Monthly Archives: September 2022

Amos 5-9; Obadiah 1:1-9

“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14-15)(NIV)

“Getting down to business.”

On the day I was sworn into the bar of Maryland, my father (also a lawyer) gave me a card inscribed with this passage from Amos.  That pursuit of justice – the yearning for good to triumph over evil – is what spurned me toward three years and ten weeks of seemingly interminable preparation for the bar exam.  I suppose there are lots of law school newbies who, at some point, have felt the same way.  The concept of doing good is vitalizing – it’s noble, magnanimous, high-minded.  But it’s easy to say you love justice.  It’s another thing entirely to be just.  Just ask the Israelites.  

The entire book of Amos focuses on the hypocrisy of the Israelites, who, though they loved their religious feasts and burnt offerings (Amos 5:21-22), were utterly loveless, uncharitable “cows” (Amos 4:1).  Their religious rituals were nothing but “clanging cymbals” (1 Cor. 13:1).  In an era of new-found prosperity under Jeroboam II, the Israelites weren’t sharing the wealth.  Rather, their poor were oppressed, officials were bribed, privileges were secured through payoffs, and there was nary an honest businessman to be found (in Amos’ day, for example, ruthless bankers requiring collateral sometimes stripped their poor clients of the clothes on their backs).   Amos, Hosea and Jonah were all contemporaries, prophets of the day, and they had their hands full.  They predicted destruction for those who had turned their backs on God, and pleaded for a return to God’s justice and decency.  Their messages were ultimately the same: “it’s time to get down to business.”   

I have since left the practice to be home with three small children, and hadn’t read Amos 5:14-15 in years.  That’s why coming across it again was like finding an old friend.  I was reminded that it isn’t just for “officers of the court” to love justice and seek good.  It is for all of us.  Particularly now.  Because it takes only about five minutes of the national news on any given day to discover exactly how cruel and inhumane we all still are, three thousand years later.  That’s why it’s time to stop “saying” the Lord is with us, just as the Israelites did, and actually have Him be.  God’s promise is just that if we seek good, not evil; if we put an end to namby-pamby Christianity; if we are bold in loving and living the Truth – no matter how hard.  As for me and my house, it’s time to get down to business.      

Heavenly Father, you reminded us, centuries after your servant Amos, that you would spit those who were lukewarm in their affection for You “out of your mouth” (Revelation 3:16).  I do not, dare not offend You with my mediocre brand of Christianity.  Kill every hypocritical proclivity in my heart.  Make me love justice not only because of its inherent nobility, but because its originator is the only, truly Just being in the whole of the universe.  Help me to love, live and impart Your justice and Your truth. Amen.

– Sarah

From the archives. Originally published September 22, 2009.


Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan

Joel 2:18-3:21; Amos 1-4

Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.

Joel 2:18, NIV

I read of God’s jealousy and mercy. Other verses that follow in this reading hold special meaning to me, but this start grabs my attention. It ignites an old memory of when we were in our first small group, and began to read a part of the Bible. The group leader asked me what I had learned about God in the reading, and I said, “He is jealous.”

I read today of all the ways he tries to get Israel’s attention:

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
    and lack of bread in every town,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“I also withheld rain from you
    when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
    but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
    another had none and dried up.
People staggered from town to town for water
    but did not get enough to drink,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
    destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

10 “I sent plagues among you
    as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
    along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

Amos 4:6-10, NIV

Lord, you call me close to you again and again. You feed me encouragement from others and underscore your love in your word. Like a teacher getting through to a student, you get my attention to tell me: this is important. I listen. I refocus. I remember the verses you’ve given me, and highlight the words you’ve given me in this season. You formed the mountains, created the wind, revealed your thoughts to mankind. You turn dawn to darkness, and tread on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is your name.

Courtney (66books365)

He who forms the mountains,
    who creates the wind,
    and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
    and treads on the heights of the earth—
    the Lord God Almighty is his name.

Amos 4:13, NIV

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan, Cover to cover

Hosea 10-14; Joel 1:1-2:17 

If Jesus were here in person today, I think He would use flannel graph and PowerPoint to get His points across. When we look at the end of Hosea and the first part of Joel, we see Him speaking to us in word pictures. In the last three weeks I have experienced two sermons where those preaching used visuals and word pictures to get their points across. God does the same thing here. Read Hosea 10:12 below: Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Are you far from God today? What a beautiful way He entreats you to come back to Him. They idea of rains of righteousness falling on us is awesome. Are you seeking the Lord today and experiencing His refreshing rain fall on you? Then we see His ability to predict and foreshadow the future. We see a messianic prophecy in Hosea 13. Many years later the Apostle Paul quotes part of this chapter (1 Corinthians 15:55) in reference to the Messiah. Hosea 13:14b … O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Perhaps not to those reading this for the first time does it make sense, but to us, on this side of the cross it brings more credibility to the message of the prophet Hosea many years before and we can take great confidence as we read God’s Word that what we are reading is true and sure and that this book we read each day has a common theme and structure that leads us to the Saviour. Our readings today end in Joel. His writings are considered apocalyptic (perhaps apropos for todays circumstances). And yet how beautiful His words. Can you see that it’s our hearts that need rending not our outward appearances and presentations. As we return to God, He will be merciful and gracious to us. This world may seem apocalyptic at times, but God’s haven of peace and love and safety is always waiting for us. Joel 2:13 “… and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Father God, thank You for caring so much for us that You use language that is sweet and picturesque to draw You to Yourself. I pray as we read today’s verses, we will be drawn back into a strong relationship with You. It’s in the strong and wonderful name of Jesus we pray, Amen!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hosea 4-9

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:1-3 NLT

When I first read these passages I thought that Israel was making a true change to return to the Lord. But, Israel wanted God to fix their problems, without turning from their wicked ways. Their repentance wasn’t genuine. They were more interested in the material benefits God could provide. Their hearts were not right before him and he knew it. When have I done the same thing?

I want to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT

I want to heal Israel, but it’s sins are too great. Samaria is filled with liars.” Hosea 7:1 NLT

God didn’t want their sacrifices or rituals, he wanted their hearts. What is the motive behind my worship?

What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me! Let them die, for they have rebelled against me. I wanted to redeem them, but they have told lies about me. They do not cry out with sincere hearts.” Hosea 7:13&14 NLT

Dear Father, Forgive me for when my heart is not right before you. Thank you for your patience with me. For not giving up on me. For your grace & mercy. Amen.

They look everywhere except to the Most High. They are as useless as a crooked bow.” Hosea 7:16 NLT


Leave a comment

Filed under Hosea

Daniel 7:13- 11:13

So glad for today’s reading to start out on a positive note, because God needs to keep reminding us that the darkness is not forever, and that one day it will turn into a glorious light.

I saw a human form, a son of man, arriving in a whirl of clouds. He came to The Old One and was presented to Him.  He was given power to rule—All the glory of royalty.  Everyone—race, color, and creed—had to serve him.  His rule would be forever, never ending.  His kingly rule would never be replaced.  (Daniel 7: 13-14 MSG)

But unfortunately, the world, and especially I, am going to have to go through some stuff, to get to the point where Jesus is the ruler, now and forevermore!  The visions Daniel saw shook him to his core, so can you imagine what it will be like to actually have to live through it.  There are going to be leaders that rise up and who will be determined to make war with God’s holy people.

I watched as the ram charged: first west, then north, then south.  No beast could stand up to him.  He did just as he pleased, strutting as if he were king of the beasts.

While I was watching this, wondering what it all meant, I saw a billy goat with an immense horn in the middle of its forehead come up out of the west and fly across the whole country, not once touching the ground.  The billy goat approached the double-horned ram that I had earlier seen standing at the gate and enraged, charged it viciously.  I watched as, mad with rage, it charged the ram and hit it so hard that it broke off its two horns.  The ram didn’t stand a chance against it.  The billy goat knocked the ram to the ground and stomped all over it.  Nothing could have saved the ram from the goat. (Daniel 8:4-7 MSG)

Then I overheard two Holy angels talking.  One asked, “How long is what we see here going to last—the abolishing of daily worship, this devastating judgement against sin, the kicking around of God’s holy people and the Sanctuary?’

“The other answered, ‘Over the course of 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning.  Then the Sanctuary will be set right again.”  Daniel 8:13-14 MSG)

And then he continued, “I want to tell you what is going to happen as the judgement days of wrath wind down, for there is going to be an end to all this. (Daniel 7:19 MSG)

The horns represent leaders and kingdoms.  All battling to be the greatest among all.  Killing and destroying whatever and whoever gets in the way. Daniel was obviously disturbed by his visions.  He couldn’t make sense of it.  It made him sick, but he kept it all to himself (7:28). What he did is the same that I, myself can do:

I, Daniel was meditating on the Scriptures that gave, according to the Word of God to the prophet Jeremiah, the number of years that Jerusalem had to lie in ruins, namely, seventy.  I turned to the Master God, asking for an answer—praying earnestly, fasting from meals, wearing rough penitential burlap, and kneeling in the ashes. I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God, my God: (Daniel 9: 2-4a MSG)

Daniel believed compassion from God was our only hope! And he is right.  I need to keep the scriptures in front of me and pour my heart out to God.  Like Daniel, my answer may become part of a spiritual battle and be delayed (9:23), but God hears even the smallest voice, and He know the intention of every heart. He can calm in the middle of chaos!

“Then this humanlike figure touched me again and gave me strength.  He said, ‘Don’t be afraid, friend. Peace.  Everything is going to be all right.  Take courage. Be strong.’

“Even as he spoke, courage surged up within me.  I said, ‘Go ahead, let my master speak. You’ve given me courage.’ (Daniel 10:18-19 MSG)

If I look to God, as my one and only source, He can calm me on the inside, even when the outside is falling down all around me.  He is truly a great reward to me, and has proven Himself faithful through many things, building my faith and trust greater and greater each time.  He can do the same for anyone who gives Him the opportunity to show up in their lives!  But to me, I can find comfort knowing that at the end of the destruction of many people, good and bad, that there is an end to it all, and that there is a Kingly rule that will never be replaced. 

Father God, like Daniel, I thank you that you hear my prayers, I thank you for your forgiveness! Please look at what is going on around me and in this world and do something.  Please do not delay! There are so many that need to be lifted up out of their troubles! It is more than my mind can comprehend.  Only you can come to our rescue!  I trust you, and I am looking to you to bring the change that all these hearts need, including mine. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

Carol (carolvorwe)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized