Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Pleasing the Lord

With the end of 2020 almost in sight, many are already looking forward to 2021 and hoping that it will be a lot better than this year. When you start to reflect on the events of this year, you see a lot of tragedy, violence, social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. Just the other day, I was talking with a nurse about the pandemic. He said that we all knew it was going to happen. It wasn’t a case of if it would happen, but, rather, when it would happen. He went on further to say that it was inevitable and that we should have been prepared for it. I have had similar conversations with others about the social unrest and the violence in the streets. Everything that we faced this year was inevitable. 

If that is the case, what could we have done differently to prepare or, maybe, even avoid all of the death and destruction from disease and violence? That is a good question and it deserves an answer that requires us to truly think about our next steps as we approach the end of 2020 and begin to take our first steps into 2021.

The answer is already in front of us and is as plain as day. It doesn’t require us to dig very deep into the Bible.

The minor prophet, Micah, provides us with an answer for today’s problems that we face. Micah warned God’s children of His judgment against them. In the same breath, Micah also told them of God’s plan of hope and what He asks of His people. 

In chapter six of his book, Micah brings the Lord’s indictment of His children and details what they have done. 

Micah brings us the words of the Lord and writes, “What shall I say about the homes of the wicked filled with treasures gained by cheating? What about the disgusting practice of measuring out grain with dishonest measures? How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights? The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence. Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.

In just a few sentences, God described exactly what He saw going on each and every day among His children. Cheating, extorting, lying and every sin associated with those was being committed every single day. 

Now, compare what God saw then to what He sees going on today in our nation and the rest of the world. We see virtually the same things occurring but amplified even more. It seems that the news is filled with stories of dishonesty, theft, lying and extortion daily. 

When you take a look at the elections, we hear the same thing over and over. Each candidate calls his or her opponent a liar and the opponent returns the same accusation. In the end, no one can tell the truth. Falsehoods and still more accusations flood the television, radio and Internet. When I go to the mailbox, it is overflowing with still more accusations. 

It seems that we have lost our way and accept all of this as normal and business as usual. But, God doesn’t see it that way. We are not only being disobedient to God, but we are also hurting His children. Each time we tell a lie or we cheat someone, it is being disobedient.     

Our wickedness can only lead to a lesson that will be a bitter pill to swallow. We would like to believe that we can easily skate through life and that we are under God’s radar. We are foolish to believe that God will not punish us for our disobedience. The Bible is full of stories of His lessons to His children.

Going back to chapter six of Micah, the Lord is quite clear to His children about what He will do, “Therefore, I will wound you! I will bring you to ruin for all your sins. You will eat but never have enough. Your hunger pangs and emptiness will remain. And though you try to save your money, it will come to nothing in the end. You will save a little, but I will give it to those who conquer you. You will plant crops but not harvest them. You will press your olives but not get enough oil to anoint yourselves. You will trample the grapes but get no juice to make your wine. You keep only the laws of evil King Omri;  you follow only the example of wicked King Ahab! Therefore, I will make an example of you, bringing you to complete ruin. You will be treated with contempt, mocked by all who see you.

As you reflect on the events of this year, can you not see God’s hands all over the predicament we are all in? Our nation and the nations of the world have turned away from God and from each other. We treat each other with contempt each day. We no longer look after the widows and orphans. We are more interested in our own personal comfort and fail to see those who are in need of food, clothing, drink and shelter. Why have we done this? Is it because we believe that we can remain under God’s radar and that we can slip past Him?

I am here to tell you that there is a day of judgment that is at hand. The writing is already on the wall and we need to heed the lesson and return to the Father without delay. Everything that we have is a blessing from the Lord. It is so very easy to take that blessing for granted and assume that God will just let things slide. I can assure you that God doesn’t let you slide through life and do as you please. Our days are already numbered. We will soon find ourselves being weighed and measured and we will come up short. In time, we will see all those blessings taken away and will see only desolation and destruction.

But, things can change. God gives us the way to redemption through His Son, Christ Jesus. If we turn away from our wicked ways and return to God and live our lives in accordance with Jesus’ teachings by loving God totally and completely and loving each other unconditionally, we can return to God’s good graces. We cannot buy our way out of His judgment by paying a fine or just by doing some sort of community service. We must follow His plan for redemption and salvation.

Once again, reading from chapter six, Micah writes, “What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

It is pure arrogance to believe that we can buy our way out of His judgment. We cannot just simply make a lot of sacrifices and call it good. The only way for us to receive God’s mercy is “to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. When we do those things with a heart filled with love for the Father, God will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! When that happens, you will know that you can stand firm in His grace all of the days of your life and dwell in His house forever.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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