August 3, 2016

Amos - 
More people are exploited and abused in the cause of religion than in any other way.  Religion is the most dangerous energy source known to humankind.  The moment a person (or government or religion or organization) is convinced that God is either ordering or sanctioning a cause/project anything     goes.  

The Biblical prophets continue to be the most powerful and effective voices ever heard on this earth for keeping religion honest, humble and compassionate...They pay little attention to what men and women say about God or do for God.  They listen to God and rigorously test all human language and action against what they hear.  

Among these prophets, Amos towers as defender of the downtrodden poor and accuser of the powerful rich who use God’s name to legitimize their sin....A spiritual life that does not give a large place to the prophet-articulated justice will end up making us worse instead of better, separating us from God’s ways instead of drawing us into them.                  
Amos 1-3 - 
The message of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa, that he received on behalf of Israel.  It came to him in visions during the time that Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam II was king of Israel, two years before the big earthquake.  God’s message - “Because of the three great sins of Damascus make that four--I’m not putting up with her any longer (x7). She pounded Gilead to a pulp, pounded he senseless...        
She deported whole towns and then sold the people to Edom.     
She deported whole towns to Edom                    
She hunts down her brother to murder him,  She has no pity, she has no heart.                        
She ripped open pregnant women in Gilead to get more land for herself.
She violated the corpse of Edom’s king, burning it to cinders        
They rejected God’s revelation, refused to keep my commands      
Israel - 
They buy and sell upstanding people.  People for them are only things---ways of making money....
Listen to this, Israel.  God is calling you to account--and I mean all of you, everyone connected with the family that he delivered out of Egypt.  Listen!

Out of all the families on earth, I picked you.  Therefore, because of your special calling, I am holding you responsible for all your sins...

In the same way that a shepherd trying to save a lamb from a lion manages to recover just a pair of leg or the scrap of an ear, so will little be saved of the Israelites who live in Samaria.

Acts 24 - 
Within five days, the Chief Priest Ananias arrived with a contingent of leaders along with Tertullus, a trial lawyer.  They presented the govt. with their case against Paul...informing Felix that Paul was a”ringleader of a seditious sect called Nazarenes... and a real bad apple.... 

Felix asked for Paul, who then defended himself, and shared that he was only back in Jerusalem with the express purpose of worshiping in Jerusalem on Pentacost... Nobody can say they saw me arguing in the Temple or working up the crowds in the streets...

But I do freely admit this:  In regard to the Way, which they malign as a dead end street, I serve and worship the very same God, served and worshiped by all our ancestors, and embrace everything written in all our Scriptures.  And I admit living in hopeful anticipation that God will raise the dead, both the good and the bad.  If that’s my crime, my accusers are just as guilty as I am...The only thing they have on me is that one sentence I shouted out in the council.  It’s because I believe in the resurrection that I’ve been hauled into this court!” ...

Felix shilly-shallied.  He knew far more about the Way than he let on, and could have settled the case then & there.  But uncertain of his best move politically, he played for more time by indicating he would wait for the Captain to arrive....

A few days later Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, sent for Paul and listened to him talk about a life of believing in Jesus Christ.  As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people, about a life of moral discipline and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort and dismissed him...After two years of this, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus.  Still playing up to the Jews and ignoring justice, Felix left Paul in prison.