Amos – Chapter 6 – Next Week
I have a confession to make. It is a struggle for me to maintain a consistent Bible and prayer devotional life. Maybe the word “struggle” isn’t strong enough. Most of the time it is a real battle for me to do it. Now that I’ve made my confession, let me ask you a question. Do you have a consistent devotional time with God through reading the Bible and prayer? Do you struggle or even battle to maintain it?
There are possibly two many reasons (or sometimes excuses) to list as to why I struggle, but I think they all fit under two broad categories. One category would be external the other would be internal. I would define the “external” as things outside of myself – things I can’t control, like the phone, other people in the house, tight schedules, and so on. I would define the “Internal” as things like being too tired, a cluttered or busy mind, a desire to avoid God because of sin and so on.
Even after I battle through both external and internal pressures designed to prevent me from a productive devotional time with God, I find that without a plan I tend to be quite scattered in my approach to the Bible. Too often I just sort of randomly pick this passage or that. I also tend to bog down, wanting to study out the passage, which isn’t a bad thing right?
Though it may be difficult to find, I think there is a balance. We should understand what we read devotionally. There is nothing wrong with looking up words we don’t know, but we should remember the goal of devotional reading is to encounter the Word of God from more of a bird’s eye view than a microscopic one. Try to read whole passages prayerfully, allowing the Spirit of God to speak to you.
Use highlighter pens to identify verses that are particularly meaningful to you, or keep a journal where you can jot down impressions, thoughts, ideas or scriptures you can explore or study more thoroughly.
When doing your (hopefully) daily devotions don’t avoid the negative or difficult passages. If you do, you will never read books like the book of Amos. Cultural demands work against a holistic approach to the Word of God. People today just want to be encouraged, “tell me something positive, tell me I’m doing fine, tell me it isn’t really my fault, just make me feel good!” They choose mega churches where they can hide from deep meaningful relationships and where health, wealth, and prosperity are the overarching themes of the church. I mean, just look at the size of this church! That must mean God is blessing them, right?
Sometimes I find myself wondering what the persecuted church in third world countries think of America’s mega churches where the gospel is marketed instead of preached and lived? Better yet what does God think of the mega-church experience where we rush in, have a quick “experience”, much like popping a happy pill, then rushing out? Religious experience? Check. Now on with the rest of MY life.
Ever heard the phrase, “I’m mad at God”? Well, why wouldn’t you get mad at Him when you pop the Christian happy pill and suddenly you don’t experience the same euphoric spiritual experience you once did, but the person next to you still seems high on Jesus? Some hardship or tragedy occurs in your life, and it doesn’t fit in to your cultural church experience – contrary to everything you’ve been taught about God wanting to pour out His goodness to you unmeasurably. Why is God being so mean?? I DESERVE to be happy! I’ll just stay mad at Him until He gets back in line and starts blessing me again!
Someone needs to stand up and tell the spiritual junk food Christian the truth. YOU ARE NOT KING, JESUS THE CHRIST IS THE ONLY KING! Jesus is the sovereign God of the universe and you are to fit into His plan, and not the other way around.
When I started writing, I truly had every intention of only introducing Amos 6:9-11, then studying through it. I want to say this carefully, and with my knees knocking. I don’t often use the phrase I’m about to say because it is so misused and abused by the body of Christ that it has become a lie most of the time. I wanted to talk about verses in the book of Amos, but I truly sense the Holy Spirit of God directing me to address the importance of devotional time spent with Him in His Holy Word and prayer.
We talk almost dismissively about “having a relationship with Jesus Christ”, and then too often spend little to no time actually cultivating that relationship. Your devotional life with God is not just a good idea, it is critical. Time spent in the Word of God is not only critical for your own spiritual growth, but it weighs heavily into your interactions with others. How will you lead others to Christ unless you spend time with Him? How will you demonstrate the love of God to others if you never experience it yourself? How will you encourage another unless you first are encouraged?
Read the truth, learn the truth, walk in the truth, share the truth.
Let me say it another way.
Read about the Truth, learn from the Truth, walk with the Truth, talk with others about the Truth.
Do you know what I am saying?
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
What about Amos chapter 6? God willing, next week.
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.