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.

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IN YOUR MIDST

AMOS 5:17

“‘And in all the vineyards there is mourning, because I will pass through the midst of you,’ says the LORD.”

I’m an extrovert. I love to be around people. It fuels me. I simply love being in the midst of people. Right in the center. Not everyone is that way. Others shun crowds and had rather be alone. I love today’s verse, but I must say it confuses me.

The Lord says His presence would bring mourning. You would think His presence would bring rejoicing. But He is passing through to bring judgment. His presence exposed their sins, thus the mourning. And when God exposes sin, consequences fall. There are always consequences for our sins.

APPLICATION

How much better would it be to welcome God’s presence everyday with nothing to fear? When I worked in children’s homes, we would often go through inspections (health, fire, licensing, accreditation). I wanted to ensure that we were ready for any inspection any day.

I had worked in some locations where inspection days meant extra cleaning and extra work before they arrived. Needless to say, this method did not work when we had surprise inspections. The same applies for us. We need to keep our lives so prepared that when the Lord visits us, we are not embarrassed.

I can honestly say today that I have nothing to hide. I am ready. It is my prayer to do that every day, but I do slip up time to time. I don’t want God’s visit in my midst to bring mourning. I want to rejoice and sing. Can you do that today? Is your life ready for His visit?

I welcome You, Lord. Let Your presence bring for rejoicing and not mourning.

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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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UNCLEAN BREAD

HOSEA 9:4

“They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the LORD, nor will their sacrifices please Him. Their bread will be to them like mourners’ bread; All who eat it will be defiled, because their bread will be for themselves alone; It will not enter the house of the LORD.”

Have you ever grabbed the bread out of the panty and made an awesome sandwich only to discover that the bread was molded? I’ve done that a couple of times, so I try to examine the slices I pull out before I assemble my sandwich. Even then, if I don’t have my glasses on, I can miss some mold on the edge. Not very appetizing.

Hosea is comparing their sacrifices, specifically their bread sacrifices, to bread that is unclean. It is not acceptable to God. In fact, when they were taken into exile, they were told not to offer any sacrifices. Their drink offerings and burnt sacrifices were unpleasing to Him. They didn’t have the right motives behind them.

APPLICATION

The same applies to us today. Our sacrifices to God (not animal sacrifices or drink offerings) have to be given with the right heart. We can give thousands of dollars to the church, but if we do it grudgingly, we have not offered the right offering to Him. We can sacrifice time to the kingdom, but if it is done out of guilt, that too is not pleasing.

We give because of our love for the Lord. We offer our sacrifices of praise because of all He has done for us. Examine why you offer any offerings, tithes or sacrifices of any type. If they aren’t offered in the spirit of devotion and love, don’t bother. God is not pleased. You are no different than the Israelite.

I want my gifts to the Lord to be given to honor and give glory to Him. I want to pray over each and every gift I give, whether that be my time or my money. I want all my offerings to be a sweet aroma in the nostrils of God. How about you?

\I offer myself and all I give to You to honor You, Lord. I want You to know the smell of my offerings and recognize them immediately.

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