SERVANT’S HEART

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  1 Peter 5:1-4

After my devotional reading this morning in 1 Peter 5, I wanted to take a specific passage and apply it to a larger theme of SERVANT-HOOD answering the question that many of us deal with:  “How can I help my Church?”

What do you call a chicken crossing the road?

Poultry in motion.

What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t work?

A stick.

Where do you find a dog with no legs?

Right where you left him.

What do call cheese that isn’t yours?

Nacho cheese.

What do you call a Christian who isn’t serving?

A CONTRADICTION~

You and I have been redeemed for a reason…

Another way to say it is, we’ve been SAVED to SERVE… we’ve been mobilized for ministry?  That’s why when we are NOT serving in some way, in and through the church, it’s a contradiction.  Because to be a follower of Christ means you are a servant of Christ Jesus.

As we go through this passage of Scripture, I want to apply the words of Peter to a larger theme of SERVANT-HOOD and answer the questions.

Help Your Church By Serving “willingly” (verse 2 a.)

  • “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing…”

I’m not a Bible teacher or a Christian Blogger because that’s what I chose to do.

I could have chosen to do many other things in furthering the cause of Christ.  But God CHOSE me to teach and write.  Since I know that this is my calling, then I SERVE willingly.

I’m not fighting to surrender; I’m freely and willingly serving.

So many Christians today are useful in their churches to advance the gospel but they are not willing, they refuse.  That has always confused me over the years.  Some may feel unworthy and inadequate; some feel that it will cost them too much.nnSome may feel like it will require too much sacrifice.  On and on the list could go, but the Scripture is clear.  If we have been CALLED to serve, or if we have talents and abilities to serve, then we must not reject His call!

The Scripture says, “but because you are willing, as God wants you to  be” (NIV)

It’s God’s desire to surrender your life to Him – Your talents and your abilities to be used by Him in His service.  You surrender willingly, not because you are forced.

Help Your Church By Serving Eagerly – (vs. 2) “but eager to serve”

DEFINITION:  eager : An adjective. 

synonyms:  enthusiastic, fervent, zealous, passionate, motivated, wholehearted, dedicated.

I love to watch someone who is fairly new to the church, and they’re a fairly new believer, and the first opportunity they can do something in the church for the Lord, you can see the eagerness they have.  They get to the church doors early and they stay late to help clean up.  They are EAGER to serve.  They can’t wait to get after it.

Losing the Eagerness –

How in the world do we get to the place in our Christian lives, where we lose that eagerness to serve?

There’s also a flip side of the person that is eager when that person who does some type of service because no one else will take it!

Usually, the ACT OF SERVICE is done without any heartfelt sense of service to God, because quite frankly. we didn’t feel called to do it –  “I know it needs to be done, but no one else sees the need, so I guess I’ll have to do it again!”

The Scripture says that ALL of us, not 20 percent of the people doing 100 percent of the work, but ALL of us be eager to serve.  Not because I’m obligated to do it, or any other matter for that reason, but because I want to have an impact in the kingdom for eternity – “but be eager to serve.”

Helping Your Church By Serving As An Example For Others –  (verse 3)

“being examples (patterns and models of Christians living) to the flock (the congregation)”  [AMP]

This is what can really hurt the church body of believers.  When we SERVE as an example, not preaching and teaching one thing, then doing another.

If “Mel” is going to be an example, then my walk will match my talk, and my talk will match my walk,

Titus 2:7 (NLT)

If I’m going to be an EXAMPLE for others, then I need to truly be a person of INTEGRITY.

Integrity means that you are the same person when no one else is looking.  In other words, if I claim to be a “good Christian” on Sundays to everyone at church, but when I get home, I view pornography, I drink till I can’t stand up. that’s not a person of integrity, that’s a true genuine hypocrite.

With us as genuine believers, the person we are on Sundays needs to be the same person the rest of the week.  If I’m going to help the church, then I need to SERVE as an example for others.

Helping Your Church Will Ensure A Heavenly Reward – (verse 4)

[4]  And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the conqueror’s crown of glory.  [AMP]

This is why we do what we do, this is why we stay up late getting ready for acts of service, whether it’s a special event, studying for a Sunday school lesson, or going over a song, or praying with someone who is hurting.  This is why we do all those things.  For the approval of Jesus!

Every single one of us, when we meet Jesus one day, will want Him to say, “Well done good and faithful servant, you have done everything I equipped you to do.  You used every talent I give, every ability I allow you to have or learn, every opportunity I set before you to SERVE…you took it.  WELL DONE!!”

The Apostle Paul reminds each one of us in Ephesians 6:8…

A Story of An Old Potato Farmer –

After lightning struck on an old shed, a farmer was relieved because now he didn’t have to tear it down.

The rains came and cleaned off his car, and that saved him from having to wash it.

When asked what he was doing now, he replied, “I’m waiting for an earthquake to shake the potatoes out of the ground.”

If we are going to have a SERVANT’S HEART, we can’t just wait for something to happen.  Jesus said we’re blessed when we do something.

I’ve found in my own life over the years of service FOUR ACTIONS…steps that you might apply to your own life:

  1. SERVE whenever you can.
  2. SERVE wherever you can.
  3. SERVE whoever is in need.
  4. BE WILLING to do whatever it takes.

Let’s live our lives as obedient and humble servants.  Don’t be a contradiction!!

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CREDITS:

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT); Ling James Version (KJV).

 

 

 

 

Finding Flowers Among The Thorns

Amos 9:1-15 ~

After studying God’s Word in the book of Amos over the past few weeks, I finally arrived at the last chapter.  It’s been a long haul meditating on the many verses, taking notes, underlining certain phrases.  I shook my head at times, thinking “Is there any good news in this at all?”  It seemed that the MESSAGE is only about death and destruction.

So many ways Amos tried to get his message across to the Israelites–the talk, the sermons, and finally the personal visions he had.

In all this, Israel wouldn’t listen.

They had wandered so far away from God’s Truth that they couldn’t find their way back.

And they further deceived themselves thinking that because they were God’s people and so blessed, that God would threaten JUDGMENT…BUT not carry through the threat.  Sound like any nation you might know today?

They forgot that one of the recurring themes of the book, the Sovereignty of God.

That concerns me today about the churches in America more than anything else.  With a loss of REVERENCE to God’s POWER, comes a loss of dependency on Him.  We think we can do it all on our own.

JUDGMENT ISN’T JUST AN OLD TESTAMENT CONCLUSION –

If the people of Israel were to see JUDGMENT for their transgressions, their SINS, how can the Church today fail to expect that same JUDGMENT?

But doesn’t the New Testament SAY…God is LOVE?

And it absolutely does!  [Matthew 6:33; 1 Cor. 11:31; 1 John 4:8]

God’s Word in the New Testament also points out that the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God is synonymous with His JUSTICE.

So how then can we take so much negativity laid in front of our eyes and find the flowers among the thorns of JUDGMENT and PUNISHMENT?

Judgment and Punishment have traditionally been seen as negative words.  We want people NOT to do a certain activity and so we punish them if they do.  That’s JUSTICE.

Children may recognize that we LOVE them when we punish them, but their view of PUNISHMENT is still not to do a certain thing.

There’s an element of RESTORATION that happens as the result of punishment or judgment.

Just as parents, God disciplines or judges His people to bring them back to a good relationship with Him.

That’s what LOVE can do.  RESTORES RELATIONSHIP!

In AMOS, Chapter 9, I found three things that can develop RESTORATION.

When I’m studying the Scriptures I like to break down the chapters when I can into categories:

AMOS CHAPTER NINE –

  1.  The Sovereignty of God (Amos 9:1-10).
  2.   The PROMISE of restoration (Amos 9:11-15).
  3.   The AGENT of the restoration (Amos 9:11-15).

God’s Sovereignty –

Amos knows why God’s JUDGMENT is coming.  In a vision, God shows Amos the extent of the Judgment: the very foundations of Israel are to be destroyed.

ALL of the people are involved.  Their land, their buildings, ALL were involved and destroyed.

WHY?

One reason is that it establishes the SOVEREIGNTY of God.

It’s just as a child in testing a parent to find out who’s the boss.  The child challenges the parent’s AUTHORITY.

If the parent doesn’t answer the challenge by responding to discipline, then the child doesn’t fear the AUTHORITY of the parent.  How that parent exercises that discipline can affect the challenge.

With my oldest daughter, a good strong word from my wife and I or a time-out on a chair would be good enough.  With my other two children, that would do no good at all.

For some, nothing short of a spanking would do.

For DISCIPLINE to be effective it must present the parent in a sovereign position of authority over the child, not visa versa. 

The same is true of God.  He doesn’t send JUDGMENT just for the sake of judgment.  He sends it to exert His SOVEREIGNTY on a people who have challenged it, or no longer believes in it.

He allows us to know who is really in control of the world, creator, not the created.

AMOS begins this chapter by establishing God’s SOVEREIGNTY.

He shows this in a VISION of God’s judgment in the first four verses.

God is pictured by the altar with a sword in His hands.

There’s no defensive armor mentioned because He wouldn’t need a defense!

He was to attack as if the SWORD is the only offensive weapon.

After He destroys the temple, God then continues His judgment with the survivors.

They couldn’t hide in the mountains nor hide in the depths of the sea.  The Sovereign God would find them wherever they hide.

AMOS continues to describe the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (Verse 5, Amplified Bible) –

[5]  The Lord God of hosts, it is He Who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn; it shall rise like the [river] Nile, all of it, and it shall sink again like the Nile of Egypt.

He identifies God as the LORD, the Lord Almighty.

God who can control the actions of the earth and the water:  Noah and the Flood; Moses and the Red Sea.

Having established His SOVEREIGNTY through the elements, look to VERSE 7:

[7]  “Are not you Israelites the same to Me as the Cushites?” declares the LORD.  “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?”  (NIV)

In this verse, God establishes the fact that He considers ISRAEL to be the same as the Cushites.  God has in the past delivered that which were not His chosen people out of captivity.  They wouldn’t recognize it, but Amos does here.

But in VERSE 8, the first glimmer of HOPE appears–finding the flower among the thorns.

[8]  Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom [of Israel’s ten tribes] and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground…EXCEPT that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the Lord.  (Amplified)

God’s SOVEREIGNTY establishes His righteous JUDGMENT, but in His destruction, God makes a PROMISE not to totally destroy Israel or the house of Jacob.

In fact, the only time we can speak JUDGMENT without RESTORATION is the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).  

It is here we begin to see the budding of the flower start to develop.

THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL:

God has PROMISED (verse 8) that He will NOT destroy the house of Jacob.

Knowing what we know from verses 1-4, not all the Israelites will be destroyed.

This leads to two interesting questions: Who will be destroyed and who will be the remnant?  And why?

After the death of Solomon, a series of successive kings didn’t look to God for leadership, trusting rather their own power to lead Israel.

This is the foundation of the division of the 12 Tribes into countries.

  • The Northern Kingdom of Israel.
  • The Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Jeroboam, the king of the northern country, Israel, wanted to make it absolutely clear that the two countries stay divided.  To do this, he introduced IDOL WORSHIP to Israel, and the people wouldn’t go to Jerusalem to make SACRIFICE to God.

They went downhill after that began.

It’s also at this time they developed a false sense of independence.  Their WORSHIP became mechanical, not authentic.

They would go back and forth–they would make sacrifices to God, then turn to worshipping idols.

So EVIL had infested all aspects of Israel for literally hundreds of years.

God wouldn’t stay His JUDGMENTS forever in light of this.

It’s also important to realize that not ALL the Israelites bowed down to Baal.  They would ALL be part of the JUDGMENT but God would protect them.  That was a PROMISE!

God also left a gate of opportunity for individual REPENTANCE, even though the country would be JUDGED.

So with all this BACKGROUND in mind, we know who’s to be JUDGED:

  1. the religious leaders for their allowing IDOLATRY.
  2. to the political leaders whom wouldn’t look to God.
  3. to the wealthy for how they abused the poor.
  4. to the judicial leaders for abusing the system of justice.
  5. to the people who followed these leaders.

And the REMNANT?

  1. Those who REPENT of their wicked ways or have not turned their backs on God.
  2.  Those born while in captivity, although they go through the fire of JUDGMENT…they will be the REMNANT.

Verse Eleven and Twelve tells us that God will RESTORE the fallen tent of David and more!

“Raise, Repair, Rebuild”

God will REPAIR the broken pieces and RESTORE its ruins.

He will bring about a NEW NATION that’s stronger and more powerful than it was before.

This is a NEW DAY of the Lord.

One that’s brought forth JUDGMENT but in liberation.

Look at VERSE 13 and 14:

All the previous talk of JUDGMENT as now turned to RESTORATION and HOPE!!!

I find this next point invaluable on how this RESTORATION takes place.

THE AGENT OF RESTORATION:  Amos 9:11-15

It’s not enough to KNOW that restoration was to take place.  We must also know how.

Israel’s restoration would come in two ways.

One is immediate:

This would be their return from captivity under Nehemiah and Ezra.

The other is a future restoration when Christ comes back.

Let’s deal first with the immediate restoration:

What happened during Israel’s CAPTIVITY was several things.

  1. ALL OF THE BUILDINGS WERE DESTROYED.

This is important!

With the destruction of ALL THINGS…the places where IDOL WORSHIP was also destroyed.  Any place that could bring back any memory at all of any infection of their idol worship was gone.

Also with total destruction, any ill-gotten gains made by the rich were destroyed.

There would be a NEW START for God’s people with a NEW RELATIONSHIP with God.

Sacrifices and worship would be authentic and re-established under the Law.

But the FUTURE restoration God brought about was even more reconstructive than just the return to an existing form of WORSHIP.  The form of worship had to change, for, throughout Israel’s history, the people showed repeatedly that they turned AWAY from God under the Law.  They couldn’t keep ALL the Law, therefore, they could keep none of it!

For Israel’s RESTORATION to be complete, they would have to have a NEW WAY to worship.

The NEW WAY of worship would come with Christ. 

He came to COMPLETE the Law.

With Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God completed the RESTORATION of the Law with the Doctrine of Grace!

And that DOCTRINE OF GRACE wrestled the control of religion from the hands of mere mortals and placed God in control.  It was no longer a system, a bunch of rules and regulations that man could try to adhere to, like directions on a roadmap.

SALVATION was now a GIFT that was open to everyone!

It was based on what God can do for a man, a GIFT that only God could give!!

With Christ Jesus, the RESTORATION was complete.

CHRISTIANITY was to become the NEW ISRAEL.

One day, as believers in JESUS CHRIST we will never again be uprooted as we join Him in glory.

What a great day that will be for those who are a part of the RESTORED KINGDOM!

Years ago, John Peterson and Don Wyrtzen wrote together I LOVE AMERICA that was sung by many choirs in the land during Memorial Day.  Yes, it was a patriotic musical, but for me personally, it was even more.

It was A CALLING to us all!

“Oh, the voice we could hear…”

 

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CREDITS –

Media:  You Tube video – Jesus Is Calling America.

Blog’s IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

Bible Commentary:  BibleStudyTools.com

 

 

 

People Show Up In Unexpected Places Doing Unexpected Things!

Scripture Study:  Amos 1:1-2; 7:10-16

Have you ever noticed how sometimes people arise out of the strangest corners of society, making a great splash, getting involved in things you never expected, and doing quite well at it?

Take for example Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world, who in his 30’s, soft-spoken, came out of nowhere, a college drop out and started “Microsoft”.

It happens with political figures and it happens in sports.  When people like this show up on the scene making a big splash, and succeed, generally it’s a pleasure to watch it all unfold.  It also makes good fodder and coffee shop talk.

But sometimes, it can be quite annoying, as well.

People show up in unexpected places doing unexpected things, and we don’t like it.

They can be intimidating. They’re a nuisance.  It rubs us the wrong way; it goes against the grain.

Take AMOS, in the Bible –

A PROPHET who came out of nowhere into a Nation going along quite smoothly at the time, speaking a MESSAGE that was…quite disturbing?  And doing it rather effectively.

The people didn’t appreciate him!

The authorities certainly were irritated!!

Understanding Conditions In The Time of Amos –

HE PROPHECIED…

Amos 1:1-2 (AMP) –

[1] THE WORDS of Amos, who was among the herdsmen and sheep masters of Tekoa, which he saw [in divine revelation] concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.  [Zech. 14:5.]

[2] And he said, The Lord roars out of Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem; then the pastures of the shepherds mourn and the top of [Mount] Carmel dries up.  [Isa. 42:13; Jer. 25:30; Joel 3:16].

GOD’S WORD OARS LIKE A LION

AMOS began prophesying during the reigns of King Uzziah and Jeroboam II around 760-750 BC.

It was a time of great prosperity in the land.

If Israel and Judah had the Stock Market back then, it would have been breaking all previous records.

Economically, politically, and militarily, things were going well for both Israel and Judah.

However, all that said, it was also a time for IDOLATRY…extravagant indulgences in luxurious living, immorality, corruption, and oppression of the poor.

ISRAEL, God’s chosen people, were living high on the hog.  They knew it and were smug about it.

Now the GLORY was present alright and the Israelites figured by looking around at all their successes, God was on their side.

They deserved the BLESSINGS they got.  Nobody and nothing would ever take it away!

Into that kind of cesspool of SIN & ARROGANCE stepped Amos, one shepherd of Tekoa.

Don’t think of Amos in the same breath as the shepherds of Bethlehem–a lowly bunch of farm hands, rejected by the population at large.

The word used in chapter one for “shepherd” is also used with the reference to the King of Moab–2 Kings 3-4.  There its translated as “raiser of sheep”.  [footnote [1].]

Amos, like the King of Moab, was a sheep dealer or trader, one significantly more wealthy than a mere shepherd or hired hand.

Amos was a man of means.  That’s also verified in chapter 7 of Amos (Amos 7:12-14).  

He is not into it for the cash.  “I was a herdsman and took care of sycamore-fig trees.”

A Shepherd Gone ‘NUTS’? …

In study and putting things together about Amos…it appears that he was a man of diversity; rather a wealthy agriculturist of sorts.

Now it is this man, who knew his livestock, who had diversified his interests of fruit-growing, that was CALLED BY GOD and compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak to Israel.

Into a nation with a well-established system and hierarchy of prophets and priests and kings, a nation of wealth and power and terrific esteem wanders this merchant from Judah–an unlikely man with an unlikely MESSAGE in an unlikely way!

“Are you nuts, Amos?”

Why, do you think, he does it?

I had to ask the question myself.

Why lay aside a profitable business to head north and then rip a strip off of the people who could easily ruin him economically, or even kill him at the drop of a hat?

Let’s face it.  Being a PROPHET coming out with guns blazing on God’s behalf as Amos does, was no small matter.  It wasn’t without considerable risk!

Amos was quite aware and acquainted with the culture of the day from all his business trips within the borders of Israel and her surrounding heathen neighbors.  The practices and injustices of the day would have been seemingly obvious to him.

And then, as one unknown bible teacher remarked,  “One day the word of the Lord came to him.  Amos heard God speaking to him, just as clearly as one might hear a lion roaring in the wilderness of Judah.  God had a task for Amos; he was to speak to Israel.  He was commanded to bring a message from God as he made his trips to the markets.  In God’s name, he was to protest against the sins of Israel.  He was to announce God’s judgments.”  

Amos 7:15 (AMP)…

[15]  And the Lord took me as I followed the flock and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to My people Israel.”

As had happened before…

Happened again to other men and women in the history of God’s people.

God’s Holy Spirit spoke to Amos’ spirit giving him an unmistakable MESSAGE of what would happen if things didn’t change quick.

It came in the form of thoughts, strong compulsions, and vivid visions.

POWERFUL…Like the ROAR OF A LION!  (Amos 1:2)

And AMOS couldn’t–he just couldn’t–ignore and leave it alone!

If A LION ROARS…who doesn’t fear?

If GOD SPEAKS…who can BUT go out in OBEDIENCE & PROPHECY?

This was a rare occurrence.  Amos lived in the Old Testament era, where the movement of the Holy Spirit within someone was rare.  Only a select few were touched by the LORD.  Only a select few ever received guidance from Him.

Amos lived in the same covenantal age as did Moses, who cried out “Are you jealous for my sake?  I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!”  (Num. 11:29 – NIV)

So this unlikely candidate–a farmer, not a PK (preacher’s kid), not a seminary student or a son of a priestly family, or someone with a prophetic lineage–this unlikely candidate heads out with a message of the Lord, a stern message!

THE LION ROARED through Amos…(verse 2)

Mount Carmel would wither.

CARMEL, was, by the way, an important mountain in Israel, a place of great fertility–strategic for agriculture, a symbol of the lands well-being.

Their  ‘well-being’, in other words, was about to come to a screeching halt.

So as you might suspect, Amos’ message wasn’t well received.  That is extremely clear when looking at Amaziah’s response to the MESSAGE in Chapter 7.

Amaziah represented the Israelite establishment, the power-brokers.  He was an office-bearer, anointed as PRIEST, representative of the King.

Here comes AMOS…

Amos’ message condemns the religious life of the people in which Amaziah was in charge of caring for that “religious life.”  Of course, he’d be upset.  I mean, who wants to hear negative things said about you and your people?  If God wanted to speak, let Him do it through the proper, designated channels.

Says Amaziah,  “Go home, Amos.  Take your silly games and pronouncements and go back to Judah.  Quit dabbling in what you don’t know anything about.”

Amos responds, “Sorry.  No can do.  When God says ‘Go’, you don’t say ‘No’.  Oh, and by the way…Your goose is cooked!”

AMOS, A Fellow Colleague of Ours –

Yes, I said that.  A fellow prophet, just as we are PROPHETS!

I mentioned that Amos lived in the time when the Spirit of God came only occasionally to people, the time when few were prophets.

That has all changed!

The CRY of Moses,  “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!”  has been answered.

PENTECOST has come.

The Holy Spirit has descended and indwells ALL who are BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus.

As Peter says in Acts 2:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall PROPHESY [telling forth the divine counsels], and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams”  (Acts 2:17 in the Amplified Bible).

WE ARE IN THAT AGE–every believer a PROPHET.  You and me too!

In many ways we are like Amaziah,  We like things neat and orderly.  If messages of a spiritual nature have to be spoken, let them come in the right way at the right time from only the right people.  Anything else is somewhat irksome…or, we shrug it off as irrelevant.  We read scripture that says, “Always be prepared to give an account of the hope that is within you”;

AND…

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though Christ were making His appeal through us”; and somehow we seem to always manage to discount that.

  • I’m no good at that.
  • That’s the job for the Pastor.
  • I don’t know anyone I could speak to.

We might even mutter under our breath, “Who do they think they are, anyway?  Who gave them the authorization?” — words that echo Amaziah’s words, “Who does this sheep-herder think he is, anyway?”

Do we stand as BELIEVERS more with Amos or Amaziah?

Are we willing to take up the mantel…to accept the fact that being a Christian in the New Testament age means to have the Holy Spirit, and to have the Holy Spirit means that we are Prophets and that we are PROPHETS means, WE MUST SPEAK!!!

We find ourselves in a day and age relatively complacent and comfortable in our beliefs.

In the midst of that COMFORT, there are people wandering in all manner of spiritual directions…

IN DARKNESS, away from a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The end result of the wanderings is certain–DEATH.

Though they may not hear it themselves, THE WORD OF GOD ROARS LIKE A LION, searing the top of Carmel.

That WORD has been given to us!

So as Amos replies to Amaziah with a somewhat sarcastic retort,  “How can we BUT prophecy?”  

IT WON’T BE EASY…

The reaction from others is often similar to Amaziah’s reaction to Amos’ message.

And so the question for you and I as we stand in the tradition of AMOS is:

  • To whose DRUMBEAT will we march?
  • Whose CALL will we listen?
  •  For whom will we SPEAK?

It’s going to feel awkward, strange, even out-of-place at first. 

But then, it wasn’t much different with Amos.

And the God who called him, who spoke through him, who cared for him in the entire process, is the same Living Creator God who CALLS US, and who promises to care for us as we walk into our communities as PROPHETS of His, SPEAKING His Word…

– –  At the grocery store,

—  At the coffee shop,

—  In our neighborhoods.

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** CREDITS & FOOTNOTES **

Footnote [1]:  “Shepherd” – Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary – Old Testament words.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV).

“Feeling Stuck In Life With Just Watching the Sheep?”

"Do I really have to...?"
“Do I really have to…?”

The Phoebe Knapp Story–[*See Footnote [i]]

In 1873, those who probably knew Phoebe Knapp as nothing but an organist at her Methodist church in NYC.  She was a wealthy enough woman–her parents had left a large estate.  But much of it was tied up in her husband’s company National Union Life and Limb.

Nowadays, that company takes its name from the Metropolitan District of New York City, which eventually became successful and know as MetLife.

“Phoebe who?”

Phoebe Knapp
Phoebe Knapp

But in 1873, Phoebe wasn’t all that special.  During The Great Financial Panic of 1873, a similar version to The Great Depression, businesses were failing and the insurance market was in jeopardy.  But Phoebe and Joe felt called to providing insurance.  They stuck it out, and with God’s providence were able to continue their business.

Then in the 1880’s, comparative wealth rolled around.  With hard work and being in the right place at the right time, defining most businesses, Joe and Phoebe Knapp were able to gain wealth and fame running an American icon like MetLife.

But the Knapp’s most enduring legacy came in the depths.  In 1873, Phoebe was just an organist at church, she and her husband were best known for their piety.  But the KEY to who they were was their TRUST IN GOD and letting Him work through them through their circumstances.

THE SIMILARITY TO MOSES’ LIFE:  “I KNOW I’M A PRINCE, BUT I FEEL STUCK JUST WATCHING THE SHEEP!”

[Scripture Verses: Exodus 3:1-16; 4:1; 10-13]

God Had A Plan for Moses – Exodus 3…

When MOSES set out to accomplish righteous ends using his own methods, things didn’t go well.  When he set out to accomplish righteous ends using GOD’S METHODS…things worked out better.  But still, Moses was stuck out in the desert.  Casually reading the story in Exodus, for all practical purposes, MOSES was a nobody.

He was a man who was prince of Egypt, and now he finds himself watching sheep (Exodus 3:1).  Talk about a waste of potential. But GOD had a plan for Moses.  If God wants to do something, it’s going to happen!

God wanted Moses to be…THE MAN…the man who gave Israel His deliverance.  So God did something He doesn’t often do.  He called Moses directly (Exodus 3:2-4).

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We all have some image in our minds of the BURNING BUSH.  It’s a famous encounter when God calls man, asks man to join Him in what He’s doing or about to do.  God still calls us today, even if He is less dramatic about it.  I’m not saying we can’t have a “burning bush” moment is life, because I’ve listened to others testimony.

Our sometimes responses…

I love looking at the JOY in peoples faces serving in ministry of the church by responding to God’s call.  For whatever reason, when God calls, their response is more like that of MOSES–Here I am, Send him/her.  

I have often heard the statistic “20% of the people in church do 80% of the work.”  Why is that the case?  One answer, one that I’ve found to be true in my own personal Christian walk is illustrated by the QUESTIONS of Moses, and more importantly, the ANSWERS God gives.

When God Calls Us to Join Him…

It’s pretty natural to have questions.  After all, He’s God, and well…we’re not.  How we answer these questions determines what part we’ll have in His work.

The Call from a Burning Bush – (Exodus 3:2-11)

6284178236_e6cacb55d2Notice in these verses Moses has a very natural reaction to God’s call in his life.

Here is GOD ALMIGHTY, calling out of a “burning bush, telling MOSES you’re to act on My behalf as Israel’s Deliverer.  That’s no easy task.  Moses’ track record already shown he can take God’s call and mess it up.  So what’s Moses’ first question?

“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3:11 AMP).

In this age where SELF-ESTEEM is so important to teach our children, God has an interesting answer:

“I shall surely be with you…”  (3:12)

Notice God doesn’t say, “Oh, Moses you’ve been trained” or “Moses you’re good man.”  No, God says, ‘Who you are isn’t important.’

“IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER” 

Lacking in self-confidence during my teenage years, as most teenagers do, especially in the case of asking girls out on a date, I tried to build up my courage while in front of the bathroom mirror.  While getting ready for the big evening, I began singing loudly a lyric from Peggy Lee’s hit…“Mr. Wonderful” [ii].  However, I modified the words “Mr. Wonderful, that’s you'” to “Mr. Wonderful, that’s ME.”  Although it didn’t work too often, I enjoyed irritating my 7 year younger brother as he walked down the hallway.

Acting without CONFIDENCE…

I know people like that–venturing out into life with little or no confidence in what they have been asked to accomplish.  And yet, what is God’s answer?

It doesn’t matter who you are–what experience you have, or lack thereof–I’ve called you, and there’s only one thing you need to know–I’m with you.

MOSES’ SECOND QUESTION–

So, if it doesn’t matter who Moses is, then Moses asks the next logical question “OK, God, then who are you?”

The way Moses asks this question, I get the impression Moses is perhaps thinking back in time why he fled Egypt in the first place.  Notice his words in Exodus 3:13:

“When I come to the Israelites and say to them,  The God of your father has sent me to you, and they say to me,  What is His name?  What shall I say to them?”

In Exodus 2:14, Moses remembering what the Hebrew said when trying to intervene in their fight…”Who made you prince and a ruler over us?”  “What gives you the right?”

You see, people DON’T like being in charge and still are stuck on the first question of “Who am I?”  They’re the type who wants God’s ‘help’, yet not His leadership.

“GOD IS GOD, AND WE’RE NOT!”

That’s why Moses gets God’s name.  God isn’t the God of some particular thing, He’s just God!

“And God said to Moses,  I AM WHO I AM and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; and He said,  You shall say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you!”  (Exodus 3:14).

THAT statement alone is MYSTERY in and of itself–nothing can be added to it.  When people ask,  “Who does God think he is anyway?”  The answer is simply,  “I AM.”

God is allowed to be in charge, because He is God.  He was GOD yesterday, He is GOD today.  And when we’re dead and gone, GOD will still be GOD.  He is always a present tense God.

Before Abraham was,  I AM.  When He is ALPHA and OMEGA,  I AM.

Even when He hides His face, look up!  God is not dead,  “I AM”.

You see, it doesn’t matter who WE ARE.  GOD “IS”.

It’s NOT who I am, it’s who He is.

THE THIRD QUESTION OF MOSES–The TRUTH isn’t always easy to accept:

“But behold, they will not believe me or listen to and obey my voice; for they will say, The Lord has not appeared to you”  (4:1).

So Moses asks another question and…he raises it as an objection–he says…

‘Okay, I realize it’s not about me, I realize it’s who you are Lord.  But what if the people don’t believe me?’

That’s reasonable response.  I’ve imagined the same question as I sit down to write a new blog: ‘What if the people don’t believe what I’m writing– what truths am I trying to get across in my words?’

People in general like PROOF.  People want PROOF.

Our PROOF today comes from the written Word, the Bible–

For over 2000 years, eyewitness testimony and acts of God are right in front of us, so we can show consistency in what God has called us too, with what He has done in the past.

But in Moses’ time, most of them probably wouldn’t even been able to read.  So GOD talks to them in their terms.

God uses MIRACLES in His calling…

God gives Moses a MIRACLE to show that he, Moses, has been called by God.

Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF
Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF

I wondered in reading here, why doesn’t God just use a miracle and miraculously move all His people out of Egypt… without Moses?  And, why doesn’t He do the same for us today?  It would be so much easier!  But that’s not God’s style.

Following the Staff of Moses:

God gives Moses a staff–a sign to follow, but leaves the following of to the people.  You’d think that would be enough.  But Moses finally runs out of excuses.  He just lays his lack of confidence on the line:

“And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue”  (4:10).

To paraphrase Moses’ words here…‘LORD, PLEASE SEND SOMEONE ELSE.  I don’t want to do it!’  I know You made me; I know You care for me.  Moses is saying, “That’s just not who I want to be.”  

And so God says, “Okay.  Have it your way, I’ll give you Aaron.”   

Aaron isn’t always a helper–think about the Golden Calf, the grumbling and complaining.  But God says to Moses “You insist on doing it your way?  I can use that too.”  

It might not be PLAN “A”, but I’m God.  I can work with it.

GOD CARES FOR HIS PEOPLE…

But God doesn’t care about their own “self-images.”  He simply wants us to realize, it doesn’t matter who we are.  God is with us.

THE MIRACLES, the GREAT BIBLE STORIES that inspire us, that’s not what we aspire to; there is only a finite number of miracles, only so many stories to read.  Ultimately, GOD allows us to join Him.  He pleads with us to join Him.  But if we are to be God’s people, eventually we have to put up or shut up.  If we’re going to do God’s work here on earth, we must do it in HIS POWER.

THE FANNY CROSBY–[*See Footnote [iii] on the Fanny Crosby story.]

Doing God’s work in His power…

I’m sure you’ve heard this godly woman’s story before and doing the work of God in her own circumstances.

When Fanny was only six weeks old, she came down with a cold that affected her eyes.  Since the family doctor was out, a man who stood in his place; though he knew what to do, he ended up blinding the little girl instead.

Fanny  Crosby
Fanny Crosby

But God hadn’t given up on Fanny Crosby.  She was a smart girl and by the age of 10, she had memorized the entire New Testament.  When she was in her 20 s, she became a teacher and a well-known poet.

She became good friends with another school teacher at the time, a man by the name of Grover Cleveland who later became the President of the United States.  On several occasion in his Presidency, he would call Fanny to write a poem for a special occasion.

She truly was something of a wonder to behold, but even she was missing something.  When she was 30, a cholera epidemic swept through her town.  As she watched love ones die all around her, she realized even with all her great accomplishments, she only lived because of the POWER and the GRACE of God.

God had given her an amazing ability to put beautiful words down to pen based on the truths of God’s Word.  If you’ve ever sung ‘To God Be the Glory,’ you’ve sung one of her songs.  Or, ‘Jesus is Tenderly Calling’ and nearly 8000 other hymns came of this godly blind woman.

And so, in 1873, Fanny J. Crosby was living in God’s POWER, and doing His work.  At her church, the organist wanted a part in that too.  Her name was Phoebe Knapp.

Phoebe eventually could have been successful being the wife of an insurance tycoon.  But that’s not what Phoebe Knapp is known for today.  She composed a tune that she believed, had faith enough, to be of God and she wasn’t a POET.

Going to the home of her fellow church-member and friend, Phoebe asked Fanny Crosby, what does this song say to you? Phoebe played the notes on the keyboard and Fanny spoke these words:  “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”

Having a lack of confidence in your ‘self-worth’ right now?

So it doesn’t matter if you are a farmer, a wealthy woman, a blind poet or even a “sheep watcher.”  It doesn’t matter who you are, but only who He is and what He will do through you.

You can have that BLESSED ASSURANCE, but only if JESUS is yours.  Or more importantly, that you are His.

I love the way the Amplified Bible’s reading of a verse in Philippians 4:

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]”  ~ verse 13.

blessed-assurance_t

 SO WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

WHAT IS YOUR SONG?


FOOTNOTES:

[i] Phoebe Knapp story @ christianheritagefellowship.com/phoebe-palmer-knapp.

[ii] Title, music and Lyrics from Peggy Lee’s “Mr. Wonderful, That’s You.”

[iii] Fanny Crosby story from christianitytoday.com/Fanny Crosby/Christian History. 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Phoebe Palmer Knapp – Courtesy of the Christian Heritage Fellowship.

Fanny Crosby – Courtesy of Wikipedia/Fanny Crosby-religion.

“Burning Bush”; A man holding his “STAFF” ; and a child watching sheep- by Photo Pin.

BLESSED ASSURANCE – Courtesy of Google Images for Blessed Assurance.

BIBLE TRANSLATION USED FOR THIS POST:

Amplified Bible Translation – Published by Zondervan – http://www.zondervan.com