pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Justice, Mercy, Humility

Reading: Micah 6: 4-8

Verse 6: “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God”?

Our passage today begins with God reminding the people of all that God has recently done for them. God gave them leaders and brought them out of slavery. God guided them to the promised land, performing righteous act after righteous act all along the way. How could the people be so disconnected from a God that has shown them so much love? Yet if we took a few minutes to reflect on how God has led us, guided us, blessed us, forgiven us, rescued us… we too might be a bit ashamed of how disconnected we can be from God for periods or even seasons in our lives.

Micah then asks an important, self-reflective question. In verse six he asks, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God”? If we more frequently asked this question, we would be connected to God more of our lives. Micah goes on to ask if God really desires burnt offerings of calves or rams or if God really needs thank offerings equivalent to rivers of oil. Micah even wonders if the sacrifice of the firstborn child would cleanse the sin of his soul. Our questions are a little different but come from the same place. Is it not enough God that I’ve been to church two out of four Sundays most months? Is it not enough that I gave to the church some of what I had left at the end of the month? Didn’t I check off enough boxes to be blessed by you, O God?! The people of Micah’s day were going through the motions of being God’s people. They were all about doing.

In verse eight Micah reminds them and us of what God desires: “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God”. These are ways of being. These are ways of the heart. When we are people of justice, mercy, and humility, we are closely connected to the core of who God is. May we be people who act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God and with our fellow humans. May it always be so.

Prayer: Father God, in all I do and say and think, help me to do it justly. In all I do and say and think, help me to lead with mercy. In all I do and say and think, help me to walk humbly, elevating you and others far above self. Draw me to you, O God. Amen.


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Grumble, Grumble

Reading: Numbers 21: 4-9

Verses 4-5: “The people grew impatient… they spoke against God and against Moses”.

“Spoke against” is code for complained. For any parent who has gone on a long road trip with kids, you have gotten to this point. No matter how many snacks, no matter how many movies, no matter how many coloring books and games – you get there. Your answer to the 100th “Are we there yet?” is not any more satisfactory than your answer was the first time, and the complaining begins. Inevitably it spreads.

God has provided His chosen people with food and water day after day. He has led them safely day after day. He has parted the sea and then drowned all the Egyptians. Through the years your clothes and your sandals have not worn out. And yet this day they get to complaining. It started small but has become a roar. It may be that they’ve been by this sea before. It may be that this journey has been a lot longer than it could have been. But the people’s disobedience has caused God to say “one more time around the desert” more than once. They have wandered longer than needed solely through their own sin.

When we get to the point of complaining, our memory goes a bit defunct. We too forget how God had cared for and fed and led us. We forget how God has accepted our repentance over and over, always offering forgiveness. We forget all those times when God rescued us and guided us through. Instead of using all of our experiences with God to draw strength and as a reason to seek God, like children, we complain. Complaining is dangerous. The Israelites encountered some snakes that snap their memories back into place and lead them to repent and to seek God’s help.

God does not send snakes when we complain. The poison that we bring into our relationship with God does enough damage. It separates us from God. It sometimes even ramps up the complaining. In those moments when we are tempted to begin to grumble at God, may we instead take a breath and reflect on God’s presence and blessings in our life and then go to God with a prayer of thanksgiving. Then we can humbly and honestly come to God with our petitions and our prayer made from a good heart will be holy and pleasing to God. God is good. Trust.


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What Does the Lord Require?

Reading: Micah 6: 6-8

The first five verses of Micah 6 bring God’s charges against Israel.  God has laid out His case.  In verses six and seven, Micah gets in the act.  He muses about what would appease God, about what would be enough to ‘even the score’.  Micah wonders if a thousand rams would be enough.  Or maybe 10,000 rivers of oil would do the trick.  He next wonders if maybe the firstborn child being sacrificed would do the trick.  Just as Micah knew, we too know.  It is not about our sacrifices or our giving or about anything else we can do; it is all about our personal relationship with God.  So Micah gets direct and is right on point.  Micah asks what does God require of us?  Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.  For Christians today, in Jesus’ life and witness we see meaning and an example of how to fulfill these three requirements.

We are to act justly.  Most simply put, this is to love neighbor as self.  This means to do what is right in all cases.  This means we speak up when others are being wronged.  This means we hold each other accountable.  Of course to do all of these things, our heart must be right with God.  We confess and repent when we sin, we accept rebuke when needed, we work to always align our will with God’s will.

We are to love mercy.  This means we extend ‘loving neighbor as self’ to really be loving others as Jesus first loved us.  On the cross we find what loving mercy really means.  To love mercy means to accept others as they are.  This is how Jesus dealt with all He met.  So we must forgive others when they wrong us, whether they deserve it or not.  We walk alongside and love those in need.  We choose to adopt and follow policies and stances that seek to promote the well-being of the entire community.

We are to walk humbly with our God.  This begins by surrendering our lives to God, by living each day with Christ as our Lord.  This means seeking and allowing God to guide our actions, thoughts, words, and deeds.  This is giving God the control and being obedient to humbly walk where God leads.

“What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”.  May it be so today and every day.