TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- AMOS 7:1-9:15

Amos is shown possible scenarios of judgments- God can judge with a plague of locusts (7:1-3), or He can use fire (7:4-6).

Amos pleads for mercy, knowing that ‘Jacob’ would not survive. “How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”

The use of the name ‘Jacob’ highlights the nation having returned to the old nature of the ‘supplanter’ and ‘cheater’.

The Lord relents. This is another example of how prayerful intercession can change history. God listens to prayer. He wants us to engage with His mind—discover His justice and mercy. He encourages us to intercede.

God then shows Amos a vision of a plumb line and a wall. The role of the prophet is to declare the truth. It is the plumb line by which the Lord measures what is upright. King Jeroboam is doing what seems to be right in his own eyes, but his evaluation cannot stand in the light of God’s plumb line. It is a crooked wall. We must all line up with God’s Word.

Amaziah, the priest of false worship at Bethel, warns Jeroboam of the damaging indictment Amos is bringing against Israel. The Word of God is a plumb line that condemns unrighteousness. Amaziah passes on Amos’ prophecy of the future- the king will die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile.

Amaziah then goes to Amos with orders for him to be expelled from Israel. Amos defends himself, proclaiming that it is God who raised him up to speak his word. He boldly pronounces judgment on Amaziah and his household. He reaffirms the original prophecy-Israel will go into exile, and Amaziah will die there in an unclean land (Amos 7:17).

Amos is then shown a vision of a basket of ripe fruit. The Lord announces, the time is ripe for Israel’s judgment. The songs in the temple will turn to wailing. A day of darkness and famine will come, not a famine of food or of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

Amos 8:11-12 11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 People will stagger from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.

We can easily take ‘the hearing of the words of the Lord’ for granted. Here, as a sign of judgment, the Lord withdraws this privilege from Israel. There will be no prophet for Israel until John the Baptist comes to call the nation to repentance and to prepare the way of the Lord.

The judgment is inescapable (Amos 9:1-4). There is a repeated description: The whole land rises like the Nile and sinks like the river of Egypt (Amos 8:8; 9:5).

Not long after this prophecy, there was a massive earthquake in Israel. The prophet Zechariah was still talking about it 250 years later (Zechariah 14:5).

Amos 9:8 8 “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the LORD.

There is a prophecy given:

Amos 9:11-12 11 “In that day I will raise up the fallen booth (tabernacle) of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the LORD who does this.

Has this been fulfilled?  James, a leader in the church in Jerusalem, quotes this verse in Acts 15:16-17, seeing how David’s lineage has been restored through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Anointed Son of David, the King of Kings, and is ascended at the right hand of God.  Through Him, the testimony of God is repaired.  Indeed, the Risen and Exalted Christ is head over all things to the church which is composed of Jews and Gentiles.  (Edom and all the nations refer to the Gentiles).

But there is more to come. Jesus must return to reign over Israel and the nations and extend the borders of the promised land back to what was divinely deeded to them.

The two last prophets to the northern ten tribes were Amos and Hosea. Amos was tough. Hosea was tender. Amos emphasized God’s justice, Hosea, God’s mercy.  Amos came with strong accusations, Hosea with a strong appeal. Amos spoke to the mind, Hosea to the heart. There was a merciful promise of a future for Israel in Amos: 

Amos 9:15 15 “I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 3:7-22

What have we seen so far in reading Jesus’ letters to the churches of Asia Minor?

  • A church that left its first love (Ephesus)
  • A church that was faithful, although it was being crushed by persecution (Smyrna)
  • A church that compromised with the world that turned God’s grace into a negligence of holiness (Pergamum)
  • A church that tolerated doctrinal and moral impurity (Thyatira)
  • A church that is dead but has a reputation of being alive (Sardis)

Now we read Jesus’ letters to the church of Philadelphia and Laodicea.

Only the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia were given commendations without any corrections. Interestingly, only the churches at Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) and Philadelphia (Alazahir) exist today.

Jesus introduces Himself to the church at Philadelphia as the One who is holy and true, Who has the key of David, Who opens and no one will shut, Who shuts and no one opens.

The key of David represents the authority given to the Messiah to determine who enters the kingdom of God and who is refused entrance. Once the door is closed, no one can open it. The decision is in His hands. Judgment is certain.

The good news is that those in this church are given the assurance that the door to the kingdom is presently open to them. They have kept His word and not denied His Name, even though they have a little power, most likely referring to their minority status in the community, their being small in number, resources, and worldly influence.  They recognized that their strength was not sufficient and leaned on His mighty power.

The Lord promises that He will act on their behalf so that even their enemies will have to acknowledge that the believers at Philadelphia are beloved of God (3:9).

He also promises that he will keep them from the hour of trial to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth. They are to hold on to their crown (Rev 3:11).

There are various interpretations of the phrase ‘the hour of trial’. Some see this as the Great Tribulation that will occur on the whole earth as described in Revelation Chapters 6 through 19, the “Time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).  The immediate application may be the immanent persecutions from Rome. But the context implies something bigger, something global. This group is promised that they will be delivered from some particular hour of testing. Others believe that they will be delivered through that testing. Still, others believe that the tribulation here speaks only of general undisclosed times of distress.

The church at Philadelphia is given a third promise, that they will be made a pillar in the temple of God, that they will have a stable future in God’s kingdom, in God’s city, and a new name written upon each one.

The last of the seven churches to be addressed is the church in Laodicea.

Laodicea was known for its wealth and for its eye salve. It was also located between Hierapolis, a city known for its hot springs, and Colossae, a city known for its fresh cold water. Laodicea did not have a sufficient water supply, so it piped in cold water from Colossae and hot water from Hierapolis. The problem was that by the time the water arrived in Laodicea, it was neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm.

Jesus uses their water problem as an illustration of their spiritual problem.

Revelation 3:15-16 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

The Laodicean church was self-sufficient and proud. It was self-satisfied, and self- deceived. Their own eye-salve could not heal their spiritual blindness.

Revelation 3:17 17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,

The Lord gives them this counsel:

Revelation 3:18 18  I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

He assures them that it is His love that is behind this counsel. Therefore, they should repent.

Revelation 3:19-20 19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent. 20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

He promises that those believers (overcomers) will be positioned in Him at the Throne and share in His Throne rights, reigning together with Him in the ages to come.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 131:1-3

All the readings today speak of the importance of being humble before God, owning up to our sin, and turning away from it. We are to transfer our trust to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Here is a picture of humility:

Psalm 131:1-2 1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. 2 Surely, I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.

A child that is weaned is no longer relying on his or her mother’s milk. They know enough of Christ’s truth and love to be able to feed and rest in that awareness.

May we all put our hope in the Lord, knowing that He keeps us safe and secure forever.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 29:23

Proverbs 29:23 23 A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. 

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – URUGUAY

(from Operation World Prayer Guide and Prayercast.com)

Uruguay

Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Latin America 

  • Pray for the many abandoned children to find hope and love in their heavenly Father.
  • Pray for the unmasking of false teachings in Afro-Brazilian spiritism.
  • Pray for convincing demonstrations of God’s power in the highly secularized society.

SUMMARY

The 3.3 million people of Uruguay in southeastern South America are able to boast one of the highest standards of living in Latin America, a very literate population, and a large urban middle class. Almost all of the people live in urban areas where the influence of their Spanish and Italian ancestors is reflected in the architecture, their social traditions, and the national language – Spanish.  Nestled between Brazil and Argentina on the South Atlantic Ocean, Uruguay enjoys warm temperatures over its coastal lowlands, low hills, and plains that are ideal for raising cattle and sheep.  Its beaches attract many tourists. Uruguay has often been called “the Switzerland of South America”.

With a long history of independence and democratic governments, Uruguay’s political stability was only interrupted during the 1970-80s and during a period of economic turmoil earlier in the century. The constitutional republic government has regained its strength and is internationally recognized as an example of liberty. Economically, Uruguay has managed to stay relatively stable as well. Fluctuating world markets for the export of livestock and related products and recessions in Argentina and Brazil, its main exporting markets, have Uruguay looking to expand trade with other countries.  An extensive and very costly welfare system is supported through high taxes on industry.

Uruguay is known as one of the most secular nations in all of Latin America, with very liberal social laws.  It is estimated that as many as 17 percent of the people claim to be atheists or agnostic.  Almost half of Uruguayans claim to be Catholic, though only 2% regularly attend mass. The nation values its secular mindset and has even been known to refer to Holy Week as “Tourism Week.” With some of Latin America’s highest rates of suicide, depression, abortion, and divorce, many Uruguayans are realizing that the New Age “do it yourself” thinking that has prevailed is not working. Whereas evangelistic work in Uruguay has been slow and painstaking in the past, it is now gaining momentum as churches and ministries focus on the spiritual needs of the people that only Jesus Christ can satisfy. 

Geography

Area: 176,215 sq. km

Located between Brazil and Argentina on the east bank of the River Plate estuary.

Population: 3,372,222    Annual Growth: 0.28%

Capital: Montevideo

Urbanites: 92.5%

HDI Rank: 50 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)

Peoples

Peoples: 30 (3% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: Spanish    Languages: 12 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Christian

Religion

               

Pop %

Ann Gr

Christians

2,181,490

64.69

0.4

Evangelicals

210,267

6.2

3.2

Answer to Prayer

Evangelicals’ growth is rapidly accelerating. The last 20 years have witnessed significant growth in a country previously very resistant to the gospel. The Evangelical Alliance’s efforts to double the number of congregations between 1998 and 2005 were completed – also doubling the number of believers in the process!

Challenge for Prayer

Lack of knowledge of God gives opening to a spirit of error. Afro-Brazilian Spiritism is the fastest-growing religion in Uruguay. The largest non-Catholic religious bodies are cults and sects of questionable orthodoxy. While 81% believe in God, most adhere to a “do-it-yourself” spirituality influenced by New Age thinking. Pray for all religious deceptions to be exposed and the demonic powers behind them defeated. 

PRAYER: Lord, we need Your Word. It is a plumbline. It is a refining fire. It is a two-edged sword. It convicts, and it converts. It slays our old life in Adam and forces us to reckon with the verdict of the cross. It releases the resurrection life of Christ in us, restoring our souls to Your promised rest. We humble ourselves before You and repent of our sins. We ask that we would be so connected with You in vital fellowship that we would never be lukewarm or useless. We pray that Your glory and grace would be manifestly present in our lives today. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.