Although Amos was from Judah his message from God was for the northern kingdom. He was based in Bethel, where Jeroboam had set up one of the calf-idols for the people Israel to worship. Amos’ message to the northern kingdom was of their need to return to God: “Seek me and live.”
“This is what the Lord says to Israel: ‘Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.’ Seek the Lord and live, or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire; it will devour them, and Bethel will have no-one to quench it.” (Amos 5:4-6 NIV)
With no punches held, Amos detailed what would happen to Israel for going after idols: God’s judgement was coming. He compared Israel to a basket of ripe fruit: the time was ripe for God’s judgement and he would spare his people no longer (Amos 8:1-3). There would be many dead bodies strewn everywhere because of their sin. Continue reading “Seek me and live”
I recently read a book whose opening chapters were bent on attacking a particular method of applying scripture to today’s world. The author proceeded to break down the process of that hermeneutical model into a series of bewildering charts filled with mind-numbing complexity.
Not only would any typical person want to run away from a process of such inane minutia, most Christians would probably despair of being capable of implementing it. His attack would seem to be successful. However, his assault unravels if we are willing to stop and think about it. Continue reading “Bewildering hermeneutics, complexity and truth”
As Paul was completing his third trip of proclaiming Jesus he was “hurrying to arrive in Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16 NET). But he also wanted to see the elders of the congregation in Ephesus, with whom he had spent several years. Because the ship was docking in Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders to come to him. What follows is a very sad scene in Paul’s life.
Paul had a message to give them. This message was to encourage them to go on without his being around as well as a warning to them about being faithful to God. Continue reading “The importance of God’s word”
“How blessed are those whose actions are blameless, who obey the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe his rules, and seek him with all their heart, who, moreover, do no wrong, but follow in his footsteps” (Psalm 119:1-3 NET).
Psalm 119 lies almost in the center of our Bibles. The actual middle chapter is the two verse Psalm 117, which is also the shortest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119 is the longest with 176 verses. Continue reading “Meditating on God’s word”
Twice, while defending what he believed, Paul referred to his conscience. Our conscience is that part within us that distinguishes between what is right and what is wrong and serves as a guide to what we do. Having a clear conscience means that we do not go against what we believe is right and do what is wrong. Continue reading “Having a clear conscience”
Can you imagine what it was like for Cleopas and his friend as they walked home from Jerusalem on the Sunday after Passover? Both men were disciples of Jesus, yet their teacher had been executed over the weekend. As they began the two-hour walk back to their village they began discussing what had happened that holiday weekend.
The discussion they had became quite emotional and possibly even heated. And then a stranger joined them and asked, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” (Luke 24:17 CSB). They stopped walking and looked sad and discouraged. Continue reading “Their hearts burned within them”
Is the term “Long-Winded Sermon” a redundant expression?
I remember telling a brother, in jest, that according to Acts 20:7, I had biblical precedent for preaching until midnight. He laughed, then said, “That’s fine. You can preach until midnight, as long as you can also raise people from the dead” (in a reference to the sleep-deprived Eutychus). I had an answer for him. I reminded him that Paul did not stop at midnight, he was merely interrupted at midnight. He continued to talk to the brethren at Troas until the next morning! Continue reading “Preaching: the Rodney Dangerfield of worship”
As we approach the beginning of another new year, thoughts often go to how we can improve our lives. What changes do we need to make in our life? How can we grow to be more like Jesus?
At the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, he was thinking about how they needed to grow. They were a people of faith, love and hope – and these were evident in their lives. But they still needed to grow. Notice his prayer for them. Continue reading “Becoming fully pleasing to God”
“For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope” (Romans 15:4 NET).
As we live as Christians we sometimes become discouraged. When we are “down” it can seem difficult to continue going on. But there is something we can “take” for that! Often when we are physically sick we are told to take a pill, to take medication which will help to pick us up again. The solution for when we are spiritually discouraged is God’s word. Continue reading “The encouragement of the scriptures”
“I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5-9 NIV).
What is it like to start a new job, to begin a new project, to begin an exciting challenge? Continue reading “Be strong and courageous”