Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 150/260: Amos

Read Amos 4:6-13; 9:2-4

God is All-Powerful, All-Present, All-Knowing

The “omni-” attributes of God are clearly taught throughout the Scriptures. Psalm 139 is perhaps the most concise yet comprehensive treatment of this subject in inspiration. The prophet Amos also discusses these traits of the Almighty; as one reads through this prophecy, God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience are explored.

God’s omnipotence is seen in His power over nature; “I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered” (Amos 4:7).

He also has power over the nations. “‘I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; yet you have not returned to Me,’ says the Lord” (Amos 4:11). In another passage, He points to His deliverance of nations. “‘Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me, o children of Israel?’ says the Lord. ‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?’” (Amos 9:7).

The omnipresence of God is laid out in Amos 9:2-4, which reads very much like Psalm 139. The Psalmist declares, “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:8). God says through Amos, “Though they dig into hell, from there My hand shall take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down” (Amos 9:2). Man cannot hide from the Lord, not on “the top of Carmel” or “at the bottom of the sea” (Amos 9:3).

Finally, God’s omniscience is proclaimed: “For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth—the Lord God of hosts is His name” (Amos 4:13).

What an all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing God we serve! In the words of Paul T. Butler: “He is the omnipotent Creator; He is the omniscient Revealer; He is the beneficent Sustainer.”

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 149/260: Amos

Read Amos 1-2

“All Men Everywhere”

Several prophets were utilized by God during the reign of Uzziah, including Hosea, Isaiah, and Amos. Some prophets held great political influence, but Amos was simply identified as one “who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa” (Amos 1:1) and “a tender of sycamore fruit” (Amos 7:14).

The thrust of the first two chapters of Amos’ prophecy is the importance of righteousness, wherever and whoever you may be. He pronounces the judgments of the Lord against Israel’s neighbors in Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, then turns his attention to Judah and Israel. The takeaway is this: God will not tolerate sin whether you are among His people or not.

Brother Jack P. Lewis wrote, “God is not merely a god of the hills limited in power and dominion to his own people. He is the international God of justice punishing sin wherever it occurs, calling the neighbors who do not worship him into account.”

God’s people have a tremendous responsibility to maintain unity and purity within His church, but also to reach those outside the church and lead them to the truth. Ignorance is no excuse for disobedience. There is coming a day “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). If we do not warn those around us of the coming judgment, how will they escape? How will they come to know and obey Jesus if we do not introduce them to Him?

Jesus urged His first-century disciples to evangelize the lost; that need is no less urgent today. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).

The warnings against sin run throughout the inspired Word. Concerning the idolatry of the ancient world, the apostle Paul said, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). We have an obligation to teach the truth to “all men everywhere” so that they may have the opportunity to obey!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 148/260: Uzziah

Read 2 Chronicles 26

Seeking The Lord

In studying the kings of Judah, one sees highs and lows in many of their lives. There are some who start out on the right foot, such as Uzziah, but through time they change and end up in a bad situation. Uzziah began his reign at the age of sixteen and stayed on the throne for fifty-two years. “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:4-5).

What does it mean when the inspired writer says that Uzziah “sought the Lord”? Certainly it does not mean that he simply did what he thought was right without consulting the Law of Moses. Uzziah was not merely following a gut feeling or a faulty conscience. He was seeking to do that which God revealed through inspiration!

The same is true today. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Who does God reward? “Those who diligently seek Him.” Not those who do what they think is best, or what their preacher says without double-checking the Word for themselves, but “those who diligently seek Him.”

The Scriptures reveal that Uzziah was successful for many years against the Philistines, the Arabians, the Meunites, and the Ammonites. God blessed Judah for many years while Uzziah was on the throne “as long as he sought the Lord.” There came a time, sadly, that Uzziah stopped seeking the Lord.

“But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense” (2 Chronicles 26:16). Pride led Uzziah to do what he should not have done.

Pride is one of the most dangerous temptations because it makes us feel invincible, like nothing can touch us. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). If we continue seeking the Lord and do not try to put ourselves ahead of Him, we can keep ourselves in check and be blessed.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 147/260: Jonah

Read Jonah 3-4

It Is The Message, Not The Messenger, That Saves

When he was called to preach a message of repentance to Nineveh, the prophet Jonah tried to run away. While he likely understood that he could not escape God’s presence, perhaps he believed he could abdicate his responsibility as God’s spokesman to deliver a message of mercy to Israel’s foes. Whatever the case, Jonah quickly realized that he could not escape God’s presence nor His calling. The prophet reluctantly went to Nineveh.

Most of the prophetic books contain intense figurative language, but the book of Jonah is more of a narrative. The sum of Jonah’s message is found in only eight words: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). Did he call upon the people to repent? Did he explain God’s grace and mercy? Or did he just hatefully spew out this prediction of hopelessness as he walked through the great city?

Whatever the case may be, the citizens of Nineveh heeded Jonah’s words and quickly sought to make right with the Almighty. Even the king “arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes” (Jonah 3:6). Nineveh repented. “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).

Jonah’s reaction to Nineveh’s repentance and God’s mercy was disappointing. “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry” (Jonah 4:1). He did not want to see these evil people spared, but the prophet knew of God’s grace and mercy, that He was “slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness” (Jonah 4:2). Jonah knew that if the people heard God’s message, they would change.

Do we ever present the truth in such a way that we are trying to offend the hearers? This is not God’s desire. Paul urged the Ephesians that they should be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and he told Timothy to develop “longsuffering” in his presentation of the gospel (2 Timothy 4:2). We must exercise “the wisdom that is from above” as we teach, exemplifying the qualities James describes in James 3:17. But understand that the power to convict is in the Word itself, not in the one proclaiming it!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 146/260: Joel

Read Joel 2:28-32

The Church Foretold

Proponents of the doctrine of dispensational premillennialism teach that Jesus came to this earth to establish a physical kingdom, but when He was unexpectedly rejected by the Jews, He set up the church instead. The church, according to premillennialists, was a “plan B” of sorts, a stopgap measure until He could return to establish His kingdom at a later date.

This doctrine fails to recognize several important facts. First, Jesus never intended to establish a physical kingdom. He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). The very thought that man could prevent God from doing anything is ludicrous and must be rejected outright. Premillennialism falls flat on its face by suggesting such is even possible.

Second, premillennialism fails to recognize the church in prophecy. There are numerous Old Testament passages that point to the establishment of Jesus’ spiritual kingdom, the church. One of the most prominent is Isaiah 2:2-4, wherein the prophet says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it.” Isaiah foretells the establishment of the church as well as the universality of the church. The Lord’s kingdom would not be limited to Jews only; “all nations shall flow into it.”

Joel speaks of the amazing things accomplished through the gift of the Holy Spirit at the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).

When were these things accomplished? On the first Day of Pentecost following the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. Peter says to the group of Jews gathered in Jerusalem, “But this”—what you are witnessing right now with your very eyes—“is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:36). God knew what He was doing all along!

“I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6)

I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life John 14:6

John 14:6

I. “I am the way”

    A. The way to heaven (John 14:2-3, 5)
    B. We are powerless to achieve this on our own (Romans 3:9-12, 23; Ephesians 2:8-9)
    C. He is the way – the only way to heaven (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18)

II. “I am the truth”

    A. He is the truth Himself, united with the Father (John 1:14-17; Hebrews 1:1-3; John 14:7-10; 1:1)
    B. The truth provides freedom (John 8:31-32; 1 John 2:3-6)

III. “I am the life”

    A. Abundant life here (John 10:10b)
    B. Eternal life in heaven (John 3:14-16; 5:24; 1 John 5:12-13)

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 145/260: Joel

Read Joel 2:12-17

Don’t Just Go Through The Motions

“So rend your heart, and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). What a mental image! Tearing one’s clothes was an outward sign of contrition and grief, but if such actions are not accompanied with true inward emotion, what purpose does it serve? Jesus warns against such outward posturing without the proper inward renewal as He quotes Isaiah to the superficial Pharisees: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).

A person can go through all the right motions on Sunday. He can say all the right words in prayer, sing songs that teach truth and do so without mechanical instruments of music, eat the bread and drink the fruit of the vine during the Lord’s Supper, turn to every passage of Scripture mentioned by the preacher, and give a large portion of his financial blessings every single Sunday, but if his heart is not in it, has he truly worshiped acceptably?

We may be tempted to remove emotion from our Christian duty because it can be blown out of proportion. There are certainly people who rely solely upon emotions and do not take into account the actual revelation God made through the inspired writers of long ago. It is dangerous to go to that extreme, but it is equally dangerous to remove emotion altogether. What did Jesus tell the Samaritan woman? “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). To have one without the other is incomplete worship.

When we come to God, whether in worship or in repentance, we must have a humble heart of submission. “So rend your heart, and not your garments.” Our sorrow much not be outward only. We must humble ourselves to do whatever God says in His Word. For those who are coming to Him for the first time, confess your belief in the Son, repent of your sins, and be immersed to have those sins washed away. For those who are already a part of God’s family, when you stumble into sin, confess those to the Father and ask for His forgiveness.

Again, this is not something done for show. This is done with a humble, pure heart. Don’t just go through the motions. Do what He commands for the reasons He instructs.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 144/260: Joel

Read Joel 2:1-11

Loving, Yet Uncompromising, Preaching

While there is some debate concerning the time of Joel’s prophecy, there is strong evidence that points to the pre-exilic period. Assuming the early date of the ninth century BC is correct, then Joel’s prophecies are either quoted by or alluded to by Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi, and Joel is the first to write about “the day of the Lord” (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11; 3:14).

One of the strongest lessons we can take from this short book is the importance of loving, yet uncompromising, preaching. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land temple; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains” (Joel 2:1-2a).

There is not a faithful gospel preacher, nor a zealous Christian, who does not love to talk about God’s grace, mercy, and love. However, if one ignores the many warnings in the Scriptures, telling others only of God’s love for mankind is telling only half the story. “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God; on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22)

There are times we may be deceived into thinking that negative preaching is not necessary because we do not see or realize the consequences of sinful activity. Inspiration discusses such a situation: “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God” (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13).

Declare the love of the Lord! Proclaim praises for His grace and mercy! But do not neglect to warn those who rebel and disobey His commands. Do it in love, with a view toward saving the sinful through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 4:15; 2 Timothy 4:2-5).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 143/260: Joash & Jehoiada

Read 2 Chronicles 22:10-24:27

The Importance of Righteous Associations

It has been said that if you want to know what type of person you will be in a few years, pay attention to the people you spend the most time with. The influence they have over you will shape who you will become.

Joash was crowned king at the age of seven, and the Scriptures tell us that he “did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:2). Jehoiada had devoted himself to doing what was right. “Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the people, and the king, that they should be the Lod’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16).

Part of that covenant included safeguarding the king against Athaliah, who had “destroyed all the royal heirs of the house of Judah” (2 Chronicles 22:10), except for Joash. In addition to that act of protection, Jehoiada, along with “all the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars” (2 Chronicles 23:17).

At seven years old, it is doubtful Joash understood the full significance of everything going on at this time. But as the boy grew, under the influence of Jehoiada, “Joash set his heart on repairing the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 24:4). The people of Judah brought collections to assist in the repairs of the temple. “And they offered burnt offerings int eh house of the Lord continually all the days of Jehoiada” (2 Chronicles 24:14).

Sadly, upon the death of the priest, Joash fell prey to the influence of men who were not righteous. “Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass” (2 Chronicles 24:17-18).

Are you being led astray by your closest friends? Take an honest look at the people who surround you the majority of the time. Are they leading you to a closer walk with God? Are they encouraging your journey to eternity? Or are they dragging you down and hindering your spiritual growth?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 142/260: Elisha

Read 2 Kings 6:1-7

God Cares!

The prophets had outgrown Elisha’s dwelling place and proposed the need for new construction. Elisha agreed and they went to the Jordan where the lumber was abundant. “But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, ‘Alas, master! For it was borrowed’” (2 Kings 6:5). Not a big deal, right? Why was this man so upset? It was only an ax head!

Here’s the key: it was borrowed! The young man did not have enough money to purchase his own tool, so he borrowed one from someone else. Losing it meant he would have needed to replace it, but if he didn’t have the money to purchase one in the first place, how could he replace it? In that day and age, he could have been sold into slavery because he had lost someone else’s property and owed a debt, however minuscule.

The prophet Amos described the wretchedness of such actions. “Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes’” (Amos 2:6). Such mistreatment of the poor was condemned in Amos’ day, and God still cares about those who are in physical need today.

Jesus described the great scene of the coming of the Son of Man: “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one for another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32). Those on the right hand are the ones who cared for the ones in need; the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned. Those on the left hand neglected those needs. God cares for the less fortunate, and He cares how people treat the less fortunate!

How did He show His care in the incident with the ax? Seeing the young man’s distress, Elisha threw a stick into the water where the ax head had fallen, “and he made the iron float” (2 Kings 6:6). The young man was able to recover what he lost and avoid slavery!

Whatever difficulty you are facing in life, no matter how minor, God cares. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)