Summary: A great way to begin a new year is to remember who we are in Christ as children of the Father and to recommit ourselves to living a Holy Spirit filled life.
It's 2011 and we all have to get used to writing 2011 instead of 2010 -- whether on a cheque or letter. It's easy to forget.
It doesn't matter if we forget to do some things, but other memories are more important -- particularly remembering who we are.
It's a common Hollywood theme - someone who loses their memory and for a time forgets not only their past but also who they are; like 'Total Recall' or the documentary film "Unknown White Male.
Imagine experiencing temporary memory loss and not knowing who you were or the relationships that were important to you.
How would you feel as your memories began to return and you understood once more your identity, relationships, the things that were really important to you and your purpose in life?
The truth is that to some degree we can, and do forget. We tend to forget
* our true identity in Christ
* and along with this the nature of our relationship with God as he has established it to be
* and as a result of this the priorities we make in life.
From time to time we need to be reminded of this.
I sense that it would be worthwhile and appropriate for us to reflect on this on the first Sunday of 2011.
I can think of no better way to start 2011 than by being reminded of our true identity in Christ and what this means for us.
READING Micah 6:6-8
Spanish philosopher George Santayana famously stated the great truth that: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
One of the greatest mistakes God's people the Jews made was to forget who they were, lose their sense of identity as the covenant people of God and gradually drift from living their lives the way God intended to.
God had said to them:
"Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." Leviticus 6: 12
This happened not once, but time and time again. The writer to the Hebrews included a warning in the letter for New Testament believers not to make the same mistake. But here we are today, I sense, in need of being reminded. Only then can we fully appreciate weight and the relevance of the question:
'What does the Lord require of you?'
Without first being reminded of who we are in Christ we will not know how to answer this for ourselves in 2011.
The prophet Micah came from the city of Moresheth which is near Gath, about 30 miles from Jerusalem. He was a contemporary of Isaiah and his book is of a somewhat similar style. The prophet's name means "Who is like God?" and this forms the theme of his prophecy well.
Micah describes not only what God is like, but how people can be God-like.
The prophet Micah had in view both the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions.
Micah sees a vivid picture of the destruction that will come about of the people, beginning with their rulers and reaching unto the women and the children.
WHY? Judgement was coming because the people of God were no longer living as the people of God.
Instead there was corruption, oppression, bribery, and injustice. And the people were not able to see that something had gone radically wrong.
What had gone wrong was they had neglected their relationship with the Lord -- so much so that their heart's affections had been overtaken by other things.
And this in turn was the explanation for the change in the way they were living and how they were treating others.
What would be the cure? Not so much to deal with the symptoms but to deal with the cause!
A change in behaviour would be the inevitable outcome of returning to a meaningful relationship with the Lord.
APPLIC There's many a sermon that has been preached and listened to in which the hearers have agreed with everything that has been said but felt powerless to change.
* It could be an exhortation to evangelise
* Or a plea for greater patience
* Or a challenge to deeper commitment.
But the listeners feel powerless to change.
The answer if first of all to be restored to a close relationships with Father God
* to know his healing and his anointing
* to recover our memory of who we are as children of God
* to live from the basis of that relationship
RESPONSE OF THE PEOPLE
The people don't get it straight away.
After listening to Micah their response is: 'What more do you expect from us?
With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?