Monthly Archives: June 2015

Resting Place

Matthew 11:28 ” Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”.
Jesus wants us to know that He has a yoke that is not legalistic and wearying. He tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He tenderly gives us an invitation that offers relief, rest, and joy for the souls that are burden, and  weary.
Jesus invites the weary to come to Him so they can experience rest for their souls. The key to experiencing this rest is having a right relationship with God, something that can happen only if you have a personal relationship with Jesus. We all have responsibilities that drain us and difficulties that wear us down. We can let the world drag us down its weary path, or we can join our lives with Jesus, who wants us  to know that He’s eager to have us in His yoke of care, guiding us, giving us help for our present needs, and assuring us that He has a plan for us that includes rest and peace, with everlasting life.

So he tell us to come, leave where you are, the situation you are in and come to him. The promise is when you come to Him with everything he will give you rest. Rest from worry, from need, from doubt, rest from the cares of this world ,for he said” seek ye first the kingdom of God”, before you seek a job, a husband, a way out , a way in, before you do anything seek Him, come to him and He will give you rest. The invitation has been extended, will you accept it?

A Committed Love

Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:

The heart is the seat of man’s affections, and devotion. The heart attaches and focuses our  affection, will, and devotion to an object or person. When you diligently search for Christ in your heart, he shall be found, but then you must hold to Him by learning of Him, by loving Him, by obeying Him. Build a personal one on one relationship with him, then share him.

 

See the love of Jesus creates in our hearts ,love one for another. When we have him he lives within our spirits, His mind is our mind, his will is our will, and he is seen by others in all that we do. But first we must find Him; to find Christ ,one just needs to seek Him. Those who truly love Jesus will seek him with all they have. And those that find Him will hold on to Him with all their might; and will say I found Him”; I a man, found the Lord of Glory; I a slave to sin, found the great deliverer; I, a child of darkness, found the light of the world; I the uttermost of the lost ,found my Savior and my God, and they will have to share Him; as the prophet said “It’s like fire shut up in my bones”, When you truly have Jesus you can’t help but to share Him with all you see.

 

Bring him to your house, and share the goodness of the Lord. Not in word only but let others see him in you by your actions, and attitude. Make your life a living sacrifice, a living testimony and a visible witness to the love of God.

God Will Not Delay Justice

Sunday School Lesson

                                             

 

Lesson: Amos 8:1-6,  9-10                                                                                                  

Golden  Text: And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A  basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any  more (Amos  8:2).

I.   INTRODUCTION.   God had been threatening judgment because of all the  injustice in Israel.  He had not been blind.  He had  seen their attitude toward the poor and toward Him.  All He saw was  injustice and religious hypocrisy.  Using the imagery of a basket  of ripe fruit, God told the people of Israel that His judgment of them was now  ripe—it was due.  In this week’s lesson, the prophet Amos used  two illustrations to explain that judgment was about to fall upon  Israel.

II.  BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON.  Up to this point in the book of Amos, the  prophet had preached a series of sermons to Israel concerning their treatment of  the poor, widows and orphans.  He also preached against their  idolatry, selfishness and pride.  In chapter 7, God gave Amos some  visions of what He planned to do to Israel to punish them.  In the  first vision (see Amos 7:1-3), Amos saw a swarm of locusts devouring the land,  but he intervened on behalf of the people and God heard him and held back on  that judgment.  Next Amos had a vision of fire (Amos 7:4-6) that  dried up the waters and covered the land.  Again, Amos pleaded for  the people and God held back once more.  Then the Lord showed Amos  a vision of a plumb line (see Amos 7:7-9) which was normally used to make sure a  wall was straight.  Here it was meant to show whether Israel was  crooked or not.  If God found that they were, He would punish them.  But this time before Amos could intervene for Israel, God  declared that He would not withhold judgment any longer.  Then in  Amos 7:10-17, Amaziah the priest in Bethel is seen complaining to king Jeroboam  about Amos’s preaching of destruction.  This didn’t stop Amos from  continuing God’s message.  Amos proceeded to declare that because  Amaziah wanted him to stop preaching, his wife would become a prostitute and his  sons would be killed.  In addition, Amaziah’s land would be divided  up and he would die in a pagan land and Israel would surely be carried into  captivity.  This is where our lesson begins.

III.  EXPOSING GREED AMONG GOD’S PEOPLE (Amos  8:1-6)  

A. Amos’s vision and  God’s explanation (Amos 8:1-3).

1.  (vs. 1).   In our first verse Amos said “Thus hath the Lord  God shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit.”   In a vision, God showed Amos a “basket of summer  fruit.”  The basket probably included such fruit as  grapes, figs, pomegranates, and maybe other fruit that was normally harvested at  the end of the summer.  Since this fruit had already been  harvested, this would indicate that the fruit was ripe.  This also  described Israel’s spiritual condition regarding judgment.  They  were ripe for it.

2. (vs. 2).  The prophet continued to say  in this verse “And he (God) said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A  basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I  will not again pass by them any more.”   In order to get Amos to  focus on what He was about to say, God asked him “what seest thou?”  or “what do you see?”  Amos answered that  he saw “A basket of summer fruit.”  Just as this  summer fruit indicated the end of the harvest season, God declared that  “The end is come upon my people of Israel.”  In  other words, Israel’s existence in the land was about to end.  With  the words “I will not again pass by them any more” God  indicated that He had been very patient with them, but He couldn’t overlook  their behavior any longer.  Note:   This should remind us of Paul’s words to  the pagans in Athens as they worshipped idols and particularly “the Unknown God”  (see Acts 17:22-23).  Paul made it clear that “the times of this  ignorance (worshipping idol gods) God winked at; but now commandeth all men  everywhere to repent” (see Acts 17:30).  In the same sense, God was  no longer going to “wink” at Israel’s sin.  The end for His people  was near.  Any nation that’s more interested in personal  power and political position than in obeying God will soon realize that He can  declare “time’s up” for any people, even a world power.  This  should be a lesson for our own nation.  America has been the most  powerful nation in the world for many years, but that does not mean that we will  continue to exist if we openly disobey God.  Among other wrongs, we are seeing the rapid acceptance of same-sex marriage, and Romans chapter  1indicates that such acceptance will lead to God’s discipline.   There’s no doubt about it, with the way we treat one another in this  country, America is no longer a Christian nation, if it ever was one.   As a result, God’s displeasure with us is  growing.

3. (vs.  3).  In this verse, Amos went on to say  And the songs of  the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord  God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they  shall cast them forth with silence.”  Amos stated that “the Lord God” declared that the “songs” the people sang in the temple at Jerusalem as well as their  idol-temples in Bethel and Gilgal, will turn into  howlings in that  day.”  In other  words, instead of singing songs in their places of worship the people would be  wailing loudly.  This wailing will be caused by the “many  dead bodies in every place.”  When the Assyrians invaded  Israel they would leave “dead bodies” lying around  everywhere.  These dead bodies, slain by  sword or pestilence, won’t be buried with the usual pomp and solemnity of  funerals, but anyone who survives the destruction “shall cast them forth with  silence.”  The burials would probably be done at  night to avoid being noticed by the enemy.

B. Amos’s warning (Amos  8:4).  Now, in this verse Amos said  Hear this, O ye that  swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail.”   With the words Hear  this,” the prophet was calling  Israel to pay close attention to his message from God.  The people  are identified as “ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor  of the land to fail.”  The emphasis here is on how the  poor and needy of the land were being mistreated.  This is the  meaning of the words “to fail.”  God was  describing those who were making themselves rich at the expense of those who had  little or nothing (see Amos 2:6-8).  The word  “swallow” translates a Hebrew word that means “to inhale  eagerly.”  It has the idea of coveting and hurrying to act on ones  desires.  The rich in Israel did whatever it took to get more and  didn’t care that they were trampling on the needy and poor of the land to do  it.  Amos had previously spoke of how the rich took advantage of  the poor and mistreated them with affliction and bribery (see Amos  5:11-12).  This was a very common sin in Israel.   The heinousness of the sin they were guilty of had the character of the unjust judge who Luke described as one who neither “feared God nor regarded man” (see Luke  18:2).

C. The people’s greed (Amos  8:5-6).

1. (vs. 5).   In this verse, Amos begins to tell the people what the message from God  was.  The prophet said that those who swallow up the poor were  Saying, When will the  new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth  wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances  by deceit?”  The  merchants were so hypocritical that they still continued to be religious while  breaking God’s law in dealing with the poor.     The merchants recognized the “new  moon” and the Sabbath” but their hearts weren’t in it.  Note:  We too  need to determine is the worship we give to God really comes from our  hearts.  When attending church becomes nothing more than a ritual,  God is not pleased.  When we reluctantly give our tithes and  offerings, God is not pleased.  Singing songs and hymns with no  thought about the words doesn’t please Him.  The question is, are  we really worshipping or just going to church?   Both of these holy days,  “the new moon” and “the Sabbath” called for  rest from normal daily activities including buying and selling.   But the merchants couldn’t wait for these holy days to be over so they could go back to making  money.  This is why they asked among themselves, “When will  the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn?   In essence  they were saying, “I’ll be glad when this day is over so I can make so more  money.”  They wanted the “new moon” holiday to  hurry up and be over so that they could buy and sell “corn” or  grain.   The merchants also wanted the “Sabbath” to be over quickly so that “we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?”   The “ephah” was a form of measurement and the  “shekel” was the coinage used for buying and selling.   They were in a hurry to “set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?”   These oppressors of the poor couldn’t wait for the  monthly festivals and weekly Sabbath to end so they could get back to cheating  their fellow countrymen in order to make big profits.  They would  use “balances” or scales that were rigged in order to deceive  the poor.  The scales were rigged to give false weights for an  “ephah” allowing merchants to boost the price.   The merchants in Israel on the one hand were recognizing the feast days  and Sabbath days while at the same time getting rich by very unscrupulous  business practices.  They were insensitive to the basic needs of  the poor and showed them no mercy.  Note:  Just before the Jews entered  Canaan, God made it clear that His desire was that “there be no poor among you”  (see Deuteronomy 15:4).  While the Lord desired that Israel have no  poor in their land, Deuteronomy chapter 15 continues to say that this will only  happen if the Jews obeyed God’s commands (see Deuteronomy 15:5).   However, they disobeyed God and as a result the poor in the land didn’t  get any relief.  Since God knew the poor would always be in the  land because Israel wouldn’t obey Him, He established certain rights and  protections for them.  The poor could glean from the fields, the  orchards, and the vineyards.  They could collect any sheaf that was  left in the field and partake of all that grew by itself during the Sabbatical  Years (see Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 19:10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19).   The Old Testament is clear that the poor are equal with the rich in their  standing before God “for the Lord is the maker of them all” (see Proverbs  22:2).  The price of atonement was the same for both the rich and  poor (see Exodus 30:15), but the poor could bring and offer less costly  sacrifices (see Leviticus 14:21).

2. (vs. 6).  In this verse Amos said that  the rich continued to say “That we may buy the poor for silver, and the  needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?”   The statement “That we may buy the poor for  silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes” is attributed to the upper  class and leaders in Israel, and repeats an indictment that God brought  against them in Amos 2:6 that had to  do with wrongs done against the poor.  First, the people  “buy the poor for silver.”  This no doubt refers  to the corruption in the court system.  Judges were bribed into  condemning innocent people after hearing false testimony (see I Kings 21:8-14)  which was against God’s law (see Deuteronomy 16:19).  The phrase  “and the needy for a pair of shoes” does not mean that a judge was bribed for the trivial or small price of a pair of sandals,  but that the poor were being enslaved for a trivial amount—the cost of sandals  (see Exodus 23:6).  Very often a rich creditor would not allow a  poor person time to pay off even the smallest loan.  To get what  was owed at once, the debtor was forced to sell himself into slavery which was  also against God’s law (see Leviticus 25:39-41).   To further show the greed of the people,  they cheated the poor by selling “the refuse of the wheat?”   This refers to the “chaff” or the useless part of the wheat (see  Psalms 1:4; Matthew 3:12).  It was normally thrown away when the  wheat was threshed, because it was worthless like the husks on corn.   But the merchants were selling it to the poor at full price.   Note:  The wicked will always take advantage of the  honest.  They will always use religious observance for their gain  if they can, if not, they will find a way to set it aside or find a more  convenient time.  There was a time here in America, not long ago  when all businesses were closed on Sunday.  Today, accept for  Chick-fil-a, you would be hard pressed to find a business closed on the Lord’s  Day.  The wicked will always find a way to get around  righteousness, justice, and fairness.  We may have no way to  prevent this or even correct it, but God does!  And He will in His  own time.

IV. WARNING OF IMPENDING JUDGMENT (Amos  8:9-10).   Verses 7-8 are not part of  our lesson, but in those verses God swore that He would never forget their  sinful works (see Amos 8:7).  They were greedy and dishonest when  dealing with one another.  They were hypocritical in their worship  and they even worshipped idols.  Therefore they would tremble with  fear and mourn when God brought judgment upon them (see Amos 8:8). 

A.  A time of darkness for God’s people (Amos  8:9).  Now in this verse, Amos said And it shall come to pass in  that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will  darken the earth in the clear day.”  The words  “that day” no doubt refer to Israel’s immediate future when the  people would be taken captive by the Assyrians.  God said at that  time he would “cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the  earth in the clear day.”  Whether this actually took place  when the Assyrians invaded Israel, we don’t know.  But it was more  likely God’s way of saying light and freedom in their lives would suddenly cease  when the enemy invaded and destroyed the nation.   Note:  It’s also possible that the words “that day” speaks of  the coming Day of the Lord during the tribulation period.  Isaiah’s  description of the Day of the Lord is similar to what Amos says here.   In Isaiah 13:9-10, the prophet said “Behold, the day of the  Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay  the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of  it.  For the  stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the  sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light  to shine.”  The prophet Joel also gave a similar description of the  Day of the Lord (see Joel 2:1-2;  3:14-15).

B. A  time of mourning for God’s people (Amos 8:10).  In our final  verse, God went on to say “And I will turn your feasts into mourning,  and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all  loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an  only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.”   Everything that God said He would do to Israel in this verse are  all symbols of extreme sadness.  First, God said “I will  turn your feasts into mourning.”  The feasts recognized by  Israel were to be times of celebration and joy, but when judgment came the  feasts would bring only “mourning.”  Second, God  said that He would turn all their “songs into lamentation.”   The songs of joy and happiness they sang in worship and  celebrations would be replaced with “lamentation” or cries of  despair.  Third, God said “I will bring up sackcloth upon  all loins.”  The term “sackcloth” refers  to a rough cloth, or baglike garment made of this cloth and worn as a symbol of  mourning or repentance (see Genesis 37:34; Joel 1:8; Esther 4:1-4; Job 16:15; I  Kings 21:27).  Instead of fine clothing that the upper class wore,  they would be wearing “sackcloth” to express their  sadness.  Third, God said that He would also cause “baldness upon every head.”  In biblical times  people would shave their heads to show their deep grief (see Job 1:20).   Fourth, God said “and I will make it as the  mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.”   The word “it” here refers to “that day”  mentioned in verse 9, when God brings judgment on Israel.  It would  be a time of such grief and sadness similar to the mourning one would express  over the loss of “an only son.”  This situation would be devastating to a family since the  “only son” would become the head of the family giving future  hope that the family would continue.  But when the Assyrians  invaded Israel and removed the people from the land, all hope for the future would be gone just as it would be for a family who lost their “only  son.”  Finally, God said “and the end thereof as a  bitter day.”  The word “bitter” accurately describes the suffering Israel would experience.  It  means having a sharp or disagreeable taste; unpleasant to accept; distasteful;  painful to the body or mind; harsh or sever.  Israel’s judgment  will have all of these characteristics.  Their end would be  “bitter.”  Note:  The tribulation period, also referred to as a time of wrath  (see Isaiah 13:9; Matthew 3:7; Revelation 6:17; 11:18) will also be a time of  bitterness.  According to the book of Revelation, at that time, the  Lord will finish His work with Israel, His chosen people (see Revelation7:4-8).  It will be a time of darkness, gloom, mourning,  and bitterness (see Matthew 25:15-31; Revelation chapters 11-18).   I believe the Scriptures teach that Jesus will come for His church before  the tribulation (see Romans 5:8-9; I Thessalonians 1:9-10).   Therefore, it’s imperative that each of us is part of the spiritual  church through salvation in Jesus Christ.  

            

V.  Conclusion.  God  “winks” at evil for only so long, then He judges it (see Acts 17:30).   Because of constant sin and disobedience, Israel eventually came to the  point where God had to punish them.  Likewise, this world is coming  to that point when He will judge it.  The question is, are you  ready for the rapture, the return of Jesus Christ for His followers?   That’s the only way to avoid God’s painful judgment in the Day of the  Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy Of The Lord

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice”.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we put all of our faith and trust in Him. In doing so, we should be accepting life, the good and the bad, as it is handed to us. However, at times we may still find ourselves broken and beaten by hard times, and instead of rejoicing in the belief we have in Him to bring us through those times, we may find ourselves worrying about the cares of this world. Jesus tells us to be of good cheer, for he has overcome the world.

 

God’s sovereignty, is available during any type of circumstance for all who believes. To rejoice during troubled times is to tap into that sometimes inexplicable peace. Like a troubled child who wants to crawl into mom and dad’s bed during a thunderstorm, the Lord is near to those that are troubled. When we are anxious, it is generally about something that has yet to happen. Anxiety often stems from circumstances that are beyond our control, or as a result of our own negligence. But those of us who trust in the Lord, should cast all our cares upon him, and leave them with Him. Paul tells us to glory in tribulations, because there is a blessing in all that we go through, as all things works together for the good to the children of the Lord.

Just as he made a commitment to us, we have to continue to hold up our end of the bargain. How do we convince non-believers of his love and faithfulness, if we are not exuding His joy and peace during difficult situations? If we have truly put our faith and trust in Him, we would just put the worry, fear, and negativity all in His hands. Rejoice and rest in the Joy of the Lord.