Summary: The prophet Micah is asking, "What is it that God really wants from us? What should we be offering to God?" I wonder, what gifts should we be giving to God this Christmas? (PowerPoint Available - #263)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoint slides for this sermon are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #263.)
TEXT: Micah 6:6 8
A. This morning we are going to be looking at a very interesting passage of scripture found in the Old Testament. In it, the prophet Micah is asking, "Just what is it that God really wants from us? What should we be offering to God?"
ILL. There is an old story of a young boy who saw the 3 wise men coming to worship the baby Jesus. He watched in wide eyed wonder as they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh.
Oh, how much he wanted to worship the baby, too. But he had nothing to give, no gift worthy of the little king. His eyes filled with tears as he turned & began to walk away.
But just then an angel appeared to him, saying, "Give what is dearest to your heart." The boy thought for a moment, & then following the angel's advice, laid a faded blue bag alongside the gifts of the wise men.
Inside his bag was a butterfly preserved in candle wax, a forked stick used for a slingshot, a ragged rope to help climb high trees, & a seashell that, when held to the ear, echoed the roar of the sea. He gave what was dearest to his heart, & thus was privileged to stand in the presence of the king.
ILL. There is an old proverb which says, "The only gift worth giving is yourself." Maybe Paul said it best in Romans 12:1, "I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy & pleasing to God..."
B. This is the season to give, isn't it? A time of generosity, a time when we often spend more than we can really afford.
But it seems that the custom of giving gifts to Jesus, established by the wise men, has changed. Now we don't bring gifts so much to Jesus as we do to one another.
We think about them. We agonize over them. We spend. We endure almost any inconvenience in order to buy just the right gifts for others.
APPL. I wonder this morning what it would be like if, for just one Christmas, we would make a covenant to spend just as much time & energy & thought in making a gift to Jesus?
C. The prophet Micah must have been going through that same kind of dilemma in the scripture that we will consider this morning. Listen to his words recorded in Micah 6:6-8.
“With what shall I come before the Lord & 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 oil? Shall I offer my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly & to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
"What shall I bring to the Lord?" Micah asks. At first, he thinks about such things as: "calves a year old," "thousands of rams," "rivers of oil."
But then Micah realizes, "No, God doesn't really want any of those things. The gifts God wants are 3 in number. He wants you to act justly. He wants you to love mercy. He wants you to walk humbly with your God."
PROP. I wonder what Christmas would be like if all of us would wrap up those 3 gifts, place them under the tree, & present them to our Lord? Let's think about that for a moment.
I. ACT JUSTLY
A. There is so little justice in our world. Almost everything seems to be unfair. The rich get richer & the poor get poorer. The bad seem to succeed, while the good seem to fail. Everything seems to be topsy turvy. It is hard to determine what justice really is.
ILL. For years we have heard the old joke, "Steal $10, & go to jail. Steal a million dollars & be elected to congress."
ILL. I don't think I'll ever be able to understand the justice of what happened out in California a number of years ago. A man abducted a young girl, attacked her, then chopped off her arms & dumped her by the roadside to die. But she lived & identified him & he was sent to prison.
The only remorse that he has ever shown was remorse over the fact that she didn't die, & thus was able to identify him.