11/21/Su – Strengthen What Remains

Amos 5:10-6:14; Revelation 3:1-6; Psalms 129:5-8; Proverbs 28:6-7

OT: “Pursue good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Armies, will be with you as you have claimed. Hate evil and love good; establish justice at the city gate. Perhaps the Lord, the God of Armies, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph… Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! What will the day of the Lord be for you? It will be darkness and not light. It will be like a man who flees from a lion only to have a bear confront him. He goes home and rests his hand against the wall only to have a snake bite him. Won’t the day of the Lord be darkness rather than light, even gloom without any brightness in it? I hate, I despise, your feasts! I can’t stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. Even if you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle. Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.” (‭‭Amos‬ ‭5:14-15, 18-24‬ ‭CSB)

Amos did not come from a family of priests. He did not come from a family of prophets. He was a common shepherd from the city of Tekoa, a small town just south of Jerusalem. Yet God moved in him and anointed him to bring a strong message of repentance to the nation of Israel. Amos ministered during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah and King Jeroboam II in Israel. Though Amos was from the southern kingdom of Judah, his prophecies were directed at the northern kingdom of Israel.

Under the reign of Jeroboam, the northern kingdom of Israel was quite profitable from a material sense, but were far from thriving in a spiritual sense. The people of Israel, in the midst of their material prosperity, had taken on a prideful and privileged attitude. They had no love for their neighbor, they took advantage of others, and only looked out for their own concerns. Through Amos, a simple farmer and shepherd, God held His people accountable for their ill-treatment of others and their failure to fully embrace God’s idea of justice.

Because of their prosperity, the people of Israel considered themselves to be blessed and safe from God’s judgement. Yet, God had another message for them. God told them that their confidence in their status was misplaced. Where they welcomed the day of the Lord out of their self-righteousness, God told them that His day of justice and vengeance would be a rude awakening for them. Where the Israelites continued going through the rituals of worship believing that God must be honoring their sacrifices, God said that their sacrifices were a stench to His nostrils because they did not offer them from a posture of humble worship, but from a posture of arrogance and pride. God said, if they truly wanted to be blessed and accepted by God, they needed to pursue Him and not evil… they needed to repent from their self-serving practices and allow God’s justice and righteousness to flow down like a river.

The world is full of injustice and unrighteousness. Sinful human nature is bent toward self-preservation and doing whatever it takes to get ahead and stay ahead. That is not the nature of God, nor should it be the nature of those who have been born again into the life and nature of Christ. What is the status of our hearts before God?  Do we truly walk in love and humility? Are we truly agents of God’s justice and righteousness? Or are we, like the nation of Israel, deceived into thinking that our self-serving prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing?

NT: ““Write to the angel of the church in Sardis: Thus says the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before my God. Remember, then, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come upon you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not defiled their clothes, and they will walk with me in white, because they are worthy. In the same way, the one who conquers will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”” (‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:1-6‬ ‭CSB)

The city of Sardis was very wealthy and prosperous due to the fact that gold was found in the river that flowed through the city. In fact, King Croesus (a king of that region before the rise of the Roman Empire) was the first regent to ever issue pure gold coins. The people of Sardis had a reputation of living very voluptuous lifestyles because of their great prosperity.

Apparently, that voluptuous and self-serving lifestyle had infected the church in Sardis. The Lord spoke to them and said, I know your works… I know your reputation for living large. Though you appear to be very much alive, you are actually spiritually dead.

Though there were a few members of the congregation that had remained faithful to the word, will and ways of the Lord, the majority of the church were following their own ways and resting comfortably in their prosperity. They had received the truth of the gospel. At one time, they had placed their faith in Christ and surrendered to Him as Lord, they had been made alive and filled with the Holy Spirit. Yet, the Lord who has the Holy Spirit and sent the Holy Spirit knew that they were now dead. His word to them was to wake up, repent, and strengthen what little bit of spiritual life that remained in them. He told them to remember the powerful gospel that they had received and keep it. If they did not wake up now and repent, they would be rudely awakened on the Day of the Lord. They had sullied the garments of white that they were given at their rebirth, but if they fully repented from their dead works, they would be dressed in white once again.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for all the blessings that You have given me. I thank You for the abundance that has come my way from walking according to Your word, will and ways. Help me, through the leading and convicting work of Your Holy Spirit, to not place my confidence in my abundance, but to always remain humble, dependent and grateful to the Giver of All Good Things. Help me to strengthen what I have in You so that I will not be swept away by prosperity and can remain spiritually prosperous in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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