Chosen for Training

“You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2)

A parent disciplines their own child, not every child.  Their personal connection to their children leads them to take closer notice of their failings and seek to correct them.  It is a discipline born out of affection, not hatred.

A Christian is a child of God and should expect that at times, their Father will be harder on them than those in the world.  He expects more from us because He has greater hopes for us and because He has given us greater blessings.  His discipline is not a sign of distance, but of closeness.

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7)

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

The Tolerance Myth

“But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’ ” (Amos 2:12)

When the masses of Israel rejected God, they turned against the followers of God, too.  It wasn’t enough for them that they should practice wicked things and live immoral lives, it was expected that everyone should do likewise.  They were tolerant of every vile practice, but had no tolerance for righteousness.  No more prophecy, no more vows before God, no more calling on the name of Jehovah.

Be not surprised when the world requires you to accept its ways.  The end result of the devil’s schemes is the intolerance of Christianity and the tolerance of everything but.  The world will scream “diversity” and “inclusion” while commanding Christians to sit down and be silent.  Nebuchadnezzar did it with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and Israel did it to Amos.

It has always been this way, and if we are called to brave the same treacherous waters as those people of faith who have gone before us, we should consider ourselves honored. I pray we will have the bravery to speak boldly like they did.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Don’t Follow the Crowd

“Their lies also have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.” (Amos 2:4)

We accept as normal that which is done regularly by those around us.  Others watch television filled with violence, sex, and blasphemy so we believe the lie that it is normal to do so ourselves.  We see generations before pursue greed at the cost of faith, family, and character, so we aren’t disturbed to do the same.  We neglect assembling with the church because our parents didn’t prioritize it.

Yet, if a lie leads our forefathers astray, must we follow in their footsteps?  Amos called Israel to return to the LORD and to reject the culture they had been given.  We need not be lost just because others have gone astray.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

A Roar or a Whisper

“The LORD roars from Zion and from Jerusalem He utters His voice; and the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn, and the summit of Carmel dries up.” (Amos 1:2)

When God spoke to Elijah it was through a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) that comforted the faithful servant.  When He spoke to Moses it was as with a familiar friend (Exodus 33:11).

Yet, when He spoke to sinful Israel through Amos… He roared.

God is capable of serene gentleness and terrible violence depending upon whom He is speaking with.  If the LORD looked at your life would He roar or would He whisper?

“… he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Why Seeking the Living with the Dead?

When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! (Isaiah 8:19-20)

In the 1920’s, Harry Houdini, the great illusionist and escape artist began to travel the country debunking the practice of seances.  When he realized that psychics and mediums were merely charlatans playing upon the grief of those that lost loved ones (he himself having lost his beloved mother), he was infuriated at their practices.

What Houdini learned a hundred years ago, the Bible spoke of 2700 years ago.  Do not consult the dead or the stars for advice.  Turn to God’s law and testimony for wisdom.  Man should seek the living God, not the dead.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Only One Fear

“…and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.” (Isaiah 8:12)

Part of being a Christian is learning that the things you used to be afraid of shouldn’t scare you anymore.

Don’t worry about the future, God will take care of it.

Don’t worry about what others think of you, they are humans to.

Don’t even worry about what you think of yourself, if we are esteemed by God, then our self-esteem becomes less about ourselves.

Don’t fear for your security, God will take care of you.

Don’t fear that you will miss out on life’s pleasures, eternity awaits us full of joy.

A Christian fears God, and so they have no need of fearing anything else.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Plans: Mine, Theirs, & His

“Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; state a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us.” (Isaiah 8:10)

When God is not with us, then there is no security or confidence to be had.  Whatever plans we make can fall apart, whatever safety we build for ourselves might crumble at any moment.  There is no such thing as a perfect human defense against pain.

However, if God is with us, His plans will succeed and His plans are for our good and not for ill.  Even if mankind considers us defenseless and weak, we are mighty if Jesus is our King.  We don’t need our plans to work out (or fear that our enemies’ plans will!) because His plans always lead to victory.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Immanuel

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name ‘God is with us’. (Isaiah 7:14)

A man wouldn’t give his life for a beetle or sacrifice the comforts of his home to dwell in a badger’s den, and yet, that is exactly what Jesus did.  He left the ivory palaces of heaven and the position of supremacy He enjoyed from His throne to dwell amongst His creation.  So that God would be with us.

It is hard to fathom such love, but it is impossible to deny that it is love.  You are loved by God.  You matter to Him and He was willing to do anything to make eternity with you a possibility.  God has loved us, but will we love Him?

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10)

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Hope From the Ashes

“Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.” (Isaiah 6:13)

Through Isaiah, God warned that Israel was soon to be conquered by Babylon.  The cities would be burned, the people would be killed or taken captive, and the land would be left desolate.  They would be wiped out like a forest ravaged by fire.

And yet, He promised that the seed would remain in the charred stump that was left after the burning.  The fire would cleanse, but the seed would regrow from the ashes.  Israel’s darkest hours would eventually lead to the coming of Jesus and the birth of His church.  When God is with us, even destruction simply turns into rebirth.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Send Me!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

When Isaiah volunteered, he didn’t even know what the job was yet.  All he knew was that God needed a servant and he rushed at the opportunity to serve.  The Lord needs volunteers, not experts.  If we are ready to work, He will train and prepare us for the tasks ahead.  He won’t leave us or forsake us in our hour of need when we are toiling in His vineyard.

Don’t wait for the perfect moment to share the gospel or help the needy or be kind to the downtrodden.  Don’t wait for the situation you feel qualified – just look for the work that needs to be done and volunteer.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

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