Thursday, February 2, 2023

today's meditation (Micah 7) Waiting on the Lord

(Dear Lord Jesus, guide me and give me insight as I read and study Your word, and let it be the meditation of my heart...)

(Micah 7:1-20)
1   Woe to me! For I am 
     Like harvests of summer fruit, like gleanings of grapes.
     There is not a cluster of grapes left to eat,
     Nor an early fig, which I crave.
2   The godly person has perished from the land,
     And there is no upright person among mankind.
     All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;
     Each of them hunts the other with a net.
3   As for evil, both hands do it well.
     The leader asks for a bribe, also the judge,
     And the great one speaks the capricious desire of his soul;
     So they plot it together.
4   The best of them is like a thorn bush,
     The most upright like a thorn hedge.
     The day when you post your watchmen,
     Your punishment is coming.
     Then their confusion will occur.
5   Do not trust in a neighbor;
     Do not have confidence in a close friend.
     Guard your lips 
     From her who lies in your arms.
6   For son disavows father,
     Daughter rises up against her mother,
     Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
     A person’s enemies are the people of his own household.

7   But as for me, I will be on the watch for the Lord;
     I will wait for the God of my salvation.
     My God will hear me.
8   Do not rejoice over me, enemy of mine.
     Though I fall I will rise;
     Though I live in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.

9   I will endure the rage of the Lord 
     Because I have sinned against Him,
     Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me.
     He will bring me out to the light,
     And I will look at His righteousness.
10 Then my enemy will see,
     And shame will cover her who said to me,
     “Where is the Lord your God?”
     My eyes will look at her;
     At that time she will be trampled down 
     Like mud of the streets.
11 It will be a day for building your walls.
     On that day your boundary will be extended.
12 It will be a day when they will come to you 
     From Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
     From Egypt even to the Euphrates River,
     Even from sea to sea and mountain to mountain.
13 And the earth will become a wasteland because of her inhabitants,
     On account of the fruit of their deeds.

14 Shepherd Your people with Your scepter,
     The flock of Your possession 
     Which lives by itself in the woodland,
     In the midst of a fruitful field.
     Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead 
     As in the days of old.
15 “As in the days when you went out from the land of Egypt,
     I will show you miracles.”
16 Nations will see and be ashamed 
     Of all their might.
     They will put their hand on their mouth,
     Their ears will be deaf.
17 They will lick up dust like a snake,
     Like reptiles of the earth.
     They will come trembling out of their fortresses;
     To the Lord our God they will come in trepidation,
     And they will be afraid of You.
18 Who is a God like You, who pardons wrongdoing 
     And passes over a rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
     He does not retain His anger forever,
     Because He delights in mercy.
19 He will again take pity on us;
     He will trample on our wrongdoings.
     Yes, You will cast all their sins 
     Into the depths of the sea.
20 You will give truth to Jacob 
     And favor to Abraham,
     Which You swore to our forefathers 
     From the days of old.

The Lord is our Defender, when we humbly repent and become believers.  He is faithful and forgives us and protects us.  He protects us from His own wrath by choosing not to keep track of our sins.  And no matter what struggles we are going through; we can trust and rely on Him.  Before rashly acting out in our own strength and wisdom, wait on the Lord, for He is good!  Even though we are surrounded by darkness and evil, the Lord is our light!  Our light to guide us!  

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

today's meditation (Micah 6) Walking with God

(Dear Lord Jesus, guide me and give me insight as I read and study Your word, and let it be the meditation of my heart...)

(Micah 6:1-16)
1   Hear now what the Lord is saying,
     “Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
     And let the hills hear your voice.
2   Listen, you mountains, to the indictment by the Lord,
     And you enduring foundations of the earth,
     Because the Lord has a case against His people;
     And He will dispute with Israel.
3   My people, what have I done to you,
     And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.
4   Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
     I redeemed you from the house of slavery,
     And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
5   My people, remember now 
     What Balak king of Moab planned 
     And what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
     And what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
     So that you might know the righteous acts of the Lord.”

6   With what shall I come to the Lord 
     And bow myself before the God on high?
     Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
     With yearling calves?
7   Does the Lord take pleasure in thousands of rams,
     In ten thousand rivers of oil?
     Shall I give Him my first
born for my wrongdoings,
     The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8   He has told you, mortal one, what is good;
     And what does the Lord require of you 
     But to do justice, to love kindness,
     And to walk humbly with your God?

9   The voice of the Lord will call to the city—
     And it is sound wisdom to fear Your name:
     “Hear, you tribe. Who has designated its time?
10 Is there still a person in the wicked house,
     Along with treasures of wickedness,
     And a short measure that is cursed?
11 Can I justify dishonest balances,
     And a bag of fraudulent weights?
12 For the rich people of the city are full of violence,
     Her residents speak lies,
     And their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
13 So also I will make you sick, striking you down,
     Making you desolate because of your sins.
14 You will eat, but you will not be satisfied,
     And your filth will be in your midst.
     You will try to remove valuables for safekeeping,
     But you will not save it all,
     And what you do save I will turn over to the sword.
15 You will sow but you will not harvest.
     You will tread the olive press but will not anoint yourself with oil;
     And tread out sweet wine, but you will not drink any wine.
16 The statutes of Omri 
     And every work of the house of Ahab are maintained,
     And you walk by their plans.
     Therefore I will give you up for destruction,
     And your inhabitants for derision,
     And you will suffer the taunting of My people.”

How can people forget about God so quickly?  Or how can people expect God to "accept" their wickedness and injustices when God is holy and just?  And then when things don't go their way, act as if God is the enemy?  Meanwhile, God is love, and He is good.  He only wants to the best for us!
Satan, via the different idols, gods and religions, will demand that people work and/or pay for some sort of "salvation" and/or sacrifice their children.  But God came in flesh as the ultimate sacrifice to pay for all sins, so that He can offer us His free gift of salvation, to set us free from sin.  And He communicates to us - all that we need to know - in His word!  
This chapter tells us to fear the Lord, and walk humbly with Him, which includes doing justice and loving kindness.  And even with that, we are to do everything in His strength and wisdom!  All He requires is our sincere hearts to trust and rely on Him for all things: to love God and love people.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

today's meditation (Micah 5) Rebuilding with a Fresh New Start

(Dear Lord Jesus, guide me and give me insight as I read and study Your word, and let it be the meditation of my heart...)

(Micah 5:1-15)
1   “Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops;
     They have laid siege against us;
     With a rod they will strike the judge of Israel on the cheek.
2   But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
     Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
     From you One will come forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
     His times of coming forth are from long ago,
     From the days of eternity.”
3   Therefore He will give them up until the time 
     When she who is in labor has given birth.
     Then the remainder of His kinsmen 
     Will return to the sons of Israel.
4   And He will arise and shepherd His flock 
     In the strength of the Lord,
     In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
     And they will remain,
     Because at that time He will be great 
     To the ends of the earth.
5   This One will be our peace.
     When the Assyrian invades our land,
     When he tramples on our citadels,
     Then we will raise against him 
     Seven shepherds and eight leaders of people.
6   They will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword,
     The land of Nimrod at its entrances;
     And He will rescue us from the Assyrian 
     When he invades our land,
     And when he tramples our territory.

7   Then the remnant of Jacob 
     Will be among many peoples 
     Like dew from the Lord,
     Like showers on vegetation 
     That do not wait for man,
     Or delay for mankind.
8   The remnant of Jacob 
     Will be among the nations,
     Among many peoples 
     Like a lion among the animals of the forest,
     Like a young lion among flocks of sheep,
     Which, if he passes through,
     Tramples and tears,
     And there is no one who can rescue.
9   Your hand will be lifted up against your adversaries,
     And all your enemies will be eliminated.

10 “And it will be on that day,” declares the Lord,
     “That I will eliminate your horses from among you,
     And destroy your chariots.
11 I will also eliminate the cities of your land,
     And tear down all your fortifications.
12 I will eliminate sorceries from your hand,
     And you will have no fortune-tellers.
13 I will eliminate your carved images 
     And your memorial stones from among you,
     So that you will no longer bow down 
     To the work of your hands.
14 I will uproot your Asherim from among you,
     And destroy your cities.
15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath 
     On the nations which have not obeyed.”

Here is a prophecy of God coming in the flesh, through the line of David.  The Israelites rejected Jesus as their Lord, Savior and King the first time He came, but in the Tribulation, they will see the signs of His second coming and as a nation, believe in Him.  All those becoming believers during the Tribulation, will enter the Millennial kingdom, when Jesus will sit as King and bring in perfect justice and peace.  
It makes total sense that Jesus would get rid of all idols and images of gods, and all evil.  But one might wonder, why destroy the cities and buildings that people have labored to construct?  Well... if any of those things remained, people would look at that with pride and once again rely on themselves, instead of looking to the strength and guidance of the Lord.  Jesus will rebuild and refurbish the earth as it should be.
We can look at our personal relationship with Jesus in the same way.  When we repent and become believers, Jesus forgives all our sins:  past, present and future!  It is a fresh new start!  And so, even though we have eternal security, why go back to sinful behaviors?  Why go back to relying on ourselves?  God has given all of us purpose and wants us to have the best life possible.  So, let us rely on Jesus to build us up and equip us with His spiritual peace, joy, wisdom, strength and confidence, for a life of true fulfillment, as He is the great architect of life.

Monday, January 30, 2023

today's meditation (Micah 4) Finding Help

(Dear Lord Jesus, guide me and give me insight as I read and study Your word, and let it be the meditation of my heart...)

(Micah 4:1-13) And it will come about in the last days 

     That the mountain of the house of the Lord 
     Will be established as the chief of the mountains.
     It will be raised above the hills,
     And the peoples will stream to it.
2   Many nations will come and say,
     “Come and let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord 
     And to the house of the God of Jacob,
     So that He may teach us about His ways,
     And that we may walk in His paths.”
     For from Zion will go forth the law,
     And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3   And He will judge between many peoples 
     And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
     Then they will beat their swords into plowshares,
     And their spears into pruning hooks;
     Nation will not lift a sword against nation,
     And never again will they train for war.
4   Instead, each of them will sit under his vine 
     And under his fig tree,
     With no one to make them afraid,
     Because the mouth of the Lord of armies has spoken.
5   Though all the peoples walk,
     Each in the name of his god,
     As for us, we will walk 
     In the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.

6   “On that day,” declares the Lord,
     “I will assemble those who limp 
     And gather the scattered,
     Those whom I have afflicted.
7   I will make those who limp a remnant,
     And those who have strayed a mighty nation,
     And the Lord will reign over them on Mount Zion 
     From now on and forever.
8   As for you, tower of the flock,
     Hill of the daughter of Zion,
     To you it will come—
     Yes, the former dominion will come,
     The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.

9   “Now, why do you cry out loudly?
     Is there no king among you,
     Or has your counselor perished,
     That agony has gripped you like a woman in childbirth?
10 Writhe and scream,
     Daughter of Zion,
     Like a woman in childbirth;
     For now you will go out of the city,
     Live in the field,
     And go to Babylon.
     There you will be rescued,
     There the Lord will redeem you 
     From the hand of your enemies.
11 And now many nations have been assembled against you 
     Who say, ‘Let her be defiled,
     And let our eyes gloat over Zion!’
12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord,
     And they do not understand His plan;
     For He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.
13 Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion,
     For I will make your horn iron,
     And I will make your hoofs bronze,
     So that you may pulverize many peoples,
     And dedicate to the Lord their unjust profit,
     And their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

God is sovereign and has a plan.  The Israelites went into exile back then because of their disobedience, and they will again be under "Babylon" during the Tribulation.  At the end of the seven remaining years of the Jewish Age, Jesus will come again to fulfill all their covenants.  Verses 9-13 briefly discuss the Tribulation, while verses 1-8 describe the Millennial kingdom that follows it.  For now, as a nation, without believing in the Lord, the Israelites will be without a king.  
Why do people cry out in despair when they think there isn't any hope or "king" to help?  Why do people feel or think that God is not present?  This happens because as sinful people we tend to forget about God when we rely on ourselves.  All one needs to do is open their eyes to see that the Lord Jesus is right here and wanting to help, wanting to be our personal Savior, Lord and King.  And as verse 5 says, those who believe in the Lord have eternal security.  And because we believe in Him, we will desire to walk with Him in His will, relying on Him to help and guide us in all things.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

today's meditation (Micah 3) Asking for Help

(Dear Lord Jesus, guide me and give me insight as I read and study Your word, and let it be the meditation of my heart...)

(Micah 3:1-12) And I said,

     “Hear now, you leaders of Jacob 
     And rulers of the house of Israel:
     Is it not for you to know justice?
2   You who hate good and love evil,
     Who tear off their skin from them 
     And their flesh from their bones,
3   Who eat the flesh of my people,
     Strip off their skin from them,
     Smash their bones,
     And chop them up as for the pot,
     And as meat in a cauldron!”
4   Then they will cry out to the Lord,
     But He will not answer them.
     Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time 
     Because they have practiced evil deeds.

5   This is what the Lord says concerning the prophets who lead my people astray:

     When they have something to bite with their teeth,
     They cry out, “Peace!”
     But against him who puts nothing in their mouths 
     They declare holy war.
6   Therefore it will be night for you—without vision,
     And darkness for you—without divination.
     The sun will go down on the prophets,
     And the day will become dark over them.
7   The seers will be put to shame,
     And the diviners will be ashamed.
     Indeed, they will all cover their lips 
     Because there is no answer from God.
8   On the other hand, I am filled with power—
     With the Spirit of the Lord—
     And with justice and courage 
     To make known to Jacob his rebellious act,
     And to Israel his sin.
9   Now hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob 
     And rulers of the house of Israel,
     Who despise justice 
     And twist everything that is straight,
10 Who build Zion with bloodshed,
     And Jerusalem with malice.
11 Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe,
     Her priests teach for pay,
     And her prophets divine for money.
     Yet they lean on the Lord, saying,
     “Is the Lord not in our midst?
     Catastrophe will not come upon us.”
12 Therefore on account of you,
     Zion will be plowed like a field,
     Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins,
     And the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest.

Just because someone declares something holy, like fighting "a holy war", doesn't make it so, and doesn't justify the actions.  And just because one asks God for help or peace doesn't mean He'll listen.  How does it make sense that while a person is working against the Lord and His will, that He would help in any way?  Basically, that person is asking God to work against Himself and His plans.
God is in omnipresent and omnipotent;  He is also omniscient!  Which means, He knows what is in our hearts.  When He sees us sincerely seeking Him for His help and peace, He will answer.  And it begins with us humbly realizing and admitting that we are sinners in need of forgiveness.  We are all in need of a Savior and His help, and only He is able.  Sin impedes our prayers, but God will "hear" and answer when we are reconciled with Him and make requests that are in His will.

Friday, January 27, 2023

today's meditation (Micah 2) Choosing to Listen

(Dear Lord Jesus, guide me and give me insight as I read and study Your word, and let it be the meditation of my heart...)

(Micah 2:1-13) Woe to those who devise wrongdoing,

     Who practice evil on their beds!
     When morning comes, they do it,
     Because it is in the power of their hands.
2   They covet fields, so they seize them;
     And houses, so they take them.
     They exploit a man and his house,
     A person and his inheritance.

3   Therefore this is what the Lord says:

     “Behold, I am planning against this family a catastrophe
     From which you cannot remove your necks;
     And you will not walk haughtily,
     For it will be an evil time.
4   On that day they will take up against you a song of mocking 
     And utter a song of mourning and say,
     ‘We are completely destroyed!
     He exchanges the share of my people;
     How He removes it from me!
     To the apostate He apportions our fields.’
5   Therefore you will have no one applying a measuring line 
     For you by lot in the assembly of the Lord.

6   ‘Do not prophesy,’ so they prophesy.
     But if they do not prophesy about these things,
     Insults will not be turned back.
7   Is it being said, house of Jacob:
     ‘Is the Spirit of the Lord impatient?
     Are these His works?’
     Do My words not do good 
     For the one walking rightly?
8   Recently My people have arisen as an enemy—
     You strip the robe off the garment 
     From unsuspecting passers-by,
     From those returned from war.
9   You evict the women of My people,
     Each one from her pleasant house.
     From her children you take My splendor forever.
10 Arise and go,
     For this is no place of rest 
     Because of the uncleanness that brings on destruction,
     A painful destruction.
11 If someone walking after wind and falsehood 
     Had lied and said,
     ‘I will prophesy to you about wine and liquor,’
     He would become a prophet to this people.

12 “I will certainly assemble all of you, Jacob,
     I will certainly gather the remnant of Israel.
     I will put them together like sheep in the fold;
     Like a flock in the midst of its pasture 
     They will be noisy with people.
13 The one who breaks through goes up before them;
     They break through, pass through the gate, and go out by it.
     So their king passes on before them,
     And the Lord at their head.”

It is sin that brings destruction, disaster and death.  People will rather hear lies which appeal to their gratification, than listen with gratitude and be obedient to God's words of truth which benefit our lives.  Those who recognize and choose the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, Lord and King are the ones who pass through the gate.  Jesus is the only way to freedom, righteousness and eternal life.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

today's meditation (Micah 1) Seeking out the Lord's Will

(Dear Lord Jesus, guide me and give me insight as I read and study Your word, and let it be the meditation of my heart...)

(Micah 1:1-16) The word of the Lord which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and which he saw regarding Samaria and Jerusalem.

2   Hear, you peoples, all of you;
     Listen carefully, earth and all it contains,
     And may the Lord God be a witness against you,
     The Lord from His holy temple.
3   For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place.
     He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.
4   The mountains will melt under Him 
     And the valleys will be split,
     Like wax before the fire,
     Like water poured down a steep place.
5   All this is due to the wrongdoing of Jacob 
     And the sins of the house of Israel.
     What is the wrongdoing of Jacob?
     Is it not Samaria?
     What is the high place of Judah?
     Is it not Jerusalem?
6   For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country,
     Planting places for a vineyard.
     I will hurl her stones down into the valley,
     And lay bare her foundations.
7   All of her idols will be crushed,
     All of her earnings will be burned with fire,
     And all of her images I will make desolate;
     For she collected them from a prostitute’s earnings,
     And to the earnings of a prostitute they will return.

8   Because of this I must mourn and wail,
     I must go barefoot and naked;
     I must do mour
ning like the jackals,
     And a mourning like the ostriches.
9   For her wound is incurable,
     For it has come to Judah;
     It has reached the gate of my people,
     Even to Jerusalem.
10 Do not tell it in Gath,
     Do not weep at all.
     At Beth-le-aphrah roll yourself in the dust in mourning.
11 Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphir, in shameful nakedness.
     The inhabitant of Zaanan does not escape.
     The mourning of Beth-ezel: “He will take from you its support.”
12 For the inhabitant of Maroth 
     Waits for something good,
     Because a disaster has come down from the Lord 
     To the gate of Jerusalem.
13 Harness the chariot to the team of horses,
     You inhabitant of Lachish—
     She was the beginning of sin 
     To the daughter of Zion—
     Because in you were found 
     The rebellious acts of Israel.
14 Therefore you will give parting gifts 
     In behalf of Moresheth-gath;
     The houses of Achzib will become a deception 
     To the kings of Israel.
15 Moreover, I will bring on you 
     The one who takes possession,
     You inhabitant of Mareshah.
     The glory of Israel will enter Adullam.
16 Shave yourself bald, yes, cut off your hair,
     Because of the children of your delight;
     Extend your baldness like the eagle,
     For they will go from you into exile.

Shaving one's head in order to mourn is just one way the world will react when things go terribly wrong.  Over-the-top mourning and wailing really is all about the person.  "Look at me!  Look how sad and distressed I am."  But these cries are futile, and often manipulate.  Some people will show huge "remorse" - but only for getting caught.  While others who feel actual remorse for what they've done, only want to continue doing things their own way.  So, God tells these people to just go ahead and wail.  The "emotional release" is all they have, since they refuse to look to the Lord for His salvation and certain hope.
For believers, there is a healthy amount of mourning and remorse that is acceptable!  But instead of excessive, hopeless groveling, remember to keep seeking out the Lord and His will.  Do not just seek out the Lord for His help or you will be disappointed.  Part of knowing God's will shows us where we have gone wrong so that we can get back on track.  Remember, sin impedes prayer!
Now, just because we struggle through something, doesn't mean that we have sinned.  But it is always beneficial to do a heart check.  Is there something we need to confess?  Truly, the Lord is faithful to deliver us from that and bring us to a better place.  Jesus accomplished His work on the cross so that we would not have to wallow in guilt, sadness, self-pity, despair or remorse.  He forgives our sins so that we can experience freedom and security in His grace which leads to His peace, joy and contentment.