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OUR PROTECTOR

AMOS 8:7

“The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob, ‘Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.’”

Growing up in my home in Southwest Georgia, I never doubted for a second that my dad had my back. I mean, he was my protector. My dad wasn’t the biggest man in town or the toughest. But my dad loved his family and would stop at nothing to protect it if necessary.

The Lord swears by Himself (the pride of Jacob) that He will protect the poor and needy. The previous few verses told of the injustices that were on these people. God says here that He would never forget what those people had done to them. He came to their defense.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you something. Who are you protecting? Do you look out for those less fortunate than you? Do you try to help those who come to you? Jesus tells us in Luke 6:30a, “Give to everyone who begs from you…” Have you done that lately? I have to confess that I haven’t.

God is always picking up the downtrodden. He lifts up the fallen. His heart is bent towards those who are struggling. So, He calls on us to be His hands and feet. He may call on you to deliver some much needed food to a widow. Or He may ask you to help a single mom with some childcare needs.

Just be willing to do whatever He asks you to do. Don’t be like the Israelites who looked over or took advantage of the ones who were hurting in their midst. I bet you those are the first ones Jesus would go to if He were here. Don’t you?

Forgive me, Lord, for looking over those in need. Help me see their need and do whatever I can to help.

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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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Abiding, Bible, Calling, Career, Commands, Disciplemaking, Modeling, Obedience, Passion, Salvation, Scripture, Surrender, Teaching, Witnessing

FARMER PROPHET 

AMOS 1:1

“The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa, which he saw in visions concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.”

I can recall when the Lord called me to full time ministry. I had only been a Christian for a few months. It was in the Fall of 1978. I was in my Senior year of high school. It was almost like my surrender to Him in salvation morphed directly into my calling as a minister. He took out some things I thought  were important and replaced them with a passion to serve in ministry. So, I can relate somewhat to Amos, as we begin this study.

Amos was a farmer. He had sheep and also tended sycamore trees. Out of that unlikely vocation God called him to go prophesy against the nation of Israel. He had not been schooled in the school of prophets. He had been schooled by life. He obviously had a passion and desire for Jehovah, or he wouldn’t have been chosen for the task. God can use any instrument He chooses to accomplish His goals.

APPLICATION

Are you being used by the Lord right now? Perhaps you think He can’t use you. Wrong! Just like Amos, you just have to be available. It doesn’t matter what vocation you are in, the Lord can use you. The Lord doesn’t need more preachers. Now, hear me out. I am not knocking preachers. I am one. But you can reach so many more people in your circle of influence in your vocation, if you are willing.

God plucked Amos right out of the pasture and sent him on a mission. God may select you to do something extraordinary. He is just waiting for you to surrender to His will. Do you trust Him to give you the words? He gave Amos some very bold words. Do you trust Him to direct your path? He will. Just ask Him.

Oh, the things we can do if we are willing. God changed the world with 11 unlikely disciples, mostly uneducated men who had a passion for Jesus. They all laid down their lives for the mission. I often ask myself if I would do the same. I know I can through His power. I want Him to use me to change the world. Will you join me?

O Lord, use me like You did Amos. Give me the same boldness to speak truth in a fallen world.

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ANGEL WRESTLING

HOSEA 12:4

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and implored His favor. He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us,”

When I was growing up with my older brother, Tim, we used to wrestle a lot. I can still hear my mother screaming for us to stop. She hated when we did that. And in all those years, my brother would win. After all, he was over 4 years older than me. Until…he went away to college, and I started seriously lifting weights at school for football. I remember when he came home for Christmas during his freshman year at college. I pinned him. He was shocked. It felt great, lol.

Jacob wrestled the angel “and prevailed.” The angel of God or the man with whom Jacob wrestled is believed by many scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ. He gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means he who contends with God. That sounds bad but it isn’t. Jacob was persistent in asking for his blessing, and he received it.

APPLICATION

Have you ever wrestled with God? I don’t mean like my brother and I used to do. Have you wrestled with Him in prayer? There is nothing wrong with getting intense during your prayer time. When we do that we really have God’s ear. We already have it, but He knows when we are intense. He can feel our passion.

I want to encourage you to make a plan to do that. I am sure you have something which you need to come to the Father about. Maybe it’s something you have been praying about for years. Go to Him and don’t let go until you hear. God’s answers are always right on time. You need to pray expectantly, knowing He will answer, just like He did with Jacob.

Prayer for me is intimate. I love talking to my Lord. There have been times when I wrestled with Him over things. God has never let me down. He has always come through. He will for you also, if you trust Him with it. Are you ready to wrestle?

I am so thankful You hear my prayers when I wrestle with You. Give me the wisdom to wait on You.

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Bible, Blessing, Courage, Passion, Promises, Reward, Scripture

BLESSED BY GOD

HOSEA 12:3

“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his mature strength he contended with God.”

Strength and power are seen as bad today in many places. If you are aggressive and ambitious, it is often perceived as a negative thing. It seems any exhibition of power in our society today means you are uncaring and/or ungrateful. Nothing could be further from the truth, if it is done according to God’s will.

Hosea is pointing out the strength of Israel that was evident in the life of Jacob, later renamed Israel. Even from birth he was pursuing his birthright over his brother by grabbing his heel. And later he wrestled with the angel of God until He blessed him. Jacob was a strong man. And the nation needed to be reminded of that.

APPLICATION

The Lord stands ready to bless you also. It is through His strength that He can do that. Have you asked for it lately? Don’t wait until you are knee deep in the mire of life to do that. There’s no need to wait. God’s strength is available to all His children every day. We just fail to receive it.

I bet you are facing something right now which could really benefit from God’s strength and blessing. Most of us face them all the time. But we continue to labor under our own strength and fail. What is so hard about asking for help from Jesus? Nothing! But we have to ask. You have to ask.

I know I have to ask every day. I can’t go one day with His strength and blessing in my life. Whether it is a physical challenge, emotional struggle or financial woes, He can give you the power to overcome. No, let me rephrase that. He will overcome through you.

Strengthen me today, O Lord. I praise You for the blessings You bestow on me every day.

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NO TIME TO PARTY

HOSEA 9:1

“Do not rejoice, Israel, with jubilation like the nations! For you have been unfaithful, abandoning your God. You have loved the earnings of unfaithfulness on every threshing floor.”

There is a time to party and a time not to party. All through my life I have experienced moments when celebrating was appropriate like after a huge victory on the football field or the birth of one of my children. But there were other times when celebrating wasn’t right like the death of a loved one or hurting someone’s feelings. You get the picture. You have to know when to party and when not to party.

Israel had everything backwards. They were celebrating the wrong things. They had embraced all the wrong festivals and religious celebrations, which meant they were worshipping the wrong thing. Those gods were no gods. There is only one God, Jehovah. But when the celebrations look inviting, you get pulled in a direction that can cost you dearly. It did Israel.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you what you are celebrating today. Now there is nothing wrong with a party. I can party with the best of them. I love a good party. We need to celebrate but only those things that bring glory to God. You see, our purpose as believers is to bring Him glory, not ourselves.

This time of the year here in the States, we are celebrating a lot of high school and college graduations. In fact, I was at a celebration last night. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s make sure in the celebration that we give Him all the credit. He is the one we need to celebrate. Last night we did that. We pointed people to Jesus and His Word.

Hey, I have an idea. Instead of waiting until Christmas, why don’t you have a Jesus celebration this week. Invite some friends over and have a party for Jesus. Celebrate what He’s done in your lives. Thank Him for saving you. Praise Him for His promises. Now, that’s a party.

Father, I praise You for rescuing me from the pit of darkness. I thank You for who You are in my life. I celebrate You today.

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THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

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Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Modeling, Passion, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

MY BETROTHED

HOSEA 2:19

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion,”

Have you ever been betrothed? Here in the U.S. we would call it being engaged. When I asked my wife to marry me, we became engaged to be married. Ours was a short courtship. We only dated about two and half months before we were married. Hey, when you see a good thing… lol.

I love the image Hosea uses here. God betroths us to Him. That word literally means to pay the price and so gain the right of possession. When a dowry was given, the couple became betrothed. But look how He betrothed Israel (and us) – in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion. Wow! Now, that’s a betrothal.

APPLICATION

Do you feel betrothed? Are you living your life as the betrothed of God? Oh, you should be. Look at who you are betrothed to. The God of the universe. The Creator of all things. The Beginning and the End. Jehovah God. I could go on and on and on.

People get excited about celebrities. They dream about being married to one. But these are finite, fallible people who will let you down. Look at how many celebrity marriages fail. Our betrothal to Almighty God will never fail. We are His betrothed forever!

Doesn’t that excite you? It does me. There is nothing that can separate me from Him. When God betroths us, that means we are His bride from now throughout eternity. Don’t you want to know your betrothed better? I sure do.

Lord, thank You for making me Your betrothed. You did purchase me with a price – Your Son. Amen.

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MY MAN

HOSEA 2:16

“‘And it will come about on that day,’” declares the LORD,

“‘That you will call Me my husband and no longer call Me my Baal.’”

I’ve been married for over thirty-five years now. I truly have to say that I love my wife more today than the day we got married. Why? Because I know her better. I just had this flashback of Sonny and Cher singing “I love you more today than yesterday.” Lol. I love it when my wife refers to me as her husband. I love that term. It’s intimate. It’s personal. I’m her man.

God is telling Israel (and Gomer) to call Him “my husband” or “my man.” He really is. That’s what the Hebrew word ish means. Why is He saying this? Because He didn’t want them using the word Baal which means lord. A husband was often called lord by his wife, but in this instance, God didn’t want any confusion on their part with Him and that pagan god named Baal. So just call Him my husband.

APPLICATION

Is God “your man”? I don’t mean that in any kind of derogatory way. I mean do you have an intimate, personal relationship with Him? My wife and I have been developing our relationship for over thirty-five years now, but we still have a long way to go. I will never fully know her because we are both limited by our humanness. God knows you fully and wants you to know Him.

How can you know God on a more intimate level? There is only one way. You have to spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. If you don’t spend time with someone, you will never know them. It’s just not possible. Will you commit to spend some more time with the Lord this week?

The beauty of spending time with the Lord is that it can happen anywhere. Unlike my wife, who has to be physically with me to spend time with me, God is accessible 24/7. He is everywhere. He is always listening. That blows my mind, but it’s true. Just reach out and see what happens. He’s there waiting to commune with you.

O God, creator of the universe, I am amazed that You want to spend time with me. I will stop today and listen to Your voice.

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UNSEEN BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:8

“Yet she does not know that it was I myself who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”

Many years ago, my wife and I lost a baby girl, Cathleen. She was born premature and only lived six hours. It was a tragic thing in our lives, but one God used mightily. That’s another story. The part I want to share today is that we never received bills from the doctor or hospital. When I called to find out what was going on, I was told that someone had paid all the bills for us. We eventually found out who had done that. They had blessed us without our knowledge.

God had done the same for Israel. They had no idea how God had been blessing them for years. As Hosea says here – “and lavished on her…” When God gives, He gives way beyond our comprehension. He makes sure we have what we need, and often times more than we need. He truly blesses us.

APPLICATION

I want you to sit down and think about the past year. How has God blessed you? For me, He got me through another stem cell transplant. He provided for me through multiple individuals the funds to pay my medical bills. He got me through covid-19 when I still had a compromised immune system. I could go on and on. How about you?

We often do not stop and count the blessings. There is an old hymn that talks about that.  Count Your Blessings goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the lord has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done

Let me encourage you to do that today. You will be blessed when you stop and see al that He has done for you.

Lord, You bless me when I don’t deserve it. You see my need and move to meet it even before I am aware of it myself.

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