Messages from Pastor Raddatz

29 January 2023Mount Olive Lutheran Church Houston TX, Other texts for today: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and Matthew 5:1-12


It is through the simple that God accomplishes the great!

Micah 6:8, “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” NIV

You have probably heard the phrase: “Bigger is better, fancier is more impressive, and Independence is preferred over dependence.” We have fallen into a belief in “Commercialism” which puts a priority on image over substance.  Commercialism is defined as an “Emphasis on maximizing the  For the purpose of our reflection on the text above: religion I define as telling people what they want to hear over and opposed to what God wants the people to hear.)


Micah is set in a courtroom (1:1 & 2).  God is bringing accusations against his people.  They are not walking according to the covenant or the contract that was established between them.  God calls the jury of the mountains and the hills to testify.   This picture was common of Middle East treaties which brought the elements of nature to bear witness.  In other words, I think these words are saying, “Since these things of the heaven and the earth have always been here, let them tells us what they have seen and heard”.  

God is upset.  He is the one who established a covenant with the people.  He made them his people by choice and he provided what he needed for them to be part of his covenant people, but they have broken the covenant.   Their actions do not reflect God’s character.

Let’s take a quick look at what God wants to know:

  • What have I done to you? (V. 3)
  • How have I wearied you? (V. 3)

Now God reviews his behavior:

  • I brought you up from the land of Egypt…redeemed you from the house of slavery. (v. 4)

Look what I did with Balak:

After meeting with King Balak of Moab, Balaam prophesied over Israel four times. As he spoke forth God’s word, he did not curse Israel — but he blessed them each time. When he was unsuccessful in cursing Israel, Balaam answered Balak on how to bring Israel under a curse. Instead of trying to have a prophet curse them, the Moabites would lead them into fornication and idolatry, and thus God would curse idolatrous and disobedient Israel. Balak did just that, sending his young women into the camp of Israel to lead Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry. Because of their sin, God did curse Israel — He brought a plague of judgment upon Israel that killed 24,000. (David Guzik)

If Israel thought they were under a curse, the truth is that they brought this curse down on themselves by their own sinful actions.

The courtroom scene continues: It is now ISRAEL’S TURN to ask God: WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?  Verse 6 & 7 describe the Children’s complaint: “Do you want burnt offerings…thousands of rams and ten thousand of rivers of oil…shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions…”


God's requirements demand perfection.   Matthew 5:48, “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” 

6–7 Perhaps one of Israel’s kings, to judge from the magnificence of his gifts, responded in such a way as to condemn himself. Instead of repenting of his ingratitude and unfaithfulness he tried to gain access to God’s exalted presence through his own good works and ritual, transforming the spiritual covenant (cf. Dt. 6:4–5) into a commercial contract. 6 He hoped to come before the Lord through costly gifts. This unbelieving approach to God’s grace can never satisfy the conscience, and so he escalated the quality and/or quantity of the gift ever higher. He even offered to sacrifice my firstborn, an obscene pagan custom (Lv. 18:21). 

What God requires is faithfulness to the covenant, which is based on faith in him and expresses itself fundamentally in right living and only secondarily in ritual (see Ex. 20–24; 1 Sa. 15:22; Mt. 5:24). The king’s ignorance of what pleases God is inexcusable, for in the covenant God has shown humankind what is good, a term that summarizes the law’s requirements: to act justly (see Ch. 3) and to love mercy (i.e. from the heart, to protect the weak), and to walk humbly (or ‘to walk thoughtfully’ in the light of the covenant’s requirements) with your God. Carson, D. A.: New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, S. Mic 6:1

Micah was not denying the desirability of sacrifices by God but shows that it does not good to offer them without obedience.


Psalm 25:6, “Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.”

The difference between mercy and grace… Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.

Mercy and grace are best illustrated in the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. We deserve judgment, but if we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we receive mercy from God and we are delivered from judgment. Instead of judgment, we receive by grace salvation, forgiveness of sins, abundant life (John 10:10), and an eternity in Heaven, the most wonderful place imaginable (Revelation 21-22). Because of the mercy and grace of God, our response should be to fall on our knees in worship and thanksgiving. Hebrews 4:16 declares, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Read more:

Outline of Biblical Usage

I. mercy: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them

A. of men towards men: to exercise the virtue of mercy, show one's self merciful

B. of God towards men: in general providence; the mercy and clemency of God in providing and offering to men salvation by Christ

C. the mercy of Christ, whereby at his return to judgment he will bless true Christians with eternal life

Hebrew 4:16, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  This is the only place we will find mercy and grace.  God’s desire for Justice has been satisfied in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.  God forgives us and his spirit can move in us to walk humbly.

WALK HUMBLY (Humility means to move to a lower position)

God is not impressed by bigger shrines, grandiose campaigns, strategies and gestures, but he desires “attentiveness”.   –William Carr  

But you Bethlehem Ephrathah though you are small among the clan of Judah out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old from ancient times.” Micah 5:2  God was always going to use the simple to do great things.  Out of little Bethlehem comes the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.   All things are in his hands.  

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 years 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, and never fire it from 3-point range. But those hands would cherish it. 

Have you bought a basketball for anybody lately?  Have you held the door open for anyone lately?  Have you forgiven anyone lately? To love mercy is to love others with God’s heart. And to love others that’s a wonderful way of saying, “love everybody with the heart of God”.  From   

Beatitudes from Matthew 5, “Blessed are the merciful for they will see mercy…”  The Message translates Matthew 5:7, “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘careful,’ you find yourselves cared for.” -- (The Message)

What are you going to do with your hands?  Our actions begin in the heart and move our bodies.  We have received mercy, so will you be merciful?   Through the little things God does important things.  Through the simple God does a valuable thing.  

Pastor John Raddatz, SDG

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