Accountability, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Consequences, Encouragement, Judgment, Mentoring, Modeling, Oppression, Scripture

OPPRESSORS

AMOS 5:11

“Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor and take a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of cut stone, yet you will not live in them; you have planted beautiful vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine.”

Some people prey on those less fortunate than them. They take advantage of them. They kick them when they are down. They were the people in high school who shoved the weaker, smaller student in the locker or who made fun of someone just because they wore glasses or braces.

Amos tells the oppressors in today’s verse that their day is coming. They have taken their last bag of grain from the poor. Those house, which cost so much, will remain empty. Those vineyards that promise an abundance of wine will never be harvested by them. Their judgment is near.

APPLICATION

Do you look down your nose at others? I pray you don’t. God has created each of us for a purpose. Some have lost their way. It’s up to us to lead them back to Him. God still uses people to accomplish His mission here on earth. Did you know that? He might just want to use you to help some wayward soul come home.

Perhaps there is someone in your community or even in your church that seems to always struggle in life. What can you do to help them? I’m not talking so much about a financial investment. It may just require some time. Are you willing to allow the Lord to use you in someone else’s life? The blessing will be all yours.

From time to time the Lord gives my wife and I the opportunity to help someone in some small way. When we do, the joy we receive from doing that is worth it all. Seeing the smiles our little bit of help brings warms our hearts and encourages us to do it again. Give it a try, as the Lord leads you. You won’t regret it.

Father, thank You for lifting me up from the pit. You saw my value and gave me the opportunities to help others.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Cleansing, Fire, Godliness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Purity, Scripture

UNEXTINGUISHABLE

AMOS 5:6

“Seek the LORD so that you may live, or He will break through like a fire, house of Joseph, and it will consume with no one to extinguish it for Bethel,”

Recently, there was a wildfire that swept through parts of Colorado near to where some friends of mine live. They had to evacuate their home and flee for safety. Thankfully, their home was spared, but many homes and businesses were totally consumed. This fire was aided by over 100 mile per hour winds. It seemed it was unextinguishable, but firefighters finally got it under control.

God’s fire is unextinguishable. No one or nothing can put out His fire. Amos warns Israel that the result of not seeking after God is His fires of judgment. He will consume everything in His path. God’s fire will purify the nation of Israel. Bethel, the site of their rebellion, will be consumed.

APPLICATION

What is standing between you and your loyalty to God? We need to put those things down or risk the fires of God. As believers in Christ, our salvation is sure. Nothing can take that away. But all those things that are “wood, hay and stubble” will be burnt away.

Can you name some things right now in your life that you need to lay down? For me, it’s television. I can get lost watching a ballgame or some movie. Before I know it, I have spent 3-4 hours in front of that “one-eyed monster.” I am choosing to lay that down this year.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying television is evil. But when I spend more time in front of it than I do in God’s Word, something’s wrong. Will you join me in evaluating your own life? Instead of facing the fire of judgment, let’s enjoy the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let’s let our fire burn brightly so others can be drawn to Him.

May the things in my life that prevent me from being with You, Lord, be burned away. I want to be fireproof when I face You at judgment.

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Bible, Blameless, Confession, Forgiveness, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

THE STENCH OF DEATH

AMOS 4:10

“‘I sent a plague among you as in Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses, and I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I don’t know if you have ever smelled a dead carcass our not, but it is awful. Often, when I am in the woods hunting, I will run across a dead dear or other animal. I can smell it long before I see it. The stench can be overwhelming, depending on how long it’s been there. It’s not a good smell.

The Lord’s judgment on Israel included death, death to their soldiers and livestock. Here in verse 10 of chapter 4, Amos speaks for the Lord recounting those deaths. The phrase “the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils” is so descriptive. That smell does stick in your nose. Even that smell did not drive the Israelites back to Him.

APPLICATION

Our sins smell just as retched in God’s nostrils. The stench of our sins rise up to heaven. We can’t cover them up with a scented candle or a matchstick. The smell of our sins covers us until we wash them off in confession. And there is nothing that can remove them except the blood of Christ.

That may sound kind of silly. How can blood, which has its own smell, wash away the smell of our sins? Because this isn’t just some plain, ordinary blood. As it says in 1 Peter 1:19, “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” That’s the difference. His blood is pure. Only His blood can wash that stench off.

I am so thankful I have surrendered my life to Him and allowed that unblemished, spotless Lamb’s blood cleanse me. I can walk stench free because of Him. I don’t have to worry about how I smell. My sins are forgiven. I know who to come to when I need to confess. How do you smell today?

O Father, I praise You for sending Your Son, on this special day to rid this world of this stench of sin. Help me point others towards His blood.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Commands, Destruction, Direction, Drought, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Perseverance, Refreshing, Scripture

WET OR DRY

AMOS 4:7

“‘Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city, but on another city I would not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up.’”

I can remember as a young boy one day when we had a strange rainstorm at my house. Our house set toward the back of a two acre lot. It was summer and so hot outside. A storm blew up, but then it happened. It rained like crazy in our front yard, but not a drop in the back yard. Really weird!

God is reminding Israel of His selective wet and dry choices. Withholding rain three months from harvest was devastating. The crops would not mature and there would be a crop failure. Drought was there in part of the country and not in others. God truly could control their very livelihoods with rain or no rain.

APPLICATION

Are you in a drought right now? Has your prayer life dried up? We can feel that way. Sometimes it feels like our prayers don’t get past the ceiling. Why is that? Usually, it’s because we have stopped spending time in His Word. We have stopped spending time in worship. We have lost our ability to communicate.

But all that’s an easy fix. Get in the Word. Get back in church. The internet will not meet your spiritual needs. You need other believers in your life. And then spend some concentrated, dedicated time with the Lord listening to what He wants to tell you.

My problem is I like to do a lot of talking during my prayer time. I need to listen more. I need to hear His voice. I can’t follow directions I never hear. I am committed to listening more. I want to hear those commands. His voice is always loving and draws me to His safe embrace. So, if you’re feeling dry, try getting wet.

Father, I praise You for sending Your rains in my life. Showers of blessing, showers of blessing I need.

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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.

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Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Devil, Enemies, Freedom, Judgment, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

CAPTIVE

AMOS 4:3

“‘You will go out through holes in the walls, one in front of the other, and you will be hurled to Harmon,’ declares the LORD.”

I have never been held captive. I can’t imagine what that feels like. I have read first person accounts of that and marveled at that person’s stamina and faith to survive. But to be torn from your home and carried off as a prisoner would certainly be horrible. God has promised, however, to see us through any trial.

Israel is facing captivity. The Lord is telling them here that they will be led out of their cities through the holes in the walls that were made by their captors. They will be lead like cattle, one in front of the other, to their place of captivity. They will go from luxury to slavery.

APPLICATION

If you are not a believer in Jesus, you are being held captive by your enemy, the devil. The sad thing is you may not even realize it. As long as you are not walking with Christ, you are walking with him. He may even treat you kindly here on earth because he knows he will have you for eternity.

But God rescues us from our captor through Jesus. Jesus conquered death and the grave for you. His blood paid the price for your freedom. You can be set free through Him. And the best part is that it is free. You just have to ask for it. If you haven’t done that today, will you?

I am thankful the chains of sin have been broken. We are no longer held down by Satan’s grip. The moment we said yes to Jesus, we were made free. The jail doors were opened. We now walk with the One who set us free. Remember – we walk from victory, not towards it. The battle has already been won. Praise Jesus!

Lord, You are the one who set me free from the power and penalty of sin in my life. Thank You for saving me.

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Belief, Bible, Confidence, Devil, Encouragement, Heaven, Hell, Holiness, Judgment, Praise, Rapture

HOOKS

AMOS 4:2

“The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, ‘For behold, the days are coming upon you when they will take you away with meat hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.’”

I love to fish. I don’t get to do it as often as I like, but I love it. If you have ever gone fishing, you know you need hooks to catch the fish. Those hooks can be on an artificial bait or used with live bait. But you have to have hooks. And when you catch a fish, you jerk it and bring it to the boat or shore. It’s kind of a violent act, if you think about it.

In the same way, Israel was going to be snatched away. The imagery of the meat hook and the fish hook was one every Israelite could relate to. Because of their rebuke of God’s holiness, their judgment had arrived, and they would be snatched away by other nations – violently and aggressively snatched away.

APPLICATION

We face the same, if we are not children of God. At death, we will be snatched away by the evil one to an eternity of torment. But praise be to God, as children of God, we are protected. We will be snatched away, but into the loving arms of our Lord. If we are alive when He returns, God’s Word says we will be snatched away to meet Him in the air.

Unlike the snatching away that happened to the Israelites, our snatching away won’t involve sharp hooks. Sharp hooks are painful. I know from experience. I’ve had more than one hook stuck in my finger or hand. Our snatching away won’t be painful. It will be peaceful and gentle.

I am so ready to be snatched away. I look forward to our Lord’s return. But my heart aches for those who don’t have this confidence in our Lord. Their snatching will be painful. Will you join me in trying to reach as many as we can for Christ before His return? Let’s help them avoid those hooks.

Thank You Jesus for the promise of Your return and the snatching away I will experience in You.

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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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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Consequences, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Judgment, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

LIONS’ PREY

Amos 3:4

“Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured something?

It is so interesting that this verse came up today. Just yesterday I was on a safari in Nakuru, Kenya. We saw all kinds of animals, most of them lions’ prey. We saw warthogs, antelopes, impalas, giraffes, water bucks, African water buffalo and many more animals. We even saw several dead animals, which could have been lion kills. But we did not see any lions. They are sneaky like that.

Amos is continuing his parable usage in verse 4. He asks two logical questions. Does a lion roar when he has no prey and does a lion growl unless he has captured something? Anyone hearing these words from Amos would know the answer immediately. Of course not. But I bet you they are not getting what Amos is hinting at. Does God do anything unless there is a reason? Does God bring judgment unless judgment is deserved? Of course not.

APPLICATION

How do you answer those questions? Have you argued with God before about His correction in your life? Do you really think you are above the righteousness of God? We all shun correction. I know I did as a child. To be honest, I still do as an adult. No one likes to be told they are wrong. But God has that right in all of our lives, especially the lives of His children.

What do you need to be corrected about? We all have something. Today, give that up to the Lord. Ask Him to take that burden away and accept from Him whatever consequence you might have. You may be thinking Well Carl, I’m a Christian, so I don’t have to worry about consequences. All my sins are forgiven. Yes, your sins are forgiven, but even after salvation, when we sin, we can receive consequences for our disobedience. Just accept them.

As I said, I have never liked to be told I’m wrong. But I have learned to listen to the Holy Spirit who corrects me and convicts me when I sin. The more I read God’s Word and the more I let it sink into my life, the more sensitive I am to sin. I just don’t like to sin. I want to walk holy. I want to think holy. I want to talk holy. That is only possible as I accept the correction of the Lord through the Holy Spirit. Will you do the same?

Lord, we love You and thank You for correcting us. We may not like the process, but we love the end result – a closer walk with You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Confession, Deceit, Exalting, Foreknowledge, Judgment, Scripture

FINALLY

AMOS 2:6

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they sell the righteous for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals.’”

Has anyone ever been talking to you about “someone” and you thought they were really talking about you? They were saying things like Well someone was saying the other day that I had said this. You recollect saying something, but you are not quite sure. The two of you keep talking and the truth finally comes out.

Well, that’s what just happened in Amos. He has been prophesying to Israel about all these other nations, and now has dropped the bombshell. He is really here to prophesy against Israel for all they’ve done. Can you imagine their shock when they heard him say, “for three offenses of Israel, and for four”? They probably yelled, “Now wait a minute, Amos. You were doing so good.”

APPLICATION

The point of today’s verse for me is don’t be too cruel about the sins of others because we all have plenty of our own. In fact, we do the same things the Israelites were doing. We sell the righteous for money and the need for a pair of sandals. Well, wait a minute, Carl. I’ve never done that. Well, you may have never “sold” anyone, but you may have taken advantage of someone to make yourself look better.

It’s just human nature to want to come out on top. We don’t want to be pushed down and made to look lower than others. So, we do whatever we can to look better than them. But what does the Lord want us to do? He wants us to lower ourselves, to humble ourselves. He said the last shall be first and the first shall be last. He lived humbly before others. Today find a way to do that.

I don’t like to be humbled. For me, it’s much better to humble myself. I have found when I do that and try to lift others up, then I am doing what the Lord wants. Serving others is humbling at times. At others, it is exalting. Just ask the Lord what He would have you do. I bet it will be a humbling experience for you. Father, don’t let me look on the sins of others. Let me only see my sin and the need I have to repent.

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