Archive for the tag “devotional”

An amazing journey of discovery

“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 NAS)

By Mark Kelly

Amazing discoveries await people when they first start reading the Bible for themselves.

I decided, as a teenager wrestling with God’s call for my life, to read the Bible through. Where to start? I’d been in church long enough to know Numbers was out. Other books looked awfully long. I hadn’t heard much about the “minor” prophets, so they seemed a good place to start. Besides, the books were really short!

I was shocked by what I read.

Strong condemnation of rampant sin. Promises of harsh judgment. Powerful calls for justice. Beautiful visions of God making everything right. These guys were the action heroes of the Old Testament! (Did I mention the books were really short?)

Then came Micah 6:8. So succinct. A clear word from God. I realized how desperately I needed humility. I struggled with how little I actually loved showing kindness. I connected the dots about my personal need to do something about the injustices I saw around me.

I’m embarrassed, however, to admit it was years — no, decades — before I even saw the word ‘require.’

What did that mean? What could it mean? I thought all that was required was to “accept Jesus as my personal Savior” so I could go to heaven when I died. I knew God required the Israelites to fast and make sacrifices so their sins could be forgiven, but Jesus became that sacrifice for us. I knew my Sunday school envelope had these check boxes — church attendance, daily Bible reading and prayer, tithing, etc. — but those were, like, really good suggestions, not requirements.

I understood how walking humbly with God and loving kindness were simply what God’s people did. But “do justice”? I wasn’t even sure I knew what it meant. How could something God requires be mentioned so little at church?

The “Micah mandate” set me on an amazing journey of discovery. Turns out, the long books had even more to say about the matter. God wants, not burnt offerings, but broken and contrite hearts. (Psalm 51:16-17) Fasting with sackcloth and ashes? He’s looking for an end to unjust imprisonment, oppression of workers, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and showing hospitality to strangers — even to relatives. (!) (Matthew 25:34-36)

And when we do these things, “your salvation will come like the dawn.” (Isaiah 58:8a NLT)

Who knew?


Mark Kelly is editor of Multiply Justice. Copyright © 2012 Kainos Press

Let your justice light shine!

You are the light of the world — like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)

By Mark Kelly

Eight-year-old Shyima didn’t understand what was happening. Her father was talking to a strange man at their home in Egypt. The stranger nodded his head and looked at her with a smile that made her uncomfortable. Shyima’s mother was crying.

Shyima’s family was in debt to the stranger, and he had come to collect. The poor family couldn’t pay what they owed, and Shyima’s father had offered her as payment.

Sold into slavery by her parents, Shyima was taken by her owners to the United States, where she served the family as a housemaid. She slept on a bare mattress in a garage storage room.

It was almost two years before a neighbor in the gated community noticed a child at the home was not attending school — and called authorities. Police officers and social workers came to the house and set Shyima free from her slavery in Orange County, California. Church ministries and private charities helped her make a new life for herself in the U.S. The slave owners went to jail.

Can you fathom it? A father desperate enough, valuing his daughter so little, that he sells her into slavery? A well-to-do family in an upscale American neighborhood keeping a child as a house slave?

We know awful things happen all the time, some of it so horrible we don’t really want to know about it. We know all the bad stuff doesn’t happen in far-off countries, but next door? In our neighborhood?

The truth is, we don’t have to travel halfway around the world to find injustice — helpless people at the mercy of dark powers. If we pay attention — like Shyima’s neighbor — we’ll notice things that don’t seem right and can take responsibility to do something.

Or we can just do something about the injustice we see every day: the female co-worker with bruises on her arm, the “shiftless” young men who would work if they had training and opportunity, the single mother who leaves the house on Friday night to spend a few hours on the street outside the strip club. The list goes on and on.

Jesus tells us to shine our justice light for all to see, so our heavenly Father will be praised. There’s no shortage of dark corners in our day-to-day lives. If our eyes and hearts are open, heaven knows what amazing opportunity our Lord will give us!

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Learn more about Shyima’s story — and how you can help advance God’s Kingdom of Justice — by watching this video.

Mark Kelly is editor of Multiply Justice. Copyright © 2012 Kainos Press

Ambassadors of ‘new things’

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation …. We are ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5: 17-18, 20a NAS)

By Mark Kelly

The radical change Jesus brings to our lives transforms more than our relationship with God. Jesus invites us into God’s everything-is-new kingdom, where nothing is as it was before — especially our relationships and responsibilities.

We were God’s enemies, but his overwhelming love for us allowed his sinless only Son to die in our place so we could be adopted into God’s family. (Romans 5:8-10) When we allow Christ to make new creatures of us, all the “old things” disappear and “new things” take their place. The most fundamental change is our mission in life. Instead of being in it for ourselves, looking out for No. 1, we become ambassadors for a kingdom of justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

Now justice, peace, and joy are not merely the benefits we individually enjoy for entering the Kingdom; they also describe the newly created relationships between citizens of the Kingdom. They describe the vision of new life we offer lost, broken souls enslaved by the powers of this present darkness.

How radically different is a world in which we are told to love our enemies? How different is a world in which we are told to love our neighbor — and as an example we are told a story about ethnic groups who despise each other? How radically different from our churches today would a community be, in which there was no poverty because members sold their property to help other members in need?

In this radically different “new things” world, we also have “new things” responsibilities.

God set a radical example of loving our enemies by allowing his sinless only Son to die in our place. As ambassadors of God’s kingdom, don’t we have a responsibility to represent our Lord to even the worst of his enemies, including sex traffickers, child molesters, and slave owners? How much greater is our responsibility before God to reach out to their victims and help them find a path into the Kingdom of Justice, Peace, and Joy?

Declaring that old things have passed away means much more than turning away from our old sinful indulgences. It also requires us to turn away from our old (and sinful) apathy about oppression and injustice.

Our old complacency and self-interest allowed injustice to multiply without restraint. Our mission as ambassadors of reconciliation is to multiply God’s justice.


Mark Kelly is editor of Multiply Justice. Copyright © 2012 Kainos Press

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