Good morning, and welcome to His Encouragement Thursday! I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my struggle day of the week. By Thursday, I have already been working hard at school and at home, and I just wish it would hurry up and be Friday already. LOL! I definitely need a little extra Jesus time on Thursdays.
Trisha, my blogger friend at Joy of Reading, and I decided on calling this post “His Encouragement” because our real source of peace, strength, and security can only come from Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our constant! We pray and hope that these Thursday posts become a real encouragement to you and help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you. God bless!
Today’s Thursday Encouragement comes from:
Amos 4:6-13 (ESV)
Israel Has Not Returned to the Lord
“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to Me,” declares the Lord.
“I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to Me,” declares the Lord.
“I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to Me,” declares the Lord.
“I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to Me,” declares the Lord.
“I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you did not return to Me,” declares the Lord.
“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
For behold, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is His thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth — the Lord, the God of hosts, is His Name.
Roughly 600 years pass from the time Joshua distributes Israel’s land amongst the twelve tribes to the time Amos warns the kingdom of Israel to change their ways and return to God. You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to know that 600 years saw Israel and Judah doing some really bad things — marrying people they shouldn’t, honoring strange gods, ignoring God’s rules, child sacrifice, etc. God patiently and gently asks His kids to come back to Him, but they don’t. So God ramps things up a bit. In Amos 4, we see that God tries to get His kids’ attention through five unique modes: hunger in some parts, drought in some areas, a blight on some crops, some pestilence & skirmishes, and draining some of the swamp (probably politically and religiously). But, the Israelites do not return to God. By Amos’s day, Israel wouldn’t return to God when He gave them everything they could want, and they refuse to return to God when He throws a little pressure on them. Israel is lost. God will have to send the Assyrians into Israel, and Exile #1 will have to happen.
I imagine that when all these attention getters were happening, the Israelites complained and murmured against God in anger. They probably said something along the lines of, “God must hate me. Why is He doing this to me?” When I was reading this yesterday my mind flooded with the many memories of me saying the exact same things after some “bad” event occurred in my life. In those moments it never dawned on me that God was trying to get my attention. In fact, it never dawned on me that I was doing anything sinful or wrong, but I probably was. Looking back on it today, I can’t help but realize how shallow and selfish I was. I was a girl who wasn’t returning to God. I believed God was doing mean things to me when really I was making bad choices. He was just trying to get my attention like He was doing with Israel. If I had stopped, prayed, and sought out God, I guarantee my life would have gone a bit more smoother.
How patient God is! Instead of punishing me when I deserve it, God gives me a second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc.) chance. He’s hoping I will get it and make the proper correction to my self. But when I don’t He’s still willing to work with me. Unfortunately, He might have to send something that seems like a punishment in order to get my attention, but the goal is so that I will change and return to Him.
If you’re still not convinced about God’s patience, think of it this way. Are you a mom or dad? If not, have you ever worked with kids before? If you have a child under your care and that child has done something wrong, have you given the child a chance to do better or fix his mistake? I’m going to guess your answer is yes. Now think about your child/ren or the children you’ve ever had some kind of authority over. If they repeatedly made the same bad choice or mistake, did you keep giving those kids 2nd chances, or did you drop the hammer on them? If you are like me — both a mom and a teacher — you’ve probably given a couple chances to fix things, but then put a stop to it firmly. God, however, gave Israel 600+ years to fix their mistakes. Then he gave them an Exile. God’s not mean. God is the most patient parent EVER!
NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!
WHAT BIBLICAL VERSE IS ENCOURAGING YOU TODAY?
Check out more Thursday Encouragement from my fellow blogger friends:
Trisha @ Joy of Reading
Jacquelyn @ A Heavenly Home
Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective
Becca @ The Becca Files
Gina @ Stories by Gina
Rebecca @ Rev. Rebecca Writes