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Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying: “ ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’ ” Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ – Amos 7:10-15
No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. Yet sometimes we find ourselves placed in that situation, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Amos found himself in that position. He was to bring a message of God’s judgment on the people of Israel. He was to tell them that Israel would be conquered because the people rejected God. As he proclaimed this message of bad news, he discovered that the people didn’t like it. Amaziah, who served as the most important priest in Bethel, didn’t like the message either. He wanted Amos to stop proclaiming this bad news and to return to his own people. Yet Amos did not stop. Instead he simply pointed out that he must proclaim what the Lord says.
Oftentimes we find ourselves in the same shoes as Amaziah and Amos. We hear a message from the Lord that tells us not to lie or cheat, gossip about others or live immoral lives; for if we do, we will be condemned. And when we proclaim that message, we are told to be quiet, or to tell someone else, or worse. It is at those times we must say, “I cannot stop, for this is what the Lord says.”
Even so, the message of the Lord does not remain only bad news. He also proclaims the good news that he has saved us from our sin. He points us to Jesus. And in that news we hear a message that surpasses any bad news we could possibly hear. We hear how he has rescued us from our condemnation through Jesus. What greater message can there be for us to share?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, boldly allow us to go and proclaim your message of grace. Amen.
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” – Mark 6:4
Screaming girls greet the Jonas Brothers. Albert Pujols collected 5,397,374 votes to play first base for the National League in the All-Star game. Pastor Rick Warren greets 20,000 people in his Saddleback Church each Sunday.
Nazareth, Jesus’ home village, rejected him. No more than a few hundred people lived there. Outsiders insulted Jesus by calling him the “Nazarene.” Yet even at home he had no respect.
Many of us pursue a life that has meaning only if others think well of us. We search for self-esteem from the opinions and comments made by colleagues, friends or family members. Good words lift us up. Insults hurt deeply.
If Jesus had come to this world only to win a popularity contest, his mission would have failed. If he depended on the good opinion of other people to get through the day, he would have quit soon after he first proclaimed, “The kingdom of God is near.”
Jesus’ mission transcended the opinions and comments of the world. Even if no one had ever said a good word about him; if no one had come when he said, “Follow me;” even if no one had trusted a word he spoke, still he set his face like flint to complete his mission.
We praise Jesus for not allowing our sinful hearts and attitudes to deter him from rescuing this world of sinners. For enduring the cross for our sins, he received his honor when God the Father raised him from the dead.
In Jesus Christ our lives have value every moment, no matter what anyone else thinks of us. Enjoy the pleasure of his friendship even if all others forsake you.
Prayer: Blessed Jesus, give us your humble spirit to accept the rejection of the world and never deny you. Lift us up in your forgiving love to rejoice in proclaiming your Name in the midst of our enemies. Amen.
Rev. Matthew C. Harrison (right), executive director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care since 2001, is the new president-elect of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and Rev. Herbert C. Mueller Jr. will serve as first vice-president.
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When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. – Mark 5:38-40
Sarah did it (Genesis 18:13-15). The people at the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler, did it (Mark 5:40). Jesus’ enemies did it (Matthew 27:32-44). Do I do it? Do I laugh at God? My first thought would probably be, absolutely not! How could I be so disrespectful! How could I be so arrogant! How could I stand toe to toe with God and laugh in his face!
Although I may try to convince myself I would never do anything so foolish, what does my response to Jesus and his word actually reveal? When I refuse to trust his promises, what am I doing? When I reject his direction for my life, what am I doing? When I disregard his authority over me, what am I doing? I am laughing at God.
In humility I need to acknowledge my pride and my rebellion. I also need to open my eyes to what Jesus is saying and doing in my life. This is what the people missed on the day Jesus entered Jairus’ home. They laughed at his claim the little girl was only sleeping. They could only see Jesus as a misguided well-wisher. In reality, he showed he was much more. In an incredible act of compassion, Jesus called the girl from the sleep of death and brought her back to life. Jesus displayed his power as God and his power over life and death, and this was no laughing matter.
It is a lesson I need to take to heart. Before I conclude anything Jesus says is ridiculous or laughable, I need to listen to what he has said, and pay attention to what he has done.
Jesus’ ministry is all about his work to rescue me. He lived as my substitute because by myself I could never be without spot, stain, or sin. He went to the cross because I could not release myself from the curse of God’s just punishment. He rose from the grave because I could never free myself from Satan’s deathly grip. He reconciled me to his Father because I could never stop being hostile to him. Everything Jesus did was for me, and it was established as valid and believable because of his faithfulness and his love.
It is this faithful love that leads me to believe every word he speaks, and assures me my confidence is never misplaced. It is this faithful love that provides me with joy in every difficult time, and moves me to thank, praise, serve and obey him. It is finally this faithful love that gives me every reason to rejoice in Jesus as my God and Savior, and this is no laughing matter.
Prayer: Oh blessed Jesus, give me the strength of faith I need to trust everything you say. Give me the confidence I need to follow your loving direction. Give me the understanding I need to accept your faithful control over all things. Amen.