VIDEO Devouring the Word

“The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord.” Amos 8:11, NLT

 

G. Campbell Morgan once preached a sermon titled “Famine for the Word of God.” He said: “It is possible there is someone in this congregation who is living in the midst of a famine for the Word of God. It may be even as I attempt to deliver the message there is nothing in it for you. Words, empty words, a meaningless occasion, an opportunity for curiosity. You are in the midst of a great famine, famine for the Word of God…. You have become hardened to the touch of God, unconscious of the fact of God; and though His Word is living and quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, it fails to affect you.”

Nutritionists tell us that when we lose our appetite for food, it may be from anemia, cancer, diabetes, medication, depression, or a host of other causes. When we lose our appetite for Scripture, it’s because of spiritual sickness. Ask God to give you a renewed appetite for His Word, and learn to devour it daily.

When you open your Bible, God opens His mouth. Mark Batterson 


Unlocking the Old Testament Part 50 – Amos

God’s Plans for You

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

For six years, Agnes tried to make herself the “perfect minister’s wife,” modeling herself after her adored mother-in-law (also a pastor’s wife). She thought that in this role she couldn’t also be a writer and painter, but in burying her creativity she became depressed and contemplated suicide. Only the help of a neighboring pastor moved her out of the darkness as he prayed with her and assigned her two hours of writing each morning. This awakened her to what she called her “sealed orders”—the calling God had given her. She wrote, “For me to be really myself—my complete self—every . . . flow of creativity that God had given me had to find its channel.”

Later, she pointed to one of David’s songs that expressed how she found her calling: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As she committed her way to God, trusting Him to lead and guide her (v. 5), He made a way for her not only to write and paint but to help others to better communicate with Him.

God has a set of “sealed orders” for each of us, not only that we’ll know we’re His beloved children but understand the unique ways we can serve Him through our gifts and passions. He’ll lead us as we trust and delight in Him.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How does Agnes’ story of living someone else’s life resonate with you? What has God put in your “sealed orders”?

Creator God, You’ve made me in Your image. Help me to know and embrace my calling that I might better love and serve You.

Explore how your identity is rooted in Christ.

The Blessings of Inadequacy

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Most of us assume that feelings of inadequacy are enemies to be subdued, but God uses our weaknesses to display His glory. Even though we love feeling confident and bold, this kind of self-reliance is the opposite of humility. Despite all his great knowledge and varied gifts, Paul knew he was not sufficient for the tasks the Lord had called him to accomplish. When he spoke of his ministry, the apostle said, “I also labor, striving according to [Christ’s] power which works mightily within me” (Col. 1:29).

Inadequacy reveals where we lack ability and drives us to dependence upon the Lord. He works in our weakness to accomplish His purposes in and through us. Therefore, we shouldn’t surrender to our failings by letting them hinder us from even trying to serve the Lord. Nor should we try to pump up our self-confidence with pep talks and self-affirmation. Instead, our inadequacies are designed to humble us so we’ll turn to the Lord for strength.

When we depend on Him in humility, “the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7). Then all the praise and glory go to Him.

Never Alone

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. (Psalm 27:10)

There may be more people alive today than ever before, but there are also more lonely people today than ever before—divorced spouses, homeless people, many elderly parents and, perhaps saddest of all, orphaned or abandoned children. These and many others are still alone, even in a crowded world.

No one, though, was ever so alone as the Lord Jesus on the cross. “Behold, the hour cometh,” He had said, “yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). Then, only a few hours later, as He hung on the cross, even His heavenly Father had to leave Him, and He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). He died alone, bearing the burden of all the sin of all the world on His soul.

But because He suffered alone, no one else need ever be alone again. “Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). The apostle Paul, suffering alone in a Roman dungeon shortly before his execution, could still say: “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17). John the beloved, old and imprisoned alone on the tiny isle of Patmos, nevertheless “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10) and then saw the Lord in all His glory. So it has always been with those who know the Lord, for He is there, even when all others have forsaken them, and He understands. He has already been there ahead of us, “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). HMM

Your Word Is Wonderful

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Your decrees are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The revelation of Your words brings light and gives understanding to the inexperienced. I pant with open mouth because I long for Your commands. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is [Your] practice toward those who love Your name. Make my steps steady through Your promise; don’t let sin dominate me. Redeem me from human oppression, and I will keep Your precepts. Show favor to Your servant, and teach me Your statutes. My eyes pour out streams of tears because people do not follow Your instruction (Psalm 119 vv. 129-136).

God’s Word is wonderful—marvelous, extraordinary, remarkable! The word wonderful literally means “to generate wonder.” Even the simple, the unintelligent, the uneducated can grasp it’s truth when instructed by the Holy Spirit. Its inspiration exceeds that of Shakespeare, Mozart, Milton, Bach, and the greatest poets and composers who have ever lived.

So amazing is the power of these statutes and commands that the psalmist opens his mouth and “pants” for understanding. His deep personal longing for the truth is like gasping for breath after running the Boston Marathon.

As I read these verses, I’m reminded of “Wonderful Words of Life,” Dad’s theme song for the Word of Life Hour. I grew up hearing it.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, teach me to love your truth and see the wonder of your words!

A Wonderful Gospel Song

Wonderful Words of Life

Sing them over again to me,

Wonderful words of life;

Let me more of their beauty see,

Wonderful words of life.

Words of life and beauty,

Teach me faith and duty:

Beautiful words, wonderful words,

Wonderful words of life.

Words and music by Philip P. Bliss.

In the Right Direction

We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. Colossians 1:28

In the Spirit-controlled life, self is still there, but now it is not self-centered but God-centered, and therefore, rhythmic and harmonious. “Perfect function,” said a famous doctor, “is perfect health.” The self functions perfectly and is, therefore, perfectly healthy; it is a self you can live with. The sex drive is still there, but now, being God-centered, it functions as God intended it to function. If one is married, then it can be expressed in a physical relationship, but if one is unmarried, then it can be refined and channeled into creativity in other directions. The herd instinct is still there, but now it is fastened on the kingdom of God, and one moves with the rest of the church toward the unity of the faith and of the Spirit.

The life of the Spirit is not one of asceticism but one of assertion. We get rid of unacceptable desires in the only way possible, by replacing them with higher desires. We get rid of self-centeredness by God-centeredness, through surrender. We get rid of sex domination by surrendering the drive to God and the controls He places upon it, so that sex serves us and makes us creative in the whole of life—not just within the physical relationship of marriage. We get rid of the herd dominance by surrender to God and, when surrendered, we love people more because we are no longer dominated or intimidated by them. The expulsive power of a new affection casts out “lower loves” by focusing them on higher objectives.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, I am beginning to learn that when You have control, everything is a perfect cosmos; when I have control, it is chaos. As life is for living, I want to live it to the brim. Help me not just to surrender, but to stay surrendered. Amen.

Further Study

Heb 6; Mt 5:48; 2Co 13:11

What did Paul mean by “perfection”?

What was Paul’s desire?

Under Orders

1 Peter 1:15

Someone said that impression minus expression equals depression. The study of facts about holiness will do more harm than good unless we follow up with the right acts. We Christians are under orders: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15).

You are a Christian; the call to holiness is always to believers, never to unbelievers. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and able to overcome temptation in His strength. In the popular phrase, you have a lot going for you. The pagan cannot help falling and failing and sinning, but there is no need for you to sustain defeat. Is this not what Paul implied by a sentence like this: “Our lower nature has no claim upon us: we are not obliged to live on that level” (Romans 8:12 NEB).

Paul, after three chapters of Ephesians describing our wealth, makes a plea for a holy walk (Ephesians 4:1). To the Corinthians he wrote about God indwelling His people, and then followed with the exhortation, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

When you set your face toward the sweeping transformation you need, you are ready to renounce whatever is wrong. Something of the old life must die (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5). This will probably be costly, and has been compared to a crucifixion (Galatians 5:24). In practice it means saying an unqualified and determined “No” to every action unworthy of a Christian. It means to reject all that stands condemned by the standard which Jesus sets for His people, that is the standard of Christlikeness. It means to make no provision in imagination or intention for anything less than holiness.

Accompanying the turning from all that is wrong will be an equally determined turning toward all that is right. Paul tells us what to “put off” and then what to “put on” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Everything in our life must be either renounced or dedicated.

Christ is the pattern for His people. The little word “as” is potent: We are to “walk, just as He walked” (1 John 2:6 NKJV); to receive one another “as Christ received us” (Romans 15:7); to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7); to love one another “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The same mighty monosyllable is on His lips in that solemn prayer of consecration: “As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18 NIV).

Edward Read, Studies in Sanctification