Devotions on Amos 1:1-2; 5:14-15, 21-24–Let Justice Roll Down
November 6 – 12, 2017
Monday, November 6, 2017–Let Justice Roll Down
“The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa” (Amos 1:1).
Shepherds were not known for their academic excellence, native intelligence, nor their depth of faith. As a group, they were not where a person would instinctively look to find prime prophet potential. Yet, it was from the shepherds of Tekoa that the Holy Spirit called out the greatest of the Hebrew prophets.
Our ability to serve the Lord is not determined by our social standing, our bank account or high school math grade. Rather it is a product of our willingness to say, “Yes,” to the guidance of the Holy Spirit no matter what the surrounding circumstances. Amos was only a shepherd, but he was a shepherd who said, “Yes,” when the Lord came to him and asked, “Will you be my prophet?”
Lord, move within us so that when you ask we will say, “Yes!” Amen.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017–Let Just Roll Down
“The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem” (Amos 1:2).
The Lord spoke in a whisper to the prophet Elijah, but the Lord is not limited to whispering. There are times when God roars. One of those times was with Gail Hernandez and with the congregation where she belonged.
Gail taught in one of the poorer areas of town. It didn’t take her long to realize that the school at which she taught did not have the same educational resources that other schools had in the district. Gail started purchasing supplies for her classroom out of her own pocket, but she quickly realized that was too small a response to the problem. She went to the members of her congregation and they organized fund raisers and developed one on one tutoring programs. Gail and her group heard the Lord roar, responded and turned the educational quality of that school one hundred and eighty degrees. Like Gail, when the Lord roars we need to listen and act.
Lord, unplug our ears so you don’t always need to roar and empower us to respond in faith to your voice. Amen.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017–Let Justice Roll Down
“Seek good and not evil, that you may live” (Amos 5:14).
JoAnne was a critical person. She always saw the bad in people. If she saw a woman in a stylish coat, who was a little overweight, JoAnne would criticize the woman’s weight. It might be a bright, sunny day, but JoAnne would despair that it was windy and humid. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Carlota saw the good in everyone and made sure to compliment everyone she met. “Oh, you have such a pretty smile,” she would say, or, “I love your earrings, they catch the color of your eyes.” It is no surprise the JoAnne did not like her life, while Carlota savored hers.
We cannot ignore evil. Our emphasis, though, needs to be on seeking the good. While seeking to lift up the good, we will put down the evil. If we simply focus on eradicating evil, we may discover that we have nothing with which to replace it. There is good in our lives today. Let us search for it and find it.
Lord, open our eyes that we may see the good things in life and empower us to lift those elements up, so that all may experience and enjoy them. Amen.
Thursday, November 9, 2017–Let Justice Roll Down
“Hate evil and love good and establish justice in the gate” (Amos 5:15).
Eighth century BCE Israel was much like today. People were more concerned with receiving tax cuts than with helping end hunger. They were more concerned with accumulating the comforts of life for themselves than they were eliminating the suffering of others. Like us, they were wrapped up in themselves—selfish and self-centered. Israel (and the industrialized “first world” cultures of today) had become the antithesis of what God wanted the world and God’s kingdom to be.
As followers of Jesus, we confess that we are enslaved to our sinfulness—our rebellion against God’s rule in our lives. One of the ways this rebellion is expressed in our lives is materialism. We want more for ourselves and don’t care about what other people have (unless we think they have more than we do). In order for us to hate evil and establish justice, our hearts and our perspectives on life must be changed (by God’s Holy Spirit). Justice is established when we are freed from need for more and motivated by the desire to share.
Justice is established on the broad level by promoting government programs and policies that are just and equitable. One the personal level, justice is established when we treat each other justly, respectfully and when we strive to have their needs met before our own are realized.
Lord, help us to not pray for ourselves, but for others—that they may be blessed with your love and grace and experience justice, equality and prosperity. Amen.
Friday, November 10, 2017–Let Just Roll Down
“I hate, I despise your festivals and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies” (Amos 5:21).
God is not opposed to liturgies, or rock and roll music, hymnals or projection screens. What the Lord dislikes is worship that is separated from our daily lives. An example might be, worship where we hear about God’s love on Sunday morning, but we don’t share that love during the week. During worship, we might hear that everyone is God’s creation and God accepts everyone, but we take every opportunity to express our dislike for Latinos, Muslims and gays.
As we enter the holiday season, we will put a lot of planning in to the worship services. We might add extra musical selections, plays or skits or videos. Our church sanctuaries will have even more decorations than they normally do. We will strive to get everything just right. Yet, if our worship services are an end in themselves, they miss the point. Worship is meant to glorify God and to change us. When we depart from worship we are to be empowered to be apostles and missionaries.
Lord, may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Amen. (Psalm 19:14).
Saturday, November 11, 2017–Let Justice Roll Down
“Take away from me the noise of your songs” (Amos 5:23).
Music is a powerful force in our lives and in our worship. We can express our thanks to God for God’s blessings in our lives and praise God, because God is a wonderful God. Music can remind us of God’s love and it gives us a means to share what God has done in our lives. The notes of music can sooth and comfort us. The beat can excite and move us.
Imagine the pleasing chords and lofty words being joined by the curses and condemnations of conflict. The rumbles of hungry stomachs and the cries of the persecuted begin to drown out the melody. Soon the music becomes a cacophony of sound that is unpleasing to our ears and to God’s. It is only when the hungry, persecuted, the war-torn and others like them are able to join us in our songs of thanksgiving and praise that our music becomes pleasing to the Lord.
Lord, flow through us as conduits of your love and grace so that all may join us in our songs of praise. Amen.
Sunday, November 12, 2017–Let Justice Roll Down
“But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
What a beautiful image. We live in a land that is parched. The winds of hate, anger, greed, envy and conflict blow across the landscape robbing the land of what little moisture it might contain. Into that dry and hurting land flow streams of justice and righteousness. The streams carry the water from distant lands where the rainfall of love, grace and mercy is abundant.
As followers of Jesus, we are part of the waters and streams of justice and righteousness. These life giving waters flow from us in our daily interactions with others. Our personal creeks becomes streams and rivers as we join with our brothers and sisters in Christ in our congregations and denominations, stand against injustice and live generously to meet the needs of others. The waters and streams bring new life—this is our mission and the mission of the church.
Lord, flow through us and water every nook and cranny with your love and grace. Amen.