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.
Within this verse is a perfectly simple but totally effective description of the Trinity. The Trinity being three persons in one Godhead… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. First, we are called or summoned to salvation through the the Gospel Message by the Holy Spirit as we are wooed or drawn in. For the Holy Spirit shows us very plainly our shortcomings and convicts us… so that we may be saved. Next, we need to grasp just how greatly valued, esteemed, and loved we are by God the Father. For who else would give His only Son to die on a cross for all that we might have eternal life? (John 3:16) Finally, know you belong to Jesus who watches over you to keep you safe. (John 17:12) So just think of it…we are His and He is ours, and no one can ever snatch us out of His hand. (John 10:28)
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.”
The Corona virus has us all weary with battle fatigue and frightened at this invisible enemy that has invaded our land. So today I would encourage you to take a step back, turn off the continuous loop of news shows, and as this verse exhorts, “consider what great things He has done for you.” Reflect on God’s mercy and providence if all your family and friends are healthy and safe. Contemplate His goodness if you have plenty of food in the house and are not in need. Meditate on His hand of protection that is keeping the vast majority of people safe in our Nation. Finally, ponder all the simple things God has done for you personally this week just to say, “I’m with you and I love you.”
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.”
The Apostle John was writing to the Church in the city of Pergamum…where 1000 feet above the plain stood an immense altar to Zeus, the chief god of Greek mythology. Despite being immersed in the oppressiveness of false religion…John was encouraging the Believers to hold fast to their faith. He was urging them to continue to be part of the world, but not of it… and rejoicing that they had refused to become part of this false religious cult and instead maintained their relationship with Jesus Christ. Religious persecution takes on all kinds of faces, and Satan is a master at twisting the truth. And just because a Church is located on the highest point of the city doesn’t mean it’s the godliest.
I believe there is nothing more stronger, more dedicated, or more intense than a praying Mother for her children. For no matter how bleak or impossible the circumstances appear…she keeps praying. That’s because she will always see that son or daughter as a child…no matter how old they become…and that child will always have her heart. I truly believe that God smiles down on a Mother every time she prays for her children.
I think wise King Solomon summed it up best in Ecclesiastes 3:11 when he wrote, “God has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We can’t begin to know the mind of God, or even start to grasp His majesty and power. We can only trust in His love and faithfulness towards us and walk in obedience…knowing He is in control of every detail of our life. For nothing happens to us that hasn’t already passed through God’s hands.
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!
Are your prayers more of a formula of repetitious words from memory…often without paying attention to what you’re actually saying? Have they become just a fixed routine of the same prayers repeated over and over again? Congratulations, you have the gift of religious gab! But this isn’t how the Lord wants you to communicate with Him. It isn’t the quantity or intensity of your prayers that He desires. Rather, it’s the heart-felt, getting real before the Lord, quality He wants.