Gotta quit that sidestep.

Some mornings I wake up, knowing full well I need to spend time in Scripture, but when I plop down on the couch to read- journaling Bible in one hand, hot tea in the other- I stop. I draw a blank on what to open up to. I believe God enjoys watching this play out though- because every time, I ask God to tell me what to read- and He always lays a book of the Bible and chapter on my heart. This morning was no different. So turning to Amos 3, I noticed so many great metaphors dancing around on these pages. I was particularly drawn to the verses below though.

Amos 3:7-8– “Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared, so who isn’t frightened? The Sovereign Lord has spoken, so who can refuse to proclaim his message?”

Now, I’m not about to take this out of context, so here’s some background. A shepherd named Amos, from the town of Tekoa in Judah, received messages and visions from the Lord regarding the condemnation of Israel’s neighbors. “So I will send down fire on the walls of Gaza, and all its fortresses will be destroyed.” (v. 1:7) And then again in 2:2, “So I will send down fire on the land of Moab and all the fortresses in Kerioth will be destroyed.” Verses like this decorate the book of Amos, and this shepherd proclaims the word of the Lord.  Amos breaks the chapters into paragraphs with most beginning, “This is what the Lord says: The people of ________ have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished.” These people knew the life they were supposed to be living. A life of holiness- a life that honored the Lord. They knew that God was a just God, yet they still chose their own desires- probably doubting any real consequences.

As I entered Amos chapter 3, the attention shifted to Israel. God stated in 3:2, “From among all the families on the earth, I have been intimate with you alone. That is why I must punish you for all your sins.” I hear the hurt in God’s voice, don’t you? Can’t you see that God feels betrayed? His intimacy ran deep with Israel, and yet they were quick to choose selfishness. When patience was required, Israelites were quick to abandon their honorable call, and their beautiful promises from the Lord.  

So that brings me back to Amos 3:7-8. Everyone who sinned against the Lord knew that their actions were not pleasing to the Lord. They knew they were choosing instant gratification and quick fixes instead of trusting the Lord and believing that His commands truly had purpose, and truly were good. So was God’s punishment unwarranted or unfair? No, because they had been warned. These people knew the majestic nature of their king. They knew the power and authority He held- so punishment was rightly deserved.

 

I don’t believe the Lord will ever act in such ways without first giving warning, or without first revealing His plan to give people time to prepare. No, I’m not talking about the day to day. People will get in horrific car accidents, someone will get sick, a child will drown. Terrible, heart wrenching things will happen in this life time. Physical trials in this life may be unexpected and unpreventable. But our souls are another story. God has given us all warning. He beckons us- east and west, north and south- come out of the deep! Come find the one whom takes delight in you. That’s what eternity is all about. Our eternal destinies are marked with choice. I believe Amos 3 is a beautiful reminder that intimacy with the Lord at one point in time does not protect us from punishment when we choose to step out of that intimacy.** Of course punishment has drastically changed since the crucifixion of Christ- but I believe the concept remains true. When earthly trials are thrown our way, and even on judgement day, I pray there are no surprises. Jesus’s presence, and the divinity of God is enough to bring me to my knees- so in moments in my life when I have chosen to sidestep the Spirit and create my own path- I know I’ve already been warned.

“The lion has roared, so who isn’t frightened? The Sovereign Lord has spoken, so who can refuse to proclaim his message? ” Yet another reminder that God’s presence isn’t hidden. I don’t need a microscope or a stack of scientific journals to convince me that my God is all consuming. I’ve come to believe lately that not only can His presence be felt, but it can also be seen. I’ve seen God move. I’ve seen Him intervene in situations that prove His existence. So how can I sit back, listening to the roar of my great God, and not go proclaim His message? I have to shout it out, and you should too.

There are so many messages I believe the Lord has for His people. But today, the message that I am called to proclaim is this: Sidestepping the Spirit of God is a quick path to destruction. Examine your life. Take a look at your heart. Are there times when you avoid dwelling in the Spirit in fear of conviction? Avoiding intimacy with God not only causes Him pain, but it distances you from your purpose.

Don’t sidestep like the Moabites, Amorites, and Israelites did. Embrace conviction, don’t run from it. Open up Scripture, and keep trusting His commandments, even if at the time, it seems barren. Walk in the Spirit.

Philippians 3:16-18- Let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.

Below is a book I’ve been reading. I’m a little over half way through it, and it is stretching me in ways I’ve never been stretched before. Check it out!

 

**I know some of what I said may be a bit controversial. Take what you want, leave the rest. 🙂 **

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