Persecution for his Faith

We see in this chapter an all-too-familiar thing:  Someone doesn’t like what Amos says about the king’s family being attacked, so he meets with the king and falsely accuses Amos of making evil plans (Amos 7:8-10).  Then he confronts Amos and tries to get him out of the picture. “Seer, go back right now to Judah.  Do your prophesying and earn your living there, but don’t prophesy anymore here at Bethel” (Amos 7:12-13).

 

How does Amos respond?  Is he intimidated?  We’re not told how he feels, but he responds by stating the call God’s placed on his life, and being faithful to it. “I do not make my living as a prophet, nor am I a member of a group of prophets.  I make my living as a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore trees.  But the Lord took me away from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’  So listen to the Lord’s word” (Amos 7:14-16).

 

Sadly, we see this persecution regularly all over the globe.  In fact, we’re even promised that anyone who wants to live as a Christian will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).  It happens to people in North Korea, stuck in prison camps because they or a member of their family chose to be a Christian, and it happens on a smaller scale – people mocking or showing anger at the way someone lives their life.  How will you respond when it happens to you?

 

Jesus and Paul give us some helpful tips.  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).  “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45).  “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).

 

So, will you have confidence in God’s call on your life, and be faithful to it?

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Behind Locked Doors

“The lazy person says, ‘There’s a lion outside!  I might get killed out in the street’” (Proverbs 22:13).

 

Now don’t get me wrong; I’ve never said that, but I have had that kind of attitude.  In worrying there’s a lion outside, what’s the lazy person doing?  Finding an excuse not to go out.  If I don’t have the confidence to do something, I’ll find excuses too.

 

I’ve never had much confidence on buses.  I’ve been on them before, with somebody helping me on at one end and someone else meeting me the other, but never by myself.  My excuses?  There’s a whole list.  I know bus-drivers have to run to a timetable, and that bus companies aren’t always very sympathetic to the passengers.  I can just imagine a driver speeding away while I’m still fumbling around with my cane, trying to find where the steps are to get into the bus.  Some of the seats on buses don’t have seatbelts, and a lady I know fell off one of those seats when the bus lurched forward, thankfully not breaking anything but ending up very bruised.  Trains are better because you can book the assistance, but you can’t on buses, so if I ever had to change buses to get somewhere, the thought of getting off one bus and finding where my next one has stopped all by myself is very daunting.

 

See what I mean?  But I know blind people do manage not only to get on and off buses, but to swap between one and another.  To tell you the truth, I’m embarrassed I can’t do it.  I think I’d have a fuller life if I could, but where to start?  With my local shops near enough to walk to, it’s so much easier just to carry on doing only the things I need to, and keep my list of excuses.

 

Maybe I’m just like that lazy person …

 

But I shouldn’t be.

 

Last Sunday, we sang a song at church:

“There is power in the name of Jesus

“To break every chain”.  We’ve sung it lots of times before, but this time, I thought about my life and really felt that God wouldn’t want me stuck behind my front door as much as I am.  Then my pastor preached on John 20:19-23 – Jesus’ followers after His resurrection, stuck behind locked doors for fear of the Jews!  The locked doors didn’t get in Jesus’ way.  He appeared despite them and His first word to them was ‘Peace’.  What if God wants to break our chains, and give us peace instead of fear?

Song for Your Saturday

Very recently I discovered Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Long Way Home” – a great song to start the day with.  Firstly, I love that it starts with him saying:  And a-1, 2, a-1 2 3!  But more seriously, here are some of the lyrics:

“I set out on a great adventure the day my Father started leading me home;

He said ‘There’s gonna be some mountains to climb and some valleys we’re gonna go through’:

But I had no way of knowin’ just how hard this journey could be,

‘Cos the valleys are deeper and the mountains are steeper than I ever would’ve dreamed,

But I know we’re gonna make it!”  What an assurance – to know you’ll get to heaven and the finish-line!  Can you say that with confidence too?

 

And the next verse:

“I got some rocks in my shoes, fears I wish I could lose, that make the mountains so hard to climb

And my heart gets so heavy with the weight of the world sometimes.”  How true is that!  But you know, you can get rid of those rocks.  Hebrews 12:1 says:  “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

 

Happy Saturday!  Happy snowy Saturday if you’re in the UK, and as Steven says:

“Even on the best days, it’s best to remember we’re not home yet.”