Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Testimony, Witnessing

SPILL THE BEANS

JONAH 1:8

“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, now! On whose account has this catastrophe struck us? What is your occupation, and where do you come from? What is your country, and from what people are you?’”

Have you ever been asked to “spill the beans”? We are often asked to share information about someone or something, revealing something that was unknown to the asker. But did you ever stop to think about where that phrase came from? It probably originated from the ancient Greek process of voting. Votes were cast by using two different colored beans. After all had voted, the beans were spilled out to reveal the outcome.

The beans had been spilled. Jonah had been chosen by lots. Now the questions began. The sailors wanted to know what Jonah was doing and why his God was so upset with him. Remember, up to this time, they probably didn’t know exactly who God was. They were soon going to find out.

APPLICATION

When was the last time you were grilled with questions about something? It’s bad when you get those questions and don’t have the answers. It’s even harder when you have the answers but aren’t sure how to give them. Kind of like being in between a rock and a hard place.

Let me encourage you to share the truth, no matter the consequences. If you are asked to “spill the beans” about why you are the way you are, go for it. Testify of the amazing works of the Spirit in your life. Tell them about God’s saving power in your life. Give your testimony from salvation to the present. Spill the beans!

I try to spill the beans whenever I can. I want to tell others about the Lord. Sometimes, that is not received well. Other times it is. My job is simply to share. So is yours. Will you help me spill the beans more and more to a lost and dying world?

Lord God, You have commanded me to share the good news to the poor. Give me the opportunities to do that.

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Belief, Bible, Calling, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Gospel, Modeling, Prophesy, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

DON’T DO THAT HERE

AMOS 7:13

“But do not prophesy at Bethel any longer, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”

Some people can get on your last nerve. Am I right? They have a way of annoying you and don’t even realize it. Some of the things they do aren’t bad. They are just irritating. For instance, someone who hums a lot can push you to your limit. The humming isn’t bad. It just never stops. You want to tell them to go hum someplace else.

Amaziah continues speaking to Amos in verse 13. That’s basically what he says. He tells Amos if he is gong to prophesy, do it someplace else. The king can’t be bothered. What Amos was saying might upset the king, and Amaziah didn’t want to see that. Hmmm, I wonder why.

APPLICATION

We should be so annoying. Let me explain. I don’t really want us to annoy people, but I do want us to continue to talk about Jesus. I want people to see me coming and know they are going to hear something about Jesus. I pray I say it in a way that encourages them and does not drive them away.

Being consistent in our witness is challenging. My circle of influence seems to be around “church folks.” I don’t get much exposure to non-believers. I have to purposely seek out that group. But that is something I need to be more consistent in doing.

My prayer for us today is that we all get busy. I pray we all can be as “annoying” as Amos was to Amaziah. I pray everything we say is true and points to Jesus. I pray the Lord leads people into our lives who need to hear this message of forgiveness and grace. Amen?

Lord, help us reach others with Your Word. Put those in our path today who need this lifegiving word from You.

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Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fire, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Modeling, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

THE FIRE WITHIN

AMOS 1:14

“‘So I will kindle a fire on the wall of Rabbah, and it will consume her citadels amid war cries on the day of battle, and amid a storm on the day of tempest.’”

Many a nation has fallen from within. The Great Roman Empire is said to have fallen, not so much by outside forces, but because of the immorality of the nation. When a nation becomes so corrupt, it turns on itself. History repeats itself over and over again. That’s my personal fear for my country, the United States of America. I fear we will turn on ourselves, and America will fall.

Notice when the Lord speaks here through Amos that He doesn’t repeat the same line he has against the other nations He has referred to already. Instead of saying He will “send” fire on their walls He says He will “kindle a fire.” That implies that the fire will start from within. Perhaps God will raise up someone there who will return to the Lord and carry out God’s judgment. However God chooses to do it, He will see that judgment will fall.

APPLICATION

Has God kindled a fire within you? There was a song in the 70’s that began with the words “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” That is so true. Perhaps the Lord wants to use you to ignite a fire in your community or church. I don’t mean a literal fire, lol. I mean a spiritual fire that could sweep across man-made barriers.

Fires don’t just destroy. They also purify. All through Scripture we see examples of God’s refining fire. I love the fact that the Apostles had tongues of fire resting on their heads when they received the Holy Spirit. If you are a believer, you have that same “fire-breathing” Holy Spirit in you. You only have to be willing to be used by the Spirit. Let your flame out.

Our goal is not to consume, but to purify. We should want our lives to draw others to Christ. When we purify ourselves and live obedient lives, others do see us as different. We then can pour our lives into them. We can live out the love of Jesus. We can share the good news with them. We just shared our flame.O God, I want to share my flame with others. Keep my flame shining bright.

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Advice, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Examples, Forgiveness, God's Will, Holiness, Inspirational, Witnessing

HATED ENEMIES

AMOS 1:13

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of the sons of Ammon, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders.’”

My dad lived through World War II. He was too young to fight, having been born in 1929. But everyone of his generation was invested in the war effort. He told us about the rationing of food and other supplies during this time. He was only a young teen, but he remembered it well. He especially remembered the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He didn’t like the Japanese. In fact, you could probably say he hated them.

Ammon was a despised enemy of Israel. So, when Amos turns his prophecies towards them, they were elated. Ammonites were the descendants of Lot’s younger daughter and himself. They were dispossessed by the 2 ½ tribes of Israel (Reuben, Gad and the ½ tribe of Manasseh) generations earlier. These people hated Israel to the point that they vowed genocide. They even killed the unborn babies of their captives. Cruel!

APPLICATION

Back to my dad’s story. He hated the Japanese until… His grandson (my brother’s oldest son) married a young lady who is from Okinawa. At first my dad did not like that. But then they had their first child, my parents’ first great grandchild. He fell in love with that child. And then they had their second child, a little girl, he really fell in love. It’s funny how children can change our hearts.

Is there someone you need to change your heart about? Maybe there’s a work colleague that you don’t like for really no reason. Reach out to them. Find out more about their life. God loves them just as much as He loves you. There may be a neighbor with whom you have battled with about something. Forgive them. Go to them. Make things right for the cause of Christ.

People are hard to live with sometimes. But God has placed us here on this earth to live with people. He expects us to live in such a way to draw others to Him (1 Peter 2:12). Be the shining example for others of Christ. We don’t know what others are going through until we reach out and talk. Be Jesus to someone else today.

I am so thankful that someone reached out to me to share the love of Christ. Help me, Lord, reach out to someone today.

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Accountability, Bible, Eternity, Witnessing

CAN’T LOCK HIM OUT

AMOS 1:5

“‘I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, and eliminate every inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, as well as him who holds the scepter, from Beth-eden; so the people of Aram will be exiled to Kir,” says the LORD.’”

I can remember my older brother taunting me when we were growing up. You see, there was this story of a black bear that had wandered into my uncle’s garden next door years ago. We all knew the story. So, my brother would lock me out of the house and start calling for the bear. I, of course, was terrified I was going to be eaten by that bear. Don’t worry – I got my brother back, lol.

God cannot be locked out. Here in verse five of Amos 1, He attacks the barred gate of Damascus. You need to understand that these gates were heavily fortified and the bars that shut the gates were made of bronze and strong. But no gate can hold out Jehovah. He was issuing out judgment on Damascus, and nothing would stop Him.

APPLICATION

In our society today, we don’t want to talk about a wrathful God. We just want to talk about how loving He is. And He is loving. But God also will hold every person accountable for their sins that are not under the blood of Jesus. Our lost friends and family members need to know that. We don’t need to shrink away from telling them that.

I know that sounds harsh. But no one can hide from God at the end. No one will have a good enough excuse to be spared judgment. Those without Christ will face a certain damnation. How horrible! We wouldn’t wish that on anyone. So, today ask the Lord who you need to share Christ with. You may just change someone’s destiny.

We all have people around us we know need Jesus. What is worse – being a little uncomfortable sharing with them or seeing them go to hell. I know this is a rough blog this morning, but I am bound by the verse of the day. This is the Lord speaking through Amos. Listen carefully.

Put people in my path today, Lord, whom I can share Jesus with. Open their hearts to hear from You.

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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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HIS WORD

JOEL 2:11

“The LORD utters His voice before His army; His camp is indeed very great, for mighty is one who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it?”

I have never served in the military. I admire those who have and am thankful for their service. Many of them have sacrificed greatly. Many others sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice to follow the commands they were given. When you are in the military you are expected to listen to your commander and do what they say. You follow orders. You obey.

The phrase that caught my attention in today’s verse was “for mighty is one who carries out His word.” They recognized then and we recognize now those who heed His word. Obedience is expected, is it not? Joel knew that. I am sure Joel had rather be doing anything other than preaching this message to the people of Judah who didn’t want to hear it. But he listened to the Lord and carried out His word.

APPLICATION

The application for us from this verse is obvious. Will we carry out His word? What does that mean for us? What does the Lord expect us to do? It’s pretty simple, really. He expects us to take His Word to a lost world. He expects us to glorify Him in all we do. He expects us to live out Matthew 28:18-20.

The expectations are clear. The question is – will we do it? You don’t have to be in full time ministry to do this. Witnessing to your neighbor is carrying out His word. Helping someone in distress is carrying out His word. Praying in your prayer closet because you are too weak to get out is carrying out His word. There are all kinds of ways to carry out the word of God. We just have to be diligent.

I have not always done this. Even as a pastor, I have not always done it. Sure, I’ve gone through the motions of ministry, but I haven’t truly carried out His word. But over the past several years I have been convicted to be more and more diligent to do that. I pray more. I read more of His word and memorize it. Let us all join together to carry out His word to the world.

I am so grateful for Your word. Help me proclaim it to a lost world daily.

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LISTEN UP

JOEL 1:2

Hear this, you elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days, or in your fathers’ days?”

Each Sunday when I teach the children at the church where I serve, I have to say “listen” several times to get their attention. We have rules for children’s church to help prepare these little ones for the day when they start attending “big church.” One of those rules is “Listen Up.” In other words, tune your ears to what I’m about to say.

Joel is telling the people of Judah to listen up. He is about to give them a message. He is going to remind them of some things. He needs their undivided attention in order to get his message across. Let me correct that. It’s not his message. It’s God’s message, which makes it even that much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet you have had to tell someone to listen up, haven’t you? Have you ever been telling a story to someone and noticed they weren’t paying attention? If you have kids, I guarantee you have had to tell them to listen up. Now, listen to me. You have a message to share. People need to hear it.

We need to make sure people are listening. God’s message hasn’t changed. He still desires for all to come to Him. He still offers salvation to those who believe in His name and receive His Son as Savior. That’s a message we need to be shouting from the rooftops. Get their attention and deliver the message.

Right now, there is a lot of turmoil going on in the world. People are dying and going to hell. Believers are being persecuted for their faith. We are living in perilous times. But God is still faithful. He will deliver each and every one who turns to Him. Will you help spread the word today?

I am so thankful for the message of the cross. Give me the opportunity today to share that with someone.

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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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LOST CHILDREN

HOSEA 9:12

“Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them of their children until not a person is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!”

My wife and I have a little girl in heaven. Cathleen Marie only lived six hours. She was born and died on September 11, 1987. There’s not much more sorrowful than to lose a child. The pain can seem intolerable. You feel deserted. You feel hollow. Praise God, we knew Him then to get us through that dark valley.

The people of Israel were going to experience that pain. Their children would be taken away from them. Some of them would be killed by their invaders. Others would be carried off into exile as slaves, separated from their parents. All of this because of the nation’s disobedience and betrayal to their Lord.

APPLICATION

No one wants to lose a child, physically or spiritually. Our main job as parents is to lead our child to Christ and then disciple them to walk with Him. All our efforts in child raising should point to that. Do you agree? Anything else is really superfluous. You are not always going to be around, so they need to know how to live in this world.

Perhaps your children are grown. Do You have grandchildren? How about kids in your church or neighborhood? Whatever your situation, you have an opportunity to invest in the lives of children. While they are young we have the chance to teach them the Word of God and how to apply that to their lives.

I don’t want to see a child lost to this world. I will do all I can to point them to Jesus. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a little one give their heart and lives to Him. How about you? Will you join me in reaching out to the children in your circle of influence? Talk to their parents. Talk to the children. Share Jesus with them today.Father, I love to tell the story to everyone, but especially children. Lord, allow me to see Your children come to You.

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