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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

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I keep wondering why people keep losing focus on the big picture. People tend to dig in and drill down to the details and seek the nitty gritty. That somehow usually leads them down the road to what are called minor details. But when the details become a distraction, I often am reminded of that notion that the devil is in the details. Ain’t he, though?

We can get lost on that fact that God is talking down to Israel and Judah. We can get caught up to God calling them out of their name. We have to see beyond God pleading with them to return to Him with repentance and a rejection of other gods. We have to see the big picture is that God was wronged by both Judah and Israel and that this prophecy is part of how things play out between God and them as their inevitable punishment is on the way. If we lose sight of he big picture here, we will continuously wrestle with the minor details and miss the message that God has for us to glean from this Old Testament prophecy.

How God Responds to Sacrifices

“. . . Your burnt offerings are not acceptable nor your sacrifices sweet to me.” (v. 20, NKJV)

Think about what God is saying right here. He just finished sharing how this nation has refused to return to Him. In fact, He shares that they are not even ashamed of the abomination that they committed against Him. He shared that he had set watchmen to sound the trumpet, but they had hardened their hearts and refused to listen. Check out verses15-17 in chapter 6 to see what I am saying.

Compare this to God’s sentiments in Isaiah 1:10 regarding sacrifices and offerings. If you lined those verses up side by side, they might pass for twins or at least kissing cousins. They are so similar in the subject matter and the sentiments of God’s seething rage and fury. In essence, He is not impressed with the ritualistic displays of the so-called holy nation. Nor is He interested in their sacrifices and burnt offerings, even new moon celebrations and similar activities. God basically says that they can keep all of that.

What God Truly Desires

God’s desire is for more than sacrifices. God’s desire extends beyond burnt offerings. Even though it might be the first born or the best of the best from among your flock, it is not at the top of God’s list for what he wants from us.

Take these two verses to Hosea 6:6 and Psalm 40:6. These verse share that our offerings are not worthy of God’s attention when our hearts are not in the right place. Amos 5:22 says that God will neither receive or regard these offerings. In the following verse, he says he doesn’t even want to hear them sing their songs. In verse 24, He simply speaks on justice and peace. In Micah 6:8 adds: “And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

What does this tell you about ritualistic religion and relationships?

What is God’s desire?

Doing Just as God Desires of Us

We cannot offer God anything in place of what he desires from us. All of what we bring forth is futile and meaningless unless we have sought to fulfill the desire of God. We cannot expect Him to be pleased with our outward activity if we have not cleansed and cleared out a place for Him in our hearts. God desires to be in a relationship with us as His people.

God back to chapter 4 and the calling for the people of God to circumcise their hearts. Look at this chapter where it is said that: “Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. . .” (v. 10, NKJV). Keep in mind that the circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and His people. It was an outward sign of a spiritual commitment. What God is saying is that our spiritual commitment and connection with Him should be binding like a covenant and it should keep us tied to Him beyond the outward trappings of offerings, sacrifices, and the semblance of symbolic worship.

“And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” – Matthew 12:7.

Think about it as we read chapter 6 this week. Be sure to tune in to our midweek livestream Bible study discussion on this chapter on Wednesday at 11 AM PST via YouTube. Look at it as a boost to your Bible reading and Bible study as you seek to devour the Word on your own.

Check out last week’s Bible Study session with Pastor Powell & myself

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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 6:8 (ESV)

Oftentimes, Christians see issues of their days and times and superimpose them into the biblical prophecy of the Last Days and point out the most likely public figure who fits the bill to be the Antichrist. This is usually a futile exercise in trying to give it a name and a label rather than trying to deal with the matters of the day.

Black Lives Matter & Protests for Social Justice

Is it still a question for some who believe if Black Lives Matter or not? I wish that I could say that it is an unfair question, but there are plenty who profess the love of Christ who find it difficult to love all of God’s creation and creatures, including their fellow man.

Look at blog posts from others that speak to the fact that Black Lives Matter has to be defended or justified as a statement. I read posts from folks like Cynthia Reyes and I feel like the depths of the despair experienced by countless people of color has been echoed in the kindred voice of another in the blogosphere. I read Thinking Moon’s post and realize that we both share a love for Toni Morrison (and she picked my two favorite works by her, too), but we both have two entirely different walks on this earth as a person of privilege and a person of color.

Christians do not have to hold a come to Jesus meeting about coming to an agreement about protests for social justice, police reform, and Black Lives Matter. We do need to acknowledge that there is a problem within our communities and across our nation in the United States that has captured our attention in the midst of a major health pandemic. We do need to agree that, despite many of the best intentions of good Bible-carrying believers, many Christians will not act on such matters until the pastor, the shepherd of the local church, has shared spiritual words of guidance on these same matters. The matters of today have come before the altar of the house of the faithful and await a word from on high as heavenly light from above shine upon them like a spotlight.

Doing What’s Right is Right

Seeking social justice is right. It is biblical. It is the Christian thing to do. The words in Micah 6:8 said for us to “do justice.” Naturally, English makes for a poor translation but I think we could get the point. Our measure for our religion is a matter for how we treat others. The question to answer is: Are we doing right by what the Lord calls us to do?

Aretha, the Queen of Soul, said it in a secular sense when she spoke a Do Right Woman and a Do Right Man. Could you be considered to be one who is in the business of doing right, especially doing right by others?

Jesus used a parable to speak about the “least of these.” He pointed out that the way to do right by the Lord was to do right by others. He depicted through this parable a way to do right for those who could not do you a solid and pay you back. He let us get a glimpse of what it truly means to be godly and gracious, by showing that we can show compassion towards and offer comfort for the hungry, the imprisoned, the naked, and the others that life seems to easily overlook.

And What Does the LORD Require of You?

And what does the LORD require of you? It is inserted in a retort in this passage due to the insinuation by the people that the Lord is asking them to do the impossible. The notion that the people presented to the prophet was that the Lord was being too hard on them in what He sought from them.

. . .but to do justice

We can say a lot but our actions speak louder and in greater volume than our words. We can say that Black Lives Matter is trending on Twitter and will fade away like the chants of “No justice, no peace.” The truth is that justice is right and we are called to do right as claim to love our neighbors as ourselves.

. . . and to love kindness

Kindness is like love. It’s all action and feelings. It’s not double talk. It comes down to our interaction with others, especially those who do not look like us, sound like us, or even believe what we believe.

. . . and to walk humbly with your God

Humility is a lost art. It is as ancient as things like respect and righteousness. To “walk humbly” requires us to humble ourselves. I believe C.H. Spurgeon said it best when he is quoted as saying: “Every Christian has a choice between being humble and being humbled.”

What will be your choice today?

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8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

– Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

As Christians, we say that we follow Christ.  If you can recall some early church history, prior to the label Christian being placed us at Antioch, Christians were called people of the Way.  We were all about the Way, the new thing that God would do among us as He had spoken of through the prophet Isaiah.  It was not until many had been martyred, tortured and persecuted for the sake of Christ that the name Christian  had become acceptable.

We see others suffering and we refuse to sit by silently.

We hear about torture of women and children who abandon the faith of their ancestors to become Christians and our hearts weigh heavily with compassion and sympathy for the Christ-like suffering of these modern day martyrs.  Yet, we refuse to let it go on without our voices speaking against such atrocities.

We see men and women turn their lives around and turn their entire lives over to Christ in rehab centers, halfway houses, homeless shelters, street missions, prison chapels and on street corners.  We praise God for His mercy, grace and forgiveness right along with them.  Yet, we speak out against the temptations and other ills that sucked the life out of them throughout their addiction, imprisonment and other ordeals.

We speak loudly.  Speak through bull horns.  We speak into microphones at press conferences and from pulpits as well as behind podiums and on top of city hall steps.

We speak boldly in public spaces.  Just as Elijah called out the king of his prophetic days, we stand boldly before leaders and hold them accountable for justice, equity and liberty among the citizens.  We spoke boldly of the truth being covered up for greed and gain.  We speak boldly about the crimes and corruption of the scoundrels and scam artists.  

We let our voices ring as loud as church bells.  We let our voices sound out like sirens.  We lift our voices and uphold our fellow man for the sake of common good regardless of his or her station in life.

Let your voice be heard.

Let people remember that you have a voice and that you are not afraid to use it.

Speak up.  Speak out.

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What do we hear or say when we read in the news how DNA evidence freed an innocent who was serving life in prison for a crime that he did not commit? We tend to wag an accusing finger at the justice system and remark of how such a tragedy and travesty should never happen if Lady Justice is really blind.  We start to speak of fairness.

Jesus was an innocent man who was slain for the sins of this world. Isaiah considered Him as a “man of sorrows,” while John the Baptist called Him the Lamb of God. He suffered and sacrifice for the sake of sinners.

But the question remains: Is it right that the innocent should take such cruel and harsh punishment while the guilty seem to get away with it?

Biblically speaking, it is still justice. Someone has to pay the debt. Someone has to supply the guilt or sin offering. It needs to be unblemished, too, by the way. In other words, it ought to be spotless and stainless. That was Jesus.

Jesus was perfection taking on our transgressions. Jesus was purity standing in the stead of our impurity. He was worthy of so much, but He stepped into humanity headed for Calvary to conquer the grave and death itself as He put sin in its place.

Is it right?

God saw it befitting to do so. John 3:16 is our verse for why He did what He did. He loved the world so much, even in its wretched and wicked state of being, He was willing to part with His “only begotten son.”

He doesn’t call us to understand it all. He does not even ask us to accept all of it at once. He offers us salvation based on belief in the Son as Lord and Savior.

We cannot explain how or why He did it so in a way that would satisfy theologians and humanities professors of sociology and psychology. Yet, if we can come like a babe in Christ, we can sip the sincere milk of our faith. We come to know. that the price that we should have paid was executed already on our behalf by an innocent man on a lonely hill hanging between two criminals as He gave all for a sinful world.

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We are called to know the truth and to speak the truth.  We are called to serve as witnesses of the mighty power of God working within us daily.  Our calling is be set apart and not of this world.  As we withstand the pressure and persecution, God will perfect us as gold refined in the purifying fire.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
      And what does the LORD require of you
      But to do justly,
      To love mercy,
      And to walk humbly with your God?
 
Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

 Count on your fingers and even add in your toes the countless atrocities of those who propose the slaying of the innocent and the strangulation if the poor.   Try as we may and try as we might, there’s an elephant in the room with greed in his eyes.  There’s an elephant in the room standing on the backs of the poor and working class.  There’s an elephant in the room! So what are we going to do about it?

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