~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Amos 1:1-3:15 ~ Revelation 2:1-17
Psalm 129:1-8 ~ Proverbs 29:19-20
Old Testament - Today we start the book of Amos! Amos was a unique prophet in that he was a shepherd and fig grower. His prophecies come from about 760 to 750 B.C. at a height of Israel & Judah's prosperity - materially. Though Amos was from Judah, his messages were primarily directed at Israel. A good introduction the book of Amos is at this link and at this link.
Amos chapter 1 verse 2 sets the stage for this book and the prophecies to come - "This is his report of what he saw and heard: "The LORD's voice roars from his Temple on Mount Zion; he thunders from Jerusalem! Suddenly, the lush pastures of the shepherds dry up. All the grass on Mount Carmel withers and dies." Then in the remainder of chapter 1 and 2 there are prophecies against Israel and Judah's surrounding neighbors all starting with - ""The people of _(fill in the blank)__ have sinned again and again, and I will not forget it. I will not let them go unpunished any longer!" Is it possible that this blank could maybe be filled in on our life or habits at times? Is it possible that this blank could be filled in by nations in our world today? If God were to punish, might it be a holy discipline to bring us back to repentance and right relationship with God?
In chapter 4 verse 2 it jumped out at me that Judah was being called to the carpet as well as the neighboring nations - "They have rejected the laws of the LORD, refusing to obey him. They have been led astray by the same lies that deceived their ancestors." Do we obey God today in our lives? Are there areas in our life where we might be deceived - either by others, or maybe even in our own minds?
And Israel is called to the carpet in verses 6 & 7 - "They have perverted justice by selling honest people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and deny justice to those who are oppressed." It seems that God is very interested in the care of the poor back then. Do you think he is still interested in the care of the poor today? Are we caring for the poor, the hungry, in our world today? In our own lives are we caring for the poor?
New Testament - Revelation chapter 2 begins our journey of Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor, or modern day Turkey. Check out a pretty good map of the 7 churches of Revelation at this link. Depending on what type of Bible you read, you might notice that ALL of the words in chapter 2 in today's readings are highlighted red - meaning, we are hearing directly from Jesus in these verses, so it's good to pay attention here... :)
The beginning of Revelation 2 verse 2 jumps out at me today - ""I know all the things you do." Short and simple.... Think this is true about Jesus and your life? Do you think he knows all of the things you do?
Verse 7 certainly jumps out today as well from Jesus - "Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God." The tree of life takes us back to the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve ended up eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge - which gave them the knowledge of good and evil. God then banished them from the Garden before they could eat from the tree of life and live eternally. The tree of life represents eternal life, and as we see in this verse it is offered to all who are victorious. What does it mean to be victorious? Do you want to eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God? Will you listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying?
Verse 17 is cool! "Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it." Manna of heaven - think this means we won't have to cook or do dishes in heaven?? I like that idea... :) The second sentence is very intriguing to me - a white stone will be given with a new name upon it. I need to do some more research on what exactly this means, but again, it sounds cool to me! if anyone has thoughts / comments on this new name, please post up in the comments below.
Psalms - Psalm 129 is a prayer for the continuing withering of Israel's enemies and verse 4 likely represents a celebration from Babylonian captivity - "But the LORD is good; he has cut the cords used by the ungodly to bind me."
Proverbs 29 verse 20 is a good reminder to think before speaking!
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!