Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11: Amos 4 – 6; Psalm 130; Proverbs 29:21-22; Revelation 2:18-3:6



Overview

            Amos: The Lord calls the women of Bashan cows because they oppress the poor and order their husbands to take care of their slightest wishes. They will be sent into exile. The people of Israel go to Bethel and Gilgal to offer sacrifices to false gods. They love to do it.
            The Lord gave them famine, but they wouldn’t turn to him. He gave them erratic rains, blight, mildew, pestilence, and war, but they wouldn’t return to him. Because they wouldn’t return, they need to be prepared to meet their God.
            God is the one who made mountains and wind. He tells people his thoughts. He turns dawn to darkness and is above all the earth. The Lord, the God of hosts is his name.
            The Lord makes a lamentation for Israel. They will fall never to rise again. Only a fraction of the people will be left in cities. If they seek the Lord instead of Bethel or Gilgal, they will live. If they don’t, fire will come upon those who distort justice and trample the righteous.
            The Lord made the constellations and brings each day. He made the oceans. He destroys fortresses.
            Israel hates those who point out their evils and tell the truth. The Lord knows all the sins of those who oppress the poor while living in luxury and take bribes. A wise person will be careful about what they say in evil times. They should seek good and not evil so the Lord will be with them. They should restore justice if the want to have God’s grace.
            However, there will be mourning in all the cities and farms when the Lord comes. Those who want the Day of the Lord to come should think again. It will be a terrible time. It is a time of darkness and pain. The Lord hates their feasts even though they think they are offering to the Lord, he will not accept them. Instead of their merriment they should seek justice and righteousness. They will go into exile along with the gods they have made.
            The people in Zion and Samaria who are well off and without any problems are in trouble. They need to see what has happened in Calneh, Hamath, and Gath. Do they think they are better than these kingdoms and think violence won’t come on them?
            Woe to those who lounge in luxury singing worthless songs, drinking and feasting, but are not concerned with the state of the nation. They will go into exile. The Lord hates their pride and will let them be destroyed. When someone comes to bury the dead, he will ask a lone survivor if there are any others. When the answer is, “No,” he will caution the man not to blame the Lord. The Lord has commanded houses to be demolished and stirred up a nation to oppress them.
            Psalm: When we hit the bottom, we can call to the Lord to hear our voice. We know that our sins are great and we can’t stand before the Lord. But we can know that he forgives. When we call, we can wait for the Lord and have hope. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we can wait just like a night watchman watches for the morning. Because of his steadfast love and redemption, we can know he will redeem Israel.
            Proverbs: A servant who is treated like a son from his childhood will became your heir. An angry person is always causing problems.
            Revelation: To the church in Thyatira, the words are from Jesus whose eyes are like fire and feet like bronze. He knows their faith, endurance, and that they keep doing better all the time. But they also put up with a false prophetess who encourages sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols. He will punish her with tribulation and also kill those who follow her ways. All the churches will know that Jesus knows what is in a person’s heart. He will punish according to our deeds. But those who have not gone astray and not delved into the Satan’s deep secretes, he will not burden. Just stay steady until Jesus comes. The conquerors and the ones who do his work will rule with Jesus over nations. Jesus will rule strictly as granted by his Father. The conquerors will also get the morning star. Everyone should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
            To the church of Sardis, the words are from Jesus who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. People think the church is alive, but it is dead. They need to wake up, or what is still there will die. They haven’t done what God expects. They need to remember what they received and repent. If they don’t wake up, Jesus will come against them when they don’t expect it. However, there are a few people there who are walking with Jesus. The conquerors will be dressed in white and their names will never be taken out the book of life. Jesus will acknowledge them before his Father and the angels. Everyone should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

What Stood Out

            Amos: “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches … who sing idle songs” (Amos 6:4-5).
            Psalm: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!” (Ps 130:1).
            Proverbs: “Whoever pampers his servant from childhood will in the end find him his heir” (Prov 29:21).
            Revelation: “And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve” (Rev 2:23).

Insight

            Amos: People who live in luxury and oppress the poor are on God’s naughty list. Unlike the mythical Santa Clause, being on God’s naught list isn’t something from a silly song. It has serious consequences. There are some other things that will put us on that list. One is an arrogance that makes us think we will never have any problems even when we see the suffering of other nations. We think we’ll escape that for some reason, perhaps because we trust in our technology, our investment portfolio, or even in the government.
            One of the interesting things that disgusts the Lord is when we have all this luxury and we invent more songs and music that are “idle” (Amos 6:5). When we are prosperous and have time on our hands to sit around and listen to music we should be thanking God for it instead of making up songs that are useless. Our primary songs should be music that brings glory to God. If you examine the music of our nation, I’m sure you will find that most of it is worthless from a spiritual standpoint. Some of it is even demonic as it elevates illicit sex and even violence. Woe to us who don’t use the gifts God has given us to bring glory to him.
            Psalm: I know a few people who struggle with depression. They cope in various ways. Some use drugs (legal or otherwise), some tough it out, some pray. I know one man who suffered most of his life and depended on prescription drugs to keep him stable. He told me how much it pained him to hear a sermon that said a depressed person only needed to start serving to get better. Years later, he realized that he had some issues in his life that was about to destroy his marriage. He was in the depths and called out to the Lord. He asked for mercy and found it in biblical counseling. A surprising thing happened. He discovered that the sin, the idols of his heart, that were causing problems with his marriage were also the ones causing his depression. Today he is drug free and his marriage is good.
            Sometimes, we have to wait on the Lord and have hope in him. When we seek the answers in his word, we will find solutions, just like the watchman waiting for the dawn. They will come. If we look to the world for those solutions, we may have to keep waiting years until we place our hope in the Lord. He will redeem our iniquities.
            Proverbs: How many times have you heard of a faithful servant being awarded a generous provision in someone’s will? I can’t personally think of any, but it certainly is the subject of books, movies, plays, and TV shows. But that’s not what this Proverb is about.
            This Proverb makes it sound like a servant becoming an heir is negative in two ways. The first is the use of the word pamper. This implies that there wasn’t any discipline. Previous Proverbs made it clear that there needs to be discipline for servants and also children. The second thing that sounds negative is that it appears to be a surprise that the servant becomes an heir. It is as if the servant usurps an heir who is a relative. Perhaps the servant becomes an heir because he terminates the old man and any of his children when he discovers he is in the will. That has been in the movies as well and certainly fits some of the evils we’ve seen in the Bible (Judges 9). The big problem is in the pampering, not in having a close relationship with a servant.
            Revelation: There is both hope and puzzlement in these two churches. The puzzlement comes in wondering how a church can tolerate such blatant sin as this Jezebel promotes. Why would someone remain in a church that allowed this? It is puzzling why someone would still be a member of a church that is dead. Because I look at these churches through the eyes of a person living in the United States in the 21st century, it is puzzling. They didn’t have the opportunity to hop to another church when they discovered that something was really wrong. We have that opportunity today, though maybe not in other nations. If my church were teaching or tolerating a Jezebel-like heresy, I would be gone in a flash if they didn’t listen to reproof. If the church were dead – meaning it was run primarily by people who weren’t even saved, I would be gone if I couldn’t make a difference.
            The hope is that Jesus always gives us time to repent. He doesn’t say how much time because he will come unexpectedly. This isn’t a physical coming like the rapture. This is coming to punish like he does to Jezebel and her children. I like the fact that even a dead church will have time to repent and wake up. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to leave as the Lord might be using us to revive a dead church.
            Then there is always the promises of eternity that we have when we persevere to the end. This is a reoccurring theme. We are conquerors when finish. While I believe in eternal security for those who are saved, we still need to act like it to the end.

Application

             I don’t want to let my affluence get in the way of my walk with the Lord. It is easy to forget him when everything is going good and life becomes easy. I need to remember to make my primary songs about Jesus and not the world.

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