Category Archives: works/faith

Amos’ Conversation with the Nation [and with us]

It is uncanny that the inspiration of an earlier day re-emerged on the day of John Lewis’ funeral.  This version of Amos’ dissertation to his people.  This version is Eugene Peterson’s translation known as “The Message”.  This version is different from the King James Version that was made famous in Martin King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.  Where Dr. King implores as did Amos ” . . . But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”  [5:24]
The Message Version
This version in its plain, almost colloquial English reveals the callousness of the divided Hebrew kingdom at that time.  But as we’ve learned so assuredly through the years, the word of God is not some vacuous dead declaration.  The Word lives and reaches through the years to speak to an unimagined modern America.  The word lives and speaks to convict those actively working to oppress the people.  
Re-reading these words will speak again to us and will hopefully ignite the passion to fight injustice as it dares rear its head in the year 2020 to vex those in high office in these United States and beyond.  These words don’t stop at international boundaries or wide oceans.  These words stand staunchly against hypocrisy and haughtiness.  These are the words of Amos to us in this present day from  chapter 5 verses 10-13 and 21-24. 
People hate this kind of talk.
    Raw truth is never popular.
But here it is, bluntly spoken:
    Because you run roughshod over the poor
    and take the bread right out of their mouths,
You’re never going to move into
    the luxury homes you have built.
You’re never going to drink wine
    from the expensive vineyards you’ve planted.
I know precisely the extent of your violations,
    the enormity of your sins. Appalling!
You bully right-living people,  
taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they’re down.
 Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.
    Decent people throw up their hands.
Protest and rebuke are useless, a waste of breath.
“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
    I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
    your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
    your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
    When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
    I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want.
That’s all  I want.

For this cause we pray . . . (Part 2)

Colossians 1:9-11
The Apostle Paul’s prayer to the church at Colosse included his interest in providing support for all that they needed to have to be empowered for ministry. It doesn’t appear that he had visited Colosse when he wrote the epistle since he tells Philemon of his hope to visit it upon being freed from prison [see Philemon 1:22]. Some speculate that Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church [see Colossians 1:7, 4:12].
Paul’s petition in Colossians 1:9-11 can be broken into five phrases that provide insight into what the Holy Spirit wants to inspire into the entire body of believers so that we may be perfect and entire, wanting for nothing [James 1:4].
The Apostle’s prayer in the text is as follows:
[9] “For this reason we also, from the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to

  1. ask that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
  2. that you walk worthy of the Lord, in all pleasing
  3. being fruitful in every good work
         The world is suffering under the weight of an incredible burden brought on by the faltering economy [deceitfulness of riches], the stalled job market, the uptick in productivity brought on by companies forcing too few workers do work that would normally require many more. As a result, we are rushed, sleepless, exhausted and working in every spare moment. The consequence of this is that it carries over into our spiritual lives.    Galatians 5:22  states  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, . . . ”  so then we can logically infer that being fruitful in a good work would produce a measure of these.  How unfortunate it is that so many members of the body end up spending precious time doing things that produce none of these!  How much time is wasted on tasks and activities that are church-based but not Kingdom-based?   We do a lot of church work that is not the work of the church.
               We are not saved by our works, (see Ephesians 2:7-9) so the work we do must be commissioned by the Lord as we strive to follow his lead.  Cain tried to work his way into the kingdom by his work and it bore no fruit, to the contrary it brought forth so much envy of his brother Abel that he murdered him.  Look for the fruit of your work and let go of activity that seems stagnant.  There’s no wrong in serving where we can, but finding our purpose is of paramount importance.  It grounds us as we settle into our place in the body of Christ, doing what we were made to do.
     4. and increasing in the knowledge of God
Paul prays that we increase in the knowledge of God; there is only one way that that occurs – He reveals himself through his word.  We get ourselves in position to hear from Him and to fellowship with Him as we study the word and pray.   Jesus made a similar invitation when he said “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me . . . (Matt. 11:29) He is inviting us to fellowship and get to know him.  He literally says that following him is not difficult and he will let us rest from our struggles and toil.
     5. strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness
This clause is such a delightful surprise!  I continue to revel in the fact that our might didn’t come in a physical package in the way that Samson’s did.   We are set to receive the might that Jesus showed in his passion on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  Notice that he prays for us to be strengthened with ALL MIGHT, not just a bit and not just according to what we might come up with, but according to His power.
To what end?  To all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.   Ride in tight traffic with that!!  Confront your disbelieving relatives with that!  Take that to your workplace and start a revolution!!
We are in for spiritual warfare, frustration, loss, pain, and disappointment.  Our attitude is that one tool and relief that will make the difference in how we wear Christ and how the world sees Him in us.   Second Corinthians 4:8 “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
 It is not on you!! We pray this prayer of Paul’s and place our faith in the fact that God can and will make it so for us in this present hour! Believe it!