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The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

20151211_071329 (2)Yesterday, I penned these words: “Get up early … Take in the sunrise.” Today I was gifted with a beautiful desert morning – as if God was saying, “I’m good. I’m beautiful. And I’m coming soon. Return to me again today.”

The beauty of the sunrise is portent of grace for those who believe. For those who don’t, not so much.

Read Amos 5:1-20

(Amos begins by heaving a personal, heavy sigh. “They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.” Yup. More often than not, we believe that what we’re doing is the right thing. No one wants to feel like they need correction. No one wants to be called a sinner. No one wants a prophet meddling in their business. “For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins” (v.12). Yah, that’s going to go over well.)

As is the case with all of God’s prophets and their prophecies, there is a grace-calm before the judgment-storm: “Seek good! … the LORD will be with you! … It may be that the LORD will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph!” (vs.14-15). That’s the call of Advent – return to the Lord, and seek His presence in a good, reconciled way! I hope you’re embracing that message, because…

THE DAY OF THE LORD

… His presence does not always mean mercy. He’s coming soon, and “will pass through the midst of you” v.17), but the result of that day, “The Day of the Lord”, will be bitter wailing, mourning and lament. In short: For those who have prepared for His coming, it will be the most fantastic day we could imagine! Beyond what we could ask, think, or imagine, actually. But for those who haven’t prepared, who aren’t reconciled with God, who have not been born again by the Spirit…

“Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes … Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming … the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; who can endure it?” – Joel 1:15, 2:1,11

“Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it.” – Isaiah 13:6,9

“That day is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes. The sword shall devour and be sated and drink its fill of their blood.” – Jeremiah 46:10

“For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.” – Ezekiel 30:3

“The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there.” – Zephaniah 1:14

Amos also says in today’s text:

“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” – Amos 5:18

The spirit of the Advent season is so important! We don’t want to be on the outside looking in of God’s grace at the return of Christ. And we don’t want that for the world around us. Get ready … and spread the urgent word of reconciliation! Oh, and live well … that’s tomorrow’s theme.

– EO

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Advent 2015, Amos

 

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Trust. Listen. Hope.

Advent Sunday 2

Read Amos 3:1-11

To the secular world around us, the “celebration of Advent” must look absurd. After all, the world has decided that there is no God Who is in control of things – it’s all random, says science. And, if there is a God, (s)he has done an insufficient job of making the divine self known to mankind in a convincing way. The thought that God has spoken to us through people (prophets), either in the past or now, is too ridiculous to believe.

In today’s passage, through a series of rhetorical questions, Amos says there are three things we can take to the bank as we await the coming of Christ, and the conclusive last days.

  1. God is in complete control. “Does disaster befall a city, unless the LORD has done it? (v. 6b). When you see the incredible evil in our world, do you ever wonder if God still has His hands on the wheel? The Bible says not only that God is still in control, but also that nothing happens outside of God’s sovereign plan. God is good, and we are fallen. When humans are prodded or allowed by God to do heinous things, there is “a strong hand of love hidden in the shadows” (Mark Heard).
  2. God is yelling at us all the time! “Surely the LORD God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (v. 7). Anyone who doesn’t think that God is communicating with the human race simply won’t accept the ways God has chosen to speak. Through creation, through prophets, through experiences, through creation … “The heavens declare the glory of God!” (Ps. 19:1).
  3. The prophecies are going to happen! “The LORD God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” (v. 8b). As we’ve seen, not all of Amos’ prophecies are good news for the people. But Amos can’t possibly be shy about sharing the Word from God, good or bad. He’s saying it! And if God is saying it, it’s written in stone – it’s going to happen.

So, the Advent application: Trust. Listen. Hope. The sovereign God has spoken clearly, and it will come to pass.

– EO

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Advent 2015, Amos

 

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Our Love-Hate Relationship With Our Family Prophets

Stoning

The Apostle Paul said, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy…the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” Then again, Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 

Is it appropriate to make this correlation: That prophetic words…

a) are the most important gifts for the church,

b) are intended to take people from where they are to where they could be (e.g., change their lives), and

c) will be rejected by the family they intend to serve?

As I go spelunking into the caverns of church history, I have begun to notice an all-too-common theme. There are many men and women who seem to have had uniquely clear vision in their day to see their condition, and a path to its improvement. With 20-20 historical hindsight, we honor these people. But most, in their day, faced stern resistance, rejection, and even extermination.

The sad thing? So many of these simply wanted the best for the church. They died for having a grander vision of what the church family could be than the rest of them could see.

Luther preachingI’ve come to find out in my short time here on the planet this less-than-profound truth: People want to enjoy themselves. That goes for my church family, too. In our age and place, with so many church options to choose from, most will pick a place that they likeOf course. Why would you pick a place you don’t like?

The church, though, is not designed to cater to our wants. It is, by definition, a place of discipleship, therefore discipline. As the author of Hebrews says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all … God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:7-8, 10-11). When Jesus commanded the Apostles to make “disciples” of all nations (Matthew 28:19), he was charging them baptize people into communities of discipline all over the world. Melding these passages together, Jesus was calling these men to broadcast a call to a life of painful hardship that will train you to become righteous, holy, peaceful and good. Anything less is illegitimate.

Prophets – those gifted by God to see truth, and boldly proclaim it in the church family – are on the front lines of this disciplined life. Like that really hard teacher in high school, or the over-the-top aerobics instructor, or that drill sergeant from your military days, the prophet is the one who calls you out of your present, and into your future. As the contemporary adage says, “No pain, no gain.” When we look back on these disciplinarians, some – especially those who rejected their leadership – might see them as obnoxious. But many of us are now grateful for the vision that they had for our lives, and their persistent drive to see us change. Those who endured bear the fruit, and are thankful.

Cranmer

Despite this whatever belated appreciation we can muster, it is a spiritual axiom that those with prophetic giftings will face rejection from the very family they are trying to serve. They are also indispensable to the life of the family. Paul tells us be especially ardent in seeking this gift … but really, who wants it?

Most all of our most famous aunts and uncles of the faith faced bitter rejection at the hands of the churches they served. Like their leader, they also become “the stone the builders rejected.” Paul. Athanasius. Benedict. Wycliffe. Hus. More. Luther. Hubmaier. Cranmer. Edwards. And a cavalcade of saints in local churches from our modern world. We may not say it … we may not even realize it! … but we’re eternally thankful for your faithfulness.

-eo

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in church, leadership, Uncategorized

 

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