God and You

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Amos 7 to 9  In chapter 3 God asks Amos a question: Can two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? In reading scripture we find some personalities who walked with God such as Enoch, Moses and others. All had one thing in common: they understood God’s ways. Enoch walked with God and he was not for God took him. Moses walked with God as friend to friend. Then there was Abraham. God asked to himself: should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Amos “saw” or beheld God making locusts to devour the crops and then a fire to consume the fields in the northern kingdom of Israel. As Amos watched, he pleaded with God: Sovereign Lord, forgive Israel! How can Jacob survive? And so as the conversation continued, the Sovereign Lord said: It will not happen.

What does this mean to us today? Just as these spoke to God on personal terms so can we. Jesus said: I no longer call you servants, instead I call you friends. A servant is told what to do and how but has no understanding of the why and does not question. In contrast, a friend converses and seeks to understand the motives and actions. Also, like the others who walked with God, Amos appealed to God for His mercy. God heard and relented of His decision.

Do you have that personal relationship with Him? Does he walk and talk with you? Are you His friend?

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

 

Amos 1 to 3 messenger2aAmos 1-3 I True story: I encountered a pastor after a morning service and wanted to speak to him about his sermon. I began, “Pastor..” but was rudely interrupted by this: I am Dr. Jones.” I left and never returned and perhaps you may feel that way too. You relate more to Amos the Sheepherder from Tekoa than someone who wears their Ph.D. on their sleeve. But, Amos is just a sheepherder, right? Why would should we pay attention to him? Don’t shoot the messenger that God has chosen!

God had a message for Israel and He has a message for us because He reveals the profound and hidden things whether we are a sheepherder or not. God used Amos to reveal a simple message of warning: For three things…no make that four is his repeated refrain.

So what are we to glean from Amos? It is this: Certainly, the Sovereign Lord does nothing without first revealing his plan which is: God is not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance. Perhaps you feel like Jeremiah when that happens and you say to yourself that someone else will tell them. But, God has chosen what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.

Jesus said: go and tell.

 

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God’s Post-it-notes

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Joel 1-3  If you just read the first chapter of the Prophet Joel’s message you would just groan and say no more, no more! Like the nation to whom Joel is writing you too may be facing a time of crisis. Yet, Joel starts by listing all of God’s post-it-notes, the first of which is:  “He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, relenting of evil.”   Be convinced that He Is the Lord your God! He is the Lord who dwells in Zion. Joel reminds the people that God will have compassion on His people and then asks, did you forget? He promised long ago to restore your grain as well as fresh wine and olive oil and you will be fully satisfied! Those words remind us of one of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” [Matt 5]

So after all of the locusts who devour and the priests who are in mourning and the farmers who are wailing, God reminds them that they are to proclaim a holy and sacred assembly and call out for help from the Lord.

Have you forgotten the message of Joel? God is speaking directly, personally and urgently to you to call unto Him and seek His face.

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What do you believe about God?

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Hosea 11 to 14 God is dead! The world would have us buy into that phrase but Hosea emphatically states: God is the Lord! He is God and not a man. Samuel the prophet said these same words: “The Preeminent One of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.” [1Sam 15] Stop and think about those you know who are fickle and say yes when they mean no or the reverse. God is faithful to always be who He is! He is the Lord who brought Israel out of Egypt, He spoke to the prophets, He revealed Himself in visions, as He did to Ezekiel. He spoke in parables through His Son Jesus whom He sent to die for our egregious sins.

Hosea reminds Israel that they must not acknowledge anyone or anything but Him alone for there is no Savior besides Him! He will heal their waywardness and love them freely.

Hosea ends his writing by saying: Who is wise? Let him discern these things! Who is discerning? Let him understand them! For the ways of the Lord are right; the godly walk in them, but in them the rebellious stumble. It is as if we are reading Peter’s words: remember this beloved: whoever believes in him will never be put to shame. [1Peter 2]

God is alive! Do you believe this? Who is God to you?

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Be a Seed Potato!

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Hosea 8-10 Potatoes are a great picture of discipleship!  You first plant seed potatoes in furrows and cover them with soil and then you wait while the potatoes grow large green plants.  It isn’t until harvest time when you lift the plants that you see many new potatoes! God is the gardener who has planted us as “seed potatoes” in the furrows of this world where we live, work and play.  While we are hidden we are, or should be, growing roots and then more potatoes; a picture of disciples making disciples.

But even though God, as the Master Gardener, has planted us properly, there are enemies lurking. Uncovered or shallow furrows become the prime menu for birds and mice. Hosea reminds the Israelites and us that we must be careful not to sow to the wind or as in the case of potatoes, the enemies of birds and mice. They will have a feast and you will only reap the whirlwind or perhaps nothing.  The Israelites did just that. They were to be God’s hidden potatoes in the world but they left their furrows uncovered and the enemy came. Hosea reminded them to break up the fallow ground, sow seed “potatoes” of righteousness and they would reap God’s unfailing love.

Is your furrow protected by the soil? Are you producing more seed potatoes which will, in turn, produce the Fruit of the Spirit?

 

 

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In What Do You Delight?

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Hosea 6  Hosea reminds the Israelites that God sees their unfaithfulness just like the morning mist which disappears with the sunrise. Their sacrifices lay upon the altars but are not consumed because of their broken relationship.  God is calling them, and us, to delight in Him alone!  He delights in our faithfulness to Him, not sacrifices or burnt offerings. He delights in our acknowledgment of Him.

This week we heard a young Swede say: God is archaic! God’s words do not bring hope!  You should feel fear each and every day!  Yet, we who know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob know this truth: God is the God of peace and contentment. His words bring us hope “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts..” [Rom 5] Hebrews reminds us that because God is omniscient we should be careful not to “be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.” Instead, cling to this truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Heb 13] because  even if “Heaven and earth passes away, His words will never pass away.” [Mark 13 author paraphrase]

Beloved, where are you not delighting in God? Where have you fallen for the mantra of the idols of wood, stone, and that which perishes?  God says “return to me, and I will return to you.” [Mal 3]

 

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God Restores the Unfaithful

Hosea unfaithfulness 2aHosea 1-4  Hosea lived his life as a bachelor in the northern kingdom of Israel but was called by God to do something “out of the ordinary!” God said; go; find a prostitute and marry her. Because God called, Hosea stepped out of his comfort zone. He found a prostitute in the gutter and married her. He lavished upon her riches untold, just as God did for us. Yet, Gomer eventually returned to the gutter where Hosea found her and redeemed her.  It is a picture of us before God redeemed us.

Hosea’s sought to save his wife, Gomer, from herself. However, just like Gomer we sometimes willingly leave the “pimp”/Satan to return to that scene of abuse and degradation. We too often find the glitz and glamor of trinkets calling to us. We forget that sin is pleasurable just for a season.

Israel saw with her eyes but not her heart. She heard with her ears but failed to recall:  “I chose you out of many peoples and redeemed you for one reason: I loved you.” Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a real-life picture, as hard as it was, of how God felt about His people’s rejection of Him. Thankfully, this is not the end of the story. Just as God promised restoration to Gomer and Israel,  He promises restoration to us. He chooses to do that because He wants a people to be a sweet aroma of Christ to the lost and dying world.

God is waiting to restore. Will you yield to Him?

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Quiet Times with God

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Waking up and seeing the time on the clock reminds me that God is waiting. He is waiting to be with me…just me! I am humbled by that fact and I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Daniel living so long ago. He didn’t have a Keurig to make instant coffee or a computer to log on and jot notes. Yet, he and God had a sweet relationship and I yearn for that each day. Without that quiet time with God, I am without His strength. That is my prayer for you this day as well.

Where does God meet you? It is interesting that God met both Daniel and Paul away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Both men had a group of friends with them but only Daniel and Paul saw the vision. Both felt their strength fade away because of the power of the vision. Both listened to the voice and both were given wisdom to understand.

Paul was given a vision because he needed to know Jesus whom he had been persecuting. From that encounter, he would travel the world telling all who would hear about His Jesus. Daniel, on the other hand, had a sweet relationship with God, but many questions. God came because Daniel did as James said: if you lack wisdom, ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach.

At the end of this encounter, Daniel was told the answer but then to seal it up for the time had not yet come for it to be revealed. Yet, God had one more promise to him; he would leave this earth and go to his rest just as the Hebrews author said.

God is waiting to spend time with you. Do you have a place of quiet where you can pray: give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand?

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To Yahweh, I pray…

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Daniel 9 The bronze man in Ezekiel 40 told him to “see with your eyes, hear with your ears and pay attention to all I am going to everything I show you…” Now place yourself with Daniel in the mode of prayer and your heart is heavy for the sins of your people and in a flash the man Gabriel approaches you in your state of weariness to say “I have come now to impart understanding to you.” Could it be that Daniel had prayed: help me, Father, to see with your eyes, hear with my ears and give me a heart to understand? Is this how we pray? And just like that, Gabriel says you are of great value in God’s sight.

Does God so treasure us that he says we are highly esteemed? Jesus told a parable about a nobleman who trusted three of his servants with his wealth while he was away on a journey. Upon his return he had each come to him and give an account. To two of them he said “well done, thou good servant but to the third, he said: you are wicked.

When we stand before God will we hear those same words: you are highly esteemed, you have been faithful or will we hear depart from me, I never knew you? Dare to be a Daniel today!  Pray for eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand so you may be found faithful.

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Three Kings Who Learned God is God

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Daniel 4 to 6  Daniel, the righteous, served under several kings. With each, he had developed a relationship by which he could give them wise counsel. Daniel told each of them to renounce the gods of silver and gold. But, as they say, hindsight is a better teacher.

 

 

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Nebuchadnezzar was given a dream of what would happen if he did not worship Jehovah but worshiped the idol gods. Daniel pleaded with him to renounce his ways, but he conveniently put it off to another day. True to form, God’s time table was right on schedule. Nebuchadnezzar had  a full 7 yrs of living like a mad man.

 

To BelDaniel Rembrandt-Belshazzars-Feast-story-600bshazzar God sent a dramatic visual lesson. He was fearful yet chose to ignore the warning. It happened just as Daniel said; that very night he was killed.

 

 

 

daniel-in-the-lions-den-briton-riviereDarius listened to the voices of fools and regretted that a righteous man, Daniel, would be thrown to the lions because of his decision. 

 

 

 

Only Nebuchadnezzar and Darius learned how gracious God is when they repented and gave glory to God.

Belshazzar? Well, like Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew or like the man who built barns to store up his wealth, he found out God meant what He said. God called them all fools.

If God came to you and told you your days were numbered what would you do? There is time to repent and give glory to God. Remember what Jesus said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Luke 5:32]

 

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