Readers’ Choice Month:
This September, The Park Forum is looking back on readers’ selections of our most meaningful and helpful devotionals from the past 12 months. Thank you for your readership. This month is all about hearing from you. Submit a Readers’ Choice post today.

Today’s post was originally published, on April 25, 2022, based on Amos 9.1a, 11-13
It was selected by reader, Michelle Perez: 

“This devotional is timely and profound. I hear all too often people who remain part of failed churches led by questionable pastors place the blame entirely on enemy influence… God gave us his Holy Spirit for guidance and his word for wisdom. When a pastor’s words and actions are sinful, one needs to leverage those incredible tools to keep from becoming an idol worshiper, enabler, and ultimately, a victim.”

Scripture Focus: Amos 9.1a, 11-13
1 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; 

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, 

Reflection: When God Shakes Our Foundation—Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman

Amos describes God standing by the altar and striking the pillars to bring the structure down on the people. This image is reminiscent of Samson’s destruction of the temple of Dagon. (Judges 16.23-30) Why would God treat his own Temple like Samson treated the temple of Dagon?

The people worshiped other idols alongside God, even placing images of these idols in God’s Temple. In doing so, they made him equal to those idols. To God, the elaborate temples, in Samaria and Jerusalem, had become little more than tents of wickedness.

The people reduced God to an idol so, in Amos’s vision, God reduces the Temple to rubble which falls and crushes the people. In fulfillment of this vision the Assyrians and Babylonians would crush both nations and both temples would be burned, torn down, and reduced to rubble.

God brings judgment beyond his people as well. Amos describes God going to the ends of the earth (and below it and above it and to the depths of the sea) to bring vengeance to the wicked. (Amos 9.2-4)

God is determined to renovate this world, starting with his church and his people. And renovation always starts with demolition. When leaders, churches, and organizations fall after revelations of misconduct and sin some have a tendency to blame “enemies of the church.” This is unbiblical. It is God, not Satan, who works to destroy corruption in the church. When sin is revealed and an organization crumbles, it was God who struck the blow, not an enemy.

It should not surprise us to see the foundations of our churches shaken when wickedness has been covered up. It should not dismay us to see God scatter and humiliate abusive shepherds and corrupt kings. God is doing this, not an enemy. God is striking our pillars. God’s church is renewed by the removal of corrupt leaders.

What idols have we set beside God in the temples of our hearts and in our houses of worship? 

There is no hiding from God’s judgment. (Revelation 6.16) There is also no hiding from God’s mercy. Amos ends with a picture of restoration. God repairs “David’s tent” which refers to the destroyed Temple. He can and will repair us.

God seeks us as individuals and as his church, longing to heal us if we will let him. The razed can be rebuilt. The ruined can be restored. The uprooted can be replanted.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “If I were to seek my own glory my glory would be worth nothing; in fact, my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, “He is our God” although you do not know him. But I know him, and if I were to say: I do not know him, I should be a liar…But I do know him, and I keep his word.” — John 8:54-56

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 32(Listen – 7:34)
1 Corinthians 8(Listen – 1:54)

Readers’ Choice is Here!
There’s still room for your recommended posts from the last 12 months. Which one helped you heal?

Read more about Misleading the Least
Woe to leaders who mislead…Have we caused others to stumble? If so, how?…By being an example of greed or any other sin?