Amos is an example of the Lord using a simple man to further his cause. Amos was not a priest or a prophet. He was a shepherd whom God called to be a prophet.
Much of what he says is right in line with what the other prophets have spoken. The people of Israel can never say that they weren’t warned. Time and again, the Lord raised up men to warn the people of their wrong doing. But they just wouldn’t listen.
In these first four chapters of the book Amos makes some statements which have been often quoted.
One of these is “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”(3:3) We see the wisdom of that statement often when people are attempting to accomplish the plans of God. Many churches have the problem of several people trying to pull in different directions. That can be devastating to the plan of God, because strife always ensues when people are in that mode. Strife and a huge standstill. It’s impossible to move forward when many are trying to go different ways.
The second famous verse is another one we should take to heart. “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” (3:7) When big moves of God are about to take place, there will be many who hear from God concerning the moves beforehand. It’s one reason it’s so important to listen to prophets. They can hear and bring insight to others concerning the future.
Sometimes these words are warnings; sometimes they are words of encouragement. In either case, the words from God will protect us and keep us on the right path.
As we move along with the Lord, He will bring correction to the church. Suddenly new revelation will spring forth. Words which have never been noticed will suddenly be brought to light. Those who want to be on God’s cutting edge will truly benefit from such revelation. They will adjust and flow with the Father’s plans rather than pull against them.
You may be thinking that you aren’t in the elite class of ministers who hear dramatic things from the Lord. If you think that, you’re wrong. Neither was Amos, but He heard and reported what He heard, bringing a blessing to all of us.
So watch and listen to see what the Lord might be showing you. As you read the Word, He will speak to you also.
Hold on to what He says to you.
In this chapter, we see a day of judgment which is coming on the world. Fire sent to the earth and seas, turning them into bitter waters which will kill the creatures within.
As we read these chapters, it seems scary to many. But it should not be frightening to those who are the Lord’s people. The last days and the final “wrap up” are God’s final dealings with Satan and his followers. As we proceed into the next chapters, we will get a more complete understanding of Satan and his history. We will also get a more complete understanding of God’s plans to take care of him for good.
One thing is for sure. God is the Almighty, great God, and Satan is a fallen angel. He has caused a lot of trouble, but Satan is no match for God.
Satan’s power is only in his ability to confuse men and cause them to turn away from God. He puts thoughts in the minds of men which cause them to turn from God. He will often call good evil and evil good.
Our present cultural environment shouts to us, attempting to get people to question God and to turn away from Him. There is no question that Satan is behind much of the confusion and perversion of God’s plan.
That’s why it’s so important for us to stay focused on God’s Word and for us to continue in locked step with Him.
God’s Word is true. His way is right. Hang in there, knowing that you can’t go wrong if you stick with God Almighty!
Regeneration, restitution, and beyond! The book of Joel brings us to such a tremendous understanding of God’s blessing which we can live in today, if we so choose.
After a call for the nation of Israel to repent, he speaks of a day when the blessings will flow upon God’s people. They will have everything restored to them. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten. The crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust.” (2:28)
Then our Father, speaking through Joel, goes on to the promise of our Christian experience.
“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams. Your young men shall see visions.” (2:28) These verses were those used by Peter to explain to the Jews what had happened when they first began praying in tongues. These prophesies had come to pass.
“And in that day, the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all of the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water. A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord to water the Valley of Acacias.” (3:18)
We are living in that day. The day of restoration. The day of God’s Spirit and His blessing flowing out upon us. And it’s a wonderful place to be.
Oswald Chambers once said, “The miracle of God’s grace is that He can make the past as though it had never been.”(2:24).
Do you have moments of your past which weigh you down? Sorrow, regret, and bitterness can all come from considering the past over and over.
Okay, we all have things from our past which we would like to change; but we can’t! What’s done is done, so we have to move ahead.
If we will receive our Father’s merciful forgiveness and healing balm for all the hurts of the past, we will enter a new realm. We get to start over, drop off the burden of our mistakes, and pains, and vigorously pursue the life He has planned for us.
No wonder we want to praise Him! Our Father’s blessings for us are more abundant than we can ever know.
We just believe, receive, and walk in His purpose. Free from guilt and shame.
As we go about our daily lives, sometimes we lose sight of life’s bigger picture. We get so caught up in the natural elements around us, we don’t even think about the spiritual world and all that it involves.
Yet our ignorance and our apathy don’t stop the reality of God’s big plans going forth. And these big plans are executed from His headquarters in heaven. The throne room.
Revelation gets us focused on some of these weightier things. While we are partaking of the rich imagery supplied in the book, we need to remember that so much of it is symbolic of extremely significant spiritual truths.
God has provided John with complicated dreamlike visions of heaven and all that it contains. He sees the throne and all of the elders and angels praising God continually. There is tremendous anticipation in heaven as all are looking for the important operations of God on earth to be revealed.
As we look at the prophetic visions, we need to let God show us what He wants us to see in them. There is much to see, and there are many different emphases which people make as they read.
End time prophecy is revealed. There are secrets which could not be unveiled until the perfect One appeared on the scene. After Jesus paid the price and returned to heaven, He was the One who could open the seals and reveal the mysteries. Thus He opens the book and begins to break the seals so that the future may be told.
Throughout Revelation we will see significant numbers. One of those is the number seven. Seven represents the completeness or wholeness of something. Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven churches, seven lampstands, and seven candlesticks. What is being said is pretty complete, wouldn’t you say?
As you read, pray and ask God to tell you what He wants you to know about this prophetic book.
As we continue to read, we should be encouraged. We win in the end. God wins, and there will be a finality to the suffering the enemy has bought on the earth.
Praise God for that!
Throughout the book of Hosea, God demonstrates His great love for us and His faithfulness to us. His unconditional love is apparent.
Yet this group of people never receive God’s wonderful love for them. The Lord speaks of a day when He will bring back His people to their own land and bless them. And that word will be carried out, but this group will never be in on it.
Hosea is writing to the northern kingdom, Israel, which contains 10 of the original tribes of Israel. These people will be captured and transported to Assyria, and there is no record of them ever returning. The southern kingdom, Judah, will eventually go into Babylon and will be brought back by God’s mighty hand. But not the ones who go into Assyria. Some have come to call these people the “Lost Tribes of Israel.”
There are several books which give us glimpses of God’s faithfulness to the children of Judah in Babylon. The books of Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, and Ezra all show how God continues to work with His people even in captivity. But we never hear from these whom Hosea addresses again.
God’s love is there for us today – even in a greater measure because of the blood of Jesus. Yet not all will receive it.
Those of us who do receive His great love will bring forth much fruit for His kingdom. We will be empowered by Him to overcome the sin in our lives, and we will be empowered by Him to share the good news with others.
Hosea is a book which shows unequivocally how God is eager to bless those who are His. It also shows that we have a choice.
I pray that you and I will choose wisely. Living in His love is an awesome place to be!
If you are a parent, you know the many sides of your responsibility toward your children. You are cultivating a life which will hopefully represent God and His kingdom, so your instruction is not always the same.
When your child is lacking in confidence – perhaps having been mistreated by a teacher or friend – your words to him or her are uplifting and encouraging. You remind him of God’s great love for him and that the Father= is there for him in whatever he pursues. You major on God’s grace.
However, if your child is off the path, and about to get himself into trouble – maybe because of his own stubbornness – your word to him is different. In this case, you bring correction and rebuke for the dangerous behavior.
In each case, your word is based on your love for your child. You are responding to the need of the moment.
Well our heavenly Father is the same way. There are times when we need much encouragement, and that is what He gives us. There are times, however, when we need to be corrected, and that is what He gives us.
In these chapters of Revelation, we see our God at work doing just that. Yesterday we took a look at some of the letters to the churches. Today, we cover the rest of them.
In chapter three, He addresses a dead church.(And we have seen some of those). He also addresses two others. The church of Philadelphia is the most on track of any we have seen. This church is producing fruit for the kingdom, and has a door open to it – a door which no one can shut, because Jesus Himself has opened the door. It’s their reward for “having a little strength, having kept His Word, and not having denied His name.”(3:8)
Then Jesus comes to the lukewarm church – the church which is the most prevalent “problem church” in our society. When we have grown up in a religious society, we forget some things along the way, and our sight becomes clouded. We start relying on our own righteousness, and not that of our Savior. We start living our lives from our own works, and we forget how much we need our Father’s empowerment to live for Him.
That’s where the Laodicean church found itself. And they had quite a rebuke! Jesus says to them – and those of us today who are in that quagmire – that He will vomit them up, if they don’t repent. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chastise.” (3:19)
Yet He is still knocking on the door of their hearts – and yours and mine when we become self-sufficient. If we have an ear to hear, we will overcome and sit with Him.
Over the years, there have been many times when I would feel God’s correction for me. Perhaps concerning an attitude; perhaps concerning incorrect thinking. One thing is certain: His correction is always sweet. The devil will condemn, but Jesus corrects in a way that doesn’t condemn. His correction will bring peace, because it will be obvious that it comes from His love.
I am so very thankful for the many facets of my God’s love for me. Always love, but many expressions of it. Awesome!
“Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. For His going forth is certain as the dawn.” (6:3) This was a leap-off-the-page verse for me several years ago as I was reading Hosea.
God has a plan and He is carrying it out. Sometimes – even many times – when He tries to get people to work His plan with Him, they say,”no.” So he has to go to another – and another. But, make no mistake about it. God’s overall plan will get done.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn.
So when you and I see things in the Word which aren’t being fulfilled, we shouldn’t worry, and we shouldn’t give up. Every Word of God will be fulfilled in due season.
The times and seasons of God are for Him alone to know. (Jesus even said that He didn’t know the times and seasons).
Yet there is a method our Father uses. When it’s time to bring forth the next phase of His plan, the Lord shares it with His prophets. They, in turn, give a heads up to other leaders, and specific prayer begins. Prayer that will bring the next phase on the scene.
Many years ago, as I realized such mechanisms of God’s processes, I made a commitment to Him and to myself. I want to be in on whatever God is doing. I don’t want to be bypassed when He brings great moments to the earth.
Recently, the Father has been showing many prophets that He is lining up His people for a “great awakening.” He is transitioning some to new assignments, and He is calling many to pray specifically for this movement.
When He says it’s going to happen, it will. Some won’t want to be involved, but there will be some who have the privilege of a remarkable move of God in the earth.
Wait for it, and watch for it. Our Father’s going forth is as certain as the dawn.
We have seen Jesus in many facets of His being. He has been the humble servant, the Passover Lamb, the wise counselor, merciful One. In revelation, we see Jesus in a new light. He is the Alpha and Omega, and the One who holds the keys to death and of Hades. (1:18).
As John sees the appearance of the risen Lord, He describes Him as glowing like burnished bronze. His head and hair are like white wool, and His eyes are like flames of fire. This appearance presents our all-powerful, all-knowing risen Lord. Very dramatic. Even John who knew Him well, is now in awe of this appearance. He is Jehovah Tsaba, the Lord of Hosts.
When people want to keep Jesus in some sort of religious box, they don’t realize what they are doing. He paid the price to defeat Satan for us all, and in doing so, all authority in heaven and earth now reside upon Him. He is awesome!
The day will come when everyone (even those who pierced His sides), will recognize Jesus as the One with all authority. People from every tribe of the earth will recognize Him and mourn because they didn’t see Him for who He was and is. He is truly the Son of God. (1:7).
Throughout Revelation, we will see some understanding about God’s divine plan from the beginning of time. We will see the demise of Satan and his fallen angels. We will also see ourselves, the saints of God, playing our parts in the destiny of the world. We will see ourselves as “kings and priests” with only One higher in authority, that is the King of kings and the High Priest of the priests. (1:5)
It’s an awesome picture of God’s liberation of us all.
Jesus starts right out in this vision speaking a word to the churches of the era. These Words are for those specific churches, but for us also. He first brings encouragement to each one, and then He brings some direction – some constructive criticism, if you will. If we will take the words and examine our own hearts, we will see how we can better participate in all that He wants for us.
The first church mentioned is Ephesus. This church is thriving – filled with saints who are discerning about false teaching and lack of holiness. They are holy people. Yet there is one thing they lack. They have left their first love.
There is a difference between working for the Lord and spending time with Him. Most of us start out in total awe of our Lord. He has looked past our sins and set us free from them, giving us a chance to start over in life. What a marvelous time we have as we pour out our hearts and listen to His voice. He loves us and we love Him.
Then as time goes by, the “first love” aspect of our walk can suffer even while working hard for Him. Yet He longs for us always to seek Him first – even before we do the work.
Return to your first love, He says to us as well as them.
As Jesus speaks to the other churches, one of the common themes is…stay away from sin and don’t be influenced by those who are not truly His. Let your doctrine be pure and untainted by the world.
And above all, be steadfast. Overcome the temptations. Those who overcome will have a special blessing from the Lord, because He watches over those who are HIs.
As we read through the letters to the churches, we look for the messages which apply to us. All of us have certain strengths and weaknesses – certain areas which are especially tempting to us. So we listen and learn – and hang on.
We want to be those who overcome.
We backtrack a bit to hear what Hosea has to say. And we indeed want to hear it, because Hosea has a unique assignment of showing God’s mercy.
This prophet has a message to the northern kingdom, Israel, after the kingdoms split. He spends about 40 years pleading with them to turn back to God, but they won’t listen.
In the midst of his message, however, Hosea shows God’s unfailing love towards His people. Hosea is instructed to marry a prostitute and to have children by her. She, of course, will be unfaithful to him, but he will continue to love her through it all.
It’s a picture of God’s faithfulness to Israel, even when Israel is “playing the harlot” with all of the gods around.
Chapter two is especially poignant. The Lord says that He will lure Israel into the wilderness and make a covenant with her there. He will rescue her from destruction, and draw her out to be with Him. “The valley of Achor will become a door of hope.”(2:15) The valley of destruction will become a hope for her, because it will be from there that Israel will remember God and turn back to Him.
This verse has brought solace to many mothers I have known. Praying for their wayward children, they have seen them suffer because of bad choices. Yet often that wilderness experience has been the very thing to bring them back to God. The Valley of Achor (pain) has become the door of hope indeed.
In this chapter of Hosea, we see that God’s people will begin to call Him “husband” (Ishi), because of the closeness they develop. All of this allegory reminds me of a passage in Song of Solomon 8:5. “Who is this coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” It’s the bride of Christ, of course, His church.
We are married to our Lord, so that we are one with Him now. What a beautiful picture of our love relationship with Him!
The difference is that we will remain faithful to Him…won’t we?
There is one word which leaps out at me from Jude’s letter. That word is “contend.” Contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to you. (V. 3)
He goes on to mention the angels and their fall from the very throne of God. Then he speaks of many others who have turned from God. Finally he gets to the present day (and , yes, they are still present day), men who try to turn the grace of God into licentiousness.
God’s grace is such a precious thing. His love for us and His empowerment of us through His Holy Spirit is wondrous indeed. We are to honor that grace and live lives which show His grace to others. Never is that grace to be defiled by taking it lightly and abusing it.
Jude finishes his letter by saying that there will be those who come into our midst, trying to create divisions and strife. They will be mockers, following after their own lusts, worldly-minded, and self-centered. (V. 19)
But there is good news in all of this: we don’t have to be that way. When we keep our eyes focused on our Lord, and when we “build ourselves up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit”(V. 20), we will be filled with faith, love and His purpose.
And our God is able to keep us from stumbling, when we commit our lives to these things. (V. 24)
It’s do-able – we just have to do it!
In this section, we come to one of the most important principles for a successful Christian life. It’s a lesson the Lord wants us all to know.
God is sovereign; He makes the rules and He implements them. However, many people stop with that thought and never go on to think: so what are the rules?
One of the most significant rules is that He has given to man a certain amount of authority on the earth. He has designed it so that men are to pray for even His will to be done. We have a part in all that He does.
To use the words of John Wesley, forerunner of the Methodist Church, “I am convinced that God does nothing in the earth unless a man first prays.”
Wow!! That certainly goes against the grain of those who say that all we have to do is sit on the sofa and eat popcorn while God runs the world.
Yet this is the thing. God sends His word to the earth so that man will know what to pray for. How about that? We get a “cheat sheet” which tells us what to pray for; then He brings it to pass.
We see a perfect example of this in Daniel’s book. The prophet saw that God had told Jeremiah that the children of Israel would be in captivity for 70 years. And guess what! 70 years were up!(9:2)
So Daniel prays for God’s will to be done. (This is the real “your will be done” prayer, when you see in the Word what is His will and you pray for it to happen).
Now let’s be clear about this. Most of us don’t have God telling us exactly what He intends to do in the whole world – or even in our own country. O.K. So we aren’t a prophet to the whole church. But what about our family? He certainly tells us about what His will is for them.
Right in the Word when we see our covenant, we see over and over that He wants us to walk with Him, be healthy, prosperous, and successful. He wants that for our families also. Abundant life – isn’t that what Jesus said? (John 10:10)
So we do what Daniel did. We take that word and we pray it back to our Father. Then we speak it into the atmosphere for all of the demons and angels to hear. (Remember, the angels hearken to the voice of God’s Word to obey it. When we speak it, we are giving it voice).(Psalm 103:20)
We are working with God to bring about His best for our families and our communities. We aren’t begging Him for something He is trying to withhold. He wants to give us the kingdom; it’s His pleasure. (Luke 12:32)
Pray. Speak. Pray. Speak. Don’t give up until you see it manifest!
This thought just moves us right into III John:2. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health just as your soul prospers.”
There is a doctrine of demons our there, which has really worked its way into the church, and which says that God wants us poor, sick, and suffering “for his glory.”
Well that doesn’t give Him glory. What gives our God glory is for us to be filled with his love and mercy. And for us to have blessed lives in every respect so that people can see that He is really the One True God in heaven and on earth.
So let’s shake off that phoney doctrine, which is the devil’s will for our lives, and look at what His Word says.
He wants us to prosper and be in good health. I’ll take that, won’t you?
Then we take the cue from Daniel and we pray that Word of God until we see it with our eyes and hear it with our ears!
Let’s never give up until we see God’s Word being performed in our lives!