Devotions - Carolyn (02/09/19) Devotions was recently led by Carolyn who talked to us about asking for God's advice. She used the story of Amos to show us how we should be open to God’s input in our lives. Have you ever been in a situation where you haven’t even had time to ask for God’s help and advice and it comes? A few Sundays ago Carolyn got in the car and the Sunday Service was on the radio- the quote that struck her was ‘We need to act before the fruit gets too ripe’ and it led her to think who is going to act and make that difference. With the work at HofH, we are doing that and facilitating fundraising enables the difference to be made. But what about our own life? Maybe there are situations there that we need to act on. Carolyn was reminded of a phrase that she wrote in my first Bible when coming to faith in relation to understanding God’s will- ‘one small deed is better than the grandest intention’. The illustration of a bowl of fruit was in a vision seen by Amos, and it led her to investigate further. When Carolyn was asked recently if she would lead devotions today she was clear that she wanted to as she wanted to tell the team about Amos. Amos was a prophet - the role of the prophets is to point us, urge us to make God the centre of our lives rather than leaving him on the side-lines, and they encourage us to have a direct relationship with Him. It is not surprising that they weren’t popular- they weren’t diplomatic and giving us a say in the outcome, rather they shake us up and make us act. They attempt to put us back on a path of simple faith and remind us that every single angle of our lives can and needs to take place on sacred ground. They speak about the worst that can happen, about judgement, and also how this can be avoided. Amos lived well before the birth of Christ and it is recorded in the Old Testament- you can see the parallel with the New Testament with Jesus dying so that we can avoid the judgement and receive restoration of life to be lived to the full. God showed me this vision: My Master was standing beside a wall. In his hand he held a plumb line. God said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “A plumb line.” Then my Master said, “Look what I’ve done. I’ve hung a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I’ve spared them for the last time. This is it! I’m raising my sword against the royal family of Jeroboam.” Amaziah, priest at the shrine at Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel: “Amos is plotting to get rid of you; and he’s doing it as an insider, working from within Israel. His talk will destroy the country. He’s got to be silenced. Do you know what Amos is saying? ‘Jeroboam will be killed. Israel is headed for exile.’ Then Amaziah confronted Amos: “Seer, be on your way! Get out of here and go back to Judah where you came from! Hang out there. Do your preaching there. But no more preaching at Bethel! Don’t show your face here again. This is the king’s chapel. This is a royal shrine.” But Amos stood up to Amaziah: “I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, ‘Go preach to my people Israel.’ “So listen to God’s Word”. Amos 7:7-17 (The Message) So what is happening here? We see God expressing his sadness for what he sees in the world, for injustice and the treatment of the innocent and poor. He sees fruit becoming ripe and the plumbline not lining up. Interestingly, and shockingly, he is speaking to the Israelites, His people, not to others who we may expect to behave in such a way. How often do we talk of others instead of looking at ourselves? Often the biggest issue for a non-believer is the behaviour of the believer! God sees everyone on the same level- the same potential and the hopes of the same reverence. Amos’s message was to the privileged people of Israel. God’s people were accountable for the ill-treatment of others and should know better. They lost the concept of caring and had no love for their neighbours, they were engaging in pagan practices and God was not at the centre, they were taking advantage of others and looking out for their own concerns. The Bible says ‘to those who have been given more - more is expected, even greater gifts and greater responsibilities’. If we could see ahead we would probably sometimes do things so differently, but the prophets do tell us what is ahead. The Bible tells us. Think of your own life- do you have regrets? What then is our response? Amos, as heard in the passage, was a shepherd and a grower of sycamore figs. He was open to God and he responded. Interestingly sycamore figs were traditionally for the poor- perhaps that was why he was used. He lived among a group of shepherds not far from Jerusalem. He was not from a family of prophets, nor did he think of himself as one. With God we can change our journey. Do we put ourselves in a place to attempt to see what He is showing us and hearing what He is saying or are we forever rushing? Do we wait until things are past their best, be it through embarrassment or laziness etc.? Do we care if other people’s songs turn into wailing, or just our own? Do we stand for and encourage integrity and walk humbly? Are we going to let the fruit get too ripe? Princess Diana once said ‘When I go home and turn my light off at night I know I did my best’. Have a great week everyone!