Whether we want to admit it not not, we all seek the approval of others. But there are some that push the limits and become real “people-pleaser’s”…those who intentionally solicit the favor of everyone around them at the expense of their own reputation. They want so badly to be liked that they will compromise their integrity, character, and good name just for approval. But people are fickle and pleasing all at the same time will never happen. For it’s only God that we must place our will under and seek to please.
The world tells us to do whatever will make us happy at the moment. We’re also encouraged to look out for #1…and that the desire for immediate gratification is normal. But Christians are not called to do what makes us happy…we are called to do what glorifies God. Honoring God in whatever we do will quickly strip away all of our selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered ambitions and behaviors, for we will take on a servant’s heart. And servant-hood is all about others…not about self.
We will all go through Seasons of our lives when sickness, loss, and life-changing trials will take us deep into that Valley of the Shadow of Death. But it’s not until we come out on the other side that we can then truly appreciate what we’ve learned from it all. For it’s then that God can remind us of His unfaltering Presence… His overwhelming grace and mercy…and His infinite love. We may not experience a lot of joy in the middle of that trial…but we can still have the peace that passes all understanding.
Amos came from humble shepherd roots when God thrust him into the role of prophet to the kingdom of Israel. This was during the time Israel was enjoying a peak in their material and political success, and so hearing Amos denounce their prideful smugness was treasonous. To them, the day of the Lord would be a day of total triumph over all their enemies… for don’t you know, we’re the chosen race, and God’s superior group here on earth! But Amos was warning them that because of their unbelief and wickedness, the day of the Lord would be a day of judgement instead. Anytime elitism rears its ugly head…God’s judgement will follow.
This verse goes totally against the consumer-driven, materialistic culture we live in today. We’re told we deserve to treat ourselves to “things”…and that the more the better. And so we amass possessions to feed the ever growing selfish needs and desires we have. But collecting and accumulating “things” will never fill the void inside us that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can fill. For in Job 20:20 it tells us that we can’t be saved by our treasures.
The world has changed from the time of our Grandparents. What was once considered immoral and sordid is now flaunted as a accepted way of life. What was once thought godless and evil is now assumed to be the politically correct thing to do. We have become numb and apathetic to the wickedness as it struts about unashamed and unafraid. For those things that would abhor our Grandparents, are now on public display everywhere…and our silence only condones their practices. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 24:12, revealing the deceit and rampant sin that will be evident on the earth, when He said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Last Sunday during a meeting I had wanted to say, “Practical Christianity”…but what came out was, “Practical Christianality.” No, it’s not in the Dictionary, and Yes, I felt pretty silly. But this slip of the tongue non-word has been in my mind all week. As Followers of Jesus, we are in many ways a nationality that has much in common. We share common allegiances,(our faith and trust in Jesus Christ) traditions, laws,( the Gospel-the Law of Faith) and characteristics (becoming more like Jesus every day.) Even our citizenship is not of this earth but of heaven. (Philippians 3:20) So what does Christianality look like? It’s loving each other, caring for needs of others as we see them, and sharing our commonality, not the things that make us different.
A little further down in this Chapter in verse 17 it goes on to say, “The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.” The world likes to place people up on pedestals and idolize them. Athletes, pop stars, and singing sensations all have passionate and devoted fans who follow their every move…but they’re still only human. For when they start believing all they hear…they think they’re above it all…so we shouldn’t be surprised when they really mess up. Only the Lord Almighty, Ruler of the universe and Creator of all, is worthy of being exalted and lifted on high. For in the end, the wicked will be consumed by their lies, the proud brought low, and the haughty crushed where they stand.
Your prayer life…is it good, bad, or non-existent? What about the quality and quantity of your time spent in prayer? We all would admit that our prayer life could be better. For most of our prayers are quick apathetic words thrown at God, lacking energy and even the confidence that they’ll even be answered. So how can we change our weak and impotent prayers into the prayers spoken about in this verse? James tells us that as Believers our prayers are capable of producing great results, and through God, He is able to accomplish incredible feats because of our prayers. So think of it this way…our prayers start God (and all of creation He has at His disposal) moving. Our simple prayers trigger God’s all powerful and magnificent response… opening the way for Him to do miraculous things on our behalf. That puts a completely different spin on our prayers, right? For if we could only take hold of and comprehend just how powerful and effective our prayers were…we could change the world for Christ.
Maybe you’ve never thought about God…but I can tell you this, He has always been thinking about you. Maybe you’ve never taken the time to search out answers you have about God…but trust me, He’s been making Himself known to you on a daily basis. Just take a look around…everything, including yourself, was created by Him. You don’t even have to initiate a conversation with some far off God…for He is already right there beside you, gently saying, “Here am I, here am I.”