Ho, Ho, Ho?

The Essential Jesus Day 10

Need for a Savior: Ho, Ho, Ho?

PRAY:  Lord thank you for the long weekend—a time to rest, and enjoy this beautiful life you have granted me.  Amen

READ: Amos 5:1-27

REFLECT: In Israel almost 2800 years ago, the people enjoyed excessive wealth and a decadent lifestyle.  Sexual immorality and idolatry were rampant.  The poor and defenseless were exploited.  They enjoyed international prestige backed up by a powerful military.  The society minimized God’s law and reduced faith to tolerance, acceptance, inclusiveness and love.  Hmm…sound familiar?  Sorry, but I guess we aren’t as creative and liberal minded as we thought—we are just copying the mistakes of the past!.  In the midst of this arrives the prophet Amos who calls the people back to faithfulness to God, his law and justice.  Amos is grieving for his people and his nation for they are headed for destruction and don’t even know it (Amos 5:1-3).  The Day of the Lord is coming!

Amos is a reluctant prophet.  He tells us “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees” (Amos 7:14-15).  He was just an ordinary man.  He was a farmer and a rancher!  But God told him to “go and prophesy”—so he did.  His message was not well received, but that is the story of all the prophets of Israel.

Seek God and live (Amos 5:4-9).  How often do we seek satisfaction, completeness, joy and salvation from people and things?  How often do we believe that politicians will save us, as if they are astride the world like gods?  How often do we fall for leaders who tell us that now is the time that the rise of the oceans will slow and the earth heal?  Amos tells us that two choices lie before us.  To seek God—or not.  If you seek God then you will live.  If you seek something or someone else then you will die.  Sounds a lot like Adam and Eve again, don’t you think?  But of course it makes us squirm.  Partly because we know we are guilty…and partly because it sounds so intolerant!  Can’t God show more tolerance, acceptance, inclusiveness and love?

Act justly (Amos 5:10-17).  God has no tolerance for injustice, especially against the poor, weak and vulnerable.  But Amos tells us that the people trampled the poor and hated the truth.  To make matters worse, the society was so corrupt that people were afraid to speak out (Amos 5:13).  How often in our society are people discouraged from speaking out?  How often does political correctness and name calling trump the truth, like Nazi, fascist, racist, or unpatriotic?

Worship God alone (Amos 5:18-27).  God does not need our worship.  He is not some egomaniac who sits in heaven waiting to hear our songs of praise or receive our sacrifices and offerings.  He is God!  Everything already belongs to him.  There is nothing from us that he needs or wants.  Worship is for our benefit—not his.  If we don’t worship God we will worship something or someone.  And when we worship something other than God our life gets really messed up.  The people of Israel worshiped but they were simply going through the motions.  Their worship was hollow, empty and manipulative.  They were trying to buy-off God so they could get what they wanted.  They reveled in their sinfulness, then offered a sacrifice expecting God to forgive and forget!  Live and let live!  Sound familiar?  But true worship is about a lifestyle, about obeying God by loving our neighbors.  Worship is lived out in our everyday lives, not just for an hour one day a week.

The Day of the Lord is coming (Amos 5:18-20).  They were waiting for the Day of the Lord—a day when God would send the Messiah, the Christ, who would deliver them from their enemies and destroy the unbelievers!  The Israelites thought they were better than everyone else.  But Amos warns them that they are just as bad as the other nations of the world.  Their actions speak louder than words.  So look out, because God will send them into exile beyond Damascus (Amos 5:27).  And sure enough the prophecy comes true.  The Assyrians destroy Israel and take the people away into slavery in 722 BC.

APPLY: How does your life parallel that of Israel during the time of Amos?  How can you seek God this week?  How should you respond to a corruption, injustice and sin in our society?  Why do you worship in the first place?  If worship is a way of life, how can you worship God in your everyday life and not just for an hour on Sunday?

PRAY: To you O Lord be all honor and glory and praise.  May I seek you with all my heart.  May my life be yours and everything I do be an act of worship toward you.  May I live a life of justice.  Amen.

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