Today’s Reading: Amos 4:6–5:27, Acts 9:20–43, Job 20:1–11
Today’s Theme: The Person and Power of God
Today’s theme has us looking at the power and person of God. We look at God as a person who seeks relationship and reconciliation with His people and at the same time, He will show His power. He will go into judgement with us, for our good, and will show His power through creation and miracles.
God’s person and power is seen most clearly in His Son, Jesus Christ. Like Paul, we should argue the case for the gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s gracious appeal
“I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. (Amos 4:11, ESV)
As our Pastor always reminds us, 5 is a number that points to grace in the bible. This is the fifth time that this sentence is used in this chapter. The theme is that God has been using various difficulties to draw the people back to Him in repentance, but after the 5 gracious attempts, there is no repentance.
Even the difficulty that God allows in order to correct us, save us and cause us to repent and put our trust in Him, is His grace shown to us. The worst thing would be for Him to leave us to ourselves.
Prepare for battle
“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (Amos 4:12, ESV)
This phrase is said in judgement, we meet God in judgment. The imagery is of meeting in battle, we of course, will be overthrown.
I never want to meet God in a fight, because it is folly. He is right and has good intentions for me, why should I hold on to darling sins and in madness go to meet my God on the battlefield?
Many lives are marked by this battling with God, we hear it from prosperity preachers on TV, talking about themselves arguing with God… really? We also hear it from the ungodly (including churched ungodly), that “have a problem with God” or “disagree with God” or “Don’t like the things of God or His ways”. This is the futile madness of sin.
Let us pray for ourselves and for everyone around us, that we would not indulge in the madness of meeting the one that would save us on the battlefield.
God knows your mind
For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name! (Amos 4:13, ESV)
God can read our thoughts, our minds are not a secret cupboard. By the way, Psychology cannot read a man’s thoughts, nor can any demon – only God can.
Seek the Lord
Seek the Lord and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, (Amos 5:6, ESV)
This is God’s cry to all His people today. If we want to truly live in Christ, then we must spend our time seeking God in His word (the bible), in prayer, in fellowship and in service (including evangelism).
How great is our God
He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name; (Amos 5:8, ESV)
Pleiades and Orion are both star constellations, God declares that He made these great stars – How Great Is Our GOD! Evolution is such an insult to God.
God created and maintains the mechanism for rain to be poured on the earth, from a scientific perspective. We behold His amazing wisdom and stand in awe of the greatest Scientist, Engineer and Designer.
Don’t despise instruction
They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. (Amos 5:10, ESV)
If we despise instruction and correction, this is a sure sign of destruction, then no one can help us.
Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. (Amos 5:15, ESV)
We are called not only to love, but to hate. As Pastor always says; ‘to truly love, we need to truly hate’. We must hate (want dead) evil, and love and cherish that which is good, doing this will establish justice in our society.
A terrible day
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? (Amos 5:20, ESV)
The day of the Lord is not a joyous time, it is a terrible time of judgement.
God is active
“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. (Amos 5:21, ESV)
Again, the theme that external observance, legality and religious routine are not pleasing to God and elicit no response from “the universe” or “divine laws”.
For our religious actions to have any worth and benefit, they must come from a person walking in love and obedience to God. God hates it when we seek to please Him with anything other than faith in Him and when we treat Him like an impersonal force.
God is not passive while man is active, quite the opposite, God desires to be actively engaged in relationship with His children, out of which will flow Godly rituals of service and devotion.
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24, ESV)
All these religious events, sacraments and songs of worship mean nothing to God, without the pursuit of justice. Social justice goes hand in hand with genuine worship. Reaching out and ministering to God’s creation, displays His glory and attracts the lost to the beauty of the Lord, which is reflected in His church.
God alone is God
You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, (Amos 5:26, ESV)
Again, the star god is mentioned (also see Acts 7:43), this lends even less credibility to the so called “Star of David”.
We must cast down every idol, no matter how entrenched they are in our traditions or culture, God alone is God.
Jesus, Son of God
And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20, ESV)
This is one of the bold distinctives of Paul’s ministry, the declaration that Jesus is the Son of God. This truth proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore God is essential to the gospel message.
Prove with Apologetics
But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 9:22, ESV)
Paul increased in strength by proving that Jesus was the Christ. The Greek word used for ‘proving’ is ‘symbibazō’ which means: to unite, conclude, infer, demonstrate, prove, instruct, teach and advise (Lexicon source used is BDAG).
So Paul engaged in apologetics, this would fit the Jewish context well as they enjoyed debating the scriptures. Paul enters with full force into these discussions, to prove through the scriptures and with biblical reasoning, that Jesus was indeed the Christ.
We must not shy away from apologetics, research and proving with the scriptures, the truth of the Gospel. When we do it, others will be saved but we will grow in the faith too.
One of the ways I have grown in the Lord over the years, is by facing tough questions on the Gospel, through research, meditation and argument (often with myself as part of bible study), to make myself firm in what I believe.
but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (Acts 9:25, ESV)
Paul didn’t just make converts, he made disciples, so should we.
Be a disciple
And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. (Acts 9:26, ESV)
Paul could make disciples because he was a disciple himself, we are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
Dispute, to the glory of God
So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. (Acts 9:28–29, ESV)
Here Paul is using two important methods; the first is conventional preaching, the seconds is apologetic argument. As Christians we must regain the art of disputing to the glory of God.
Walk in the fear of the Lord
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Acts 9:31, ESV)
These are the ideal conditions for church growth. We as a people, must walk in the fear of the Lord and seek our comfort from God, the Holy Spirit and not from the comforting sins of compromise in this world.
Lord show your power
And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. (Acts 9:34, ESV)
This amazing display of power caused the entire town of Lydda to turn to the Lord.
Dependence on God
But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. (Acts 9:40, ESV)
Peter was totally depending on the Lord here. Picture the scene, he is on his knees seeking God in prayer and is turned away from the body knowing that he can do nothing in himself. As he prays, faith arises in his heart and the Spirit of God answers, he then turns to the body and declares the word of the Lord.
The plan for miracles and salvation
And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. (Acts 9:42, ESV)
Notice the fame of these events and the strategy behind them was not just for show or comfort of the recipients, but for the salvation of the lost. This should be our goal in seeing the Lord perform such miracles through us today.
The life of the ungodly
that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment? (Job 20:5, ESV)
This and everything said down to verse 11, is simply not true. This is a bad caricature of the life of the ungodly.
The truth is that, often, the ungodly live long, pleasure filled lives. This is because God is merciful and perhaps the goodness and providence of God will lead them to repentance (although God will also allow hard times to draw a man to Himself too).
God’s common grace is shown to all mankind, or all would immediately die from the sin of Adam which we all inherit. However do not let this (God’s mercy), be a caricature either, because the ungodly can have lives that end in disaster and in utter ruin.
The ultimate end of the unrepentant ungodly is quite clear, under God’s punitive judgement, they will go to hell for eternity.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on Acts 9