Family Bible Study lesson for April 21: Courage of Conviction
April 4 2002 by James Baldwin , Amos 7:7-17

Family Bible Study lesson for April 21: Courage of Conviction | Friday, April 5, 2002

Friday, April 5, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for April 21: Courage of Conviction

By James Baldwin Amos 7:7-17

The college I attended required all freshmen to attend a week of orientation before classes started. We heard lectures and took campus tours, but we also did some fun, group-building activities together. One of these activities was a team relay race called the dizzy-lizzy. Each member of the team had to race to a designated spot, pick up a baseball bat, put his or her forehead on the end of the bat, and spin around five times. The challenging part of the game was to find your way back to your team. The spinning made everyone completely disoriented, so that some ran into the water, and some just ran in circles, eventually collapsing on the ground.

Amos realized that the people of his day had lost all sense of direction. Rather than following God, they were running in circles, and heading toward dangerous behaviors. On two separate occasions, as God revealed to Amos His plans to punish Israel, Amos cried out, "Sovereign Lord, I beg you stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small (Amos 7:1-6). The scripture indicates that God relented - changed His mind - in response to Amos' prayers. This is a beautiful example of the power of prayer. Our prayers can provide new opportunity for those who are lost to find God.

Certainty of Judgment (Amos 7:7-9) Outside Boone is a tourist attraction known as Mystery Hill. The billboard advertising its location shows a ball bouncing backward toward a boy who is leaning forward. I remember visiting this place as a child, and watching in amazement as water flowed uphill and rooms seemed oddly out of kilter. The "mystery" is that the house on Mystery Hill is built out of plumb. It is built perpendicular to the hill, but not straight up and down. The effect of this construction error makes everything else seem unnatural.

Although God is "patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish" (2 Peter 3:9), He will not tolerate sin forever. God reveals to Amos a vision in which God is holding a plumb line. Natural laws of gravity always pull upon the weight at the bottom of a plumb line, giving a true measure of what is straight. God has given natural laws to all people by which they can gauge right from wrong. Paul says even Gentiles are to be judged by the law, "since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts" (Romans 2:15). He has further given the Law of Moses to show us the right way to live. Finally, we have Jesus, the Living Word, who is the truest picture of how God intends for His people to live. Measured by any of these standards, I fear our society is way out of line with God's will.

Conflict of Loyalties (Amos 7:10-17) The priest, Amaziah, challenged Amos regarding his prophecies. He accused Amos of treason against the king. He told him to go back home to Judah if he wanted to prophesy. He did not want to hear that the religion that paid his bills was found unacceptable to God.

I cannot help but wonder how Amaziah could be so blind to the injustice and perversion of God's law that was prevalent in Israel. Perhaps Amaziah was so used to the wrong he had forgotten what right looked like. Perhaps he knew that accepting the truth Amos preached would require changes in his own life he was not willing to make. Perhaps he had too much invested in the status quo to consider doing anything different.

We have to be careful in the church today that we are not guilty of the same spiritual blindness. Some church growth specialists tell us that 75 percent of churches now in existence will be closed within 20 years. Our own church records reveal that we are hardly even baptizing our own children, much less reaching the lost of our communities. We are not fulfilling the Great Commission of God, yet we resist any voice that calls us to repent and change our ways. "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God" (1 Peter 4:17).

May God find us faithful when He comes.

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4/4/2002 11:00:00 PM by James Baldwin , Amos 7:7-17 | with 0 comments
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