The meaning of the Hebrew names for these four men all affirmed God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace for His people. But the new names they were given by the Babylonian chief official sought to undermine and degrade this. For their new names were deliberately drawn from the Babylonian false religions, gods and idols, and erased any trace of God from them. Even today we have the challenge of believing what God calls us vs what the world calls us. The world will call us fat, dumb, ugly, stupid and old….while the Lord will call us loved, free, healed, whole, and His. The world is all about demeaning and humiliating…while God is all about lifting us up. So just remember this…no matter what the world calls you…the Lord named you first, and that name is all that matters.
The Nation of Israel was enjoying a time of prosperity…but with this great prosperity came great division between the rich and poor. And because of it, the people became self-reliant, prideful, and walked away from God. Amos’s message to the people was that of denouncing their privileged life-style that exploited the poor, and calling them to repentance. He warned them of the consequences of their complacency in not doing what was morally right and just for all. Amos was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah who wrote in Isaiah 1:17, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
These verses are comparing eternal life to eternal punishment, the corrupt nature of sinful man, and the decision all of us have to make. On one side, we have the world telling us that’s it’s all about what we want and desire…while on the other side, Galatians 5:24 tells us, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature…” But what does that mean and how do we go about it? To crucify our sinful nature we must put to death our worldly affections and lusts…but how? Through our daily increasing love and faith in Jesus Christ, the things of the world will start to no longer hold their allure over us.
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.”
Great and mighty is Your name, O Lord, for Your magnificent glory is on display for all to see. We thank you today for Your love and mercy…and praise You for all You’ve done for us. We lift Your name on high, for only You rule and reign over heaven and earth. Amen.
No one walks casually into the Olympic Games and announces they’ve decided for the fun of it to compete in a race. Olympic athletes train for years…fully committed in all aspects of their lives with concentration and drive. And in the end for a few, their heroic struggle pays off with a gold medal. Our Christian life is one of training daily and fighting for victory over temptation. James 1:12 tells us, ” Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” We are in training for a crown of life, a crown of glory that will never fade away, and eternal victory.
In these verses the Apostle Paul is encouraging the Church in Corinth to not give up in doing the Lord’s work, no matter how unimportant it may seem. Even today in this goal oriented world, we want anything we do for the Lord to have measurable outcomes. So if we aren’t achieving specific concrete results, we feel that our work is insignificant. But Paul addresses this notion earlier in his letter when he writes, ” What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (I Corinthians 3: 5-6) We need to realize that God’s purpose is in the process not in His final goal. And each one of us have a unique role to play in this process. For nothing we’ll ever do in the name of the Lord is futile or pointless….and no matter how big or small the task, will it ever be a waste of time when it comes to Kingdom work. For as long as we are obedient and persevere in the race the Lord has laid out before us, we will be victorious.
Paul had not been with the Believers of the Church in Corinth for about three years. But he had gotten wind of the abuses that were happening concerning the Lord’s Supper…or if you will, Holy Communion or the Eucharist. Here he was instructing them to stop and soberly scrutinize and determine whether they were worthy of taking Communion…before they partook. When something becomes so ritualistic and automatic, we tend to perform it without thinking…going through the motions without allowing it to impact us. We are to examine ourselves first, before we participate…for who better to ascertain our own spiritual condition than us? And don’t worry, what you choose to ignore…the Holy Spirit will be faithful to point it out!
God had gotten Moses’s attention with a burning bush. But when God spoke to him out of it…Moses still wouldn’t believe Him. In their short conversation, Moses objected five times, giving excuse after excuse of why he wasn’t the person to deliver the Hebrew children out of Egypt. Here in verse 13, we find Moses still hesitating…asking God, “Isn’t there somebody else you can send?” When we have no self-confidence, self-esteem, or self-worth it’s difficult, if not almost impossible, to see in ourselves what God sees in us. For God sees our potential and we need to be brave enough to trust Him.
I was blessed enough in my early Christian walk to have a lovely older lady come into my life. Joyce came up along side, took my arm, and together we navigated what being a Christian meant. Was she perfect with a perfect family? No, in fact, they had experienced many upheavals in their marriage. But what I saw in her was a God-centered life, marriage, and family, and that gave me hope that God could work in me. Through her example, Joyce guided, coached, and shepherded me on this brand new journey called Christianity. She was my mentor…and I will always admire her firm conviction, her consistent faith, and her unchanging trust in God.