Missing the Message

To I be joined some of the seniors from Timberline for breakfast at Perkins. It is an enjoyable group lead my Becky Wickstrom. Becky who leads this event spent about 40 years with her husband Lynn in Children’s ministry. I told her that was good preparation for keeping seniors entertained.

This has been a little busier week for me and one that I have noticed some more fatigue than last week. It is probably just the ebb and flow of activity, exertion and some of the healing process that is still taking place in my body. I am glad that I got back for the fitness center for a two hour workout. That may be one of the reasons, I sleep well at night.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “I was the one who brought famine to all your cities, yet you did not come back to me. I kept it from raining when your crops needed it most….there was not enough to drink. Still you did not come back to me. “I sent a scorching wind to dry up your crops. The locusts ate up all your gardens and vineyards, your fig trees and olive trees. Still you did not come back to me. I sent a plague on you like the one I sent on Egypt. I killed your young men in battle….Still you did not come back to me. I destroyed some of you as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah….Still you did not come back to me,” says the Lord. Amos 4:6-11

We know that God is patient  and that “His mercy endures forever.” But as an expression of His patience and mercy He provides that opportunity to repentance before final judgment. How does God speak and attempt to get our attention?

It can be in a variety of ways. In the Old Testament God spoke through His prophets who sounded warnings and called people to repentance. Today, we have God’s written Word that is able to “correct, instruct and convict.” God speaks to us through our conscious. Everyone has a sense of right and wrong to some degree. We see that God can speak through events.

For God’s people, He was very specific about the “blessings” for obedience and “curses” for disobedience. (see Deuteronomy 11) The Lord let His people know, when the rains doesn’t come ad the crops fail and your enemies are winning and life is on a downward trek, it’s time to turn to me. This is what we see in the words of the prophet Amos.

The Lord through Amos gives a litany of ways that He tried to get Israel’s attention, but they “did not come to me” said the Lord. In many ways over the course of time, the Lord attempted to get the attention of His people, but they did not get the message. They did not turn to the Lord and seek Him. The result was judgment from the Lord.

What about today? Does God speak through events and natural disasters? I recall in my early days on a school board, I would point out (tongue-in-check) how the tendency is to refer to natural disasters as “an act of God” whereas if something good happened, it was just “happenstance.”

What is interesting in that commonly accepted colloquialism, if God is “acting” is there a message for us? It is important to be careful here. We live in a day when it is easy to go overboard and look at any significant storm or natural disaster or event and view it as “judgment from God.” It is easy for people to look at tragic events in individual lives and blame it on “sin.”

At the same time, it is clear the judgments in Revelation are intended to communicate a message to people. “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Rev. 9:20-21)

I would simply propose that we keep our hearts open to the Lord; seek Him and His wisdom and be consistent in the examination of our own lives and what is happening in the culture around us. Those who are Christ-followers have an obligation to intercede (stand in the gap) for others and our nation. To be those who don’t stand in judgment, but kneel in prayer.

As one who found himself literally flat on his back for several months, I can assure it was a time of soul searching, submitting my life to the Lord and personal examination. We can certainly allow the Lord to use the events of life to draw us closer to Him and realign any misplaced priorities.

Finally, remember judgment is also an expression of God’s mercy. The well-loved verse of Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. What we often forget is these words were spoken by the prophet Jeremiah as God’s people were preparing for 70 years of captivity.

However, the Lord may speak to us personally or collectively today, let’s not miss the message or the opportunity to draw closer to Him.