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Sunday, October 30, 2011

10/31/11- Real security vs. Fear and Uncertainty

11 “Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless—
now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria.
12 When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like the birds in the sky.
When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them.
3 Woe to them, because they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me!
I long to redeem them but they speak about me falsely.
14 They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail on their beds.
They slash themselves, appealing to their gods for grain and new wine,
but they turn away from me.
15 I trained them and strengthened their arms, but they plot evil against me.
16 They do not turn to the Most High;  they are like a faulty bow.
Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words.
For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt.

(wild pigeons flying)


Thoughts: We often view does as symbols of peace, but they are also kind of stupid (or as the passage says, "eaily deceived and senseless").  Israel is eaily deceived and senseless in that they go back and forth.  If you have ever watched doves, they flitter from one place to another.  The Israelites did not know where their security lay.  They would flutter to the Egyptians, then fly over to the Assyrians.  But their real rest and security lay in God- but they refused to come to Him.  Human alliances may give a false sense of security, but the best security comes by relying on God. 
     In verse 14 the results of their fear and superstition shows.  The people are depressed and cut themselves as an acto of worship to false gods.  Halloween has become spookier and spookier in America. It has become more and more superstitious and involved with the paranormal.  People are fascinated with this "spiritual side" of life.  But the real spiritual side is found in God- yet they refuse to look to Him.  Perhaps because God requires holiness and obedience.  But it is God who blesses and withhold blessing- not vampires or werewolves or ghosts or aliens.  We need to turn back to God.

Prayer: May my hope, strength, and rest always be found in you, O Lord. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10/30/11 They're "So Hot" Hosea 7:3-7

 3 "Their evil conduct even makes the king glad.  Their lies make the princes happy.
4 But all of the people are adulterers.
   The baker does not even need to stir up the fire until the dough is ready."
5 On special days to honor our king,  the princes get drunk with wine.
And the king enjoys the party. He joins hands with those
who pretend to be faithful to him.
6 Their hearts are as hot as an oven. They make evil plans to get rid of him.
Their anger burns like a slow fire all night. In the morning it blazes out like a flaming fire.
7 All of them are as hot as an oven. They destroy their rulers.
All of their kings fall from power.
But none of them calls on the Lord for help.

(Hot Sunrise on Israeli desert
"priovatetourguideinIsrael.com)


Thoughts: Today, people brag on being "HOT."  Not hot like from summer heat, but hot like a dog in heat.  There is a difference between appreciating beuaty and lusting openly after someone else.  There was a time, not too long ago, when people would be ashamed of lust, but today (as in Hosea's day) people brag about their coveting of another's wife and feel no shame about lusting after another on TV, on the internet, or in a magazine. 
     Hosea's people were hot in terms of burning with anger inside against their government,  as well as hot with adultery (7:4- a spirit of adultery with one another, unfaithfulness against the king, and unfaithfulness against God).  Instead of bragging how lusty we feel or how someone entices us to lust- being "hot" we should focus on beauty but also value the peace and love that is borne in faithfulness.

Prayer: Let me value what you value, Lord.  Let me see people beyond their skin and beyond what they can do for my flesh.  Help me to not see people as a commodity to be used, but as a neighbor to be treated with mercy and kindness.

John Calvin Abridged: The Israelites were carried away by a mad zeal into their own superstitions and wicked practices, and could not be allayed or quieted by any remedies. The Israelites were deprived of good governors like the head is cut off from the body.  The goodness of God, otherwise inhaustible is dried up by the wickedness of the people.  The whole people were caught up in the frenzy of their sin, so that even when God chastizes them, they refuse to turn to Him. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

10/29/11 Hosea 7:1-2

1 The Lord says,
"I would like to heal Israel.
But when I try to, Ephraim's sins
are brought out into the open.
The crimes of Samaria
are made known to everyone.
The people tell lies.
They break into houses and steal.
They rob others in the streets.
2 But they do not realize
that I remember all of the evil things they do.
Their sins pile up and cover them.
I am always aware of those sins.
3 "Their evil conduct even makes the king glad.
Their lies make the princes happy.
4 But all of the people are unfaithful to the king.
Their anger against him burns
like the coals in an oven.
(Stained glass nativity and other things on sale at LMPC Bazaar tomorrow).

Thougths: Transparency is the best policy.  Our sins will find us out- like light shining through stained glass.  We cannot hide our sin from God (like Adam and Eve tried to do). Evil comes bak to haunt those who rejoice in it- especially when the government approves of dishonesty and rebelliousness against God.  Ironically, when a nation is devoted to the Lord, then there is unity in the respect of government, peace between people (even those who do not believe), and unity in moral values. In the West,

Prayer: May your light shine through me.

John Calvin Abridged: God compares Himself to a physician to show how corrupt the people are.  The physician tries remedies, but there is a deeper, hidden malady- the malady of their sin.  Though their vices do not immediately show up, and they decieve themselves, and gain nothing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10/28/11 Hosea 5:1-7 Leaders in Unfaithfulness

1 "Listen to me, you priests!
Pay attention, people of Israel!
Listen, you members of the royal family!
Here is my decision against you.
You have been like a trap at Mizpah.
You have been like a net spread out on Mount Tabor.
2 You refuse to obey me.
You offer sacrifices to other gods.
So I will punish all of you.
3 People of Ephraim, I know all about you.
What you are doing is not hidden from me.
Now you have joined yourselves to other gods.
You have made yourselves 'unclean.'
4 "You can't return to me
because you have done so many evil things.
In your hearts you long to act like prostitutes.
You do not recognize me as the Lord.
5 Israel, your pride witnesses that you are guilty.
People of Ephraim, you trip and fall because you have sinned.
Judah, you fall down along with them.
6 Israel, you will come to worship me.
You will bring your animals to offer as sacrifices.
But you will not find me.
I have turned away from you.
7 You are not faithful to me.
Your children do not belong to me.
The way you act at your New Moon Feasts
will destroy you and your fields.
(Thousands worshipping an idol)


Thoughts: The priests and leaders are like traps and nets- entrapping and ensnaring the people with false worship.  In the name of intelligence and fashion they lead the people astray.  They have a spirit of prostitution and rebellion that has kept them from coming back to purity and God.  Instead of faithfulness, they rebelled against God.  The more unfaithful we are, the harder it is to admit that we need to come back to faithfulness because of our pride. The learned and leaders (like kings/priests/celebrities) have a harder time getting past the prid of their sin.  It is also important to not simply blindly follow leaders. When leaders and masses follow in sin, it is especially hard to resist joining in.

Prayer: Help me to listen to you more than others this day.  Keep me from blindly following the crowd or those in leadership position.

John Calvin Abridged: Here the prophet especially inveighs against the rulers and priests.  The contempt of God prevailed among the great ; they were secure as if they were exempt from judgment; as though they were released from all law and order.  However, all are subject to His word.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10/27/11- Hosea 10:1-6 Wealth and forgetting God

1 Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased
the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars.
2 Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars,
and destroy their pillars.3 For now they will say: "We have no king, for we do not fear the LORD,
and a king — what could he do for us?" 4 They utter mere words;  with empty oaths they make covenants; so litigation springs up like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field.
5 The inhabitants of Samaria tremble for the calf of Beth-aven. Its people shall mourn for it,
and its idolatrous priests shall wail over it, over its glory that has departed from it.
6 The thing itself shall be carried to Assyria as tribute to the great king.   Ephraim shall be put to shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his idol.

(Jeroboam encouraging the worship of the calf altar at Beth Aven)


Thoughts: What God is saying through Hosea is that the wealthier Israel got, the more they moved away from God.  The more material things we have, the more we are tempted to think we don't know God.  They used their wealth to build idolatrous altars to Baal and idolatrous pillars to Ashotreth the fertility gods.  The people are in a state of rebellion (against both god and king).  They claim allegiance to both, but they mean nothing.  The lack of loyalty and plethora of selfishness shows in a rash of lawsuits. But this is a prophecy that the idols will be torn down and the main calf at Beth-Aven will be taken to Assyria.  Part of God's punishment is to destroy the false worship and idols of the land. There is little doubt that America was one of the wealthiest nations in 2007 in the history of the world.  But there also is little doubt that the religious leaders were not taking the Bible seriously- rebelling against scriptural commands and in the name of tolerance eliminating teaching our children the importance of prayer in school, and refusing to say "Jesus" in public as if we were ashamed of Him.  Today our wealth is not what it was, but we refuse to come back to God.  There is a lack of repentance and a turning to God that is simply astonishing.  Hosea was saying if we refuse to repent, then God will take our idols away.  Our idols are our wealth, our manufacturing, our productivity, our enterpreneurial spirit.  Yesterday the President of the United States said some amazing words, that we had "lost our ambition, our imagination, the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge"  Where has it gone?  The energy that fueled our imagination, energy had been not to simply build up ourselves, but to glorify God- making a city set on a hill.

Prayer: When you have blessed me, Lord, help me to not forget you.  Help me to be thankful and focused, Lord.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10/26/11 Hosea 9:7-9 When the Spirit-Led Seem Foolish

7 The days of punishment have come, the days of recompense have come;
Israel cries, "The prophet is a fool, the man of the spirit is mad!"
Because of your great iniquity, your hostility is great.
8 The prophet is a sentinel for my God over Ephraim, yet a fowler's snare is on all his ways,
and hostility in the house of his God. 9 They have deeply corrupted themselves
as in the days of Gibeah; he will remember their iniquity, he will punish their sins.

(left: Cross in Collosseum in Rome- commemorating persecuted Christians; right- Pastor Youcef Nadarkhan who converted to Christianity from Islam and sentenced to death in Iran)


Thoughts: When people drift far away, fueled by the desire to fulfill their fleshly lusts, things of the spirit seem absolutely crazy.  When our focus is only on this life, on this world, on the fulfillment of earthly feelings, then not only is our iniquity great, but our hostility toward anyone saying there is something different- something more- is great. Sin fuels hostility to the spirit, especially toward the spiritual leaders- like the prophets.  Spiritual things are seen as weird, crazy or mad, when our focus is only on this world.  Perhaps this explains the persecution of Christians and church leaders.  How many times on American television is a minister or priest seen as weird, sinful, or controlling?  Often the villain today is a minister, which is really a rare thing in society.  But God cares when His people are persecuted; when evil is called "good" and good is called "evil." The person of God is a watchman- a sentinel but people try to trap them.  Those who focus on the physical only, sometimes get physical with those who are focusing on the spiritual. God does not ignore such things.

Prayer: Lord, keep me from iniquity and from hostility to the spiritual.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10/25/11 Hosea 8:4-10 Foreign Alliance that led to Foreign Domination

4 They made kings, but not through me; they set up princes, but without my knowledge.
With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction.  5 Your calf is rejected, O Samaria.  My anger burns against them.  How long will they be incapable of innocence?
6 For it is from Israel, an artisan made it; it is not God.  The calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.  7 For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.  The standing grain has no heads, it shall yield no meal; if it were to yield, foreigners would devour it.  8 Israel is swallowed up; now they are among the nations as a useless vessel.  9 For they have gone up to Assyria,
a wild ass wandering alone; Ephraim has bargained for lovers.  10 Though they bargain with the nations, I will now gather them up.  They shall soon writhe under the burden of kings and princes.

(NATO meeting)


Thoughts: The people of Israel sought foreign alliances and ended up under foreign domination.  This has happened time and again.  Solomon had foreign alliances through marrying foreign princesses, but they led him astray.  The Macabbees invited the Romans to come rescue them from their enemies, and they ended up destroying the kingdom of Judea 100 years later in 70 AD. It could be said that Zedekiah in Jerusalem and Hoshea in Samaria relied on an Egyptian alliance and army that never showed up.  Reliance on politics, technology, or science or anything else apart from God doesn't work. God give us alliances, technology, and science as a help but it may never replace our God.  Military and statesmanship should never leave God out, as if faith or values do not matter. Politics cannot replace God.  Israel had been taught that secularization may seem beneficial, but in the end alienates the nation from its real help- the Lord.  Our real help is in the name of the Lrod who made the heaven and earth.

Prayer: Lord, you are my strength, my help, my comfort, my hope.  Help me to always realy on you above all else. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10/24/11 God Tears and Heals

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces  but he will heal us;
he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises, he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.
5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth—
then my judgments go forth like the sun.
6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:1-6)

(Mending a tear in the net.  We are to return to the one who has torn us- that we may be healed)


Thoughts: This is a prayer of Jesus- the Father injured Him, but also healed and raised Him on the third day.  God forsook Him, but restored Him.  Can anyone see redemption in God's allowing suffering?  Perhaps if Jesus' suffering meant the salvation of millions/billions then we can see some redemptive quality in the Father's allowing suffering.  The truth is, when we are torn, injured, bleeding, we need to return to the Lord.  Getting mad at God does nothing for us or for anything.  Returning to God brings s a chance at healing and help. 

Prayer: God you are the mender of broken hearts.  Keep me always coming back to you as the Prodigal came back to the father.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

10/23/11

4 Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest.
5 You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night,
and I will destroy your mother.6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
7 The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; they changed their glory into shame.
8 They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity.
9 And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways, and repay them for their deeds.
10 They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply;
because they have forsaken the LORD  to devote themselves to 11 whoredom.
Wine and new wine take away the understanding. (Hosea 4:4-10)

(Ozzy Osbourne disguised as a priest-
Just because someone has the vestments, a degree or even passes ordination tests does nto necessarily mean they are true believers or holy)


Thoughts: Priests and prophets are supposed to know better.  But the priests of Hosea's day were "greedy" for sin.  They wanted the people to sin, as if that were a freeing thing.  Sometime rebellion against God may seem like progress.  But rebellion against God isn't a new thing.  It may come into fashion as the latest thing, so that things like Sabbath keeping, marital fidelity, and sobriety seem old-fashioned and passe.  Priests are supposed to call the people back to God and holiness.  But some priests prefer to go with the people- the "popular" route of being fashionable. Hosea says that the priests are not teaching the Law so people forget.  Therefore the people are destroyed.  For the Law is life, health, and hope.  This was true in Hosea's day, but it can also be true in our day.  In the name of academics and knowing better, many ministers are forsaking the holiness of God for the popular way of sexual immorality, Sabbath breaking, and lack of sobriety.  It is time for people to come back to the way of life.  There is healing in holiness, for peace with God, neighbor, and self is God's will.  To obey is better than sacrifice/forgiveness, for it eliminates the need for forgiveness. True priests and ministers are called to preach holiness and also to live it.

Prayer: Lord, on this clergy appreciation month, we pray for clergy who have a hard time in such times as these.  Help your ministers and priests to speak the truth even when it hurts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

10/22/11 Hosea 3:1-5

1 The LORD said to me again, "Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes." 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer of barley and a measure of wine. 3 And I said to her, "You must remain as mine for many days; you shall not play the whore, you shall not have intercourse with a man, nor I with you." 4 For the Israelites shall remain many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. 5 Afterward the Israelites shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.

(Boy with sailboat-fotostock.com)


Thoughts: This is a story of redemption.  Hosea found his wife who had run away to her prostitution, and actually bought her again.  This is like Jesus coming to buy/ransom us back (Mark 10:45) from our sin and evil.  It is a similar story to the little boy who made a boat that he loved and played with.  One day the boat got away from him downstream and he lost it.  A few months later he was walking by a local store and saw the same boat in the window.  He asked the owner if he could have his boat back, but the owner said "no" but it would cost so much money.  The boy saved up and saved up and finally bought the boat back.  He said, "I made you, I bought you back, and now you are mine."  Hosea bought back Gomer.  Jesus buys us back.  While we were yet sinners he died for us (Romans 5:8).  His love for us doesn't make rational sense.  But it is a blessing to us. 

Prayer: Amazing love, how can it be, that Christ my Lord would die for me?  Thank you Lord for your amazing and redeeming love. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10/21/11 Hosea 1 When we forget God provides

2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD." 3 So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
5 For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, "I will go after my lovers; they give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink."
6 Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns; and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths. 7 She shall pursue her lovers,but not overtake them;
and she shall seek them, but shall not find them.
Then she shall say, "I will go and return to my first husband,for it was better with me then than now."
8 She did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold that they used for Baal. 9 Therefore I will take back my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season; and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. 10 Now I will uncover her shame in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. 11 I will put an end to all her mirth, her festivals, her new moons, her sabbaths,
and all her appointed festivals. 12 I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said, "These are my pay, which my lovers have given me."
I will make them a forest, and the wild animals shall devour them.
13 I will punish her for the festival days of the Baals, when she offered incense to them
and decked herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers,
and forgot me, says the LORD. 14 Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 From there I will give her her vineyards,
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.


(Hosea marries a prostitute whom he cannot trust- an image of God and His unfaithful people)


Thoughts: What happens when we forget God?  What hapens when we go after other gods?  Does the true and living God care?  Hosea describes it as spiritual adultery.  In our culture where adultery doesn't matter as much as it used to- everyone is doing it- then spiritual adultery doesn't matter as much either. 
    But God reminds the people- if you forget who gave you all you have, He will take it back.  If you leave the One who provides for you, do you expect that He will continue to bless you?  God says He will take the people back to the way they were before they met Him- in the wilderness- in slavery- and then perhaps they will desire Him again. 
    People fuss at God as if they were spoiled children.  They say, "If God made me, He must give me all I want, and must meet my expectations of goodness and provision.  If He does not, then I will not believe in Him."  God desires that we believe in Him because He loves us. But it hurts us more than it hurts Him when we rebel and turn away- as an wife who becomes a prostitute.


Prayer: Help me, Lord, to be faithful to you- though all the world fall away. 



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Amos 9:11-15 Fruitfulness

11 “In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—
and will rebuild it as it used to be, 12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things. 13 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, 14 and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.  “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; They will make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

(Crops in Israel today)


Thoughts: The tent of Israel was falling.  It had already fallen spiritually- by the people turning to other gods.  It had already fallen morally- neglecting the poor, neglecting the Sabbath (rest- yes that was a moral not just a religious problem), neglecting holiness.  It had been shrinking in physical power, but Amos foresaw that it would fall physically as well.  But Amos does not end with the fall of Israel, or even the hope of heaven.  But Amos ends with hope-  hope for this life.  God will one day restore Israel, just about like popping back up a tent that had been collapsed.  Amos gives them a vision of fruitfulness- when the harvest grows so quickly that it overtakes the one planting seeds at the other end of the field.  In some ways it sounds like "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" sung in the Great Depression (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6kv_eGSGZ4).  One would almost have to be blind to think that Israel today isn't a partial fulfillment of this. 
     Nations rise and fall, but God is in charge.  God blesses and withholds blessing.  We can trust and rely on Him.

Prayer: Help me to trust in you, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10/19/11 Amos 9:1-10

I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said: “Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake.  Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword.
Not one will get away, none will escape. 2 Though they dig down to the depths below, from there my hand will take them. Though they climb up to the heavens above, from there I will bring them down.
3 Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them.
Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them.
4 Though they are driven into exile by their enemies, there I will command the sword to slay them. “I will keep my eye on them for harm and not for good.” 5 The Lord, the LORD Almighty— he touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn; the whole land rises like the Nile,
then sinks like the river of Egypt; 6 he builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth; he calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land—
the LORD is his name. 7 “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?”  declares the LORD.
“Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?
8 “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD  are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth. Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob,” declares the LORD. 9 “For I will give the command,  and I will shake the people of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve,
and not a pebble will reach the ground. 10 All the sinners among my people will die by the sword, all those who say, ‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’

(Grain Sieve)
Handel "Thus Saith the Lord...I will shake"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8RmuvkwGrI


Thoughts: Jesus said that in the end God will separate the wheat from the weeds and the bad fish from the good fish.  Here Amos says a similar thing- that God will separate as with a grain sieve the true believers from the false ones.  God knows the heart- and He alone can truly separate.  Not one bad grain will be left (not one piece of bone in the chicken salad).  The purification of the church does not come until God makes it come.  Too many try to find or make the perfect church here, when we should try to make a gracious church that pursues holiness together.   


Prayer: Help me to trust in your separation, and your shaking.  The holiness of the church depends, Lord, not on my separating myself from sinners, but your making your church pure.  


Monday, October 17, 2011

10/18/11

1 This is what the Lord GOD showed me — a basket of summer fruit. 2 He said, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then the LORD said to me, "The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. 3 The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day," says the Lord GOD; "the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!"
     4 Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, 5 saying, "When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, 6 buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat."
     7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. 8 Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?
   9
On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight.  10I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation;
I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.  11The time is surely coming, says the Lord GOD,
when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.


(Eclipse of the sun- left; Texas dust storm that blocked sun 10/17/11)


Thoughts: The New (2011) NIV version has made this passage harder to understand.  The 1984 NIV translates this like this: 2 "What do you see, Amos? 'A basket of ripe fruit.' The Lord said, 'the time is ripe for my people Israel." 
     Why was the time ripe?  They had a bad attitude about keeping the Sabbath, they cheated in business (using false weights/scales), and they took advantage (instead of having compassion) on the poor.  God cares that we put our time, our things and our needy in His hands.  Our time is a gift from Him- so we should honor one day in seven to acknowledge He is God of our time.  Our things are gifts from Him- so we should be honest as He is in our work and commerce.  Our needy (like the disabled, the widow or orphan) are gifts to us as well- therefore instead of enslaving them with debt to us, we should be compassionate upon them.

     Incidentally, Amos speaks of an eclipse- the sun going down at noon.  There was an eclipse in 763 as a confirmation Amos' and God's words.  The darkening of the sun is a symbol of the blindness of the people of his day.  The famine for the word of God- is also a blindness and deafness.  They have prophets and the Law (the Word), but they cannot see or hear for they refuse to do so.  They hunger gor God's Word as for bread but the bread of life right in front of them cannot be seen.

Prayer: While we deserve your wrath, O God, be patient with us. You have given us your Word in so many different ways.  Help us to take advantage of your Word by feasting on it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said, 'Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile
away from his land.'" 12 And Amaziah said to Amos, "O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom."
14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' 16 "Now therefore hear the word of the LORD.
You say, 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.'
17 Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.'" (Amos 7:10-17)

("Freedom of Speech" Norman Rockwell- the common man speaks up) 


Thoughts: Amos had said earlier that wise men keep quiet because the times are evil.  Amos wasn't winning favor or popularity by speaking against evil.  He was not being "wise" in the eyes of the world.  Amos was acosted by the chief priest of the government-run church and told not to speak. Amaziah, the priest knew it was bad for business to have a prophet speak against his boss.  Amos reply indicates he didn't plan or want to speak, but it was something he had to do.  When God calls us to speak, we cannot do anything else.  In the end, Amos was proven right in his prophecy.  If God calls you to stand up or speak up, we must do so. 

Prayer: If you call me Lord, I will speak up for you. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

10/16/11 The Day fo the Lord ends False Worship

18 Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD?
That day will be darkness, not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:18-24)

(Nimrud Ivories of cherubs from Assyria- probably taken captive 750 BC from Hebrew as has Hebrew writings referring to Yahweh.  Amos condemned the ivory inlaid luxury that neglected the poor)


Thoughts: The worship in Amos' day is a bit like the worship of those maffia bosses who think they can kill, foster prostitution, push drugs, and then come to church- say a few repeated prayers and then start over again.  God wants justice and compassion on the needy.  He does not want people who seek to enthrone themselves and preserve their false security and temporary wealth at the expense of apathy toward neighbor. Worship is enhanced by caring for neighbor.  Worship is NOT just the songs with the best beat, the great knowledge, and the right liturgy.  Jesus always taught about the heart of the matter- which shows with holy love.  This is not love without holiness; or a false sense of justice without holiness.  But holiness-justice-and love together.  The Day of the Lord is a day when evil is condemned.  Amos reminds us that we need

Prayer: Give me a heart like your heart- O God.  A heart of love and compassionate, merciful hands that reach out to my needy neighbor.