We have now come to the end our study of the prophet Amos’ message to God’s people living in the Northern Kingdom. As we come to the end of our study we also draw nearer to the end of the nation. God had made His people so many promises throughout their history as His covenant people. God had chosen the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He called them His very own. They were the apple of His eye. He led them from captivity in Egypt all the way to the land flowing with milk and honey, the Promised Land. All of these blessings were lavished upon the Israelites, but along with these blessings came the responsibilities of the covenant. God’s people were called to walk in faithfulness and as long as they were faithful, God would continue to bless them. Deuteronomy 28 is such an important chapter to help us understand the covenant promises of God. Turn there with me and let’s take a look at God’s promises. Let’s begin in verse 1. Continue reading “Destruction and Restoration
There is nothing like a stroll through Farmer’s Market. The baskets of ripened fruit line row after row and entice you to reach out and take a bite of a big juicy peach, delicious plum, or a plump strawberry. If you have ever visited the Farmer’s Market then you know exactly what I am talking about. When we visit the Farmer’s Market, or see all of the fruits and vegetables at a grocery store, most of us don’t see any hidden messages or spiritual symbolism in the items at all, but for Amos, a basket of ripened fruit contained a disturbing message.
The fourth vision that God gave to Amos was a basket of ripened fruit. If you will remember our studies of the past few weeks, we have been working our way through Amos 7:1-9:4. In these verses we find five visions that God showed Amos. In the first two visions, the destruction of the land by locusts and fire, Amos interceded for the people of the Northern Kingdom and asked God to stop. God heard Amos’ prayer and He decided that He would not carry out what He had planned. In the third vision, the vision of the plumb line, Amos was silent. He didn’t say a word. The vision of the plumb line taught us that God was going to measure the faithfulness of His people by His standard and as a result they would be found crooked in all of their ways. This morning we are going to take a look at the fourth vision that God showed Amos, a vision of a ripened basket of fruit. Let’s take a look at our Scripture and then we will get started. Continue reading “The Day is Coming
Most everyone I know wants to feel good about themselves. We want to feel like we are going somewhere, moving forward in life, and accomplishing something. We want to feel good about ourselves. Even though this is true about most of the people I know, the reality is that most of us don’t feel like we measure up. We don’t feel good about ourselves. We look around and we see those who make us feel like we are “less than,” rather than “greater than” and it plunges us into insecurity and depression. They are smarter, prettier, more athletic, more successful, taller, thinner, wealthier, and more likeable than we are. For those who gauge their value based on how they compare to those around them—it is a hopeless cause.
There is another group of people who feel really good about themselves. They find those in society who are not as smart, not as pretty, not as athletic, not as successful, not as tall or thin, and they compare themselves to these folks. You and I will always be able to find someone that makes us look better than we really are if we will just try hard enough. Comparing ourselves to those who make us feel better about ourselves is just as destructive as comparing ourselves to those who make us feel worse about ourselves because this type of thinking breeds arrogance, a sense of superiority, in our hearts.
Within this second group of folks are many of the followers of Jesus who look around and compare themselves, not so much to things like looks, financial wealth, or I.Q., but to those who are not as passionate about their faith and who do not live with the same moral and ethical values that they espouse. This is a real problem for the followers of Jesus because this type of comparison fosters self-righteousness and isolates us from others.
I hope you are beginning to clearly see that all of those that I’ve described for you suffer from the same problem—they are comparing themselves to those around them and the comparison is more destructive then they can even imagine. It doesn’t matter if the comparison results in our feeling better or worse about ourselves, the comparison is destructive. If comparing ourselves to others will only lead us to either feel insecure or arrogant then what are we to do? Stick around and we will get to that in a few minutes.
As we turn our attention to Amos 7 we will see that destruction is coming to Israel. God’s people were definitely comparing themselves to those around them and it led to their ruin. They were arrogant. They were self-secure. They were condescending to those they looked on. They had no respect for others and as a result they took advantage of those that they could take advantage of in society. They valued their lives more than they valued the lives of others in society. While all of this was going on, God gave Amos a vision of what was to come. God would step onto the scene and He would pull out of His pocket a plumb line. Let’s read our Scripture for this morning found in Amos 7:7-17 and then we will get started. Continue reading “Do You Measure Up?
There is lots of talk over the airwaves, in corner coffee shops, corporate Board rooms, and neighborhood living rooms. The topic of conversation is, “Is there any hope for America?” The stream of conversation varies depending on the company you keep, but regardless of the crowd, there is real concern for the future of our nation. Economists worry because of the incredible debt each of us as Americans are carrying on our backs. Some educators are wringing their hands because of the continuing failure of our educational system. Politicians and political party proponents worry that the other party is running us into the ditch. Those who keep an eye on our judicial system are quick to point out a growing corruption in the halls of justice. It seems like Lady Justice isn’t blind after all. She sees only what she wants to see. Someone once said, “In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls.” Even the Church, called to be the visible representation of Jesus in the world today, has come under the scrutiny of watchful eyes and been found sorely lacking. There are scandals that are exposed on a weekly basis, there’s compromising God’s Word to try and appease our culture, and a grow-at-any-cost mentality invading our churches. While the spotlight is shining bright upon the Church exposing our hypocrisy, the Church responds by pointing out the moral decline of our nation. Is there any wonder why so many are wondering out loud if there is any hope for our nation? Continue reading “The Intercessor
This is our eleventh study in the little prophesy of Amos. When we were winding down our study of Romans I began praying about what book of the Bible I would study next. I was reading and praying, reading and praying, and waiting. I knew that eventually, if I would continue to read, pray, and wait…it would come. How did “it” come? Well, God works in all kinds of ways. I was talking to my friend, David Darnell, on the phone one day when I asked him a question about the prophet Hosea. David said, “You need to preach through the book of Amos.” I had read Amos before. Didn’t get much out of it to be honest, but I went back and read it again. Slowly. I began to study Amos, dig beneath the surface, study the history, and my heart became hungry to learn more and more and more. I’m sharing this with you to encourage you to never, ever pass over any book of the Bible, or simply skim through it and say, “Why is that book in the Bible?” Take your time. Slow down. Ask questions. Don’t just read it, study God’s Word.
We’ve been working through this study for about three months now and I have to tell you that each week I am simply amazed at the relevance of each lesson for our day. Today’s study is no different. We live in a day where if things are going good for me then it’s all good. We live in a day where as long as there is calm and plenty in my house, for those I love, then it’s all good. A serious study of Amos 6 will cause us to rethink this simple American cliché, “It’s all good!” Let’s read our chapter and you will see what I mean. Continue reading ““It’s All Good!”
The First Church of Holiness met each Sunday at The Sanctified Sanctuary. People came from near and far, all across the city, to be a part of the most talked about worship going on. Their music was heavenly. It was electrifying. Many of the people who filled the sanctuary described it as “anointed.” The worship team led the congregation in singing the most passionate, spirit-filled songs that people had ever heard. It was not uncommon to see people all over the sanctuary weeping as they lifted their hands and their voices to the King of Glory. The pastor at The First Church of Holiness had served the congregation for many years. He had charisma oozing from every pore. When he stood to speak people listened. His preaching focused on the love and tenderness of God. His messages on Sunday morning left all of those in attendance feeling better about themselves and secure in God’s grace and mercy as they exited the doors and headed back to their homes. Continue reading “Worship That Pleases God
The people who had gathered at the steps of the king’s sanctuary had no idea that they had come to hear their funeral sermon. They were under the impression that everything was going well. The economy was booming. The military was thriving. The streets were filled with children singing songs and playing games. The churches were filled to overflowing. If a poll would have been taken to get a sense of the pulse of the nation then you would have found out that things just could not have been better. Yet, Amos raises his voice and says, “Hear this word, O house of Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:” (Amos 5:1 NIV) The word, “lament,” is a funeral hymn or a dirge in the Old Testament. Maybe you have heard of the Book of Lamentations, the funeral hymns written by Jeremiah about the fall of Jerusalem almost 200 years after the time of Amos.
You can only imagine how shocked, absolutely stunned, the people of Bethel would have been to have heard these words coming from Amos’ mouth. Just imagine if you showed up for church this morning, dressed in your Sunday best, and I began to preach your funeral with you sitting in the pew. You would never anticipate something like that happening would you? And neither did the people of the northern kingdom. Let’s read our Scripture this morning found in Amos 5:1-17. Continue reading ““Seek Me and Live!”
As you read through the Bible you will find people who unexpectedly met God and they never forgot that moment for the rest of their lives. I can only imagine what it would be like to suddenly be summoned by God. To be minding your own business and then suddenly see a bush on fire and hear a voice calling, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5 NIV) Moses hid his face. I think I might have run for the hills. Or, how about you are heading towards your destination when out of nowhere a brilliant flash of light is followed by, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4 NIV) Saul was blinded by the light, but he was also blindsided by the Lord. Saul would be changed forever. There are others that we read about in God’s Word whose encounter with the Lord didn’t involve the “special effects” of burning bushes or flashes of brilliant light, but they met God and their lives were never the same again. Continue reading ““Prepare To Meet Your God!”
All of the cheering and shouting that minutes earlier could be heard all over Bethel, at the king’s sanctuary, had suddenly been transformed into utter silence. Absolute stunned silence. Slowing, one by one, those who had been enthusiastically standing in approval, slumped into their seats in disbelief at what they were hearing. Amos had announced God’s judgment on the people of Bethel and the entire northern kingdom of Israel, but he wasn’t finished yet. The people who had crowded around to listen, not liking what they were now hearing, began to slowly try and slip out the backdoor, but Amos wasn’t finished yet. The prophet raised his voice. Continue reading “No Greater Love. No Greater Responsibility.
The prophet Amos arrived in Bethel, at the king’s temple, and began his sermon. It was not a “feel good” sermon although it probably did make the people of Israel feel really good as they heard about the judgment that God had planned for Israel’s enemies. They nodded their heads when they heard that God was going to deal with Damascus. They said “Amen!” when they heard Amos speak about the judgment that was going to bring Gaza down. They clapped enthusiastically when they heard that Tyre would never be free to act tyrannical again. The crowd rose to their feet, stuck out their chests, and applauded like a bunch of beer guzzling, nacho-eating, college football fans as Amos made his way through the list of Edom, Ammon, and Moab and the fate that would befall them all. What they didn’t realize was that God really had His sights set on His own people. The judgment of God was fixing to fall like an avalanche on Judah and Israel. More than 700 years after the ink had dried on Amos’ sermon, Jesus said,
48 …From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48 NIV)
Continue reading ““Uh Oh!”