THINK: Have you ever been playing a game when someone tried to change the rules on you? That can be especially frustrating when you aren't that familiar with the rules to begin with, making it easy for you to be confused and misled. That's why it's vital for Jesus' followers today to know God and His Word, because the culture has essentially tried to change the rules. Many people-including some in the church-have switched the roles of evil and good to fit their ungodly beliefs, to serve their misguided purposes or simply to justify their worldly behavior. But those who abandon God and His Word so they can be more like others who don't follow God will find themselves opposed to Christ and vulnerable to disaster. God calls us to stick to His rules, to love what's right and hate what's wrong.
RESPOND: What nations did Samaria and Jerusalem represent? (See 1:1 second note.) What is "Jacob" (1:5), and what were its sins? (See 1:5 note.) What does it mean that Samaria "gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes" (1:6), and what would happen to the nation as a result? (See 1:6 note.) How did Judah's behavior compare to Israel's (1:9)? (See 1:9 note.) Who does Micah address in 2:1-5, and how were they defrauding others? (See 2:1-5 note.) How can greed cause people to mistreat others? How were the false prophets mistaken in their view of God (2:6-7), and did their message affect people? (See 2:6 note, subpoints 1 & 2.) What hope does Micah give in 2:12-13? (See 2:12- 13 note.) What social class does he address as chapter 3 begins, and how did they offend God? (See 3:1-12 note.) What would God refuse to do because of the leaders' cruel and unjust behavior (3:4)? How had false prophets failed God and the people (3:5-7), and what were their motives? (See 3:5-7 note.) How did Micah's ministry and message stand in contrast to false prophets (3:8), and where did Micah's power come from? (See 3:8 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you resist the destructive tendency to want to be like people who don't follow God. Pray that you are never motivated by greed and that you always keep money and possessions in proper perspective.
ACT: Have you allowed yourself in any way to be motivated by greed for money or things? Are you taking advantage of others to get ahead? If either of these is the case, ask God - and anyone else you've offended - to forgive you. Then change your priorities and your behavior to honor God.
THINK: Many people long for peace in the world, and that's a noble desire. But this hope becomes misguided when it expects some kind of political process, social system or an influential individual to bring lasting peace. Even the most well-intended worldly ideals can never resolve the worlds conflicts, unite all people and bring tranquility to earth - let alone bring tranquility to the soul. Only one plan - God's - and only one Person - Jesus Christ - can bring true, lasting peace. The first time Jesus came to earth, He made the way for souls to find rest through a relationship with God. Only when Jesus returns to defeat the end-time forces of evil and rule the world for a thousand years will people experience the kind of peace they've dreamed of. For God's people, that peace will carry on for eternity.
RESPOND: What time period does Micah refer to at the beginning of chapter 4, what will this time be like, and when will it begin? (See 4:1 note.) What do you think it means to "walk in the name of the LORD" (4:5), and how should this affect your life? (See 4: 5 note.) How does Micah's focus transition in 4:9, what does he tell his people (4:10), and what's amazing about the timing of this prediction? (See 4:9-13 note.) Who is the Ruler that would come out of Bethlehem (5:2), and what does it mean that His "origins are from of old, from ancient times"? (See 5:2 note.) What does it mean that God would abandon Israel until that time, and why would He do this? (See 5:3 note.) How did Micah and other prophets often relate descriptions of Jesus' first and second comings? (See 5:4 note.) How did Jesus' first coming bring peace, and in what way will His final return to earth bring peace? (See 5:5 note.) What kinds of practices, which had become common at the time, will the Lord eventually wipe out?
PRAY: Pray that you'll live in a way that's worthy of associating with Jesus and representing Him. Thank Jesus for the spiritual peace He brought by His first coming and the worldwide peace He will bring when He returns.
ACT: Stay steady in your attitude-whether things are going well or not-by demonstrating God's peace and patience. Give other others a break when they do things that might normally bother or offend you. Help and encourage individuals who seem to be frustrated or lacking peace.