Monday, August 15, 2022

          Amos was another minor prophet in the Old Testament.  His name means “burden” or “burden-bearer.”  Perhaps you have felt like that was your name too.  Some people bear the burden of long-term health problems that never seem to go away or even get better.  Some carry the weight of grief that has lingered for decades.  Some seem to carry financial burdens that never really change or go away.  Amos’ burden was to pronounce judgment on the people of Judah.  This righteous judgment from God was pronounced on a people who had become decidedly unrighteous in words, behavior and actions.  The Lord had concluded, “They do not know how to do right” (Amos 3:10a).
            Ironically, the people of Judah were pushing away and resisting their only hope—the Lord God Himself.  Their unrighteousness could be addressed only by the righteousness of God.  Poor Amos carried the burden of declaring God’s Word to people who would neither hear him nor change their ways in response to his message.  Ultimately, their stubborn sinfulness would result in their judgment by God and exile at the hands of the Babylonians.  At one point, God clarified the role for Amos to play.  We read, “Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.  Now then, hear the word of the Lord.’ You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac’” (Amos 7:14-16).  The key message for Amos was not to stop preaching and prophesying.  He was to continue to do what God had given Him to do.
            Occasionally, we have to carry burdens and possibly for a protracted period of time.  The manner in which we carry those burdens can often bear witness to the Lord in the presence of others.  Our willingness to carry burdens can often be an example or encouragement to others.  Elisabeth Elliot often spoke of burdens as being the portion that God had chosen for her or others.  The way we carry that burden is a faith story or testimony.  As people of faith, we have to recognize that we do not live or carry burdens in our strength alone.  God’s grace is sufficient for us and will see us through the dark times and life’s valleys.  God often does some of His finest work in the face of burdens and struggles. Amos gave Judah a great measure of hope near the end of his prophecy, “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes.  New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.  They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.  They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.  I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God (Amos 9:13-15).  Even in the direst of times, God has plans and possibilities for us.  We can see His light dawning and His grace breaking through the burdens.
            If you find yourself carrying burdens today, be encouraged.  God’s grace is sufficient in the presence of burdens.  God is at work in the midst of burdens.  And God has seen the purposes that He wishes to accomplish through the burdens.  Hold on to the Lord God as Amos did.  Continue to do what God has given you to do.  And trust that God will bring forth something good and glorious in the end.  Just as Judah was restored following exile, God is a restorer today as well.  Burdens are never the last word for those who hold on to the Lord.  Have a great Monday and remember you can worship with us any time at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.  

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