Minor Prophets with a Major Message: Micah

When we think of the Old Testament prophet, Micah, we commonly think of one of two passages.

Either his prophecy of the exact birthplace of Christ (which wouldn’t take place for another 750 years):

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (5:2)

Or,…

“…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (6:8)

But I would like to draw your attention to a nuance of the book that haunts me.

In chapter 6, vs 12, Micah lets Israel know just how far off course they’ve strayed:

“Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.”

I’m fairly certain the people of Israel didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “Hey – I think I’ll become a pathological liar today.”

This didn’t happen over night.

Satan is smarter than that.  Much smarter.

His strategy is – and always has been – to slither around unnoticed, systematic and methodical in his efforts to inflict pain.  I heard a preacher once say, “Satan will take years, if necessary, to set you up for a fall.”

That said, Israel’s apathy and complacency regarding their devotion to God was a slow and calculated process.

The old saying has been proven true over and over again:

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; so a character, reap a destiny.”

Whether we choose to ruin our lives in the coming weeks or the coming years matters not to our enemy. 

Time is irrelevant to him as long as his objective is accomplished. 

As I thought about the insidious manner in which ingrained habits of sin can take us over, I recalled an arresting quote by one of my professors during my graduate studies in Christian Apologetics (defending the Christian faith.)

Dr. Michael Ward is a professor at the University of Oxford in England.  He made an enormous impact on my life.  Once, in an online class thread about this very topic of sin’s systematic infection, he wrote the following:

Compromise – even the tiniest amount – seems innocuous at first.  And that’s exactly the way Satan prefers it.

Be on your guard.  Find friends who love you enough to lovingly confront you if/when they see a slow, steady “straying off course.”

And, be careful to abide in the Lord, so that you don’t let the serpent into the garden.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

 

You are a Saint (and you don’t even have to live in New Orleans)

I’ve sat and listened to some preachers drone on, “We are wicked. We are sinners. We are unworthy.”  The news never gets any better.  It’s usually at that point I stop listening. Why? I already know that. God pulls no punches: “the human heart is deceitfully wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23; emphasis mine)

But, that’s only half the story. (There’s a reason the gospel is called the “Good News.”)

Our sin is why we desperately needed a Savior.

It’s why “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and the angel proclaimed to the shepherds, “I bring you Good News of great joy!” (John 1:14; Luke 2:10; emphasis mine)

It’s why Christ, on the cross, took upon himself our sin, absorbing ever last one of them, making it possible for sinful mankind to enjoy peace with a terrifyingly Holy & Righteous God. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:13; Romans 5:1)

And, by putting our faith in that saving work of Christ on the Cross, we become “children of God.” (John 1:12)

Or – another way Paul describes us – “saints” (cf. Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1) – a word Paul uses to reference everyone who, by placing their faith in Christ, has been set apart from the eternal death sentence of sin. (1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:23)

You are loved, valued, of infinite worth – worthy to the point of God willingly giving his only begotten Son. (John 3:16)

Someone once said, “If God had a refrigerator he would have your picture on it.”

You are one of his beloved saints.

Much love, Saint Nick

Evil & Guns

EVIL & GUNS

I’ve resisted posting about the massacre in Florida until recently as there is no shortage of postings.

There is much to say. There is nothing to say.

You want to scream. You find yourself unable to speak.

Those who quickly politicize the tragedy are foolish and near-sighted.

This is first and foremost a problem, not of gun-control, but of the human condition.

To be clear: I am a strong advocate of the 2nd Amendment.  And I am also one who strongly believes the gun laws in our nation are deeply flawed, need changing, and, presently, are not at all what our nation’s founders had in mind.

However,….

Don’t be fooled – stricter firearm regulations would in no way curb mass killings. One blogger put it best:

When evil wants guns, evil will find guns.

Just as deranged individuals can illegally assemble explosives, or drive vehicles into crowds of people, they can – and will – acquire firearms they desire.

The human condition of evil and outright depravity is nothing new. Throughout history, psychopaths have done their bidding.  Some 600 years before Christ would be born, Jeremiah wrote, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…”

Theologically, since the day Adam forfeited the management of earth to Satan in Genesis 3, evil has reigned. (Keep in mind, in Matthew 4 & Luke 4, when Satan told Jesus he would give Jesus the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would but bow down and worship him – which Jesus refused – Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim of his temporary ownership of planet earth. Paul called Satan “the god of this world.” John wrote that “whole world is under the control of the evil one.”) This is precisely why Christ allowed himself to suffer Roman execution, and why he is returning to redeem what is rightfully his. Until that final consummation by the risen King, evil will continue to reign.

And, by the way, for those who would snap, “Why would God let Satan have control of earth??” This was mankind’s decision when we, in essence, in Gen 3, told God to “shove off.”

But God could not contain his love for even a rebellious mankind – even when we had him murdered on a cross outside Jerusalem. “But God so loved…” still.

So, in sum, guns are inanimate, and therefore not the problem. The blame falls squarely on the fallen condition of mankind. I’ve seen the posts claiming “we don’t need ‘thoughts and prayers – we need gun control.”

Dear friends – we need both.

Congress and the public can debate more strict gun laws while we, simultaneously, lift to Heaven the hearts of the grieving parents and loved ones who are suffering unspeakable pain.

Maranatha – Come, Lord Jesus, nick