Tag Archives: Amos

The Blessing of Generosity

Today is the first day of the Advent season. This is the season leading up to Christmas when we look forward to the coming of the Christ child into the world.

This year my church put together an Advent devotional and I was asked to contribute two entries. I previously shared on of my contributions, and I decided for the start of Advent to share the other. The scripture readings this devotional article is based on were chosen by our pastor. I encourage you to click on the links to read them before reading my thoughts on how they are connected.

Scripture References: Amos 6:1-8; II Cor. 8:1-15

Devotion

The prophet Amos warned those who had plenty but failed to care for those in need. Though they enjoyed the lap of luxury, they would “be among the first to go into exile” because of their complacency.

By contrast, Paul writes of the Macedonian church that lived in extreme poverty and yet exhibited a generosity towards others that was beyond their own ability to give. He then urges the Corinthian church (and each of us), “as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

It is easy when we are blessed with material possessions to spend all our time enjoying them and forget about those in extreme need. Perhaps the reason the Macedonians were so generous is because they never forgot what it was like to be in physical need and had compassion on those in similar circumstances. As a result they were blessed with spiritual wealth and the grace of our Lord.

God is honored by our desire to give and to help those in need; He is honored even more by the fulfillment of that desire. He does not expect us to give beyond our ability, but to give out of the grace we have known in Christ. The spiritual wealth we gain through a closer walk with Jesus and sharing with others is better than all the gold and jewels in all the earth.

Thought to ponder/challenge

We must guard ourselves that we not allow wealth and material possessions to be our comfort, forgetting those in poverty. We must remember to always give out of the grace we have been freely given.

Prayer

Our gracious Lord Jesus, help us to not grow complacent because of the wealth you have blessed us with, but well up within us a desire to be generous and share your material and spiritual gifts with those in need.

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Minor Prophet with a Major Message

I’m slowly making my way through my Bible-in-a-year schedule. Thanks to vacation I am now a month behind. Now I need a relaxing vacation on a beach somewhere so I can get caught up!

Anyway, I am in the middle of Amos. I know I’ve read this book before because I did a Bible-in-a-year schedule once before (took me 2 1/2 years last time). But it’s not one of those go-to books that I’ve read multiple times, like John or Psalms or Ephesians or James. But something at the very beginning of this small book of a minor prophet most people have never heard of spoke to me.

Amos 1:1 says: “The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa.” Amos was a prophet not because he was a great king like Solomon or a wise man in the service of the king like Daniel, but because he spoke a truth given to him by God. He was a mere shepherd, one of many. But he listened to God and he wrote down for the people of Israel the warning that God had given to him to share.

It couldn’t have been easy for Amos, a lowly shepherd, to prophecy such things regarding the judgment that was to come upon Israel’s neighbors, and then upon Israel itself. He must have wondered who would even listen to him? Who would heed this terrible warning of God’s wrath and judgment to come for those who turned away from Him?

Amos is almost nine chapters of destruction and judgment. But then, in the final verses of Chapter 9, God restores Israel from the remnant that has been true to Him.

 11 “In that day I will restore
       David’s fallen tent.
       I will repair its broken places,
       restore its ruins,
       and build it as it used to be,

 12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
       and all the nations that bear my name,”
       declares the LORD, who will do these things.

* * * * *

15 “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.

There are those like Amos among us even today, calling those who have strayed to come back to God, just as Amos called the Israelites who had strayed to be part of His remnant. They are not always learned men and pastors. Sometimes they are ordinary people, just as Amos was an ordinary shepherd.

Do we hear them? Do we even try to listen? Do those who have turned their backs on God heed the warning of the judgment that will overcome them if they do not return to the remnant that is safe is Christ Jesus?

Many like to think of Jesus as only a great moral teacher who talked of only love. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, also warned of the coming judgment.

The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:41-42.

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees when He said this, but He could just as well have been talking to us today. I pray for ears to hear the warning and heed the call of God.

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