Monday, 18 December 2017

Woe to him

Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? – Amos 5.18-20

There are a lot of folks who are looking forward to the ‘day of the Lord.’ For those who truly know God and have put their trust in Him that is a good thing. We ought to look every day to the day of the Lord.

But not everyone who is looking for the day of the Lord is going to be happy when that day comes. For many who are trusting in their works or their goodness or their own self-righteousness the day of the Lord is only going to be a day of judgement on their sins.

The day of the Lord, when He appears in all His glory should be a great day of joy. It should not be like running from a lion only to run into a bear and be destroyed. It should not be a day of darkness, but a day of great light.

And it will be light and joy for all who have put their faith in Him. 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Hate evil

Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. – Amos 5.14-15

We live in a world of great evil. Of course God’s people have always lived in an evil world. When evil is that pervasive it can be hard to deal with. It is just everywhere and it seems that everyone is doing it. The easy thing to do is to just, maybe not give in, but to be accepting of just a little of the evil and not make too big a deal about it. After all, don’t we have to accept a little evil for the ultimate good? The end in reality can justify the means, right?

Except for the fact that God doesn’t see it that way. He simply says ‘hate the evil and love the good.’

God’s people in the Old Testament had no place dabbling with evil. Christians today have no business playing around with the evil. With our liberty in Christ and being free from the law a lot of folks think it is okay to mess around with the verge of evil as long as we don’t really get too involved.

But that is a wrong view of evil. God tells us how we should deal with evil and it is pretty simple – hate it, despise, have nothing to do with it, run from it. Christians have to live in an evil world, but we need to see it in all its evilness. We need to see its destructive power. We need to see it from God’s perspective.

God’s people must always stand opposed to evil. We can’t tolerate it just because those who practice it can help us achieve our goals or our ends. We should never tolerate evil in people in politics because they can help us achieve our political goals.

Hate evil – no matter what. 

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Seek the Lord and live

Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel. – Amos 5.6

Amos kept reminding the people that though they were in a mess, there was an answer and a way back. They didn’t have to stay where they are. God was ready to get them back to where they needed to be. The way back was simple – ‘seek the Lord and live.’

It is amazing that God makes Himself so available to those who have erred and turned away. It seems like the natural thing would be to run and hide from those who have rejected Him, but He says that He is there for anyone who will seek him.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him when He may be found. Those who seek me early will find me.

Why does God keep accepting those who seek Him? After rejection after rejections after rejection why does God not just say ‘enough?’

Because God is love. It is not His will that any should perish. Even when a world rejected Him and He knew most of the world would reject His son He sent Jesus to offer the gift of eternal life. The conditions? Only turn to Him and say ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Prepare to meet your God

Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. – Amos 4.12

We have all the seen cartoons of a long haired guy on a busy city street holding up a handwritten sign reading ‘prepare to meet thy God.’ It is almost always played for comedic effect and some other comment is made by a passer-by and it is intended to give us a chuckle.

I guess that is all meant in good fun, but I think that there is a problem with making light of the idea of being ready to meet God at any time. It helps give the notion that preparing for God is, in essence, a joke and only worthy of some strange street prophet who is slightly off balance.

The truth is though that ‘prepare to meet your God’ needs to be something on everyone’s minds. The day is coming when every single person will one day stand before God. Some will stand with great joy and some will stand in shame and judgement.  God told Israel to be ready to meet God. That same message is one all need to hear.

Every friend and every family member and every co-worker and every neighbour we know will one day meet Him. Those who have already met Him can look forward to that day with excitement. But there is no hope for those who are not ready.

We have the way to help them prepare to meet God. Are we faithfully trying to prepare them? 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Whosoever surely meaneth me.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. – Joel 2.32

Whosoever. That’s a mighty big word. Whoever means red and yellow and black and white. It means men and women and boys and girls. It means Jew and Arab and Christian and Muslim and Buddhist and Wiccan and whatever else we label ourselves. Whoever means straight and gay and anyone else in between. Whoever means whoever.

But the greatest thing about whoever is that it means me.

I can’t the old James McConnell out of my head. It says it just right:

I am happy today, and the sun shines bright,
The clouds have been rolled away;
For the Savior said, whosoever will
May come with Him to stay.

“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
Surely meaneth me, oh, surely meaneth me;
“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
“Whosoever” meaneth me.

All my hopes have been raised, oh, His Name be praised,
His glory has filled my soul;
I’ve been lifted up, and from sin set free,
His blood has made me whole.

Oh, what wonderful love, oh, what grace divine,
That Jesus should die for me;
I was lost in sin, for the world I pined,
But now I am set free.

God spoke here to Israel when He said ‘whoever.’ In Romans He says that whosever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. No one is outside the gamut of whosoever – best of all even I am not outside of whosoever. 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Lord will do great things

Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things. – Joel 2.21

Fear not. Are those words not applicable to us today? There are plenty of reasons for us to be afraid it seems. The news is just crazy. Every time I turn the news on I wonder ‘what’s next?’

I also have some things in the future that I don’t know how I am going to work them out. Sometimes these things can get into my head and I can’t shake them.

These are the kinds of things that we all can have to deal with at times. They are just part of life.

We can’t afford though to let these things stop us or discourage us or get us down. If we look at them we aren’t going to get anything done because we are so focused on what we can’t do that we can’t see what God can do.

I am not sure why we get caught in that trap. It’s not like God doesn’t promise us over and over and over and over again that He is mighty and He with us and He holds our hands and nothing in impossible with Him and that He can do things that we can’t even imagine. Many of us trust Him for eternity – so why can’t we trust Him for tomorrow? 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Rend your heart

And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. – Joel 2.13

The Old Testament custom in times of great grief or remorse or repentance was to tear of your clothes and sit amongst the ashes. It was visibly a humbling and embarrassing and shameful act. The problem was that though it may have been genuine at one point eventually it became nothing more than a show. If you sinned just tear your clothes and go sit in a pile of ashes and everything would be sorted.

The truth is though that it takes make more than a show of religiousity. Something has to happen inside before the outside does any good. As a song puts it you ‘have to change your heart before you change your shirt. God says here that the way back is to rend your heart and turn to the Lord. He is ready for us to turn back because God is gracious and merciful. He is slow to anger. He is kind and it is His nature to turn from His wrath and pour out mercy.

But it all starts, not with religion, but with a change of heart. There must be a work inside or all the religion in the world is only a waste.

We Christians need to be sure that we are not just playing a religious game and putting on a churchy show. All of us need to make sure things are right in our hearts or all the giving and going to church and amening and praising the Lord and singing the songs means nothing.