How you respond is everything. silly memes: Several of you posted on FB: “Everything happens for a reason. But sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions.” “Never laugh at your wife’s choices, you are one of them.” “I wish there was an autocorrect function for life’s choices.” “Some people don’t wanna be fixed because being broken gets them attention!” Choices.
I learned an early lesson from my father about not playing the victim. (I’ve used it before.) I was 7-8 years old playing with my best friend Keith on the roof of the CRC parsonage when we decided to jump off the roof. I sprained my ankle ~ oh the pain. I did the only reasonable thing ~~ I pretended I fell because I figured it was in my best interest for people to feel sorry for me. My mother felt sorry for me…. The Peterson’s felt sorry for me. I felt sorry for me. The whole world felt sorry for me, that is… until my father walked into the living room with me groaning on the couch./// My father laughed….
The challenge of Micah is for the people to choose righteousness as they face war from without (Assyria) and war from within (sin). Righteousness is one of those ideas that is easier to see than to define. If you are married, or have children, or you have parents, or a friend, any relationship, you know when the relationship is right and when it is disconnected. God wants a right relationship with us… Micah’s message: the world is crushing from without and within… you have a choice: are you going to play the victim, pretending you fell off the roof, or are you going to take responsibility, turn to God, seek forgiveness, and allow Him to carry you through.
Micah 7:1 begins, “What misery is mine!” That’s what I said when I was laying on the couch in agony… I know it is serious stuff in Micah, but honestly, it’s ok to laugh at the people of Judah because it is not like they are perfect people and haven’t made some bad decisions to get them into the mess they are in! READ Mic. 7:1...sounds like me picking berries when I was young, woe is me, there just isn’t enough fruit on the vines for me to get any… I’m thinking, everyone needs a father to laugh at them when they are feeling sorry for themselves.
Micah emphasizes the Day of Accountability is coming! The way he ends Micah 7:4 is descriptive of our world. READ Mic. 7:4b. We are living in a confusing time!
I am tired of our society playing the victim, always blaming somebody else. I am disappointed the professional players sitting out the National Anthem to start the game with the message that as soon as the rest of us change they will stand once again. There is injustice in the world, but until all of us look within, every group, individual, there will be no changes. As long as the primary message is that it is somebody else’s fault, there will be no unity. I’m going to vote for the most prophetic statement of Micah to describe our times today as that last phrase from Mic. 7:4: “Now is the time of your confusion.” Welcome to 2017!
Micah goes on in Mic. 7:5-6 about tension in family/friend relationships…READ. Micah is describing tension in the most personal relationships. He is not saying this is desirable, but rather, he is saying this is the result of those who choose the way of misery ~Tension in the family/society… fighting. “now is the time of your confusion.” Our need is for right relationships in families, friends ~ and it starts with God! Get your relationship right with God, the most important relationship of all!
It does not have to be a confusing time for you. I am not always sure what we can do about the Assyrians/the ugliness of the world, but we can choose to reset our internal compass to point to God. Micah declares he will not be a victim. Mic. 7:7 READ. If you find yourself in tension with the world, out of sorts with your family, neighbor, stand in boldness and get right with God as a priority! Settle your spirit by focusing on a right and good and excellent relationship with God! READ Mic. 7:7. Micah is not putting his hope in Assyria changing. He HOPES in the Lord. Hope in Jesus Christ is a choice!
The contrast between Micah 7:1-6 and Mic. 7:7-20 is huge. You have a choice: Play the victim, “What misery is mine.” OR put your hope in God, “I wait for God my savior.” Mic. 7:8-20 describes a life of faith for those who find meaning by choosing God, to overcome confusion with understanding and acceptance.
The person of faith has an attitude of not letting the enemy get under my skin… READ Mic. 7:8. Do not gloat ~ I often tell people, if you want to insult me you need to tell me because otherwise I might not notice… a helpful saying I learned not too long ago, “What other people think of me is none of my business…” If somebody thinks a particular sermon was incomprehensible, why would I want to know that? Besides, if I listen to people criticize me, I might be tempted to join in and pile on even more things they didn’t think of… he way I see this verse is that I have a measure of control in my attitude. The only way criticisms can become gloating is if I let my critics/enemies get under my skin… and if I do that, then we have war….the person of faith says, I look to God for my purpose, my value….
The person of faith has an attitude of expectation: a person of faith cares less what others think of them and more about what God thinks of them… “though I have fallen I will rise… the Lord will be my light.” The Son of God is shining on me. Are you confused by the world, confused by the community, confused by people in your family? Rise with Christ!
An attitude of expectation is expressed in Mic. 7:11 READ. When you rise with Christ, there is HOPE.. the day will come when the walls will be rebuilt, you will expand, grow, be amazed… even while the enemy is circling the camp, to have hope of ultimate victory is a game changer….To be positive in your spirit… we may not know all the details of what’s coming in our lives, but we all will end well when we follow the Lord.
The person of faith is realistic about our true nature: I am a sinner. READ Mic. 7:9. Mic. 6, from last week’s message, begins with a court room scene declaring God has a case against us. I said last week, we have no chance to stand up against God. The case against us is over before it starts because God is always right!
Mic. 7:9 is an astounding verse in light of Mic. 6:1-2. NO CHANCE against God in Mic. 6. But now in Mic. 7:9 the great prophet of faith, in the same courtroom with God prosecuting us sinners, declares, “He will bring me out into the light, I will see His righteousness.” What an amazing reversal. Micah has such incredible faith in God he is able to envision God declaring the guilty to be set free.
Look what changes: In Mic. 7:9 Micah calls on God to plead his case not against Micah, but for Micah: “I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause.” What an astounding attitude: Micah is saying “I don’t need a trial, I am guilty…I will accept whatever hammer God wants to bring down upon me… but I have confidence God will come to my defense and declare me to be worthy to have a right relationship with Him once again, “He will bring me out into the light, I will see His righteousness.”
The person of faith knows God’s character is a forgiving God. Micah is not saying be strong and think positive thoughts and work hard and all will be well. He is saying God will forgive your sins and set you right so that you will be cleansed and can have a fresh beginning. Amen! Mic. 7:9 is a prophetic proclamation of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, to forgive your sins: “I have sinned…” Micah says, “I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause.” These words are most perfectly fulfilled when Jesus Christ died on the cross. The only thing Micah got wrong is that Jesus Christ Himself took on the wrath of God that our sins deserved… Micah says, “I will bear the Lord’s wrath…” Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself.
Admit that you are a sinner, accept the cross of Christ as the punishment for your sins. The cross is how God pleads our case…. As a prosecutor he is not saying we are innocent of sins, he is saying, “I am providing my own son to take your place.”
“I will see His righteousness” Micah dares to claim. I will have a right relationship with God. What a tremendous declaration of faith/confidence,/hope. I am a sinner, God is going to forgive me, and he will give me a new life with Him.
The life of a person of faith is developed further in Mic. 7:14 by looking to God to guide. READ. Salvation is not only a one time experience in which the Lord declares all is well between us, but salvation is a way of life. It’s called discipleship. It is a commitment. The Lord is the Shepherd, guiding His people. The image Micah paints of God is as beautiful as the stained glass behind me. The final word of Micah is a tender relationship/life with God of peace and purpose… “I will show my wonders” God says in Mic. 7:15… life with God is an amazing journey… May our message to the world as we share the good news of Christ include the truth that being a Christian is a great adventure… I talk to people everyday who try to find fulfillment in crazy dead end ways, Micah tells us that following God is a life filled with wonder and awe….
The final word of Micah is a powerful statement of God’s character. READ Mic. 7:18-20. The best sermon today on these words are found in the songs for the day that we sung, chosen to emphasize the character of God. If you are ready, willing and desiring to grow in your faith, to take the next step of maturity in your Christian walk, the most life changing thing you can do is study God’s character. We idolize our sports stars, entertainers, heros of all shapes and forms, learning about their lives, likes and dislikes, what they are like…. Do the same thing with God. Lift high the name of Jesus Christ, put Him on the throne of your heart, and seek to find out everything you can possibly know about Him. You will grow in your faith. These verses are a litany of God’s character: forgiving, merciful, compassionate, faithful, loving, a promise keeper.
You have a choice. No question but that life is rough. Tough. Unfair. Filled with enemies. “Now is the time of your confusion.” You have a choice. You fan feel sorry for yourself, playing the victim, giving up on yourself and the world, “What misery is mine” OR you can stand firm, “I watch in Hope for the Lord.”
The Life of faith is to put aside the drama caused by the enemy and focus on your relationship with God, admit you are a sinner, receiving the forgiveness that comes from God, looking to Jesus Christ to guide you, and growing in your faith by learning who God is… Amen. If you are ready to choose the way of faith in Jesus Christ, I dare you to tell one other person, if you desire to renew your commitment to God I dare you to tell at least one person today. Amen