Monday, December 22, 2014

What Does the Lord Require?

Micah 6:1-8 - Hear now what the LORD says: 
        "Arise, plead your case before the mountains, 
        And let the hills hear your voice. 
        Hear, O you mountains, the LORD's complaint, 
        And you strong foundations of the earth; 
        For the LORD has a complaint against His people...

        "O My people, what have I done to you? 
        And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me.         
        For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, 
        I redeemed you from the house of bondage; 
        And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 
        O My people, remember now...
        That you may know the righteousness of the LORD." 

        With what shall I come before the LORD, 
        And bow myself before the High God? 
        Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, 
        With calves a year old? 
        Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, 
        Ten thousand rivers of oil? 
        Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, 
        The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 

        He has shown you, O man, what is good; 
        And what does the LORD require of you 
        But to do justly, to love mercy,         
        And to walk humbly with your God? 

Micah 6:8 has been a verse that has cropped up frequently lately for some reason. Maybe it's a message for me. What I do know it is a message for all of us.

The title in the Bible of this section I read was The Obliteration of Nations. Don't we seem to see obliteration of a lot of things these days? Power struggles, evil, threats of terrorism, outright terrorism, protesting and senseless killing. Let's face it, we cannot look around us and say all is well.

In these scriptures Micah is telling the people of Israel to listen to what God is telling him to tell them! The nation or people of Israel then were God's people. This would be like those today who say they belong to God. Egypt, I've mentioned before, is a type of the world, a form of captivity. People who live according to their own idea of how they want to live, apart from God.

So God had a complaint. As was brought up, again, in Sunday school, the Old Testament, where Micah is, is just as important as any book in the New Testament. Don't let anyone tell you only the New Testament is necessary. 1Corinthians 10:11 says: Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

God remains the same today as He was then (Hebrews 13:8). There is no shadow of turning with Him (James 1:17). What He says in the Word He means. He doesn't change His mind because society or culture thinks it should. It's so hard to convince people of that. If He said something is a sin, it is. As our pastor said in church yesterday morning, sin is not a mistake, an accident, slip's a sin.

So anyway, God is asking His people Israel, who have repeatedly turned their backs on Him and sinned against Him, what has He done that they should do this? He might ask us as well, those of us who have received Christ and call ourselves believers yet live as we desire. Didn't He deliver them from captivity...didn't He save us from our sins through the blood of Jesus? Didn't He save Israel to show His righteousness to them...doesn't He do that with us? Doesn't He cloth us in righteousness upon receiving Christ?

And Israel missed it. They adhered to their sacrifices as their religious leaders called them to do frequently. Yet none of all those sacrifices were really what God desired. Same today...He doesn't want what we think are good deeds so that God will be pleased with us. What He wants is what verse 8 says: do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Then those deeds have meaning because they are done for His glory, not our own.

Some churches today adhere to beliefs or laws that are not biblical. Jesus said He came to not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. All those sacrifices...rolled into One. All He asks is that we follow Him, do what He commands. That's all He asks. I think we can all say we try to do justly and try to be merciful, but it means nothing if we are not walking humbly with God. To me humbly is acknowledging Him daily, submitting to Him over self. Oh, I need to hear this myself.

This verse was the one verse that was beautifully and gently spoken the day I received Christ as Lord and Savior April 18, 1999. I can still hear the pastor's voice! This is what He requires. He wants us. He wants all of each of us. Not that He can be a puppet master and pull strings. No, He wants relationship with us so that He can show us all He has done for us and all He will do for us if we are willing to give of ourselves to Him. You can't have relationship if you don't want to know Him intimately through His Word and devotion to Him. Hold nothing back. We need to ask for Him to reveal any wicked ways, any pride, judgment, name it...that prevents us from being the very person God wants us to be.

Being what He desires is not a bad thing. It's freeing. When we do as He requires life runs more smoothly. If we do not, we run into troubles. We will not be without trouble, but with God we can get through it in His strength. Without Him those struggles will be a burden. With God we have peace. Without Him we flounder.

It takes only a desire to know this great God, be willing to submit to the highest Authority. He desires to use us in a way He has created each of us to be used. He will use our strengths and weaknesses; He has equipped us each with certain talents. When we do as He requires we are successful, to use terms we recognize. Our success comes from His hand. And our success is for His glory because He placed in us what we have. I'm sure it can seem inconceivable doing God's will over our own is the way to go. But it is.

Lord, create in me a clean heart. Show me my faults, my improper desires. Empty me of me that You might fill me to overflowing so I can share what You have for me with others. There's plenty to go around! You must increase that I may decrease. Do this, Lord.

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (‭Acts‬ ‭17‬:‭24-28‬)

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