Reflection on Amos 8:1-14

Scripture

You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over, and for religious festivals to end, so that you can get back to cheating the helpless.

Observation

The Lord shows Amos a basket of ripe fruit. The Lord says, “Israel is ripe for punishment.” The Lord will not delay.

The prophecy goes on to words of judgement against those who despise the poor and cheat the helpless.

Judgement will come against Israel that will shock the earth. There will be famine in Israel – a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

Application

The people of Israel, like christians today, were meant to honour the Lord in all of their dealings, in every aspect of their lives.

Amos condemns people for being desperate for the Sabbaths and festivals to be over so they could get back to the business of ripping off the poor and helpless,

We must ensure that we honour God with our actions on Monday as much as we do with our lips on Sunday.

The problem with the people of Israel was that so many of them lived in a culture of holiness without letting their hearts be touched by God. Everything in the culture and daily life was meant to point people to their unique calling of living for God’s glory.

The trouble is that you can live in a godly culture and see it as a burden, as the way things are. You follow the rules and expectations without seeing the reason for the rules or the giver of the rules.

There are christians who worship God, who go through the outward appearance of christianity without having their hearts transformed by the Holy Spirit. Therefore their work life and family life can be a denial of what they claim to believe.

We all need to be changed from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, help me to yield heart to you. Come and dwell in every part of my life, teaching me how to glorify your name in every minute of every day. Amen.

Reflection on Luke 10:25-37

Scripture

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

Observation

An expert in the Jewish law asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks him what the law says, and he replies that it is to love God and to love our neighbour.

To justify himself, the man asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” In response, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

Application

We always want to justify ourselves. We always want to look good to others and to God.

The law is too hard to keep. God’s standard of righteousness is too hard to match. To cover our guilt we make excuses that seem to justify our actions.

We can never make ourselves right under the law.

Even if we could fulfil every letter of God’s law and live a perfect life, it would still not be enough.

A religious approach to life will always disappoint us and God. We can never be good enough for Him by our own efforts alone.

In Christ we do not have to live up to expectations that are too high.

In Christ we are already accepted by God. The sin is washed away in His blood. Better still, He gives us the grace to be “good.” And when we fail, He keeps on forgiving.

Acceptance comes first, and then the ability to live a life that is acceptable. God does not want performance form us. He wants love.

When I was saved, the love of God flooded into my heart. My response was, “God loves me so much; how can I love Him in return?”

I don’t worry about sin or about being good enough. No, I seek to serve my Father and to let Him correct my actions and attitudes. Much better to have a loving coach than to just read the rule book!

In Jesus there is no need to feel guilty abut our sins. There is no need to justify ourselves when we fall.

God’s love covers it all.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for paying the price for my sin. Thank you for showing me what love looks like. Help me to walk in fellowship with you every day, letting your grace transform my heart. Amen.

Reflection on Colossians 1:1-14

Scripture

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

Observation

Paul writes to the holy people of Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. He has heard of their faith and love which come from their confident hope in their eternal destiny.

This same Good News is bearing fruit all over the earth as people turn to Christ. Paul prays for the Colossians that they will be strengthened ad filled with joy.

Application

The Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, has been spreading constantly through the world since the day of Pentecost. In just about every nation of the world there are faithful followers of Christ.

As people turn to the Lord, their lives are transformed, and ultimately whole nations are changed.

In the West we often find this hard to believe. It seems that the society in which we live is turning against the Gospel, sometimes with hostility.

In this situation, we just need to let Jesus continue to work in us, changing our lives one day at a time. As we are able to give testimony about what He has done for us, our actions will demonstrate the truth of our words.

People are hungry for truth and authenticity. They are tired of slick advertising messages, political spin and hollow promises. When they see someone whose life shows the truth of their beliefs, then they will take notice.

The Good News is bearing fruit all over the world. We need to believe that it will bear fruit in the lives of our friends and neighbours.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the transformation that comes when people believe your Good News. Help me to live a life that testifies to your goodness, and to speak words that point people to you. Amen.

Reflection on Amos 7:7-17

Scripture

Amos replies, “I am not a professional prophet, and I never trained to be one. I am just a shepherd and I take care of sycamore-fig trees. Bu the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people Israel.’”

Observation

The Lord shows Amos a vision of a wall being measured with a plumb line to determine if it is straight. The Lord tells Amos that He will test His people with a plumb line and bring judgement against the house of Jeroboam.

Amaziah, the priest at Bethel, sends a message to Jeroboam accusing Amos of plotting against him. Amaziah also tells Amos to go back to Judah and prophesy there.

Amos responds that he has never been a professional prophet; he is just obeying the Lord’s commandment.

Application

Pastors and other trained ministers of the gospel play an important role in the church. They are indispensable in providing oversight and direction.

But God will use anyone who is ready to obey Him. You don’t need a degree to serve the Lord.

Amos was a shepherd and a tender of sycamore-fig trees. The Hebrew suggests that he was a land owner and not just an employee, but regardless of this he was not a professional prophet schooled in the Law and the prophetic traditions.

God used Amos to get a message to the people of Israel. His training and experience meant little to the Lord.

The Lord is looking for people who are willing to take His word to people who will not necessarily welcome it.

When God calls, He gives the training, the knowledge and the skills we need. We just have to answer His call and trust Him to supply what we need.

Prayer

Lord God, I thank you that you do not require people to be college trained or to have decades of experience before they can serve you. Please use me for your purposes today. Amen.

Reflection on Psalm 30

Scripture

You have turned my mourning into dancing

You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.


Reflection

With you O Lord

There is joy

Even in the shadows

In the valley of death.


I have tasted grief

Mourning has torn my soul

But you touched me

Turning it into joy


My joy is in you Father

My hope is set on you my God

You give me reason to live

And to laugh at my enemies.


Yes mourning comes and sadness strikes

But you are my joy and my strength.

Reflection on Galatians 5:13-25

Scripture

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Observation

We have been called to freedom, but it is a freedom to do right not freedom to sin. Our flesh fights against the Spirit, so that we are not free in ourselves to carry out our good intentions. But when we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are not under any obligation to the Law of Moses or to the desires of the flesh.

The sinful nature manifests itself in all kinds of sexual immorality, idolatry, anger, ambition and such like. The Holy Spirit produces Christ- like actions in us such as love, joy, peace, and so on.

As people living in the power of the Holy Spirit, we should let the Spirit dominate in every part of our lives.

Application

Christ has brought us freedom from every kind of bondage. Now we are called to live lives of freedom. But it is not freedom to sin. That would be just the same kind of “freedom” the world offers.

The Good News is that we do not have to be good enough to prove we are acceptable to God. We are saved by grace because God loves us.

This is not an excuse to sin. We are not saved by good works, we are saved for good works.

The freedom we have in Christ is not freedom to do as we please. It is freedom to do what pleases God. Before Jesus came into my life, I had no alternative to self- centred sin. But in Christ I now have the freedom to do what is right, not by compulsion, but in joyful surrender to the Holy Spirit.

This freedom in the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self- control. What a wonderful gift!

Prayer

Holy Spirit come and direct every part of my life. I surrender all of me to you. Amen.

Reflection on Luke 8:26-39

Scripture

Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So Jesus got into the boat and left.

Observation

Jesus and His disciples sail to the region of the Gerasenes. Jesus is met by a man possessed by a legion of demons who lived amongst the tombs.

As Jesus ministered to this man, the demons begged Him not to be sent into the Abyss. Instead, at their request, He sends them to a nearby herd of pigs.

People come to see what has happened and are amazed to see the man clothed and in his right mind. But they are filled with fear and ask Jesus to leave them. The healed man, though, asks to come with Jesus. But Jesus tells him to stay and tell people about what God has done for him.

Application

Imagine a man so tormented buy many demons that nobody knows what to do with him. Jesus comes and heals him, at the cost of the lives of a herd of pigs.

Instead of rejoicing over a man set free from years of torment, the local people were afraid of the power of Jesus.

To the Jewish person, the loss of a herd of pigs would seem inconsequential. But these were Gentiles, and it was their living that was threatened.

Perhaps the local towns people were themselves demonised, and this was the cause of their fear. in any case, they rejected Jesus. They actually asked him to leave.

When people are confronted with a choice between an immoral lifestyle and salvation, many will choose to continue their lifestyle. This is why the church is hated in so many places.

The healed man remained, and his testimony must have changed some hearts. Perhaps their fear was overcome by love.

Prayer

Lord help me to always put you front and centre in my life priorities. May I never be afraid to follow you. Amen.