Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Failures, Faithfulness, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Rebellion

THE REBELLIOUS

AMOS 7:9

“The high places of Isaac will become deserted, and the sanctuaries of Israel will be in ruins. Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

Were you ever rebellious? Did you rebel against your parents? I have to say I did. In my teenage years, before Christ, I disobeyed my parents time and time again. I lived a lie. I professed one thing but did another. Fortunately, the Lord saw fit to rescue me before I did anything that would have cost me my life.

Jeroboam’s reign began with a rebellion against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. He split the kingdom by his act. Now, for sure, God used Jeroboam to carry out His plan, but Jeroboam went too far. He constructed idols and places of worship that went against God’s Word. For that he had to be punished. And so it came.

APPLICATION

Seeing the result of Jeroboam’s rebellion, does that make you want to go the straight and narrow? Probably not. If you are like me, my flesh still has a rebellious streak. Left to my own devices, I would choose the opposite of what God desires. But thanks be to God, my flesh has been defeated by the Spirit of God within me.

I am reminded of Romans 6:16 which says, “Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” It’s really our choice whom we will serve. But we cannot choose the consequences for our rebellious acts.

Just like Jeroboam, our rebellion has costs. I am so thankful for the Spirit of God that leads me to obedience each day. I can walk in victory knowing that my sins are forgiven. I can walk in victory because the price has been paid. I can walk in victory because the devil has already been defeated.

Lord God, I praise You for giving me Your Spirit to live in me. He keeps me on the straight and narrow.

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Advocate, Bible, Blessing, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Hope, Judgment, Listening, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture

ANSWERED PRAYER

AMOS 7:6

“The LORD relented of this. ‘This too shall not be,’ said the Lord GOD.”

How do you see God answering prayers? I have seen Him answer them in all kinds of ways. I have seen people healed from illnesses. I have seen people come to Christ. I have even seen storms diverted. I know my God still answers prayers, even if I don’t always like the answer.

We saw this same action by God back in verse 3. God changed His mind then and changed it again here. He heard Amos cry out for Israel and withheld His hand of judgment again. What does this show about the Lord? I believe it shows He listens to us, even if we repeat ourselves. I believe it shows God’s mercy, even when we deserve judgment.

APPLICATION

God answered Amos’s prayers the same way. He withheld the planned and current judgment. He may answer your prayers in the same way. Then again, He may decide to answer it in a whole different way. The Lord knows what is best for us even when we don’t. We may think we know how we want Him to answer. We just don’t see what lies ahead.

I have prayed for healing for my children, protection on the road and even for our pets. There is really nothing I haven’t prayed for. In my years as a Pastor, I prayed for all kinds of family needs. What a joy to see so many of those prayers answered.

But the most joyous answered prayers are the ones for salvation. When I have the privilege to pray with someone as they accept Christ as their Savior, my heart overflows. That’s a prayer with eternal value. That’s a prayer that will last forever. I praise Him for hearing us and answering according to His Will for our lives and the lives of others.

I know You are still listening, Lord. I know You are working even now to answer my prayers.

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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.

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Bible, Blessing, Contentment, Faithfulness, Gifts, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Obedience

FORGOTTEN POSSESSIONS

AMOS 2:10

“‘And it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you in the wilderness for forty years so that you might take possession of the land of the Amorite.’”

Isn’t it wonderful to uncover a lost possession? My family has moved a good bit through my over four decades in ministry. Sometimes, in the process of backing, one of my kids would exclaim, “Look what I found.” Something they knew they owned, but had misplaced, was uncovered in the packing or unpacking process. It was always theirs, just wasn’t in their physical possession.

The Lord is reminding Israel of their possessions. He had given them the land of the Amorites. It was a gift from Him to them many years previously. It wasn’t something they had purchased or won on their own. It was Him who had ridded the land of the Amorites and gave it to them just as He had promised. After the long journey through the wilderness, He had given them the land. But they had forgotten.

APPLICATION

Do you have lost possessions? I bet you do. But more importantly, let me ask you this question. What possessions do you have in Christ that you aren’t utilizing? I was talking to some friends just recently about that. Why do so many Christians walk around defeated? Why do we act as if we can’t live holy lives?

God has given us everything we need to live for Him. Just take a look in Galatians 5 at the fruit of the Spirit. With all those blessings, we have no excuse for not living for Him. We have no excuse for not living victoriously. Sure, life can be hard sometimes. But do you think that surprises God? Of course, not. He gave us all we need to handle ever situation.

I am thankful for the Lord’s blessings in my life. I am thankful He has provided me with all I need. I just have to claim it. I just have to walk in it. I just have to… How about you? Don’t forget your possessions.

I am blessed beyond measure because of You, O Lord. Help me “tap” into all the possessions You have given me.

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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Faith, Faithfulness, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Victors

FORGOTTEN VICTORIES

AMOS 2:9

“‘Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, though his height was like the height of cedars and he was as strong as the oaks; I also destroyed his fruit above and his roots below.’”

I am a University of Georgia Bulldog fan. I went to school there from 1978 to 1982. So, I cheer loud and strong for the Red and Black whenever I get a chance. But as excited as I get about our football victories, I couldn’t tell you the exact dates and times of each victory. Sure, some of them stand out, but most fade into my memory. Forgotten victories.

The Israelites had forgotten how God had destroyed their enemies as they entered the Promised Land so many years earlier. In just one example, the Lord reminds them of the Amorites, of which dwelt the Rephaim who were giants in height. Their size alone brought fear out of men. But Jehovah destroyed them for the Hebrew children. Forgotten victories.

APPLICATION

How many victories has God done in your life for you to quickly forget them? Perhaps you had a bill you couldn’t pay, and God provided for you. Maybe you had a health scare from which God delivered you. Your child was sick with fever, and you prayed all night long. Do I need to go on? Forgotten victories.

The Lord does so many things for us in our daily battles. We forget how faithful He is despite out unfaithfulness. He delivers us when we don’t deserve delivering. He defends us from our adversary, the devil, when we have faltered in our faith. Every victory we have in life can be traced back to our Deliverer. As a child of the King, our victories all belong to Him. Forgotten victories.

Don’t let your life be filled with forgotten victories. Make a log of them. Write them down. Keep track of them. Not for bragging purposes but for celebration purposes. I recently rang the bell at my Oncologist’s office indicating I am in remission from a disease I have. That victory belongs to God. He was the One who healed me. Remembered victory!

O Lord, I praise You for every victory in my life. The battle belongs to You.

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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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Battles, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Judgment

IT WILL FALL

AMOS 1:7

“‘So I will send fire on the wall of Gaza and it will consume her citadels.’”

Have you ever seen a fort? I mean a real fort with high walls and towers. They are impressive. I’ve seen a couple. I can’t imagine anyone ever overthrowing those forts. The walls were thick and high. At the gates and every corner were guard towers with soldiers stationed. You would have to be very brave or very stupid to try to attack a fort like that.

Gaza was a strong and fortified city. So, when Amos proclaimed this prophecy, I am sure it amazed those who heard it. Many had tried to take Gaza and had failed. But Amos is proclaiming the Lord’s voice. He would ransack the city. He would send fire on its walls. He would consume its citadels. There is no city so strong that God cannot bring it to rubble.

APPLICATION

I want you to hear that very clearly. We can never get so self-reliant that God cannot bring us down. We cannot build our walls so high that He cannot penetrate them. But God will not force Himself on us. He may allow things to affect our lives that bring us to Him, but He won’t drag us out kicking and screaming. We have to choose to come to Him.

Have you come to Him lately? Have you laid down all those walls you have been building up? He wants to fellowship with you. He doesn’t want to defeat you. He wants to love you. He wants to bring you into the folds of His family. He wants to make you His own. Don’t you want that?

I know I need that today. During this month when we focus on giving thanks, won’t you pause and do that? Give Him praise for all He has done and will do in your life. Thank Him for the blessings you have received. And thank Him (are you ready for this?) for the trials in your life. Yep, I said it. If you do that, you will be amazed how much less weighty those trials feel.

Thank You, God, for saving me and giving me new life in You. Help me to keep from building any walls that may separate me from Your love.

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Abiding, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Inspirational, Scripture

BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS

JOEL 3:18

And on that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; and a spring will go out from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Shittim.

I have been the recipient of blessings. In fact, I could say they have been blessings upon blessings. People have blessed me with gifts. I have a friend who gifted me a great pair of shoes because he was concerned about my neuropathy. He has seen me struggle and took it upon himself to do that. That was a blessing. I am truly a blessed man.

In today’s verse we see God’s blessings upon the land. The mountains drip wine. The hills flow with milk. The brooks will flow with water. All this imagery is sending Judah a message. Their God is blessing His children after the period of judgment and war. He is faithful to do that.

APPLICATION

Have you counted your blessings lately? You need to. I bet you could fill a box with records of your blessings. Take a minute or two today and thank God for how He has blessed you. Write those blessings down and put them on your frig to remind you of how He has done that. We need those reminders. We forget so quickly.

If you have children, ask them how they think the Lord has blessed your family. Children are so good at recognizing things that we adults take for granted. Get them to make a list. I bet their list will be different from yours. Compare your lists. Make a plan to do this with your children regularly. In fact, the next time you face a tough time, go look at your list. You may be amazed.

I know I am amazed each day how the Lord has blessed me. I don’t deserve anything, but He gives me everything I need. I am so ungrateful, but He is so faithful. I am unworthy, but He has made me worthy. He does the same for you. Will you recognize that today? Give Him praise!

Forgive me, Lord, for not being more grateful for all You have given me. I want to quickly recognize every blessing that comes my way.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Protection, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

PREPARE FOR BATTLE

JOEL 3:10

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak man say, “I am a warrior.”

I’ve never been to war. I’ve only had two fistfights in my life (both in high school before I came to Christ). So, the concept of gearing up for combat is foreign to me. I have known several men who bravely fought for our country. I respect them all. Their courage is admirable. They each had to prepare themselves for war, including getting the right arsenal.

Joel is telling the Judeans to get ready. Take whatever you have and make weapons. Plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. They had to have weapons to fight the enemy when they arrived. This passage may sound familiar. It’s the exact opposite of what you will read in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3. Take a minute and read those passages. But Joel is preparing for war, not peace.

APPLICATION

Are you prepared to fight the battles that are before you? Do you have the weapons you need? If you are a believer in Christ, you have everything you need to battle your adversary, the devil. God’s Word is the sword to wield. Your faith is the shield to protect you from his fiery darts. Your helmet of salvation guards your mind from any thoughts he might throw your way.

You see, you have the weapons. The question is are you ready to fight. The devil comes out each day with one goal – to defeat us. He wants to lay us out. He cannot stand it when we read the Bible and pray. He hates it when we share our faith with others. He will try anything to stop that. Don’t let him. Fight back.

I have learned lately just how determined he is. He has thrown all sorts of things in my path to try to discourage me. He wants me to lie down and quit. He cannot take away my salvation, but he can sure take me out of the fight – if I let him. But I won’t! Will you join me in the fight?

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead. I trust You as my Commander in Chief.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commitment, Discipline, Faithfulness, Giving, Greed, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

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