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Sunday Recap 3/5: “How do we emulate the heart of God?”

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Sunday, March 5th, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at the big picture question:

How do we emulate the heart of God?

We pursued that thought from Romans 12:1-2,

“1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We know we are emulating the heart of God, when we are….

  • A living sacrifice
  • Transformed
  • Discerning the will of God

Let’s pursue our first answer

As a living sacrifice

“1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

The phrase “living sacrifice” is deliberately paradoxical.  In the biblical context, a sacrifice is something that was killed.  Yet here Paul is connecting living with this image, with this new reality for Christians. A living sacrifice means that every day, every hour, deliberately, consciously, continually and perpetually offer yourself to him.  It’s constant and intense and points to the inability of yourself to accomplish it. You also are putting to death the idea that you have the right to live as you choose.  This is in direct opposition to what our culture totes.  What you are putting to death is the idea that you belong to yourself, that you know best what should happen in your life and you give those places to God.  It feels like a death to say “you know best” and “I trust you” to God.  It feels like a death but it leads to life and that’s why it’s called a living sacrifice.

We know we are emulating the heart of God, when we are a living sacrifice. Now let’s look at the first part of vs 2 as we considered what it means to be transformed.

Transformed

“2a Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind”

What we need is much more than to be morally improved.  We need God to daily inwardly transform us.  You need God’s grace in my heart today just as much as the day you first believed.  You come to the table before God with nothing, even your good works are not enough to earn favor with God.  Yes, morality will come out of you but not because you want to impress others but rather out of love and adoration for God. This is the way of the kingdom of God.  God’s primary desire is not to make us good it’s to make us new.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if you are in Christ you are a New Creation.”  A new creation is transformed.  Doing something in us that only He can do.

Anyone can morally reform themselves.  Anyone can be good, you don’t have to be spiritual to do that.  If you have  discipline and self-will you can be a “good person”.  You can give your money to good things.  You can spend your time in good ways.  You can volunteer at shelters, etc.  You can live your life in such a way that the world would look at you and say that a good man or that’s a good woman.  You can begin to convince yourself that this is what God is wanting…is a lot of good moral living.  There is more to it than being good.  God wants your heart.  Behavioral compliance to rules without heart change, without transformation will be superficial and fleeting.

We are transformed as our minds are renewed.  As we come to the Bible to encounter God and apply His word to our life.  This also happens in community with others.  Our minds become renewed as we speak the truth in love to each other….pressing into the hard places….knowing that we have a deep love for each other.  We get to experience forgiveness and extend grace.

Our lives are changed as our minds are made new, so that we are able to “discern” God’s will.

Discerning the will of God

“2b that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We discern God’s will by testing….by living out the realities of everything I’ve talked about this morning being a living sacrifice and living the transformed life all while clinging to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of your faith

A  question that I have found helpful is that it’s not so much, “God, what is your will for my life?” But rather, “God, what is your will, and how can I play a role?”

We ended the sermon by reading Romans 12:9-21 and praying that God would cultivate this kind of heart in us individually and as His church as we seeks to be a living sacrifice to our community.

Sunday Recap for 02/26: “Why is God better than the world’s best thing?”

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Sunday, February 26, 2017, Evident Grace Fellowship looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Why is God better than the world’s best thing?

We pursued that thought in Micah 6:9-16.

Micah 6.9 The voice of the Lord cries to the city—and it is sound wisdom to fear your name: “Hear of the rod and of him who appointed it! 10 Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed? 11 Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights? 12 Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13 Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow, making you desolate because of your sins. 14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied, and there shall be hunger within you; you shall put away, but not preserve, and what you preserve I will give to the sword. 15 You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine. 16 For you have kept the statutes of Omri, and all the works of the house of Ahab; and you have walked in their counsels, that I may make you a desolation, and your inhabitants a hissing; so you shall bear the scorn of my people.”

We found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Why is God better than the world’s best thing? 

He is full of wisdom
He is just
He is powerful

Let’s pursue our first answer:

He is full of wisdom.

Micah 6.9 The voice of the Lord cries to the city—and it is sound wisdom to fear your name: “Hear of the rod and of him who appointed it! 10 Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed? 11 Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales and with a bag of deceitful weights? 12 Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

The people of Micah’s day were doing their business wickedly. They were overcharging interest in their day to day business dealings and even mistreating widows.  While the market may have allowed that, God called it wicked and even violent.  The wisdom of the world called it good.  The wisdom of God called it evil.  Lots of money could be made, and the people of Micah’s day called that money better than God.  The wisdom of God shows that God’s wisdom is better than what the world has to offer.

He is just.

13 Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow, making you desolate because of your sins.  14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied, and there shall be hunger within you; you shall put away, but not preserve, and what you preserve I will give to the sword. 15 You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.

God in His justice frustrated the wealth of His people.  He declared that they would work and be hungry.  They would work and not save.  If they did save, it would be taken by the sword.  They would harvest olives and grapes but not have oil or wine to enjoy.

When the world raises something up as better than God, God shows His justice to prove He and His wisdom are best.

He is powerful.

16 For you have kept the statutes of Omri, and all the works of the house of Ahab; and you have walked in their counsels, that I may make you a desolation, and your inhabitants a hissing; so you shall bear the scorn of my people.”

The people of Micah’s day were following Omri and Ahab, a false god and politician.  They put their hope in them and their counsel.  God showed He is better than the world’s best by bringing His people to desolation.  When the world raises something up as better than God, God shows His power.

For us, we must think how we might pursue God as best.  Jesus helps us in Matthew 13.

Matthew 13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

The kingdom of God, the work of Jesus through believers and the church, is of such value that it dwarfs everything of value in this world.  All that the believer possess, (materially, physically, spiritually, etc…) is to be given over to serve the work of Jesus in this world.

We ended our sermon with this wrap up.

Big Picture Question:  Why is God better than the world’s best thing? 

He is full of wisdom
He is just
He is powerful

Truth: God’s wisdom, justice, and power are better than every one of the world’s best things.

Application:  Live knowing that God’s great wisdom, justice, and power is both your source and purpose in this world.

Action:

 

  • Select a place in your life (relationship, task, responsibility, etc)
  • Ask yourself how purposefully you think and apply God’s wisdom, justice, and power there.
  • Boldly make changes.

Sunday Recap for 02/19:  “How Can We Be Transformed by Worship?”

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Sunday, February 19, 2017, we continued our “Micah: Heart of God” series and pursued this Big Picture Question.

Big Picture Question:  How can we be transformed by worship?

And we looked at Micah 6:6-8 for our answers…

Micah 6.6“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

We answered our question in this way…

Big Picture Question:  How can we be transformed by worship?

  • Ask the Question
  • Listen to God
  • Obey

Our first answer…

Ask the question.

The people of Micah’s day ask their question to God in light of their oncoming judgment.  They at first ask if God wants the requirement of the law.

6 Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

Then they ask if God wants even more that what He required.

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

And finally, they fall into the realm of the ridiculous.

7b Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

Friends, if you want to be transformed by worship, we must ask God to do it for us.  We don’t have to offer our works or our efforts.  They always fail.  We must ask God to transform us.  “God, will you transform me in worship?”

Listen to God.

8 He has told you, O man, what is good;

If we want to be transformed in worship, we have to listen to God because He has told us what to do.  Where can we listen to God?  3 places.

God speaks to us in the scriptures.

God speaks to us in our prayers when our prayers are consistent with the scriptures.

And God speaks to us in worship services that faithfully preach the scriptures.

Anywhere else is suspect and more than likely wrong.  Our part in worship transformation is to place ourselves underneath the scriptures.

Obey.

8b and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

God requires 3 outcomes of us as we are transformed in worship.  If these 3 things happen, we will know if we are transformed.  They don’t cause us to be transformed.  They are the result of being transformed.  If we are transformed in worship, we will…

Do justice – stand up for those who are wronged and stand against that which is wrong.

Love kindness – we will do justice in kindness.

Walk humbly before God – we will do all of these things knowing that God has blessed us as we don’t deserve any of this.

Big Picture Question:  How can we be transformed by worship? 

Truth:  When you ask God how to worship Him, you will be transformed and more greatly be able to obey Him.

Application:  Live knowing that God will transform you in worship so that you will be able to seek justice for others through love kindness and humility.

Action:  Leave this worship knowing that God will use all that has happened here to enable you to be an agent of mercy, love, and humility to someone this week.

Sunday Recap for 2/12: “How do we remember the power of God?”

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Sunday, February 12th, Evident Grace looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How do we remember the power of God?

To answer that question, we looked at this passage from Micah…

Micah 5:10 And in that day, declares the Lord, I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots; 11 and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds; 12 and I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes; 13 and I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; 14 and I will root out your Asherah images from among you and destroy your cities. 15 And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.

6:1 Hear what the Lord says: Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice, 2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against his people, and he will contend with Israel. 3 “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me! 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5 O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”

We found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How does God help us remember His power?

  • He removes what we trust.
  • He shows us our hearts.
  • He calls us to remember.

He removes what we trust.

Micah 5:10 And in that day, declares the Lord, I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots; 11 and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds; 12 and I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes; 13 and I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; 14 and I will root out your Asherah images from among you and destroy your cities. 15 And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.

God gave the people of Micah’s day good things:  military to protect them, wisdom to guide them, and worship to transform them.  Unfortunately, they perverted those gifts.  Instead of trusting the God, they trusted their military’s might.  Instead of trusting God for wisdom, they trusted sorcerers and fortune tellers.  Instead of worshiping the one true God, they worshiped idols made by their own hands.

God in His grace removed the false things that they trusted so that they might once again find their trust in God.

We too need to look at our hearts.  God will remind us of this power by removing the things we falsely trust.  This is an act of love by God.  We should do this heart work of remembering God’s power and removing what we falsely trust knowing that God will ultimately do it if we don’t.

He shows us our hearts.

6:1 Hear what the Lord says: Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice, 2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against his people, and he will contend with Israel. 3 “O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me!

God calls the mountain to testify in His court case against His people.  He asks the people, “Have I wearied you?  What have I done that you would worship every false thing?”  And the mountain echo in reply God’s faithfulness.

We reminds us of His power as He shows us our hearts.  As we learn our hearts, we find things to remove and we find God’s faithfulness true.

He calls us to remember.

4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.  5 O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”

God reminds His people of His power.

In Exodus, God rescued His people from slavery.  He reminds them of their rescue from Egypt.

In Numbers 22:4-6 Balak was the king of Moab and he devised a plan with Balaam to curse and kill the people of God when they moved into the land.   But God protected them and no harm ever came to them from Balak or Balaam.

In Numbers 25:1 – Israel lived in the area of Shittim, and the people of God began to intermarry with the daughters of Moab intermingling not only with those women but also with their pagan religion.  God did not cast away His people despite their sin.

In Joshua 5:9-10 The Lord reminded Joshua that the reproach of being slaves had been removed from the people and now they had the freedom to worship God and they did by celebrating the Passover

What faithfulness should we remember?  In addition to those mentioned above, we should remember the faithfulness of Christ on our behalf.

2 Timothy 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel…11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him…13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

And we concluded we these thoughts…

Truth:  We remember God’s power as we learn more about our hearts and what we trust.

Application:  Live knowing that God will do whatever is necessary to remind you of us His power.

Action:  In some moment of worry or doubt this week, remember that God is more powerful than whatever it is you are facing.   

Sunday Recap for 02/05:  “How Does God Protect Believers?”

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Sunday, February 5, we look at Micah 5:7-9 and asked this question:

Big Picture Question:  How Does God Protect Believers?

Micah 5:7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. 9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.

We found these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How Does God Protect Believers?

  • The church will refresh the world
  • The church will be victorious
  • The church will be eternally safe

The church will refresh the world.

Micah 5:7 Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man.

The intention of God is that He has set apart His people to refresh the world.  Morning dew and showers are a picture of God’s blessing, and God has sent His people to refresh the world.

We do it with mercy.
We do it with kind words.
We do it by proclaiming Jesus Christ.

We need to reclaim the conversations of the world.  We have forfeited them to arguing and hate speech (even succumbing to them ourselves.).  But God sends the church into the world to refresh it.

The church will be victorious.

8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver.

No other institution on this planet is going to be victorious like the church.  Ephesians 5 tells us that God purchased the church by giving Jesus as a sacrifice so that He might make her beautiful.

This will not happen for our government.
This will not happen to our families.
Only the church is called to be victorious in the world.

Protected, the church must victoriously go forward proclaiming Jesus.

The church will be eternally safe.

9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.

Friends, just as in Micah’s day, we are eternally safe, so we go forward protected and thankful into the world.

Big Picture Question:  How Does God Protect Believers? 

Truth:  God protects believers as we victoriously and safely refresh the world.

Application:  Live victoriously knowing God will protect you as you refresh the world with the grace of Jesus Christ.

Action:  Speak about the grace of Jesus boldy to someone this week…or at least invite them to worship.

Sunday Recap for 01/29/17:  “Why is Personal Peace So Difficult?”

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This past Sunday, we continued in our “Micah:  Heart of God” series”.  In our passage, we asked this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  Why is personal peace so difficult?

And we answered our Big Picture Question in this way:

Big Picture Question:  Why is personal peace so difficult?

  • Change is painful.
  • God’s wisdom is greater than ours.
  • Peace requires faith.

Our first answer came from Micah 4

Change is painful.

Micah 4:8 And you, O tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, the former dominion shall come, kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.  9 Now why do you cry aloud?  Is there no king in you?  Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor?  10 Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon.  There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies. 

Israel was in the in-between time of God’s judgment.  In those in-between times is when we struggle the most with peace.  As Israel struggled with peace, they are recognizing that to draw near to God is going to required great change.  And they appear not to be ready.  So, God begins asking them how all the other things that they have trusted have turned out.

Their counselors?

Their priests?

Everything but God?  It has all turned out badly.

And their flirting has gotten them pregnant…but pregnant with judgment.  God is going to hand them over to the Babylonians.  Yet even, God will save them from their enemies ultimately.

Change is hard.  Our fighting it, robs us of peace.  God is gracious.

God’s wisdom is greater than ours.

11 Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, “Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.  13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.

God lays out a plan for His people that they could never imagine.  While they are being disciplined, while they are being taken captive, that is when God promises to deliver them as they never could have been imagined.  God promises to utterly defeat His people’s enemies.

Friends in our struggle with peace, we have to trust God’s wisdom.  His is greater than ours, but trusting it is the hard part.  Just as God did great things with His people in that time, He works no less mightily on your behalf.

Peace Requires Faith

5:1 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. 2  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me One who is to be ruler in Israel whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.  3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.  4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.  5 And he shall be their peace

God promises a great shepherd, Jesus Christ, to ultimately come to rescue His people, and from all places, God is going to bring Him from Bethlehem, an inconsequential city.  Friends, the peace that God promised here requires great faith.  And the Savior, Jesus, is your peace.

Big Picture Question:  Why is personal peace so difficult?

Truth:  Faith in the security of God’s wisdom during changing times gives us personal peace.

Application:  Live knowing that we must constantly seek peace by having faith in God’s wisdom.

Action:  Take a step of faith this week that forces you to trust God more than trusting yourself.

Sunday Recap for 01/22/17:  “How Can We Be Expectant and not Entitled?”

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This Sunday, we looked at Micah 3 and a portion of Micah 4, and in it, we pursued the difference between an entitled heart and an expectant.  With that, we pursued answering this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  How can we be expectant but not entitled?

And we found these three answers to that question in our text:

Big Picture Question:  How can we be expectant but not entitled?

  • Be thankful
  • Be hopeful
  • Be worshipful

Let’s look at our first answer to our Big Picture Question.

Be thankful

Micah 3:1 And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?—2 you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin from off my people and their flesh from off their bones 3 who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces and chop them up like meat in a pot, like flesh in a cauldron. 4 Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil. 5 Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths.  6 Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination.  The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; 7 the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God.

Things are so bad in Israel that the priests are abusing the people.  God describes it as if the priests see the people as ingredients for their stew.  And instead of the priests repenting, they continue to cry “peace” to God.  It is a dangerous place to continue to cry “peace” to God while refusing to repent.  But God promises to step in.  God won’t take it anymore.

Those who continue in their sin and continue to abuse the people live entitled as if God doesn’t care.  But the people of God can be thankful.  Their expectancy is that God will step in and protect them.

Be hopeful

8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. 9 Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who detest justice and make crooked all that is straight, 10 who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity.  11 Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say, “Is not the Lord in the midst of us?  No disaster shall come upon us.”  12 Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. 

Expectancy is about hope…a hope that God is going to step in and rescue.  The days of Israel are even worse than in the first passage.  The judges rule through bribes.  The priests teach for money.  The prophets prophecy for money.  And all of these people have an entitled spirit assuming that no disaster will come upon them.

But the expectant hope of God’s people was that God would put those things to an end.  God declares in verse 12 that God would bring an end to the oppression. Just as Psalm 64, the cry of “How long” rose up, and God responds.  This is the hope of God’s people.  No matter the day, the circumstance, or the government, the people of God can live in an expectant hope of God’s rescue.

Be worshipful

4:1 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say:  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; 4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

God promises that there is a sweet day of worship coming.  For the people of Micah’s day, it was soon.  For us, we have the wonderful worship provided for us by Jesus.  But we should also have the expectation of a great day of worship that will be ours in eternity.

We finished our sermon with these thoughts:

Big Picture Question:  How can we be expectant but not entitled?

Truth:  We live expectantly when we worship thankfully and hopefully.

Application:  Live knowing that all of the blessings of God should cause you to be expectant of God’s work as opposed to being angry when it appears He hasn’t.

Action:  Examine every area of your life to see if you are expectant or entitled.

Sunday Recap 1/15/17:  “What is Our True Comfort?”

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Sunday, January 15th, Evident Grace looked at Micah 2.  Some of the people of God were oppressed as other Israelites were stealing their land.  God responded, and in Micah 2, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  What is our true comfort?

We read all of Micah 2 to answer that question.

2:1 Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.  2 They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  3 Therefore thus says the Lord:  behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. 

4 In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me!  To an apostate he allots our fields.”  5 Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord.

6 “Do not preach”—thus they preach—“one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”  7 Should this be said, O house of Jacob?  Has the Lord grown impatient?  Are these his deeds?  Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?

8 But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war.  9 The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever.  10 Arise and go, for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction.  11 If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

12 I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men.  13 He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it.  Their king passes on before them, the Lord at their head.

We found these answers in Micah 2.

Big Picture Question:  What is our true comfort?

  •  God Protects
  • God does Good
  • God Gathers

God protects

2:1 Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.  2 They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  3 Therefore thus says the Lord:  behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. 

4 In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me!  To an apostate he allots our fields.”  5 Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord.

The sin of the people got so bad that many of them were lying in bed, dreaming about the sin they would commit.  Ironically, they were coveting other people’s land.  Ironic because God gave them the land in the first place.  Even worse, after daydreaming, they would wake up and steal the land.  God in judgment promised to take away the land and give it to pagans.  Instead of repenting, they merely cried out for God not to judge them.

God serves as a protector because we would no longer allow His people’s land to be stolen.  It was time for Him to intervene.  He was the innocent’s comfort and His people’s protector.  But does more than just protect.  God does good as a comfort.

God does good.

6 “Do not preach”—thus they preach—“one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”  7 Should this be said, O house of Jacob?  Has the Lord grown impatient?  Are these his deeds?  Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?

8 But lately my people have risen up as an enemy; you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war.  9 The women of my people you drive out from their delightful houses; from their young children you take away my splendor forever.  10 Arise and go, for this is no place to rest, because of uncleanness that destroys with a grievous destruction.  11 If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

Sadly, the priests of the day did not call the people to repent.  They preached sermons saying, “Don’t preach sermons of judgment.”  But the sin of God’s people was too great.  They rob the innocent and cast women and children into the streets.  The appropriate pastor for these people would be one who preaches getting drunk.

God equates the care of the innocent with worship.  You care for them, you worship.  If you don’t, it is disobedience.  God is going to put a stop to His people’s sin.  He will do good on their behalf.  We must too.  The church must stand and do good as now God makes His appeal through the church.

God comforts as He protects and does good.  God also comfort as He gathers.

God gathers.

12 I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men.  13 He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it.  Their king passes on before them, the Lord at their head.

There will always be a remnant who cries out for God’s protection.  And God as the shepherd gathers them in.  Jesus is that shepherd who gathers us in now to protect us and comfort us.  We now live out that comfort.

Big Picture Question:  What is our true comfort?

Truth:  My true comfort is that God has gathered me with His people to be protected and to do good.

Application:  Live knowing that true comfort in any physical or spiritual situation is provided for you in God’s work through Jesus and the His people.

Action:  Demonstrate the comfort of God to someone who is hurting this week.

Sunday Recap 1/8/17 “What is the Cry of God’s Heart?”

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To emulate the heart of God, you have to be transformed by the heart of God.  The book of Micah is a picture of the heart God crying out to His people.  Studying it opens our hearts up to be like God’s.  Towards that end, we looked at this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  What is the cry of God’s heart?

And we looked at Micah 1 to answer that question.

Micah 1:1 The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. 2 Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.  3 For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. 

5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.  What is the transgression of Jacob?  Is it not Samaria?  And what is the high place of Judah?  Is it not Jerusalem?  6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations.

7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return. 

8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.  9 For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.

We find these 3 answers to our Big Picture Question.

Big Picture Question:  What is the cry of God’s heart?

  • For us to be aware of His holiness
  • For us to be aware of our sin
  • For us to be aware of our need

Micah is a difficult time for the people of God.  Micah does not serve as a prophet very long, but he serves under 3 different kings.  That means there is massive political unrest.  Additionally, the civil authorities are not to be trusted, and the religious leaders focus more on the outward life instead of the inner.  This is a very relevant book for our day.  With that background, let’s begin answering our Big Picture Question.  What is the cry of God’s heart?

For us to be aware of His holiness

1 The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.2 Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.  3 For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. 

5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.  What is the transgression of Jacob?  Is it not Samaria?  And what is the high place of Judah?  Is it not Jerusalem?  6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations.

The people off Micah’s day had grown unaware of God’s holiness.  They lost a right fear of His holiness.  They sinned and sinned, and finally, God said that He was going to come down off His throne, as a judge, to demonstrate His holiness.

The people of Samaria lived protectively behind a great wall.  They trusted that wall.  Yet, God said in a demonstration of His holiness against their sin that He would tear down that wall all the way to the foundations.  When sin continues and continues, the people of God must become reacquainted with God’s holiness.

And once the people of God grow aware of God’s holiness, then they become aware of their sin.

For us to be aware of our sin

7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return. 

The people of God were worshiping idols.  They were engaged in temple prostitution in “worship” to other gods.  And yet, they still offered sacrifices to God on the Sabbath and prescribed holidays.  God declared that He would destroy all of their sin in an act of grace to His people.

Growing aware of one’s sin is not a dread and awful thing.  It is an act of God’s grace.  As one becomes aware of sin, we also become aware of our need.

For us to be aware of our need

8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.  9 For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.

God Himself will weep and wail and lament over His people’s sin.  He will strip Himself naked and lament because the sin problem of His people is incurable.  There is nothing they can do about it to heal themselves.  But God can.  We see that in…

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’” 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

God’s weeping and wailing and lamenting is ultimately found in the person of Jesus.  He takes on human flesh to suffer as we do, yet He obeys, dies, and rises again for our hope and our salvation.

We concluded our time with this summary.

Big Picture Question:  What is the cry of God’s heart?

Truth:  We understand God’s heart as we become more aware of His holiness, our sin, and our need. 

Application:  Live knowing that God is using every circumstance in your life to teach you more about yourself and more about Him.

Action:  Imitate God’s heart of holiness and compassion to someone in need this week.

Sunday Recap 1/1/17 “What does it mean to be light of the world?”

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There is no greater emphasis we could start this new year with an emphasis of Jesus as light as we ask God to renew our hearts as we start 2017 – from the hurt, frustration, disappointment, or if you are incredibly joyful as you think about this past year…that God would increase that in this coming year.

As we stand in the gap of Christmas and our new sermon series, starting next week, we answered this big picture question, “What does it mean to be light of the world?

And to answer that, we read Isaiah 60:1-5, 10-16.

1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

10 Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you. 11 Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. 12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste. 13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious. 14 The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel. 15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age. 16 You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

We answered that question by seeing that,

  • God is light of the word
  • You can be light to the world
  • All because Jesus is light of the world

God is light of the world

1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

We see in these verses the imagery of the sun in the sky.  The word sun isn’t being used but God is being likened to the sun.  “the glory of the Lord has RISEN upon you….darkness….but the Lord will ARISE upon you”.  Then we looked at 3 aspects of sunlight, life, truth, and beauty/joy and how God typifies each of them.

Vs. 1 & 2 liken God to the Sun then goes on from there to a remarkable statement….that the nations will come to your light.  They show God rising on us and now we become light magnets and the world is drawn to our beauty.

What we see is that, You can be light of the world.

3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

What we are being told is that if the light of God has really risen on you THEN you are the light of the world.  The objective reality of God’s light becomes the subjective experience and reality of your life!!!

The light rises on us and then the nations are drawn to us.  We become the light of the world.  In the sermon on the mount, Jesus turns to his disciples and say what to them? He says “you are the light of the world”.  He says this to encourage and remind his followers that this is the reality for them.

We then went through those 3 aspects of sunlight/God from earlier and saw how we can bring life, truth, and beauty/joy to others.

We can do it all because Jesus is light of the world

Vs.10 – “for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you.” Vs. 15 – “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever” Vs. 16b – “you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

A redeemer was something very specific in Israel.  If you were about to lose your land and about to have to work off your debt by going into indentured servanthood.  You were about to lose your everything, you only had one hope….that would have been a redeemer.  In Israel that was a kinsman.  It someone who was a relative of yours.  They would come in and bear the cost, pay the debt and enable you to be free and in a very real sense ransom you.  And that’s exactly what Jesus did for us.  And when that reality takes root we are changed and it flows through every area of our life.

God is using each of us to help grow each other.  Let 2017 be a year of

  • Meaningful conversation – people you get together with all the time and often very little meaningful dialogue happens. Let’s change that and ask & share what’s really going on in our heart and life.
  • Great listening – we are often so quick to speak, correct, interrupt. Rather let’s plan to sit and listen, taking in all others are saying.  Let’s get off our phones and our attempts to multitask and be wholly present.
  • A willingness to admit mistakes – that means wrongful actions that you have done and also our avoiding of people that are difficult to love. Let’s be quick to admit our mistakes and our giving and receiving of grace in these areas.
  • Incredible action – As we think about the coming year let’s make bold insane plans that apart from Christ work in you, you would never be able to do.
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