March 29, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 5

Which Amos do you know better: the cookie or the minor prophet? Let’s be honest: the cookie. But the “not-so-famous Amos” packs quite a punch in a few brief chapters.

While much of what Amos wrote about is future prophecy and the “Day of the Lord” (see my previous post on that here), there are some great verses in this chapter that apply to us today, especially concerning repentance and faith. In fact, the most “famous Amos” verses are found here:

“Seek Me and live…” (4b)

“Seek the Lord and live…” (6a)

“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.” (14)

Notice a theme here? This is great stuff. Sadly, though, it has become mere church-talk or “Christianese” instead of a reality in our lives. I know it can be true of all of us: talking about following God and not actually doing it. This is the mark of a Pharisee. They were religious zealots, they knew the law, but their hearts were far from God. These are verses we need to heed, not just read.

Another convicting thought from this passage comes from verse 12a:

“For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins…”

It reminds me that no sin is beyond the gaze of my God. He knows all and I need to quit pretending like He doesn’t see them. He desires true repentance and obedience.

Enough from me. What insights did you glean from today’s reading, CPC?

Posted by: Todd Thomas

March 28, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 4

Good morning faithful JumpStarters!  I hope you’re enjoying our walk through the Minor Prophets.
Today’s reading – Amos 4 is a strong one.  Can we say that God is U-P-S-E-T with Israel!
Here’s a quick outline of the chapter to prepare you for your reading…

  1. God condemns Israel for their unrepentant spirit.  It’s a HARSH rebuke.  (v.1-5)
  1. God shows Israel’s lack of obedience and open rebellion. (v. 6-13)

Remember God’s promise to Israel?  Over and over He promised to bless them if they would simply obey Him.  And bless He did… He defeated enemies, released them from slavery, prospered them financially, blessed them with children, and gave them a land…  So what happened?  Why are we reading about the wrath of God toward His people?

REBELLION

This is a state when we turn from God and His commands and begin to live life for ourselves – our way.  We make our own decisions and do what pleases us.  When we first begin – we feel horribly convicted (and so did Israel) – but the longer we stay at it – the harder our hearts become.  We quickly reach a place where we are unrepentant – we don’t want to change – we don’t care about God’s will or God’s way.  This is a VERY dangerous place to be – it’s where we find Israel in chapter 4.

Over and over God says… you would not return to me.  (verses 6,8,9,10,11!!)

God is the God of 2nd, 3rd, and 100th chances.  His kindness and grace are overwhelming – but don’t confuse His grace with permissiveness.  There is an end to the chain.  God is full of grace – but He’s also full of truth (John 1:14).  He’s loving AND he’s just.

He tells Israel in verse 12:

Therefore, I will bring upon you all the disasters I have announced.
 Prepare to meet your God in judgment, you people of Israel!

In what ways does this describe you?  Are you broken and obedient before the Lord or are you harboring a heart of rebellion.  What do you need to repent of and surrender to God today?

Ignoring God’s warning signs is very dangerous.  Many a sailor lies at the bottom of the ocean because they failed to act on what they saw in the sky… many drivers have ended in a burning inferno as their cars plummeted over a cliff – simply because they ignored the BRIDGE OUT or ROAD CLOSED signs.

What is God saying to you today?  What are you going to do?  Run from Him or to Him?

Posted by: Tim Parsons

March 27, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 3

Parents discipline their own children much differently than they would a child who is not their own.  A loving parent who sees their kid do something wrong is going to lovingly discipline them.  As children of God, Israel is about to get some major parental discipline.

In verse 2a, God said, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth.”God is proclaiming His “fatherhood” over Israel.  In the second part of the verse it says, “Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” As a father of His chosen nation, He is going to bring discipline to them for the areas where they’ve been “mischievous.”   This is the main theme of the chapter.

This chapter sparked three main thoughts as I read it.

  1. As a child of God, I have a Father who loves me enough to discipline me.  I sometimes, unfortunately, see God as this cosmic killjoy who wants to take away all of my fun. (I’m sure some of you parents have children that see you the same way because you discipline them and make rules.)  But when I understand why God has made certain rules and standards, I realize that He has my best interests in mind.  His standards are for my protection and provision, and when I go against His standards, I am thankful that He disciplines me.  I’m reminded of the saying, “God loves me and accepts me the way I am, but He loves me too much to let me stay that way.”
  1. There are consequences for my sin. There’s not a more miserable person on earth than a Christian who is living in disobedience to God.  When a Christian knows what is right, but unrepentantly does the opposite, it is really interesting and sad to watch as they slowly shrivel away spiritually.  You and I both have likely seen friends or family members walk strongly with God, but when sin creeps in and they give in to it continually without confessing it, it’s really sad to see them turn into an aimless, hopeless, restless person.  God will allow that aimlessness, hopelessness, and restlessness to serve as discipline in order to point the person back to Himself.  This was the state of the Israelites at the time.
  1. Every temptation and choice is an opportunity to please God. I hate when I am watching TV and my 19 month-old son grabs the remote and turns the channel.  On the other hand, I am really happy with him when he picks the remote up and then gives it to me in obedience.  He knows he isn’t supposed to turn the channel, but it’s his choice to make whether he will be obedient or not and please — or frustrate — me.  When temptation comes, or I have a choice to make, I have an opportunity to please or disobey God.  The Israelites were going to be disciplined because they had made wrong choices and displeased God.  I desire all of my choices to please my Heavenly Father.

As you reflect today…

  • Think about how loving a Father we have that He would care to discipline us.
  • Think about how our sin has consequences.
  • Decide today to please God when temptation arises today and with the choices you make.

Posted by: Rich Duffield

March 26, 2012

Today you should read: Amos 2

“If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it’s a duck.”

Have you ever heard this statement? Where I come from this is a common saying that means how you walk and talk defines who you are. If you have not heard this saying I do apologize. I come from a place called Kingbee, KY and it is not always a snap shot of cultural norms. To explain it in a different way, let’s say that I went out and bought a police uniform and I walked around downtown Lexington with it on. Now let’s say that I heard shouting and I see a guy run past me with a mask on holding a purse. Seconds later a woman comes running up screaming, “Officer, arrest that man he stole my purse!” Then let’s say that I look at her with a confused look on my face and I say to her, “I’m not a cop.” What would the woman be thinking? She would probably be thinking, “You idiot why are you walking around with a police uniform on? Don’t you know that is confusing to people?”

In the first two chapters Amos has this ongoing theme with all of the people groups. He is judging them based on their sinful actions. The language he uses is “For three transgressions ____, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment.” He talks about groups like the Ammonites and the Moabites who where nations that God drove out of the Promised Land. In the book of Joshua, God drove these nations out of the Promised Land through war. He gave Israel victory over these nations for three reasons.

  1. Punishment for their sin against God
  2. To purify the promised land
  3. To set up Israel as his chosen people to be an example to the other nations

So, when we get to chapter two, Amos begins to talk about the judgment on Judah and on Israel. It is interesting that Amos talks about Judah and Israel in the exact same way he talks about all of the other nations. Amos is doing this to communicate a message to God’s chosen people. The message is, “you have sinned against God and you are acting no different than all these other nations who worship other gods.”

Amos is set during the time of king Jeroboam covered in 2 Kings 14:23-15:7. During this time Israel was worshipping Yahweh and Baal. Baal was known as the storm god and other nations worshipped him because they believed he brought the rain for their crops. In other words Israel no longer trusted in the Lord for provision.

So, how do the events taking place in Israel at this time relate to us?

The way Israel is acting is the same as someone claiming to be a Christian but their life reflecting that they have no real trust in the Lord. Instead, one may trust in the god of finance, the god of fashion, the god of relationships, the god of success, the god of sports, the god of food, etc. Basically, what you worship is what you believe in. My definition for belief is knowledge with trust. For someone to claim Christianity is not that uncommon. We live in the “Bible Belt.” A lot of people know about God and know about Jesus but it is much less common to find someone who truly trusts in Jesus Christ.

Question to Ponder?

1. Do you wear the uniform of Christianity but really trust in another god? Please honestly examine your heart and your motivations with this question.

2. Can you say that you are totally defined by the Gospel? Remember what you believe dictates your affections and your actions.

Posted by: Chad Wiles