20200201 Parsha Bo – Worship without Walls
The Parsha today is one of the most important we have to study. It sets up the Passover and describes the events that led up to Israel’s freedom. At the end of the Parsha we see a stark contrast. The firstborn of Egypt were killed but the firstborn of Israel were set apart and dedicated to Hashem.
“Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, from every womb of Bnei-Yisrael, both men and animals—this is Mine.”
Many of you know the significance of being the firstborn in the ancient middle eastern culture. It was a big deal. The first born received a double portion of inheritance as well as other benefits. Rather than stay in the Exodus story, I’m going to jump ahead a few hundred years to the book of Micah.
With what shall I come before Adonai? With what shall I bow myself before God on high? Shall I present Him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? (7) Will Adonai be pleased with thousands of rams, with hordes of rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my belly for the sin of my soul? (8) He has told you, humanity, what is good, and what Adonai is seeking from you: Only to practice justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
What would you do in this situation?
Mike Breaux, the pastor of the Heartland Community Church in Rockford, Illinois tells the story of a man and his wife who go to a restaurant that features steak and a salad bar. As they dine, a girl comes out with a 5-gallon bucket of Thousand Island dressing to fill up the salad bar. But she catches her heel and launches the 5-gallon container of dressing all over this one guy. He’s got Thousand Island dressing from the top of his head to the bottom of his shoes; dripping off his forehead, off his chin, on the lapels of his suit, all over his tie, all over his pants, all over his shoes. He is a mess. Now if you were the one covered by Thousand Island dressing, what would you do? How would you respond?
This guy, he goes ballistic. He starts calling this poor girl every name a marine drill sergeant ever used. And he says, “I can’t believe just how stupid you are. Look at this! This is the first chance I’ve had to wear this suit. It cost me $350 and you have completely ruined it.” She’s going, “Sir…” and she’s trying to clean up. “Get away from me! You caused enough damage already.” His wife chimes in. “That’s right. It’s a $350 suit…blah … blah … blah.”
Everybody in the whole restaurant is watching, and he demands, “I want to see the manager.” The manager comes out and says, “Is there a problem?” “Yes there’s a problem. This stupid girl has ruined my suit. It’s the first chance I’ve had to wear it. It costs $350.”
“Sir, we’ll clean your suit for you. No problem. We’ll take care of that.” The guy says, “I don’t want my suit cleaned. I want a new suit. It’s completely ruined. I want a new suit. I want a check right now for $350.” The manager disappeared, and the guy with him. I imagine he wrote him a check and justice was served.
Now the interesting part of this story is that this happened on a Sunday afternoon. So why in the world would a guy be in a suit on a Sunday afternoon? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he just came from hearing a great sermon on loving your neighbor as yourself or about turning the other cheek. People who work in food service will tell you that the very worst people to wait on are the people who just got out of church on a Sunday morning. Don’t believe it, just ask Cynthia. That’s tragic, because, friends, we’re called to worship not only inside the walls of a church or synagogue, but to worship without walls.
We’re called to worship in restaurants. We are called to worship at the ball field. We are called to worship at the golf course. We’re called to worship in the classroom. We’re called to worship in the office cubicle. But how do you worship without walls? And what does God expect of such a life of worship outside of Sunday morning? Micah explains 3 requirements of Worship without Walls.
Micah says in Micah 6:8 He has told you, humanity, what is good, and what Adonai is seeking from you: Only to practice justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah shares 3 requirements that are easy to memorize. Repeat them with me,
1. To act justly and
2. To love mercy and
3. To walk humbly with your God.”
Today let’s take a closer look at those 3 requirements and how God calls us to live them out in worship without walls.
Slide: “To act justly
REQUIREMENT 1: “To act justly”: Live by God’s standards. I am male; therefore, I am gift buying challenged. When Pat’s birthday comes along or our anniversary, I need help. I need a list. Give me a list, I can do okay. Don’t give me a list, well, it’s just not pretty what happens. These 3 requirements that Micah gives are God’s list. Want to express love to God, this is what you do.
That’s why Paul says in Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, (12) training us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live in a manner that is self-controlled and righteous and godly in the present age.
The Message Bible says it this way “God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! 12We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now. – “
God welcomes us into the family, and then He gives us a list of how to show our love to Him. Yet some of the items on His list, go against the general culture or standards of our world.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I have an attitude that says “I can do it myself”. I am all for God’s agenda as long as it matches what I want. That’s how Israel was living in Micah’s day, and how America lives in our day. To act justly is to live by God’s standards. So Micah lets Israel and you and me know what’s involved.
Letting Israel know what was on God’s list was not original with Micah either. Moses told Israel in
“So now, O Israel, what does Adonai your God require of you, but to fear Adonai your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Worship without walls begins when I act justly, when I live by God’s standards.
REQUIREMENT 2: “To love mercy”: Love others with God’s heart. God’s cry for action continues from Moses throughout the Old Testament. To love mercy is an interesting term. The word love refers to the loyal love of a married couple. The word mercy refers to God’s love to those in His family. To love mercy is to love others with God’s heart. God says in Hosea 6:6 For I delight in loyalty and not sacrifice, knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Pastor John Ortberg tells the story of a young man named John Gilbert who lived in a California town called Paradise. When he was 5 years old, John was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. He was told it would eventually destroy every muscle and finally, in a space of 10 years or so, take his life. John Gilbert passed away a few yeas ago at the age of 25. While alive John experienced a lot of exclusion and cruelty from his peers growing up. But at one point he was named the representative for everyone with his condition in the state of California. He was flown to Sacramento and was ushered with mother into the governor’s office for a private meeting.
That night the National Football League sponsored a fund-raising auction and dinner at which John was a guest. The players let him hold their huge Super Bowl rings, which almost extended to John’s wrist. When the auction began, one particular item caught John’s attention: a basketball signed by the players of the Sacramento Kings. John got a little carried away, because when the ball was up for bids, he raised his hand. As soon as his hand went up,
John’s mother pulled it down. In John’s words, “Astronauts never felt as many G’s as my wrist did that night.”
The bidding for the basketball rose to an astounding amount for an item that was not the most valuable treasure on the docket. Eventually, one man named a figure that shocked the room and the no one else could match. The man went to the front and collected his prize. But instead of returning to his seat, the man walked across the room and placed it in the thin, small hands of the boy who had admired it so intently. The man placed the ball in hands that would never dribble it down a court, never throw it to a teammate on a fast break, never fire it from 3-point range. But those hands would cherish it.
Have you bought a basketball for anybody lately? To love mercy is to love others with God’s heart. And to love others that’s a nice way of saying, “love everybody with the heart of God”
Yeshua says in Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.”
Hold a door open for someone. Let that other car go first. Phone a friend, not because you need a lifeline, but because you might be the lifeline God wants to use to touch him or her with His love.
REQUIREMENT 3: “To walk humbly with your God”: Learn to follow constantly God’s direction. The people of Israel ask in
Micah 6:6-7 With what shall I come before Adonai? With what shall I bow myself before God on high? Shall I present Him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? (7) Will Adonai be pleased with thousands of rams, with hordes of rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my belly for the sin of my soul?
How many first born children here today? Non-first born? First-born children tend to answer “No” to Micah’s suggestion. Non-first born tend to say, “What do we have to lose?” Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? The answer is no, and not just because I am first born. It wouldn’t do any good. It wouldn’t pay the price. Only one could and only one did. He was a first-born by the way. First-born Son of God gave His life that we might have life.
Yeshua says in Matthew 5:3, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” — (The Message)
When we reach the point where our only option is God, then we have reached the point we walk humbly with our God. When we reach the point that we recognize God as the source of our success, then we have reached the point we walk humbly with our God.
We walk humbly with God, when we come to him in prayer. I’m sure you’ve heard the prayer that goes, “Dear Lord, so far today I’m doing alright. I’ve not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent. I’ve not whined, …cursed, or eaten any chocolate. I’ve not charged on my credit card. However, I am about to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that.”
Time in prayer and God’s Word daily sets the focus for the day, Take such time to say, “God, this is the day you have made. It’s your gift. Help me to use it wisely for your glory.” Or, “Lord, it’s going to be a long, long day, I need your help and direction.”
CONCLUSION: The answer to the ultimate question.
For most people, the ultimate question in life is “What should I do with my life?” People search for meaning and purpose, and the answer to the ultimate question. The prophet Micah is a kindred spirit to those pursuing The Ultimate Question. As he spoke to the people of Israel, Micah’s focus was to remind people of their purpose. For Micah, the answer to The Ultimate Question is found in the larger purposes of God. “What does the Lord require of you?” asks the prophet with his own ultimate question. God’s answer is “to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”.
As those words echoed in my mind and heart this week, I found myself waiting to hold a door open for people who were beyond the 5 second behind rule for door holding. I realized this week that as these words permeated my soul, I was cutting people off in traffic, but letting them merge. I became aware of God’s presence in the holy and in the ordinary. I found myself worshipping God without walls. Want to experience a great week this week? Here’s what you do. Answer Micah’s call “to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”. Amen.