Amos 7-9

I have been keeping up with my Bible reading, but not with the blogging. Although the most important aspect is, of course, reading the Word, writing about it can really help me consolidate and concentrate on what I’m reading. Over the last few days, my internet has been intermittent in the evenings, so blogging was a bit harder.

In Amos 7, the prophet begged the Lord not to show his wrath against Israel. However, God finally told Amos enough was enough. He had measured the people of Israel and the results showed that they were left wanting. They did not measure up. God, the God of justice, needs to correct this.

Obviously, Amos’ prophecies upset a few people and in this chapter, he was told to leave. However, Amos told them that it was God who had told him to say these things and the consequences for Israel’s disobedience would be dire.

Amos 8 again shows the sin of the people of Israel. Their dishonest economic practises have disadvantaged and oppressed the poor. The people have cheated or sold short their goods. They “trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land”.

As a result, God will destroy them. Not only this, but he will hide his face from them. This is perhaps more terrifying, that though they seek for the word of God, they will not find it. Amos 9 reiterates how total the destruction of Israel will be. It seems utterly hopeless.

However, the book of Amos ends with Israel’s restoration. Despite this destruction, he will lift Israel again. There will be redemption. There will be rebuilding. There will be hope. Is this the time we live in, when Jesus is restoring and redeeming this world? Sometimes it’s hard to know which. But we can have hope, that God is restoring his people back to him; that Jesus will come again and Jerusalem will once and for all be made new.

These are the questions that Amos 7-9, and indeed the whole book, have made me ponder:

  • What current political or economic practises are happening that are detestable to the Lord?
  • How are we complicit in the trampling and oppression of the poor?
  • What will the consequences for us?
  • How do we let justice flow like a river?
  • How do we show are we a people of hope of a new heaven and new earth?
  • How do we usher in God’s holy and just kingdom to where we are?

Colossians 3

Like in his other letters Paul lets us know what living as a follower of Christ should look like and what it doesn’t look like.

First, he tells us to focus both our hearts and minds on heavenly things. Our desires and our perspectives should be based on higher things than the earth.

Then he tells us what the markers of Christian life are:

  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Gentleness
  • Patience
  • Forgiving others
  • Love
  • Unity
  • Peace of Christ ruling our hearts
  • Thankfulness
  • The message of Christ dwelling among us
  • Wisdom
  • Psalms, verses, songs to God in our conversation and in our hearts
  • Wives submitting to their husbands
  • Husbands loving their wives
  • Children obeying parents
  • Servants obeying their masters
  • Working as if for God not man

Christian living does not involve these things:

  • Sexual impurity
  • Lust
  • Evil desires
  • Greed (which is idolatry)
  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Malice
  • Slander
  • Filthy language
  • Lying
  • Fathers embittering their children

Again, these are quite a list.

But if we do it with our focus upon Jesus in his throne, then we will desire to love and serve him.

Philippians 3

In this chapter, Paul reminds us of the following things:

  • rejoice;
  • do not put confidence in ourselves;
  • be wary of those who try to ask us to put confidence in ourselves;
  • to press on to take hold of what God has promised;
  • don’t set your eyes on earthly things;
  • our citizenship is in heaven.

This chapter is equally encouraging and equally concerning. This is mainly because of the messages the world gives us is all about putting faith in ourselves. It tells us to believe in ourself and to be confident in our own abilities. We should believe in our own abilities then everything else is going to work out.

Unfortunately, this is not simply true, so is only setting yourself up for disappointment. In fact, it puts unfair pressure on people and if you don’t succeed and everything doesn’t work out, well you only have yourself to blame, don’t you. Simply, the world doesn’t run on positive thinking and self-esteem. Unexpected tragedies happen, people get sick, people fail. So, put your value and self-esteem in something that actually delivers what it promises: Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.

Seeing as we have this promise, we can stop chasing towards worldly things and worldly success and glory. Paul makes a list of everything that would have given him respect and esteem in his culture: followed traditions, a good family heritage, great academic achievements in learning the law, outwardly respectable, a good job. He did everything his society deemed a success story. I wonder what that list would be in our day and age? First-class honours degree? Becoming a doctor? Well paid job? Nice house in a nice neighbourhood? Fashionable?

However, he knows that these are worthless trash compared to knowing Christ. Degrees, money, jobs, homes, clothes, cars, anything we deem of any worth are worthless compared to knowing Christ. In fact, Paul considers them a loss. I’m not sure what he means, but perhaps he laments of the time spent chasing these things instead of seeking Jesus. So instead, we can choose to chase Jesus and the promises he gives us.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

verse 14

Obviously, pursuing Christ instead of worldly things will make us weird, even strangers in this world. But we remember that we don’t actually belong here.

But our citizenship is in heaven.

First part of verse 20

What a glorious reminded, especially for someone like me who lives overseas. (If you’ve arrived here by chance, I have another blog which discusses my life in Cambodia). I’m lucky that I love the UK, where I’m from, and I love Cambodia where I now live. However, there are moments where I realise I’m a stranger in both these places. In Cambodia, it’s more obvious. I look different, I talk differently, my lifestyle is different. But having lived abroad for a number of years really makes you feel different in your passport country too. So while I try and think about it as having “two homes”, there’s a realisation that neither one is really my home. My home is in heaven with Jesus. Yes, he’s called me to be here in Cambodia and he has fortunately given me a huge love for this country. But, I don’t really belong here. That’s okay, but I long for the day where I do belong because I’m with Jesus.

Bible in One Year: Day 13

I’m still snotty and ill, but trying to persevere nonetheless. However, until this cold goes away, my reflections may be a little shorter.

The psalms seem to contain so much opposition, I feel like I must be doing something wrong. At the moment, my life seems to be pretty much opposition free. It also makes me wonder when my time for opposition will come. God has faithfully protected me from discord so far. I pray he continues to do so.

Matthew also suggests that Jesus came to stir up trouble. It tells us that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace. Again, that is somewhat alien to the prevalent image of the serene, hippy-like Jesus that is always viewed through some Gaussian blur. Jesus is a trouble-maker.

The passage also addresses our priorities. Jesus is to be above any human relationship we have. We are to bear a cross and we are to lose our life.

The Genesis passages show us the soap opera that is Isaac’s family. It is interesting how God uses even the most colourful and messed up families and people.