April 3, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 9

My first thought when reading this chapter was, “YIKES!”  In verses 1-10, Amos paints a picture of God’s judgment of a rebellious, lost people of Israel.  The picture is not very pretty.  There would be no place to run or hide from God’s wrath.  Yikes!  God is serious about Israel’s rebelliousness.

The first part of verse 8 is a good summary of verses 1-10.  It says, “Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth.”  God is about to show the Israelites just how serious He is about their sin.  He is going to allow Israel to be taken captive and into exile by Assyria.  Israel’s power as a nation would be destroyed because they were now under the control of another nation.  God isn’t messing around.

My second thought when reading this chapter was, “OK, that’s good news.”  The second part of verse 8 gives hope.  It says, “Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob, declares the Lord.”  Even though the Israelites were going to be taken captive as a nation, God did not forget His covenant with Israel.

Wait a minute.  Doesn’t this seem contradictory?  It said in verse 8a that God would destroy the Israelites from the face of the earth, and in verse 8b that He would not totally destroy the Israelites.  Well, the imagery in verse 9 sheds light on verse 8.  Verse 9 says that God is going to shake Israel as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a kernel will fall to the ground.  When grain is shaken in a sieve, it shakes and separates the grain kernel away from the seed covering and other debris (chaff).  Once the shaking is done, all that is left is a pure kernel.  So, was God being contradictory?  No.  He was saying that He would allow Israel to be taken captive and destroyed (“shaken in a sieve”) as a nation for the ultimate purpose of removing the chaff from the people of Israel, so that they could be restored into a proper relationship with God. 

Verses 11-15 paint a picture of what would be true once the Israelites were judged, shaken in a sieve, and restored.  The picture is one of hope, restoration, and prosperity, and release from captivity for a repentant and purified Israel.

This passage is a bit confusing, but I gain some great insight from Amos’ picture of judgment and promise of restoration:

  • God loves me too much to let me comfortably live in sin.  In fact, He will allow me to experience the earthly consequences of my sin and break me in order to restore proper fellowship with Him.
  • God desires me to be holy, not because He is a legalistic God who wants to take away my fun, but because pursuing holiness results in experiencing His greatest blessings.  My sin results in the opposite of God’s blessing.

Application questions for today:

1)      What is the chaff that needs to be shaken from me right now?  Am I being shaken in a sieve right now?

2)      What captivity would I be released from if this chaff was removed from me today?

3)      Is my sin keeping me from experiencing the blessings and presence of God right now?

4)      Do I recognize that I can experience freedom from my sin because of what Christ has done for me?

Posted by: Rich Duffield

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April 2, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 8

“Stop touching me!” my sister would scream as I held my finger inches from her face. Of course my natural response was “I’m not touching you.” For some reason I thought that was funny even though I knew that my mom would not approve. My mom was patient and usually told me a couple of times to stop before she ever punished me so I knew that I could push it to the line. However, there were days when mom was not in the mood and on those days I would push it too far. Once I pushed the limit too far I faced the wrath of Teresa Wiles; and my mom knew the meaning of discipline. Why did I push it? Why did I like to torture my sister? Bottom line is I thought it was funny and I cared about pleasing me more than obeying my mother.

Israel has just pushed the limit too far. The Lord gave Amos the news that marked the end for Israel’s reign in the Promised Land. In verse 2, God’s patience had run out and He would no longer look past their sin. Judgment was at hand and Israel has no one else to blame but themselves. Verses 5-6 speak of how corrupt the people of Israel were and how the rich were taking advantage of the poor. This was against the law of the Lord given through Moses. Why did Israel sin against God? Simply for selfish gain.

There was no regard for God. There was no fear and respect for God’s law. There was no love for God.

As a result, God brought judgment. Verses 8-14 give a glimpse into the punishment that God was going to bring upon Israel. God was going to take away his provision and remove his blessings. Israel had for gotten that God was the provider. They gave themselves and other gods credit for their prosperity. Through judgment God is going to remind Israel who the one true God and provider was. Israel’s arrogance would not go unpunished.

Food for thought:

  1. Do you recognize God as provider or do you take credit for the provisions in your life?
  2. Do you trust in God or do you trust in man?
  3. Do you joyfully serve and worship God or do you push the limits of obedience and see how much you can get away with?
  4. What drives your decisions? God’s Word or your opinion? Which one matters?

Posted by: Chad Wiles

March 31, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 7:1-17

What’s your plumb line?

In this chapter, Amos begins by observing visions of what was about to happen to Israel.  God is showing Amos these visions and Amos’ response is one of patience and compassion.

After the first two visions Amos cries out for the Lord to relent.  The Lord, being gracious and slow to anger, does relent.  But through the third vision, Amos sees that the destruction of Israel is inevitable.

In this third vision God shows Amos a plumb line.  Now, when I think of a plumb line it reminds me of what construction workers use to mark a straight line on the concrete or drywall.  They use a string, which is covered in chalk, and when this string is snapped it gives a straight line.  Everything built or cut around this point is compared to this chalk line.  In the same way, a plumb line was a weighted string that, when hung along a wall, would show if the wall was vertically straight.

Israel’s plumb line was the Torah.  It showed them how to live and taught them what is right in the sight of the Lord.  It showed them the “straight” path.  From this vision, Amos and the Lord could clearly see that Israel wasn’t straight.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Today, I want to ask you question; what is your plumb line?

God has given us His Word which teaches us truth, tells us how to live, and shows us what kind of life is pleasing to God.  The truths in His word need to be our measuring stick.  The Bible needs to be our plumb line.

I think that all too often we measure how we are doing spiritually by whether or not we are happy today.  Our plumb line is our emotions.  We measure it by whether we had business success this week.  Our plumb line is sales.  We measure it on how the people around us are doing spiritually in comparison to us.  Our plumb line is other people.

None of these can be a trusted plumb line.  Our only plumb line in life needs to be God’s Word and His Word alone.  We need to compare our lives to God’s standards, not the world’s.  In comparison to our friends we may look like we are doing pretty well, but in comparison to an almighty God, we need to continue in our sanctification with earnestness.

So, what’s your plumb line?  You can only become as straight as your plumb line is.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

March 30, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 6

Yikes!

That’s the first word that comes to my mind after reading this chapter. The people of Israel have grown complacent and comfortable. They have gotten to a place where they feel they don’t need God. I don’t know about you guys but I struggle with that in my life too. Think about this, how often do we do our job, serve in our ministry, play our sports or just do daily life activities and think to ourselves, “I’m pretty good at this” or “I have real talent”? How often do we forget where our success comes from? That’s what Israel did here. They have grown arrogant and think they are something special in themselves. We see this in God’s rebuke of them all throughout this passage. Verse 1 talks about them being “famous”, verse 5 talks about them considering themselves good musicians, and verse 13 talks about how they brag about their conquests.

Israel had become full of themselves, leaving no room for God. We see this time and time again in scripture (see Judges). God delivers Israel and brings them comfort and peace and then they begin to take the credit and feel they no longer need God. Then God does the only thing the Israelites, and we, respond to, He brings into our lives situations and circumstances that force us to see our need for Him.

Are you in that time of your life right now? If you step back and see your life full of hard times and trials this might be God showing you that you are full of yourself and full of pride. We need to understand that we need God, good times or bad. We usually see our need for Him in the bad times; it’s the good times we often struggle with.

I think what you and I and take from this chapter is a promise and a command found in the New Testament. In Matthew 23:12 it says, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Either you humble yourself before God or He will do it for you.

And the command, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10) — we need to be a humble people who see God’s grace and gifting in everything in our lives.

Take time today to thank God for everything you have and can do. Thank Him for work, for family, for life, for everything.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd