Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hope: A path to fulfillment! - Micah 4:1-4; 5:1-4

Hope: A path to fulfillment! - Micah 4:1-4; 5:1-4
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 30, 2013 AM

Many years ago when I worked in a nursing home, there were folks who talked about the joys of years that slipped away too quickly. Some of them were Christians who raised their families, worked faithfully in their churches, and retired from their occupations. In some cases it was difficult for these folks to realize that they must depend on others to do for them what they once did for themselves. Some were discouraged, knowing the effects of aging and illness while others realized that God has given us a hope and a future that will be greater than all the joys of this life combined. Our greatest days await our arrival in heaven or the return of our Savior Jesus Christ!

We all must decide how we will deal with painful and difficult circumstances in this life. Some stoically try to tough out the difficult experiences, while others attempt to push the experiences deep into their subconscious minds. Some blame others and in moments of weakness may even blame God for their losses. Some develop negative attitudes and become bitter and pessimistic towards life. Wise Christians, however, know God has a wonderful future for us beyond this life. Questions we struggle with today either will be answered or they will concern us no longer because we are in His presence. We will leave behind the troubles of this life. We will be renewed with health, strength, and joy greater than anything we have experienced. We too can live in hope of God’s promised future blessings. Micah gives us a message of hope for the future, let’s discover how…

READ: Micah 4:1-4; 5:1-4

Micah encouraged the people of his day with positive truths. They were going to endure great hardships and discipline from the Lord. Eventually there would be a limited earthly restoration, but Micah promised a complete and wonderful restoration in the future for God’s people. In our journey in this life, we must…

I. Continue to seek God’s truth! (4:1-2)

  1. Micah had described the future destruction of Jerusalem in the last verse of chapter 3. Here he followed that terrible prediction with a hopeful vision of a better future for God’s people and Jerusalem. The phrase “the last days” points to future events described by Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. The renewal of Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile would have partial fulfillment in these predictions, but the complete fulfillment will occur at Jesus’ second coming. “The mountain of the LORD” refers to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It will be “raised above the hills”, is a promise not only to Israelites but also to those living in all the nations of the world. Jerusalem will be the focal point in the future events Micah described. “Many nations” are the Gentiles, non-Jews, who will travel to Jerusalem in search of the “God of Jacob.” The house is the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and later rebuilt following the Israelite’s return from exile. That structure existed until Herod rebuilt it and the Romans destroyed it in A.D. 70 following Jesus’ prediction, because of the Jews rejection of Him. While no temple has yet been rebuilt, some anticipate it will, but others suggest that it has already been rebuilt through Jesus because of prophecies such as this one. The purpose of the visits also points to a future event rather than one in the past. People will come to learn of God’s ways so they can walk in His paths. While people from around the world have gone on spiritual quests to Jerusalem, the scope of this future event is far greater than any pilgrimage in history. Ironically, the Israelites were not seeking to know and obey God’s law in Micah’s day; but in the future Gentiles would. Micah described a turning to the Lord. At this time, many in the world will put aside atheism, agnosticism, and false religions. They will acknowledge the God of the Bible as the one true God. Believers need to continue to seek God’s truth!

  EXAMPLE: Other than studying the Bible each week during worship or Sunday school, how diligent are you in seeking its message for your daily life? The truths of the Bible are acknowledged and followed today only by faithful followers of Jesus. Either the majority of people living now continue to reject or they are ignorant of the absolute truth of Scripture and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only hope of salvation. When Jesus returns, the whole world will have to acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Christians who suffered and died to spread the gospel will be vindicated and rewarded for their faithfulness. Christians today should be diligent in their study of God’s Word and obedience to His will in anticipation of Jesus’ return. We should continue to seek God’s truth!

Micah offered hope for the faithful remnant of Israel who would return to the land following the Babylonian exile. The prophecy was partially fulfilled when Cyrus of Persia allowed the exiles to return to Jerusalem. The complete fulfillment of the prophecy awaits the second coming of Jesus Christ and the full establishment of God’s kingdom. Meanwhile Micah teaches us that…

II. We will enjoy God’s security! (4:3-4)

  1. The peoples of the nations will come to the Lord to settle disputes and seek arbitration. “He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.” What Micah said about these Gentiles’ actions condemned the attitudes and deeds of the Israelites in Micah’s day. The Israelites perverted justice and did not seek to judge according to the Lord’s will. In the glorious future of God’s kingdom, judgment will be righteous; and no one will be treated unfairly. The Lord will be completely impartial. The world will be submissive and obedient to the Lord’s rule and decisions. Micah also promised a universal peace in God’s future kingdom. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” This is a promise that was only a dream in Micah’s day and still is up to the present. The peace of the future will be permanent; on that day God’s people will never again train for war. The instruments of warfare, swords and spears, will be transformed into instruments of agriculture, plows and pruning hooks. Instruments of destruction will be redirected toward tools of production. The future kingdom of God promises absolute security, “no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken”! The picture of each man sitting under his grapevine is a portrait of provision and safety (1 Kings 4:25; Zechariah 3:10). There will be no one to frighten him because evil people will not take part in that perfect environment. The false prophets in Micah's day, for a bribe, promised peace; but only submission to the Lord can provide true peace and security. The future kingdom of God in heaven promises that we will enjoy God’s security!

  EXAMPLE: Many philosophers, writers, and so-called religious persons have offered the hope of utopia here on earth. Each has a theory of how peace and security can be obtained by all. They want to return to the paradise of Eden, but they have forgotten how Eden was lost. Adam and Eve lost the perfect world through disobedience to God. Paul said it correctly when he pronounced, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24 NIV) Paradise can be regained only through faith in Jesus Christ. All who put their faith and trust in Him will share in the perfection of the future kingdom of God. This promise enables Christians to live with confidence and assurance in today’s uncertain world. Believers know for certain we will enjoy God’s security!

How important are truths about security in God’s kingdom to you? Micah then turns to the results of the sins of the Israelites. They continually refused to listen to the true prophets of God and instead placed their trust in fine sounding words instead of the truth. They would reap what they had sown. Our nation today could well face the same results. We need to repent, turn back to the Lord, and…

III. Accept sin’s consequences! (5:1)

  1. The context of this verse began in 4:9, in which Micah predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the coming of Babylonian captivity. Micah also may have had in mind the siege of Jerusalem by Assyria in Hezekiah's reign. He tells his listeners, “Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us!” However, it was too late! In some translations, they use the term, “daughter of a troop” in referring to Jerusalem. The NIV uses “city of troops.” Micah is addressing the people of Judah who would come under attack. The suffering would be so severe that they would slash themselves in grief. Zedekiah, here called the judge of Israel, was king at the time of the Babylonian attack (2 Kings 25:1-7). The phrase striking on the cheek with a rod referred to humiliating punishments in the Old Testament, Lamentations related the willingness of those who were willing to humiliate themselves before the Lord, “Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.” (Lamentations 3:30 NIV) Some commentators believe the reference of Micah is about Jesus since He was struck on the cheek by His tormenters and is mentioned in the following verse. Jesus was not struck by an invading enemy, however; and the reference better fits the circumstances of Judah's humiliation at the hands of the Babylonians. Just as believers need to do today, the Israelites needed to accept sin’s consequences and realize God was in the process.

  EXAMPLE: People do not readily acknowledge that much of their suffering could be the result of their sinful choices. Those in Judah had no one to blame but themselves for their punishment at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Christians today often suffer as a consequence of their foolish or sinful choices. Disobedience has predictable results. These consequences may include physical illnesses and injuries. They also can include psychological and emotional distress. They always include spiritual consequences as a loving Heavenly Father intervenes to discipline rebellious children. Suffering also can be the result of the actions of others around us. A believing remnant was in Judah when it fell to Babylon, including godly individuals such as Jeremiah and Daniel. They did not suffer exile for their sins but for the sins of others. Christians living in today’s culture that rejects God can suffer when God’s judgment falls on their disobedient nation. We must be faithful in the midst of suffering, responding in a way that testifies of our confidence in God’s providential plan. Believers need to accept sin’s consequences and realize God is in the process!

Micah prophesied the birth of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem in the land of Judah. The prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born some 700 years later. Micah declared one day Jesus will purify the land of idolatry and punish those who opposed the faithful remnant of Israel, and His greatness will be recognized “to the ends of the earth.” The fulfillment of this prophecy will occur at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Micah, meanwhile, teaches us…

IV. To keep holding on to God’s bright promise! (5:2-4)

  1. Bethlehem Ephrathah was located about four miles from Jerusalem. Jewish scholars later quoted Micah 5:2 to the magi and identified Bethlehem as the birth place of the Messiah (Matthew 2:1-6). Bethlehem was a humble village described by Micah as “small among the clans of Judah.” The fame of this little town, however, would change dramatically. God promised that, “out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” The Messiah would be ruler over Israel for God. The total fulfillment of this prophecy awaits the second coming of Jesus when He will establish Himself as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16)! Jesus came first to provide salvation through His death and resurrection and promised to return to establish His kingdom. That His origin is from antiquity, from eternity points to the Deity of the Messiah. Jesus Christ is eternal, without beginning and without end (John 1:1). He was David’s Son (descendant), but He was also David’s Lord (Mark 12:35, 37). “Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.” The Lord would abandon His people to their impending judgment in Babylonian exile. The “labor” relates the painful experience they would suffer. However, like childbirth it will be followed by a time of great joy. Micah said the Messiah “will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” The corrupt political and religious leaders in Micah’s day told the people they were secure. In reality, they were headed for war and destruction. Only the Messiah would bring lasting peace and security for citizens of God’s kingdom. God’s people need to keep holding on to God’s bright promise!

  EXAMPLE: The angels first brought the message of the birth of Jesus Christ to shepherds keeping their flocks in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). “Peace on earth” was a promise associated with the birth of the Son of God (Luke 2:14). Jesus offers peace today for every believer (John 14:27). What He offers is peace with God through His death on the cross, and peace of mind, as we trust God to care for us in this world. The ultimate fulfillment of the promise of peace, however, will be realized only in the heavenly kingdom of God. We will finally live in the safe environment that all desire but that can never be achieved by human governments or armies. In the kingdom of God we will be in our Savior’s presence, we will be ruled by Him, and we will never experience danger or fear again. The return of Jesus Christ is the great hope that sustains us and encourages us as we face the uncertainties and struggles of our daily lives. We need to keep holding on to God’s bright promise!

Conclusion:
Believers need to continue to seek God’s truth! Believers know for certain we will enjoy God’s security! Believers need to accept sin’s consequences and realize God was in the process! God’s people need to keep holding on to God’s bright promise!
---
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Corruption: A path to nowhere! - Micah 3:1-12

Corruption: A path to nowhere! - Micah 3:1-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 23, 2013 AM

One of my assignments for a course in seminary was to observe different kinds of worship services. They do this in order for students to not only experience different kinds of worship, but to also see how not to do worship. In one instance, students went to a church that met in an old theater. The service began with upbeat music that lasted about 30 minutes. The pastor came out following the music and announced he had received a vision from the Lord that 20 people would give him $20 and those who did so would receive a special blessing. He asked everyone to close their eyes and told those who would give the $20 to raise their hands. He then pretended to count and announced falsely that 20 had raised their hands. He then made the same false claim for those who would give $10!

We live in a world where greedy people use unscrupulous methods to reap dishonest gain. Pretended good is often an effective cloak for evil. Christians should examine their motives at home, at work, at school and the church to make sure they do not exploit others. In Micah’s day, the leaders of Israel were guilty of using people to obtain power and wealth for themselves. They failed in their God-given responsibilities to promote justice and the welfare of the people who trusted them. Micah graphically teaches us about how corruption is a path to nowhere! Let’s discover what he says…

READ: Micah 3:1-12

Micah introduces a broad condemnation of the leadership of Israel (also referred to as "Jacob"). Micah rebuked the leaders for failing to do what they knew was right. They were aware of their responsibilities to provide for and protect the citizens of Israel. However, they ignored their duties and savaged the people like wild animals devouring their prey. Micah predicted they would suffer for their crimes. Micah teaches us that…

I. Corruption is moral cannibalism! (Vv.3:1-4)

  1. Micah spoke prophetically against the corrupt leaders of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Jacob and Israel are used synonymously for both in this verse. God’s people had two basic categories of leaders in Micah’s day. The civil rulers were the king and those who served him as officials. The religious leaders included priests and prophets. Micah focused on the civil rulers in verses 1-4. God was to be the ultimate ruler; and the civil and religious authorities were to serve as He directed. This rule is called a theocracy. The leaders were to care for the people as shepherds do for a flock. The rulers were to lead the people to obey the laws both civil and God’s by godly example. These leaders were expected to "know justice"! Yet they hated good and loved evil! A godly king would appoint judges who would dispense justice impartially for all. These civil authorities however were ungodly and failed in their responsibilities. Their failure denied justice for the people and established a culture of corruption in the nation. (Sound familiar?) We live in a day whereby our court system is reinterpreting our Constitution to suit their own political agenda. The corrupt rulers of Israel reversed the moral code of God for their nation. They were supposed to pursue righteousness and avoid wickedness. Yet, like wild animals, they tore the skin off their victims and the flesh from their bones! The actions of the leaders were hypocritical and opposed to God’s will and His laws. The leaders were anything but shepherds of the flock. They were like wolves in sheep’s clothing! In very descriptive terms, Micah related that these cannibals "eat my people's flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot!" When God’s final judgment came on them Micah warned, "Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done!" Corruption is moral cannibalism!

  EXAMPLE: All believers function as moral leaven in a spiritually corrupt world. We set examples for others, our families, our classmates, or at our workplace. The question we must keep in front of us is what kind of example and influence are we. Does it measure up to the ethical standards God has revealed in His word? We see evidence in our day that some civil and political authorities have lost their moral compasses and no longer know the way of truth. They call evil good and good evil. People suffer in a nation that will not honor the Lord and the basic principles of righteousness. What can Christians do when justice is denied and civic rulers fail to lead wisely? First, we can speak out as Micah did about the ungodliness in society. Christians who speak out about the sanctity of human life, the value of the traditional family, and other moral issues follow a long tradition of courageous believers who stood up for truth in the past. Second, we can vote and be active in the process of choosing our leaders. We are to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We should use every opportunity to bring our biblical convictions to bear on the election and conduct of our leaders. Remember, Micah teaches us that corruption is moral cannibalism!

Micah condemned spiritually weak and corrupt prophets who failed to warn the people of the consequences of sin. He warned these disobedient prophets that they would not receive guidance from the Lord because of their rebellion. Their sins made impossible their receiving any revelation from the Lord. Micah contrasted his ministry with theirs, describing himself as a true prophet who spoke with the power of God’s Spirit. Micah reminds us that…

II. Corruption brings spiritual poverty! (Vv. 3:5-8)

  1. Micah then turned his attention to the corrupt spiritual leaders of Israel. The prophets represented an office of spiritual leadership. True Old Testament prophets received revelation from the Lord and preached it to the rulers and the people. True prophets rebuked civil rulers when they personally failed to live moral lives. In Micah’s day, however, God identified the prophets as those "who lead my people astray." They should have cared for the flock entrusted to them! Instead, they had become hirelings who would prophesy what the people wanted to hear. Micah related that, "if one feeds them, they proclaim 'peace'; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him." These ungodly men were motivated by greed and lacked integrity. Their work was not a ministry but a way to gain wealth and power. They lacked courage and were no longer guided by the truth. They became prophets for hire who would say anything for profit. Many years later, Paul warned Timothy to, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Timothy 4:2-3 NIV) Micah warned that spiritual darkness would be their punishment, "Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them." The darkness would fall on them because they failed to warn the people to repent. It also represented the judgment that would come. In fact, "The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced." Why? In shame, "They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God!" Judgment fell on the nation despite these leaders’ promises of safety and security. On that day, everyone would know just how corrupt these men were! Their false lies would amount to nothing! Corruption brings spiritual poverty!

  EXAMPLE: Greed and materialism continue to shape the messages of many false religious leaders in our day. Many offer cures or guaranteed prosperity if contributors will give money to them. Some of these individuals align themselves with corrupt business or political leaders to defraud people through false offers of hope. Spiritual leaders today also need to be warned by the example of those in Micah’s day. The love of money offers many temptations that can corrupt a pure ministry. The fear of rejection can lead some to preach or teach only those principles that people want to hear. Avoiding sin and judgment is a way to be popular with sinners but not with God. The false prophets were the most popular religious leaders until judgment overcame the nation and the true prophets like Micah and Isaiah were revealed. We must always convey the truth without regard for the cost. There can be no permanent success when we suppress the truth of God’s Word. We must never forget that corruption brings spiritual poverty!

Micah condemns Israel’s political leaders for their injustice and bloodshed. These judges perverted justice by taking bribes. They exonerated the wicked and failed to protect the innocent. Micah condemned the spiritual leaders for condoning the sins of those paying them and for falsely promising safety from divine punishment. Micah warned of a devastating judgment that would destroy the nation.

III. Corruption demands accountability! (Vv.3:9-12)

  1. Micah next summed up his condemnation of the corrupt leaders and identified the failures of civil and religious leaders. Those who abhor justice have no respect for God. God declares Himself to be an impartial Judge who is no respecter of persons (2 Chronicles 19:7). Justice is denied when bribes or partiality corrupt the process. God desires human judgments to reflect His fairness and equal treatment of all. Money, position, power, friendships, or other considerations must never be allowed to deny justice through punishing the innocent or releasing the wicked. Micah accused the leaders of perverting everything that is right. Sin is a perversion of something good. Lies are a perversion of truth. Adultery or same sex marriage is a perversion of traditional marriage. Betrayal is a perversion of loyalty. These officials had fallen down a slippery slope of personal ambition and everything they did was tainted by their sin. They despised "justice and distort all that is right" and had built "Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness." The leaders judged "for a bribe" and the spiritual leadership, the priests, taught the people "for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money"! WOW! The acceptance of a bribe in exchange for a political favor was prevalent in Micah’s day; nowadays we refer to it as political action! The disobedient priests and prophets had become so spiritually blinded to their own ungodliness they falsely professed loyalty to the Lord! They knew they were corrupt but wanted to continue their charade by displaying a false confidence by telling the people, "Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us." All is well, no problems here! Spiritual leaders are supposed to be like watchmen on the wall who would warn the people of impending judgment. Micah alone warned that, "because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets!" The people could not imagine such destruction. The majority of the civil and religious leaders told them God would never allow such to happen. They were wrong. The prophecy of Micah would occur and the fulfillment would be exactly as he described. Yet, we learn that corruption demands accountability!

  EXAMPLE: Corruption continues to be a major problem in our world, demanding vigilance and oversight by authorities. When the government becomes complicit in the bribery, justice is not possible. Money and greed have historically been the cause of much of the corruption in the judicial and political system. After all, a million here and a million there adds up to real money when it becomes billions! A major source of misery around the world continues to be governments that allow or participate in a corrupt judicial or political system. Western democracies have sought to include checks and balances to eliminate bribes and maintain a fair judiciary and government. Even so, the temptation to subvert justice for financial gain is too much for some, and they cash in on it. The church and its members must be above reproach in seeking any financial gain. Those who proclaim God’s truth must be people of integrity who would be willing to risk financial loss rather than compromise the message. We are ultimately accountable to the Lord for our ministries, and we can be sure He will judge us impartially. Micah teaches us that corruption demands accountability!

Conclusion:
Remember, Micah teaches us that corruption is moral cannibalism! We must never forget that corruption brings spiritual poverty! Micah teaches us that corruption demands accountability!
---
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rebellion: A path to ruin! - Micah 1:1-9; 2:1-4a

Rebellion: A path to ruin! - Micah 1:1-9; 2:1-4a
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 16, 2013 AM

Susan was a beautiful, intelligent young woman with a bright future ahead of her. She started spending time with an on-the-edge group from work. Her father tried to warn her of her choices, but she refused to listen, thinking she knew what was best for her life. At a party she should never have attended, Susan made a tragic decision. A young man she wanted to impress gave her a taste of a dangerous drug known as Meth. Her immediate addiction took a devastating toll on every facet of her life. One year later the once beautiful girl was not heading up the corporate ladder but off to prison. Her teeth were rotting, her complexion was ruined, her hair was thin, and she was near starvation. She would have given anything to go back and make different decisions for her life.

Few adults like to be told what to do. Many prefer to reject authority, especially any that limits their freedom. They want to choose what to do and when they will do it. Many among us go even further. They delight in rebelling against God and His law. Each new generation must learn an important lesson the hard way: We cannot find fulfillment by rejecting God’s authority over our lives. God gives us His laws to protect and guide us. He wants us to have an abundant life filled with the joy of knowing Him and serving others. When we rebel against those laws, we suffer the consequences He wants to shield us from in our lives. When we decide to do our own thing, it is rebellion: a path to ruin! Let’s discover how rebellion is a path to ruin…

READ: Micah 1:1-9; 2:1-4a

We learned that if our father asked us to do something, he expected us to respond right away. To ignore his request or to refuse was an act of disobedience. There would be consequences for doing so. The nations of Israel and Judah forgot the Lord and refused to submit to His will. They rejected His laws and pursued sinful worldly pleasures. Like many today, they thought they could rebel against the Lord without paying a price. God sent Micah to warn people that their rebellion would have inevitable consequences and to call them to repent before it was too late. We read about…

I. God’s response to rebellion! (Vv. 1:1-5)


  1. The name Micah means, “Who is like Yahweh?” He was a contemporary of Isaiah and prophesied around 735-700 B.C. not much is known about this prophet’s personal life. His hometown of Moresheth-gath (1:14), was 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Micah’s prophecy is the word of the Lord. He was not speaking his thoughts but revealing God’s message. Samaria and Jerusalem were the respective capitals of Israel and Judah in Micah’s day. The division of territories and dual thrones occurred following the death of Solomon. Micah spoke about Israel; but like Isaiah, he primarily focused on the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Bible offers timeless messages for every generation. God is the same and sinful human beings are the same. Advancement has been made in information and technology but no improvement in basic human nature. People still reject the authority of a holy God and rebel against His will and laws. Micah painted a scene depicting the Lord God as a Judge with all the peoples of the earth as jury. The case was being made against Israel and Judah for their failure to obey the Lord. He would act as a witness against the rebellious kingdoms. The Lord declared He would leave His place (the holy of holies or heaven) and come down to trample the heights of the earth. God’s arrival would mean judgment and destruction for the disobedient. The coming of the Lord in anger warned sinners to repent. Sending Micah to warn the people of impending judgment was an act of mercy, giving sinners one more opportunity to repent before it was too late. Mountains and valleys represent the highest and lowest points on earth. Taken together they represent everything in the land. The Lord, however, can melt the mountains and split the valleys. These verbal images display the foolishness of opposing the Lord. “All this is because of Jacob's transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel.” It is God’s response to rebellion!

  EXAMPLE: The listeners would ask, “What is Jacob's transgression?” Micah responded, “Is it not Samaria? What is Judah's high place? Is it not Jerusalem?” The high place was an elevated area where the people worshiped the Lord (2 Chronicles 33:17). In times of apostasy, however, these became sites of idolatry and the worship of false gods and goddesses (1 Kings 11:7). Jerusalem should have been a place where the Lord was worshiped, but had become another high place where idols were served. The leaders of both Samaria and Judah had set ungodly examples of idolatry and disobedience to the law. Do you think this could be true of America today? What are some of the high places our leaders have established? What do some believers worship today? We can be sure that the same God who punished sinful nations in the past will punish sinful nations in the present and future. Any nation that refuses to honor the Lord and His laws will eventually suffer the consequences just as Israel and Judah did. However, it is also true of disobedient believers as well! Those who rebel against the Lord will experience God’s discipline. It can be severe, depending on the depth of the rebellion; but it is always a redemptive act of a loving Father.

The message of Micah for Israel and Judah in the eighth century B.C. is relevant for those of us living in America in the 21st century. The Lord wants us to learn from the mistakes of the past so we will not repeat them and suffer similar consequences. Rebellion is a path to ruin for nations and individuals. Let’s see what Micah tells us about the…

II. Results of rebellion against God! (Vv. 1:6-9)

  1. Micah predicted the destruction of Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Israel never had a godly king and never experienced a spiritual revival. Israel fell in 722 B.C. when Assyria invaded and left Samaria in a heap of ruins (2 Kings 17:1-5). Micah predicted, “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and lay bare her foundations.” Idolatry was the chief sin of Israel. God would cause Assyria to do what Israel should have done—smash her carved images and destroy all of her idols. The reference to prostitute has a double meaning. It probably refers to the cultic prostitutes who served at the pagan shrines. Symbolically Israel was a prostitute when its people abandoned God (their true Husband) and went after other gods. Therefore, “All her idols will be broken to pieces; all her temple gifts will be burned with fire; I will destroy all her images. Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes, as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.” However, the wages of their prostitution would be used by the invading Assyrians, because the money taken by Assyria in its victory would be used to deport and enslave the Israelites! Micah's response was to “weep and wail” and to “go about barefoot and naked.” He would “howl like a jackal and moan like an owl” in his grief! Her “wound is incurable” refers to the certain judgment of God on Israel. The sin and resulting judgment was certain because Israel would not repent. Israel’s sinful influence affected Judah as well. Judah's idolatry would bring the nation to the brink of destruction, also by Assyria. The Assyrian armies would march to the gate of Jerusalem and only the repentance and the godly leadership of Hezekiah saved Judah from Assyria (2 Kings 18–19)! It was the result of rebellion against God!

  EXAMPLE: The worship of idols in some parts of the world today includes the use of images. However, idolatry in most developed countries like ours is more subtle. We may not carve images to our gods, but whatever is supremely important to a person is an idol. My father used to warn, “Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true!” Relationships, money, fame, education, power, and pleasure continue to be wished for or worshiped by many. These things are not evil or bad in of themselves; however, Christians living in the world are sometimes influenced more by these things rather than their faith in Christ. We must realize God still disciplines His people and the discipline can be severe. We must recognize the power of bad company and maintain obedience with a proper fear or respect for the holiness of God. Otherwise, we too can face the results of our rebellion against God!

The Lord identified idolatry as the primary sin of the nation. The many idols demonstrated a rejection of God’s commandments, and He promised they would be destroyed. In Micah 1:8–2:13, the prophet took on the role of a mourner in anticipation of devastating judgment on the people of Israel and Judah. He called on the sinful inhabitants of various cities to join him in mourning for their sins. Otherwise, they would…

III. Suffer the ruin of rebellion! (Vv. 2:1-4a)

  1. Have you ever suffered from another's evil schemes or plans? Micah described people with hearts and minds focused on evil plans. These people were deliberate in their desire to do harm to others. Micah laments, “Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning's light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.” Wow! These folks plotted evil before they slept, and then the first thing they did in the morning was carry it out! These wicked plotters used surprise to overpower their victims. Micah focused on the mind, where all sin originates. The mind conceives and gives birth to sin! James, Jesus’ brother wrote that, “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death!” (James 1:14-15 NIV) Micah identified greed as the source of many sinful acts in his day. Hasn’t changed much has it? The wicked coveted the fields, houses, and inheritance of others. Some folks loaned others money and then demanded payment when they knew the borrower would have to default. The account of King Ahab lying about Naboth to steal his vineyard (1 Kings 21) is an example of how widespread these abuses became. Micah related, “Therefore, the LORD says: ‘I am planning disaster against this people, from which you cannot save yourselves. You will no longer walk proudly, for it will be a time of calamity.’” God’s judgment would be inescapable and would involve bondage. The neck was the place where yokes were placed, implying restraint. God tells Micah to prophesy that, “In that day men will ridicule you; they will taunt you with this mournful song: ‘We are utterly ruined; my people's possession is divided up. He takes it from me! He assigns our fields to traitors.’” Pride is the root of arrogant disregard for the rights of others and of rebellious rejection of God’s authority. Those who we once thought of as our friends will deride us in our suffering! God promised an evil time when His people would no longer walk so proudly. Perhaps, America is suffering or will suffer from believer’s being so arrogant and prideful? We can suffer from the ruin of our rebellion!

  EXAMPLE: One of the worst punishments I ever received from my father was when he caught me planning to get even with my brother Ed. He told me while it was not right what Ed did, my scheming to get even was worse because I was plotting evil against my own brother. Crime is the work of professional criminals and amateurs who plot evil against innocent victims. Each day robberies, rapes, murders, and destructive acts are testimonies to the plans of the wicked. Some criminals are violent while others use technology to steal identities and defraud businesses and individuals. Terrorists motivated by hatred are constantly looking for ways to destroy their enemies. Greed continues to motivate many today. Unscrupulous schemers spread their lies hoping to deceive and cheat na├»ve victims. Some major corporations defraud investors with deceptive accounting. It is worse when believers plot against each other or family members steal form one another. The sins of Micah’s day continue to appeal to the covetous hearts of sinful human beings today. However, make no mistake; we will suffer from the ruin of our rebellion!

Conclusion:
Those who fail to heed the warnings of God’s Word discover that opposing Him always leads to physical, emotional, and spiritual ruin. We can proudly oppose the Lord and be humbled or we can submit humbly to Him. We looked at God’s response to rebellion; the results of rebellion against God; and how we can suffer the ruin of rebellion.
---
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

2 John – Walking in the truth of God’s love!

2 John – Walking in the truth of God’s love!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 9, 2013 AM

In some cultures, the elderly are venerated and are respected for their wisdom and long life. When I was younger, I thought all older adults were wise, moral, and never made mistakes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not all senior adults were wise, very moral, and in fact had wasted their lives in ungodly living! I discovered this to be true from a great uncle who drank like a fish, swore like a merchant marine, and no one liked him because of his constant anger. Yet, there are wonderful truths we can learn from godly senior adults in our church. We should listen to those among us who are older that exhibit a holy lifestyle. They can teach us a lot about walking in the truth of God’s love!

The little letter of John that we will look at today is one of the shortest letters in the Bible, containing only 245 words in the Greek text. History, tradition, and the wording itself give testimony that it was probably written by John, the apostle. Unlike his first larger letter, this “postcard” is more of a short notice to the church in order to encourage them, however, it follows the same theme of John where he writes, “I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.” (1 John 2:7 NIV) It is the theme of walking in the truth of God’s love! Let’s discover what he writes…

READ: 2 John

There are many philosophies in the world today but there is only one that is true. There cannot be many “truths” just as there cannot be many ways to figure one plus one equaling anything but two! While there are those who want to have a smorgasbord for their theology, there can only be one that is correct. John teaches us that…

I. Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love! (Vv. 1-4)

  1. John, the elder – the old man, was writing to “the chosen lady and her children,” whom he “loved.” They were dear to him because he had invested so much of his life and effort to bring them the truth of the gospel. He desired that they know that it was not just him alone, “but also all who know the truth” who cared for them. And this is the way it should be in the church of Christ. The reason was obvious to John, “because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever!” The key words here are “truth” and “love.” Daniel Akin writes, “If love would appeal to the hearts, then truth would appeal to their minds.” (New American Commentary) And this is the heart of this lovely letter, God’s truth and His love. In our day and age, we place far too much emphasis on the emotionalism of God’s love than the reality of His eternal truth. Both mattered to John. The gospel truth lives in us as a community of believers and stays with us eternally as well! The gospel truth is the foundation that gives meaning to God’s expression of love! This is why John immediately tells them, “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love.” John, I believe, deliberately bracketed his theme with these two words of “truth and love”. Notice too, what gave John pleasure, he writes, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” Nothing gives a pastor or spiritual mentor greater joy than to know those they have labored in love over are walking with the Lord. The Bible Knowledge Commentary relates, “Christian love is by no means mere sentimentalism or humanistic compassion, but is motivated by knowledge of the truth which has been revealed in Christ.” It is this “gospel” truth that is the basis of Christian love. It is precisely this truth that the “Body of Christ” must be careful to guard. To maintain a healthy fellowship, the local church and its individual members must remain faithful to the truth of the gospel without compromise; Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love!

  EXAMPLE: Pontius Pilate stood before Jesus the entire embodiment and culmination of God’s truth and asked, “What is truth?” Jesus had already bluntly told those who would follow Him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) We live in a day and age where folks say they want the truth, but do everything in their power not to come to the truth. Will Smith has always denied being a member of the Church of Scientology. He has, however, publicly praised some of the philosophies, and that’s led to speculation he might be a secret Scientologist. Marc Headley, who left the church in 2005, went to see Smith’s recent movie After Earth and wrote a review linking many of the film’s ideas to Scientology’s teachings. He connects the film's central philosophy, “danger is real, fear is a choice” to Scientology. Headley wrote, “Through Scientology, one is supposed to ‘rid oneself of your fears.” Just because famous folks like Will Smith, Christie Alley, Tom Cruise or John Travolta maybe Scientologists does not make it true or something to base one’s life. Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love!

It is easy to say you believe something, but a lot more difficult to put your life on the line and trust it completely. We all might believe jets can fly but it is a whole different matter to get on one and fly somewhere! The same is true for our faith. If we say we “love the gospel” then John writes…

II. Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love! (Vv. 5-6)

  1. John continues by addressing the church concerning why he is writing them, “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning.” We know it is the early church he is writing because earlier he had said that they were the “chosen lady and her children.” Many think that perhaps John was writing in coded words because of the persecution of believers that had begun. What exactly is this “command” he wanted to remind them of, specifically he writes, “I ask that we love one another.” John knew this truth, because he had experienced it firsthand when he had walked daily with Jesus that love was more than an emotional response for the believer. If they were walking in the truth of the gospel, they needed to be certain they were also walking in the love of the gospel! The truth of the gospel is Jesus and the love of the gospel is its message! But what does it mean to “love one another”? The test of our love to God is our universal obedience to His command, and we need to absolutely maintain this love, for there are many lies and untruths concerning God’s love in the world. It is not realized simply by doing good things, it is not found in shallow emotional outbursts, nor is it spiritually realized through a sense of our own holiness in contemplating our bellybuttons. He told His followers that the world will know we are the disciples of Jesus when we show the world the love of Jesus through our lives. His love is outwardly active and sacrificial, not inner and introspective. Obedience to it demands a high price from the individual and this is why John was so excited to hear they were in fact, walking in the love of God. The first disciples gave their very lives for its message, but willingly lived every moment of their lives doing it! I believe that the world today needs to not only reaffirm Jesus’ message but also adhere to His command of love. Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love!

  EXAMPLE: My mother used to get truly frustrated with my brother Ed when he would promise over and over to clean his side of the room, but always found some excuse not to do his chore. One afternoon he came home to find all of his things piled in a heap on the floor. He was incredulous and angered. When you say you will do something but you do not follow through, what does that say about you? As we have all heard many times, “Actions speak louder than words.” Many folks claim to be “Christian” but it requires more than mere acknowledgement. Living in the love of God is more than fuzzy feelings, believing in angels, or goodness for goodness sake. It requires one’s obedience to the commands of Christ to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV) John did not write “you a new command but one we have had from the beginning… that we love one another!” Knowing about Jesus is one thing, but Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love!

There are those who think that Christianity is a religion of compromise. They get this false premise from Jesus teaching us to “turn the other cheek.” He never meant forsaking what you believe to get along. This is why John would write in concerning the love of God…

III. Christians are to protect the gospel of God’s love! (Vv. 7-13)

  1. We are to walk in the truth of the gospel and live the command of love in our lives. The reason for John was obvious because there are those who subvert the faith, denying the person or the work of Jesus Christ. John said, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.” In fact, “Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” John had told the church through an earlier letter, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NIV) The church today not only does not “test the spirits” they do not know how to do so nor do they understand why we should do so! We have swallowed the politically correct lie that above all else, we must get along, even to the detriment of the gospel! It is disgusting what ungodliness Christians try to excuse by a selfish misuse of God’s love. Some fail to understand that they have become “antichrist” in their adherence to humanistic false doctrines. John warns, “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.” And to the horror of our modern day thinking John bluntly retorts, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God!” However, “whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” Jude would warn that while we were to “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear”, we were to hate “even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh!” (Jude 1:22-23 NIV) John also sternly warned them that, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.” In our anything goes society, we wonder why this was so important for John. The spiritual truth is this: “Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work!” When a Christian allows ungodliness into their lives, they are tacitly acquiescing the teaching of Jesus! John equates that supposed “Christian” as an “antichrist”! Christians are to protect the gospel of God’s love!

  EXAMPLE: Recently we have heard about how the military, particularly the Air Force, is systematically erasing all mention of God, Jesus, or the Bible from its murals, statues, paintings, and mottos. It is an ungodly revision of our national history. The Air Force is doing this because one atheistic group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. They had an inspirational painting that referenced a Bible verse removed from a dining hall at Mountain Home Air Force Base, calling the painting “repugnant” and an “overt display of Christian nationalism.” What is truly repugnant is the fact that while many have voiced their concerns, few have called or written the Air Force to tell them how repugnant it is to not only our national heritage but to those brave men and women who fought for religious freedom of expression to have their faith wiped from the public arena. I believe it is time for Christians to protect the gospel of God’s love!

Conclusion:

Christians are to walk in the truth of God’s love; Christians are to be obedient to the command of God’s love; and Christians are to protect the gospel of God’s love!
---
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Courage is remembered! -- Esther 9:1-5, 18-23, 26-28

Courage is remembered! -- Esther 9:1-5, 18-23, 26-28
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 2, 2013 AM

God frequently operates within the sphere of the human situation. In performing supernatural deeds, God often uses such forces as nature (the wind in the parting of the Red Sea). Likewise, He commonly works through imperfect servants (David) or even evil human beings (Nebuchadnezzar). In Esther God limited His work to an edict that used a unique feature of Persian law. This does not lessen the miraculous nature of His activity. Rather, it ought to cause God’s people to recognize His presence and power in everything that happens. If I were to ask you this morning, “In what ways is God working in your life today?” could you give me an answer?

How God works through those He loves demonstrates His devotion. We should respond in courage. Paul encouraged others to “Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV) And he wrote about himself, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV) In our “fighting the good fight” of faith, we are often asked to demonstrate courage in the face of overwhelming odds. This was true of Esther as well and because of this, her courage is remembered. Let’s see how…

READ: Esther 9:1-5, 18-23, 26-32

When we have received mercies from God, we should be quick to return our thanks to Him while the impressions are fresh. If the favor has extended to the whole people, steps should be taken to perpetuate the remembrance of it for the honor of God and the encouragement of others to trust in Him. Esther’s courage is remembered because we discover that…

I. God uses His time and His people for His vengeance! (Vv. 1-5)

  1. Adar was in late February and early March. Nine months had passed since the king honored Mordecai. No doubt during this period Mordecai’s reputation increased as he solidified his political power. The Jews spent the interval in preparation for the thirteenth day of Adar. This was the date Haman had set for the destruction of the Jews. Instead, when the date came, he was dead; the Jews had royal authority to arm and defend themselves. “On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.” To bring fear on the enemies of His people, God employed circumstances, a shift in political power, and royal authority. The Jews’ methodical activity against those who intended to harm them was officially sanctioned by the king’s decree. “The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them.”  Authorities in every province had received the second decree, and they no doubt were aware of the implications of Mordecai’s political influence.  “And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king's administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them.” They also feared the political fallout of acting against Jews, so chances are the kingdom’s military and law-enforcement authorities did not act on the first decree. “Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.” On Haman’s planned day of Jewish annihilation, the Jews fought for their lives and families and won out over their enemies. They “struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them.” The Jews assembled for the inevitable battle, but they did not wait to be attacked. Instead, they acted preemptively and struck their enemies first. In the new political reality created by Mordecai’s powerful status, resistance to the Jews was futile. Everywhere in the vast Persian Empire, the Jews were victorious. Incidentally, “In the citadel of Susa, the Jews (also) killed and destroyed five hundred men!” God uses His time and His people for His vengeance!

  EXAMPLE: Far too often, we desire that our vengeance take precedence over God’s will. Paul reminds us that we should, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” And that we are not to “repay anyone evil for evil.” But rather we are to “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.” In fact Paul writes, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 NIV) Vernon Grounds wrote, “The world was horrified when Chechen rebels massacred hundreds of people held hostage in a school in Beslan, Russia. Many of the victims were children, including six belonging to the two Totiev brothers, who are active in Christian ministry. One of the brothers reacted in a way that most of us would have a hard time choosing. He said, “Yes, we have an irreplaceable loss, but we cannot take revenge.” He believes what the Lord says, as recorded in Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” Some of us have difficulty getting rid of bitterness about small slights, to say nothing of major offenses like this family faced.” Wow! There would be a wonderful difference in the world today if our attitude was to give to God the injustices done to us. Esther and Mordecai did. Why not pause right now and search your heart. If there is any bitterness toward another or a desire for revenge, ask the Holy Spirit to help you not to be “overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” God uses His time and His people for His vengeance!

In Susa, the Jews killed 500 of their enemies, including surviving members of Haman’s family. Esther also requested an additional day’s time and she obtained an imperial edict to have Haman’s 10 son’s corpses displayed publicly. This sign of disgrace sent a strong signal to anyone who might question the day’s events. On the following day, their victory was complete. In what occurred, we learn that…

II. God should be remembered for His times of deliverance! (Vv. 18-19, 26-32)

  1. The feast was called Purim because of Haman’s use of the “pur”, the lot to determine the time of the execution for the Jews and Mordecai. The “pur” became a symbol of God’s using circumstances to deliver His own. These activities reflected the great reversal in Jewish fortune. Fasting and mourning had given way to eating and celebration! The exchanging of food reinforced a sense of community. Giving to the poor was common throughout the Old Testament as an indication of a right relationship to the Lord. Here it emphasized the poor were an integral part of the covenant community. Those without the financial means to participate were equally as important as those who enjoyed material prosperity. Since wealth can be a blessing from God, those who were affluent had a responsibility to share God’s blessings with others by honoring Him. Notice it was not by government mandate. We discover that “the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed.” This was so important that they saw the need that these “days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.” It was almost as important as their deliverance from Pharaoh by Moses! When God’s people have received special mercies from the Lord, shouldn’t they remember the occasion? If His favor has extended to an entire people, steps should be taken to perpetuate the remembrance of it for the honor of God and the encouragement of others to trust in Him. Esther and Mordecai could not allow their people to forget what God had done, so they “wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim.” They “sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes.” Mordecai and Esther included “words of goodwill and assurance to establish these days of Purim at their designated times.” So, as they “had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation.” God should be remembered for His times of deliverance!

  EXAMPLE: Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter have their origins in real events in history. They remind us of occasions when God intervened in human history to deliver His people from an end worse than death, the penalty of sin. These days need to be celebrated in ways that express the joy of God’s people and the value of every believer. What are other days you need to remember and celebrate what God has done in your life or in the life of your church? How often do you give remembrance to the rescue He delivered for you through Jesus? How often have you paused to remember the time His mercies were more than sufficient for you during a troubled time, you needed deliverance, and He gave it freely? In our lives, in the life of His church, God should be remembered for His times of deliverance!

Conclusion:
If there is any bitterness toward another or a desire for revenge, ask the Holy Spirit to help you not to be “overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” God uses His time and His people for His vengeance! In our lives, in the life of His church, God should be remembered for His times of deliverance!
---
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.