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A Genuine Life

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Many people here at St. Luke's have shared fond memories of AM. But of all the stories, and memories there is one that is particularly simple, yet it is packed with wisdom.
Aaron Brockmeier the former Pastor here at St. Luke’s reminded me of this story. I say reminded because as soon as Aaron wrote about it, I remembered that AM had shared this story with me as well. Occasionally, when it was time for AM to give advice, rather than come out and say it directly, he would instead share a story.
AM told a story about how when he needed to do business Texas, he found that to do business in Texas, you needed to gain a certain measure of credibility and respect. So, to do that he learned that he needed to become a Texan. He needed to have boots and a cowboy hat. Once he had a ten-gallon hat and boots, he was able to do business with the Texans. Knowing AM, I have a feeling that he told that story more than once.
In my case, AM was telling the story to teach me, a younger man, a bit of wisdom. It taught about the need to build relationships, by identifying with people. It taught about being humble and recognizing and having respect for people and their culture. It was a simple story, yet it was filled with wisdom.
I tell this story because it is similar to our scripture text today. A very simple verse . When Dan sent over the scripture text, , knew right away it was a perfect text scripture for AM. It is succinct; it is to the point. And yet it packed with wisdom.
In preparing for this message many people shared with me their fond memories of AM. But of all the stories, and memories there is a particularly simple one that just speaks of simplicity, yet is filled with wisdom.
He has shown you, O man what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Aaron Brockmeier the former Pastor here at St. Luke’s reminded me of this story. I say reminded because as soon as Aaron wrote about it, I remembered that AM had shared this story with me as well. Sometimes, when it came time for AM to give advice, rather than come out and say it, he would share a story, and this was one of those times.
I think everyone who knew AM knew his life reflected that verse. Among his many character qualities were those same qualities found in that passage. He was humble. He was honest, He was kind. But the real point is that these traits weren't just something he put on like a pair of cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat rather, they were a part of who he was.
His strong, genuine character was evident in everything that he did.
It is refreshing to do business, with a real, and an honest businessman. Although those Texans thought that we were getting a better man when AM put on the hat and boots, what they would soon find out was that it wasn't the appearance that makes the man, it was something else entirely.
AM told the story how in order to gain respect, and conduct business in Texas, he needed to have boots and a cowboy hat. Knowing AM, I have a feeling that he told that story more than once. Although it seems like a simple story, and we grin and chuckle, and move there is so much more to it than that.
The passage here, is just that. It is God’s plea for his people to be genuine. God is pleading with his people to stop acting like someone they are not, and to become a new person.
See he would tell that story in order to each people, in my case a younger man a bit of wisdom. Wisdom about a lot of things It taught about building relationships, and how important that was. It taught about being humble, and it taught about having respect for people and working together. It is a simple story, yet it contains a lot of wisdom.
It is part of a larger conversation between God and his people. Although Micah wrote this passage sometime between 750 and 680 BC, is not any different then what is happening today.
The so-called religious people of the day were oppressing people, and they weren’t treating everyone in their community fairly and with justice, and kindness. Instead, they were taking advantage of the oppressed, and then they would run back to God and try to get back on His good side. They sought to make up for it by doing things that they hoped would please God. And God saw right through that.
Do you know that is the number one complaint against Christians today? People look at Christianity and see Christians dealing dishonestly in business, or being cruel, or walking right by hurting people. Then they see the same people coming to Church on Sunday and trying to make it all right with God. Well not only does God see right through that, but even non-Christians find that distasteful.
This is exactly what the prophet Micah was talking about. It actually starts a few verses before at verse 6. At verse 6, Micah wrote.
Micah 6:6 NIV
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
How can we make up for the wrongs?
It is like our scripture text today. When I read the scripture that Dan sent over, . I knew it was a perfect text for AM. It is simple. It is , to the point. And yet it unfolds to describe AM.
And then Micah asks how much is needed to overcome these wrongs?
Micah 6:7 NIV
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
Is it the firstborn, or is it ten-thousand rivers of Olive Oil? How can you make it up to God?
See none of that makes a difference. What God's word is telling us is that you can’t purchase your way back into God’s favor by giving sacrifices. What God is saying is he wants you to genuinely worship him through your whole life, through everything you do. He wants you to be genuine. Not just a Sunday morning Christian.
God expects us actually to live, the way we actually should live.
Micah 6:8 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
And see THAT is exactly what AM understood. He lived his whole life in fellowship with God. He lived his entire life the way God wanted him to. He walked with God.
AM was not a Sunday morning Christian. A Sunday Morning Christian, is just going to come to service, say hi and go home. Oh, you’ll see from time to time, when the guilt builds up. But not AM.
No AM, was here Sunday after Sunday, week after week, year after year. Joan even remarked, of AM wasn't here he must be sick, because he would always be here otherwise.
A Sunday morning Christian is only here on Sunday, but not AM. He was here as many days as needed. When this Church needed a new building, because we had outgrown the old one, a Sunday Morning Christian would have just walked away. AM became part of the project. He sought out what was best to bring together the whole community of St. Luke's. He was on the building committee, he worked tirelessly, put up with long meetings and sometimes difficult discussions.
He did not do it for honor or recognition, in fact, I think we would all agree, he would probably prefer that I not even mention it, because he was that humble. But the reason I do bring it up is because the real reason AM he did it so that it would be a lasting place for others to come together and worship Jesus. Not for AM's legacy but for Jesus' church.
I saw him not too long ago, and he made it a point to show me his Bible. And he showed me the inscription with his name and the dates he had served on Church Council. He kept it right next to his chair and told me how he reads it every day. That is not a Sunday Morning Christian, that is someone who is walking with God every day.
I think everyone here agrees that AM’s life reflected that verse. Among AM’s many character qualities were the qualities found in that passage, humility, honesty, and kindness. Those character qualities were genuine AM. There are many people here in this Church, that have know AM for many years, and his strong character was evident in everything that he did for his full life. The word is genuine. He was genuine.
Now, it could be easy to get the wrong idea here. Although AM had an incredible work ethic, was genuine, and was always persevering, in everything he did at the Church, you could get the wrong idea and think I am saying we need to buckle down and work harder at doing the right thing.
But that is not what I am saying at all. See what was evident in AM’s life is that is who he was. We do not do these things to be able to walk with God, but rather just the opposite.
When we walk with God, the by-product is that we do these things. We don't do these things to become someone; we do these things because that is who we are.
WHich makes this passge even more interesting
Let me explain it like this. When we do not show mercy, or do not show justice to someone, and then we try to do something good for God to make up for it. We do nothing to right the wrong we did in the first place. If we cheat someone in business on Wednesday, then go to Church on Sunday, we have done nothing to fix the cheating.
But when we are walking with God, the whole situation is different. See what AM and all genuine Christians realize is this. All of us some way, one way or another have committed some sort of sin. And God reached down and became man. Jesus, the God-man, lived the life that we couldn’t live. He was merciful and humble and loved justice. He lived the perfect life that we don’t live. He died in our place, for our sins.
And when we place our faith in Him; and when we trust that he died on the cross for our sins, in our place: and when we believe that God raised Him from the dead three days later, when we do that, God transforms us.
Perhaps his skill at business, allowed him to spot people who where not genuine. You cannot be successful in the business world without an ability to spot people who are not being honest.
See, when people are good at business,, they have an ability to spot people who are not being genuine with them. This passage here is God’s plea for his people to be genuine.
Micah 6:6 NIV
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
He takes us from being a bunch of hypocrites and transforms us into genuine people in his likeness. He makes us more and more like Him.
Jesus becomes part of our character. We live a new life, and we do things like serving on building committees, and join church councils, and be part of the St. Luke’s Brotherhood, not because we have to. Not becasue we are trying to make up for wrongs that we have done throughout the week, but because of what Jesus did for us. Because of Jesus although he was fully God, He humbled Himself for us. Because Jesus loved justice and knew that justice had to be served for the wrongs we committed He was willing to die in our place, for the wrongs we committed. And because Jesus loved mercy he was willing to save us and grant us mercy, not giving us what we deserve, but saving us so that we could spend paradise in His presence.
explains this perfectly.
This verse , is part of a larger conversation between God and his people. See God’s people were turning there backs on the poor and the oppressed. They weren’t treating everyone in their community fairly and with justice, and kindness. Instead they were taking advantage of the oppressed, and then they would run back to God and try to get back on His good side, by doing things that they hoped would please God. And God saw right through that,
It starts
Ephesians 2:8–10 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
You know that is the number one complaint against Christians today. People look at Christianity, and see Christians dealing dishonestly in business, or being cruel, or walking right by hurting people, then trying to come to Church on Sunday and make it all right with God. Not only dies God see right through that, but even non-christians find that distasteful.
That is why Micah writes this.
Micah 6:6 NIV
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
And Micah asks how much is needed to overcome the wrongs?
AM was indeed a good man. A man of strong character, honest and had a good sense of humor. But because AM knew Jesus, Jesus made AM a great man. Jesus made AM a man who acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with his God.
Micah 6–7 NIV
Listen to what the Lord says: “Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. “Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.” With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Listen! The Lord is calling to the city— and to fear your name is wisdom— “Heed the rod and the One who appointed it. Am I still to forget your ill-gotten treasures, you wicked house, and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? Your rich people are violent; your inhabitants are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine. You have observed the statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab’s house; you have followed their traditions. Therefore I will give you over to ruin and your people to derision; you will bear the scorn of the nations.” What misery is mine! I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave. The faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains. Everyone lies in wait to shed blood; they hunt each other with nets. Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire— they all conspire together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day God visits you has come, the day your watchmen sound the alarm. Now is the time of your confusion. Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips. For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household. But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets. The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries. In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the Euphrates and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain. The earth will become desolate because of its inhabitants, as the result of their deeds. Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, which lives by itself in a forest, in fertile pasturelands. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days long ago. “As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders.” Nations will see and be ashamed, deprived of all their power. They will put their hands over their mouths and their ears will become deaf. They will lick dust like a snake, like creatures that crawl on the ground. They will come trembling out of their dens; they will turn in fear to the Lord our God and will be afraid of you. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.
Micah 6:7 NIV
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
Is it the firstborn or ten-thousand rivers of Olive Oil.
See non of that makes a difference. What God, through the prophet Micah is saying is that you can’t purchase your way back into God’s favor by giving sacrifices. What God is saying is that he wants you to genuinely worship him by your whole life. He wants you to be genuine. Not just a Sunday morning christian. God expects us to actually live the way we should live.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Micah 6:6 NIV
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Micah 6:8 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
How much do we have to
And see THAT is what AM understood. He lived his whole life in fellowship with God. He walked with him.
A Sunday Morning Christian, is just going to come to service, say hi and go home. Oh you’ll see from time to time, when the guilt builds up. But not AM.
No AM, was here Sunday after Sunday. AM when the need for St. Luke’s was to build a building, AM could have supported it, and went home, and came back for the dedication. But instead AM was on the building committee. Working tirelessly to help the entire to build this beautiful sanctuary we are in, So that it could be lasting legacy.
I saw him not to long ago, and he showed me his Bible, right next to his chair and told me how he reads it everyday. And he showed me the inscription with his name and the dates he had served on Church Council.
Now, it could be easy do get the wrong idea here. Although AM had an incredible work ethic, was genuine, and was always persevering, you could get the wrong idea and think I saying we should all just be like AM and buckle down, and work harder at doing the right thing.
But thing is that is not what I am saying at all. If I were, we would be right back at the hypocritical problem I described earlier. See what was evident in AM’s life is not that we do these things to be able to walk with God, but rather just the opposite. We walk with then we do these these things because that is who we are.
Let me explain it like this. When we do not show mercy, or justice to someone, and then we turn around and do something good for God. We in no way right the wrong we did to that person. That person is in the same position we left them in.
But when we are walking with God, the whole situation is different. See what AM and all genuine Christians realize is this. All of us some way, one way or another have committed some sort of sin. And God reached down and became man. Jesus the God-man lived the life that we couldn’t live. He was merciful, and humble and all just. He lived the life that we don’t live. He died in our place, for our sins.
And when we place our faith in Him, and trust that he died on the cross for our sins, in our place, and believe that God raised Him from the dead three days later, when we do that, God transforms us.
He takes us from being a bunch of hypocrites, and transforms us into genuine people in his likeness. He makes us more and more like Him.
E
Jesus becomes part of our character. We live a new life, and we do things like serve on building committees, and join church councils, and be part of the St. Luke’s Brotherhood, not because we have to, to make up for wrongs, but because of what Jesus did for us. Because Jesus although he was fully God, humbled himself for us. Because Jesus loved justice, and knew that justice had to be served for the wrongs we committed was willing to die in our place, and because Jesus loved mercy and was willing to save us and grant us mercy not giving us what we deserve but saving us so that we could spend paradise in presence.
Ephesians 2:8–10 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
AM was indeed a good man. A man of strong character, honest and had a good sense of humor,. but because AM knew Jesus, AM was a great man. Jesus made AM a man who acted justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with his God.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
The prophet Micah was speaking about a broken relationship between man and God.
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