Bible Devotions

Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of ___________, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment…” Amos 1:3 NKJV

This phrase is repeated 8 times in chapter one and two combined.  Each time a different city or people group is called out. There are two categories of people mentioned in this ominous phrase. One category of people was anyone who did bad things to God’s people. We see Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab in this category.  The other category of people is God’s chosen people – Judah and Israel.

Six of those cities were being punished for things done against God’s people. They had done violent things, took people captive, delivered people into captivity, pursued his brother with a sword, and burned the king’s of Edom bones to line.

But interestingly God’s own people were also included in these phrases.  Judah is judged for having despised the law of the Lord, and keeping His commandments, and allowing lies to lead them astray. Israel is called out because they sold the righteous for silver, sold the poor for a pair of sandals, perverted the way of the humble, incest, defiling God’s holy name, idol worship, and drinking wine of the condemned.

Why does any of this matter to us?  This section of Scripture clearly shows us God will hold each of us accountable for our actions. That should cause us to shudder a little bit!

Which category of people do you fall into? Are you in the group opposed and against God’s people? Are you among God’s people?  In either case you will be accountable to God for your actions.

Let’s say you answered “I’m part of God’s people.” That’s great.

Let’s look at the flaws God pointed out to see if any apply to us today.

Judah despised God’s laws. They did not keep God’s commandments and were led astray by lies.

Do any of these apply to you? Are you despising or obeying God’s laws? Do you follow truth or lies?

Israel was more concerned about money than people. They perverted the humble with heavy regulations. They allowed incest in their families. They defiled God’s holy name and worshipped idols instead of God.

Is there anything that comes before God in your own life? Watch out that’s idol worship. Are you caught up with the cares of this world? This too can be a slippery slope leading to idol worship.  Are you a perfectionist, holding others to an impossible standard?  This is what the religious elite in Jesus’ day did and He scolded them more than once for it.

Father God Almighty, thank you for your word that reveals the truth. Help us recognize the truth about our self and turn to you for mercy and forgiveness.  Thank you for your hearing us. Thank you for your faithfulness to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness through Jesus Christ. In His precious name we pray. Amen.

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Spiritual Attacks

When spiritual attacks come, do we recognize them for what they are?

Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  But those steadfast in Christ shall not be shaken.  Everything bad that happens to us isn’t necessarily a spiritual attack.  There are consequences we reap due to our own poor choices.

A spiritual attack is different. It’s usually all encompassing rather than focused in one area.  For example, there might be a relational problem growing larger than life, a miscommunication at work that tarnished your reputation in the eyes of some, and an unexpected health problem all happening at the same time.  If you have children, you might experience rebellion around parental authority on top of all the other stuff going on.  These are just a few examples.

When several things occur in rapid succession, there’s a good chance you might be on the verge of doing something of significance in God’s kingdom.  For these attacks never happen when we sit back and do nothing to glorify God.

Sometimes we might forget about this enemy is real.  As a result, we attempt to correct, or adjust our situation by sheer will power and self effort, even if we are committed to the Lord and study His word each day.  These attacks can still catch us off guard.

There is some comfort knowing we are not the first to fail like this.  The children of Israel failed repeatedly.  Even though God had every right to let them be completely taken over by their enemies, He always stepped in to help when they cried out for it.

So it is with us.  When we cry out to the Lord, he hears us.  While some issues may linger, He strengthens us to endure it.  He brings others to support, encourage and pray for you.  God is faithful to sustain, to deliver, and to set free His chosen people.

So what can we do when we’re under attack?  We can remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12 and John 16:33.  We can praise God during the attack because we know He will make sure we come through it.  We can talk with other believers who will remind us to take it to the Lord.  We can draw closer to Jesus through prayer. For what the enemy meant for evil, God uses for good.

I pray your next spiritual attack results in a stronger faith, a deeper commitment to Jesus and a closer walk with God Almighty.

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Which Words Do You Hear?

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Proverbs 4:20 NKJV

There are many words and sayings we could listen to these days:

  • You will never amount to anything.
  • You are lazy and worthless.
  • Can’t you do anything right?
  • You are a loser.
  • You will never be good enough
  • No one really loves you.

The list of negative sayings goes on and on until the world is wrapped up several times over. Sadly these negative sayings are said not only by others directed at us, but also by our self, as we start to believe the lies.

God’s Word is different. It is Spirit and Truth. God’s Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, able to divide thoughts and intentions. God’s Word is life. Jesus said in Luke 4 “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” Yes, sometimes God’s Word is difficult to hear, but its intentions are never to harm us, but rather to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Today’s verse reminds us to tune in to God’s Words. Give attention and incline our ears to the words that really matter. As we do we will begin to understand God’s will is pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).

So if you find your mind stuck in “stinking thinking” rut, turn to the one who has the power to change the way you think. Ask God to help you focus on His Word, to think of things lovely, true, pure, right, noble, just, honorable and praiseworthy. And, remember to do your part – open your Bible and read it!

Lord, thank you for your life giving words. May the thoughts of our mind and the words of our mouth be holy and pleasing to you. Renew our thoughts this day and keep us on the path of righteousness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

© Elizabeth Marks, author of ThinkOnIt Devotions and has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word. For more devotions, bible studies and a recommended book store, visit today

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