Abiding, Bible, Choices, Cleansing, Confidence, Mourning, Offering, Rejoicing, Scripture

IN YOUR MIDST

AMOS 5:17

“‘And in all the vineyards there is mourning, because I will pass through the midst of you,’ says the LORD.”

I’m an extrovert. I love to be around people. It fuels me. I simply love being in the midst of people. Right in the center. Not everyone is that way. Others shun crowds and had rather be alone. I love today’s verse, but I must say it confuses me.

The Lord says His presence would bring mourning. You would think His presence would bring rejoicing. But He is passing through to bring judgment. His presence exposed their sins, thus the mourning. And when God exposes sin, consequences fall. There are always consequences for our sins.

APPLICATION

How much better would it be to welcome God’s presence everyday with nothing to fear? When I worked in children’s homes, we would often go through inspections (health, fire, licensing, accreditation). I wanted to ensure that we were ready for any inspection any day.

I had worked in some locations where inspection days meant extra cleaning and extra work before they arrived. Needless to say, this method did not work when we had surprise inspections. The same applies for us. We need to keep our lives so prepared that when the Lord visits us, we are not embarrassed.

I can honestly say today that I have nothing to hide. I am ready. It is my prayer to do that every day, but I do slip up time to time. I don’t want God’s visit in my midst to bring mourning. I want to rejoice and sing. Can you do that today? Is your life ready for His visit?

I welcome You, Lord. Let Your presence bring for rejoicing and not mourning.

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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.

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Abiding, Beauty, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Heaven, Inspirational, Light, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

STARS IN THE HEAVENS

AMOS 5:8

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have never studied the stars or the constellations. But there is just something about going out of town at night, finding a place with very little light and laying down to look at the stars. There are so many! I stumbled across an app for my phone recently called Skyview Lite. Now, I am not endorsing it, but it allows you to find the constellations and planets at night.

God doesn’t need an app or a telescope to find the stars and constellations. He made them. He placed each of them right where He wanted them. He is the one who set our planet in just the right spot from the sun and started its rotation. Amos says the LORD is His name. Indeed, it is.

APPLICATION

Do you realize that the Lord has placed you right where He wants also? I can look back at my years in ministry and see how He orchestrated our moves to prepare me for the next role. Just like Pleiades and Orion, we have all been placed in orbit and connected with others to form human constellations.

What do I mean by that? God placed us in our families. God placed us in our communities. God placed us in our churches. You may say, Carl, I chose where I am living and the church I am attending. Did you seek the Lord in those decisions? If you did and you followed His leading, then He placed you there.

I am thankful for where the Lord has placed me. Is it always perfect? Nope, and you know why? Because my flesh gets in the way. I truly believe if I follow the Lord, He will lead me exactly where He wants me to be, no matter what obstacles I may face. I want to be His bright star shining. Don’t you?

I praise You, Father, for Your wisdom in placing me where You want me to be. Just like the stars, I am to shine and point others to You.

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Advice, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Cleansing, Commands, Double-minded, Encouragement, Following, Justice, Scripture

WORMWOOD

AMOS 5:7

For those who turn justice into wormwood, and throw righteousness to the earth.”

I have read about wormwood in the Bible for years but never really took the time to see what that means. I just figured anything called wormwood had to be bad. It is. Wormwood is a bitter herb that was used to get rid of intestinal worms. Now, that’s just plain gross.

Amos uses the imagery of wormwood (which any Israelite would have known) in this verse today. Amos says they have turned justice, which is a good thing, into wormwood, which is bitter and nasty. Israel had become accustomed to doing as they pleased, regardless of what the Lord had told them.

APPLICATION

We do the same thing. We can take something good and make it bad. Things that help us end up hurting us. Can you think of a few things like that? How about the internet? It has the potential to aid us in so many ways. But man has turned it into something evil through the prevalence of pornography. It has become wormwood in so many ways.

How about food? We Christians are such hypocrites about this. We overindulge and become obese and unhealthy. I am speaking from personal experience. I love to eat, but sometimes I eat just to eat, not for nourishment. Food can become wormwood if not eaten in moderation.

Wormwood is a nasty tasting herb that many of us eat all the time. Our attitudes are bitter. Our relationships become bitter. Even our spiritual life is bitter. And we accept that. May I encourage you today to examine your own life and see if you have any wormwood in it. If you do, get rid of it. Seek justice and righteousness. That’s where you will find the Lord.

Forgive my bitter attitude, Father. I want to always choose Your justice and Your righteousness.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Commands, Direction, Encouragement, Scripture, Worship

GOD’S HOUSE

AMOS 5:5

“But do not resort to Bethel and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and Bethel will come to nothing.”

I have always had a deep respect for God’s house. Even before I became a Christian, I felt an awe for church buildings. Now, I know the building does not really matter. We can worship God anywhere. I have worshipped under trees, in alleys and in fancy buildings. The question is “Does God reside there?”

Amos is telling Israel that all the places they have been going to “worship” God are imposters. Jeroboam had made Bethel the place of worship for Israel to prevent them from going to Jerusalem. Gilgal and Beersheba were also used for worship, but the one true location (at this time) was the temple in Jerusalem. 

APPLICATION

Where do you go to worship? This is so applicable to 2022. So many people have decided to stay home and worship God from their couch. They simply watch a preacher on the television or online and consider that worship. Worship is so much more than that. Worship involves the body of Christ. We need to be with the body to do that.

Now, I understand there are still some who feel, because of their health, they can’t put themselves at risk by attending in person. I am not talking about them. I am talking about the millions of individuals who have gotten comfortable at home. They need to reengage with the body of Christ and get out of their pj’s.

I may get in trouble because of this blog. There are many who disagree with me. That’s okay. Just don’t settle for a Bethel,  Gilgal or Beersheba. You need your Jerusalem. You need your local body of believers to worship together. Try it this week.

I want to worship You, Lord. Let me join others and lift up Your name.

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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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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.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Family, Judgment, Scripture

SIBLING RIVALRY

AMOS 1:11

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and stifled his compassion; his anger also tore continually, and he maintained his fury forever.’”

I had an older brother named Tim. He passed away this past July 27th. I miss him. I often think about our growing up years. Let me tell you – we definitely had sibling rivalry. We wrestled all the time. My mom would threaten us with a spanking if we didn’t stop. Even though we fought a lot, we loved each other. That’s what siblings do, right?

Edom was the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. Remember, Jacob was the father of Israel who is the target of Amos’ prophecy. God always protected that relationship, even though it was strained. He never allowed Israel to invade and take Edom’s land. But after Edom turned on their “family” God had had enough. Judgment is sometimes delayed, but never forgotten.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you have a sibling with whom you have fought and argued with? Did you leave that in childhood or has it carried over into your lives as adults? What boundaries have you set in your relationship? Rivalries lead to heartbreak. Rivalries lead to hurt feelings. Rivalries are not healthy.

So, what do we do with them? We lay them down. We pray for peace and then pursue it. Sometimes that means saying those challenging words – I’m sorry. Yep! Those words are hard to get past our front teeth, aren’t they? But once we say them, we realize they are not terminal. Try it.

I learned a lot from my older brother. Little brothers watch their older brothers to learn how to play well with others. Little brothers learn how to do a lot of stuff just by watching their older brothers. I am thankful for my older brother. He loved well. He played hard. And he loved his Lord. See you soon, Tim.

Father, thank You for putting our siblings in our lives. We may not appreciate them when we are young, but you allow us time to see how much they mean to us.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Destruction, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Humility, Judgment, Obedience, Rescue, Scripture

NOTHING LEFT

AMOS 1:8

“‘I will also eliminate every inhabitant from Ashdod, as well as him who holds the scepter, from Ashkelon; and I will direct My power against Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish,’ says the Lord GOD.”

Many years ago I served as a Group Leader for a boys’ cottage at a children’s home in Georgia. I took my boys, all 10 of them, to a pizza restaurant in a nearby town that had a pizza buffet. Now, I had ten teenage boys. Can you imagine the destruction they caused to that buffet? In fact, it was so bad the manager asked us to stop eating. Nothing was left!

The Lord is announcing total destruction to the Philistines. Even the remnant will perish. That’s pretty complete. God is thorough. He never does anything half-way. He is promising Israel this enemy will be destroyed in His time and in His way. I can just hear the people rejoicing.

APPLICATION

The Lord is still working that way. Everything He does in our lives is complete. The problem is we get in the way. We try to figure it out ourselves. And God will let us do that. He won’t move in and rescue us unless we seek Him. He is just that way. I guess you could say He is polite.

But listen, don’t depend on your smarts. Humble yourself and turn to Him. He will still ask you to be a part of what He wants to do in your life, but let Him lead. That’s hard for a lot of us, especially us men. We want to take charge. Lay it down. He will complete it if we will let Him. He will see it through.

I know the Lord will complete me, if I let Him. I have to come to the end of myself. When I do, He is there. And the finished product He produces is always better than what I could do. There is no comparison. So, why do I try to do it myself? I don’t know. I am still learning. I learn everyday.

I will lay my desires down, Lord, and let You lead. I know it always best when I do.

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Abiding, Bible, Choices, Confession, Discipline, Holy Spirit, Intimacy, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Speech, Testimony

WHERE THE LORD DWELLS

AMOS 1:2

And he said, “The LORD roars from Zion, and from Jerusalem He utters His voice; and the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn, and the summit of Carmel dries up.”

I have mentioned a lot in my blogs that I grew up in South Georgia. That’s different that Georgia. I grew up so far south that I thought Atlanta, GA was in the northern states. Lol. So when I speak, people know I’m from the South. I have a southern accent that I can’t deny, nor would I. That is where I dwelt.

I love this imagery which Amos uses. The Lord roars from Zion. He dwells in Jerusalem. This is a clear message to the nation of Israel who had set up worship sites in the northern kingdom. No! God dwells in Jerusalem. That is where He chose to dwell. He didn’t change His location. And you can definitely tell where His voice is coming from. The world will know.

APPLICATION

Isn’t it glorious that now He dwells in us? When we receive His Son as our Savior, He immediately indwells us through the person of the Holy Spirit. We become His dwelling place. In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that our bodies of the temple of the Holy Spirit. And our voice should now be His voice. People should know who indwells us by the way we talk.

Our language has to change. We can’t keep talking the same way we talked before we were saved. The words we choose to use have to reflect the one who indwells us. The words we put in print have to tell others that we are different. We can’t use the world’s words anymore. We are different. We are indwelt.

That’s hard sometimes. We slip up and fall back into the old way of talking. We use some of those old words that don’t sound like Jesus. I have had to confess that as sin too many times. I am thankful for a God who can override my tongue. He can choose my words for me when I want to say something different. I want my words to reflect Him and sound like Him. Don’t you?

Father, forgive me when I fail to reflect You in my speech. I truly want others to hear You and not me.

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