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Relationship, Not Pretense - Warnings From Amos

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The key verses go on to say that God will not even accept the burnt and grain offerings nor notice the peace offerings. In Old Testament Israel, there were many offerings made to God. But only the burnt, grain and peace offerings were described as producing an "aroma soothing to the Lord." Other translations say "pleasing" or "sweet smelling." So, God is rebuking Israel in our key verses by saying that even the aroma of their offerings which He would find soothing, will be rejected by God. God will not be soothed, or pleased if the heart is not right before Him that is making the sacrifice. Because obedience is better than sacrifice to God. In the New Testament we also see this dynamic explained by the teachings of Jesus:


"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5: 23-24


God does not want your sacrifice, your service, or your gift without your obedience first. The very hymns of praise and music of our harps become noise to God if they are sung and played with a disobedient heart. With a distant heart. With a heart not in relationship with God. We need to take heed of the warnings from Amos.


And what does the obedient heart in relationship with God look like? They key verses end with Amos telling Israel and the church today what God wants to see. God desires to see from the church a mighty flood of justice and an endless river of righteous living. Too often in modern American churches the praise is too internally focused while the criticism is too externally focused. The church has done a good job of lording the morality of Christianity over the world instead of showing the love of Christ. Remember beloved; the state the fallen are in:


The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1Corinthians 2: 14


The things of God are foolishness to man. Our praise needs to be upwardly focused on God, without whom, we would have nothing and our criticism needs to be internally focused on how we can better represent God to the world which does not know Him yet. Along with this prescription for justice we need to be living righteously before God. Remember, God understands hypocrisy. He understands it individually and corporately. There is a story I read once about a pastor who dressed up like a homeless person and sat on the steps of his church one Sunday morning. No one stopped to say anything to him as they went in to worship God. The pastor then went in and sat in a pew toward the back and watched as everyone switched seats to get away from him. Then he took to the pulpit and preached on the essence of true Christianity. The helping of the widows and orphans. The mighty flood of justice and endless river of righteous living God seeks from His church. It is a difference between going to church and being the church.


For too long there has been too much going to church and not enough being the church. Too much show and pretense during our religious festivals and solemn assemblies, while our worship has become noisy to God. Our offerings are no longer soothing to God if our hearts remain far from Him. He seeks relationship, not pretense. He seeks obedience, not sacrifice. Amos warned Israel during the height of their prosperity but they did not listen and they were carried off by Assyria and scattered from the pages of history. Let us not make the same mistake today. Let us not become complacent or settle in. God always has another level for us if we would just strive. Let us seek Him with the same passion He sought us with. Let us not grow spiritually lazy. Let us see the world as God does; as a harvest field. Let us be the church.




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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)

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