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.

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Bible, Blessing, Goodness, Humility, Modesty, Scripture

HOUSES

AMOS 3:15

“‘I will also strike the winter house together with the summer house; the houses of ivory will also perish, and the great houses will come to an end,’ declares the LORD.”

I have several friends who have more than one house. They have their main home where they live the majority of the time. Then they have their mountain home or their beach home. Some may even have both. They have been prosperous enough to afford them. I am happy for them and have been the beneficiary of these in the past.

Amos, however, is prophesying against those in Israel who flaunted their prosperity by having their winter and summer homes. Some even had them paneled with ivory. They wanted everyone to know how wealthy they were. God said this was all going away.

APPLICATION

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having more than one home if you can afford it. Like I said earlier, I know several of my friends who do. Most of them willingly share those homes with others when they are not using them. They share their blessings with others.

But when we became puffed up and haughty about our stuff, that’s dangerous. God is not pleased with such arrogance. He may just allow a little humbling in our lives when we do that. If the Lord has blessed you, why don’t you bless someone else this Christmas season.

My family has never been wealthy. We haven’t been poor either. God has always provided. During this Christmas season, I am especially humbled at what the Lord has given me. Having just returned from Kenya, I have seen poverty and need. I am just so thankful for a God who provides for us in our times of need and allows us to bless others.

Thank You Lord for blessing me in ways I do not deserve. I pray You will show me how I can bless others.

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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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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Comfort, Forgiveness, Goodness, Holy Spirit, Life, Salvation, Scripture

LET IT RAIN

JOEL 2:23

“So shout for joy, you sons of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God; for He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has brought down for you the rain, early and latter rain as before.

Don’t you just love a good rain storm? I remember this great claymation creation that used to play on tv when my kids were little. It was a scene on a farm with people sitting on a front porch of a farmhouse. There were animals in the yard laying around. It was hot and dry, and everyone and everything looked like they needed something to drink. Then, all of a sudden, the raindrops began. Slowly at first, then a downpour. Every living creature began to run around and dance in the rain.

That’s the picture I have in mind as I read this verse today in Joel. The drought is ended. The early and latter rains have returned. And with it, the promise of life. New life can spring forth from these rains which have been withheld. You know the people of Judah acted just like those Claymation figures I recall. Wonderful rain!

APPLICATION

God restores to us the promise of life at salvation. We are dead in our sins and destined for hell. But with the decision to follow Christ and ask Him to come in and save us, we receive a whole new life. His Holy Spirit comes into us and indwells us. Our life now is in Christ.

Are you in need of a new life? Are you struggling to find meaning in life today? Come to Him. Give Him your life, and He will remake it into something that is beautiful. He will give you purpose. Maybe you are already a Christian, but you are struggling right now. Return to Him. Let Him remind you who are in Christ. You are a whole new creature.

I am glad for those refreshing rains that fall. They remind me of the refreshing Spirit that leads me each day. When I am at my lowest, the Spirit reminds me whose I am. Ask the Holy Spirit today to blow those refreshing rains into your soul.

Blow, Spirit blow!  Refresh my spirit today. I want to be renewed of my purpose in Christ.

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Goodness, Praise, Promises, Refreshing, Scripture

SATISFIED

JOEL 2:19

“The LORD will answer and say to His people, ‘Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied in full with them; and I will never again make you a disgrace among the nations.

Have you ever been real hungry? I have to admit, I have never really known hunger. I have been so blessed. Now, I have been hungry before. Don’t get me wrong. And I do love to eat. Sometimes certain foods just satisfy you. When you are craving that certain special food you like and you get it, you can be fully satisfied. Isn’t that a great feeling?

Joel is telling the people of Judah that the Lord wants to satisfy their hunger. He wants to restore them. That word “satisfy” in Hebrew carries the meaning of full, even full to excess. After a long period of drought and hunger, the Lord is going to restore them. Hallelujah! I am sure these were welcomed words from Joel to the people.

APPLICATION

What are you hungry for? I don’t mean food. I mean what is your soul craving? Is it peace? God can fill you up. How about rest? He’s got that too. In fact, whatever your soul is needing today the Lord can fill it. Just as the Lord told the people of Judah, He wants you to be satisfied in full. But you have to come to Him.

When we come to Him in full surrender, He meets our needs. There have been so many times in my life when our family had needs met that could only have been from the Lord. Those were the times we were walking with Him and obeying His Word. The Lord loves to bless us. Don’t you want that blessing?

I know I don’t deserve anything I have. Everything that has been given to me came from the Master’s hand. He gave it to me because He loves me. I am so grateful. I can never repay Him for all He has given me. But I can pass it on. I can share my blessings. Will you do the same?

I am satisfied with Jesus. Praise the Lord for all He has done.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Comfort, Contentment, Encouragement, Goodness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Promises, Scripture

FRESH MORNING DEW

HOSEA 14:5

I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.”

Have you ever wondered where the morning dew comes from? It’s pretty amazing that seemingly out of nowhere water vapors in the air condense on surfaces to form these droplets of water we call dew. But why? Some people actually collect this morning dew and drink it. They claim it has true medicinal properties that aid the body. Perhaps it does. I don’t know. I just know it is a miracle of our God who created this event in nature.

Why all the discussion about dew? Hosea compares God to the morning dew. He says God will use the dew to refresh the lily and help the cedars grow. Just like He gives nourishment to these plants, He will nourish Israel spiritually. Without nourishment, the lily would die. Without the deep root, the cedar would perish. So would Israel without the life-giving nourishment of the Lord.

APPLICATION

You must have food and water to survive. I have seen the effects of those being withheld from someone. It is not a pretty picture. Here in America, where I live, most people have access to plenty of food and clean water. That’s not the case all over the world. One area I visit in Kenya has suffered droughts for years, resulting in lack of clean water and the decimation of their crops and livestock.

But just as serious for us is our spiritual source of “water” and “food.” We must go to the well of the Word daily to receive our nourishment. Without it, we dry up and die spiritually. The beauty of the Word is it never runs dry. We can drink and eat from it daily and share it with others, and it is still full of all we need the next day. It’s like the dew which returns day after day.

I am thankful for the fresh dew each morning. The next time I see those droplets of dew on the leaves or on my windshield, I am going to be reminded of the dew of Israel, my Lord and God. His refreshing Spirit gives me the power to face each new day. He revives my soul. I pray you will allow Him to revive you as well.

Lord, revive me again. Fill my soul with Your song.

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Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Goodness, Obedience

INDIAN GIVER

HOSEA 13:11

I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath.”

Do you remember as a child what we called someone who gave you something and then took it back? We called them an “Indian giver.” That phrase was really offensive to someone (not to mention how offensive it is to Native Americans). To give someone a gift and then demand it back is not very nice.

God had given Israel a king. He gave them Saul after they demanded one. He wasn’t happy about that. Hosea even says He did it in anger. Then after their repeated disobedience, His wrath fell. He sent them into exile. He removed their king, never to return again.

APPLICATION

Let me clarify something. God is NOT an Indian giver. That is not His style. That’s not what He did to Israel. God wants to give good gifts to you. In fact, He is just waiting to bless you. You can’t even begin to imagine how much He wants to bless you. He always has your best in mind. Every gift He gives you is custom made just for you.

So, why aren’t you asking for His blessings? I don’t mean you can just name it and claim or blab it and grab it. No! The problem most of us have with asking for God’s blessings is we aren’t living worthy of those blessings. We pretend to live for Him or we are outright living in sin. How can we expect Him to bless us?

I want His blessings. Therefore, I choose to live in such a way that He is able to bless me. What does that mean? It means I live for Jesus each day by surrendering my will to His. Just like our earthly fathers love to bless their obedient children, God desires the same. I don’t obey in order to be blessed. I obey because I love Him. And when I do, He give His good gifts.

Thank You, Lord, for Your good gifts. Help me live in such a way that Your blessings flow.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confession, Denial, Goodness, Inspirational, Judgment, Punishment, Scripture

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

HOSEA 8:3

“Israel has rejected the good; the enemy will pursue him.”

Some people are just plain picky. Nothing is good enough for them. They could have the nicest things money can buy and still not be satisfied. Have you known people like that? I have. I like nice things, but I don’t have to have them. In fact, the older I get, the less I want stuff.

Israel has not only rejected the good. They have rejected THE good. God is the only true good thing. They were pursuing everything except God. The things they were pursuing may have appeared good, but they weren’t. They were evil masquerading as a good thing. And because they rejected the true good, judgment will fall.

APPLICATION

What is your measurement for good? If God is not your measuring tool, you are using the wrong tool. You will always come up short if you are using the world’s standard for good. There’s good and then there’s GOOD. The problem with the world’s good is it depends on the situation. It’s flexible. It’s relative.

But God’s good is constant. He doesn’t waiver. What He says is good is always good. It doesn’t depend on His mood or the situation. You can always count on God’s good to be good. Actually, you can depend on it being the best. That’s all God wants for us.

So, when you are struggling with knowing the good thing to do, go to God. Go to His Word. He will always show you the good thing to do. He will always point you in the good direction. He will send good into your life when you obey Him and seek Him. God wants to bless us. He wants us to live not only godly lives but also good lives. Don’t you believe that? Believe it!

You are good all the time. I know that. Help me trust Your goodness.

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