A Small Book Bringing Mighty Words for Living Forgiven

And the journey continues….to Micah. The book of Micah was written by the prophet Micah, who lived during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah. He was a contemporary with the prophets Isaiah and Hosea. This was a time of great idolatry in Israel and Judah. The Lord God was not pleased with their idol worship and Micah’s messages told of the destruction and fall of Samaria and Jerusalem as punishment for their forsaking the worship of God and worshipping other gods. Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and the Judeans managed to hold off Sennacherib’s attacks with the help of the Lord. Their return to worship of God Almighty under Hezekiah was short lived and Jerusalem fell with the Jews deported to Babylon in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar. In the midst of all the prophesies against Judah and Israel, God gave messages through Micah of hope, restoration and future glory to come through the Messiah.

To begin, I love the beautiful verse in 5:2 where the birth place of the coming Messiah is foretold. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,  who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” What hope this pinpointing of the birthplace of their Messiah must have given them. God always promised there would be a remnant, a group of believers who would remain true to their faith in Him, and a Savior to come. They did not know when their redeemer would come but now they knew where he would arrive, in Bethlehem. From the Christmas story, we know this to be true as related in Chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew and Luke.

Micah also makes a case for obedience in faith and action in Chapter 6. He states wholeheartedly what the Lord desires of us. I have always found these verse in 6:6-8 very encouraging and straight to the point of what God wants. “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 man, 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 knew that God looks at the heart and knows if our offerings are sincere, or just attempts to appease Him. Micah speaks plainly about what Almighty God desires of us. We can take his words to heart and examine ourselves looking intently at our motives and actions. This requires me to daily focus on seeking the Lord with an open and sincere heart so I can act justly, walk humbly and show God’s love and kindness to others.

My favorite verses of this little book are found in 7:18-20. They remind me of who God is, His amazing character which is filled with compassion and forgiveness. Micah also highlights a great gift God made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus which was freeing us from the bondage of sin. We are forgiven through Christ. I am assured that those sins are gone, forgotten and will be remembered no more! Praise God! “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over transgression
    for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
    into the depths of the sea.

20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob

    and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
    from the days of old.”
God in His faithfulness loves and forgives me completely. As Micah said, Who is a God like you? Jesus. There is no other. Paul described Jesus in Philippians 2:9-11 ” Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am forgiven. Thank you Jesus!

May you soak in the truth and depth of God’s forgiveness and love. May you seek to do those things that please Him because of the depth of your love for Jesus and gratitude for what He has done for you.

Linda

Let Your Suffering lead to Restoration

And the journey continues… into Job. Biblical scholars feel this book was written in the first or second century B.C. but the story contained within the book was probably much older and passed down orally before that time. The unknown author reveals a story with a unique beginning which records God speaking with Satan. The writer could not have known of this conversation unless it was revealed to him by God himself. The book begins with God asking Satan if he had considered his servant Job. Job was a righteous, blameless and upright man who feared and worshiped God. God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith by removing his physical wealth. When this did not cause Job to lose faith, Satan said it was because Job still had his health. God allowed Satan to touch his body removing his good health, but God told Satan that he could not take Job’s life. Job 2:6 This account of Job’s life reveals his true sufferings, the torment of his wife and friends as they told Job to curse God and die. In all this, Job does not waver and persists in faith. He clings to his faith in Almighty God. In the last chapters Job questions God and God responds that He alone is sovereign and a just judge. Job’s final words show what he learned about God through his suffering.

I particularly love Chapter 42 (the last chapter) when after questioning God, Job concludes Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.

You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
    made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.
    Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
    now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!

I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” The Message Job 42:1-6

There are several important points in these last 6 verses. 1) Job was convinced that God is sovereign and in control of all things. He also now knows that nothing can upset, change or ruin God’s plans! 2) Job now has personal experience and knowledge of God Almighty. No one has to tell him about God- He knows first hand who God is and what He is about.

The book ends with restoration of Job’s wealth and a new family. I have personally experienced God’s restoration in my life. God does not bring us back what we’ve lost, but he restores our body, soul and mind so that we feel totally blessed and satisfied. God’s restoration is complete and fills the voids where we previously experienced loss. I believe it was this restoration that Job received from God.

If you need restoration today, humbly turn to God and acknowledge His sovereign justice, confess your attitude of pride and frustration as you yield to His will for your life. Ask God to fill and restore you in your heart, mind, body and soul. Ask God to reveal himself to you so you can experience Him and know He is real.

Linda

Joy in thinking about…

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Philippians, he wants them to remember what they learned from him and his teachings, but he also desires them to refocus. He talked about rejoicing always, vs4, responding with gentleness, vs5, letting go their worries and stress, vs6, praying with a thankful heart, vs 6, and accept God’s peace that will guard their hearts, vs7. In today’s verses Philippians 4:8-9 Paul focuses on their need to conquer their minds. He knows Satan will try to use their minds to tempt them, to pervert their thinking and lead them away from God. Satan uses the same tricks and lies with us today. Here is God’s solution, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

So many books have been written about the mind and the battles we face therein, but I thought I’d look at each of the words Paul uses to see if we can glean additional insight into what he is suggesting to us. Paul lists things that are worthy of our thoughts and he first lists what ever is true. John 8:31-32, 36 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Thinking and mediating on the truth of Jesus and His saving work in the cross gives freedom to the mind and soul!

Whatever is honorable is found in Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” If we store good things in our heart, then we will have a storehouse to rely upon when our minds seem to wander.

Whatever is just. There are many reference to just and justice in scripture. Deuteronomy 32:4 gives us something to think about in reference to just, “God alone is our focus. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong,  upright and just is he.” Thinking about God and His work will help us to think about what is just.

Whatever is pure. Scripture has many references to pure in the context of pure gold, pure wool, etc. These describe things that are fully what they are suppose to be without impurities. The references that focused on pure thinking that resonated most with me were: Psalm 119:8 “the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of are Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” God’s Word is pure and can be a focus to keep our minds on track. Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I know God can and will renew me when I trust by faith in Jesus. He creates in me a pure heart. This gives me joy and assurance of His love for me.

Whatever is lovely. Read these words from Psalm 84– truly something lovely to think about. “How lovely is your dwelling place,  Lord Almighty! Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.”

Whatever is commendable. Peter speaks of commendable acts that would be worthy of thought. 1 Peter 2:19-20 “ For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. Those who suffer or endure injustice are worthy of our thoughts and prayers.

Whatever is excellent. Titus 3:4-8 speaks of the most excellent thing we can think about – Jesus and what He has done for us. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Whatever is worthy of praise1 Chronicles 16:25 sums this up perfectly. “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;  he is to be feared above all gods.”

I pray these verses have given you new, different and encouraging things to think about. Rejoice and may your joy be found in the Lord and may He direct your thoughts today.

Linda

P.S. This post was longer than I usually write but covering each word revealed a positive avenue for my thinking that I had not considered before. Thank you for indulging me by reading all the way to the end. Blessings to you.

How to Live Towards Blessings

In Isaiah 56:1-2 the Lord reveals that blessings come from doing what is right, supporting justice, looking forward to God’s salvation, keeping the Sabbath and staying away from doing evil.  God promises that living a life based in His righteousness leads to blessings.

This is what the Lord says,
“Maintain justice and do righteousness,
For My salvation is soon to come,
And My righteousness and justice is soon to be revealed.
“Blessed (happy, fortunate) is the man who does this,
And the son of man who takes hold of it,
Who keeps the Sabbath without profaning it,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”  Isaiah 56:1-2 (AMP)   

Blessings are gifts of divine favor that bring happiness into our lives.  Living our lives with a desire to do what is right is a gift from God.  Seeking His righteousness that He reveled through Jesus will help us walk with Him each day and bring blessing.  I love the way God tells us to take hold, grab onto this lifestyle so we can receive His blessings and favor to the fullest.  Keeping the Sabbath, a day devoted to worship, family, praise and one that is a respite from our days of working that life requires, will bring blessing.  We must really strive to live apart from the world and its ways that are based in greed and self-fulfillment.    I like the description James gives us in 1:26-27 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”   Watching what we say is of upmost importance, doing good for others and keeping ourselves unstained by the world’s standards and acts is what God is looking for in our lives and in our hearts as we seek to show love and devotion to Him.

today“Blessed (happy, fortunate) is the man who does this, is the goal God has set before us.  Knowing that a life lived for God is based on His righteousness and reflects His justice, love, mercy, compassion and hope for the world around us. Look for His blessings as you walk with Him today.  He is forever faithful and will do as He promises.

Linda