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What Do You Want

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The Jews were going through a religious revival but when God still condemned they they asked Him what more He wanted

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There is a phrase that we hear a lot of at this time of year and no I am not talking about “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or even “Ho Ho Ho”
Although we will hear those phrases a lot in the coming weeks I’m sure, the phrase that I am referring to this morning is “What do you want?”
If you haven’t already spoken it yourself, I’m sure that you will as you prepare to exchange gifts this Christmas season you will inevitably ask them. “So what do you want for Christmas?”
This morning I want to take a look at a time when Israel asked this very same question although they were asking it not of each other but of God and the circumstances were a whole lot different than a joyous Christmas season
The time was the 8th century before Christ and Israel was experiencing an almost unprecedented time of peace and prosperity
Under the leadership of King Jeroboam II in Israel and King Uzziah in Judah the 2 kingdoms were almost as well off as they had been many years earlier under the rule of Solomon
This also led to a sort of religious revival through the land as for the first time in ages the temple was crowded and giving was way up
All’s good right? Wrong!
“While Israel and Judah appeared to be strong externally, an internal decay was sapping their strength and threatening to destroy the social fabric of these two kingdoms. A burgeoning wealthy class was becoming richer at the expense of the poorer classes” (Expositor’s)
While things all looked good on the outside, The Jewish people were getting farther and farther from what God wanted them to be and so God sent a prophet
Well He sent more than one actually but this morning it’s just the one that we want to look at, the prophet Micah
God sends Micah to warn the people of impending judgment unless they change their ways
Micah 1:2–3 NIV
Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the Sovereign Lord may bear witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth.
Micah 1:2-3
The whole thing comes to a head in chapter 6 when God puts the people on trial for the way that they have been living
Micah 6:1–3 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.
Micah 6:1-
In verse 6 the people do indeed answer Him
Micah 6:6–7 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? 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?
Micah 6:6-7
In essence the people responded to God’s accusations with the question, “What do you want? You are God what could we possibly have or do that would make any difference to you?”
In verse 8 God gives His reply and this is where I want to spend our time together this morning
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.
In what is perhaps one of the most cohesive and clear passages in all the prophets God responds to His people and tells them the 3 things that He wants from them and I believe that it is the same 3 things that God wants from each of us today
The first thing that God wants is for His people to act justly
Now there is a lot that we could say this morning about God’s mandate to His people to be agents of justice, to be an example to the nations in looking after the widow and the orphan and the marginalized, to ensure equity and impartiality, objectivity and honesty in the courts
Something that I believe He still expects of His chosen people today
And even though the Jews were receiving a failing mark in that area that is not what God is saying to them here
God’s first “want” from the Israelites is that they would act justLY
If you continue reading in chapter 6 you’ll see that God is a little more specific about His charges against these people
Micah 6:11
Micah 6:11–12 NIV
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.
God was not asking them to overhaul the national justice system!
God was telling the people that He wants personal holiness, that He wants each individual to live a life of integrity and of doing the right thing
Don’t get me wrong, the church should always respond when it sees social injustice and the church should be the first to respond when there is a need, but even more important than that is how you are living your day to day, moment to moment life
What does God want? He wants you to live a life that is holy and just
Romans 12:1
Romans 12:1 NIV
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
1 Corinthians 1:2 NIV
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
Even more important than how we respond to hurricanes and other natural disasters is how we respond to the teller at Walmart
More important than our attitude towards the treatment of political prisoners on the other side of the world is our attitude towards our neighbor
If you look in the front cover of my KJV Bible you’ll see a quote that I wrote down during the first semester of my first year of Bible College
It goes like this, “The world’s greatest need is my personal holiness!”
In His list of things that God wants, that was His #1, he wants you to act justly, to always do the right thing, to be a person of integrity, to be like Daniel who when they tried to find some dirt on him
Daniel 6:5 NIV
Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
The second thing that God wants is for His people to love mercy
Now mercy simply defined is unexpected kindness
Now please don’t get caught up in the misconception that justice and mercy can’t occupy the same place at the same time because if there is ANYTHING that Jesus taught us it is that they absolutely can
The woman caught in the act of adultery, the Samaritan women at Jacob’s well, lepers, sinners, the sick, the possessed, Jesus who was the very embodiment of holiness was also the prime example of mercy
The idea that these two qualities cannot exist together comes from our own desire for revenge, to see those that we deem as guilty punished for what we deem as their misdeeds
But when we can let go of that, when we can leave those things to the Lord
Listen once again to the words of Paul from his letter to the Roman church
Romans 12:
Romans 12:19–21 NIV
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Unexpected kindness, it’s what God wants from you but even more than that He wants you to grow in Him until you can come to the place in your life where you love mercy
To look forward to it with anticipation, to want to show mercy because it feels good and right to do so
And there’s only one way that this can take place in our lives and that is when we experience and recognize the mercy of god that has been shown towards us
Ephesians 2:1–10 NIV
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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.
And this leads us right into the third thing that God wants, He wants His people to walk in humility with Him
Now I want you to take note this morning that God does not simply say that He wants you to be humble
I mean of course He wants you to be humble and there are many scriptures that support that requirement in us
Ephesians 4:1–2 NIV
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
But in his reply to the Israelites this day as they demand to know what God really wants of them He tells them that He wants them (and us) to walk humbly WITH HIM!
What’s the difference? Well I’m glad you asked,
Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “The expression ‘to walk humbly with your God.’ means to live in a conscious fellowship with God, exercising a spirit of humility before Him.”
You see God does not want a religious affiliation with His people, He wants, He craves a closeness, a personal relationship that exceeds the boundaries of mere religious worship and obedience
His words here are reminiscent of the relationship that the Father enjoyed with Adam in the garden before Adam sinned and strained that relationship
Genesis 3:8 NIV
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
And of the relationship that others have had with God since
Genesis 5:22 NIV
After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.
Genesis 5:24 NIV
Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
Genesis 6:9 NIV
This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.
God doesn’t want your blind obedience to a list of commandments, He wants you to get to know Him, to fall in love with Him, to walk with Him through this life and into eternity
That’s what he wanted 2900 years ago and that’s still what He wants today
How do I know that it’s still what He wants today? Well because Jesus said so
Matthew 23:23
Matthew 23:23 NIV
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
I believe that you are here this morning because it is your desire to please the Lord and so my advice to you is if you want to please Him, give Him what He wants
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.
Let’s pray
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