December 18, 2017

Today you should read: Amos 9

As we continue in Amos, we see the Lord’s judgment coming to Israel once again. This was due to disobedience and a consistent rejection of God’s will. The Lord gave sufficient warning, but now it was clear that it was time to act. This was a vision, or prophecy, of things to come, and it is one in which we can look to history and find its fulfillment.

As I read this passage, I reflected mostly on the tough side of it. God’s justice is hard if you’re on the receiving end. The flip side is, though, that this is a huge part of sanctification in the life a believer. If we look at this through the lens of Christ, we see that He’s the one who would bear the full weight of God’s justice on our behalf, so no matter what we might discern as discipline, we know that Jesus endured much to ensure that it is only temporary discipline for those found in Him.

For a quick study help on this chapter, check this out. It was helpful for me today:

This vision has two parts, one negative (vv. 1–10) and the other positive (vv. 11–15). The negative aspect is the culmination of the previous oracles and visions. God renders as worthless all the sacrifices that the Israelites had given in an attempt to manipulate God on their behalf while they brought reproach to his name with their sinful lives. God would shatter (v. 1) their pagan temples and demand their own lives as sacrifices (vv. 9–10). But God’s ultimate purpose in judgment is never destruction (v. 8); it is always restoration. So vv. 11–15 depict a day on the other side of judgment when Israel, again recognizing David (v. 11), would be restored to its land. — ESV STUDY BIBLE

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

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December 16, 2017

Today you should read: Amos 8

The Time Is Ripe

The agriculture business has changed a lot with technology. Likewise, modern super-markets have virtually separated all of us from the produce we eat and its production. Thus, when the Lord drops an agricultural analogy, we must make sure we understand.

Amos is on his third of three depictions of the “Day of the Lord.” And, as one of my seminary professors said, “The ‘Day of the Lord’ is any day when God intervenes dramatically and directly in order to punish or to bless.” In the case of the northern kingdom, Israel, The Day of the Lord as Amos is predicting in this passage is the upcoming invasion by Assyria some years later.

Back to the AG analogy. Agriculture takes a lot of work to make things grow. You must cultivate the field, get it ready to plant. You have to till up the ground and plant the seeds. You have to fertilize, water, and keep away weeds and pests. If you do it right, after time passes you enter into a season of harvesting.

Unfortunately for Israel, their land had been cultivated with idolatry starting with Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12. Continual seeds of idolatry were planted and grew with the worship of pagan gods like Asherah, Anat, & Baal. Finally, Israel’s failure to repent fertilized and irrigated as wickedness and injustice grew. Now, God says, the fruit is ripe and it’s harvest time.

“In that day, declares the Sovereign Lord, “the songs of the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies—flung everywhere! Silence!” (8:3, NIV) That Day, that came about 40 years after the book of Amos, was very bad. God used the nation of Assyria to judge the unrepentant idolatrous nation of Israel for their sin. Verses 3–14 prophesied how bad things were during that time—a lot of people died, there was famine and thirst, in every place there was mourning.

Hearing of the Lord’s judgment, and how bad things would turn out to be, could cause us to question God’s goodness. However, although these events did come to pass, Amos and many other prophets were sent in order to prevent these events. In those day, it is likely that many people remembered the words of the prophets and regretfully said, “What the prophets said was true and I should have listened.”

The “Day of the Lord” as used in Amos and other OT books is ultimately a foreshadowing of the real “Day of the Lord” when Christ returns on that great and terrible day. We are currently in a season of growth, but the harvest is coming. On that day, many people will say with regret, “What my friend said was true;” or worse, “Why did no one tell me about this?”

Let it not be that on that day, there were people in your life to whom you never reached out, never prayed that the Holy Spirit would draw them to Christ. You cannot control it if on that day your friend says, “What my friend said was true!” But what you can control is that nobody in your life approaches that day with ignorance. To say it another way, you are not responsible for someone to accept Christ, but you are responsible to share the good news of his salvation from the coming Day of Judgment.

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

December 15, 2017

Today you should read: Amos 7

It is hard to imagine a point of total collapse. What we see in this passage is Amos going from speech to sight. He is now telling Israel the visions that he has received from God. The visions in short depict an inescapable judgement on Israel.  We have seen a similar scenario before with the Jonah. The difference is very clear. Jonah wanted wrath to befall the people of Nineveh; Amos was different. He was pleading that God would show mercy.

God’s response is the example of the plumb line. A plumb line is a string with a weight fastened to the end of it. When the string is placed next to a wall and the weight can hang freely, it will become very apparent whether the wall is perfectly vertical or not. If the wall is not vertical it will eventually get worst and worst until there is a total collapse. When Amos placed the plumb line, which was the Torah, against the wall of the Israelites it became very clear that they were so far out of true vertical that collapse could not be prevented.

Israel had become hardened in sin. Amos saw this and no longer asks God to relent. We as believers should really look at this example. We have our own plumb line, the Word of God. The example of Jesus is written for us to line up with. We need to regularly inspect ourselves to see if we are remaining vertical. Sin causes a lean in the wall and can lead to a total collapse.

This is another beautiful thing about grace. When we see the lean happening God gives us grace as followers of Jesus. Forgiveness through grace is our wall repair. We should still be constant in checking our plumb line and making adjustments as needed to keep vertical.

Will you take time to inspect the wall that is your life? Is it leaning because of sin? Are you on the brink of total collapse? Will you accept the grace that is available through Jesus today? Will you stay vertical?

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

December 14, 2017

Today you should read: Amos 6

Have you noticed how easy it is to drift into complacency?  Complacency is defined as self-satisfaction – a feeling of quiet pleasure or security while unaware of looming danger.  What’s that mean for us?  

It’s pretty common – we feel like everything is OK in our lives spiritually – when in reality we’re not doing well at all.  Consequences and maybe even the discipline of the Lord are lurking at our door.  Others notice while we seem oblivious.  God sends warning after warning in the form of lack of peace in our lives, sermons, songs, and friends who confront us.  All the while we meander on in our disobedience and passivity.  Everything else in our lives takes priority over our relationship with God.

Does that sound familiar?  That’s exactly how God’s chosen people had gotten.  Read Amos 6 again – see it?  God (through the prophet Amos) is reminding them that it is all coming to an end.  Devastation is looming…

What’s God saying to you today?  Have you ignored Him?  Doing your own thing?  Remember consequences to our sin are automatic.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  Galatians 6:7

The God who loves us intensely will also discipline us to bring us back.

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the  Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those  whom the  Lord loves  he disciplines, and  he scourges every son whom  he receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6

What God desires is that you will recognize your complacency, repent, and take steps to be restored to your intimacy with Him.

What about those who don’t really know God?  Can they be complacent?

And Jesus told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘  But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:16-21

Take a moment today and search your heart…  

Ask yourself:

 

  • Have I grown cold in my intimacy with the Lord?
  • Am I flat out living in disobedience to Him?
  • Are there things He’s asked me to do that I haven’t done?
  • Do I not know Him at all and I’m finding my value in other things?

 

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor