Service Times Click to join us for online worship Sunday at 10:00, 11:30, 2:00, or 8:00

Prophets in Perspective

Read this message transcript from the "Minor Prophets, Major Mission" message series

Matt Sturdevant: Good morning, I’m excited to start this series with you today because we are going to be venturing, as Brian mentioned, into a part of the Bible that many of us are less familiar with. These are the last twelve books of the Old Testament known as the Minor Prophets. In fact, I heard a story once of after a pastor had finished giving a message from the minor prophets; after the time was over, an older woman ran up to him waving her Bible and said, “Oh, oh! The white pages, the white pages!” He said she was a bit of an older woman, and he was wondering if she had been reading the phone book all these years. What is she talking about? Then she shows him this Bible, and she opens up to where the minor prophets are. And they were the pages that had never been seen by a human eye or touched by a hand. They were pristinely white in her Bible, and then he understood why she called them the “white pages.” 

So, that’s the part that we are going to be taking a look at this summer. We are going to look at eight of the twelve minor prophets. We are going to look at “what is the message God had for his people in the day?” But, what does that message have to do with us today? Why is it relevant to our lives in 2019? I’ve titled today’s message, “The Prophets in Perspective,” because what I want to do today is sort of give you the backstory, give you the overview on what we’re going to be looking at with this series. We’re not going to actually look at one of the books of prophecy today, but more just the big picture, the overview. And what I hope to do is give you first, the backstory, and then give you some general thoughts on the message that the prophets give us, and then take a look at why it’s relevant. What do the prophets remind us of that is relevant to us today? And, then I’ll give you some action steps you can take throughout this series, but really these action steps you can use in your own personal prayer and Bible reading life. 

Now, we don’t usually start our Sunday morning services with public confession, but now that we’ve got you all sugared up with the doughnuts, I have a question for you. How many of you have ever done a Netflix binge? Okay, so my hand’s up; I have. It’s not a scary confession, just have you ever done that? So, you know what I’m talking about when I use that phrase. I don’t know why, but earlier this spring, the show, Designated Survivor, caught my attention. Perhaps one of you shared something about it with me and ruined me on that. This show just finished its third season on ABC, and I discovered the show. I discovered there were two seasons on Netflix. What do we do when we hear about a show? We go back to Season 1, Episode 1. Right? We don’t start in the middle of season three that’s on tv today, because we won’t know what’s going on. So, I went back to season one, episode one, and it took me probably three or four weeks to work through those two seasons. And that’s as close to what a father with two small children can call a Netflix binge. Gone are the days where it’s like, “My wife and I are just going to take Saturday and watch two seasons. Wake up, watch, and go to bed.” You can’t do that anymore when you have small kids in the home. 

But, I didn’t start watching it on ABC, because I would have been lost. I wouldn’t understand what was going on and what we find is that today, shows pretty much, a show is one long, continuous story. They just break it up with episodes and seasons, but it’s all one big story. So, to fully understand and to fully engage in the story at any given moment, you’ve got to know the back story. It’s a similar thing as we approach God’s Word. It’s really helpful, especially when looking at something like the minor prophets, is to understand the back story, so we can fully engage in what’s happening in the present moment. 

In addition to being Executive Pastor here at Hope, I’m also a national instructor with Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout the country leading groups in Old and New Testament Live events. Walk Thru the Bible has a lot of really great resources to help understand the big picture story of the Bible. Since I am an instructor, I have access to what I think are really helpful slides to help us understand the back story. So, I’m going to be showing you some of those throughout our time. But I think that when it comes to the minor prophets that there are really four elements of the back story that we need to grasp in order to understand the message, its relevance, and what we’re supposed to do with it. 

So, I want to look at the back story with you. First, let’s start with the Biblical back story. Now, we’re going to get really basic for a second. This is a Bible. Now many of us today read them through devices and tablets, and actually this year, I’ve made a shift in my own personal quiet time. I’ve been reading it through the u-version Bible app. I’ve been reading it electronically on my phone or on my tablet, but this is a physical Bible. And when you look at the Bible, the Bible is divided into two main parts. There’s the Old Testament and the New Testament, and if you take the Old Testament, which is a good chunk of the Bible. Right? Well, right here, this is where the prophets start. So there’s a lot of stuff that took place before we get to the prophets. Then, you get to the minor prophets, which, remember, that was the little sliver never seen, never touched by anyone--right here, just before you get to the New Testament.

So, it’s important that there’s a lot that happened before we pick up this story. So when you think about reading the Bible, the Bible’s not like any other book that we pick up. Now you can pick up the story on page one, and you see, “In the beginning, God created…” The story starts on page one, but it doesn’t just flow through, and then at the end of Revelation there’a a great big “The End.” But really what you think of, particularly the Old Testament, think of it as three stacks of books. There’s a history stack, a poetry stack, and a prophecy stack. The history stack of books moves the story forward. This is where things are moving forward from the beginning moving throughout time. The books of prophecy, even though they are arranged in the later part of the Old Testament, they actually fit into the story about here--1 Kings through Esther. That’s primarily the time that the prophets are speaking. In fact, if we go to the next slide, you can see that the books of history are along the top, and the books of prophecy are there along the bottom. And, they fit into different parts of the story. So with the biblical context, this is where the books fit in.

Now with those books of prophecy, there were major prophets and minor prophets, and it has nothing to do with the importance of the content. They also weren’t written by people under the age of 18, when we look at the minor prophets. Basically what it has to do with is the number of words on the page. It’s the amount of content communicated. So major prophets--Isaiah, there are 66 chapters in Isaiah. There’s 52 chapters in Jeremiah. Then we get to the minor prophets--Joel has just three chapters, and Obadiah--yes, that is a book in the Bible. Obadiah, one of the minor prophets--there’s just one chapter, 21 verses. So you can kind of think of things like the difference between a novel and a short story. We have major prophets and minor prophets. They’re all important; it’s just different amounts of information.

Based on the storyline that Walk Thru the Bible uses in their events for the Old Testament, they take the entire story of the Old Testament; they divide it into 40 sub-stories. Those 40 sub-stories are then put into what you would call five different chapters as you look at the flow of history. So keeping with our Netflix analogy that we were working with earlier, you could say the Old Testament (the story of the Old Testament) is a five season series. Where we’re going to drop in right now with the minor prophets is sort of like the season finale of season 4. Now that’s kind of hard to drop in for the very first time you watch this show to watch the finale of season 4. You’re like, “What happened? How did we get here? Why are these people doing that? What’s the backstory? What’s going on?”

So what I want to do is I want to quickly give you seasons one through four. I want to let you get the back story on how did we get to this moment. Why are the prophets speaking to God’s people about the things that they are speaking about. So, we are going to look at that. This is kind of where if we were actually watching something that Mr. Movie/Announcer Guy comes on and says, “Previously in the Old Testament…” So that’s what we are going to take a moment and do. Now, by the way, if you have been to a Walk Thru the Bible event with me, we’re not going to do part 1 through 4 and all the hand signs. We’re just going to very quickly walk through the parts of the story, so season number one is all about the beginnings. This is when God created the world. He created the animals; he created humans. And then, we messed it up; we did what God said not to do. We rebelled against God, and that is the moment that we refer to as “the fall.” That’s when sin entered into this world because mankind chose to rebel against God. From that moment forward, we are all sinners and we sin against God. In fact, things got so bad that God regretted having made humans, and he decided to wipe them out, bring judgment upon them in the form of a flood.

Before he did that, he found one righteous man, Noah, and his family, and they were spared along with the animals on the ark. And then, things moved forward, and God zooms in on a man named Abraham. He makes a promise; he makes a covenant with this man, Abraham, and says, “If you will follow after me, then I will bless you, and I will bless all of the descendants of this world through you.” And God moves from there--I’m skipping a lot of stuff. Season one is about beginnings, and season one ends with God’s people in the land of Egypt.

Season two begins with them in Egypt, and they’re there. They’re slaves, and they’re responsible for building all the structures, and God’s people are under oppression. They cry out to God, and they say, “God, what about the promises you made with Abraham? What about what you promised, God?” God raises up a deliverer named Moses; Moses delivers the people from Egypt. They make their way to Mount Sinai; God gives them the law. He explains to his people now what are the terms of the relationship--how should they, a sinful people, relate to a holy and righteous God? He gives them the whole law; he moves them to the edge of the Promised Land. They have an opportunity to go take the land, but they don’t have the faith to trust and obey God so they end up wandering in the desert for 40 years. That time ends with Moses giving a series of three sermons telling the people the law again. We call this the “second law;” it’s a reteaching of the law. That’s where season two ends.

Season three--it begins with one of those action-packed beginnings where they cross over the Jordan River, and in Jericho the walls come down. And, people enter into the land that God has given them. They spend their time conquering and dividing up the land and living there. They enter into a time period where they are ruled by some people known as “the judges.” That season ends with basically people doing what they think is right, which is not a good situation.

So, season four, again we’re going to jump in at the season finale of season four. So season four starts by the people saying, “We’ve figured it out! We know why we’re not following God...because we need a king.” So, there’s a series of three kings in a row--Saul, David, and Solomon. So then when the throne is passed to Solomon’s son, things fall apart. So, we have the united kingdom that lasts about 120 years, and then we enter into a 400 year period of a divided kingdom where the kingdom is divided into 2 parts. There’s 39 different kings between these two different kingdoms in the 400 year period, and only eight of those kings actually have a heart to follow God. Insert the time that the prophets come. The prophets are speaking to people who are not being led by a leader following after God; therefore, the people are not following after God. They are not doing what God has said. 

Then, season five, which is beyond where we are, is going to be God bringing his judgment on the people, and then them returning back to the land that he promised them. So that’s the historical and Biblical background for where the prophets are, where we are entering into the story.

The next part I want you very quickly to see is geographically because the prophets...because there’s a divided kingdom of the north and the south, and there’s some other nations that God sent his people to, you can see that God sent prophets to different groups of people. He sent a certain number of prophets to different people, so the southern kingdom of Judah got more prophets than the northern kingdom of Israel because they did a little bit better of following after God. 

Now there’s a chart there in your program, as well, that lists the prophet, roughly the time period in which they were giving their messages, and then it shows you the place in which they were speaking--if it was Israel or Judah, etc. So you can have that context to take home with you. So we’ve got the Biblical, the historical, the geographical; the last part is the relational. And, I’m going to summarize a whole bunch of stuff into just a few statements that basically God relates to his people through covenants. That’s the way God relates to people. From the beginning, that’s how God relates; there are conditional and unconditional covenants. 

Now, a covenant, we don’t necessarily use that word a lot today, but we understand the meaning of it. In fact, if you have children, you realize that you have unconditional and conditional covenants with your children. An unconditional covenant would be an example of you’re going to love your kids no matter what; you’re going to love them. But the conditional one might be that you get dessert if you eat dinner, right? So, there’s something you have to do in order to get this other thing. Also, for those who own homes, often it’s called a mortgage covenant or a home-loan covenant. And you know if you want to keep living in your home, you have to keep paying the bank, right? So, that’s a conditional covenant.

Well, in the Bible in the Old Testament, an unconditional covenant, an example of that, is that after the flood when the waters receded and Noah and his family and the animals came off of the ark, God said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth…” And God also told them, “Never again will I destroy mankind through a flood, and I’m going to give you a rainbow as a symbol of this.” So, that’s unconditional; there’s nothing that anyone has to do. That’s just a reminder and a promise from God that’s unconditional. But from a conditional covenant, we go to the book of Deuteronomy. God’s people had been wandering in the desert; they’re getting ready to enter into the Promised Land, and in the book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 28, we see this covenant. So this is Moses, the leader, speaking to the people, telling them what God’s expectations are and what the conditions are.

Deuteronomy 28, verses 1 and 2, it says, “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord, your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today. All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” So verse 1 and 2 says you’re going to be blessed, and then verse 3 through 14 lists all the blessings that they will receive. Then we get to verse 15; (Deuteronomy) 28:15 says, “But if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to obey all of his commandments and all of his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and shall overtake you.” Then you’ve got verse 16 through 68 spelling out all the curses if God’s people don’t obey. So basically, if they obey, there’s blessings; if they don’t obey, there’s curses. But what’s really clear here is to not obey does not equal blessing, so it’s a conditional covenant. Obey and be blessed; disobey and be cursed. 

In fact, if you look at the message of the prophets, one of the things that we find is that this is what they’re telling God’s people. We’ve got all of this backstory that is happening to the point that we jump into the story to learn about what’s God saying to his people at this point. Also, as we look at the message of the prophets, a couple of other things.One--the prophets were appointed to be God’s voice to the people, to speak for God. That’s why often when you read, it’s in first-person. They are speaking as if God is speaking. They’re also sort of God’s prosecuting attorneys. They’re bringing the indictments against God’s people which a big general category is just unfaithfulness. God’s people are being unfaithful to covenants that he has made with them. They’re bringing specific charges, things like idolatry, false worship, and then just general disregard to God’s commands and all kinds of different sin that people were getting into. 

Now, also as you read through the prophets, they are some strange dudes, right? If you’ve read them, you hear some things, like what? What is he doing? What is he saying? What’s going on here? They are some pretty interesting guys, and both their message and their method was to get the people’s attention. You can sort of think of it as if there is, God’s people are in this spiritual stupor, and they grab this cold bucket of water, and they throw it on them, and they’re like, “Wake up!” The point of the prophets was to call God’s people to wake up! You’re not following God; wake up! That’s what we have with the prophets. In fact, the simple summary of the message of all 17 prophets, the major and the minor--the simple summary is this: “Shape up or ship out!” Shape up or ship out; change what you’re doing, or there’s going to be judgment coming. Shape up/change, or ship out; God’s going to deal with you. 

In fact, the message of the prophets is also more about truth-telling than future-telling. It’s more about publishing than predicting. See, truth-telling is when you say, “Here’s what’s going on right now. This is the problem.” They are talking about the present state, the present condition of their lives and their relationship to God and how they’re not keeping up with what God has commanded. They’re not holding up their side of the covenant. If you do this, you’ll be blessed; if you do this, you’ll be cursed. They’ve stepped outside of the realm of blessing. In fact, an example of this message of truth-telling is found in Hosea, which is the first minor prophet in the order that we find them in the Old Testament. He basically says this; he says, “Attention all Israelites! God’s message, God indicts the whole population. No one is faithful; no one loves. No one knows the first thing about God.” He’s saying, “Wake up! Wake up! This is what is going on right now.” That’s an example of talking about the present, talking about the truth of the reality of where they are at today. 

Future-telling is a small part of what we find in the books of prophecy. In fact there are many, what we call Messianic prophecies, where they are looking forward to the Messiah coming. Often around Christmas time, we read these; we sing songs about them. Some of the well-known minor prophets where we can find some of the Messianic prophecies are Micah, Hosea, Amos, Zechariah. That’s in there, but it’s actually a small percentage of the message and the content of what the prophets are talking about. They are there to wake up God’s people and to say, “You’re not following after God the way that you should.” In fact the core message of all the prophets is this: it’s a call to repentance. That’s what the prophets are doing. They are calling God’s people to repent. See, basically, repentance is change. It’s changing your mind, but it’s not just changing your mind. It’s changing your mind so that you will make a change in your behavior. It’s making a turn from your going in one direction, which is not the direction God is calling you, which is not the direction of obedience. You’re going in this direction, and you need to turn and go the direction that God is calling and the direction of obedience. That’s what repentance is all about. 

We find phrases like this, “Return to the Lord,” found in Joel 2:13. It says, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.” So the message of the prophets is a call to repentance. It’s a call to turn from the sin to God. It’s a call of repentance, a call of change. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a section of the scripture commonly referred to as the Shema. The word shema means “to hear,” and it represents the first word of that passage where it says, “Hear, O Israel…” Now, the idea behind the shema and this word is that it’s not a passive hear. It’s an active listen. The essence of the word is that you hear to do, and if you’re not doing, then you haven’t heard. So, Deuteronomy 6:4 and 5 says, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength…” Basically this is a call to love God with all of you, with your whole being, with every part of you; love God. And the call to repentance, that the prophets are doing is that they are reminding people of this. They’re God’s people, and they’re called to do what God has called them to do. Because they have wandered off, they’ve gotten distracted; whatever’s going on that they’re not loving God with all of them, they’re not hearing because they are not doing. So the prophets are calling them to stop what you’re doing and return to the Lord. It’s a call of repentance.

So that’s what was happening 2500 years ago, give or take which prophet you’re looking at. So what does that have to do with our lives today? What difference does it make in 2019 as we think about moving forward and trying to follow God and trying to make our way through life? Well, there’s an interesting scripture in the New Testament--2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful to teach us what is true, to make us realize what wrong is in our lives. It corrects us when we’re wrong; it teaches us what to do right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 

Well, here’s the backstory on this Scripture. At the time when this letter was written by the apostle Paul, someone who started many churches and trained many leaders, he’s writing it to his protege, Timothy. The Scripture (“All Scripture is inspired by God and useful to teach what is true…), they didn’t have the Bible that we have today. In fact, they had a bunch of scrolls, and those scrolls were of what we know of as the Old Testament. So Paul’s telling Timothy that the Old Testament is useful to teach us what is true and to show us the wrong in our lives. The same thing applies for us today that all Scripture, including the minor prophets, including the “white pages” in the Bible for some of us, they’re useful to teach us what is true and to correct us from what has gone wrong.

Now in this day and age, they didn’t have iPhones or electric cars or McDonald’s, but the people, the condition, the environment that they lived in, was actually a lot like what we enjoy today in America. Because, you see, there had been years of national peace and prosperity, and because of that, the people had lost focus and attention of God. And they began worshipping the blessing rather than the Blesser. They worshipped the things God had provided for them, rather than God, Himself. They had taken God out of schools; they had started working on the Sabbath. They sort of marginalized God and put him in the background. That’s a lot like what we find in our culture today. So, the prophets are very relevant. The essence of the message is very relevant to our lives today. 

I want to quickly share three things with you. The prophets remind us of three things; the first one is that God is God, and people are people. Well, duh, Matt. God is God, and people are people, What am I talking about? God is God in that he’s unchanging. He’s unchanging. His holiness, his righteousness, his character, his love, his patience--everything about him is the same today as it was 2500 years ago. God is unchanging. In fact we find Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change, therefore O, children of Jacob, you are not consumed.” Actually what he’s talking about here is because I don’t change, because I’ve made covenants with my people, with your fathers, I haven’t wiped you out. 

So, God is unchanging. We find this in the New Testament, as well. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” God is unchanging; he’s the same today as he was back then. And people are people in that we still have a heart problem. We still have a heart problem. Throughout Scripture when you hear the heart, it talks about how all the evil things come from the heart. It’s not talking about this thing in our chest that’s pumping blood through our body, it’s talking about the core “us”--the inner you where we make decisions, where we decide things. That there is a heart problem that we have, and that heart problem goes all the way back to season one, episode one. God created it, and then we messed it up. So there’s a broken relationship that we experience because of the sin in our lives. So people are people, just like God is God. That’s the first thing that the prophets remind us of, and until we solve that heart problem, we’re going to have a broken relationship with God.

The next thing that they remind us of is that judgment is coming, and we have a role to play. Judgment is coming, and we have a role to play. The first and most important thing is for us to repair that broken relationship with God. That’s the number one thing. We’ve got to repair that relationship; that in the garden when Adam and Eve sinned and sin came into this world, that’s the moment that our relationship got messed up. And everyone since then has been born a sinner, and we sin. We have a broken relationship with God. But, God made a way for us to have that relationship repaired and restored, and that is through following Jesus. Jesus is the One Who makes the way for us to have a right relationship with God. So that’s the first and most important thing. We tend to get excited about John 3:16, “For God so loved the world he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Then we forget that a couple verses later in John 3:18 that says, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” 

Judgment is coming, and we have a role to play. The first part is to get our own relationship right, but then those of us who are followers of Jesus, who have had that relationship repaired and restored, we have the right and the privilege and the opportunity to be bearers of the message of Good News to those around us. In fact, Romans 10:14 says, “But how can they call on him to be saved,” --this is talking about the people who don’t yet know Jesus, who haven’t had their relationship with God repaired— “How can they call on him to be saved unless they believe in him, and how can they believe in him if they haven’t heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” So, belief in Jesus is preceded by hearing about Him which is preceded by someone telling them. Every single one of us in here who knows Jesus is because someone told us. We tell people; they hear it, and then there’s an opportunity to believe.

Finally, throughout the message of the prophets, the minor prophets, we see that God’s people are distracted. They’re chasing all these other things, and they are not putting God in the number one position to which he demands, to which he deserves. The prophets remind us to check our priorities. They remind us to check our priorities. God’s people were called to love him with their whole being, with all that’s in them, and he had lost that position of prominence for them, in their lives. He was sort of pushed out to the margins. Some of them, I’m sure, still loved him, but they loved one or two or ten more things ahead of him. And if they thought about him at all, it was just an afterthought on the side, but they were chasing after themselves and what they wanted. God was not in the position of priority where he should be. In fact, what does that have to do with us? Well, people are people. We’re a lot like that. It’s really easy to get distracted. You could say that we live in a much more complex time and age because of all the things going on that they didn’t have to deal with back then. But, people are people; it doesn’t matter what the item is. We get distracted; God loses his place of importance in our life, and we struggle with the same thing. 

In fact, Jesus was talking to a group of people and talking about the worries and the things that people tend to focus their lives on, and He said this in Matthew 6:33, “ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (these other things that you worry about) will be added to you.” See, if God is number one, if he is in the position of prominence that he should be in, if we’re seeking first after him, then the rest of life tends to flow better. It’s not going to be a perfect life. There is no perfect life on this side of eternity because of the fall, because we live in a broken world. There’s going to be hardship; there’s going to be difficult things. There’s going to be things that we walk through that we wish we never had to walk through, and we don’t know how we’re going to make it, which is why we need to rely on God. But if we put him in the spot that he should be in--first over our family, first over our job, first over whatever--the rest of life tends to flow much better, not perfect but much, much better.

That’s what the prophets are calling the people and reminding them that God’s not in the place of priority that he should be, and your priorities are out of order, the prophets are saying. And we, because we’re people and because people are people, we tend to deal with that. That’s what they remind us of. In fact, going back to Deuteronomy 6:5, in The Message paraphrase, it says, “Love God, your God, with your whole heart. Love him with all that’s in you. Love him with all you’ve got.” Loving God with all you’ve got is putting him number one; it’s seeking first after his kingdom.

So what do we do with the message of the minor prophets or as we approach God’s Word together? I want you to consider three action steps. The first one is to stop and listen. Stop and listen. We live in a time where there are so many distractions around us that it’s hard to just stop and listen and not be distracted by something. I usually have my phone in my pocket, and I left it back there. We’ve got this device in our pocket that’s constantly asking for our attention, so just stop and listen. These messages were given years ago, but there is timely and relevant information here; things that God said to his people then that apply to our lives, so we want you to stop and listen and hear what God says to his people.

The second action step is to take action. Do you remember when we looked at the Shema earlier? Shema is a coin with two sides. It’s listen and act, so once you’ve heard something, we have to act, or we really haven’t heard it. There might be some things you need to stop doing. There might be some things that you need to start doing. There might be some things that you do more of or less of. We believe that God wants to speak to you through this series, and our prayer is that you would stop and listen not just on Sunday morning but throughout life. How is God speaking to you so that through this summer you will draw closer to God; you will know him better. You will know him deeper than you know him right now when you get to the end of the summer. The message that the prophets gave the people was often uncomfortable; it was hard. There were hard things; it wasn’t just an easy list of things they needed to do. So, as you stop and listen and prepare to take action, God may speak to you in some things that are uncomfortable or difficult. For me personally, as I’ve been preparing for this message and a couple more that are coming and I’ve been reading through the different messages of the prophets, God’s already been working on me. Jesus said that we have to love God and love people, and because we are people, because we have a heart problem, we can always love God and love people better. We can always love God and love people more, so God might speak to you and show you some areas where you could do better in loving Him or you could do better in loving people. I know he’s done that for me, so be ready to act.

Then, the third one is just trust the Lord. Trust the Lord that he will do good to you as you seek him first; as you put him in that priority place, he will not rip you off. It may be difficult; it may be uncomfortable in the moment, but life will be so much better in the long run as you seek after him. So, stop, listen, take action, then trust the Lord. Let’s pray.

Father, thank you that you created us to love us and have a relationship with us. We thank you that you are our good, loving Father. Thank you that you are unchanging in your love and your faithfulness. You are so incredibly patient with us today, just like you were with your people in Israel. Thank you that when we were lost and stuck in our problems and our broken relationship and had no way forward that you made a way for us to have a right relationship with you. You did that through Jesus. Thank you that you have provided your Word to us as a means to teach us what is true and to help us realize the wrong in our lives. We ask, Father, that you would please speak to us this summer as we look at the message from the minor prophets. Draw us closer to you in the process. Please reveal to us any areas that we need to change in our minds and our behavior so that we can be more in line with you and truly follow you. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.