St. Luke's United Methodist Church

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Orlando, FL 32819
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Weekly Devotions September 5 to September 9

Posted on August 26, 2016 at 7:08 pm in .

Monday, September 5, 2016

What Should We Give?

Read: “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 mortal, 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? Micah 6:6-8 (NRSV)

Think About: In Micah 6, versus 1-5, there is an imaginary conversation between the Lord and Israel. The Lord tells them to plead their case for disobedience “…to the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.” He asks them to explain what He has done to them for them to not obey his commands. He says to them, “Answer me!” The Lord reminds them of what He has done for them — bringing them out of slavery in Egypt, setting before them “…Moses, Aaron and Miriam.” He asks them to “…remember what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, so that (they) may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

Versus 6-7 records Israel’s responses as a series of questions beginning with “…with what shall I come before the Lord?” They ask if burnt offerings with be satisfactory, with calves a year old. These were offerings under Mosaic Law. They ask if God would be satisfied with large quantities of sacrifice — thousands of rams or ten thousand rivers of oil. We know and I’m sure they knew God would not require this since only very wealthy people could afford this. Then they ask if God would be satisfied with a sacrifice of their first-born sons. “Would that be sufficient to wipe away their sins?” they ask. Would God be pleased with their sacrifice if they would do this?

For me the answer is quite clear, but I have the New Testament and Jesus to look to and listen to. The answer to Israel’s problem then is the same as it is for us today. God does not ask for more numerous or more painful sacrifices. We read in Luke 21:1-4, “He (Jesus) looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’” Why did she do this? Was it out of a sense of obligation? Was she trying to impress people that even though she was poor she would still give? I think not. I believe she was in love with God. Love can change our hearts. Love can make us do things we normally wouldn’t do. The cure to Israel’s woes and sin was a change in heart. The cure to our ills is a change in heart. Love of God and love of our neighbor won’t allow us to do the things we see being done and as reported in the news everyday of the week.

God doesn’t want more “things” from us. He wants a change in heart and fair treatment of out neighbors and fellow humans. We are commanded to take care of the earth and our neighbors. The world today needs a change in the hearts of His people, starting with me. Let it start today, Labor Day. May we labor more earnestly to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. May it spread out in our community, the state and our nation.

Pray this Prayer: Father God, thank you for your word and thank you that Jesus showed us the way to live a life you will find worthy in your kingdom. Help me to have a change in my heart to be more accepting of others who may see things differently than I do, particularly in this time of political divide. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to you. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday September 7, 2016

Justice, Kindness and Humility

Read: “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 mortal, 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? Micah 6:6-8 (NRSV)

Think About: In our scripture for the week in versus 6-7 we read that Israel asked a series of questions focusing on their external religious rituals, in which they questioned if the Lord would find them acceptable. In verse 8 we find God’s response. He tells them they already should know the answer to their questions. He tells them he doesn’t want their religious sacrifices or rituals. He tells them He requires of them to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly.

What does it mean to do justice? In Micah 2:1-2 we see social evils denounced: “Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away; they oppress householder and house, people and their inheritance.” The people would have understood that “doing justice” was living with a sense of right and wrong. In Micah 3:1-3 wicked rulers and prophets were denounced: “And I (Micah) said: ‘Listen, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Should you not know justice? You who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin off my people, and the flesh off their bones; who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron.” The judicial courts had a responsibility to protect the innocent and to provide equality in their judgments.

How do we act or do justice today? It means that we use God’s standards to determine right from wrong. In my daily actions I shouldn’t do anything that is contrary to God’s direction. I need to apply the “Golden Rule” — do unto them as I would have them do unto me.

What does it mean to love kindness? I think that is pretty obvious. Don’t just show kindness, but exude kindness. Both justice and kindness are foundational to God’s character. God expects us to love our fellow human and to be kind to them. Some versions of the scripture use the term mercy in place of kindness. They mean the same thing. We are expected to be kind to one another, to show mercy as God has shown it to us.

The third attribute is to walk humbly. I think this is a very important attitude and attribute. And for many people, the most difficult. Friday’s devotional will go into more detail on this attribute, but suffice to say here that If you truly remember who God is, you will walk humbly before him. It is not sufficient to try to be humble. We have to be truly humble in deeds and actions. True humility must abide and originate in the heart.

Micah tells me that I must do Justice, love mercy and walk humbly with my God. On a personal note, I have work to do to fulfill this expectation God has of me. With God’s help I’ll get better at it with each passing day. How about you?

Pray this Prayer: Father God, thank you for Micah and your word. Some days it’s very hard to do justice, show kindness and walk humbly, but I really want to do it. Help me to better fulfill your commandments. Help me to see where I can do better, and then help me to be a better disciple of Jesus. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Friday, September 9, 2016

What Is Humility?

Read: “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 mortal, 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? Micah 6:6-8 (NRSV)

Think About: In 1889, C. H. Spurgeon delivered a sermon “Micah’s Message for Today.” That message is still true, over 100 years after he delivered it. He said that to walk humbly with God is “… the essence of the law, the spiritual side of it; the Ten Commandments are an enlargement of this verse. The law is spiritual, and touches the thoughts, the intents, the emotions, the words, the actions; but especially God demands the heart.” To walk humbly originates in the heart. We cannot act humbly if we are not truly humble, since it will be obvious to everyone that we are not sincere and being hypocritical. True humility will come out spontaneously if we are truly humble. Spurgeon offered the following of how to walk humbly with God:

  • Walk humbly when you are spiritually strong
  • Walk humbly when you have much work to do
  • Walk humbly in all your motives
  • Walk humbly studying Gods word
  • Walk humbly when under trials
  • Walk humbly in your devotions
  • Walk humbly between you and your brothers (and sisters) in Christ
  • Walk humbly when dealing with sinners

He went on to say “True humility is thinking rightly of thyself, not meanly. When you have found out what you really are, you will be humble, for you are nothing to boast of. To be humble will make you safe. To be humble will make you happy. To be humble will make music in your heart when you go to bed. To be humble here will make you wake up in the likeness of your Master by-and-by.”

Some people have the wrong idea of humility. It is not about being a wimp. Being humble is being free of arrogance and pride. I can be a peacemaker without fighting for my rights or point-of-view. The Bible tells me in Philippians 2:3 to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Humility is also recognizing I need God’s help, that I can’t truly succeed on my own.

In a May 2014 Harvard Business Review article, “The Best Leaders are Humble Leaders,” it was reported that ”… In a global marketplace where problems are increasingly complex, no one person will ever have all the answers. That’s why Google’s Senior VP of People Operations, Lazlo Bock, says humility is one of the traits he’s looking for in new hires. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.” And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock—it’s “Intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” An article in the renaissance Executive Forum reported that “…Humility may be a virtue, but it’s also a competitive advantage.” According to research from the University of Washington Foster School of Business, humble people are more likely to be high performers in individual and team settings, and they also tend to make the most effective leaders.”

This may not be surprising to Christ followers, for Jesus, our servant leader, is our role model for humility. He humbled himself to come down from heaven, be born in a manger, and die on a cross. He died so that I may live.

Pray this Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus and what he did for me. I ask you to search me and reveal to me where I am falling short. Help me to humble myself and create a new heart in me. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 


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