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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Evil, Following, God's Will, Goodness, Justice, Scripture

CLEAR COMMANDS

AMOS 5:15

“Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of armies will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

One of the things that drove me crazy working with staff in children’s homes is when they would not make their expectations clear to the children. The children would get in trouble for doing something that they had no idea they were expected to do. Clear, concise rules make things so much easier.

Here in today’s verse, we have three very clear and concise commands. Hate evil, love good and establish justice. I didn’t say these were easy, but they are clear. Obviously, the nation of Israel had not been doing that very well. Amos points out if they did, perhaps God would show grace to them.

APPLICATION

These three commands apply to us today. The first two are simple – hate evil and love good. I think we can all agree on those. Those two are common sense (at least to most people). But how about that third one – establish justice in the gate? What did that mean then and how does it apply to us know?

We must deal with sin. For too long the Israelites had overlooked and shrugged off sin. We do the same. Our society is so tolerant today that nothing is considered sin. But we must establish justice. We must call sin sin. Not in a judgmental manner, but only to point out the error of the world.

I am only made aware of sin as it is revealed to me through God’s truth. His truth is always true. His truth is always right. Anything that goes against it is sin – period. That is what keeps me straight. I want to hate evil, love good and establish justice in the gate. How about you?

Lord, keep me focused on what You say is true and right. I want to walk in Your truth.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Seeking

WHAT ARE YOU SEEKING?

AMOS 5:14

“Seek good and not evil, so that you may live; and so may the LORD God of armies be with you, just as you have said!”

Hide and seek is a wonderful childhood game. My almost four-year-old granddaughter loves to play it when she is over at our house. She loves for me to scare her when she finds me. She will scream and then burst out laughing. For her, seeking Poppy is a good thing. I hope she always feels that way.

Oh, but Amos is talking about a whole different kind of seeking. He tells us plainly to seek good and not evil. Carl, I don’t seek evil. It just kind of finds me. And it will, time and time again unless you are busy seeking good. Good is only found in Jesus. We are told to seek first His kingdom. That’s the key.

APPLICATION

So, what are you seeking? What do you spend the majority of your time trying to achieve? I spent decades in my ministry trying to achieve things, some good and some not so good. I wouldn’t call any of them evil, but when you are not seeking the best the Lord has for you, can it be considered good?

The LORD God of armies wants you to seek the best. And He gives us all we need to do that. We have His Word to point the way. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us each day in our decisions. He has given us direct access to the throne room of heaven to petition Him when we are confused. What else do we need?

I choose to seek good and not evil. I flee from evil. And the more I seek good, the easier it is for me to recognize evil. That makes it so simple. Seek good and not evil is not a complicated command. Let’s do that today.

LORD God of armies, I praise Your name that You have given me everything I need to seek good and not evil. Keep me safe as I follow You.

Standard
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
Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blameless, Disciplemaking, Following, Integrity, Modeling, Obedience

INTEGRITY

AMOS 5:10

“They hate him who rebukes in the gate, and they despise him who speaks with integrity.”

When I worked for decades in the child welfare field, the one thing I talked about more than anything else was the need to teach the children we served how to have integrity. If one has integrity, all the other areas of their life will be okay. Integrity is crucial for healthy relationships.

However, as Amos points out in today’s verse, people don’t want to hear that. It was true in Amos’ day, and it is true in ours. Being honest about things causes those who are dishonest to be uncomfortable. They don’t like the light of integrity shining on their sins.

APPLICATION

So, should we stop showing integrity because it makes people feel uncomfortable? No way! We have to stand for what is true and right and just, no matter how the world responds. Jesus warned us that the world would hate us. Why should we be surprised when they do?

The only way we can be sure that we are showing integrity is by staying in God’s Word. It is the only trustworthy source to rely on. By living according to it, we can be sure to show integrity in all we do. If we follow Jesus’ example, we are definitely going to do that.

Integrity is so important for we believers to practice. In a world that doesn’t see it much, we need to shine the light of truth. Integrity means owning up to our own mistakes when we make them also. Being vulnerable is risky, but when we do, that may just point someone in the direction of Christ.

Lord, help me show integrity in everything I do. I will mistakes but give me the strength to correct them and make things right.

Standard
Asking, Belief, Bible, Calling, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Scripture

SEEK ME

AMOS 5:4

“For this is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: ‘Seek Me so that you may live.’”

One of the passages I have memorized is Psalm 119:9-11. Verse 10 says, “I seek you with all my heart, do not let me stray from your commandments.” Why do I mention that verse? Because the same Hebrew word is used there for “seek” as is used in our verse in Amos today. It has no secret meaning. It simply means to seek or to investigate.

The Israelites had stopped seeking God. Here in today’s verse, the Lord is imploring them to seek Him so they may live. This may sound like a simple, short verse in Amos, but look at it. Living depends on seeking. Our lives are meaningless until we find Him.

APPLICATION

We tend to seek the wrong things – money, fame, independence – to name just a few. When we are young, we seek to be free from the bondage of our parents. When we get older, we seek youth through all kinds of healthcare products. Seeking worldly things leads us nowhere.

But when we seek the Lord, He is there. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” What are you seeking today? Is it temporal or eternal? Stop wasting your time on temporal. Seek Him.

So, the question begs to be asked. How do you seek Him? It’s pretty simple. Go to Him in prayer. Read His Word. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He’s not hiding. He is just waiting for you to get ready to handle Him when He comes. When you surrender and seek, He is there.

I seek You with all my heart. Do not let me stray from Your commandments.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Modeling, Scripture

MATH PROBLEMS

AMOS 5:3

“For this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘The city which goes forth a thousand strong will have a hundred left, and the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left to the house of Israel.’”

Who likes math? That’s what I thought – no one. Lol. Seriously though, I actually like math. I think it’s because I can see the problem and come to an answer. It’s the finality of it. Math can be fun, unless you are experiencing real life math that involves your life. For instance, subtraction could mean the loss of a loved one or another kind of loss. That kind of math is painful.

Israel was going to experience subtraction. Look at what the Lord says to them. They were going to lose 90% of their warriors (1000-900 = 100, 100-90 = 10). That’s a huge loss. That kind of loss would be devastating to the nation. The Lord is warning them. He has spoken.

APPLICATION

You may not like math, but it’s a part of life. Sometimes we have addition, while at other times we may experience multiplication. Division can also occur. Look at your life right now. Which are you experiencing and why? The answer to those questions should point out some things for you.

I would love to see multiplication more prevalent in everyone’s life. I would love to see people get excited about making disciple makers. That’s multiplication (2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 28:18-20). By focusing on multiplication, we may see few subtractions.

And you know what? Multiplication sees bigger and faster results than addition. That’s how Jesus intended us to make disciples – to make disciple makers. That way our work grows exponentially. Unfortunately, most churches seem to be stuck on subtraction – people leaving. We can turn that around if we are obedient to the Great Commission. Will you be a part of that math problem?

Lord, help me focus more on multiplication and less on subtraction and division. I want to be a disciple maker.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Affliction, Bible, Confession, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture

CLEAN TEETH

AMOS 4:6

“‘But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I honestly do not like getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist. I don’t mind brushing my teeth and even occasionally flossing them (not really, lol). But the twice-a-year cleanings are not something I look forward to. My hygienist is great, and my dentist is too. It’s just the scraping (and flossing) are not fun.

God was not giving the Israelites a teeth cleaning like I get. He had punished them through withholding food in an attempt to get them to return to Him. Your teeth don’t get too dirty when there is nothing to eat. But this didn’t work with them. They were so tied to their sinful ways that even that did not bring them back.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord done in your life in an attempt to bring you back to Him? Think hard about that. God will allow things in our life to draw us back. Some of those things are not pleasant. He may allow sickness. He may allow a loss of a job. Listen, there is nothing that God will not do to bring us back once we have strayed.

But what He won’t do is force us back. We have to return on our own. We have to choose to come back to Him with a repentant spirit. We have to acknowledge our sin and confess it to Him. He needs to see that we want to be up under His guidance once again.

I can speak from experience on this one. Unfortunately, I have not always followed the Lord as I should. I have made some huge, wrong decisions in my life that led me on a wayward path. But thanks be to God, He never quit pursuing me. His Holy Spirit kept prompting me and convicting me until I repented and returned. I got tired of clean spiritual teeth. I needed meat to eat. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for pursuing me. Thank You for drawing me back into Your embrace.

Standard