devotions written by Deborah Galyen
“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare … to Israel his sin” (v8). Micah risked his life to preach the truth, and he was “filled with power” by the Spirit to rebuke the leaders, priests, and prophets who took bribes and said what people wanted to hear, preaching a false “peace” instead of repentance (v5). “Because of you Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins” (v12).
Traditional structures of authority lost credibility because those who were called to “know justice” (v1) instead led others into sin. Real authority, like Micah’s, came from being filled with God’s Spirit.
“Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil … because it is in the power of their hand” (v1). Micah rebuked those who took away a family’s field, home, or inheritance simply because they had the power to do it (v2). People rejected Micah’s strong message and wanted to hear more self-indulgent kinds of sermons (v6,11), but the prophet’s role was to remind Israel of the truth.
As Micah preached, God does not judge us based on what is permissible in our society; instead, God judges our hearts and actions based on His own laws of righteousness, mercy, and justice.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God” (v20-21). As the early church grew, leaders like Jude warned people to fight for the true faith in Jesus they had received (v3) because “worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” (v19) were causing divisions and perverting the gospel. These false Christians were “grumblers” ruled by “ungodly passions” (v18).
Jude also taught that as we remain in God’s love, Jesus is able to keep us from stumbling and to protect us until the day He comes in glory (v24).
III John 1
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (v4). John taught that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ (I John 2:2), and he expected this faith to be worked out in visible ways, especially by treating others with the same love we have received. Gaius was doing this by welcoming and supporting travelling evangelists (v5-8), even though others refused to help (v10).
God poured out His love in sacrificial action, and we must do the same. “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18).
II John 1
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God” (v9). The Roman Empire was a very religious environment, so John and the other apostles needed to clarify: God revealed Himself completely in Jesus Christ, and therefore we cannot “know God” without knowing the Son. False teachers were circulating other ideas that included God in some form (v10), but they denied that Jesus Christ was God’s Son and had come in the flesh to save us.
Everything good comes “from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son” (v3). Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1) and our only salvation.
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (v7). The psalmist celebrated God’s faithful, enduring, compassionate presence in our lives through His Spirit. Having committed himself to God, the psalmist recognized that the Spirit was with him in every situation, no matter how difficult or unexpected. “Even the darkness is not dark to You” (v12); even Sheol, the place of the dead, cannot separate us from His faithful love (v8).
God knows us better than we know ourselves (v4). All this knowledge is wrapped up in love, as He uses it to guide us into a better life with Him (v10).
“I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word” (v2). God’s name and His word are His character – His merciful way of working in the world, which the psalmist described as “steadfast love and faithfulness.” If God does not “exalt” Himself, we are left living under the powers of humanity: selfishness, corruption, and violence.
Even though we walk “in the midst of trouble,” no circumstance or evil power can derail God’s loving plan. “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me” (v7-8).
“For behold, the LORD is coming out of His place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth …” (v3). The “high places” of the ancient world were places of power, often temple sites or important cities, like Jerusalem, Samaria, and Lachish (v5,13). The prophet Micah said that these cities would be torn down; the corrupt power represented by carved images, money, and idols (v7) would be destroyed by the judgment of God. The earth itself melts at His coming (v4).
Praying, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” means asking for God to reign supreme over all the high places, both the world’s and the ones in our hearts.
“For I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love …” (v2). Jonah was not pleased that God had forgiven the people of Nineveh; they deserved punishment. Jonah was more easily moved by issues of his own comfort: he rejoiced to find shade and was angry when the plant died. God pointed out that this was nothing compared to the eternal fate of thousands of human beings (v11).
Jonah was uncomfortable with God’s mercy, because it meant that Jonah himself had to soften his heart. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4:8).
“And the people of Nineveh believed God” (v5). Remarkably, when Jonah obeyed God and warned the people of Nineveh of impending judgment, they listened and repented. They “turned from” their evil ways and fasted as a sign of their sincerity, beginning with the king (v6). Somehow, when a foreign messenger declared the truth, people who had been living in darkness recognized and embraced the light. And God, full of mercy and compassion, “relented of the disaster” (v10).
God’s mercy, fully poured out in Jesus Christ, has been present from the beginning. From the moment we rebelled, He responded in love and compassion.
I John 5
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (v12). We can achieve some good things by working hard and being kind to those around us. But John says that we can only have life – the eternal, God-initiated kind of life – through faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ, we find forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with the Father, victory over death and the forces of the world (v4), and power to love as He loved us.
We were created by God not just to survive in the world, but to “overcome”: to thrive and be fruitful, transformed by the love of Jesus Christ.
I John 4
“We love because He first loved us” (v19). John declared that those who are “born of God” share two things: they believe that Jesus Christ came “in the flesh” (2), and they embrace God’s definition of love. Love may be a common word, but only God “is love” (v8). He demonstrated perfect love by sending His own Son to die for us, that “we might live through Him” (v8-9).
All of Christian faith and practice begins with the truth that God first loved us. As His love pushes out insecurity, self-centeredness, and fear, “we also ought to love one another” (v11,18).
“How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?” (v4). In exile in Babylon, the Jews mourned the loss of their home, their Temple, and their independence. Their Babylonian captors mocked them, wanting them to sing “songs of Zion” for entertainment, but they refused. What they had neglected and undervalued back in Israel – the worship of the One God – was now precious to them. Suddenly, the privilege of being God’s people and knowing Him became their “highest joy” (v5-6).
In distress and difficulty, we remember God. Worship is no longer ritual or entertainment, but the awesome privilege of calling on our Creator.
“Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (v9). Jonah’s terrible experience in the belly of the fish taught him a powerful lesson about God’s mercy. Jonah knew he was drowning as a result of his own rebellion, yet instead of condemnation, “You brought up my life from the pit” (v6). God commanded, and the prophet ran away, yet God did not turn His back on His servant. “I called out to the Lord … and He answered me” (1).
“When my life was fainting away …” (v7). When we are guilty, and lost, and desperate for help, God’s mercy far surpasses all our expectations.
October 26: Psalm 139 (10/26/2014)
October 25: Psalm 138 (10/25/2014)
October 24: Micah 1 (10/24/2014)
October 23: Jonah 4 (10/23/2014)
October 22: Jonah 3 (10/22/2014)
October 21: I John 5 (10/21/2014)
October 20: I John 4 (10/20/2014)
October 19: Psalm 137 (10/19/2014)
October 18: Jonah 2 (10/18/2014)
October 17: Jonah 1 (10/17/2014)
October 16: Obadiah (10/16/2014)
October 15: I John 3 (10/15/2014)
October 14: I John 2 (10/14/2014)
October 13: Proverbs 29 (10/13/2014)
October 12: Psalm 136 (10/12/2014)
October 11: Amos 8-9 (10/11/2014)
October 10: Amos 6-7 (10/10/2014)
October 9: Amos 5 (10/09/2014)
October 8: I John 1 (10/08/2014)
October 7: II Peter 3 (10/07/2014)