Saturday, July 29, 2017

restore the roar

(written by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Amos 1 & 2
mark this: Amos 1:2
"The LORD roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem..."
I have a son who is scared of thunderstorms. I've tried to teach him all the tricks to overcome this, like counting between the flash and the sound (one one thousand... two one thousand...). But reasoning a child out of this kind of fear is an exercise in futility. I can explain to him all the science behind lightning and storms, and while he will listen with interest, when the thunder sounds, he is much more concerned with having his parent right by him. Perhaps I am the one who has grown too comfortable- numb to a healthy fear of thunderstorms because of things like modern shelter and lightning rods.
You see, the more I read the Bible, the more I wonder if all us should experience this kind of fear more often. For most of us who dwell in the city or suburbs, we've isolated ourselves from most of the elements. Only a monumental disaster (i.e. hurricane, tornado, earthquake etc.) can wake us from our stupor. After all, we can watch video of great deserts or mountains or other forces of nature from the safety of our living room.
I want you to think about the last time you were truly awed by nature. It most likely was at a time and place where you were actually in danger, when you recognized that you were not in control. Some mountain or cliff or river or forest or even just severe weather put you in your place in the grand theme of things. I want to propose to you that such an experience is a very good thing.
As people, we often find ourselves full of complacency and pride- especially when we think our own little world is running on all cylinders. In this book of Amos, which we start together today, we see the people in Israel with the same kind of attitude. During the ministry of Amos, God's people didn't think they needed God because they thought they had everything figured out-- politically, financially, morally and spiritually. They confused temporary stability with God's blessing, and became smug. They thought everything was great between themselves and God.
My, how they were wrong.
Into this scene, God sent a reluctant, but obedient prophet named Amos. His job was to confront the people of Israel with God's message and abruptly bring them back to reality. It was certainly not an easy or pleasant task, and over the next week we will explore the themes of this powerful little book. But for now, I want to focus in on the its second verse:
"The LORD roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem..."
This message begins with a needed jolt-- a thunderclap, a roar, anything to wake up these complacent people. Most of us don't like those kinds of sudden and startling sounds- but God has much bigger things on His mind than our creature comforts. Amos literally begins with a growl-- God is not at all happy! We'd be wise to listen up as well.
God is not tamable! God is not safe! God is not like Mister Rodgers or elevator music. He refuses to fit into any of our boxes. He will not be limited by our man made boundaries. In Amos chapter 1 alone, He withers, sends fire, consumes, breaks down, and destroys. There are very few pats on the back in this book, but multiple kicks to the posterior.
Our nation, our age, our churches are also in dire need to heed this message. For too long we've tried to turn the Lion of Judah into a declawed lap cat. It does not work, but that doesn't stop us from trying. We need to be put back to a Biblical perspective of who God really is and who we are in light of Him. Would you allow His Word, courtesy of Amos the prophet to speak to you in this area? Let God's truth jolt us all back to a humble attitude before Him. Remember- not one of us is truly in control of anything- even our own personal world. We face danger everyday, whether we realize it or not. Therefore, let Amos help us towards living out Hebrews 12:28-29-
"Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  for "our God is a consuming fire."

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