Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 17 December 18:
1. Micah 6:6-8 – “’With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
– The Israelites were continually ignoring God’s commands, ceremonially asking for forgives without real repentance, and then expecting that God their religiosity would make up for their unloving hearts and disobedience. However, Micah points out what is reiterated in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” – “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil (Micah 6:7)?” Religious ceremony has no value apart from a humble heart, genuine surrender, genuine commitment, and the fruit of repentance – “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).” Jesus said “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23).” Worship and loving service go hand-in-hand — “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only (Luke 4:8).’” Paul said it this way: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).” And James said it this way: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).” Our word “worship” comes from the Old English word “weorthscipe” which means worth + ship or worthiness. Our behavior reflects to the world what sort of honor we believe the Lord is “worth” in our eyes — “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).”
– From Henry T. Blackaby — God never conceals His expectations from us. We never have to guess how we should live. In response to the misguided ways in which people sought to please God, the prophet Micah clearly explained what God does and does not expect. The people asked: Should we come to God with many offerings? Should we bring a thousand rams and ten thousand rivers of oil? Would God be pleased if we gave our firstborn child to Him to express our devotion? (Mic. 6:6-7). Micah’s response was straightforward: “He has shown you, O man, what is good.” Micah listed three things God desires. First, He wants us to show justice. The desire to receive justice is not enough. We must also be absolutely just in the way we treat others. If we have given our word, we should keep it with complete integrity. If we have people working for us, we should treat them as fairly as Jesus would. We should act justly in every relationship. Second, we are to love mercy. The knowledge that we have received undeserved mercy from God should motivate us to show mercy to others. We must resist the temptation to retaliate against those who have wronged us, choosing to show them mercy instead. Finally, God requires us to walk humbly with Him. God does not ask us for spectacular acts of service—He asks for humility. At times we try to make the Christian life far more complicated than it is. We may hide behind questions about the Bible or uncertainty about the second coming of Christ. We can allow ourselves to become distracted in order to avoid confronting what God has clearly told us to do today. If we strive to be completely obedient in the basics, the more complex assignments will become clear.
2. Micah 6:14 — “You shall eat, but not be satisfied.” Sinners are never satisfied.
3. Micah 7:1, 3, 5, 7 — “Woe is me…! Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together. Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend. But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” Micah laments over the conditions of a society that says, “Where is the Lord your God?” (Micah 7:10) The rich and powerful collude together to take advantage of the weak for their own personal gain, and neighbor cannot trust neighbor. Micah is overcome by woe as he considers God’s judgment on His people – “I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him.” (Micah 7:9) The psalmist once asked, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3) Micah’s response is to remain steadfast, obedient, and to trust in the Lord who “does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” (Micah 7:18) “In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain.’” (Psalm 11:1) “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)
4. Micah 7:2 — “The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind.” God’s people are salt and light. Salt preserves and light prevents stumbling in the darkness. When there are not godly people around, the communities fall apart.
5. Micah 7:4 — “The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge.” The best of the ungodly are hurtful, despite their claims of goodness.
6. Micah 7:5 — “Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend.” The ungodly cannot be trusted no matter how close they are to you. Selfishness will eventually prevail where God isn’t honored as Lord.
7. Micah 7:9 — “I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.” Though overcome with woe, Micah maintains hope in God’s forgiveness and restoration. Only Jesus can give you mercy and grace from a position of complete righteousness and justice.
8. Micah 7:18-20 — “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.”
– We are passed over in judgment because we are marked with the blood of Jesus.
– God’s love, compassion, and forgiveness are models for us to follow. How are you doing?
9. Proverbs 17:3 – “The Lord tests hearts.” How has the Lord tested your heart?
10. Revelation 13:7-10 — “Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” Popular interpretations of revelation say that the saints won’t suffer persecution. For a time, the saints are conquered by the beast and will require patient endurance. Revelation warns the saints to grow in endurance through persecution in order to be ready for greater persecutions and greater opportunities to glorify Him.
11. Revelation 13:8 – “…and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Only God’s people oppose satanic systems. Are you opposing the satanic system or relying on it?
12. Revelation 13:16, 17 – “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” Satan’s ungodly system involves control of commerce. To trade, people will have to endorse sin. Most people will tell themselves they are still godly.
13. Revelation 13:18 — “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” There are many theories about what the number 666 really means. Don’t worry too much about it.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 Dec 18: Give thanks to God for the grace that you have received through Jesus, and show your gratitude and love for Him by obeying Him regardless the personal cost. (see today’s readings)