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Weekly Bible Devotion By Books
July 22-27, 2019
Enter the Presence of the Lord
(All) Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
(M) The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
(W) whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
(M) who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
(W) who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
(M) who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
(All) Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
Holy and righteous Lord, your word reminds us that you care about what we do and how we do in our daily life. The true piety is not only in showing up in your holy sanctuary on Sundays. It has to do with how we conduct ourselves in all other days other than Sundays. We confess that we fell short of your glory so often. We are sorry. Help us get right and do good to others and to glorify you. Amen.
Scripture Reading: Amos 5:6,14-15,24
Amos 5:6 Seek the Lord and live, or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire; it will devour them, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
5:14-15 Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.
5:24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Thoughts to share: The wisdom of Living with Abundance
When Amos was called to give prophecy to Israel kingdom, it was a good time probably next to the golden age of King Solomon. Internally, it was prosperous. Internationally, no strong power scared around and tramped over. People felt secure and at ease. Amos’ prophecy was contradictory to what people needed. He saw this good time was indeed an evil time.
The book of Amos has strong tone of judgement. The scope of this judgement is rather large. It covers 8 countries, including the kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah. It has 5 visions solely for the destruction of God’s own people. God used a linguistic pattern to rebuke each: For three transgressions of (nation) and for four I will not revoke the punishment, because…so I will…. We can almost instantly sense the anger of the Lord jumping out of the word. He had no more tolerance for those repeated sins. His judgement aimed at ground zero in every country.
What evoked God’s anger? As I surveyed, I can find a few things. Firstly, though God’s people still came to Temple, celebrating festivals and giving offerings. God did not please them at all. Why? They took the fine wine and best grains to make offerings to those foreign gods and goddesses in the Temple. They silenced Prophet. Their hearts were not there to honor their Lord. Secondly, people lost the sense and knowledge of ethics that were needed in every area of life. They stored up wealth by violence and robbery. They oppressed the poor and crushed the needy. They afflicted the righteous. They turned justice to wormwood. They casted down righteousness to the earth. They took bribe. They deceived deals with false balances and inferior products. Thirdly, the rich and the higher ones lived in super luxury lifestyle. They lied on beds of ivory. They ate lambs and calves. They drank wine in bowls. They anointed themselves with the finest oils. They sang idle songs to the sound of harp.
Amos pointed out two things that the rich country and people should do. Firstly, Seek the Lord. Secondly, seek good, not evil! Centuries later, Jesus’ brother James reminds the Jewish Christians again of the similar things. He understands very well that faith without works is dead. God is not pleased with our lifestyles that are not matched to the faith he has given. Our lifestyles are the fruits of our faith. James also warns the favoritism by appearance. He warns the danger of the rich-lived in luxury and in self-indulgence, fattened their hearts without empathy and compassion.
Clearly our faith condition affects what we value and how we act in life contexts. Seeking the Lord is fundamentally significant in our life existence. It applies person individually. It applies people group collectively. The prosperity and peace can be blessings of the Lord. But we need to know to live with such abundant time in wisdom in the light of God’s teachings.
Do a self-exam in the light of the word of God. How am I doing in showing the fruits of my faith? How are we doing in showing the fruits of our faith? How do we practice our daily business at workplace, at streets? At the stores? At churches? How do we show the fruits of our faith in our speech, among people relations? Check my faith state, my spiritual state.
O Lord, we tend to forget you and relax the practice of your teachings in our good time. We tend to think our good time is the merit of our own strength. We become arrogant. We set up ourselves higher than others who may be weaker, and less rich than us. We thought we held our future. O Lord, we are sorry. We do need intentionally practice your words, not just let them pass by our ears. Help us. We pray. Amen.
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