May 21, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Phil Choi, Gracepoint Hsinchu

Amos 8:4-6

What was the Israelites’ attitude towards God as revealed through the expression: “When will the New Moon be over … and the Sabbath be ended?” A lot is revealed through the Israelite’s attitude towards the New Moon and Sabbath. Ultimately, they viewed God’s laws as burdensome and restrictive. They couldn’t wait for these religious observations to be over so that they could go on doing what their hearts really wanted to do.

Where was their heart? Their hearts were focused on what they wanted to do. They failed to see the reason why God ordained these religious activities. As a result, the Israelites considered them a burden, and instead of focusing on God, they focused on their personal desires.

What are the things in my life that occupy center stage so that I want to quickly “be over” with the things of God? One way is in the way I sometimes approach devotion times or prayer. If I’m having a particularly busy day, or there is something that’s on my mind that I really want to take care of, I find it difficult to slow my heart down and focus on God’s Word or prayer! I become like the Israelite’s in that I say, “When will this time be over so that I can take care of my checklist?” And in doing so, it reveals that I’m completely missing the point of why I need devotion times and prayer. These are times for me to reconnect with God. Often times God’s speaks His will through that days DT, and it convicts me of things I need to repent of or how I ought to live that day. Prayer, likewise, gives me an opportunity to slow down my heart to thank God, repent of sins I’ve committed, surrender anxieties, etc. And all of this is necessary to a healthy, vibrant relationship. Religious duties done for the sake of “doing them” miss the point completely, and any time I have this, “When will this be over?” mentality, I should catch myself from having this wrong thinking. I have to constantly remind myself that quality time spent with God is infinitely more important than checking off something from my to-do list.

As mentioned repeatedly in Amos, here again, callousness toward the plight of others is tied to disregard of God. Why is one related to the other?  In what ways might such dynamics be present in my life, and what can I do about it? Callousness toward the plight of others is tied to disregard of God because God is primarily concerned about the plight of others. When I don’t care about the things God cares about, it shows disregard for His name. I realize that in order to be concerned about the plight of others, I have to be intentional about thinking about them. I have to be active in looking for signs that they may be having a bad day, the way they carry themselves, things they say or share with me, asking probing questions to get to the heart of the matter, etc. Loving people doesn’t happen passively. And if I’m not intentional about it, then an opportunity to love that person slips by! But by then it’s too late. One thing I should do is pray about this, because I find that when I do, I think about people’s needs more, and I notice opportunities to express love better and faster. And it starts with having the mindset, “I’m not going to focus on my things right now; God, help me to see the needs of people around me.” And in doing so, God opens my otherwise selfish eyes to care about others in my life.

Amos 8:7-14

“The destruction to come on Samaria will be the cause of bitter mourning. Amos described the event in terms of a funeral for an only son (v. 10). He continued the use of metaphorical language as he depicted a coming famine. It was no ordinary famine but one of the words of the Lord (v. 11). He pictured men searching for the word as starving people seek food or water (vv. 12-13). But they received no word from the Lord. They had rejected the word, not realizing its great value, and had lost it forever (cf. Luke 17:22; John 7:34). The church must realize the preciousness of the Word of God. We must obey and honor it, because it points to the source of life.”[1]

What does the judgment in the form of “a famine of hearing the words of the LORD” show about the nature of the final stage of God’s judgment? It shows how the final stage of God’s judgment is that people will not be able to find God, even if they wanted to. It’s God’s presence being completely gone, the very source of goodness, love, joy, peace, etc. absent from life.

What does the character of this judgment reveal about the serious consequence of what I ultimately desire in life? What do I really want in my life? It’s a serious warning because in the end, we end up getting what we want. C.S. Lewis says it like this: There will be two kinds of people in the end – Those that will say to God ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God will say ‘Thy will be done.’ It’s a scary thing for a person to not want God in life, and then at the end of life, to actually get what he wanted all along. I, for one, wouldn’t want this. One thing I’m thankful that I learned at our church is how to share in God’s heart for the lost. Here in Taiwan, my heart goes out to the college students we meet every day because they live aimless lives, doing things only because society tells them to do so. Recently, we had English club discussions on Wall-E, and one of the topics was about “living versus simply surviving.” So many of the students in my group expressed how they felt they were just surviving, but didn’t know any other way to live. And my heart went out to them because I know what true life looks like! And I was reminded through these discussions how really the most important thing in life is to do the will of God, share the Gospel, bring lost souls to Christ. And in order for the Gospel to be passed on, I need to be willing to lay down my life. I need to say every day, “God, your will be done.”

What has been my attitude toward the word of God? This week, as we’ve been learning how focusing on our personal wealth and happiness interferes with being concerned about the plight of the spiritual poor and lost, I’ve been convicted once again that I can’t let the comforts or material blessings in life distract me from doing the will of God. I need to be way more generous with my time and finances if I’m going to love people the way God wants me to. I can’t be so concerned about career as I need to be concerned about lost people all around me. The less I think about myself, the more heart I’ll have for other people. And so I’m thankful for how God’s Word reminds me of these truths.

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), notes on Amos 8.



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