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Friday, November 25, 2011

Uh Oh! I think I forgot something!


 6So seek God and live! You don't want to end up with nothing to show for your life but a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground. 
   For God will send just such a fire, and the firefighters will show up too late.
(Amos 5:6 The Message)

Amos was one of the twelve minor prophets of Israel.  He had a tough job - serving as the prophet during the reigns of Jeroboam II and Uzziah.  The kingdoms were growing prosperous - some would say they were "feeling their oats".  They had little time for God and lots of time for their good life.  The armies of Assyria (one of their rivals) were battling for the territory of Damascus.  In turn, Israel was allowed to live almost without battle and enjoy the expansion of their territory without the need for battle.  Although the nation was prospering and expanding its lands, its heart for God was not so expansive.  

Values are often determined by the circumstances we find ourselves in.  When Israel was "down on its luck" with armies battling them on every side, they sought God, listened to the prophets and wanted to be engaged in worship.  When they seemed to be living carefree, they had little need for God in their lives.  Their values were allowed to be shaped by the prosperity they enjoyed - oftentimes not adhering to the Law of Moses, focusing on their own gain, and leaving the poor or sick to fend for themselves.  Amos comes with a tough message - either they wake up to their drifting away from God, or face his coming judgment!

Now, don't get me wrong - his message was vital, but it was also a hard one to deliver.  Probably even harder to listen to when you find yourself enjoying great times and realize you just might have left God out of the equation!  Here's the cold, hard facts - God makes no differentiation when it comes to sin.  Either you are guilty of sin or not.  The fact that you are a child of God when you sin is just as significant as when the unbeliever sins.  The only difference is that we recognize that we have someone to run to with our sin!  Israel had been in this position of being a little to "comfortable" in their walk before.  Here's what I want us to see - with each period of compromise, compromise gets easier and it gets bigger!

There are times when our heart of worship is melting away - all the while we are oblivious to the compromises we are making that lead us to that point.  Thank goodness that God gives us messengers of his grace!  We may not get a "prophet" to show up on our doorstep, but we do experience the grace of his message!  It may be in hearing the Word of Truth through another believer, or a convicting thought comes to mind through the action of the Holy Spirit within, but we get the message!  

Here's the truth of what Amos tells Israel - your position as God's chosen does not make you exempt from his position on sin!  We have a responsibility to live right!  When we don't - God reminds us of our responsibility!  Plain and simple.  Some of you may have wondered why I call my blog "The Plumbline".  It is actually from this prophet's writing.  In the 7th chapter, verses 7-9, God gives Amos a vision.  It is of a plumbline hanging from the hand of God.  God asks Amos what he sees and he answers that it is a plumbline.  God's word to Amos is that he is "measuring" the "plumb" of Israel's heart based on their actions.  

That is what God's Word does in our lives - it measures us to make sure we stay on the "plumb" with God.  When we are getting a little "out of plumb", his Word has a way of bringing us back into plumb.  That is why God sent the prophets of the Old Testament - to act as a plumbline to bring Israel "back to plumb" with him.  Many of us "gloss over" the Old Testament writings saying that they don't really make a lot of sense and seem to be only spoken to Israel.  The fact is, God reminds us through their example.  We cannot think ourselves above their actions.  We "drift" away from God in our contentment just as easily as they did!

So, I think as this year begins to draw to a close and we begin to consider the gift of Christmas that we celebrate in just a month, it may be time to begin to consider the condition of our hearts.  We might find that we are "melting away" without really seeing that we are.  Before we find nothing but a pile of ashes to remind us of what we once enjoyed, wouldn't it be better to "adjust our plumb" now?  This season of remembrance can be made all the richer by us drawing close to our Savior, remembering his graces in our lives, and reaching for him afresh with our whole heart.  Be plumb!