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ONE TOUCH

AMOS 9:5

“The Lord GOD of armies, the One who touches the land so that it quakes, and all those who live in it mourn, and all of it rises up like the Nile and subsides like the Nile of Egypt;”

One touch can make all the difference. Do you remember the poem and the song about the touch of the master’s hand? There was an old violin that wound up at an auction. It looked beat up and useless. The bid started very low, like around $5.00. The auctioneer couldn’t get any bids at all. Then an old man walked up and asked to see the violin. He took it in his hands, plucked some strings and adjusted them for a minute. Then he took the bow in his hands and began to play this magnificent tune. When he finished, he laid it down and walked back to his seat. The auctioneer began the bids again. This time he started at $1 million dollars. The bidders protested, wanting to know what caused the great increase. He said, “It’s simple. The touch of the master’s hand.”

God’s touch can be like that. He can create something out of nothing. He can touch and heal. He can touch someone and cause them to shift the course of their life. But He can also touch and destroy. He can flip His little finger and cause earthquakes and landslides. God’s touch is powerful. Unfortunately, here in Amos 9:5 His touch is judging the world.

APPLICATION

What side of His touch do you want to be on? I know which side I choose. I have experienced His touch is so many ways. He touched me and saved me. He touched me and restored my health in 2010. He did it again in 2020. But He has also touched me and corrected me.

No one likes to be corrected, least of all me. I don’t like it. I believe I am right most of the time. That gets me into trouble. Each and every time, He is there to touch me and put me back on the right path.

What kind of touch do you prefer? Come to Him today and ask for that gentle touch of your Redeemer. Come to Him and let Him touch you so that you are about His business and not your own. One touch – that’s all it takes.

Gentle Savior, touch me today. Heal me and cleanse me.

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Bible, Encouragement, Exhortation, Glory, Intimacy, Music, Offering, Passion, Scripture, Worship

GIBBERISH

AMOS 6:5

“Who improvise to the sound of the harp, and like David have composed songs for themselves,”

I have experienced a lot of different kinds of worship music over the years. Some of it has been extraordinary. Some of it has…well, not been. Worship music is supposed to lead us to the throne. It prepares our heart, in a service, to hear the written Word. It is vital, I think, to the whole process of worship.

You won’t believe what Amos has to say about this. Albert Barnes explains the Hebrew word parat, translated as “improvise.”  “The word, which Amos alone uses in this one place, describes probably a hurried flow of unmeaning, unconsidered words, in which the rhythm of words and music was everything, the sense, nothing;” They were just making noise!

APPLICATION

You don’t have to guess how to you apply this verse. We have to make sure our worship is actually worshipful. It has to be directed to the Lord. It’s not about us. It’s all about Him. We are pointing others to the throne. We are leading others to a more intimate connection through the music.

I sang in choirs for decades. I truly love to sing. It can be easy to get pulled into a performance mode, if all you think about is how you are going to sound. Now, that’s important. I think we should strive for excellence. But it is more about the heart music. When my heart is right with the Lord and I am submitted to His leadership, the music that comes out of me will be sweet in His ears (not necessarily everyone else’s, lol).

I want to challenge you today to sing out. Psalm 33:1-3 says, “Sing for joy in the LORD, you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”

O, how I praise You, Lord! Your name is deserving of all our worship.

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Advocate, Affection, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Hope, Intimacy, Mourning, Scripture

MOURNING

AMOS 5:1

“Hear this word which I am taking up for you as a song of mourning, house of Israel:”

Mourning is hard. If you have ever had a loss of a loved one in your life, you know what I mean. Everyone mourns differently. Some, seemingly, mourn quickly and move on with their life. Others take months, even years, to fully mourn their loss. But everyone feels their mourning, in one way or another.

Israel seemed to be clueless. Amos introduces for the third time in five chapters the reality of mourning. Israel was so full of itself, it totally overlooked its loss. God had removed Himself from them to allow their judgment to fall. They had plenty to mourn, but were too busy to notice – until it was too late.

APPLICATION

Are you aware of your losses? Are you stuck in your mourning? I have good news for you. God is here. He is right where you are, no matter where you are in your mourning cycle. He can soothe the most broken heart. He can comfort us so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

If you are going through a process of mourning right now, don’t let anyone tell you how to do it. They haven’t been where you are. Everyone’s loss is different. But there is one who can relate fully and completely. His name is Jesus. Tell Him how you feel. Cry on His shoulder. He will be with you through the entire process.

I have suffered loss in my life (child, parent, sibling, friends). Each loss hit me differently. But through each loss, God’s strength was inside me. He gave me the ability to cope. Without Him I do not know how I would have dealt with each loss. But praise be to God, He knows how. Amen?

Lord, I praise You for the strength You give to Your children during their times of loss. You are truly the balm of Gilead.

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WHAT’S YOUR NAME

AMOS 4:13

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind, and declares to a person what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the LORD God of armies is His name.”

Throughout my over four decades of ministry, I have sought to learn the names of the children I was serving. There is something about being called by your name. But I have had to develop some tricks to help me. I have used acrostics to memorize the names of multiple children in a family. I have used hair color or a birthmark to help. There was usually something about the child that I could remember that would trigger the name.

God tells us who He is in is verse before He tells us His name. Look at what He does. He forms the mountains and creates the wind. That’s pretty powerful. He knows our thoughts. That’s a little scary, right? He controls the sunlight and walks on mountaintops. Then He says, “the LORD God of armies is His name.” In other words, He is in charge! Period!

APPLICATION

While all these attributes might be terrifying, I find comfort in them. If God can do all that, He can certainly handle my little problems. The LORD God of armies cares enough about little, ole me to hear my prayers and dry my tears. The LORD God of armies loves me enough to send His own Son to rescue me from an eternal damnation.

No matter how little I may feel, He still reaches down with His powerful right hand and scoops me up to safety. In fact, He will send those armies of His to my rescue. I am His child, and He will protect me. Even when He is busy forming mountains and creating wind, I am on His mind. That’s mind boggling.

I am so thankful that my God is not too big for me. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. God, of course, is big. He is too big for my mind. But He isn’t too big that He forgets about me. In fact, He wants to hear from me every day. He wants to hear from you, too. Talk to Him. Tell Him your needs. I promise He can fit you in.

O God of the universe, I praise You for looking on me. I know You are forever mindful of my needs and desires.

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WALKING WITH GOD

Amos 3:3

“Do two people walk together unless they have agreed to meet?”

I was sixteen years old when I started my walk with Christ. I had been in church all my life, but I had never surrendered my life to Him. I did all the church stuff, including singing in the choir and going on church trips. But I did not know Jesus until I gave my whole self to Him and saw myself as a sinner. My walk began July 31, 1977 and has not stopped since then. There have been some bumps in the road, but He has been faithful.

Amos begins a series of parables in verse 3 today. Each one has a message for Israel. This first one speaks of walking with someone. Israel had not been walking with God for quite some time. The parable says that both have to agree. That was the problem. Israel didn’t agree. God was ready to walk with them, but they had shunned Him and disobeyed Him. God could not walk with them like that.

APPLICATION

How’s your walk? Are you running away from God or ahead of Him? Either is bad. Maybe you are refusing to move and are stuck in some sin. I don’t know about you, but when I walk with my wife I like to hold her hand. We don’t do that much right now because of my feet. But walking hand in hand is special to me. God wants to walk with you that way. He desires that closeness.

Are you holding His hand as you walk with Him? Do you want that intimacy? I do. I want to walk with Him feeling His hand in mine. Now, I know that is not physically possible, but it is spiritually. Holding hands requires closeness. Get close to Him. Read His Word. Pray to Him. Spend time with Him. You won’t regret it. His walks are exhilarating.

I mentioned my walk has had some bumps. But God never let go of my hand. He kept picking me up and dusting me off. He put me back on the right path. My walk with Christ has improved over the years. It’s still not perfect. I still stumble. But I have learned to hold tight to my Master’s hand. I trust Him completely. I pray you can as well. Hold tight.

O Jesus, thank You for holding my hand. Thank You for being right beside me all the time.

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WHERE THE LORD DWELLS

AMOS 1:2

And he said, “The LORD roars from Zion, and from Jerusalem He utters His voice; and the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn, and the summit of Carmel dries up.”

I have mentioned a lot in my blogs that I grew up in South Georgia. That’s different that Georgia. I grew up so far south that I thought Atlanta, GA was in the northern states. Lol. So when I speak, people know I’m from the South. I have a southern accent that I can’t deny, nor would I. That is where I dwelt.

I love this imagery which Amos uses. The Lord roars from Zion. He dwells in Jerusalem. This is a clear message to the nation of Israel who had set up worship sites in the northern kingdom. No! God dwells in Jerusalem. That is where He chose to dwell. He didn’t change His location. And you can definitely tell where His voice is coming from. The world will know.

APPLICATION

Isn’t it glorious that now He dwells in us? When we receive His Son as our Savior, He immediately indwells us through the person of the Holy Spirit. We become His dwelling place. In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that our bodies of the temple of the Holy Spirit. And our voice should now be His voice. People should know who indwells us by the way we talk.

Our language has to change. We can’t keep talking the same way we talked before we were saved. The words we choose to use have to reflect the one who indwells us. The words we put in print have to tell others that we are different. We can’t use the world’s words anymore. We are different. We are indwelt.

That’s hard sometimes. We slip up and fall back into the old way of talking. We use some of those old words that don’t sound like Jesus. I have had to confess that as sin too many times. I am thankful for a God who can override my tongue. He can choose my words for me when I want to say something different. I want my words to reflect Him and sound like Him. Don’t you?

Father, forgive me when I fail to reflect You in my speech. I truly want others to hear You and not me.

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OVERFLOWING

JOEL 2:24

“The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.”

I remember on one of my trips to Uganda visiting some families in their farming communities. If you know anything about Uganda, it is a fertile country. It has been called the Pearl of Africa. It could probably feed all of Africa. These families grew maize (corn) and had bountiful crops. Their corn cribs were overflowing with corn, and they were actually building new cribs to hold the excess. It was amazing.

Joel is continuing to describe the blessings of God on Judah after they had returned to Him in repentance. Blessings always follow obedience. All He requires is to honor Him and His word. Judah, after suffering their judgment was now enjoying the bounty of God’s blessings. I bet they wished they had listened to Him to begin with.

APPLICATION

How is your bounty? Are your threshing floors full or empty? Are your oil and wine vats near full or lacking? I am not talking about physical threshing floors or vats. I am talking spiritual. When you return to Him in repentance, He is quick to fill us to overflowing. We literally bubble over with joy.

Don’t you want that feeling in your life? I know I do. I had rather walk in fullness than in emptiness. All it takes is surrender to our Lord. Even in the midst of trials and tragedies, we can walk in fullness. Our circumstances do not determine our tank level. That is determined by our intimacy with Jesus.

I have had some low points. Right now I am struggling with some pretty severe neuropathy in my feet. Most days they are very painful. However, I know my physical walk does not affect my spiritual walk. I have to choose each day to take each step, though painful, knowing that Jesus is my strength. I choose Jesus over pain.

Lord, fill me up to overflowing. I want to spread the excess of my joy to others.

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FASTING

JOEL 1:14

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

Hey, I like to eat. I don’t enjoy fasting. I’m just being honest. The times I have done a fast, my stomach reminded me constantly that it was being neglected. Breaking that fast was awesome. I missed chewing stuff. But I know the benefits of a fast far outweigh the temporary physical discomforts.

Joel is calling on the priests to proclaim a fast for the people. Why? To humble themselves before the Lord and beseech Him to intercede on their behalf. He was asking them to cry out to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “cry out” could mean “to shriek.” This was meant to be heard. Combined with their fasting, it was a sorrowful action.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t meant to be enjoyable. We should feel something physically. Our hunger pains should remind us to pray. Suffering isn’t tolerated well in the West. We are way too spoiled. If we don’t get three meals a day plus a snack, we think we have been deprived. We forget that many people in the world get by with one meal a day.

But you can fast from things other than just food. You can fast from electronics. Wouldn’t that be tough for us? My wife says I couldn’t handle that. I have to agree that I am tied to my computer way too much. Ask the Lord what He would have you fast from. If you ask, be prepared to fast. It may be food. It could be television or the internet. Whatever it is, when you decide to fast from it, use that time to hear from Him in a fresh new way.

The Lord has been calling me lately to fast, and I have been avoiding it. It is time for me to submit. I know whenever He calls me to fast, He has something to tell me. Would you pray for me as I listen to Him? I’ll let you know what He says.

Father, I am listening. I want to hear Your voice.

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OUR CARETAKER

HOSEA 14:8

Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant juniper; from Me comes your fruit.”

Isn’t it nice to have someone who looks after you? When I was growing up, my parents did that. Now, I liked that until I became a teenager. Then, not so much. Lol. I wanted my independence. I didn’t want anyone watching my every move. But my parents continued to do that, even when I went to college. They were always checking on me to make sure I was alright.

God says here, “It is I who answer and look after you.” Through all Ephraim’s rebellion, God was still look watching out for them. Even though there were consequences for their disobedience, God still loved them and wanted what was best for them. He says from Him comes their fruit. God was the source of their blessings.

APPLICATION

We need the Lord in our lives to give us purpose and power. It is only though His watchful gaze that we are able to do the things we do. Just like His care for Ephraim, He will care for us. But what does that mean? How does God care for us? Does He give us everything we want or desire?

The Lord puts His umbrella of protection over His children. That doesn’t mean we will never suffer. Just the opposite. We may be chosen by Him to suffer. Suffering is a privilege. God only allows suffering on those who can endure it. He will see you through it. His eye is on you constantly. If you believe that, then you know He cares for you.

I know through many situations in my life that the Lord is watching over me. I could name dozens of times in my life when the Lord showed His care for me. It is comforting. It is peaceful. And He does produce His fruit through me. All I have to do is let Him.

Father, thank You for watching over me. I want You to use me however You see fit.

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OUR SMELL

HOSEA 14:6

“His shoots will sprout, His majesty will be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.”

I love the smell of the outdoors. That’s part of the reason I like to hunt and fish. Just being outdoors and inhaling the aromas that are out there is invigorating. Where I hunt here in Tennessee, there are a lot of pine trees. Their smell in the mornings is great. In fact, some hunters will break off limbs from the pine trees and rub it on their clothes to cover their human scent.

Hosea, in the last phrase of today’s verse, says Israel will have the fragrance of cedars. Now, he was not saying they would actually smell like that. He was saying Israel would put off a scent to draw others to God. I wonder how well they did that. What would others smell that would entice them to come to God?

APPLICATION

Our “odor” can affect someone’s decision to follow Christ. We don’t think about that very often, do we? I am not necessarily referring to our physical odor. However, it is hard to witness to someone if we smell like cigarettes or alcohol. I am referring more to our spiritual smell. You see, the closer we walk with Jesus, the more we smell like Him.

I have been in a room before with people who were smoking. When I came out of that room, I smelled just like them. You would have thought I was smoking as well. In the same way, when I spend more and more time in His Word and in prayer, I smell more like Him. The world’s scent is covered by the Holy Spirit. I, in a sense, have broken off the branches of holiness and rubbed them all over my body.

I like smelling like Jesus. There is no other scent that I would want. His is a sweet smell, an inviting smell. Others smell it and want what I have. That is so cool. But I have to stay in His presence to keep that scent. The second I walk away the world’s scent envelopes me. That is not a pleasant smell. I choose Jesus’ scent. How about you?

I want to smell like You, Lord. I want others to be drawn to You through Your scent on me.

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