There was a popular Gospel tune by the Imperials – No Shortage in the late 70 s. I was singing with The Fischermen Trio back then with three of my best friends in southern California. We sang at any place that would ask us to sing at; churches, men and women’s retreats, anywhere! One of the most popular songs we were asked to sing, was our rendition of “No Shortage”. Here are a few lyrics to drink in:
“There’s a shortage on friendship,
There’s a shortage on smiles. There’s a shortage on neighbors,though there’s millions for miles.
Thank heaven for one thing that there’s no shortage of. There’s no shortage on God’s Mercy
There’s no shortage on God’s Love.”
The words to that song was in the minds of everyone then; Christians were no exception. Shortages of gasoline; long gas lines; food shortages around the world that are still in effect today. Do we really understand what is means to be in want in America? Is there a FAMINE about to occur in America?
WHAT DOES “FAMINE” MEAN?
Famine means: starvation, deprivation, a shortage, in need and want. It means lack, insufficiency, hardship, distress; the opposite of abundance. In The Book of Amos in the Bible, God shows Amos a basket of fruit which represented the people of Israel. They were ripe for punishment. God was tired; merchants were keeping all the religious festivals and the Sabbaths but not in spirit. They couldn’t wait for the holy days to be over so they could go back to making money. Their hearts were not in worship and yet… they put on a religious front for others.
When my children were small, getting ready to go to church on Sundays was chore, to say the least. For my wife to get them all dressed, hair combed, breakfast eaten and both our efforts of getting all three kids in the car, at the same time…well by the time we got into the Sanctuary to worship, our hearts were far from God. I often took mental vacations during Pastor’s messages, all because of the mornings events. My wife knew my heart condition while observing the veins sticking out on the back of my neck in stress. But I always kept a good religious front for others around me; tried to smile, said, “God bless you” occasionally and on and on. Yep, I know what you’re thinking: HYPOCRISY! I think we’re ALL guilty of hypocrisy on Sunday mornings at different times in our lives. I just hope, because of our busy lives today, we haven’t lost our appetites for God’s Word as the people of Amos‘ time had done. They were about to enter a period of FAMINE in the land.
Famines and Droughts in the Bible.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of God” ~ Amos 8:11.
In this particular Scripture in Amos, the famine spoken of is the absence of God’s Word; an absence, a shortage, a time of hunger and thirst for the Word of God.
“And [the people] shall wonder”, seeking and searching for the Word and not finding it; running “from sea to sea and from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro…but shall not find it.” ~ Amos 8:12.
Can you imagine what the world would be like in a spiritual famine?
If the Word was not available…and people who were searching but couldn’t find it…if people were searching and seeking the Truth and found nothing…what would the world be like?
The Probables of that day:
The mentally ill would be walking the streets; prisons would be filling up; drug addicts going in and out of rehab without a change and without Christ. AIDS spreading; new diseases; parents killing their children; children killing their parents; children killing children; same-sex marriages; people shacking up; terrorist attacks; losing jobs; senior citizens unable to buy their medicine. If there were a spiritual famine in this land, then men would be lovers of themselves; men would be lovers of money; people would be proud, unholy, unloving, unforgiving. I know what you are thinking…Gee it sounds a lot like the world we live in today; like America today.
“But it Can’t Be…”
We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America…not with all the churches on every corner. I live in a small town Washington State, south of the Canadian border named Lynden. At one time, Lynden held the world record for the most churches per square mile and per capita.
We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America, not with all the Christians walking around. In 1990, the demographics for Christianity in America was 86%, but according to the American Religious Identification Survey of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.; March 2009, the number was reduced to 75%. In another study, church planting in Seattle, Washington was the hardest to succeed since only 4% of the population was identified as evangelical Christians.
We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America…not with all the professing witnesses; ambassadors of Christ.
We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine because it can only happen if no people are hearing from God and we know people are hearing. They are saying, ‘God told them to tell you how to get a new house or a new car. You can have the best of everything because your Father is rich and owns everything.’ We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in the land.
“I know what it looks like…” An absence of God’s Word and a shortage of God’s Word in your city:
for the LOST;
for the HURTING;
for the OPPRESSED;
for the DEPRESSED;
for the ADDICTED;
for the UNSAVED;
for the BACKSLIDDEN;
for the CONFUSED and ABUSED;
It looks like those who are looking for hope can’t find it and those who say they have hope won’t share it.
FALSE WORSHIP and a REAL FAST! – Isaiah 58:6-12:
In Isaiah 58, God was addressing the children of Israel as they went to church [the Temple] everyday; making a show of coming to God and asking Him to take action on their behalf.
They told the Lord, ‘We have fasted before you; why aren’t you impressed?’
And the Lord told them, ‘because while you were fasting, you are still fighting and quarreling; you are still oppressing your workers; you go through the motions, and outwardly you look like you are right, but you ain’t!’
God said, if you really want to please Me, have a real fast that causes change in you and in the world around you. The fast that the Lord is calling for is to share your bread with the hungry; natural and spiritual bread. JESUS is the bread of life. He says, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Jesus lets us know the need for natural bread but without the spiritual bread; without Him; without the Word, we have no life: ‘He is the way, the truth and the life.’
We are experiencing spiritual famine in the land…covering the naked.
V.7 “…when you see the naked, that you cover him”
Covering him with both natural and spiritual; giving them clothing if needed… but also sharing God’s Word; knowing the Word exposes our sinfulness, our nakedness. By reaching out, we show the love of Christ, for love covers a multitude of sins; the Word cleanses and delivers us. Then we will call on the Lord and He will hear us.
God says what we should be doing while FASTING:
– reaching out to others.
– sharing God’s Word.
– sharing God’s love.
– sharing God’s compassion.
– being doers of the Word and not only hearers.
This will bless the land; this is true worship.
Then HE will water our lives when we are dry…we will be blessed, our children will be blessed and they will rebuild the deserted cities. God isn’t looking for fake worship. He is looking for people to worship Him in Spirit and truth. Then He can heal our land.
BUT, there is a spiritual famine in the land…
Either we share the Word, or the rest of the world will experience the famine. Why? Jesus said, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lamp stand?… If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Our lighthouse has a purpose.
Our light helps direct people to Christ because they are in darkness; as a lighthouses’ purpose is to guide ships at sea away from sinking during a storm in the pitch of darkness. However if we do not use what we’ve learned and heard for the kingdom of God, we will lose what we have:
“And [said Jesus,] I tell you to everyone who gets and has will more be given, but from the man who does not get and does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Luke 19:26 AMP).
But if we give and apply the Word, we will receive more (with the same measure we use, it will be measured to us). There is a famine in the land.
Famine comes as a result of resources running out.
Not because there is not water and food available but because we’re not taking the water and food to those who are hungry and thirsty, A spiritual famine is experienced by those who don’t know Jesus or turned away from Him; become lukewarm or cold Christians; they are empty, experiencing a void and don’t know how to fill it. They try all types of the world’s remedies; hobbies, new relationships, alcohol, drug addiction and others…but nothing seems to work. They are still hungry, still thirsty, still void.
Sharing with others what God has given to us.
He wants us to share with the rest of the land; with those in our neighborhoods; with those who we work with; with those people we come in contact with everyday. If the land is in a spiritual famine, it affects all of us. If the world is in shambles, though we are not of this world, we’re surely in the world. We can either make a difference; shed our light; share the Word of God to the hungry, thirsty and hurting land or, we can watch the spiritual famine take place while God watches us and wonders:
…where are My intercessors;
…where are My witnesses;
…where are My watchmen;
…where are My people,
There’s a famine in the land. God is calling for His people today…
He says in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:
“If I shut up heaven so no rain falls, or if I command locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
It seems to me that God is telling us in the church, we have something to do with there being a spiritual famine in the land. God wants to know who will take a stand for Jesus; who will be a vessel used to supply food in the famine; who will make a commitment to be a doer of the Word and not just a listener only.
God is calling for His people today to make a difference; where He has planted you and I. To glorify Him. To stand in the gap and stand on His Word. Someone who will believe; someone who knows of sharing His Word with others; change their direction, their course, their path. He is looking for someone who believes:
…sharing His Word with others will save, rescue, recover, revive lives who are starving and dying in a famine of the land.
God says, ‘Who shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Will you answer, ‘here am I Lord send me’, or will you say, ‘send the Pastor’, or ‘send the evangelist’, or ‘send anybody but…ME!’
IS THERE A FAMINE IN THE LAND; IN YOUR COMMUNITY? Jesus is calling America! How are we going to respond?