August 6, 2016

Amos 7-9 -
God my Master showed me this vision.  He was preparing a locust swarm.... I called out. “God, my Master!  Excuse me but what is going to come of Jacob?  He’s so small.”  God gave in.  “it won’t happen” he said.  The same happened with the firestorm that God showed Amos in a vision.  

Then God showed Amos this vision:  God was standing beside a wall.  In his hand he held a plumb line and said, “...I’ve hung a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel.  I’ve spared them for the last time.  This is it!.... 

Amaziah, priest of one of the shrines God wanted to destroy, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel.  “Amos is plotting to get rid of you, and he is doing it as an insider, working from within Israel....

Then Amaziah confronted Amos telling him not to show his face again in Bethel at the king’s chapel...But Amos stood up to Amaziah:  “I’ve never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher.  I raised cattle and planted trees.  Then God took me off the farm and said, ‘Go preach to my people Israel.‘  

So listen to God’s Word...Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak, you who treat the poor people as less than nothing, you who give little and take much, and never do an honest day’s work.  You exploit the poor, using them--and then, when they’re used up, you discard them....I’ll send a famine through the whole country.  It won’t be food or water that’s lacking, but my Word.  People will drift from one end of the country to the other...they’ll go anywhere, listen to anyone, hoping to hear God’s Word---but they won’t hear it....Do you Israelites think you’re any better than the far-off  Cushites?
    
 God’s decree - Am I not involved with all nations?...I’m still giving orders around here....things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other, everywhere you look, blessings.....and I’ll plant them, plant them on their own land from the land I’ve given them.  God, your God, says so.          

Acts 26 - 
Agrippa spoke directly to Paul:  “Go ahead, tell us about yourself.”  Paul took the stand and told his story...”I lived as a strict Pharisee...it is because I have held on to this tested and tried hope that I’m being called on the carpet by the Jews...For the life of me, I can’t see why it’s a criminal offense to believe that God raises the dead.  I admit that, I didn’t always hold to this position.  For a time I thought it was my duty to oppose this Jesus of Nazareth with all my might...

I was a one-man terror obsessed with obliterating those who followed Jesus....Then one day on my way to Damascus, I was blinded and spoken to by Jesus that he had a job for me.  That I was his hand-picked servant and a witness to what happened that day and to what he would show me.  He was sending me off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they could see the difference between Satan and God and choose God....

What could I do, King Agrippa?  I couldn’t just walk away from a vision like that.  I became an obedient believer on the spot.  I started preaching this life-change---this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life...

It is because of this ‘whole world’ dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me.  They wanted to keep God for themselves. But God has stood by me, just as he promised, and I am standing here saying what I’ve been saying to any one, whether king or child who will listen.  And everything is completely in line with the prophets and Moses said would happen: 1) the Messiah must die, 2) raised from the dead he would be the first rays of God’s daylight shining on the people far and near, people both godless and God-fearing.”
                                        
That was too much for Festus.  He interrupted with a shout...But Paul stood his ground and called upon King Agrippa to share what he believed...Agrippa responded with “Keep this up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me!”  Paul, still in chains, said, “That’s what I’m praying for whether now or later and not only for you but everyone listening today, to become like me, except of course, for this prison jewelry.”  

The king and governor went to a nearby room to talk over what they had heard.  They quickly agreed on Paul’s innocence saying, “There is nothing in this man deserving prison let alone death.”  Agrippa told Festus, “He could be set free right now if he hadn’t requested the hearing before Caesar.”