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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Abiding, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Contentment, Discipline, Following, Protection, Salvation, Scripture

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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God's Will, Following, Rescue, Persecution, Devil, Judgment, Accountability, Enemies, Abiding, Exile

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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Accountability, Advocate, Commands, Compassion, Consequences, Justice, Righteousness, Scripture

WATER

AMOS 5:24

“But let justice roll out like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

There is just something about a peaceful lake scene. The calmness of the water tends to affect your attitude. A gently flowing mountain stream is also a favorite of mine. Water has that kind of effect on people. It’s no surprise that all through Scripture God uses this imagery.

I love how Amos says these words in verse 24. “Let justice roll out like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” What is he really trying to say here? Israel had perverted justice and had definitely prevented righteousness. It is time for them both to be set free.

APPLICATION

How do we do that? How do we pervert justice and prevent righteousness? We do that by getting in the way of God’s truths. We don’t want to accept what He has to say about our sin. We think we are above that. Many today believe that sin is totally relative. It just depends on the situation.

Anything we do that does not agree with His Word is unjust and unrighteous. Why do we think that’s okay? Because the world says it is. Because Satan tells us it is really not important. We have done an amazing job of marginalizing sin. Sin is not sin anymore, thus justice and righteousness don’t flow.

I am so thankful that His Word shows me the truth. I am glad I am drawn to justice. I am so glad His righteousness reigns. No matter how the world may try to thwart His justice and righteousness, it will come through. Why? Because He loves us. It has to come through because our God triumphs over evil. Praise the Lord.

Truly, Lord, let your justice and righteousness flow into my life. I want to be known as just and righteous only because of You.

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Bible, Encouragement, Honor, Praise, Scripture, Worship, Worthy

SILENCE

AMOS 5:23

“Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.”

Sometimes you just want silence. Can I get a witness? Amen! The noise of the world gets overwhelming. You want some peace and solitude. That is especially true if the noise is something you don’t want to hear, like really, bad country music. Lol.

God had had enough of their singing and music in their make-believe worship. They were still going through the motions of worship with all the noise it entailed. But God would have none of it. He recognized it for what it was – noise. He won’t listen to our empty efforts either.

APPLICATION

So, how do you know if your worship is genuine? Don’t you want to know that? I do. I don’t want to pretend to worship. I want to truly worship my Lord and Savior. I want to give Him all the honor and praise He is due. I don’t want to go through the motions.

Do you want to know what I’ve learned about worship? It comes from the heart. It has nothing to do with our emotions or our intellect. We can plan and plan every worship service. We can have the best praise band or choir around. None of that matters unless our hearts are right.

That’s why we have to start our worship long before we get to church. We have to get our hearts right, confessed clean and ready to receive from Him. When we have done that, worship overflows. Worship is a direct result of heart preparation. So, get your heart right! Then come to the Lord in a spirit of thanksgiving and praise. Worship will follow.

I worship You, Lord. I praise Your holy name. You alone are worthy of my praise.

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Advice, Appeasement, Bible, Blessing, Faith, Gifts, Obedience, Scripture

NO THANK YOU

AMOS 5:22

“Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fattened oxen.”

Have you ever refused a gift from someone? Maybe it was because you didn’t like the gift or because you felt it was too extravagant. Whatever reason you had, you rejected it. You didn’t want it. You didn’t need it. Gifts are not gifts until they are received, right?

God is refusing the gifts of the Israelites. Their burnt offerings and grain offerings are not going to be accepted by Him. He knew the hearts of the givers. He knew of their unconfessed sins, so He was not going to take their sacrifices as if everything was just fine. God is a God of justice and righteousness.

APPLICATION

We half-heartedly offer God our sacrifices, don’t we? We bring our tithes and offerings to Him with impure motives. We want something back. We think if we give, He will give back. Even our time is a sacrifice. Do we give that joyfully or under compulsion?

As we give our tithes and offerings or our time and energy to the Lord, let’s examine our heart reason for the gift. Do we do this out of our love for Him? Are we only wanting to please Him to get something back in return? Remember, God knows our hearts. He knows what drives us to give to Him.

I am so thankful that I can give back to Him. He blesses me in so many ways every day. I could never repay Him. I can’t even try to. So, I give just because I love Him. I give my time and resources to further His kingdom. I want to honor Him and show that He is worthy of my praise and worship. Don’t you?

Lord, please receive my offering and sacrifices as I worship You. You deserve all the praise and glory and honor given.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Commands, Compassion, Discipline, God's Will, Hatred, Modeling, Scripture

HATE IS A STRONG WORD

AMOS 5:21

“I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your festive assemblies.”

I am sure at one point in your life you have told someone you hated them. It may have just slipped out. Perhaps you really didn’t mean it, but out it came. Maybe you did mean it. Perhaps that person had hurt you so deeply all you could feel at the time was hate. Whether or not this has happened to you, you can understand the depth of that word.

Would it help you to know that God hates? Yep, He does. But He only hates those things we do (not us) that are against His commands. Amos told the Israelites that God hated and rejected their festivals that were filled with such hypocrisy. The Hebrew word for “delight” actually means savor or smell. He doesn’t even want to smell the sacrifices because He knows how they are given.

APPLICATION

Oh, beloved. Listen to me. Be careful how you offer your “sacrifices” to God. He knows the intent of your heart. He knows when you drop that money in the offering plate or give online, how you felt about it. We are told to give with a cheerful heart, how we have decided to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

But our hearts are about so much more than our sacrifices to God. There is just no room in your heart for hate if the love of Christ is present. 1 John tells us that over and over. We can’t say we love Christ and hate our brother. We just can’t. So, lose that word from your vocabulary. Don’t allow your children use it. It’s a harsh word with harsh meanings and doesn’t belong in the mouth of a believer (unless he is talking about sin).

I just learned a new verse in Psalms. It’s Psalm 101:3. It says, “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do. I will have no part of it.” That kind of hate is okay. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Can we try that today?

Father, give me a divine hatred for anything sinful. Let it burn my nostrils. Instead, let me show the love of Christ to all around me.

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Bible, Darkness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Light, Scripture

DARK DAYS

AMOS 5:20

Will the day of the LORD not be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?”

There are a lot of people who suffer from light deprivation in the winter months. As the days get shorter and the daylight is often obscured by winter storms, they sink into a depression cause by this lack of sunlight. I’ve known several people with this, and their moods change drastically. It’s funny how the sun can cause such changes.

Amos reminds Israel that the day of the LORD will be a day of darkness and not light. He even goes on to say it will be gloomy with no brightness. In other words, it will not be a sun shiny day. It won’t be a day to look forward to. They had better prepare themselves and repent.

APPLICATION

I pray for you that you have found the SON that is necessary for light. When we have Jesus as our Savior, it doesn’t matter how physically gloomy the days are. He is the light that shines on us from within. His Holy Spirit gives us the ability to shine His light on others.

Focusing on others other than ourselves can help defeat those gloomy days. We have this powerful, luminous light within us just waiting to be shined on the world. Ask the Lord today how He wants to use the light within you. He does, you know. He is just waiting on you to ask.

I love shining His light on others. It is so exciting to watch how His light transforms their lives. It shows them their sins, first of all, so they can confess those and make things right. Then it shows them the right path to follow, rather than stumbling around in the dark. His light changes things. Won’t you shine it today?

Heavenly sunlight, Heavenly sunlight, flooding my soul with glory divine.

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