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Seek to live a life pleasing to the Lord - Amos 5:18-27

Amos  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  56:17
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Amos 5:18-27 Seek to live a life pleasing to the Lord INTRO We are now more than half way through the book of Amos…picking up here midway through the 5th chapter. Would you agree that it is not an understatement to say God is pretty upset? And rightly so…right? We know from God’s Word that HE is slow to anger but once HE is angry,…His wrath is quickly kindled. (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 2:12). Now the Bible teaches, and we certainly recognize, that God’s love lavished upon us is not determined by any merit on our part. Agape love… unconditional love. It’s a constant, unchanging LOVE of God that is forever secured for us by the blood of Jesus Christ. We can rest in that and be forever safe in that TRUTH. NOW, having established that, we do, with our lives,…either bring GOD pleasure or displeasure. Love steady and strong from GOD to US….but a smile or a frown we are able to place upon His face. God will discipline us when we displease Him….but it’s always rooted in LOVE. (Proverbs 13:24) “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” God himself, as our Heavenly Father, exemplifies this truth in which we believe and hold to and apply as parents ourselves. And the treasure we are given this morning is a clear look at what is both displeasing and pleasing to the LORD,…that we may be thinking rightly as we seek to live a life pleasing to the Lord. That’s the christian’s aim is it NOT? To seek to live a life pleasing to the Lord. (2 Timothy 2:4). “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” We are God’s soldiers He enlisted in His Army. We seek to please Him…. We will begin by first examining what is displeasing to the Lord in (verses 18-23). For NOT DISpleasing Him…and YES, that’s a double negative…stay with me now. NOT displeasing Him naturally gives way to pleasing him wouldn’t you agree. Dads and moms nodding affirmingly as parents. You better believe it. A child NOT displeasing a loving parent is a delight…naturally brings about the parent being pleased over them. I believe it is the same as with God our Father. And there is NO reading between the lines in that which He is displeased by here in the opening of the passage in consideration this morning. (verses 18-23) BODY 1) FIRST POINT - (Amos 5:18-23). Knowing what does not please Him So as we seek to live a life pleasing to the Lord…our first due attention in knowing that which displeases Him is that of taking delight at our enemy’s fall. Beep…beep…beep. I hear what you are thinking…Back up a bit Seth,…did you just say what I think you said? That it displeases God to rejoice at our enemy’s fall. They, whom we pray along with the Psalmist to bring them to an open shame, to have their evil devises turn upon their own heads… praying “that he, God, may cut off the memory of them from the earth!” Read (Psalm 109) in it’s entirety. It doesn’t get any harsher than that. WE pray for our enemies as Jesus told us to..that salvation would come to them first and foremost as ourselves who also were “…once His enemies but now reconciled to Him by the death of His Son Jesus.” That they too would be reconciled… (Romans 5:10) …..but if they do not repent…..chapter 109 of Psalms along with other (Psalm 129) passages provide strong language in how we wage war in the Spiritual battles through prayer against those who oppose us. And if…if this comes to pass…if our enemy justly falls.…God is displeased if we take delight over their fall. Perhaps you are thinking..How can that line up?… Well, let’s unpack this together,…because I believe they line up do according to God’s Word. Look at (verses 18-20) - read Let’s not forget, (Romans 12:19, Psalm 7:10-13) our GOD is a mighty warrior, who says “vengeance is mine, I will repay”…The One True Living God who “feels indignation every day.” Every day….The ONE who, “if man does NOT repent, God will whet His sword; He has bent and readied His bow; He has prepared for him (for the one who does not repent) he has prepared for him His deadly weapons, making His arrows fiery shafts.” Powerful…powerful imagery of our fierce warrior GOD who (Isaiah 27:1, 34:2) “….with his hard and great and strong sword, sated with blood, what a picture..sated with blood…will punish the nations He is enraged against”….GOD will execute His judgements in the fullness of the wrath of His fury upon those who - deserve punishment deserve punishment for their acts of unrighteousness. The same punishment every christian deserves that Christ took upon himself in our place. Punishment is deserved for every act of unrighteousness.…that is Justice. While all along… While all along….He does not take delight in the death of the wicked. HOW do we know this? (Ezekiel 33:11-14 & 18:23-24). “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,…” GOD is glorified in His judgement executed. (Psalm 94:2). “Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!” (Revelation 16:6-7). “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” And I heard the altar saying, “YES, Lord God the Almighty, TRUE and JUST are your judgments!” The wrath of man will praise Him…true and just are His judgements in executing punishment for all unrighteousness….though He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. This would be the PROPER, God reflecting attitude over the reprobate…those who do not repent,…who do not surrender to the wonderful Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives and will be punished for their sin….the proper God reflecting attitude is one of Lamentation. Ben’s sermon last week had emphasis on this. Lamentation. (verse 20) “Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” Lamentation….sadness…NOT to be taking delight in for GOD himself takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is glorified in His wrath…in His Judgement of them…but their death is not pleasing to Him. And let’s be honest too…living this out ourselves who ought to share and reflect our Father’s heart…is hard to put into practice. Am I alone here? (Proverbs 24:17-18).…that’s why God provided this passage of scripture… “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls (which we are prone to do)…Do not rejoice when your enemy falls and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased (there it is) and turn away His anger from him.” This commandment is given because that can be hard to do? When your enemy, one who has mistreated you, falsely accused you, stolen from you, cheated you, persecuted you, lied to you….whom you clearly would mark as an enemy….when one such as them falls and you see justice done…..for your heart not to be glad when they stumble…to not rejoice when your enemy falls… I believe this we naturally go to…I’ll admit it. I feel it and….furthermore,…I am fed this by the world daily. We all are. It’s plastered everywhere. It’s the air we breath. And, hear me,…there is a cause of rejoicing….absolutely…the matter however, the matter however lies in the direction it’s given.…We are to lament over the brokenness, the destruction, the suffering sin causes…that is the right attitude…This reflects God’s heart…. lamenting over the effects of SIN….saddened deeply by what sin causes. Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem at his triumphal entry…he was weeping over the people’s sin of blindness…they did not know the time of visitation…visitation of God to deliver them….blinded by sin they did not rightly know, on this day Jesus enters into Jerusalem to be crucified the did not know the things that make for peace, (Luke 19:41-44) that JESUS would lay down His life for his people to redeem them. That the prince of peace would make a way for sinners to forever have peace with God! They were blind to that…blinded by sin and JESUS weeps on that account knowing the destruction to come to the city itself. Jesus also wept (John 11:35) just prior to raising Lazarus from the grave….though he planned four days prior…and knew all along that he would do so. We may think there would be this restraint to hold back celebration and jubilee because of what he was about to do. But not so…he wept…he wept over the hurt and suffering in the world brought about by sin. Every human being is made in the image of God and sin is the destruction….sin is the cause of all the evils manifested in man…this is to be lamented over…in the company of…in the company of thanksgiving and praise to God for Justice given. Do you see how these share space together? Celebrate, Rejoice in God’s Justice……in the company of lamenting over the effects of sin. Perhaps an example will be helpful. Recently a close dear friend of mine was clearly being unjustly treated at his place of work. Being careful not to react…he prayed, sought counsel and waited to address it at a proper time….if he even was to do so at all. As time went on the situation only compounded and an opportunity was provided to confront it as he had peace from God to do. So Gently and Respectfully the injustice was called out with irrefutable supportive facts,…and yet….no just corrective action was taken. Things were left undone…Injustice remained. At which point, my friend left it in the Lord’s hands and didn’t pursue the matter any further. But the Lord did. And through Providential means, God made things right with added measure of insult in a way that was very - IRONIC. The very word used to describe the outcome of the ordeal. And I tell you, as accurate as the word ironic was to describe what resulted in Justice being served…I had welling up within me an attitude of “serves them right…sweet justice…they got what they deserved.” And I got a sense that the same temptation for similar thoughts were actively resisted on the part of my friend. In obedience to God’s Word however, he did not go beyond acknowledging the irony of it and giving thanksgiving and praise to God for it. And in the company of this was a sadness we shared over the individual’s selfishness and resulting damaging affects brought about by unrepentant sin. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls..” God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is glorified in His wrath…in His Judgement of them…but it is not pleasing to Him. He makes that very clear…..And therefore, He is angry with His people who had an attitude of taking delight in That Day in which GOD will execute His judgments in the fullness of the wrath of His fury. The Israelites were looking upon this as a festal occasion. There’s wasn’t even a cavalier attitude showing an arrogant dismissiveness towards the suffering of others to come which is bad enough….NO!,…they looked at it as a time to be out and about with festive animation….whao whoo! Get’em God! Get’em! Cut them off! Far…far were they from God’s instruction through the prophet Isaiah….. (Isaiah 26:9). “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.” Far were they from this. GOD says it twice for added emphasis . Opens with it in (verse 18) and then He nearly repeats it verbatim in (verse 20 of Amos 5). “Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” It is NOT a festive occasion. It is one of great sadness, it is dreadful, it is a horror. The Israelites were looking at it through rose colored glasses…tinted that way by their own self delusion. And God makes plain to them what that is what that self delusion is in (verse 19). They had a deluded confidence that they were safe and secure to escape God’s Judgement..look at (verse 19) again “…as if a man fled (past tense…fled…successfully eluded…escaped) a lion…and a bear met him..(thought he had escaped the terror of a lion only to be met with it by a bear) no escape had,….Or,…went into the house (which I take as his own house) went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him”. OKAY, Arguably, the most earthly secure place you have is your house. Your sanctuary after all the days toils. Bearing the weight of the days troubles in full measure….you come into your home…your abode to finally relax, safe and secure to decompress….lean your hand against the wall of which you’ve done countless times before and BAM! A snake bites you. What?!..Com’on! Seriously?! This shouldn’t happen! What God is making abundantly clear to them,…is this… you are not safe, you are not secure…you will NOT escape my Judgement! (Hebrews 10:30-31,35-39). “The Lord will Judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” GOD is warning them of this attitude they have concerning the Day of the Lord. A warning we can take to heart as we consider the day of judgement coming….and consider how we “may not be of those who shrink back at His coming.” Now we gotta ask - What led to this ‘desire' they had for the Day of the Lord? This attitude they had which God so sternly warns against. It would do us well to know for ourselves that we may not repeat their error. (verses 21-23) provides that answer. Grinch - (verse 21) “I hate; I despise your feasts, I take no delight in your solemn assemblies”…This is Not quite the expression of the hate the Grinch had over the Who’s of Whoville when he is standing on the top of mount Krumpet…going through each Who…“Alphabetically… Aardvark In..Abikinerzer Who…I… HATE YOU!. Aribee Benson Who..I hate you. Hate hate hate…hate hate hate…double hate….Uugh…LOATHE ENTIRELY!”…..It’s Not that sort of expression here… It’s not…BUT..but…it is a similar hatred in it’s intensity …OKAY…and one of a much more serious matter that GOD directs toward their outward show of religion. It was all ritual…all a show…heartless acts of worship….NOT real…….FAKE. (Psalm 147:11, 78:3) They did not fear Him; their hearts were not steadfast towards Him; they were not faithful to His covenant.” The reason they were of the wrong mindset that they were going to escape the coming judgment (Hebrews 12) and felt safely secure before God is that they had their religious practices down solid. Feasts, offerings, solemn assemblies, songs beautifully sung. Outwardly have this believing portrayal ….this believing portrayal that they were in a right standing before God but reality was of a completely different take. OBSERVE…as Ben noted a couple weeks ago. There is no sin offering mentioned…at all. No sin offering…They were blind to their sin. Notice in (verse 22). First He doesn’t accept them..doesn’t accept the offerings given…and then He won’t even look upon them. Escalating abhorrence… escalated even further in (verse 23) “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.” (Psalm 147:1) says… “Praise the Lord for it is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant and a song of praise is fitting.” Only if it’s real and from the heart. If not…God says, take them away from me. All this escalating abhorrence portrayed by God is to signify the measure of displeasure He has with superficial religion. With FAKE FAITH. God looks upon the heart. Christian we know this. We may fool man, our neighbor, our coworker our spouse our parent, our sibling, or fool our brother or sister in Christ. We may fool everybody…..But we will not fool God. Outward religion apart from inward realities of the life of Christ ruling your heart is an abhorrence to Him. He hates it; He despises it. The prophet Isaiah puts it like this (Isaiah 29:13). “….this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,..” Such a state is tremendously dangerous in that it leads to this self delusion that all is fine between you and God when it - is - not. An attitude completely blind to operating contrary to God’s heart who rejoices in Justice in the company of lamenting over the effects of sin….first and foremost which should be their own sin. God gives a shivering warning to this that we are to heed. Take in deep these warnings of that which displeases the Lord that we may not bring a frown upon His face but rather a smile. HOWEVER,…if we are guilty of any fake outward shows of christianity while void of inward realities of a heart engaged,….or guilty of any sin that grieves Him for that matter…then be encouraged to know that any frown upon His face can be quickly turned upside down by repentance. Turning God’s frown upside down by repentance. Take a look with me at the continuation, the continuation mind you…of the Ezekiel passage we read earlier… (Ezekiel 33:11-14 & echoed in 18:23-24). “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, (now watch this) but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die,…Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin (this is repentance) if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right,…..he shall surely live; he shall not die.” God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is glorified in His wrath… in His Judgement of them…but it is not pleasing to Him…He makes that very clear, while that which is pleasing is Repentance (dying to self) and in harmony with that is also the Death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15) “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Precious… WHY is this, because both (dying to self and the death of His saint) both result in being with God…being in fellowship. Repentance returns us to a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ and death is the doorway to being with Him…entering His Kingdom. Our Job is done…child has come home…their earthly sojourn has reached it’s end….they enter the rest from all their labor and toil….striving against sin…fighting the fight of faith. A song we recently sung here has such lyrics “Soon shall close thy earthly mission, Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days, hope shall change to glad fruition, Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.” GOD delights to welcome His kids home as they pass from this life into glory. We see in scripture that JESUS himself stands….he who is seated at the right hand of the throne of God…stands to welcome us into His Kingdom. (Acts ) As we move onto our 2nd point in knowing what pleases God ween in (verse 24) begin with repentance. You seek to live a life pleasing to the Lord?… “bear fruit to him in keeping with repentance.” 2) SECOND POINT (Amos 5:24) - Knowing what does please Him In fact, you could say… The authenticity of one’s faith is marked by “Bearing fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) That practicing repentance is a habitual part of your life. Conviction over sin, confessing sin, turning away from sin and turning towards God. Repentance…this pleases God. Walking with Him daily with this mind set…puts a smile upon his face that is looking upon you with favor. (Isaiah 30:15). “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” This the prophet Isaiah says….in essence..church… dear brother…don’t be unwilling. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance for this pleases the Lord and by which you shall be saved. Do not be unwilling. Give yourself to this, ask God for a penitent heart that is quick to repent….for (Psalm 7:12) “If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;..” He is not pleased and will fiercely judge you accordingly. Repentance pleases God and right in rhythm with that is (verse 24) - read Like flowing water…it is inviting, whether it be similar to Caleb DeHart eyeballing some choice fishing holes in a flowing river or Timothy surveying the course of rapids he intends to navigate his kayak through with exhilaration or perhaps just the simplicity of being at it’s bank with your feet refreshed in the water quietly taking in the sounds, the sights, the smells,…as all the sensations your powers of sensory permit you to do….completing the sensory intake as you enjoy the flavors of a favorite snack and beverage. Bottom line…it’s inviting…you are compelled to be there. A place you want to be. I notice this while driving along a riverside. The North Umpqua river along the Diamond lake highway and similarly the Smith River…a tributary of the Umpqua river are almost dangerous for me in a sense to drive along side of because I look more at them more then the road itself….at least that is what my wife would say. But who can resist right?! It’s beautiful. Turn after turn you see a spot you want to check out and just hang out there for a while. It’s so inviting. So it is with Justice and Righteousness before God’s eyes. The God of all creation is in your midst in a life giving,…peace surrounding way when Justice and Righteousness are your practice. When the rhythm of your life flows to this cadence GOD is delighted to be present with His blessing upon it. And when we are not there…repentance returns us there. Seeking to live a life pleasing to the Lord is one who seeks every day to have Righteousness and Justice operating together as a result of receiving nourishment and renewal of your mind from the Word of God put into effect in your life by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord takes pleasure in this in every expression of it your life brings. One last thing is required however, for God to be pleased. And our closing 3 verses provide that answer. Answer of: 3) THIRD POINT (Amos 5:25-27) Knowing what is required to please Him. Remember, this is God speaking here through Amos (verse 25-27) - read So what is God saying here? He is saying this, He is saying “You guys are acting like I don’t exist. You are naming these stars in the heavens and making them gods for yourselves…Who was it?…Who was it who provided for you in the wilderness those 40 years when you had nothing…I repeat…nothing. Your clothing, your shoes, food and water, warmth at night and shelter from the sun during the day…protection from your enemies..guidance through the wilderness….You guys had nothing and therefore had nothing to bring to me… no sacrifices…no offerings during those 40yrs…I provided everything for you and you are behaving as if I don’t exist and as if I don’t reward those who seek me. You have - no - faith is what (God) is saying here. You have no faith and it is impossible to please me without faith (Hebrews 11:6) “…for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” You are not doing this…You are behaving like I don’t exist and you are not seeking me. You are all caught up in idolatry..picking out stars…giving them names and calling them your gods…You cannot be wrapped up in idolatry and be seeking the Lord at the same time…Same with us saints…same with us. And so God says, “I will send you off into exile with your false gods. You can have them…take them with you, they certainly can’t take you being that they don’t exist they are not real…you take them” CHURCH - They had no FAITH. All their show in their worship services…as convincing as it was to themselves and the onlooker..it was not mixed with faith (Hebrews 4:2). It was fake. God hates; despises fake faith. WHAT IS REAL FAITH?…Real faith is witnessing one who’s house is ablaze with fire and them through shock, tears and sorrow…witness them in the midst of all that have a rock solid joy expressed in prayer and presence because their hope in God’s Steadfast Love remains unshaken. That’s Powerful,…That stands in sheer contrast superficial religion….That pleases God. that is FAITH, the genuine article thereof… Nothing done without faith… which is (Hebrews 11:1-2) “….the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”…nothing done without that…without faith pleases God,… but rather anything done in faith, any and every act of FAITH,…is pleasing…and it is by it that we, like the saints of old, received our commendation from God, our reward, our inheritance kept in heaven for us. (1 Peter 1:9) The outcome of our faith is the salvation of our souls (Hebrews 10:38-39) “….my righteous (God says) my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.…be not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” CONCLUSION Hear and heed the exhortation in (Hebrews 10) “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward….our confidence (Hebrews 10:19-29) being to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, ….having such a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”… “…NOT going on sinning deliberately” but rather,.. upholding Justice and Righteousness in our lives while bearing fruit in keeping with repentance when we fail to do so that we may indeed, in our efforts, live a life pleasing to the Lord. Seek to do so along side me,…will you? Let’s pray. - PRAY Lament sin while rejoicing in Justice Upholding Justice and Righteousness and Repenting when we don’t. Walk by faith. Eyes on Jesus who is the object of our faith while living a life in assurance and conviction that God does exist and He rewards those who seek Him. COMMUNION When Jesus came up out of the water at his baptism and also on the mountain of transfiguration…what is it that the Father said?… “This is my beloved Son with who I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, 17:5). It is FAITH in Jesus that unites us to him and thereby enables us to please the Father. Only in Christ and through Christ are we able to please the Father. And this confident access we have to the Father through Faith in Jesus was opened to us through the offering of his body and the shedding of his blood to atone for our sins. JESUS provided a new living way to make peace with God and relate to Him as Father. It is this new and living way we celebrate when we take the elements of communion. The bread representing his body that was given and the cup representing his blood that was shed. We partake of the elements in remembrance of Him till He returns. Benediction (Hebrews 13:20-21)
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