Week 33 August 12 - 18, 2018

When Christians are saved by grace through faith, it means we have fully trusted in Jesus Christ to meet all of God’s righteous requirements for our eternal salvation.

However, if we are declared righteous because Christ died for us, what more does God require from us in order to live for Him?

According to the prophet Micah, what He has always required of His children is a heart of gratitude that practices three basic things: justice, kindness, and humility. Micah 6:8 says, “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?”

The first of these three basic requirements we are called to practice as part of God’s adopted family is justice. This concept of justice is the pursuit of personal integrity, fairness, and complete honesty towards God and others. In simpler terms, justice is making a commitment to always do what is right and always pay people exactly what we owe them.

Justice has both a spiritual and a material component that are equally important in our daily lives. We practice justice spiritually when we share the truth in grace and also confess our sins to God and others when have committed transgressions against them. We practice justice materially when we pay others what we owe them no matter what the cost. This may be honoring our medical bills, paying off our student loans, or fully compensating a contractor for the services that were rendered. When we are people of justice, we stand by our word and we do what we say we will do at all times no matter what our circumstances may be.

The second requirement we are called to practice is kindness. Several English translations of the Bible also describe this concept as mercy. The important thing to remember is this practice is defined by tangible actions and not just sentimental feelings. We practice kindness and mercy as Christians by feeding and clothing the poor, cheering up the sick, teaching the uneducated, and witnessing to the lost. This kindness puts hands and feet to God’s grace, as we offer others something that they are not capable of acquiring on their own.

The final requirement that God calls us to practice as His children is humility. The calling to be humble is spiritual posture that we practice when we remember that we are all sinners who have nothing to boast about apart from God’s unmerited favor.

This humility is the only soil where all other spiritual fruits can grow. We can only cultivate humility in our walk with Christ when we realize we are simply one beggar offering other beggars the same free bread that has nourished our very soul. As Paul states in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Overall, the key to practicing these three basic requirements of justice, kindness, and humility is not to focus on implementing a list but instead on imitating a person: Christ. Jesus is the ideal portrait of a person who consistently modeled justice, kindness, and humility in every area of His earthly life. In his justice, He always stood by the truth and was never dishonest; in His kindness, He always treated sinners with dignity and respect; in His humility He didn’t count equality with God as something to be grasped by emptied Himself and took on the form of a servant who remained obedient to the point of death on the cross (Phil 2:6-8).

So let us remember what the Lord requires of our lives today, and let us seek to be a people of justice, kindness, and humility so the world, who desperately needs Christ, will see first-hand exactly what life in His kingdom is truly like.

Remembering What the Lord Requires

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An Earth Engulfed by Glory

The book of Isaiah is filled with many prophetic visions of the New Heavens and the New Earth that will be established upon the second coming of Jesus Christ. One of these visions is captured in Isaiah 6:3 when the prophet records the voice of several seraphim surrounding the throne of God and proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” While we don’t know exactly what eternal life will be like in God’s kingdom, this passage reminds us that the holiness and majesty of God will fill up the entire universe and everyone will gather together to worship His transcendent beauty for all of eternity.

Staying Close in the Silence

The psalms are an honest portrait of the human heart because they reveal how we can sometimes doubt God and yet still delight in Him. In Psalm 10, the writer begins by having doubts about God’s presence and intentions. In verse 1 he states, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” However, by the end of the passage the psalmist remembers God’s true nature and reaffirms His sovereign plan. In verses 17-18 he concludes, “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

A Law Fulfilled by Love

When Jesus Christ began His three-year public ministry, the nation of Israel had taken God’s commandments and developed more than 600 individual laws to govern themselves. As the teachers of Israel began to question Christ on which laws were most important, He reminded them that every commandment can be summed up in one word: love. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Week 34 Readings:  August 19 - 25

-Day One:  Isaiah 7-10; Psalm 22; Matthew 26

-Day Two:  Isaiah 11-13; Psalm 118; Matthew 27

-Day Three:  Isaiah 14-16; Matthew 28

-Day Four:  Isaiah 17-19; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 1

-Day Five:  Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2   


Tips to Keep You on Track

          In our selected readings this week we will begin studying the book of 1 Corinthians. This is the first of two letters in the New Testament written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth about thirty years after the resurrection of Christ. Corinth was a thriving port city in Greece, governed by the Roman Empire and heavily influenced by the secular Greek culture. Paul wrote this letter to address many debilitating issues in the church including idolatry, disorderly corporate worship, confusion over church roles, blatant sexual immorality, misuse of spiritual gifts, and even skepticism over the gospel claims of Christ’s resurrection. While it may be easy to shake our heads in disbelief over the sinful behavior of the Corinthian church, as we read these chapters we need to remind ourselves that we are not immune from the same struggles. The issues the Corinthians dealt with more than 2,000 years ago are still prevalent today because they are primarily issues of the heart. As we read these first few chapters, let us remember that the grace of God that saved us is also the same grace will change us. It is only by God’s continual work in our lives through the Holy Spirit that we too can be recreated into the image of Christ and become all He intends for us to be as members of His household.