God’s people “seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness.” Kingdom People: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28).” Your King is king – “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations Praise the Lord (Psalm 146:10).” It is time for the Church to come out from the caves and face the enemy.
— “Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few (1 Samuel 14:6).’”
5. Proverbs 16:1, 2 — “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”
– When you humbly study God’s word. The Holy Spirit will challenge you by revealing to you the difference between what you are doing and what He wants you to do and by revealing the truth of your heart, showing to you the difference between how He sees you and how you have seen yourself.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — How quick we are to question the motives of others, yet we are so slow to question our own! When others harm us, we may assume the worst of intentions. When we are guilty, we often excuse our offenses, concluding that others are far too sensitive! Regardless of how we monitor our motives, God weighs them in His scales of righteousness. It is futile to try to deceive God with our pious justifications, for He sees our hearts. Is it possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Of course! You can attend worship services with a heart that is far from worshipful (Isa. 1:10-17). Could you show concern for the poor and yet have a heart that is opposed to God? Judas did (John 12:4-8). Could you make bold statements of love for Christ and actually be aiding the work of Satan? Peter did (Matt. 16:21-23). Could you offer sacrifices to God and be in total disobedience to Him? King Saul did (1 Sam. 13:8-9). Could you pray with the wrong motives? James said you can (James 4:3). Many things cause us to do what we do. We can be motivated by good things, such as love for God, compassion, generosity, and faith. Or our actions can come from unhealthy motives such as pride, insecurity, ambition, lust, greed, guilt, anger, fear, and hurt. It is even possible to do the best things based on the worst motives. When the Lord measures our motives He looks for one thing: love. All that we do should proceed from our love for God and for others (1 Cor. 13). Take time to look past your actions to what lies behind them. Ask God to show you what He sees when He examines your motives.
6. Proverbs 16:3 — “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” God’s plan accounts for human nature and free choice. No one’s choices or actions can change God’s plan. God brings all things together for His ultimate good. Even evil people who attempt to rebel against God are a part of His plan.
7. Proverbs 16:9 — “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Though people may choose to reject God and go their own way, God is still in control of their lives.
8. Proverbs 16:20 — “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” When you are willing to study God’s word and walk in it in trust to God, you will be blessed.
9. Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” From Henry T. Blackaby — Things are not always what they seem. Proverbs warns that we can be deceived into believing we are going down the right path and yet be heading toward death, the opposite direction from God’s will. People do not naturally seek God or pursue righteousness (Rom. 3:10-18). Only as the Spirit awakens our hearts to the Person of Christ are we able to desire God’s will. If we make decisions apart from the guidance of the Spirit of God, we will be like a ship trying to sail without a compass. We will do what makes the most sense, based on our own wisdom. But what looks attractive may actually lead to sin, ultimately destroying what is precious to us, for our most profound human thinking is mere foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:18-20). Only God knows the way that leads to life, and He wants to lead us to walk in it (Matt. 7:13-14). Don’t assume every opportunity that arises is from God. Satan will disguise himself as an “angel of light,” and his invitations will seem to be in your best interest (2 Cor. 11:14). Yet his way leads only to death (John 8:44). The word of God will be like a light to your path, guiding you in the ways of righteousness (Ps. 119:105). It can be perilous to follow a path that seems right without first consulting the Holy Spirit for guidance (John 16:13). Take time to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction when you face decisions. He knows the full ramifications of your choices. The Holy Spirit will assist you to understand truth and to experience abundant life. Trust Him as He leads you.
10. Psalm 146:3 – “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.”
– There is no hope in the world’s political systems and politicians. While everyone else is lifting up politicians and political platforms, lift up only Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
– Micah 4 proclaims that there shall not be peace and security on earth until the nations submit to the Lord and “walk in his paths.” Though “all the peoples walk each in the name of its god,” Christians proclaim that salvation comes only through Christ in accordance with God’s will, mercy, and grace. Until the world accepts that truth, the world will “assemble” against God’s people because, “they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan.” (Micah 4:12) Until Christ returns to reign on earth, “the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord…. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples (Micah 5:7, 8).” God’s loyal subjects currently serve as “ambassadors” of God’s Kingdom to the kingdoms of the world where God’s people live as foreigners or strangers. Are you a loyal subject in the Kingdom of God?
11. Psalm 146:5 – “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Let’s campaign for Jesus during the next election cycle.
12. Psalm 146:7-9 — “[God] who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.”
– Only God can rightly balance justice and mercy to defend victims and no how/when to forgive victimizers. God’s ways always protect the weak and defenseless.
– This is a theme in today’s readings. Jesus said we must worship both in spirit and in truth. True worship is living righteously. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” You don’t love and worship Jesus in truth if you are not obeying Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 Dec 18: Worship the Lord on this Sunday by living righteously, obeying Him, and proclaiming Him as the only Way, Truth, and Life. Reveal the character of Jesus to others today by your actions, but don’t let people praise you for your good works but rather your Father in Heaven and His One and Only Son, Jesus. (See today’s readings)