Posts tagged ‘Amos’

November 20, 2012

Thankful: The Year of the Lord’s Favor

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Luke 4:18-19
M’Cheyne Text: Amos 9; Luke 4

News: This Thanksgiving, as we consider recent events, some of us may be wondering, “Is God judging New York?” A few years ago, David Wilkerson declared that he had received an “urgent message” from the Lord: “An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen. It is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble – even the godliest among us” [1]. Then, a few weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy hit and, in its wake, a pastor in Maryland said that the storm was directly linked to Mayor Bloomberg’s $250,000 donation to a Maryland campaign defending the state’s same-sex marriage law [2]. Is this the judgment hand of God?

Favor: Jesus preached his first sermon from the scroll of Isaiah, quoting, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” [3]. Then he rolled up the scroll and sat down. Curiously, however, Jesus stopped mid-sentence. He did not quote the full verse. The words of Isaiah continued, “ … and the day of vengeance of our God” [4]. Why did Jesus not mention the judgment?

Salvation: The first coming of Jesus ushered in the year of the Lord’s favor – that is, a space of time for salvation, not judgment. Today, we live in this time. We may see the hand of the Lord in mighty and fearful ways, but we still live in a day of great grace and patience. In everything that happens, He says, “Return to me.” During this year of the Lord’s favor, the Lord is withholding His judgment and offering full amnesty to our rebellious hearts. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” [5].

Prayer: Lord, As we reflect on the events of this year, we see your hand at work and your voice, saying, “Return to me.” For today we live in the year of your favor and your work is not intended to judge us. Yet there will come a time when the day of salvation is over and the day of vengeance will come, as Isaiah prophesied. Therefore, let us turn back our hearts to you now. Amen.

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Audio: Bible Listening (8:48 minutes total)

Amos 9 (2:57 minutes) – here

Luke 4 (5:51 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] David Wilkerson Devotionals. “An Urgent Message.” 7 March 2009.  |  [2]Hurricane Sandy Hit New York After Bloomberg Supported Gay Marriage, Pastor Luke Robinson Claims.” HuffPost Gay Voices. 5 November 2012.  |  [3] Luke 4:18-19  |  [4] Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV  |  [5] 2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV. See also John 12:47-48.

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November 19, 2012

Thankful: A History of Grace

by Perryn Pettus

Highlighted Text: Luke 3:8
M’Cheyne Text: Amos 8; Luke 3

Guest Author: Perryn Pettus

Lord,

We are thankful that you are in the business of changing hearts. We see this evidenced in a history of grace as we look back on the lineage from which your Son descended. We know that the genealogy of Jesus includes gender outsiders, racial outsiders, moral outsiders and cultural outsiders. We give thanks in this because we know our hearts are no different.

Despite all of our failures and transgressions facing us today, we have much gratitude. You are a God who has caused kings and prostitutes to sit at the same table because you have accepted and loved them as equals. As Tim Keller said, “No one – not even the greatest – doesn’t need the grace of Jesus Christ. But no one – not even the worst – can fail to the receive the grace of Jesus Christ” [1]. We are reminded of this in the gospel of Luke, “For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham” [2].

We are thankful that what has already been done in Jesus Christ changes everything in our future, no matter what our past contains. Because you sent a Savior, the world’s values for success and family pedigree are turned completely upside down and in that we can trust.  Thank you that the story of Jesus’ birth, life and resurrection isn’t a “once upon a time” story, but a story where we find true hope and rest. We are blessed because you have given us good news to live, not merely good advice.

Give us rest knowing that we don’t need to control history by proving ourselves in this world. Remind us daily of Jesus’ heritage of imperfect people and that you are able to turn stones into sons of Abraham. Thank you that the point of Jesus’ story is to bring us rest.

Amen.

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 Audio: Bible Listening (7:31 minutes)

Amos 8 (2:16 minutes) – here

Luke 3 (5:15 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] Tim Keller. “The History of Grace.” 14 December 2008. Sermon on Matthew 1:1-17. Much of this prayer was based on the message in this sermon.  |  [2] Luke 3:8

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November 16, 2012

Attributes: The Freedom of God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Luke 1:1-4
M’Cheyne Text: Amos 5; Luke 1:1-38

Freedom: Although we speak about our having free will, we do not have absolute free will. As Tozer wrote, “Wordsworth at the beginning of his ‘Prelude’ rejoiced that he had escaped the city where he had long been pent up and was ‘now free, free as a bird to settle where I will.’ But to be free as a bird is not to be free at all. The naturalist knows that the supposedly free bird actually lives its entire life in a cage made of fears, hungers and instincts; it is limited by weather conditions, varying air pressures, the local food supply, predatory beasts, and that strangest of all bonds, the irresistible compulsion to stay within the small plot of land and air assigned it by birdland comity. The freest bird is, along with every other created thing, held in constant check by a net of necessity. Only God is free” [1]. Yet how does God expend His freedom?

Certainty: The Lord inspired Luke to write his gospel account to persuade someone of the truth: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” [2].

Gospel: How does God expend His freedom? By serving us. Unlike other absolute sovereigns, especially ones that Luke knew, God longs for us to be certain of the truth. As we meditate on the gospel of Luke over the next few months and especially through the Advent season, we will see how God expends His sovereign freedom to give us certainty. Only God is free. Yet He uses His freedom to save and serve us. This is our mighty servant King.

Prayer: Lord, You are sovereign over all creation and, in your freedom, you planned and achieved our salvation. As we approach the gospel of Luke, we thank you for inspiring him to write it so that we would be certain of the truth. Stir our hearts to cherish your unique sovereignty as we remember that you expend your freedom on our behalf so that we will trust in you. Amen.

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 Audio: Bible Listening (9:11 minutes total)

Amos 5 (3:46 minutes) – here

Luke 1:1-38 (5:25 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] A.W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy.  |  [2] Luke 1:1-4 ESV

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November 15, 2012

Attributes: The Holiness of God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Amos 4:11-12
M’Cheyne Text: Amos 4; Psalm 148-150

Approach: Most of us prepare for important meetings. We brush up our résumés for interviews and get dressed up for first dates. Yet how do we prepare for meeting God? With what posture do we approach His holy throne? What prayers do we offer? Do we approach him casually, as an equal, or reverently, as a sovereign?

Prepare: Amos was a simple shepherd, who lived in a small town just outside of Jerusalem. Although he was raised in Judah, his main ministry was in Israel. During his lifetime, Israel experienced outward prosperity, but spiritual poverty. So God sent Amos to the center of its corruption – the cult city of Bethel. In that place, God reminded His people of His past discipline – the drought he sent upon their land, the locusts He sent upon their gardens, and the pestilence that He sent upon their children. Then He said, “I overthrew some of you … yet you did not return to me … Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” [1]

Holiness: When we prepare to meet God – whether in prayer, worship or the Word – His holiness must be before us. As Tozer wrote, “Before the uncreated fire of God’s holiness, angels veil their faces … No honest man can say, ‘I am holy,’ but neither is any honest man willing to ignore the solemn words of the inspired writer, ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ Caught in this dilemma, what are we as Christians to do? We must like Moses cover ourselves with faith and humility while we steal a quick look at the God whom no man can see and live. The broken and the contrite heart He will not despise. We must hide our unholiness in the wounds of Christ … We must take refuge from God in God. Above all, we must believe that God sees us perfect in His Son while He disciplines and chastens and purges us that we may be partakers of His holiness” [2].

Prayer: Lord, As we prepare to meet you this morning, give us a present sense of your holiness. May we hide in you, as we count discipline as your kindness. Open our ears to hear you say, “Return to me,” so that we prepare to meet you in your holiness. Amen.

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 Audio: Bible Listening (5:04 minutes total)

Amos 4 (2:22 minutes) – here

Psalm 148 (1:13 minutes) – here

Psalm 149 (0:55 minutes) – here

Psalm 150 (0:34 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] Amos 4:11, 12 ESV  |  [2] A.W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy.

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November 14, 2012

Attributes: The Justice of God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 146:7-9
M’Cheyne Text: Amos 3; Psalm 146-147

Rwanda: As a young attorney at the Department of Justice, Gary Haugen took a leave of absence to direct the United Nations’ investigation of the Rwandan genocide. He saw human rights atrocities – burned piles of bodies, children hacked to death with machetes, the decaying body of a woman with her child’s corpse beneath her. Perhaps the most disorienting thing he discovered, however, was that those who were tasked with bringing about justice, e.g., the police, were the ones who had carried out the injustice that he saw. Who are you supposed to turn to when the justice-keepers become the justice-breakers?

Justice: Justice has two aspects – showing favor to the oppressed and enacting punishment for the perpetrators. The Psalmist praised the Lord for possessing these twin aspects of justice: “[The Lord] executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” [1].

Truth: Today, Haugen serves as President of the International Justice Mission, which seeks to reform the rule of law in the developing world [2]. In his book, The Good News About Injustice, Haugen says that the good news about injustice is that God cares about it. He writes, “Amid a world of injustice, oppression and abuse, we can know some simple truths about God if we study his Word. No matter what the circumstances, we can depend on what he has revealed about himself. In regard to injustice, our heavenly Father bids us to trust in four solid truths about his character: (1) God loves justice and, conversely, hates injustice, (2) God has compassion for those who suffer injustice – everywhere around the world, without distinction or favor, (3) God judges and condemns those who perpetrate injustice, and (4) God seeks active rescue for the victims of injustice” [3].

Prayer: Lord, You love justice and hate injustice. Yet we recognize that, as sinners, we perpetrate injustice. We may not murder, but Jesus teaches us that we commit murder if we are angry with our brothers [4]. Yet we praise him for bearing judgment for us. On the cross, justice kissed love. Therefore, cause us to cherish your justice and, in response, seek it. Amen.

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Audio: Bible Listening (4:51 minutes total)

Amos 3 (2:01 minutes) – here

Psalm 146 (1:03 minutes) – here

Psalm 147 (1:47 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] Psalm 146:7-9 ESV  |  [2] For more information on the International Justice Mission, see www.ijm.org. See also Wikipedia, International Justice Mission.  |  [3] Gary Haugen. The Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World. InterVarsity Press. (1999), p. 69-70.  |  [4] See Matthew 5:21-26.

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November 13, 2012

Attributes: The Love of God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 145:14-18
M’Cheyne Text: Amos 2; Psalm 145

Modern: Modern love is often based on résumés. In Bobos in Paradise, David Brooks writes about the New York Times weddings page a.k.a. the “mergers and acquisitions page” [1]. He says, “When America had a pedigreed elite, the page emphasized noble birth and breeding. But in America today it’s genius and geniality … [Y]ou can almost feel the force of the mingling SAT scores. It’s Dartmouth marries Berkeley, MBA weds Ph.D. … The Times emphasizes four things about a person – college degrees, graduate degrees, career path, and parents’ profession – for these are the markers of upscale Americans today” [2].

Bridge: Since God is incomprehensible, as we saw yesterday [3], we have to use “what we already know as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown” [4]. In other words, for example, when we consider the love of God, we use what we already know – namely, human love – as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown – namely, the love of God. Yet we are still at a loss to define its essence. As Tozer wrote, “We do not know, and we may never know, what love is, but we can know how it manifests itself, and that is enough for us here” [5].

Manifest: How does the love of God manifest itself? Unlike modern love, it does not choose its beloved based on college degrees, graduate degrees, career paths or parents’ profession. Instead, it loves people who are humble and needy. As the Psalmist sang, “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to those who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” [6].

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, because you are incomprehensible, we sometimes think that your love is like ours. In Jesus, however, we see how untrue that is. On the cross, he died for sinners, not SAT scores [7]. Your love is undeserved. Let us, therefore, be humble and needy. For you uphold us when we fall. You uplift us when we are humble. You satisfy our desires when we open our hands. This is your love. Let us call upon you in truth. Amen.

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____________________________________

Audio: Bible Listening (4:31 minutes total)

Amos 2 (2:32 minutes) – here

Psalm 145 (1:59 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] David Brooks. Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. Simon & Schuster (2001), p. 14  |  [2] Id.  |  [3] 843 Acres. The Incomprehensibleness of God. 12 November 2012.  |  [4] A.W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy.  |  [5] Id.  |  [6] Psalm 145:14-18 ESV  |  [7] See Romans 5:8.

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November 12, 2012

Attributes: The Incomprehensibleness of God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 144:3-7
M’Cheyne Text: Amos 1; Psalm 144

Attributes: This week, we will be asking the question of both the child and the philosopher – “What is God like?” Yet what does this question mean? A.W. Tozer wrote, “‘What is God like?’ If by that question we mean, ‘What is God like in Himself?’ there is no answer. If we mean, ‘What has God disclosed about Himself that the reverent reason can comprehend?’ there is, I believe, an answer both full and satisfying. For while the name of God is secret and His essential nature incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation declared certain things to be true of Himself. These we call His attributes” [1].

Incomprehensible: God has revealed Himself as incomprehensible. He is not exactly like anything or anyone. Yes, we were made in His image, but we were not made in His exact nature. As the Psalmist makes clear, we are the creation and He commands creation: “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke! Flash forth the lightning and scatter them! Stretch out your hand from on high” [2].

Image: So what does it mean to be made in His incomprehensible image? Tozer reflected, “The yearning to know What cannot be known, to comprehend the Incomprehensible, to touch and taste the Unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its Source.” In other words, although our days are like passing shadows, we yearn for the Eternal One because He is our Creator and will one day bring us into His eternal presence.

Prayer: Lord, How can we come to know the unknowable? Your Word tells us that we come to know you through Jesus Christ our Lord. In him, you bowed your heavens and stretched out your hand from on high. By him, you effected complete self-disclosure. You came to us in the incarnation and you reconciled us to you in the atonement. Yet you reveal yourself to faith and love, not reason. Therefore, we enter and lay hold of your incomprehensibility by faith and love. Amen.

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FAQs

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What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Audio: Bible Listening (4:33 minutes total)

Amos 1 (2:43 minutes) – here

Psalm 144 (1:50 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] A.W. Tozer. Knowledge of the Holy.  |  [2] Psalm 144:3-7 ESV

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