Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Protection, Scripture, Sin

GOD KNOWS

AMOS 5:12

“For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, and turn away the poor from justice at the gate.”

I remember when I was little trying to get away with something I had done to one of my siblings. Like typical siblings, we played hard and sometimes had little “fights.” One of us would run to Mom or Dad and tell and then… Well, you know the result. It seemed our parents always knew what was going on, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Amos reminds us today that God knows our offenses and sins. They are many. And there is nothing we can do to erase those iniquities. The Israelites were guilty, and they knew it. Only Jehovah could forgive those rebellious hearts, but they had to turn to Him.

APPLICATION

God knows every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit. Think about that! He knows it before we do it. So, why doesn’t He stop us? Wouldn’t that be great? Man, if every time I am tempted God would step in and say, “Whoa, there Carl.” Well, He does!

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is constantly reminding us of our walk with Christ. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Spirit brings forth those verses to convict us before we step into that cesspool of sin. We just need to listen to Him.

I know when I am tuned in to the Spirit by meditating on the Word, I am able to avoid the sins which can so easily entangle me. When I don’t do that, I am an open target. Sin seeks me out. The devil wants to distract me and bring me down. But thanks be to God, I have the power to avoid those traps as I rely on the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Will you tune in to the Spirit today?

Lord God, I am so thankful that You have given me the power to avoid those sins that await me. And I am also thankful for the forgiveness You offer when I fail.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Consequences, Encouragement, Judgment, Mentoring, Modeling, Oppression, Scripture

OPPRESSORS

AMOS 5:11

“Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor and take a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of cut stone, yet you will not live in them; you have planted beautiful vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine.”

Some people prey on those less fortunate than them. They take advantage of them. They kick them when they are down. They were the people in high school who shoved the weaker, smaller student in the locker or who made fun of someone just because they wore glasses or braces.

Amos tells the oppressors in today’s verse that their day is coming. They have taken their last bag of grain from the poor. Those house, which cost so much, will remain empty. Those vineyards that promise an abundance of wine will never be harvested by them. Their judgment is near.

APPLICATION

Do you look down your nose at others? I pray you don’t. God has created each of us for a purpose. Some have lost their way. It’s up to us to lead them back to Him. God still uses people to accomplish His mission here on earth. Did you know that? He might just want to use you to help some wayward soul come home.

Perhaps there is someone in your community or even in your church that seems to always struggle in life. What can you do to help them? I’m not talking so much about a financial investment. It may just require some time. Are you willing to allow the Lord to use you in someone else’s life? The blessing will be all yours.

From time to time the Lord gives my wife and I the opportunity to help someone in some small way. When we do, the joy we receive from doing that is worth it all. Seeing the smiles our little bit of help brings warms our hearts and encourages us to do it again. Give it a try, as the Lord leads you. You won’t regret it.

Father, thank You for lifting me up from the pit. You saw my value and gave me the opportunities to help others.

Standard
Advocate, Battles, Bible, Destruction, Encouragement, Failures, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture, Submission

DESTRUCTION

AMOS 5:9

It is He who makes destruction flash upon the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress.”

If you have ever seen a house demolished, you can understand the Hebrew word used here for “destruction.” There is no way to demolish a house without using some pretty, violent actions. For instance, if a large piece of equipment is used, they will probably just smash and flatten the house and then haul the pieces away. Smash, pound, grind!

Amos says here that the Lord will do the same to the strong and to the fortress. You would think the strong and a fortress could put up a better fight than that. But not against the Creator of the universe. His power is beyond comprehension. When He destroys something, it is pulverized. Nothing can stand up to His fist of judgment.

APPLICATION

How does this verse apply to us today? Is God trying to destroy us? Of course, not. But He will humble the proud. He will allow things to come into our lives to bring us down to a level where we can listen to Him. We can build up walls (fortresses) in our lives to try to repel God. We think we can handle things on our own.

Instead of risking those wrecking balls that knock the wind out of you, how about taking down those walls yourself? Ask the Lord to reveal to you the walls of self-sufficiency in your life. Once you have identified them, start taking them down brick by brick.

When I was a little boy, my dad had me help take down a brick wall. I forget now where it was, but he was adamant about salvaging those brick. So, we did it gently, preserving most of the brick. Then he had me chip off the mortar and stack those brick. Later on, he used those salvaged brick to build a backyard sink and fish cleaning table. Why am I telling you that story? Your walls that you tear down may very well be used by God in your life for another purpose. Just watch what He does with them.

Father, thank You for tearing down my walls that I put up. I want to be used by you however You see fit.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Fire, Godliness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Purity, Scripture

UNEXTINGUISHABLE

AMOS 5:6

“Seek the LORD so that you may live, or He will break through like a fire, house of Joseph, and it will consume with no one to extinguish it for Bethel,”

Recently, there was a wildfire that swept through parts of Colorado near to where some friends of mine live. They had to evacuate their home and flee for safety. Thankfully, their home was spared, but many homes and businesses were totally consumed. This fire was aided by over 100 mile per hour winds. It seemed it was unextinguishable, but firefighters finally got it under control.

God’s fire is unextinguishable. No one or nothing can put out His fire. Amos warns Israel that the result of not seeking after God is His fires of judgment. He will consume everything in His path. God’s fire will purify the nation of Israel. Bethel, the site of their rebellion, will be consumed.

APPLICATION

What is standing between you and your loyalty to God? We need to put those things down or risk the fires of God. As believers in Christ, our salvation is sure. Nothing can take that away. But all those things that are “wood, hay and stubble” will be burnt away.

Can you name some things right now in your life that you need to lay down? For me, it’s television. I can get lost watching a ballgame or some movie. Before I know it, I have spent 3-4 hours in front of that “one-eyed monster.” I am choosing to lay that down this year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying television is evil. But when I spend more time in front of it than I do in God’s Word, something’s wrong. Will you join me in evaluating your own life? Instead of facing the fire of judgment, let’s enjoy the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let’s let our fire burn brightly so others can be drawn to Him.

May the things in my life that prevent me from being with You, Lord, be burned away. I want to be fireproof when I face You at judgment.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Devil, Enemies, Freedom, Judgment, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

CAPTIVE

AMOS 4:3

“‘You will go out through holes in the walls, one in front of the other, and you will be hurled to Harmon,’ declares the LORD.”

I have never been held captive. I can’t imagine what that feels like. I have read first person accounts of that and marveled at that person’s stamina and faith to survive. But to be torn from your home and carried off as a prisoner would certainly be horrible. God has promised, however, to see us through any trial.

Israel is facing captivity. The Lord is telling them here that they will be led out of their cities through the holes in the walls that were made by their captors. They will be lead like cattle, one in front of the other, to their place of captivity. They will go from luxury to slavery.

APPLICATION

If you are not a believer in Jesus, you are being held captive by your enemy, the devil. The sad thing is you may not even realize it. As long as you are not walking with Christ, you are walking with him. He may even treat you kindly here on earth because he knows he will have you for eternity.

But God rescues us from our captor through Jesus. Jesus conquered death and the grave for you. His blood paid the price for your freedom. You can be set free through Him. And the best part is that it is free. You just have to ask for it. If you haven’t done that today, will you?

I am thankful the chains of sin have been broken. We are no longer held down by Satan’s grip. The moment we said yes to Jesus, we were made free. The jail doors were opened. We now walk with the One who set us free. Remember – we walk from victory, not towards it. The battle has already been won. Praise Jesus!

Lord, You are the one who set me free from the power and penalty of sin in my life. Thank You for saving me.

Standard
Advocate, Battles, Bible, Deceit, Devil, Fighting, Oppression, Protection, Satan, Scripture

OPPRESSERS

AMOS 4:1

“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, who exploit the poor, who oppress the needy, and say to their husbands, ‘Bring now, that we may drink!’”

Some people just like to put others down. They make themselves feel better by making others feel bad. I don’t understand that kind of thinking. Shouldn’t it be just the opposite? Shouldn’t we feel better about ourselves when we help others feel better about themselves?

In this verse today Amos turns his attention to those who oppress the poor and needy. He calls to them to make sure they are listening. I love what he calls them – cows of Bashan. That is not exactly a flattering term, is it? How would you like to be called that?

There is one out there who is the master of oppression – Satan. He will send his demons to oppress us and try to keep us down. He loves to see God’s children oppressed. He loves to see us out of the fight. While he nor his demons can possess us, he can sure oppress us.

APPLICATION

Recently, I was in Kenya with a friend. We had just visited a location the previous day and seen the Lord do a work in the lives of some people. The next morning this friend mentioned he had felt an oppression on him that night and couldn’t understand why. I reminded him of Satan’s desire to do that very thing, especially after we had seen such a victory the day before.

I don’t want to scare you today talking about this, but it’s real. We are in a spiritual battle every day. Satan is real. You cannot just pretend he is not out there, and he will go away. And he will use everything in his arsenal to try to tear us down. Don’t let him. Stand strong. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

I am so thankful that I have all power needed to defeat Satan or his demons, as long as I rely on Your power and not my own.

Standard
Advocate, Battles, Belief, Bible, Caregiver, Destruction, Devil, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

PIECES

AMOS 3:12

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Just as the shepherd snatches from the lion’s mouth a couple of legs or a piece of an ear, so will the sons of Israel living in Samaria be snatched away— with the corner of a bed and the cover of a couch!’”

I have a missionary friend in Columbia who had a close encounter with an anaconda. They were walking near the river with their dog when the anaconda struck. It grabbed their dog and went back into the river. Without thinking, my friend jumped in, grabbed the snake by the tail and drug it out. Then his wife pulled their dog from its mouth as my friend killed it with a machete. Wow! They got more than pieces back.

But shepherds would often jump in to rescue a sheep or lamb that had been grabbed by a lion or wolf. In this case, they only retrieved pieces as the wild animal tore it apart. Amos is comparing Israel to that. They will be snatched away, piece by piece, little by little. Only a remnant will escape.

APPLICATION

Is your life in pieces? Sometimes we feel we are being torn into pieces. The world is harsh. The devil loves to tear us down, to tear us into pieces. If you are a child of God, the devil has no right to you. You belong to God. When we sin and fall into Satan’s grasp, be sure the Lord can rescue you.

How soon He rescues you is really up to you. As believers we should be running from sin. But occasionally we fall right into a trap laid by Satan. Call out instantly. Call out loudly, knowing your Savior is listening and will respond. He can restore your “pieces.” He wants all of you.

I am so thankful for a Shepherd who is watching over me. He guards me as I graze and guides me along His path. I want to stay close to Him to avoid those dangerous places that can cause me to fall. I need Him and am not ashamed to say so. He is my Lord. He is my Shepherd.

Thank You Lord for leading me. Thank You Lord for protecting me.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Deception, Disciplemaking, Double-minded, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

DUDLEY DO-RIGHT

AMOS 3:10

“‘But they do not know how to do what is right,’ declares the LORD, ‘these who store up violence and devastation in their citadels.’”

According to Wikipedia “Dudley Do-Right is a dim-witted, but conscientious and cheerful Canadian Mountie who is always trying to catch his nemesis, Snidely Whiplash, and rescue damsel in distress Nell Fenwick, the daughter of his boss Inspector Fenwick, with whom Dudley is deeply infatuated.” I used to watch this cartoon character in the 1960’s. He did right, but it was almost always an accident.

The Lord declares to Israel that they do not know how to do right. Their lifestyles are filled with violence and devastation. How could you not know how to do right? Because they had deserted their Lord and filled their lives with fleshly pursuits. That’s how!

APPLICATION

Do you know how to do right? The better question is do you know right? In our world today, right can change from location to location. What is right in one culture may not be right in another. But God’s right is right wherever you are.

The best barometer for knowing what is right is to ask yourself if this will bring glory to God. If it will, you are pretty safe that it is right. That’s not to say that everything is wrong. But if you live your lives that way, you are sure to do what is right in God’s eyes.

I am thankful for the Word because I know it will always point me in the right direction. It will always show me the right thing to do. I have friends who seldom, if ever, read the Word. Yet they wonder why they have so many troubles. Friends, dig in. Dig deep and discover the “rights” of God’s Word.

Thank You Lord for showing me the right things to do and for leading me in the right direction.

Standard
Abiding, Battles, Bible, Devil, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Modeling, Protection, Rescue, Scripture

THE STREAK

Amos 2:16

“’Even the bravest among the warriors will flee naked on that day,’” declares the LORD.”

Back in the 70’s there was a phenomenon called streaking that caught up a generation of young people. These streakers would strip off their clothes and run across a ball field or a basketball court or any other public venue where they could get attention. They had no reason for doing this except to simply run naked and shock people. There was even a song written about it by Ray Stevens called “The Streak.”

There was nothing funny about the streaking mentioned in today’s verse. These brave warriors of Israel would be running naked due to fear. The Lord declared it, so it must be so. He was telling the nation of Israel over these last several verses that their judgment was here. Not even the bravest warriors could stand up to Him or those He may send to carry out the judgment.

APPLICATION

I can hear you now, Well, Carl, I am not going to be streaking anywhere. I hope that’s true, lol. No one wants to see that. But how often do we flee from our battles naked? We go into our daily walk undressed. Ephesians 6:10 tells us pretty clearly that we should put on the full amour of God. That’s head to toe coverage. We are in a battle every day and we cannot go in naked. If we do, the same thing that happened to those warriors in today’s verse will happen to us.

Just how naked are you? If you don’t put on the full armor of God, you are naked. You can’t go in partially dressed. You can’t pick and choose which part of the armor you want to wear today. You have to do put it all on or you are open to attack. You might as well be naked. I hope you understand that. It’s the full armor.

I like to start with the girding part – the truth. Then the breastplate of righteousness. My feet are shod with the gospel of peace. I am wearing my helmet of salvation. I have my shield of faith and my sword – the Word of God. With that protection, I can face the flaming arrows of the evil one. I can defend my faith and walk securely. So are you streaking or preparing for battle? It’s your choice but choose wisely.

O God, I praise You for giving me the garments to wear. I know I am protected by Your armor.

Standard
Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Leading, Ministry, Redemption

ARCHER

Amos 2:15

“’The one who grasps the bow will not stand his ground, the swift of foot will not escape, nor will the one who rides the horse save his life.'”

A friend of mine has a son who is an incredible archer. He has won just about every state and national title shooting a basic recurve bow. He has accomplished so much in such a short time. But one thing about an archer is they must be able to stand still. You can’t be moving around and be precise. My friend’s son is precise. He knows how to stand still and shoot straight.

I noticed in today’s verse that the Lord points out the fact the archer must stand his ground. He must stand firm, even when the battle is headed his way, even when the enemies arrows are falling all around him. In order to hit the target, the archer has to stand firm. Then he has to aim at the target to hit it. The Lord is saying here that they no longer will be able to do that

APPLICATION

Standing firm is critical to fighting our spiritual battles. We have to face our enemy head on. 1 Peter 5:9 tells us to stand firm and resist the devil. Paul tells us in Ephesians to stand firm and put on the full armor of God. All through the Bible we are told to stand firm. It must be pretty important. So, why aren’t we doing that?

We, myself included, tend to limp around when it comes to spiritual warfare. So many believers are scared of the subject. But listen to me, you have to stand firm, draw back your bow and trust God with the rest. We may not be skilled with a bow, but we can sure stand firm and ask the Lord to guide the arrow. He will, you know.

I am so thankful for a God that understands my need and prepares me for battle. I do not want to be like that archer who will not stand his ground.

Standard