Devotional Thoughts for November 3-9, 2014
Micah 5:2-4, 6:6-8
Monday, November 3, 2014
“But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah” (Micah 5:2a).
Have you ever noticed how often I use the small and the weak? It isn’t that I’m against rich and powerful. I use them on occasion like when I used King Cyrus of Persia to bring my people back from exile, or Joseph of Arimathea to provide a tomb for my son. My strength and presence is more evident, though, when ordinary people have to rely on me to help them accomplish the task before them. They don’t have big bank accounts or large armies, they only have each other and me.
This is one reason why I chose to bring a leader for my people from Bethlehem. The town didn’t have much going for it. Sure, it was the birthplace of King David, but people hadn’t made a fortune from the tourist trade. Bethlehem was not the high rent district of Israel, or the site of any prestigious schools. Bethlehem was just a small, out of the way town, but I used it for great things.
I can use you for great things, too. You don’t have to belong to Mensa, or be listed in Fortune Magazine’s one hundred richest people. I simply need you to accept the charge that the pastor gave you at your baptism, “To let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Faithful obedience is the key. You and I can do great things; sharing my son’s good news with others and helping them to live in my kingdom.
O God of love, here we are, send us. Amen.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
“From you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel” (Micah 5:2b).
Things looked pretty hopeless to the people of Judah, when my prophet Micah spoke these words. King Sennacherib of Assyria was laying siege to Jerusalem. It appeared that his armies would destroy and city, their next ruler would be an Assyrian and all would be lost. The people thought that I had abandoned them and that the situation was hopeless.
There is no “hopeless” in my kingdom. Not when I’m present! It is true that you might not receive the happy ending that you hoped for: You may not get your dream job, your loved one may die, or you may be five numbers off from the Powerball. Your hope shouldn’t be in the ending, though. Your hope should be in me. I love you, I am holding you in my embrace, and I am moving in your life. What more could you hope for?
God of hope, enable us to keep our eyes on you and our hope in you in the middle of the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives. Amen.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
“Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth” (Micah 5:3).
One of the hardest things for my people to do is to wait. You are so impatient. You utter a prayer and expect me to drop everything and answer it. If there’s any delay, you assume that I didn’t hear you, or accuse me of not caring. Neither is true. You’ve got to understand one thing. I’m not an ATM machine nor am I your fairy god-mother.
There is such a thing as “the right time.” At the right time I called Moses to lead my people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. My son, Jesus, was born at just the right time; not too early and not too late. Through Micah, I promised the people of Judah a leader who would rule them for me. They had to wait, though; Micah’s words were not fulfilled immediately.
So, join the multitudes of people who have lived before you and who called me Lord, along with all of my people who are living today and wait. At the right time I will move and things will happen. Until the right time comes, rest in my love and grace, take comfort in my presence and renew your hope in my strength.
God of the ages, we confess that we are an impatient people. Forgive our lack of patience and those times when we question your love for us. While we wait, empower us to share your love in grace in our words and actions. Amen.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
“And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord” (Micah 5:4).
I’m amazed at how frightened my people are of change. The Judeans to whom Micah spoke feared that Jerusalem would fall to King Sennacherib and his army. They feared the results of that event—a valid concern I will admit. They were afraid of the changes that would be made if Jerusalem didn’t fall. In other words, they feared the future and the changes it would bring. They assumed that the changes would be bad and not good.
My prophet Micah spoke words of comfort to them. Yes, change was upon them, but it was change for the good. I would raise up a ruler who would rule benevolently and justly over them. During his reign, my people would be well fed and cared for. The changes that they would experience would be for the good, because I was doing a new thing.
You might be going through some shaky times with a lot of changes. Don’t assume that all the changes that you are facing will be bad. I’m working in your lives. I’m doing something new and it will be good. Even if some of the changes bring pain or hardship, remember that I am capable of creating good out of bad and new life out of death.
Powerful Lord, give us boldness to step into the future with you. During the challenges of change, help us to get our eyes off ourselves and instead see the needs of others so that we may continue to serve others and minister to their needs. Amen.
Friday, November 7, 2014
“Shall I come before him [the Lord] with burnt offerings, with calves a year old” (Micah 6:6)?
My people were frightened when they saw the Assyrian army camped outside the city walls. So, what did they do? They rushed to the temple and started offering sacrifices. They thought that they’d get on my good side and that their offerings might persuade me to be more attentive to their prayers for deliverance. They were under the false assumption that I’m most impressed by what they do inside the walls of the temple.
Today my people often have similar thoughts. They identify themselves as “good” Christians. The reason they believe they can attach that adjective to themselves is because of their regular worship attendance, the length of time they spend in prayer, and the number of small groups and committees of which they are a part. Though important for their walk with me, that’s not with what I’m most impressed. It’s what my people do outside the church walls that is most important.
No matter how much you are involved in the life of your congregation, you still spend the majority of your time outside the walls with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Your words and actions and how they communicate my love and grace to others is what impresses me—it is also what transforms lives.
God of light, may we be mirrors that reflect you and shine your love and grace on the people around us. Please accept this as our offering to you. Amen.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil” (Micah 6:7)?
Okay, let’s be clear. I don’t need people’s bulls, goats or turtle doves. I don’t need your money—though it does help your congregation to pay the light bill and pastor, and support the congregation’s ministries. Your offerings help you, not me.
When you give what you have to me, you acknowledge that it was a gift to you. Donations to my ministries loosen the control that money has on you. Living generously demonstrates that you understand that you were blessed to be a blessing; that you are to share what you have. Even Sunday and worship are more for you than for me. Sunday is a day when you can rest. Worship is a time when you can turn your eyes away from the cares and worries of the world and focus your attention on me; on my love, forgiveness and grace.
I invite you to live generously today. Live a full and free life. In doing this, you honor me and extend my love to others.
God of Abundance, Thank you for the abundant blessings you have poured into our lives. Give us the love and boldness to share these blessings with others, as an offering to you. Amen.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
“And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
Faith is action. I’m not commanding you to hang on to various theological formulas while you sit and do nothing. Yes, it is true that you need to believe something such as I am one God, creator of the universe, my son, Jesus is Lord and Savior, and there is life after death. Your actions, though, are to reflect those beliefs.
As my people, I call you to DO justice. This is to say to treat everyone with fairness and equality. Forgiveness, acceptance, the willingness to be the first to love and to go the extra mile to heal a bruised or broken relationship—acts of mercy—are part of what is involved in being a disciple of my son, Jesus. Acknowledging life as a gift, being a good manager of the blessings you have received and cultivating an attitude of gratitude are all ways to walk humbly before me.
Of course, you don’t need to do these actions in order to impress me. That’s not their purpose. Justice, mercy, and humility are conduits of my love and grace to those around you. These characteristics enable you to reflect my light into the world around you—to pierce the darkness and usher in my kingdom.
O Perfect Light, as we live in your light, enable us to be shining lights where we live, work and play. Let our light pierce the darkness of discouragement, purposelessness, and despair in the lives of others and give them hope. Amen.