In Nehemiah 5, we read about the oppression of people. God’s Word tells us it is good to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly” but do we (Micah 6:8)? Isaiah even tells us to “correct oppression” (1:17). Sadly, people are still being oppressed today.
During the time of Nehemiah, people who were redeemed were being sold back into slavery (v. 8). There was a famine in the land so they mortgaged their fields and homes to just be able to make it (v. 3-4). They even had their children forced to be slaves (v. 5).
When Nehemiah found out about the oppression, he was angry and considered the situation carefully (v. 6-7). He then rebuked the people for exacting interest on their brothers who were already struggling (v. 9). At that point, everything was restored and paid back to the people. Nehemiah reminds us to help as we are led and to not take advantage of each other. He never took the food allowance. He understood the people were already burdened (v. 18). It is God’s desire that we build each other up, rather than tear each other down. Let us do and seek justice always.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 [NASB]
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” – Isaiah 1:17 [ESV]
Simeon and Levi were upset with what happened to their sister Dinah at the hands of Shechem. She was violated and hurt. They were angry and devised a plan to get revenge. In Genesis 34, we read about their actions. They allowed for Dinah to return with Shechem but had a plan to enact vengeance on the people. They ended up retrieving their sister along with slaughtering the people and plundering the area.
Most of us today would not consider giving a victim to the guilty party but many of us do want justice. It is okay to want justice. God even tells us to seek justice (see Micah 6). But Simeon and Levi went at it the wrong way. Just because a wrong was committed, does not mean another wrong committed is an act of justice. Simeon and Levi not only lied, but they stole and they murdered.
Seek justice but understand that God’s commands cannot be twisted or ignored for the justice. Trust in His justice. He is a just God. There’s no reason to join with those who have committed wrong doings to get some false sense of justice. God will handle it.
“The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” – Psalm 33:5 [NIV]
This is a poem that I wrote for a very special person. See you soon.
Mary Got A Promotion
“Love Justice & Seek Mercy
And Walk Humbly with your God”
“Love your Neighbor as yourself
Be Kind and Compassionate”
“Work Hard at Whatever you do
As Working for the Lord”
“Honor your parents
Teach your children”
“Follow My example
Walk in the way of love”
Today is a day of celebration.
Today is a day to rejoice.
God said “Good job My faithful servant”
Mary got a promotion.
Today was my graduation. When God first called me to return to school for ministry, I will admit I was hesitant. As time passed, I understood that He would see me graduate but I never considered that I would be given the title of Salutatorian and would have the opportunity to give the Benediction. As Ephesians says, God provides immeasurably more than we could ever imagine. God continues to amaze me.
Don’t underestimate God or limit what God can do in your life. Remember that He promises immeasurably more than we can imagine. I went from not considering returning to school, to applying and getting accepted, to considering if I could graduate, to considering what to write for the Benediction and what to wear for graduation. We don’t stay right where we are at–there is always change happening. We are either moving more toward God and what He has for us or we are moving in the opposite direction. Keep moving toward Him and be expectant of Him working in incredible ways in your life.
Here’s the Benediction I delivered at the Commencement Ceremony today. It is my prayer that you will make this prayer your own. You will also find a video clip containing the Benediction as well.
Commencement Ceremony Benediction
Let us pray.
Thank You Father for bringing us to this very moment,
which is not an ending but a new beginning.
Thank You for Your goodness, for Your promises,
for Your faithfulness, for Your Word.
You hold all things together.
Thank You for providing us all that we have needed to make it here today
May Your grace shine upon my fellow graduates.
May You protect those who have gathered here today to celebrate with us.
May You continue to make Your Presence be known among us.
May our hearts be open.
May our eyes be focused.
May our ears be listening to Your voice.
Lord, continue to use each one of us for Your Kingdom.
Where there is hatred, may we bring love.
Where there is darkness, may we bring light.
Where there is error, may we bring truth.
As You lead us forward on another journey
Remind us of what is good.
Help us to seek justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with You Lord.
Now, may we move onward in peace.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
To Him be all the glory.
In Jesus’ name.
[Note: see St. Francis of Assisi, Colossians 3:17, Micah 6:8]
This morning I passed by a dumpster filled with items from a house that is currently undergoing renovations. Out of the corner of my eye, I was able to spot a large box of books lying on top of the other discarded items. The books looked brand new and many of them were titles that were once found on the best sellers list. For a moment I thought of how those books and so many other items within the dumpster could have been used by someone instead of going to a landfill. I imagined if the items were donated to a church or another charity, the good that they could do for some lives. Then my mind started to focus on how we are all so guilty of getting things and tossing them out.
We have become a society that is so very good at getting rid of things. We toss out clothing because we have plenty of other items in our wardrobe. We toss out food because we had so much food, that we did not have time to eat it all and it went bad. We toss out relationships because it takes work and sacrifice for marriage and friendships to find success. We toss out opportunities because we do not desire taking risks on challenges. We toss out money with gambling or with purchases we don’t even want or need. We toss out pets because we bought them for their cuteness without thinking of the time investment. We toss out technology because something new came along. We toss and toss.
Then I thought of those who do not have anything to toss, those who are lacking the basic needs of life. There are people who are not able to eat tonight. There are people who have lost their family, their friends. There are people who do not have shoes or clothing. There are people who do not have all of the advantages and opportunities. There are those who do not have money to toss away. There are some who are sick, some dying. There are some who are slaves, yes slaves, on this very day in 2013. I could go on and on.
I cannot give any answers of how we can fix all of these things. I do not have the answers. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to tossing out things. All I can say is that I know Who has the answers. I know that all we can do is look to God for the answers of what we can do in our own lives to be His hands and feet, and to share His love with those around us and to be who He called us. We can start here. “He has told you, O man, what is good: And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB). Let us start there.
The doctor’s office called to remind me of my daughter’s upcoming appointment and the office assistant left me a voice mail message. The message warned me that if my daughter did not make her appointment, there would be a fee accessed. I have considered this fee, and wondered how it is that when a person who is sick wishes to go to the doctor, they are charged whether they can make it, but also if they miss the appointment. The question is, do these people who don’t make it and have a viable reason, like they were too sick to even drive to the appointment, get charged? The doctors are to help the sick. Do they show mercy on the sick?
I am not trying to get into a long discussion about the doctors and the fees. We could go back and forth for hours about medical charges and the health care system. The point I am trying to make is our need to show others mercy. There are many situations each day where we have the option to act with mercy or to be hard like the world around us.
Jesus is the great Physician. He even tells us that He came to save the sick and needy. He understands when we don’t make an appointment and He forgives us and seeks to make us well. He addresses our needs and He mends and transforms us. We go from death to life. We go from condemned to forgiven. We go from sinner to saint. How wonderful is that?
Today I hope that you consider in each circumstance the mercy that has been shown to you, and that you share that mercy with others. People are tired. People are lonely. Everyone make mistakes. People are in great need. Some have hearts that ache with a great void that only Jesus can fill. Have compassion for people. Be merciful. Sadly, it may be the only mercy they see today.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
– Micah 6:8 [NIV]