Amos 1 (April 12-13, 2018)
Personal Messages From the LORD
Amos, a shepherd, is sent to the Northern Kingdom to deliver some not so welcomed news to Israel during a time when life was good.
Sometimes when I’m reading God’s Word the oddest things pop off the page and grab my attention. For instance in today’s reading I find it interesting and a rather prominent statement of God’s character that He didn’t just send “a” message in this first chapter – but five personal messages to Israel’s neighbors – calling them by name and listing their egregious sins and the judgment/consequences of those sins.
This is perhaps my favorite character of God – the fact that He is personal and intentional in His relationship with His people. It is comforting to me to know that He is paying attention, knows how I’m feeling, and what I – not just another human being but Mary Ellen – need or want. His words and actions aren’t generic they are specific – words written for ‘all’ but delivered to me through the written page, other’s words and/or messages, or His still small voice. If I’m paying attention I will notice that something as simple as a smile or as big as a $200 check that arrives in a card – with a message that says ‘not sure why, but I was impressed to share this with you’ – are delivered at just the right time. I often ask Him in the morning, ‘help me to see Your fingerprints today and to hear Your voice, even if it’s a whisper – and He does … that smile came when I was hurting on the inside and needed a friendly face, but they had no idea… and the check met a financial need that I didn’t even know about at the time.
So why does this mean so much to me? Because, knowing that He is personal in His relationship with me encourages me to be personal in return … I pray personal prayers – I look and listen expectantly for Him – I trust deeper – and I respond more quickly, which. – I suppose – is why this chapter and the five personal messages of conviction grabbed my attention.
I noticed in each statement of judgment there was the word ‘Because’. God didn’t just know that they had sinned, He knew what they had done and He didn’t just say ‘you have sinned against me’, he said it’s ‘because …’. Much like the gift of the smile and the check, if I am alert – like He tells me to be – I will often hear His warning before I’ve ever stepped into the sin – and I will see the way of escape that He provides.
… God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:1
And, if I have already stepped or fallen into sin – I can rest assured that because He is personal He will tell me exactly what I’ve done (Amos 1: 3, 6, 9, 11, and 13) and allow me to confess my sin and find forgiveness through the blood of Christ.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Even as I was writing this – my daughter came in and started telling me some things that God had been teaching her and some very personal ways He has been showing up and personal things He’s been doing and then she ended the conversation with this bottom-line commentary … God is good!
“He (Amos) delivered warnings and God’s messages of judgment during a time of peace, wealth and great prosperity.” First5
“Israel saw its wealth as blessings from God. But Amos would reveal their breach of covenant with Him.” First5
“Despite how uncomfortable today’s reading may make us feel, let’s allow it to be a springboard in our conversations with God throughout the day. I want to be in tune to His whispers and promptings … Because we have access to God’s word and know about His character and promises, we can fully trust Him … He’s aware of every circumstance. he knows the big picture and will not ignore injustice. His timing has purpose … We can trust that God is in complete control …” First5