Digging in Deeper: Amos 4:11

“I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick snatched from a fire, yet you did not return to me – This is the Lord’s declaration.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We don’t like to hurt. And that makes perfect sense. Pain is no fun. It is a signal that something is wrong. We don’t like facing up to the fact that something might be wrong…especially if it’s our fault. What’s even harder for us to reckon with, though, is the idea that God might have caused our pain. Yet that is exactly what we find here in the next part of Amos’ prophetic record. Let’s talk about what God was doing and what it might mean for us.

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When Everything Falls Apart

This week we are kicking off a new teaching series called, A Love Story. For the next four weeks we are going to be walking through one of the greatest love stories in the Scriptures. It is found in a little book tucked away in an easily overlooked corner of the Hebrew Bible called Ruth. Rather than just telling the story, we are going to experience together through the eyes of the characters who were actually in it. Read the story for yourself, and then take some time with this message and encounter for perhaps the first time through one who was there.

When Everything Falls Apart

I love a good story. Don’t you? There are just some ideas we can communicate better through the lens of a story than we can by plain instruction or by facts and figures. Now, we still need those, but stories are powerful things. There’s a reason so much of what we find in the Scriptures comes through the lens of a story. Do you know what’s even better than a regular, old story, though? A love story. Love stories are really powerful. There’s a reason Hallmark is a made-for-TV-producing juggernaut and that multiple different networks and streaming services are basically cut-and-pasting their storytelling format…especially during the Advent season. 

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 10:28-31

“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

The horror genre has been popular on the big screen, the small screen, in video games, and even in person for a very long time. There’s just something about being scared that attracts an audience. People are drawn to the adrenaline rush that comes from being put into situations that leave us feeling just a little bit out of control without actually giving up control. The major currency of the horror genre is the startling moment. It’s that moment just as the door opens and the villain jumps out from his hiding place. The best entries in the genre, though, don’t rely only on those moments. They go beyond that to build a whole story world in which everything we think we can count on for safety and security has been stripped away and we are left on our own to battle some great nemesis. A recent horror/suspense series from HBO that is itself an adaptation of a horror-themed video game has so far proven to be great new addition to the genre. Let’s talk today about The Last of Us and how it intersects with the Gospel.

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Digging in Deeper: Amos 4:4-5

“Come to Bethel and rebel; rebel even more at Gilgal! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tenths every three days. Offer leavened bread as a thanksgiving sacrifice, and loudly proclaim your freewill offerings, for that is what you Israelites love to do! This is the declaration of the Lord God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

On occasion I’ve heard a popular Christian speaker joke that he has the spiritual gift of sarcasm. Formally defined, sarcasm is “the use of irony to mock or express contempt.” Irony, of course, is expressing one thing by saying it’s opposite as a means of drawing attention to it. The speaker’s point is that he’s got a knack for poking fun at things that don’t fit with his worldview framework. Sarcasm can be funny, but it can also be pretty mean-spirited. Either way, it can be an effective way of expressing a point in a certain context in fairly unmistakable terms. One of the places we wouldn’t normally expect sarcasm, but in which we nonetheless find it remarkably often, is the Scriptures. Here is a perfect example. Let’s talk this morning about why God is being sarcastic and what we should do with it.

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Digging in Deeper: Amos 3:11-12

“Therefore, the Lord God says: An enemy will surround the land; he will destroy your strongholds and plunder your citadels. The Lord says: As the shepherd snatches two legs or a piece of an ear from the lion’s mouth, so the Israelites who live in Samaria will be rescued with only the corner of a bed or the cushion of a couch.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We long for security. So much of what we do is prefaced on the idea that it is going to make tomorrow better than today. Or at least, it is going to make tomorrow more likely to come than not. We save money, we invest, we diet, we build big houses, we fill our pantries, we recycle, and so on and so forth. Israel longed for security too, and they thought they had it. Unfortunately, they had “found” it in the wrong things and God had to help them see that. Let’s take a look at this and explore what lessons there might be for us in it.

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