Accountability, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Following, Holiness, Holy Spirit

WHEN THE FUN STOPS

AMOS 6:7

“Therefore, they will now go into exile at the head of the exiles, and the revelry of those who lounge around will come to an end.”

I remember as a teenager, before I came to Christ, participating in some pretty, wild parties. Someone would announce at school about a party taking place at this old, abandoned house in the country. Those parties got real crazy. Often, the sheriff’s office would be called by someone. When they arrived, the party was over.

Very similarly, the Israelites’ party was over. Their “revelry” had come to an end. The sheriff had arrived. Jehovah God said this was enough. And unlike me, who was just sent home, the Israelites were led into exile. Their judgment was tough.

APPLICATION

Are your too busy with your “revelry” to bother with being holy? If you are a believer, you are commanded to live like Jesus, to be holy because He is holy. We don’t think that is possible, so we just ignore that command. We live like we want to and expect God to bless it or at least ignore it.

God still demands obedience. He may not lead us into a physical exile to another country by a conquering horde, but He may lead us into a spiritual exile until we come to our senses. Now, don’t mishear me. God is not intent on punishing us just because we disobeyed. He disciplines us to draw us to Himself.

I know if the Holy Spirit didn’t get my attention every day, I would be drawn into the life of revelry. Who doesn’t like a party? Who wouldn’t rather do as they please? But because of my love for my Savior, I follow Him. I don’t do it to escape punishment. I do it simply because I love Him. How about you?

Lord God, You are so patient and kind towards me. Please forgive me when I stray and draw me back.

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Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Idols, Praise, Prayer, Scripture, Surrender

SPECIAL VESSELS

AMOS 6:6

“Who drink wine from sacred bowls while they anoint themselves with the finest of oils — yet they have not grieved over the collapse of Joseph.”

I’ve got a favorite coffee mug. I’ve had it since 1982. Yep, that’s 40 years. I bought it at a pottery shop in N.C. It holds the heat of my coffee great. I love how it feels in my hand. I have no idea how it has survived this long, but I am careful to not drop it or crack it. I bet you have one too.

The problem Amos points out here again points to the idolatry the Israelites were practicing. They were using the sacred bowls of the temple, reserved only for use there, to drink from during their idol worship. They were possibly using the special oils reserved for the sacrifices on themselves because they smelled good. They were abusing God’s special items and didn’t seem to care. They showed the same lack of concern as Joseph’s brothers when they dumped him in that well.

APPLICATION

Let me give you an analogy right now. We are God’s holy vessels. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says so. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” As vessels of the Holy Spirit, we belong to God. But what do we do? We abuse these vessels.

I am as guilty as the next person of doing this. I eat things I shouldn’t eat. I don’t exercise like I should. I could do so much more to keep this vessel in good shape. But you can be the healthiest person in the world and still not be a holy vessel. Our holiness doesn’t come from our perfect physical condition. Our holiness only comes from complete surrender the Lord. That’s the kind of vessel He is desiring to use.

How do you become that kind of vessel? By spending time with Him. You have to pray and read His Word. You need to spend more time on your knees praying than doing pushups. You need to raise your hands in praise more than lifting weights. Yes, continue to treat your physical body with respect. But more importantly, exercise your spirit.

Forgive me, Lord, for not caring for this vessel better. Help me to realize just what I am “housing” as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

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Bible, Encouragement, Exhortation, Glory, Intimacy, Music, Offering, Passion, Scripture, Worship

GIBBERISH

AMOS 6:5

“Who improvise to the sound of the harp, and like David have composed songs for themselves,”

I have experienced a lot of different kinds of worship music over the years. Some of it has been extraordinary. Some of it has…well, not been. Worship music is supposed to lead us to the throne. It prepares our heart, in a service, to hear the written Word. It is vital, I think, to the whole process of worship.

You won’t believe what Amos has to say about this. Albert Barnes explains the Hebrew word parat, translated as “improvise.”  “The word, which Amos alone uses in this one place, describes probably a hurried flow of unmeaning, unconsidered words, in which the rhythm of words and music was everything, the sense, nothing;” They were just making noise!

APPLICATION

You don’t have to guess how to you apply this verse. We have to make sure our worship is actually worshipful. It has to be directed to the Lord. It’s not about us. It’s all about Him. We are pointing others to the throne. We are leading others to a more intimate connection through the music.

I sang in choirs for decades. I truly love to sing. It can be easy to get pulled into a performance mode, if all you think about is how you are going to sound. Now, that’s important. I think we should strive for excellence. But it is more about the heart music. When my heart is right with the Lord and I am submitted to His leadership, the music that comes out of me will be sweet in His ears (not necessarily everyone else’s, lol).

I want to challenge you today to sing out. Psalm 33:1-3 says, “Sing for joy in the LORD, you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”

O, how I praise You, Lord! Your name is deserving of all our worship.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Contentment, Modeling, Scripture

IN THE LAP OF LUXURY

AMOS 6:4

“Those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge around on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the fattened cattle,”

I have never lived in luxury, compared to the “rich and famous.” I don’t drive a luxury vehicle. I don’t eat caviar and drink fine wine. I don’t consider myself wealthy. However, compared to most of the world, I would appear that way. Living luxuriously is very relative, depending on where you live in this world.

In Israel, during this time of Amos, though, there were those who were flaunting their wealth. They lived in luxury while the poor suffered. This image of beds of ivory and eating lambs may have been a little exaggeration by Amos, but he was trying to get a point across. Wealth and privilege mean nothing in the eyes of God.

APPLICATION

Look at how you are living right now. You have heard it said, “Waste not, want not.” Living frugally is not a sin. My wife and I have been “purging” our home of things that we have not used in years. We have kept so much stuff through the years and are just ready to part with it. We are sure others can use these items more than we can.

Most of these “purgings” go to one our local thrift shops, where the sale of these items can be turned into services to those who are less fortunate than we are. Other items have been given to individuals directly. The older we get the less stuff need around our house.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with nice things. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. I am thankful for those whom God has blessed with wealth. Just don’t let what you have become who you are. There is so much more in life than that.

I praise You Father for the blessings of this life. Lead me to share those with others as You direct.

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Accountability, Asking, Bible, Discipline, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Oppression, Redemption, Scripture

SCHEDULING ERROR

AMOS 6:3

“Are you postponing the day of disaster, and would you bring near the seat of violence?”

Recently I tried to sync two calendars. One was on my iPhone and the other one was on my laptop (which is not an Apple product). You can guess what happened. Nothing. I couldn’t get the two products to “talk” to each other. I need these two calendars to sync so I can add appointments on either. Without that, I was definitely going to face some scheduling issues.

Israel didn’t want to hear about the coming day of disaster. They wanted put that off for as long as possible. Who wouldn’t? Who wants to hear that judgment is here? However, Amos, in asking this question, is not giving them an out. He is merely stating how foolish it is to assume we can ignore what is coming.

APPLICATION

It’s no difference for us. We can’t be the ostrich with his head stuck in the sand pretending what he cannot see cannot hurt him. Judgment day is coming. I pray we are all ready. We don’t know when, but we are sure it is coming. What do we do? How can we be ready?

There is only one way – Jesus. He points the way to freedom. He shows us the way out. He delivers His people. He protects us from that day of disaster because He has already paid the price for us. Hallelujah! Don’t you believe that?

The day of disaster holds no trepidation for me. I know in whom I have believed. He holds me tight and will never let go. He has promised me a life with Him in eternity. I have nothing to fear. He is there – always. Wow! Now, that is something to shout about. I hope you’re shouting.

There is no other person or thing in which to hope besides You, Lord. Thank You for being the one constant in my life.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Modeling

LOOK ALL AROUND

AMOS 6:2

“Go over to Calneh and look, and go from there to Hamath the great, then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms, or is their territory greater than yours?”

One advantage of living here in Tennessee is the breathtaking views we have in our mountains. Now, I know our mountains aren’t the Rockies or the Alps, but we love them. There are some vistas from which you can see in all directions for miles. I just love taking all of that in.

Amos is telling Israel to look to the north, east and west at the great cities around them. Calneh, Hamath and Gath were all great cities at different points in their history. Do a study on them. They had some amazing accomplishments. But Amos is telling them they all failed. You can’t place your hope in your own accomplishments.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you something. What is the greatest thing you have achieved in your lifetime? Was it a job? How about a construction project? We all measure our success by what we do or plan to do. We think by making a mark on the world in our career or in our community, we will be remembered.

All those things we do may be great, but they are not eternal. There is nothing in this world we can take with us. Look all around at your life – nothing is going with you. The only true accomplishments we have that we will go with us are the ones we lead to Jesus. They will be there with us. Praise God.

I am so thankful God does not measure my success or competence by what I have done or will do. He only measures me in Christ. He wants me to become more and more like His son. That is the true measure of success. Forget my Calnehs, Hamaths and Gaths. They won’t last. Only Jesus will.

O Lord, You are faithful to bring me through. I praise You for Your faithfulness to me.

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TRUSTWORTHY

AMOS 6:1

“Woe to those who are carefree in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the dignitaries of the foremost of nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.”

Some things can’t be trusted. Believe me! Once while hiking, I came across this wooden bridge that crossed a creek. It had obviously been hand built and was old. I wanted to cross that creek but wasn’t sure about the strength of this old bridge. I was by myself, so I chose to find another place to cross. That old, rickety bridge just didn’t look trustworthy.

Israel was acting carefree and at ease in Zion. They were trusting in the wrong things. They thought Samaria couldn’t be taken. It was the last city to fall to the invaders, but it too fell under God’s judgment. The only thing that is totally trustworthy is God. Everything else is subject to failing. You would think Israel knew that.

APPLICATION

Oh my! This certainly applies to us, doesn’t it? We tend to trust everything else but God. We trust the government. We trust family. We trust our educators. We trust… You get the picture. We want to trust everything else until everything has failed us. Then, as a last resort, we turn to God.

When will WE learn? God should always be our first thought. He is always there. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is the trustworthy one. There is not a problem He can’t solve. He has the answers to each and every trial we face. But we have to trust Him.

That trust begins at salvation. When we place our trust in Him to save our souls, it should continue for our lifetime. Think about it. If we trust Him for eternity, why can’t we trust Him for our daily needs and struggles? Let Him have them today. Place your total trust on Him. He never fails.

Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love. I know You are always there to catch me when I fall.

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INTO EXILE

AMOS 5:27

“‘Therefore I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus,’ says the LORD, whose name is the God of armies.”

What does it mean to go into exile? Well, it means to leave your homeland and be carried somewhere else. All through history we have seen that happen when one nation conquered another. This usually followed a war. It was humiliating and disgraceful.

The Israelites were facing this. Their continued disobedience had forced God’s hand. He was through with them (for now). They had to face their judgment. Stripped, beaten and shamed, they were led away to a foreign land by a foreign power.

APPLICATION

You are probably thankful right now that hasn’t happened to you. We have human rights commissions now that try to make sure that isn’t done anymore. But there is more than one kind of exile. You could be in an exiled status due to other things besides war.

We may even choose to exile ourselves. We choose to hide away from others. This is not God’s plan for us. He made us to be part of community. We need others in our lives. The devil loves to get us alone so he can tear us down. Don’t fall for it.

Today I choose to walk with my Savior. I want to stay close to Him. I don’t want to experience exile. I need Him in my life every second of every day. Wherever I go, He is there. As long as I rest in that, there is no exile. Wherever I live, I am in His presence.

Thank You, Lord, for not exiling me. I long to be in Your presence.

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Abiding, Accountability, Belief, Bible, Deception, Holy Spirit, Idols, Scripture

WRONG PACKING

AMOS 5:26

“You also carried along Sikkuth your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves.”

Occasionally, I will make a trip somewhere that requires me to carefully pack my luggage. For instance, when I travel overseas, I have a packing list I go by. I can only have so much in a suitcase due to weight restrictions. I don’t want to pack needless items or the wrong things. That list I created sure helps with that.

The Israelites needed a packing list. They had packed away idols and shrines of other gods. One of them was Molech to whom they actually sacrificed their own children. We find in all those wilderness years, they struggled with idolatry. This didn’t stop when they finally arrived in the Promised Land. Wrong gods. They should have never been packed.

APPLICATION

What are you packing? Do you have some idols or wrong gods? Not me, Carl. I would never do that. Are you sure? You see, we often don’t even recognize that we are worshipping something else. But whatever is taking the most attention is what we have deemed as most important.

Some of us worship our jobs. Others bow down to the god of entertainment. Some even worship their families. There is room for only one God. He demands allegiance. He won’t tolerate other gods taking His place. He will call us on that.

I am so thankful that my God is a jealous God. I am thankful He reminds me when I get too enamored with other things. Those other things aren’t necessarily bad things. They just aren’t THE thing that is important. I am still learning to lay things down. I guess I will be learning that until I go to heaven. We can all learn, can’t we?

Father, I am so thankful for Your Spirit in me that points me to You. I bow down to You and acknowledge You as the only true God.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Offering, Scripture, Testimony

THE OFFERING PLATE

AMOS 5:25

“Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, house of Israel?”

I realized when I titled this blog today that the offering plate has been seldom used during these days of covid. My church has replaced it with an increased online giving option, as well as a box on the wall in which to drop your offering. All of this is meant, of course, to reduce infections. However, that offering plate going down the aisle each week is a reminder of our responsibility to give.

That wasn’t the problem with the Israelites, or so it seemed. They offered sacrifices and offerings during the years in the wilderness and continued that practice after arriving in the Promised Land. We have hundreds of verses in the Old Testament which describes that. It wasn’t the offering itself. It was the manner in which it was offered that caused God to reject it.

APPLICATION

This has been a theme of Amos’ for several verses in chapter 5. But it bears repeating each time he brings it up in a verse. That’s why I love this verse-by-verse dissection of the text. You get to see those repeated topics and themes so clearly. God does not want your offerings given out of habit or guilt. He wants your heart.

My brother-in-law used to preach the Christ life so clearly. He seldom preached on giving because he believed that if someone was walking with Christ daily, they would want to give, not just to the church but to other efforts as well. I found that to be true in my own life.

So, I am going to ask you a question I have asked you before (if you are a follower of my blog). Why do you give? What is your heart motive? I pray it is simply out of love for our Savior. His sacrifice motivates you to give. Examine your heart today. The next time you write that check or give online to the church or to another mission, pray for God to take your offering and multiply it for His glory.

Lord, I give because I love You. Please take my offerings and use them to further Your kingdom around the world.

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