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Micah Bible thoughts

Daily Bible thoughts 595: Tuesday 15th April 2014:

 Micah 7:14-20

This final section of Micah commences with a prayer for God’s shepherding ministry (15; cf.4, 5a). The prophet asks that God’s ”flock” should once again be allowed to feed in Bashan and Gilead, symbols of abundance and prosperity.

God answers prayer (15). Never doubt it. Here is His answer to the prayer in (14). God does far more than all we can ask or imagine. The prayer was primarily for ”your people…the flock of your inheritance… But God goes on to speak of what He will do in ”Nations” (16). These nations who oppressed and persecuted and punished Israel are going to fear God and also fear His people (17). In the end, the Lord does so much more than we ever thought to ask. It should encourage us to ask again and again.

Yet of all God’s many blessings, His greatest by far have to do with the forgiveness of sins (18 -20; see also Isaiah 38:17; Jer.31:34).

Verse 18 may well strike a chord with anyone who remembers the hymn ‘Who is a pard’ning God like thee..?” Here is one of its beautiful verses:

”In wonder lost with trembling joy,

We take the pardon of our God.

Pardon for sins of deepest dye,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.

Who is a pard’ning God like thee,

Or who has grace so rich and free?”

What a great statement you find in (19). Someone said, ‘God buries our sins in the deepest sea and puts up a big sign: ”No fishing!” ‘ Jesus deals fully and completely with the sins of all who turn to Him in repentance and faith.

”Where is the god who can compare with you – wiping the slate clean of guilt…You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your speciality. That’s what you love most… You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean. The Message.

The final word in Micah is to assure us that whatever happens in the short term, God will keep His promises; He will prove true to His Word (20). This thought should encourage and motivate us in all our praying. Selwyn Hughes ran a series in ‘Every day with Jesus’ about when the promises of God seem to go into ‘reverse gear’. He used a number of examples from the Bible to show that although this can appear to happen, the Lord is always true to His Word. We can be as certain of this now as people were in Micah’s day.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for your abundant generosity. Again and again you give far more than we ever thought to ask.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 594: Monday 14th April 2014:

 Micah 7:8-13

In (8-10) the faithful remnant of Israel (personified) is speaking to its enemy nations. Note that situations can turn around. Today you may be covered with gloom and choking in thick smog. But if you have sinned you can be forgiven; if you are down you can bounce back (8). If you are broken down you can be rebuilt; if you are confined you can be enlarged (10). Things can change. They do not have to remain as they are. (See also Prov.24:16) Here is a great statement of faith. It is important that when you are still in the darkness you should articulate what you have seen in the daylight. State clearly what you are certain God will do because of who He is and what He has revealed in His Word of truth (9b). (Derek Prince spoke often about the importance of making proclamations from God’s Word.)

The devil should not gloat. He should not think that a fallen Christian is necessarily a finished Christian. He should rather remember the cross and the fact that ”It is finished”. Indeed, let him understand that he is finished (10). He may still be permitted to go around like a roaring lion, hunting for his supper, but he is a fatally wounded beast. His days are numbered. ”When the devil reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future.” At the cross Jesus bound the strong man and we can plunder his goods.

However, the starting point for such a turnaround is to ‘come clean’ and confess your sin. Hold up your hand. Don’t try to make excuses or shift blame. Say, ‘I am the man (or woman!)’ To confess is to speak the same thing. It is to agree with God about sin; to admit that you are in the wrong. There is an honesty that recognises, ‘I deserve this disciplinary action; this chastisement I’m receiving.’ You’ve got to get on the same page as God.

(Israel went into exile, and her enemies taunted her saying, ”Where is the LORD your God?”(10). It seemed as if He was unable to protect His own. But of course that was not the case. Israel fell because of her failure; it was not due to any fault on the Lord’s part.)

In (11- 13) Micah is even looking beyond the return from exile. He sees a day, in later times, when Israel will be great indeed, and ”people will come…from Assyria and the cities of Egypt” (12). (Here, the nations mentioned represent all Gentile nations) These words depict an almost unimaginably big turnaround, but it’s just the kind of ‘impossibility’ God specialises in. He will do this.

‘What an exquisite word is here for those who sit in darkness from any cause: from the waning of human love; the darkening of increasing physical weakness; the withdrawl of beloved faces, one by one, from the family circle. Look unto the Lord; wait for the God of your salvation; when you sit in darkness, He will be a light.

In darkest shades, if He appear,

My dawning is begun;

He is my soul’s sweet morning star,

And He my rising sun.” ‘

F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.353

Prayer: Help me this day, Lord, to walk in the light you have given me.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 593: Friday 11th April 2014:

 Micah 7:1-7

Spiritual leadership can be lonely, disappointing and frustrating at times (1). There are things you quite legitimately ”crave”. Your heart is in your ministry and you long to see real change in people. You look for ‘fruit’. For Micah, looking for godly people in the land was like looking for fruit and finding none (1). ”I’m like someone who goes to the garden to pick cabbages and carrots and corn And returns empty-handed, finds nothing for soup or sandwich or salad.” The Message. Micah was a Spirit-filled preacher with a powerful ministry (3:8), but he watched things go from bad to worse before his very eyes.

Verses 2 -4 paint a terrible picture of a society filled with corruption and falling apart. ”They’ve all become experts in evil. Corrupt leaders demand bribes. The powerful rich make sure they get what they want.” The Message. The ”best” of the people are like briers and thorns that cut and scratch (4). However, it goes on: ”But no longer: It’s exam time.” The Message. ”The day of your watchmen has come…’ (4). The watchmen were the prophets of Israel who warned of impending judgment (see Jer.6:17; Ezk.3:17).

Furthermore, all of this rottenness had spread into family life (5, 6). You couldn’t necessarily trust those closest to you not to stab you in the back.” Don’t trust your neighbor, don’t confide in your friend. Watch your words, even with your spouse. Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces. The closer they are – sons, daughters, in-laws – The worse they can be. Your own family is the enemy.” ”Jesus quoted verse 6 to show that His coming to earth would divide families into those who believed in Him and those who did not (Matthew 10:34-38). Just as the sun heightens the contrast between brightness and shadow, so does Jesus heighten the contrast between faith and unbelief.” Tom Hale: The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.1270.

So what do you do when you’re not seeing the things you came into the ministry to see; when your good results seem to lie somewhere between little and nothing. We live in an age that prizes measurable success, but what do you do when you can’t produce the favourable stats? In fact all the charts are plummeting in a southerly direction! Here’s what to do: take your stand alongside Micah and keep your eyes on God (7). Be steadfast and immoveable knowing that your labour in the Lord will not be in vain. Watch, hope and wait. ”But me, I’m not giving up. I’m sticking around to see what GOD will do. I’m waiting for God to make things right. I’m counting on God to listen to me.” The Message.

To quote a well known radio preacher: ”The word for today is…

”But me, I’m not giving up.”

Prayer: Even when things appear disappointing, help me dear Lord to put one front in front of the other and keep going.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 592: Thursday 10th April 2014:

Micah 6:9-16

In verse 9, ”the city” is called to ”Listen!” In ‘The Message’ it adds the comment: ”This is serious business.” What we are about in church, in listening to the voice of God, is ”serious business”. In a lovingly blistering letter to his congregation, written in May 1954, William Still of Gilcomston Baptist church, Aberdeen, wrote: ”It is quite clear that there is a considerable company of so-called evangelicals in our city, as in others, whose interest in Christian work largely depends on its ‘Christian’ entertainment value, and who idolize Christian personalities in much the same way the world does its actors and sportsmen. Even in gatherings for the deepening of spiritual life one can sense and see people hanging on a speaker’s words, waiting for his first joke…no one who has caught the heart-beat of the eternal God in the agony of Calvary and who is called to communicate the Word will have time or inclination to be any other than intensely serious.” I am not saying that there isn’t a place for humour in church, but preachers are not club comedians doing a ‘turn’. This is ”serious business”.

You will see that there was a distinct lack of ”justice” and ”mercy” in their social relationships (10-12). These words surely have a resonance and relevance for our own society: ”Do you expect me to overlook obscene wealth you’ve piled up by cheating and fraud? Do you think I’ll tolerate shady deals and shifty scheming? I’m tired of the violent rich bullying their way with bluffs and lies…You’ll pay for your sins down to your last cent.” The Message. This is ”serious business” and God’s Word is to be taken with all due seriousness. It is not wise to trifle with spiritual things.

Sin is utterly ruinous (13, 16b). It promises good things but delivers bad things. It comes with a masterly sales pitch. It is charming and deceptive and we are easily taken in. We find that what we actually have when we open the ‘parcel’ is vastly different to how it appeared in the ‘catalogue.’

Not only is it ruinous, it is also empty and futile (14, 15). It is ironic to think that their goal was to amass more and more, and it didn’t matter to them that this would be at the expense of others. A sinful, self-centred life is one in which you will keep trying to fill an unfillable hole. For all your getting you will live with a sense of lack and depletion. ”No matter how much you get, it will never be enough-hollow stomachs, empty hearts. No matter how hard you work, you’ll have nothing to show for it – bankrupt lives, wasted souls. You’ll plant grass but never get a lawn. You’ll make jelly but never spread it on your bread. You’ll press apples but never drink the cider.” The Message.

There is an implicit warning here to beware who you emulate. It’s good to have mentors, but choose carefully who you will copy. Also, be wise about what ”traditions” you may be starting with your life. If you are someone else’s role model what will that mean for them?

So, we had better get on with the ”serious business” of listening to God now, so that we ”walk humbly” with Him, and avoid the sins that will take us to Hell and judgment. According to ‘Time’ magazine, Pope Francis recently denounced the Mafia during an annual vigil for the victims of organised crime. Apparently he said: ”Repent. There’s still time not to end up in hell…Men and women of the Mafia, please change your lives.” He warned the mobsters that they couldn’t take their ”bloody money and blood power” to the afterlife. I have to say that such courageous and specific preaching is right in the line of the prophetic tradition. It is great when it hits the headlines.

Prayer: I confess to you Lord that I am weak. Help me to always see through the lies told by temptation and sin.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 591: Wednesday 9th April 2014:

 Micah 6:1-8

In the first instance in today’s reading, we are ushered into a court room (1, 2). God is ‘prosecuting’ His own people, and He has an unassailable case. They, for their part, do not have a leg to stand on. God calls the mountains to ”hear” His case because they have witnessed all of Israel’s sins. They have been around even longer than the nation. (See also Deut.32:1; Is.1:2).”And now, Mountains, hear GOD’s case; listen Jury Earth – For I am bringing charges against my people. I am building a case against Israel. ” The Message.

The truth is that the Lord has been only good to them all the time (3-5): ”Dear people, how have I done you wrong? Have I burdened you, worn you out? Answer! I delivered you from a bad life in Egypt; I paid a good price to get you out of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you – and Aaron and Miriam to boot! Remember what Balak king of Moab tried to pull, and how Baalam son of Beor turned the tables on him. Remember all those stories about Shittim and Gilgal. Keep all GOD’s salvation stories fresh and present.” The Message. God delivered them from Egypt, gave them great leaders, thwarted the schemes of enemies and led them across the Jordan and into the Promised Land (”…from Shittim to Gilgal.”) It was a story of sheer undeserved goodness from start to finish. It will do us all good to regularly review God’s dealings with us, and ask if our lives are in any way an appropriate response to His overflowing generosity.

In (6, 7) Israel responds as if it were a single person; perhaps a king or high priest speaking for the nation. The fact is that although God initiated the sacrificial system, He never wanted an elaborate religious set-up that entailed sacrificing animals without touching the life. ”Would GOD be impressed with thousands of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil?” The Message. In a book entitled ‘Worship the Lord’, Jock Anderson says that ”God is looking for worship that is living, and living that is worship.” It was ever thus. God has always wanted people to worship Him with their lives. Empty rituals just will not do. ”Judah kept the ritual and the religious side, but God was looking for more than that. The one thing that matters is how men stand with God, and the one test of that is how they stand with man. If you are in relationship with God, then you will find yourself acting justly and showing mercy, because that is exactly how he acts towards you.” J.David Pawson: Unlocking the Bible, p.531.

Verse 8 provides one of the classic summaries of what all God’s prophets were calling for. It is fair to say that the application of these words would have resolved every sin issue raised in Micah. In terms of the walking ”humbly with your God” , F. B. Meyer comments: ” We must exchange our monologue, in which we talk with ourselves, for dialogue, in which we talk as we walk with God.”

 Prayer: Lord help me to keep in step with you.

 

 

 

Daily Bible thoughts 589: Monday 7th April 2014:

Micah 5:5, 6

When I read this passage earlier today, I immediately thought about Isaiah 59:19 which says: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Verse 9 is a good summary statement of what the Lord is going to do to our enemies.)

These verses describe a serious situation; a threating incursion into the land. After all, if the enemy is marching through our fortresses we have a big problem. And if some bullying Assyrian shows up, invades and violates our land, don’t worry. We’ll put him in his place, send him packing, and watch his every move. The Message. The Assyrian represents all the enemies of God (and His people) in every age, including Satan himself. This is not about ‘if’ he invades our land, but When. The enemy will, at times, come in like a flood. But see how the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him. Here are some of the things He will do:

  • He will ensure that we have the resources to deal with him. He will provide more than adequate leadership: we will raise against him seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men. Seven is the perfect number; eight goes beyond it. We will have even more than enough! Here is the God of the ‘super-superlatives’, of the exceeding abundantly above all… (Eph.3:20).
  •  He will give authority over the enemy (6a): Here we see the power of God’s Word (Eph.6: 17b) But the sword must be drawn. It has to be used against the devil. Jesus gave the perfect example of this when resisting Satan in the wilderness. Three times He said: It is written. Above all, spiritual leaders are to be people of the Word, using it to great effect by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:2-4).
  • There will be deliverance (6b): He may well use leaders (and faithful people) with drawn swords to deal with the enemy, but He will be doing the delivering. We need to note the context. Go back and read verses 1-4 and then read on into verses 5 and 6. This life of victory and overcoming will all take place under the leadership/rule of our great Shepherd-King, the Lord Jesus Christ: Our shepherd-ruler will save us from old or new enemies, from anyone who invades or violates our land. The Message.

There is a hymn that says: And would’st thou know the secret of constant victory? Let in the Overcomer and let Him conquer thee. So let us look to Him on the battlefield today. But don’t fail both to draw your sword and use it!

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to ‘take’ the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and not just wear it for decorative and ceremonial purposes.

Daily Bible thoughts 588: Friday 4th April 2014:

 Micah 5:1-5

This marvellous prophetic passage reveals a stark contrast between the vulnerable king (1) and his vulnerable people (3), and the invulnerable ruler: the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus (2, 4 and 5). We have the temporary monarch and the eternal King. There is also a contrasting of the big city of Jerusalem and the ‘little town of Bethlehem’.

Verse 1 is about the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem and the striking down of King Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:1-7). The call is to Jerusalem to mobilise its troops, but the effort to defend the city will prove hopeless. But for now, prepare for the worst, victim daughter! The siege is set against us. They humiliate Israel’s king, slapping him around like a rag doll. The Message.

But this terrible prediction is followed in (2) with a great hope. Israel will not be permanently destroyed, but will rise again under a new ruler. He will come from Bethlehem Ephrathah. Ephrathah is the ancient name for Bethlehem. It also signifies the area around the little town. But you, Bethlehem, David’s country, the runt of the litter – The Message. Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David (1 Sam.17:12). So through a common birthplace, a connection between David and the Messianic ruler yet to come is established (Matt.2:3-6). Though the royal line of David had become corrupt and would be felled like a tree, another line from the family of David and his father Jesse would survive, and from that line the Messiah would come (Isaiah 11:1). God does great works in insignificant places. Preaching on revival in the 1950’s Doctor Martyn Lloyd Jones said something like this: ‘The next revival will probably break out in some remote hamlet no-one much has heard of.’ This ruler to be born in Bethlehem is no ordinary man. His origins will be from before His birth (John 8:58); indeed, from ancient times, from the beginning of the world (John 1:1, 2). Only Jesus, the Son of God, truly fits the bill. He came into the world in fulfilment of this prophecy made centuries earlier. His family tree is ancient and distinguished. The Message. No doubt at the time no-one could understand the magnitude of this prophecy and how it would be fulfilled. Micah may have had a sense of it, but we don’t know if he did.

The second half of verse three looks forward to the coming of Gentiles to join Jews in the flock of the Messiah (John 10:16). The reference to she who is in labour giving birth may indicate Mary. (But it can also be about Bethlehem or abandoned Israel. The nation was about to suffer like a woman in child birth.)

How wonderfully (4, 5) along with (2) have been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus. Compare John 10:7-18 with (4), and Isaiah 9:6 and Eph.2:14 with (5). AND THIS MAN IS OUR PEACE. He came and preached peace to them that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh. He has made peace by the Blood of his Cross. He is the Prince of Peace to loyal and loving hearts. He sheds abroad in our hearts his own peace, which the world cannot take away. F.B. Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.353.

 Prayer: Even in the middle of great difficulties may all your people experience Jesus as their peace.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 583: Friday 28th March 2014:

 Micah 4:6-13
This section of Micah combines both hope and warning. The hope shines even more brightly against the dark backdrop of the story of coming judgment. Bad times are in the foreground, but in the distance good times are coming. Beyond the pain of banishment (like that of childbirth, verse 10) there lies the blessing of restoration and triumph. Defeat will be transformed into conquering, rampaging victory: I will transform the battered into a company of the elite. I will make a strong nation out of the long lost, A showcase exhibit of GOD’s rule in action, as I rule from Mount Zion, from here to eternity…But for right now, they’ve ganged up against you, many godless peoples, saying, ”Kick her when she’s down! Violate her! We want to see Zion grovel in the dirt.” These blasphemers have no idea what GOD is thinking and doing in this. They don’t know that this is the making of GOD’s people, that they are wheat being threshed, gold being refined. On your feet, Daughter of Zion! Be threshed of chaff, be refined of dross. I’m remaking you into a people invincible, into God’s juggernaut to crush the godless peoples. You’ll bring their plunder as holy offerings to GOD, their wealth to the Master of the earth. The Message.

God does some of His best work on us and in us during hard times. One of the most meaningful messages we received following the death of my mum made reference to these words: You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand. (John 13:7). At that time (and from that time onwards) Romans 8:28 took on a bright, shiny new meaning for me: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Underlining mine). Today you may be facing a situation that looks hopeless. It may be something you have contributed to yourself. Or it may have visited your door uninvited. But realise, if you are a Christian, that the Sovereign Lord is in it, and He is on your side. He is working for your good in every situation, and there will be something positive, for your benefit, amidst this negative stuff. The Lord turns things around.

A song by Jamie Owens-Collins states: ‘The hard times make you strong.’ I would qualify that by saying they can. But there is nothing automatic or inevitable about it. We have to co-operate with God in what He is doing; with what He wants to bring about, and submit to His will. Then we will see what He will do with it. He makes delicious meals with unpromising ingredients.

Prayer: Help me Lord to really know in the depths of my heart that you are in control. Enable me to believe my beliefs.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 582: Thursday 27th March 2014:

 Micah 4:1-5
These beautiful words are also found in Isaiah 2:1-4. (I believe I am right in saying that glorious words from verse three are to be found in the U.N. building in New York City. The people who work for that organisation must often feel that this is an unattainable ideal, but they don’t give up. Someone has suggested that the U.N. should move their headquarters to Jerusalem, because one day Jesus is going to achieve universal peace from there.) As you listen to and watch the news, you can’t help but long for the day when this prophecy fully comes to pass and Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another. Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden. The Message. This is not the world as we find it now, but we can be sure that it is how it will one day be, for the God of truth has spoken.

You will note, I’m sure, a dramatic gear change between 3:12 and 4:1ff. The temple hill in Jerusalem will become a mound overgrown with thickets (3:12); but in the last days (4:1) the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the world’s mountains. He is referring to a time when the Messiah comes; days that began with the first coming of Jesus and that will culminate in His second advent. Already, to some extent, there is a fulfilment of these words. Today, under the reign of Jesus, His church, comprised of Jews and Gentiles, is being built as a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. The Word of God goes out from the church and Many nations are streaming into it. Under His rule there is peace, security and willing worship. But the fullest realisation of the prophecy will be seen when Jesus returns to the earth and establishes His Kingdom over it. I remember our highly intelligent and very godly Director of Studies at Bible College saying that there are passages in Scripture that really only make sense if there is to be a literal reign of Christ over the earth. This is one of them.

By the way, (5) is not implying that it’s okay for the pagan nations to walk in the name of their gods. He is just stating what the norm is currently; what is likely to happen. This is how it has been throughout history, but when Jesus comes back all will submit to Him (Phil.2:9-11).

F.B. Meyer writes eloquently about this passage in Great verses through the Bible,p.352: In a deep and true sense it has come to pass that the Lord’s house has been established in the top of the mountains, and has been exalted above the hills. The church is a conspicuous and influential object among the forces of the world; and peoples are flowing towards it. In very many cases whole nations have flung away the religion of their ancestors, and gathered within that Christian temple which has been built upon the foundation of Judaism. Out of Zion there has gone forth the law; and from Jerusalem the Word of the Lord. In Jesus, the Jew is still the centre of the world’s vision. But the full accomplishment of these words waits behind the curtain that is so soon to be rent at the coming of our Lord. Then holy influences will proceed from the chosen people who shall have been led to recognize Christ as their Messiah. From these the Gospel shall go forth unto all the world. Beneath the hallowing influences of that age…the canon shall be as obsolete as the tomahawk; the explosives of war shall be stored in museums; whilst schools for training the art of war shall be used as missionary seminaries. There shall be no war, because there shall be no fear…And there shall be no fear, because universal love shall reign towards God and man.

Prayer: I thank you Lord Jesus that a day is coming when you will make all wars to cease across the earth. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

 

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