This sermon was presented at Covenant Bible Seminary in Lakewood, Washington during the autumn of 2013.
THE PREFACE OF THE SERMON
Please stand if you are able to do so.
The Prayer: Almighty God, send your Spirit upon me, so that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
The Text: A reading from the Prophet Micah 6:6-8, “With what shall I come before LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I bring the year old calves to burn as offerings to him? Will LORD be pleased if I bring him thousands of sheep or with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer him my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? No, he has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
The congregation is seated … “Please be seated.”
The Greeting: Greetings everyone – May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
If appropriate acknowledgements of individuals.
The Title: Our subject on this day of the Lord, is “What the LORD requires.”
The Reason (purpose): The reason why I am preaching on what the LORD requires is so that we may better understand what a walk with God is.
The Points (theme): From the Prophet Micah I receive these points: 1. Act Justly. 2 Love Mercy. And 3 Walk with God.
THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SERMON
My introduction begins with a question, “What shall we bring and place before LORD and bow down before the exalted God?” Lord has shown us that he does not want burnt animal sacrifices given out of habit nor does he want burnt child sacrifices of the pagan religions created by mankind; instead God desires us to be obedient to his will and to what is written in the scriptures. Applying them to everyday life, not just with hallow actions and empty words, but with a sincere heart-felt faith. The ministries of the prophet Micah happened during a time in history when both Israel and Judah could be characterized by moral and religious corruption, in other words actions that are completely contrary to the ways of God, not unlike what we find in our society today. Micah had to deal with people who could speak from the scriptures, but few were willing to apply the scriptures to their actions, not unlike what we find in ecclesiastical communities today.
THE BODY OF THE SERMON
This brings us to our first point, which is … Act Justly.
Being obedient to God and someone who listens carefully to the voice of LORD our God and doing what is right in his sight (Ex 15:26) is not always easy and in fact it can be very dangerous. Standing up and clearly stating what you believe is right will not win you a popularity contest and more often than not, you will not gain friends and influence the right people. However, it will make you known as a person with strong religious convictions and someone who does not worry about being politically correct. Being disenfranchised and isolated is often a result of listening to God and obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees; this is especially true when we witness Christians acting inappropriate. When we see a Christian “brother or sister acting immorally, desiring what does not belong to them (coveting), engaged in idolatry, using abusive language, intoxicated, or swindling others, such individuals no one is to even a share a meal with them.” (1 Cor 5:11) We are also directed to not act like hypocrite; for an example, suppose you see a Christian who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well.” But then you do not give that person any food, clothing, or at the very least lead them to a program that could provide basic services (James 2:15-17) would you be acting justly? Certainly not! We must never forget that we are our brother’s keeper. Therefore, to act justly is to put the spiritual principles of the Bible into applied application, this simply means do not merely [read and] listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. [Just] do what it says. (James 1:22) In other words, we are to move from “knowing” what the Bible says to actually “doing” what it says.
My second point is … Love Mercy.
While there are several concepts that comprise mercy, I will focus on compassion and forgiveness. We are disciples of our Lord and as such we are to care for others with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:8) Therefore, either as individuals or as a collective we are to offer the fast that LORD wants, that is, to free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (Is 58:6-9) Therefore, since God loves us and has chosen us to be a holy people, we must clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We must make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends us. Remember, the Lord forgave us, so we must forgive others. Above all, clothing ourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts. For as members of one body we are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (Col 3:12-17)
Now let us review forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the central theme of the Gospels of Christ and within their pages we read, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt 6:14-15) This statement comes immediately after the disciples were taught the Lord’s Prayer and is very clear on what our spiritual responsibility is; and that is to forgive, and failure to do so will deeply effect our relationship with God in a negative way. This statement should also remind us of the principles set forth on the Book of Leviticus were it reads, “We are not to nurse hatred in our heart, but instead we are to confront people directly so we will not be held guilty for their sin; and we are not to seek revenge or bear a grudge against someone, but instead we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.” (Lev 19:17-18) Is Christ asking us to do something that is easy? No, he is not! Forgiving someone goes against many human emotions and even personal convictions, but Christ does not want us to focus on a brewing kettle of emotions, instead he wants us to focus on him and leave revenge and the final judgment to God alone. Our heavenly Father does not what us to get caught up in the economy of hatred and revenge, you can say that God wants us to engage in some reverse psychological warfare with spiritual benefits. With this in mind, listen to what Christ taught, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” (Matt 5:11-12) Also, listen to what St. Paul wrote to the Romans in his letter, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” (Rom 12:20) In light of this, we can see that through forgiving others we gain the upper hand and receive the spiritual benefits.
This leads us to my final point … Walking with God
Walking humbly with God and being obedient to him is not always an easy task, just look at St. Peter. While St. Peter was a devout disciple of Christ, he was known for placing himself before Christ. On the other hand, the Prophet Samuel had no trouble keeping the cart behind the horse. Another example comes from the military march, in such a march everyone knows their place and everyone follows the general. Regardless of the image we use, the message it the same, we are the ones who are to humbly walk with God. When one is walking humbly they are moving in a manner that is the opposite of walking with pride. This kind of walk requires every thought and desire within oneself to be brought into submission and obedient to the will of God. This means that our movements are to be reflections of what the Lord our God requires of us and out of our greatest sense of respect towards the sacred, we are to have the highest degree of reverence for the Lord our God. Therefore we are to walk according to the ways of the Lord and unconditionally love God; this means we are to love LORD our God with our entire heart, soul, mind, and with all of our strength. (Mark 12:30) Our walk with God must be a total commitment to his ways and an openness of our hearts to Christ and his will for us. We must minimize and contain our self-will and human attitudes, because they are contrary to the will of God; so that the Spirit of God may come into our lives and dwell in our hearts. Our walk continues throughout our life and if our hearts are humble and open to the Spirit of God, he will guide us on the path until that day when we close our eyes for the last time. Therefore, let us not waste a single minute on cutting our own path and walking according to our own will, but instead walk humbly before our God.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE SERMON
In conclusion, are you acting justly towards mankind? Are you being merciful to your neighbor? Are you in a proper relationship with the Lord and walking humbly with God? In other words, are you being obedient and walking in love, as Christ loved you and gave himself for you, an offering and sacrifice to God? (Eph 5:2). If you are, then give God the glory for giving you the ability to do so, but if you are not, then I say stop and seriously evaluate your spiritual journey.
In light of this, we should never forget that our daily offering is not only just studying the sacred scriptures, but also to continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of voices that acknowledge his name; and not neglecting to do good things and share what you have. For such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Heb 13:15-16)
Written by Dave Pflueger October 2013 © copyrighted by Pflueger