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Lessons from Amos

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

Matt Sturdevant: Prepare to meet your Maker! If there was ever a phrase designed to get your attention, I think that would be it. I don’t know if the prophet, Amos, was the very first one to utter those ominous words, but that is essentially the message he gave the Northern Kingdom of Israel in about 755 B.C. This week we are going to take a look at some lessons from the lesser famous “Amos”--that is, Amos the prophet. And we’re actually doing a bit of a time hop this week because last week we looked at Haggai, and Haggai spoke to God’s people after they had returned from exile. We’re going to go back before God’s people went into exile, about 200 years before that, and we’re going to listen to what Amos had to say to God’s people.

In terms of the historical narrative, if you’re tracking the story through time, we are at about 2 Kings 14, the later part of 14 and the first part of 15. At this particular point in history, God’s people had been...prior to that they had enjoyed 120 years of the united kingdom; that is the kingdom of Israel, one kingdom under kings Saul, David, and Solomon. And then when Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king, that’s when things began to fall apart. The kingdom split about 931 B.C.--split into the two kingdoms. We have the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and Amos comes on the scene about 755 B.C., which was about 175 years into this divided, split kingdom period. 

Now, we don’t know a lot about the prophet, Amos, because we just really know of him from the book that bears his name. Let me tell you kind of what was going on in the life of God’s people at this time. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was at an all-time high of prosperity, and they were at an all-time low of attacks from their enemy neighbors. There was this unprecedented level of peace and affluence that they were enjoying in the Northern Kingdom, except that peace and affluence was not enjoyed by everyone. It was really only being enjoyed by the upper, wealthy class. In fact, the wealthy, affluent leaders of that community were actually oppressing the poor; they were thriving and living the high life at the expense of the poor. So, God sends the prophet, Amos, to the people in the Northern Kingdom of Israel; he sends him to pronounce judgment on their complacency, their idolatry, and their oppression of the poor. 

When you look at the minor prophets (and there’s 12 of them), minor had to do with the number of words that were spoken--the number of words on the page. Amos was actually one of the longer minor prophets. He had nine chapters, and if you look at sort of a basic outline of the book of Amos, here’s what we find. He gives eight pronouncements of judgment; he gives them three messages exposing their sins in detail. And then, there are five visions that he shares. Talk about a way to grab people’s attention and reel them in so that they are on the edge of their seats, and they are listening to what you have to say.

He starts out by pronouncing the sins and the judgment that’s coming to Israel’s neighbors. So, here’s a map for you; you can see the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and there are some neighbors around them. So, he starts out talking about the sins of the neighbors; he talks about Damascus and Gaza and Tyre and Edom and Ammon and Moab. And, he talks about their sins; there’s brutal murder, inhumanity...these awful, awful things that they’re doing. And, you can hear the people of God saying, “Yes, God! Yes, that’s right! Give it to them! You’re right. They are these ‘meanies’! Let ‘em have it, God!” They’re building, and they get to number seven in the list, and it’s the Southern Kingdom of Judah, their brothers. They once were a united kingdom, and now they are a split kingdom. “Yeah! That’s right! Let ‘em have it, God!” And, the sins that they have are not keeping God’s law, so if you were Israel at this’re hearing this list...and you know that for some reason the number seven is this sort of magical, holy number. They’re done! That’s it! The Day of the Lord is coming; God is going to defeat all these people, and he’s going to give them what they have coming. Then Amos says, “Surprise! There’s an eighth one that I’m going to talk about. Guess what? It’s you, Israel. You have been oppressing and mistreating the poor; you have gotten into idolatry, ritual prostitution. Your worship to me, the Lord your God, is not sincere; you’re just going through the motions. You’re not worshipping me with your full heart.”

So then, Amos spends the next six chapters going in detail exposing the levels of their sin and telling them the judgment that’s about to come upon them. The book of Amos is particularly rich with imagery and symbolism, and the more you know and understand about the historical narrative and what had been going on in the lives of God’s people, the more that you can draw from it. But what I want to focus the rest of our time on is just three big lessons that we can take from the message that Amos gave the Northern Kingdom of Israel, because God gives us His Word so that we can learn from it. We can take His Word; we can examine it to our lives, and we can see where we need to make changes. Where do we need to make adjustments?

So, the first lesson that we find from Amos is this: Obey God’s Call. You’ve got a listening guide there in your handout if you want to follow along, but the first lesson is to obey God’s call. In the middle of these five visions that Amos received and he’s giving the people, he sort of pauses for a moment, and he gives us a little bit of information about himself. He says this in chapter seven, verse 15: “The Lord called me away from my flock and told me to go away and prophesy to my people in Israel.” Now, as I said, we don’t know a whole lot about Amos; we really just learn about him in this small nine chapter book. But what we do know, if you go to verse 14, the one before what I just read, we find out that he’s basically a rancher. He’s a rancher with orchards; he’s a successful businessman. What he does is he stops, he listens, he hears God’s call, and he goes and gives God’s Word. So basically, Amos leaves his place of comfort and he goes and he does the uncomfortable.

He was living a good life, but he stopped and answered God’s call. His name, Amos, actually means “burden bearer.” You talk about a burden for someone to have--to take this message of judgment to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. If you look at all the prophets, the prophets were not the most popular guys that everybody loved. They weren’t like, you know, you see Ezekiel's kind of walking through the city, and everybody’s like “High five, man! How ya’ doin’?” That didn’t happen. The prophets didn’t have a popular position, but Amos sort of has three strikes against him starting out. 

The first one is that he lacked the proper prophet credentials. He hadn’t been to prophet school. He wasn’t a professional prophet; he was out being a rancher. God called him and said, “Hey, I want you to take this message to the Northern Kingdom.” Then the next strike against him was he was an outsider. He was living in a small village in the South, the small village of Tekoa, which was southeast of Bethlehem. It was like one of those places where people say, “Hey, where are you from?” And you’re like, “I’m from Dallas.” But you’re not really from Dallas because they’ve never heard of where you’re from. There this rancher from this small town that’s sent to this place that’s not his own people. And, he’s got them a message, and the third strike is that he’s bringing them a critical message. I mean, critical, in the full sense of the word--critical as in vitally important, but also critical as in, like, “You guys are not doing what you’re supposed to be.” He’s critiquing them; it’s a critical message that he brings. 

Now, one of the things, too, that we know because Amos wasn’t a prophet; he hadn’t been to prophet school. He was less eloquent than the rest of the prophets; he was also known as being the sarcastic prophet, and it was sort of like, you could say this. Amos was sort of like a West Texas rancher from Post, Texas. Post is southeast of Lubbock. Okay? So a West Texas rancher from Post, Texas, goes up to New York City to prophesy against the wealthy, Wall Street elite. In the middle of him giving them this message and telling them about all their sins, he says to the Wall Street wives, “You’re a bunch of fat cows!” He actually says that; check out verse four, or actually chapter four, verse one. 

But Amos, he obeyed God’s call, and one of the things that I love about reading the Scriptures, that I love about looking at the men and the women in the Bible is that they’re just like us. They’re just like you and I; they may have dressed different than we dress. They don’t have iPhones, but they’re just like us. They have the same thoughts, the same fears, the same doubts, the same questions of God, and what we see as the distinguishing factor is that all throughout history, God has called men and women to obey him and to follow him. And on this side of history when we look at it, the distinguishing common denominator is they obeyed. They followed; they answered God’s call. God called Abraham to follow him into an unknown; God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt. Again, on this side of history, if this guitar would suddenly burst into flames like the burning bush and God was talking to me, on this side of history we’d like to say, “Oh, well, that’s certainly God! Yes, sir, God. What do you want me to do?” 

Moses, being like we are, is like, “God, are you sure?” He has this discussion with God in Exodus chapter three of “Am I the one? Here’s all the problems with me. How will I really know if you’re calling me?” And I really love God’s answer to him when he says, “How am I going to know?” Basically, God says, “You will know when you’re successful. When you’re right back here on this place with my people worshipping me, then you’re going to know that I called you to do this thing.” But what did it require? It required Moses trusting in the Lord; it required Moses having faith because God doesn’t call us to live a life of sight where we just “Oh, we can see it!” He calls us to live by faith, so as we think about this obeying God’s call, there’s sort of two big categories. 

The first call is the call to repentance, the call to follow Jesus. God created us so that he could love us, so that he could have a relationship with us. But then, because of our rebellion, because of our sin against him, that broke the relationship that we had with God. Then, God gave his people the Law; the Law was a means by which they could know their sin, and they would have a way to relate to God. This sinful people would have a way, a method, to relate rightly to a holy and righteous God. That’s why he gave them the Law, and basically, all the prophets were calling the people back saying, “Look, God’s told you what he expects. He’s told you how to relate to Him. You’ve got the Law.” And in their own crazy, as it sometimes was, methods, the prophets are saying, “God’s told you to follow him; he’s told you how to follow him. You’re not doing it. Stop! And come back to God.” That’s where we talked about a few weeks ago, the simple message of all the prophets: “Shape up, or ship out!” 

That’s what the prophets were saying, but here’s the thing. The Law was only meant to be temporary. It wasn’t the final answer; it wasn’t the final solution. God ultimately sent his Son, Jesus, to come pay the price for our rebellion so that we could once again be made right with God. And through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, our sin debt has been paid in full--paid finally. And when we put our faith and our hope and our trust in Jesus, when we yield our lives to Him, we say, “You’re my Boss.” When we do that, we can have that relationship restored, and Jesus is the Doorway to restoring the broken relationship that we have with God.

But, see, after we mend this broken relationship, after we repent and we choose to follow Jesus, there’s this other big category of God’s call. And, this category is the call to do the next right thing; just do the next right thing. When we become followers of Jesus, God puts his Holy Spirit in us; the Holy Spirit resides in us. He’s the one who speaks to us; he leads us. He helps us; he guides us all throughout the day. All throughout the day, he’s calling us, prompting us--things to think, things to say, things to do. I don’t know what your experience is like but for me, personally, most of the calls and the promptings of the Holy Spirit to me are, “Don’t say that. Don’t think that. Don’t do that. Change your attitude right now. Be patient. Be kind. Hey, you need to ask that person’s forgiveness. Oh, you need to forgive that person.” That’s what most of the Holy Spirit’s promptings are. In fact, throughout the day, God gives us these calls, these different opportunities so that we can come back into alignment with him. That’s what the Holy Spirit most often prompts us to.

However, sometimes God, he doesn’t call us to get back into alignment with him, he actually calls us to an opportunity that he wants us to say “yes” to. And, he wants us to say yes to that opportunity so that he can show up and continue to grow us, to develop us, to grow our faith and trust in him. He wants to use us to help build his kingdom. He calls us to opportunities to serve. Maybe it’s at an event, or it’s on a team here at church. Or maybe, it’s to serve in the community--that Pop Up Cleanup that Ben mentioned that’s coming up on Saturday. That’s a great opportunity to serve our community. Or maybe, he’s calling you to serve your neighbor. You know, it’s been a long day at work, and you’re driving home; you’re tired, and you just want to pull in the garage and drop that door down and not engage with the world around you. So, you can go in and relax. But as you were driving down your street and pulling in your driveway, you see your neighbor out there with this distraught look on their face. It’s like they pulled their groceries out, and the bags broke; and there’s groceries all over the driveway. That might be an opportunity to stop and just serve your neighbor for two minutes and help them pick up those groceries.

And, sometimes he calls us to an opportunity to identify with Christ or share the gospel with maybe somebody we know from work or one of our neighbors or the dreaded...I’m sitting next to someone in the doctor’s office or on the airplane. And, the Holy Spirit is saying, “Talk to them. Identify with Christ. Share the gospel with them.” Those are opportunities that he calls us to, or he calls us to an opportunity for ministry leadership. As you grow in your walk with God, over time, he calls us to leadership opportunities. It could be for a project, a specific one-time project. It could be for a team or a group or maybe even leading an entire area of ministry. We have a few staff members here at Hope that oversee, but we’ve got highly capable, highly bought in volunteers that are running major areas of the ministry. God has called them to that over the years as they’ve walked with him. And then for some, he even calls them into vocational ministry; he calls them, like Amos, to leave the business that you’re doing, leave that success and follow his call into vocational ministry--church staff, maybe starting a church or going overseas to do missions. 

In fact, next month we are going to celebrate the next steps that some of our recent Antioch Project graduates are going to be taking. In May, we had some people graduate; next month we’re going to be celebrating them taking steps. They are going to leave Hope Church; they’re going to leave Fort Worth as they take steps forward with God to the call for ministry that he’s called them to. So here’s the thing, though, with God’s call; God always calls us, ordinary people--ordinary people who are obedient--to be used by him. And, he always calls sinners, like me and like you. Do you know why? We’re the only people he’s got here on this planet; he calls us to join in with him. 

Now in 1 Corinthians chapter one, there’s a comparison between worldly wisdom and God’s wisdom. And listen to what’s said here, 1 Corinthians 1:26, “For consider your calling, brothers, not many of you were wise according to the worldly standards. Not many of you were powerful. Not many of you were of noble birth.” That’s not really a compliment, is it? Not many of you were these things, but then chapter one ends; verse 31 says, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” You see, because God uses always, because they’re the only ones available--imperfect people. He uses people that when he calls them it’s going to be a stretch. You’re going to have to rely on the Lord; you’re going to have to follow him, trust him, obey him. But here’s the thing--he always equips those he calls. In fact, that’s part of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit is there to give us power. to give us wisdom, to give us insight, to give us the help we need, to show us the things that we need to see; so that we can do the things that God calls us to do.

Here’s the thing that I’ve discovered; some of us are afraid that God’s not going to use us, but many of us are afraid that he will. And as we think about answering God’s call, I want to share with you a very simple yet very powerful tool that our kids are actually learning over in the NRG Zone. And, it’s this; it’s “Hey! Say! Pray! Obey!” Now what in the world is that? Hey! Recognize the situation or the prompting of the Lord. Say! You say the Truth from Scripture that you know. Which here, by the way, this is where reading our Bibles, studying, quiet time, and Scripture memory; this is where the rubber meets the road. If we haven’t done that and don’t know it, then we can’t say the Truth that comes from God’s Word. Hey, then we recognize it; we say the Truth, and then we pray. I want to tell you my number one, most frequent prayer is this: “God, please help!” Followed by it right afterward is “God, please help my want to!” because there’s a lot of things that I just don’t want to do. Help my want to, and after I’ve prayed, then I obey. I take the step; I act my way into feelings, but I obey. So this is just a really simple tool to help you. So let me ask you: “What is the next right thing that God is calling you to do?” 

Second lesson that we learn from Amos comes from one of the visions that he has. Let’s take a look at Amos 7:7-9--”This is what he showed me. The Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ Then I said, ‘A plumb line.’ And then the Lord said, ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people, Israel. I will never again pass by them. The high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid to waste. And I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’” What’s a plumb line? Well, this is a plumb line. It’s sort of like a modern-day level; it helps you see the vertical nature. Or as Pastor Todd told me, the technical term in building is “Is it out of kilter?”

 If this is a wall, we want it to be vertically plumb. You don’t want your wall like this; you don’t want your wall like this. But God, in the vision that he gave Amos, told him he was setting a plumb line against his people. How are God’s people measuring up to God’s standards? And what we find from God’s Word is they’re failing to meet the standard of the builder. God is the builder. So what’s the builder to do with this wall or this people who are failing to meet the standard? He’s going to destroy them. Because a leaning wall, and here’s a picture of a leaning wall that’s kind of scary. A leaning wall--whether it’s a wall on a fence or a wall around a city or a wall on a house--a leaning wall is no good. It doesn’t serve the purpose for which it was built, and Israel, God’s people, they are not failing to meet God’s standards out of ignorance. It’s not that they just didn’t know the standards, therefore, they weren’t measuring up. But, they are failing to meet God’s standard out of sheer rebellion. 

God had given his people the standard--the Law. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy is Moses, the leader of the people at the time just before he passes the baton to the next generation to enter into the Promised Land, this is Moses giving the people a series of messages on “What’s the Law? What does God expect from you? How do you, a sinful, an unholy, an unrighteous people relate rightly to a Holy and Righteous God?” And after he gives them all this, in chapter 28 he outlines the blessings and the curses. If you obey, you’ll be blessed, but if you disobey, you’re going to be cursed. It wasn’t that God’s people didn’t know the standards; it’s just that they weren’t obeying the standards.

So, the lesson for us is we’ve got to know God’s standards. What is God asking of us? How do we relate? What are the standards of God? And the prophet Isaiah tells us that God’s ways are higher than our ways; his ways are different than our ways. And Jesus affirms this as He’s talking to some religious leaders at one point, and He says, “You guys justify yourselves by the things that are important to men, but God knows your hearts. And the things that are really important to you are actually the things that make God sick.” Then a little bit later, some religious leaders, they’re trying to pin Jesus down, and they’re like, “Jesus, what’s the most important commandment? Because there’s a lot of laws in there, what’s the most important?” And Jesus answers them with this; he says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” 

Jesus actually affirms what Moses told God’s people back in Deuteronomy chapter 6 that you need to love the Lord with your whole being--your heart, your soul, and your mind. All of you is to love God, but then Jesus unexpectedly sort of ups the ante. And He sort of throws in there, “And a second one is equally important.” Well, we only asked You for one, Jesus. He said no, a second one is equally important. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Then he sort of gives them this last...DAHHH!...with this verse 40. He says, “The entire Law…” everything and all the demands of the prophets, they’re based on these two. And what are these two? Love--love God; love people. So God’s bottom line standard is love. That’s what the standard is that we need to know.

At another point Jesus tells His disciples basically that people will know you’re Mine because of the way you love. It’s like the jersey that you’re wearing; the stamp that you have on you is that you’re Mine because of your love. That’s how people are going to know you...the difference, the love that you have. No, love is a verb; it’s not a noun. It’s not just this feeling of “I love you, man!” But then, I’m going to be horrible to you. Love...there’s action behind love, and when we become a follower of Jesus Christ we have a new life; we have a new way of living. So, you’ve got to learn the new life and the new standard, and the new standard is love. 

But what do we mean to love with actions and not just feelings? 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is known as the “love chapter.” If you’ve never read 1 Corinthians chapter 13, I’d encourage you to read it. But, we get a picture of what love is just with the first part of verse four, and here it is. “Love is patient and kind…” Amen, let’s go home; that’s what love is. Think about this for just a minute; how radically different would all the relational conflict that you and I experience--most of it would just be eliminated or greatly reduced--if we would simply be patient and be kind. Think about that for a minute. Then, if you’re tempted to think “Well, you don’t understand the people in my life, and you don’t understand my special circumstance…” Guys, there’s no special circumstances, and if you’re one of those that’s always looking for the loophole, of like “Well, how I can I technically be legal but get around and do what I want?” In the spirit of the prophets, with the hard message to give the people, I’m going to share with you right now; this is the loophole buster. The loophole buster is this; it’s James 4:17--”So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” There’s no loopholes, guys. Oh man, you mean when my neighbor does that annoying thing, and I don’t strangle them, that’s not enough? Yeah, that’s not enough, because if you know that you actually need to be patient with him and you’re not, what’s it say? I’m sinning if I don’t do the good, right thing that I know I need to do. 

This is why doing the next right thing is so important. So, what next right thing do you need to do? And, just do it. The Northern Kingdom of Israel...they knew God’s standards, but they had a heart problem. Their hearts were not in it; they were not genuinely and fully completely worshipping God. They were going through the motions; they were, but on the outside, but on the inside their hearts were defiant and unrepentant. And because they were exteriorally going through the motions but had that going on on the inside, they were actually making it worse for themselves. Listen to what Amos says in chapter four about their worship: “‘Come to Bethel and transgress, to Gilgal and multiply transgression. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days. Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened and proclaim freewill offerings. Publish them for you love to do, o people of Israel,’ declares the Lord.”

Now, there’s so much imagery and meaning packed into those two verses. Do you remember I said Amos was one of the sarcastic prophets? You see, Bethel, was this place of great importance and significance in the lives of the people. It went all the way back to Genesis chapter 28 when God gave a dream to Jacob, and he affirmed the covenant that he had made with Abraham. But in Amos’ day, Bethel (this place that had great significance in the lives of God’s people)--God’s people were worshipping idols in this very place, and he is sarcastically telling them “Come up here and transgress and multiply your transgressions; give these offerings.” But then we get to chapter five; God says, “I hate (I despise) your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.”

So, this third lesson for us that we take from Amos is to simply and genuinely walk with God; simply and genuinely walk with God. Because what God wants with us is a relationship; he doesn’t want religious practices. At this time, the people of Israel were either outright worshipping idols in the Holy Places that generations before they worshipped God, or they were just like “phoning it in” on Sundays. It’s just like they showed up for church, and their hearts were anywhere but there worshipping God. At best, they just had religion, but there was no genuine relationship with God. God created us for relationship. What he really wants...if you say, “What does God want?”...what he really wants is whole-hearted devotion to him. It’s what he wanted for his people, Israel, and it’s also what he wants for us--our whole-hearted devotion to him. 

So, if we’ll just simply and genuinely walk with God, walking with God is done one step at a time. What is the difference between walking with someone and walking past someone? When you walk past somebody, you’re going a different direction; you’ve got different goals, different priorities, a different focus. You’re going different ways. But when you walk with someone, you’re going in the same directions; your goals, your priorities, your focus is the same. So, walking with God, he leads; I step. He leads; I step. He leads; I step. He leads; I step. That’s what walking with God is all about; it’s a journey. It’s a lifestyle; it’s movement in a direction over a lifetime. It’s not a destination. Here’s the thing: As long as we have breath in our lungs and we live on this planet this side of eternity, we will never arrive. Walking with God is about the direction and the trajectory of your life.

So, I want to quickly share a couple of things with you that those of us who are followers of Christ, if we are doing these things, they’re a pretty good indication that we’re walking with God. Now, nobody does them perfectly all the time, and sometimes we’re better in one area than the other. But, it’s a pretty good indication if these are a part of our life that we’re both walking with him and growing with him. But, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ and you’re not doing any of these things, or you’re just kind of, sort of, sometimes, maybe kind of doing one or the other but not really most of them, then what I want to submit to you is that you’re not experiencing the full walk with God that you could...for him to lead you in life the way he wants to. But, here’s...before I show you’s the danger. The danger anytime you see a list is to make that the Law. It’s to say that if I’m doing this, then I’m doing pretty good. And guys, we don’t live under the Law anymore. We live under the New Covenant. So, these are not the Law, but they are indicators or measures that if we’re doing these things, then we’re probably doing and growing in our walk with God. 

So, here you go; a walk with God is grown over time as I worship at my church on the Sundays that I’m in town. We all travel; we go on vacation. We’re sick, but we make it a priority to gather like we’re doing on Sundays and worship together. I regularly read my Bible and pray, and this is the primary method God uses to speak to us, to lead us and to guide us by His Word in our time that we spend praying. I regularly pray for and invite friends and others to my church. Did you know that this is one of the most loving things that you can do for the people in your life that you care about? Is to pray for them and to invite them; that’s love. Next is I serve in a ministry at my church. I give a regular offering in a God-honoring way. Now, I said earlier God’s after our whole-hearted devotion to him. God’s not after our money, but there is this unusual connection between our money and our hearts. And when we freely give him our money in an honoring way, it’s really reveals where our heart is. So, that’s why we give in a God-honoring way. And then, we consistently treat others in the way the Bible commands. Again, what was the standard? The standard is love, and a great place to start is by being patient and being kind. So, we walk with God by faith, not by sight, a step at a time over a lifetime. 

These three lessons from Amos--obey God’s call, know God’s standards, and walk with God. I want to show you how they, kind of, all fit together. So, we have this circle, here. It starts that we obey God’s call to repent; we obey his call to follow Jesus. And as we do that, we get to know him, his standards, starting with just the basic standard of love. And then as we are loving others, as we love God, and as we love people, we’re walking with him. We’re getting to know him; we’re building this relationship. But then, as we’ve been walking with God, he’s going to call us to new ways to obey him. Because we’ve got some history going, we’re going to trust him in a new way that may be more difficult than the previous one. And then as we obey him in new ways, we’re going to get to know him deeper because he’s going to reveal himself to us. It’s like, “Wow! I didn’t know that I could do that! God called me to do that, and I’m going to boast in the Lord not in myself, because I didn’t have the goods to do that.” And then we know more about him, and we walk with him in a deeper way. So, it’s just this cycle that continues. Our walk with God is built a step at a time over a lifetime. So wherever you’re at right now in this moment, I want to ask you, “What next step do you need to take in your walk with God?”

Let’s pray. Father, thank you that you never give up on your people. Thank you that despite how bad things get, you created us for a relationship; you love us. You want us to know you; in fact, you even love us so much that you discipline us like a good, loving Father when we step outside of your boundaries. Thank you for giving us your Word as a means to know your ways and your standards. Thank you that we no longer live under the law but that we live under the New Covenant. Father, please help us to love. Jesus told us to love you and to love people. Love is our standard, and in fact, we know what love is because of what Christ has done for us. Please, Father, give us patience and kindness as often as we need it throughout the day. Lead us and guide us as we walk forward with you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.