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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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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Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Confession, Consequences, Direction, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Forgiveness, Holiness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

COME AND SEE

AMOS 3:9

“Proclaim on the citadels in Ashdod and on the citadels in the land of Egypt and say, ‘Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria and see the great panic within her and the oppressions in her midst.’”

I often wonder what people like about a hockey game or a Nascar race. I think they like to see a good fight in the hockey game and good wreck at the race. Either way, people are drawn to disasters. They just can’t seem to stop looking and awing over them. I guess it’s our weird human interest in the events

The Lord, through Amos, is telling the neighboring nations to watch what He is doing in Israel. He has already pronounced their judgment. Now, it’s Israel’s turn. Their judgment will be public for all to see. They had flaunted their sins publicly, so it only seems fit that their punishment should be too.

APPLICATION

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my sins aired out publicly. I want to confess my sins quickly and privately. My sins are against my Lord. Now, if I have sinned against someone else, I should go to them and make that right. But that’s a far cry from telling the world.

So, we need to go to the Lord quickly when we sin. If we continue to live in sin and thumb our nose at God, He will deal with us. We may think we are getting away with it, but we are not. Eventually, He has to deal with our sin. If we are a child of His, He will discipline us. If we are not a believer, the punishment will much harsher.

I choose to fall into His hands for correction. I trust Him to discipline me accordingly. Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” The same applies to our holy God. He loves us, so He must discipline us. So, invite His hand in your life.

Father, forgive me when I sin against You and others. I ask You to judge me accordingly and set me back on the right path.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commands, Compassion, God's Will, Goodness, Idols, Kindness, Ministry, Scripture

OTHERS’ THINGS

AMOS 2:8

“‘And on garments seized as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.’”

My dad had one rule about borrowed tools. If you borrow it, take it back. If it’s borrowed, get it back. My dad had a shop full of tools, and when he died eight years ago, they were still there. My brother, nephews, son and other family members got all the tools they wanted, and they were still tools left. That’s because of the “borrowed” tool rule. They were always in the right place.

The Lord had a command against keeping the garments of the poor that had been given as pledges of debt. Those garments were to be returned at night since they most likely were the poor’s means of keeping warm. Here the Lord rebukes them for keeping them and stretching them out at altars. They also mockingly drank the wine received as payment in their places of worship, further reveling in their idolatry.

APPLICATION

Well, I can hear us now. We don’t take other people’s clothes and wine. This doesn’t apply to us. Don’t forget that every word of God’s Word is inspired. So, it always relates to us in some manner. These Israelites saw others in need and turned their heads. They knew God’s command and still did it. Don’t we do the same? Don’t we see others who are cold and thirsty and turn our heads?

Now, I know we can’t meet the need of every person. But we can meet the need of one. It’s coming into winter here in Tennessee where I live. I see the homeless just about every day and wonder how they stay warm. I wonder if they have enough to eat or drink. And what do I do about it? Very little. I may hand out a bag of food or something, but that’s about it. Many of these I see choose to live this way. I realize that. But that doesn’t lessen my responsibility.

How about you? What can you do about it? I bet you see the same people in your town. People who just need a little help. Don’t wait on someone else to step up. Get your church involved. Ask around and get others involved. Even a little group can make an impact on one person’s life.

Thank You, Father, for blessing me to be able to bless others. Open my eyes to those around me who need a helping hand.

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Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Following, Forgiveness, Jealousy, Repentance, Scripture

IF MY PEOPLE…

JOEL 2:18

“Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, and will have compassion for His people.

If…then. That is a principle used by a lot of parents. “If you clean your room, then you can have a treat.” It makes sense. Our choices often determine our consequences. I know if I exercise, then I will feel better. If I eat healthier, then I will possibly lose some weight. But the “if” is hard to do sometimes, isn’t it?

The previous verses in chapter 2 of Joel tell us the prerequisite for this verse to be true. The people of Judah had to come to the Lord in repentance. When they did, the Lord responded. I love what Joel says here. Then He will be zealous for this land. That word “zealous” in the Hebrew has the idea of the Lord being jealous for Judah. That’s meant in a good way. “Compassion” means He will spare them the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

If the Lord asked you to do something, would you do it? Most of us would say “yes.” But how many of us would actually do it? The Lord wants so much to bless us. But the Lord expects certain things from us. If we live godly lives, His blessings flow. If we forgive others who trespass against us, He forgives us our trespasses.

The Lord is still jealous over us. He will guard and protect us. He wants to show us compassion and spare us the possible consequences we deserve. For His jealousy and compassion to come forth, we have to respond to Him. We need to come to Him in a spirit of confession. Will you do that?

I long for God’s blessings in my life. I know those blessings are dependent on my obedience to Him. Now, listen to me. I am NOT saying I obey to get blessed. I obey because I love my Savior. As a result of my obedience, the Lord desires to bless me. If…then.

Lord, I long to please You. I know Your blessings flow when we follow You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

GOD IS…

JOEL 2:13

“‘And tear your heart and not merely your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.”

I have all kinds of ideas of what God is. First of all, He is everything to me. I can’t imagine a day without Him. He loves me and guides me each step each day. But what exactly is He like? There are so many words to describe Him. I am thankful that the Word of God tells us.

In today’s verse, Joel gives us an awesome description of God. Look at the verse again. He says the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.” Wow! Can I encourage you to do a word study on each of those words? It will bless your heart, I promise.

APPLICATION

When we return to the Lord, He shows us all these things. So, why do we wait to return to Him? We need His grace and compassion. We need His mercy. We need His forgiveness. Why wait to come back to Him? Every day you wait, you are missing out on these blessings from Him.

So many of us put off repentance because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our pride gets in the way. That was the downfall of Judah. They had become prideful and unrepentant. And for that, God brought judgment. I prefer mercy over judgment.

Therefore, part of my prayers every day is repentance. I confess all the sins I am aware of and ask the Lord to reveal to me those sins I may have committed out of ignorance. Perhaps I had failed to do something – a sin of omission. That’s just as bad. For that I need forgiveness. Will you join me today in turning back to that gracious, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God?

Why wouldn’t I come to You, O Lord, each day? Forgive me of my reluctance to repent and confess my sins to You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confidence, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Failures, God's Will, Hope, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture

FAILURES EVERYWHERE

JOEL 1:10

“The field is ruined, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine has dried up, fresh oil has failed.”

We see failures all around us. Failures of economies. Failures of nations. Failures of people. The one thing that is certain about life is failure. No one likes it, but it comes, nonetheless. So, what do you do when everything around you seems to be failing? Do you throw up your hands? Do you put your head down and just weep? No! We have a great God who is aware of the failures.

Joel continues to tell us of the failures in Judah. In today’s verse we see the fields have ruined. The land is mourning! The crops have suffered. Even the vineyards have dried up and there is no oil for use. Utter failure. Judah is a mess. Why? Because of their disobedience. God will not tolerate that. We see that in these failures.

APPLICATION

You may have experienced failures in your life. In fact, your life may be in shambles right now. Sometimes we feel like a failure. Listen, our choices can cause many of our failures. Other failures come due to no fault of our own. Whatever the cause, we have to deal with them. Guess what? The devil wants you to feel like a failure. He doesn’t want you to know your position in Christ.

Are you a believer? If so, you have no right to see yourself as a failure. Why? Because you are a child of the King. He has given you victory. The Lord of creation died to give you promise. Failure is not in God’s plan for you. God can work through those failures, but they are not His plan for you. So, don’t stay there. Walk with Him today victoriously.

I hate to fail. I have never liked it. I like to win! Always! But sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I just blow it. When I do, I come hastily to my Savior. I know I can’t do it alone. How about you? Are you in need of a “pep talk” with your Lord? He’s ready!

I will not fail as long as I walk with You, Lord. If I keep my eyes on You, You will lead me.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Brokenness, Compassion, Condemnation, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Judgment, Persecution, Punishment

TOTAL DEVASTATION

JOEL 1:7

“It has made my vine a waste and my fig tree a stump. It has stripped them bare and hurled them away; their branches have become white.”

Have you ever witnessed total devastation? I’ve seen it a couple of times, both times after severe storms. Most recently I witnessed it in my hometown when we were struck by a tornado. Neighborhoods that had been tree-lined and ornate were left in shambles. Most of the trees were gone or snapped in half. Houses were torn apart and, in some cases, just plain missing. It hurt to see it.

Judah experienced the same thing. In the case of the locusts, they wiped out everything. Even the bark on the trees was eaten. And when the nations came in as part of God’s judgment, they crushed and destroyed buildings and homes, leaving nothing of any value behind.

APPLICATION

If you have ever suffered loss like is described above, you can relate. Whether it is physical loss, like a house, or loss of health from an illness, it is hard to get over it. Do you think the Lord allows losses to punish us or teach us? Actually, every loss we encounter as a believer has gone through the hands of God first. He measures and makes sure it is what we can handle. He would never put more on you than you can handle.

But why do we even have to deal with this? Because He is teaching us to depend on Him. We could lose everything we have, but we still have our Savior. Physical things come and go. Prized possessions will eventually rust or rot away. Our faith only gets stronger. Our faith only grows.

So, as you watch things around you fall apart, remember who it is who holds you close. I can rest in His unshakeable arms. He will sustain and strengthen me. He will protect me and love me. What else could you ask for? He’s got this!

I am so thankful, Lord, to know You have me in Your grip. I am safe and secure.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Condemnation, Destruction, Evil, Godliness, Grandchildren, Horror, Idols, Scripture

THE CHILDREN SUFFER

HOSEA 13:16

Samaria will pay the penalty for her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, their children will be slaughtered, and their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

As a parent and grandparent, my utmost desire has always been to protect my children or grandchildren. It would bring me horror to think I ever did anything to bring harm to them. As a minister to children for over forty years, the same holds true for any children under my care. Let me suffer, but never the children.

Hosea ends this chapter with some pretty, horrible descriptions of the coming judgment against Israel. Samaria was the capital city of Israel. It had been the center of the idolatry and rebellion against God, so God’s wrath upon that city would be harsh. Hosea is predicting what the Assyrians were going to do when they came. It’s one thing to slaughter men in war, but to kill innocent children, even the unborn, was unthinkable.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, I would never do that or tolerate that! That’s good. I didn’t think you would. But are you protecting your children’s spirits? Are you guarding them from being influenced by evil? In our world today, we have to be so diligent to monitor and protect our children from this world. They can’t live in a bubble, but we can sure keep them safe in our homes.

Are you aware of what is on your child’s phone? Are you comfortable with the video games they are playing? How about their friends? Do you know them? Do you know their parents? We can’t just take our kids to church and think that gives them some kind of holy shield the rest of the week. That’s not how it works. You must guard their minds.

As an adult, I have to guard my mind. It is so easy to get off track when I am online. One little side post or ad can divert my eyes and before I know it, I can be chasing rabbits into a hole I can’t get out of. Scripture keeps my mind focused on Him and puts that shield over my eyes. Let Jesus keep your mind pure (1 Timothy 6:11).

Lord, help me protect the innocent as well as keep my own mind pure.

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Advice, Bible, Choices, Compassion, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, Gentleness, God's Will, Inspirational, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Stubbornness

GOD’S WIND

HOSEA 13:15

Though he flourishes among the reeds, an east wind will come, the wind of the LORD coming up from the wilderness; and his fountain will become dry and his spring will dry up; it will plunder his treasury of every precious article.”

I love to fish. I used to own a fishing boat and would go out on our local lake to fish. Sometimes when you are out on the water the weather changes. I can remember one day when I was out with some friends when that happened. The sky started to get dark, so I checked my weather app. Sure enough, a storm was coming. I could see the water getting rougher from the approaching winds. I had to get off the water for my safety.

The wind of the Lord came up from the wilderness, says Hosea. God’s judgment on Israel was coming. They were going to feel the wrath of God soon. But Israel continued to ignore the signs. They continued in their sins and rebellion until the wind hit them. Stubbornness and pride will always bring you down.

APPLICATION

When you see a storm coming, don’t you take cover? I can remember preparing for approaching hurricanes when I lived in Florida. We boarded up windows and brought in outdoor furniture. We would have been foolish to do anything else. But so many of us ignore the approaching wind of the Lord. We think it certainly won’t hit us. God is too loving to punish us, right?

Wrong! I have said it multiple times – God cannot and will not allow unrepentant sin to go unpunished. Without Christ His wind will catch us all. But once we come to Christ and confess our sins, His wind will simply fill our sails and carry us along on our journey. It’s the same wind but with a different purpose. Isn’t that amazing?

I choose to have my sails filled with the gentle breath of the Lord’s wind. I want Him to guide me in my daily walk with Christ. I trust Him to blow as gentle or as strong as necessary to do that. And wherever He leads, I will go.

Wherever He leads, I’ll go, Wherever He leads, I’ll go. I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so. Wherever He leads, I’ll go.

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