So we venture near the end of this prophecy and we see the problem:
They loved materialism more than they loved their observance of worship.
When can it be over? The services were packed, but everyone wanted to be out for 12 because they had to go shopping!
They loved profit more than truthfulness. The way they treat others was the main reason God was against them.
They trampled the needy and did away with the poor.
When are we going to stop pointing fingers at the myriad of sins that are related to immoral behaviour and not at the areas that actually are equally as important to God?
We scorn the fornicator and the drunkard but not the person who walks past the Big Issue man with judgment in their heart on a situation they have no clue about.
The poor and needy matter to Him. When will we learn?
Do we need to wait for the fruit to ripe?! It will be too late then.
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Keep it real. That’s what the plumb-line calls for.
The moment you stand for that approach you will either be misunderstood, confronted, tempted or all 3 of those! Just like Amos.
The priest Amaziah misrepresented Amos to the king.
Amos had never said the king would die in battle. He did say Israel would go into exile. This is often what happens to those who are jealous of you. They only say half the story and add other bits which make a complete different story. They then hold a false impression of you.
Through all this, keep it real.
The priest then confronts Amos with a clear message to stop prophesying. If people cannot fit you into their mould they will try and discard you. If they cannot ignore you then they will try and stop your ministry. Will you be silenced? Will you be sidelined? Will you be another casualty just because some do not like the ministry God has given to you?
Through all this, keep it real.
I think the most difficult of challenges is that in the area of temptation. But perhaps not in the way we think of at first. Amos is tempted to preserve himself “Go back” The enemy of our soul constantly wants us to think of our own interests, to save ourselves, to climb down and back away. Amos is then tempted to divert the focus God has given him to another place where the audience would be far more receptive. Judah would love to hear prophecies against the neighbouring nation of Israel. Thirdly Amos was tempted to be someone he wasn’t. He confidently declared he was not a prophet nor from a family of prophets. He is a fruit farmer and a shepherd who is speaking God’s Word to them. That’s it.
Through all this, keep it real. Believe in the plumb-line even though it will bring its challenges to you. But the reality and the true will get you through.
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I see pedestals today.
And I hear the voice of little men from their high horses.
“Look where I am, in Zion and on Mount Samaria! I am where people long to be. Things cannot get better than this. I have reached the top”. v1-2
“Look what I have, my home, the things I have bought, how I live. I am blessed above everyone.” v4-6
“Look what I have accomplished! Look what people say about me. Listen to the praise I receive. I am walking in victory.” v12-13
We are in the days of Amos. Though maybe the voice from the pedestal is more subtle nevertheless listen and you will hear it hiding behind “Glory to God”.
It breeds complacency and a false security, v1.
Our eyes are off the trauma of the everyday man, v6. We have become more important.
If not careful we can all be ignorant to the fact that we are one step away from disaster.
One day away from an evil day, v3
Standing in the front of the queue for exile, v7
Waiting on the next move of God not realising it is a destructive move, v11
Why would God allow such a thing or even do these kind of things like stirring up trouble, v14?
It is because when He saw the pedestals and heard the voices from them He did not identify humility but pride.
Who you are is always more important to God than where you are, what you have and what you have done, even all the latter things He has helped you in!
Humble yourselves today.
Come down from pedestals. It’s dangerous up there.
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Have you enshrined your testimony?
Yes you heard God speak to you and vision was given to you. You look back and remember how He gave you a future. You moved forward as a renewed believer. It was amazing. It was Bethel and Jacob experienced all this.
But have you enshrined it? Do you long for all that again? Do you look back with desire for it to commence again?
Have you enshrined your successes?
You have seen miracles, maybe even performed them. You have experienced victory after victory and victory tastes sweet. This is Gilgal where the people commemorated the miraculous crossing of the Jordan. where Joshua began his conquests and where Saul became king. But have you enshrined it? Do you wear your medals of success with a sense of pride?
Have you enshrined your heritage?
You may be in the line of believers who previously knew God was with them. From one generation to the next it was like a baton being passed: “God is with you”. It has become a family motto. This is Beersheba where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob heard that God would never leave them. But have you enshrined it? Have the promises of God become everything to you?
Do not seek the experience. Seek The Lord who gives the experience.
Do not seek the victory. Seek the victory-giving Lord.
Do not seek His promises. Seek the promise-keeping Lord.
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Who is He who can do these bad things?
Never say God will not, because He just may.
Why would He make things so uncomfortable for anyone?
Because He wants you.
The Lord God Almighty is his name.
The Lord, Yahweh, the Redeemer God who rescued them from Egypt even though they didn’t deserve such grace, this is the meaning of the name.
God Almighty, Omnipotent God who can do anything, nothing being too difficult for Him.
This gracious, all-powerful God wants you and will do all He can to reach you. In fact He even came to get you when the reach was too far. Thank you Jesus!
The Lord God Almighty is his name.
Remember He is more than capable to reach you if you hear His call.
When He has you then everything can change!
He creates what is visible, the mountains.
He creates what is invisible, the wind.
He moves into the mind of man.
No matter how large or how powerful or how hidden is the problem, God can.
It maybe black but He can bring the dawn.
It may have failed but He will walk in victory, for He is sovereign and triumphant.
The Lord God Almighty is his name.
If you hear His call.
The generation of Amos didn’t.
Will this generation be different?
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God is asking questions even today …
He could have said “you’re not walking with me”
He could have said “you are living dangerously”
He could have said “you will be caught in a trap”
He could have said “you should be afraid”
But He asked questions:
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey?
Does it growl in its den when it has caught nothing?
Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground when no bait is there?
Does a trap spring up from the ground if it has not caught anything?
When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble?
When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? (Amos 3:3-6 NIV)
Does God ask these questions because He doesn’t have the answers? No, He asks them to penetrate openly and to cause us to re-think from within.
We need His presence, but God asks a question on that!
We need His voice, but God asks a question on that!
What question does God ask of you today?
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Basil the Great (theologian and bishop in modern-day Turkey, 4th century) wrote, “The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor.”
God is judging Israel because of their approach to the poor and the oppressed, v7.
According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die every day because of poverty. Today, 22,000!
The poor are very important to God. Our approach matters to Him.
Every day we see some form of honour killing taking place around the world. In fact every year 5,000 women and children are murdered because of this.
Every day, 6,000 girls face the trauma of female genital mutilation. There are not enough pages for the terrible statistics that are available today.
Violence, oppression, trauma, terror, pain and empty stomachs.
This matters to God.
Think of the poor and the oppressed, pray for them. Look for them.
This is one of the reasons why I am involved in Missions.
Every day for over 2 years now I have written a blog walking through the Bible chapter by chapter. Hundreds and hundreds of people read this every day and I am amazed that they do.
But today and for the next week I am simply asking all of you to do something that matters to me. Will you please donate to Elim Missions. In just over a weeks time I will be running a 10k in Manila. I am there in the Philippines to further the help that Elim Missions is doing to help the poor and the oppressed.
I need to raise more money. Will you help me? Click below, thank you.
Because it matters.
He knew what Damascus had done to Gilead.
He knew about the king in the valley of Aven.
He had heard of how Gaza had captured and then sold innocent people.
He had heard that Tyre had rejected their previous truce.
He knew Edom had pursued war in anger and Ammon had done evil things with women.
He was just a shepherd living a lonely life approximately 11 miles south of Jerusalem near Bethlehem.
Yet he was paying attention to all this.
He was fairly insignificant but he was listening to the world around him.
It was this alertness that meant that when God called him he became His mouthpiece.
He teaches us that no matter where you are and what you do that if you pay attention to the world around you then God can speak through you.
So look around. Hear the news today.
What is God saying?
Hear Him speak out.
Apparently … The number of different ways that Starbucks can serve a cup of coffee is 19,000! That’s why the queues are so long! Decisions decisions!
Joel sees another queue, quite a long one in fact, multitudes.
Evangelists say the valley of decision is now made by the sinner, theologians say it is the end-time judgment made by God.
Thankfully there’s not 19,000 different decisions to make.
Just 1 decision in fact based on a question and asked from different perspectives, (no matter what your stance on what v14 refers to).
“What did you do with Jesus Christ?”
How do you answer today?
How will God answer tomorrow?