I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.
I love this verse. It is is the final part of the final chapter of Amos. The book of Amos is filled with God's judgement and punishment directed towards His very own people. His people walked away from Him and God drew a line in the sand. The bulk of Amos is downright depressing. As I read through it, I wanted to see a few more glimpses of "our God of second chances". But, Amos doesn't go there. Amos reminds me that God is God and his people shouldn't "toy" with Him. Amos reminds me of the position God demands by His own character and His righteousness. He is "I am". He is God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. I Timothy 6:14,15
Simply put, you don't mess with God. I think I often forget that part. I think things like "I'll do it tomorrow". Or, "I'm going to do things my way today". Little do I think of my God as the great King of Kings who lives in unapproachable light. If I truly saw Him in this way, my obedience would be quicker and my selfishness would be tempered. I would be in awe and I would live in awe.
But, then verse 15 comes. God says that after the judgement He will restore His people. He will plant them in their own land and they will never again be uprooted. Now there's the God I know. The God who says, I may discipline you for a little while, but I am not turning my back for good. I love that God speaks of Himself as a gardener. He will plant His people in the land. That word speaks of love and care and the desire for them to grow to their fullest potential. How amazing is that. We can "dis" Him time after time, and still He ends with the plans to "plant" us.
Tonight I can personalize this scripture for me and when I do...I am so grateful. I can feel my gardener planting me and all I want is to be a plant that yields much for His glory.
I can also pray this scripture tonight for someone so very close to me on the eve of a significant day and revelation. My prayer is that God will plant you my dear in the land of His glory. May you allow Him to plant you in Him so that you will NEVER again be uprooted. May these days and the next days accomplish much for our Gardener's glory.
11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land--
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.
As the book of Amos draws to a close, God tells Amos to communicate His final judgement on the Israelites. Actually, the entire book is full of the judgement God is placing on His people for the sins they have committed. It's a bit of a downer. God's people ignore Him, walk away and God is angry and pronounces judgement. Now to be sure...I understand the Israelites and feel all to much like them most days. I get frustrated by my own lack of obedience and lack of recognition of who God is and what He deserves and what He wants to do in and through me. Many days, I feel stubborn and sadly walk in their footsteps as I go throughout my day.
But the thing that caught me this morning in Amos was the final judgement. You would think that would be the "BIG" one. Perhaps saving the most significant judgement for the end. Kind of like a parent telling a child "If you do that again, you will have a time out, but if you do it again after that...you will REALLY be sorry". And so what was his final judgement...it was that His people would no longer hear the words of the Lord.
Wow. That was the big one. No more word from me. He was turning His face from them and not going to speak to them. Then he spoke of the result. His people would be staggering far and wide looking and searching for His Word. Verse 13 speaks of people fainting without it. They simply couldn't function without it. It was the "big one" for them. His word was everything despite their sinful ways and their attitudes and actions that took them so far from God's will.
What about me? Do I rely on the Word of the Lord in that way? If that were taken away from me, could I function? Do I stagger to get through the day without hearing His word? Is it everything to me?
When my dad died...just over 15 years ago, that's what I missed the most. I missed His voice. I missed hearing what He had to say to me. I missed his advice and I missed his encouragement. I missed His direction and I really missed His wisdom. Even today as I type, I miss the fact that I can't tell him about Bethany being pregnant and hear what He has to say. I wouldn't bring him back here to earth even if I could, but if I could hear His words and communicate with him, I would do so in a heartbeat.
That's exactly the way God wants me to be with Him. He wants me to rely whole heartedly on His words. He wants me to cling to His words and for them to change me from the inside out. He wants me to survive because of His words and to gain my sufficiency from them. He wants to mold me and make me into a woman of purpose through His words. He wants His words to be everything to me. He wants me to need them to survive. Because He knows that if I am there, I am right in the center of His will for my life and that everything will then fall into place. He wants the best for me because He loves me purely. Proverbs 4:22 says that His words are life to me. Lord Jesus, please help me love your words more and more. Would you give me the love you want me to have for your Word, and may it make an eternal difference in the lives of those I love and those I need to love.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Sacrifices are hard. When you are as selfish as I am...sacrificing is not at the top of my list. I think that's one of the most difficult things about marriage. To have a great marriage, you have to sacrifice and put your own desires under the desires of your spouse. The same is true about being a mom. To be a good mom, there is no other alternative than to put your kids needs above your own. This is really significant to me at Christmas. I have a horrible time at Christmas until I am happy with the gifts I get for my kids. I long to please them, fulfill their desires and to simply make them happy.
I think sacrifice is significant with God too. He asks me to sacrifice and put His desires above mine. This scripture talks about one of the most significant sacrifices we as Christ followers can do. We are called to openly profess the name of Jesus...the one who created us, loved us, died for us and will return for us. I think anyone who has struggled with this sacrifice knows how difficult it is. I am scared to speak about Jesus because I worry what others might think or what my friends will say. I usually don't want to offend anyone and tend to err on the side of caution because I've seen too many people speak loudly and arrogantly who do more harm for the cause of Christ than good. So...sometimes I'm just quiet. I want to speak, but don't. I know I should...but I don't. That's why this verse struck me:) I've never really thought about speaking Jesus to my family and friends as a sacrifice of praise. That really is what it is though. We make a sacrifice to speak the words because of the cost or the perceived cost as an act of praise. When I speak about what Jesus has done personally in my life, I give Him the credit and praise He deserves. I know I need to do that more freely and more obediently. Praying this afternoon for lips that openly profess the name of the one who sent His son for me. May I love you that much Lord Jesus and more.
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?
Hmmm..."Don't refuse me when I speak". I love the simplicity of it. First...that God speaks. Secondly...that He speaks to me. And third...that He wants me to say yes...ok...or sure thing. God doesn't like that word no when it comes from my mouth or my mind. He rewards the "yes" response in so many different ways. "No" was the one word Bethany and Joshua learned quickly not to use with Craig. They knew that if they responded with that word, they would have consequences to pay. I still remember him encouraging them to change their "no" to "ok dad, but why". The hard thing about refusing God is that I usually don't voice the "no". I might hear the prompting in my heart and ignore it or turn over and go back to sleep. I didn't voice the no, but I acted on it. Any time I don't do what the still small voice is asking, I am refusing Him who speaks to me. I know I bring consequences on myself and miss the generous blessings He has for me. Oh how I want to change that. I want to hear the voice and respond immediately with joy. I don't want to hesitate. I want to obey with confidence and desire. God, would you give me the strength, desire and obedience to not refuse you in word or action. Help me exchange my selfishness for the desire to obey you fully.
So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees,
Early in Hebrews 12, we are encouraged to accept the Lord's discipline in our lives as He strives to make us pleasing image bearers of Himself. I love verse 12 in the amplified version. The writer says it how it is. So many times after difficult days, I have drooping hands and feeble knees. I feel like my strength is gone and I am tempted to excuse myself from the challenge. But the writer of Hebrews leaves no room for excuses. He simply tells me to brace up my weak arms and strengthen my tottering knees. It seems to me that He intentionally uses the illustration of our arms and knees because it is with our arms that we worship and serve others around us and it is with our knees that we battle for the souls of those we love. Yup...when the going gets tough and I want to crawl in bed...I am beckoned to reinvigorate my worship and outreach while I strengthen every real avenue of prayer I have available. So...tonight that is what I'm asking for...Arms and Knees that will glorify the One who truly is worthy!
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
I've been asking myself the question lately "Janene...what do you yearn for"? Today..I'd have to say I'm not proud of my answer. If I am truthful, I have been yearning for down time. I yearn for time to veg out and do nothing. I yearn to relax when I want and in the way I want. I yearn for my own desires. That's likely because Jesus has been talking with me about wanting my down time to be for Him. He has been saying things like..."Sure you have time to pursue me diligently...why don't you use your "me" time and make it "MY" time. So...to make a long story short, I said ok. I didn't have the best attitude, but I did say OK. I know that to move to the next step that He is calling me to...I need to give more and sacrifice more. I know that nothing else is going to fulfill me and I know that in the deepest areas of my soul...He is ALL I long for. The scripture above from Hebrews 11 really spoke to my heart on this subject. Those Biblical heroes listed in the Hall of Faith were not focused on today. The weren't focused on their own desires, needs, or even their "rights". Simply put, they were focused on Heaven. Their eyes were on eternity and the significance they put on eternity was everything to them. My eyes focus on Heaven and eternity and the things God desires for a short time, but then I look for a way to return. I think things like - "Janene you have a right to be happy" or "Janene, you've been working soooo hard to do things for God." Right then and there...I'm no longer a foreigner or stranger on this earth. Instead I start fitting right in. I hate that. I don't want to fit in here. I love the version of this scripture that calls us aliens. So...I guess my prayer for tonight and my yearning for the morning is that I would be a faithful alien.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
Father, In your strength…please help me not to do anything today out of selfish ambition or conceit. Please give me the strength to have your spirit of humility and value others above myself.