Bible, Choices, Cleansing, Completeness, Consequences, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Foundation, God's Will, Judgment

PLUMB LINE

AMOS 7:7

“So He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand.”

My dad was a great carpenter. I have mentioned that before. He had the ability to build just about anything. He was meticulous. He never hurried a project. When building a wall, he made sure the walls were plumb. He used a level most of the time, but he had a plumb line that he occasionally used, just to make sure.

The Lord used a plumb line in this vision He showed Amos. You see, God is a perfectionist. He will only allow to stand what is perfect and whole. Israel had gotten out of plumb. They were leaning the wrong direction. The Lord knew He had to tear them down in order to build them back straight.

APPLICATION

He will do the same to us. If we claim to represent Him, He demands that we stay in plumb. We can’t lean crooked. When we do, we put the whole structure in danger. If we lean too far or too long the rest of the building can collapse. We are part of a larger structure than just ourselves.

People are watching us. They see how we live our lives. If we lean out of plumb, we endanger them. We could cause them to reject the teachings of Christ because of the way we live. Our leanings could crush them.

O beloved, we are called to be God’s workmanship. 1 Corinthians 3:10 says, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, but someone else is building on it. Each one should be careful how he builds.” There you are. We have to be careful. Use the plumb line. Make sure your walls are stable.

Lord, help me to build straight and true. Let whatever I build be built on You.

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Abiding, Battles, Bible, Calling, Choices, Confession, Destruction, God's Will, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

I’VE HAD ENOUGH

AMOS 7:2

“And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said, ‘Lord GOD, please pardon! How can Jacob stand? For he is small.’”

My father accepted Christ at age 80. It was after a stay in the hospital with heart failure. You have to understand that my dad was someone who could fix anything. He had always been able to do that. Now, here he was, laying in bed unable to “fix it.” It was then that he told the Lord that he had enough. He finally gave up and surrendered.

Even Amos was begging God to stop the judgment against Israel. He was fearful of their utter destruction. God will do whatever necessary to draw us to Himself. He will allow things in our lives that will push us to the point of repentance. Amos was witnessing such an event. God wasn’t done with Israel yet, but the people had to realize their need for a Savior.

APPLICATION

We are the same. I came to Christ after a period of rebellion and wrong living. I was playing the part of a Christian but had never really surrendered. It took God doing an incredible work in my life to draw me to Him.

God loves us so much. He is just waiting for us to say, “I surrender, Lord.” Then, instantly, He is there to welcome us into His loving embrace. We are ushered into His kingdom. We are a child of the King from that moment forward. But we have to surrender. Have you?

Oh, I pray you have surrendered your will for His. It is so much better. Life has purpose in His will. You will still face difficult times, but they are so much sweeter with Him. Yes, I said sweeter. Knowing that He allows us to go through these trials to make us more like Him is somewhat comforting. Had I rather not have trial? You had better believe it. But I trust Him. Do you?

Father God, You are the only one to whom I will surrender. I trust You through every storm.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Choices, Death, Eternity, God's Will, Hope, Modeling, Scripture

ASHES TO ASHES

AMOS 6:10

“Then one’s uncle, or his undertaker, will lift him up to carry out his bones from the house, and he will say to the one who is in the innermost part of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “No one.” Then he will answer, “Keep quiet! For the name of the LORD is not to be mentioned.”

My wife and I have decided to be cremated rather than buried. It’s really a matter of choice for everyone. There’s no right or wrong way biblically. In fact, our verse today is one of the few verses that speaks about burning a body.

The Hebrew words in this verse actually mean to burn. “Undertaker” carries that definition. Here’s another reason it is so important to study the Hebrew and Greek text to see the real meaning of the text. This person, whomever it is, is the one who takes up the body and burns it, perhaps so the body wouldn’t be abused by those who had defeated Israel.

APPLICATION

The application today will not be a debate about cremation. As I said, that is an individual decision. My body will mean nothing to me at death. This old shell of flesh will eventually disintegrate anyway. For me and my wife, we have chosen the cremation route. But that’s our choice.

The point Amos is trying to make today is not the mode of getting rid of a body. He is pointing out the real hopelessness the Israelites felt. They couldn’t even mention the name of God. They were so low and depressed they felt it didn’t matter at this point.

Oh, but listen. No matter how low you may be, you can always call on Jesus. He is always there. You can’t get too low for Him. His reach exceeds your depression. And whether you are cremated or buried at death, you will be with Him for eternity. Rest in that. Trust that He is near at all times.

Lord, I am thankful that my eternal resting place is not determined by how my body ends up. I am whole in You.

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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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