Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Modeling, Scripture

MATH PROBLEMS

AMOS 5:3

“For this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘The city which goes forth a thousand strong will have a hundred left, and the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left to the house of Israel.’”

Who likes math? That’s what I thought – no one. Lol. Seriously though, I actually like math. I think it’s because I can see the problem and come to an answer. It’s the finality of it. Math can be fun, unless you are experiencing real life math that involves your life. For instance, subtraction could mean the loss of a loved one or another kind of loss. That kind of math is painful.

Israel was going to experience subtraction. Look at what the Lord says to them. They were going to lose 90% of their warriors (1000-900 = 100, 100-90 = 10). That’s a huge loss. That kind of loss would be devastating to the nation. The Lord is warning them. He has spoken.

APPLICATION

You may not like math, but it’s a part of life. Sometimes we have addition, while at other times we may experience multiplication. Division can also occur. Look at your life right now. Which are you experiencing and why? The answer to those questions should point out some things for you.

I would love to see multiplication more prevalent in everyone’s life. I would love to see people get excited about making disciple makers. That’s multiplication (2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 28:18-20). By focusing on multiplication, we may see few subtractions.

And you know what? Multiplication sees bigger and faster results than addition. That’s how Jesus intended us to make disciples – to make disciple makers. That way our work grows exponentially. Unfortunately, most churches seem to be stuck on subtraction – people leaving. We can turn that around if we are obedient to the Great Commission. Will you be a part of that math problem?

Lord, help me focus more on multiplication and less on subtraction and division. I want to be a disciple maker.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Modeling

I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP

AMOS 5:2

“She has fallen, she will not rise again— the virgin Israel. She lies unnoticed on her land; there is no one to raise her up.”

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past several years, you have probably seen the commercial for a “life-saving” device. It shows an elderly person lying on the floor. They have this device around their neck, and they push a button and say “Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” They have sold millions of these devices.

Israel is going to fall. Amos is prophesying that to them. He calls her “virgin Israel.” Why? Well, when God first took her to Himself as His chosen people, she was seen as a virgin – pure and undefiled. But now, that name is used in ridicule. She has given herself to other gods and played the harlot with them. She is truly no longer the virgin Israel, and for that she will fall and not get up.

APPLICATION

We have an obligation as believers to live undefiled lives. We are called to be holy. Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” It’s that simple. Keep yourself holy.

But Carl, I can’t be holy! Yes, you can. If God tells us to do something, then we can do it. He would never ask us to do it if we couldn’t. Now, we can’t on our own. That’s for sure. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can. We may still fall, but we can push our button (the Holy Spirit) and get back up.

I hope I never need that device sold on television. I pray I will always be able to get back up once I’ve fallen. But I am thankful that no matter how hard I may fall, I have the Holy Spirit to help me get back up spiritually. Aren’t you glad for that? Give the Lord praise today.

Praise You, Lord, for picking me up when I fall. I want to walk holy before You and avoid all those traps that would bring me down.

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Advocate, Affection, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Hope, Intimacy, Mourning, Scripture

MOURNING

AMOS 5:1

“Hear this word which I am taking up for you as a song of mourning, house of Israel:”

Mourning is hard. If you have ever had a loss of a loved one in your life, you know what I mean. Everyone mourns differently. Some, seemingly, mourn quickly and move on with their life. Others take months, even years, to fully mourn their loss. But everyone feels their mourning, in one way or another.

Israel seemed to be clueless. Amos introduces for the third time in five chapters the reality of mourning. Israel was so full of itself, it totally overlooked its loss. God had removed Himself from them to allow their judgment to fall. They had plenty to mourn, but were too busy to notice – until it was too late.

APPLICATION

Are you aware of your losses? Are you stuck in your mourning? I have good news for you. God is here. He is right where you are, no matter where you are in your mourning cycle. He can soothe the most broken heart. He can comfort us so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

If you are going through a process of mourning right now, don’t let anyone tell you how to do it. They haven’t been where you are. Everyone’s loss is different. But there is one who can relate fully and completely. His name is Jesus. Tell Him how you feel. Cry on His shoulder. He will be with you through the entire process.

I have suffered loss in my life (child, parent, sibling, friends). Each loss hit me differently. But through each loss, God’s strength was inside me. He gave me the ability to cope. Without Him I do not know how I would have dealt with each loss. But praise be to God, He knows how. Amen?

Lord, I praise You for the strength You give to Your children during their times of loss. You are truly the balm of Gilead.

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Advocate, Bible, Comfort, Creation, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Relationships, Scripture

WHAT’S YOUR NAME

AMOS 4:13

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, and declares to a person what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the LORD God of armies is His name.”

Throughout my over four decades of ministry, I have sought to learn the names of the children I was serving. There is something about being called by your name. But I have had to develop some tricks to help me. I have used acrostics to memorize the names of multiple children in a family. I have used hair color or a birthmark to help. There was usually something about the child that I could remember that would trigger the name.

God tells us who He is in is verse before He tells us His name. Look at what He does. He forms the mountains and creates the wind. That’s pretty powerful. He knows our thoughts. That’s a little scary, right? He controls the sunlight and walks on mountaintops. Then He says, “the LORD God of armies is His name.” In other words, He is in charge! Period!

APPLICATION

While all these attributes might be terrifying, I find comfort in them. If God can do all that, He can certainly handle my little problems. The LORD God of armies cares enough about little, ole me to hear my prayers and dry my tears. The LORD God of armies loves me enough to send His own Son to rescue me from an eternal damnation.

No matter how little I may feel, He still reaches down with His powerful right hand and scoops me up to safety. In fact, He will send those armies of His to my rescue. I am His child, and He will protect me. Even when He is busy forming mountains and creating wind, I am on His mind. That’s mind boggling.

I am so thankful that my God is not too big for me. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. God, of course, is big. He is too big for my mind. But He isn’t too big that He forgets about me. In fact, He wants to hear from me every day. He wants to hear from you, too. Talk to Him. Tell Him your needs. I promise He can fit you in.

O God of the universe, I praise You for looking on me. I know You are forever mindful of my needs and desires.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Faith, Forgiveness, Gospel, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD

AMOS 4:12

“‘Therefore so I will do to you, Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.’”

Anytime you prepare to meet someone, don’t you do things to get ready? Usually, you get cleaned up and maybe clean your house. Depending on who the person is you may prepare a big meal and invite your friends. You see, preparing to meet someone takes preparation.

Israel had not prepared to meet their God. They had been living rebellious and sinful lives and weren’t ready to meet Him. Somehow, they had forgotten God had been with them from long ago. They had lost sight of that. Now, God tells them to prepare to meet Him. This was not going to be a pleasant meeting.

APPLICATION

Now, let me ask you a question. Are you prepared to meet your God? There are only two possible answers to that question. You are either ready or you’re not. And there is only one way to be ready. You have to turn to God, confess your sins to Him and ask for forgiveness. You must accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior.

That’s how you prepare to meet your God. And guess what. God can’t wait to meet you – right there. The very moment you turn to Him He comes running to you. He has been looking forward to this meeting for a long time. He has longed to meet with you one on one. Isn’t that incredible?

I am so glad I made that decision back in 1977. I knew about God long before that, but I didn’t have a face-to-face meeting until then. I didn’t have to go looking for Him. I just had to prepare to meet Him, and He was there. Wow! I didn’t deserve it, but I got to meet with the Maker of the Universe. So can you.

Father God, I am humbled that You wanted to meet with me. Help me introduce others to You so they can have their own person meeting with You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Encouragement, Fire, Friends, Relationships, Scripture

LOG FIRE

AMOS 4:11

“‘I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a log snatched from a fire; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

There’s a simple rule about log fires. They burn much longer when there is more than one log on the fire. I guess you could call that fire synergy. The combined heat and fire of all the logs is much more than the heat and fire of the individual logs added together. Confused?

God uses this analogy in today’s verse. A log snatched from a fire will soon go out. It will quit burning. Israel had lost its fire. It refused to return to the Lord and was overthrown – just like Sodom and Gomorrah, two wicked cities destroyed by God with hellfire and brimstone during the days of Lot.

APPLICATION

If you are trying to “burn your fire” all alone, it won’t last long. We are made to do life alone. First of all, you need the Lord in your life to give you direction and purpose. Secondly, you need other believers to encourage you and help you along. You need those other “logs” in your life to keep your fire going.

I pray you have other “logs” in your life right now. If you don’t, you need to find some. Get in a church where you can be loved on and supported. Find a group of fellow believers with whom you can do life. Their fires will help fuel your fires, and together you can build a bonfire for the Lord.

I have said it before, but I need others in my life. I need other men to hold me accountable. I need friends with whom I can share my needs and hurts. God has made us this way. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Ask Him today to put others in your life. Don’t be a log snatched from the fire, slowly burning out and losing its flame.

I want to burn brightly for You, O Lord. I know to do that I need others in my life who can help me.

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Bible, Blameless, Confession, Forgiveness, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

THE STENCH OF DEATH

AMOS 4:10

“‘I sent a plague among you as in Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses, and I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I don’t know if you have ever smelled a dead carcass our not, but it is awful. Often, when I am in the woods hunting, I will run across a dead dear or other animal. I can smell it long before I see it. The stench can be overwhelming, depending on how long it’s been there. It’s not a good smell.

The Lord’s judgment on Israel included death, death to their soldiers and livestock. Here in verse 10 of chapter 4, Amos speaks for the Lord recounting those deaths. The phrase “the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils” is so descriptive. That smell does stick in your nose. Even that smell did not drive the Israelites back to Him.

APPLICATION

Our sins smell just as retched in God’s nostrils. The stench of our sins rise up to heaven. We can’t cover them up with a scented candle or a matchstick. The smell of our sins covers us until we wash them off in confession. And there is nothing that can remove them except the blood of Christ.

That may sound kind of silly. How can blood, which has its own smell, wash away the smell of our sins? Because this isn’t just some plain, ordinary blood. As it says in 1 Peter 1:19, “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” That’s the difference. His blood is pure. Only His blood can wash that stench off.

I am so thankful I have surrendered my life to Him and allowed that unblemished, spotless Lamb’s blood cleanse me. I can walk stench free because of Him. I don’t have to worry about how I smell. My sins are forgiven. I know who to come to when I need to confess. How do you smell today?

O Father, I praise You for sending Your Son, on this special day to rid this world of this stench of sin. Help me point others towards His blood.

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Abiding, Affliction, Bible, Direction, Encouragement, Following, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Self-control

GARDENS

AMOS 4:9

“‘I struck you with scorching wind and mildew; the caterpillar was devouring your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I used to garden a lot. I loved gardening. It was such a tension release back in those days. I particularly loved raised bed gardening. But with any garden you have to battle the pests, those bugs that want to eat your produce before you do. It’s a depressing thing to walk out to pick fresh vegetables and find them riddled with bug holes.

So, I can relate to the caterpillars devouring the Israelites’ gardens and vineyards. Neither winds, mildew, nor caterpillars drove them home.

APPLICATION

What kind of garden are you growing right now? Carl, I’m not gardening at all! Oh, I beg to differ. You are planting seed every day. Some seed sprout and produce beautiful things like joy, love, gentleness or self-control. Other seed spring up in anger, bitterness or unforgiveness.

It’s been said that many people want to sow their wild oats and then pray for a crop failure. That’s not how it goes. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8). What kind of crop do you want to produce? Do you want a pest free crop? Then you must trust the Lord. Let Him help you in your garden.

I wish I had space again for a garden. There is something special about planting, watering and watching something grow. I miss that. But I can concentrate on my own spiritual garden more. It sure needs tending every day. How about yours?

Lord, I am thankful for the bounty you allow me to have in my spiritual garden.

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Advice, Bible, Choices, Devil, Drought, Refreshing, Scripture

STAGGERING

AMOS 4:8

“‘So the people of two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water, but would not be satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I can relate to this verse a little. I remember working in the tobacco fields with my cousin when I was young. A tobacco field in South Georgia in July is deadly. I can recall a few times being so thirsty I literally staggered to the igloo for a drink. I was light-headed and weak. But how refreshing that water was.

The drought God put on Israel had the same effect. People had to travel to other places in an attempt to find water. But even there it wasn’t enough. You would think that would drive them to return to the Lord, but it didn’t. They didn’t seem to connect the dots.

APPLICATION

Listen up! When God allows trials in our lives, it is always to make us better. It is always to drive us closer to Him. He will allow hardships from time to time when He needs to refine us a little more. He has to knock off the rough edges. At least He does with me.

What does it take to get your attention? A sledge hammer? I hope not. That can get old. That can cause you to get bitter instead of better. Satan will whisper in your ear that God doesn’t care about you. Don’t believe it. God is just making you more like Him.

I have learned (once again, the hard way) to respond quicker. I need to repent quicker. I need to listen more. I need… You get the picture. I have to check myself every day. I can’t go one day without checking in with the Master to get my marching orders. If I don’t, I will go the wrong direction so fast. How about you?

I am thirsty, Lord. Will you send Your quenching rains to refresh my spirit?

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Destruction, Direction, Drought, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Perseverance, Refreshing, Scripture

WET OR DRY

AMOS 4:7

“‘Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city, but on another city I would not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up.’”

I can remember as a young boy one day when we had a strange rainstorm at my house. Our house set toward the back of a two acre lot. It was summer and so hot outside. A storm blew up, but then it happened. It rained like crazy in our front yard, but not a drop in the back yard. Really weird!

God is reminding Israel of His selective wet and dry choices. Withholding rain three months from harvest was devastating. The crops would not mature and there would be a crop failure. Drought was there in part of the country and not in others. God truly could control their very livelihoods with rain or no rain.

APPLICATION

Are you in a drought right now? Has your prayer life dried up? We can feel that way. Sometimes it feels like our prayers don’t get past the ceiling. Why is that? Usually, it’s because we have stopped spending time in His Word. We have stopped spending time in worship. We have lost our ability to communicate.

But all that’s an easy fix. Get in the Word. Get back in church. The internet will not meet your spiritual needs. You need other believers in your life. And then spend some concentrated, dedicated time with the Lord listening to what He wants to tell you.

My problem is I like to do a lot of talking during my prayer time. I need to listen more. I need to hear His voice. I can’t follow directions I never hear. I am committed to listening more. I want to hear those commands. His voice is always loving and draws me to His safe embrace. So, if you’re feeling dry, try getting wet.

Father, I praise You for sending Your rains in my life. Showers of blessing, showers of blessing I need.

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