Famine From God – Amos 8:11-12

Beware A Famine Of The Word Of God

11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.”

Famine Foretold

The first great famine occurred after the last prophecy in Malachi.  For over 400 years, no prophetic word had come to the people of Israel.  Generations had passed with no communication from God to His people.

This was very disconcerting to the people of God.  They had, in the past, received blessing and feedback from God through His prophets.  Now they waited in silence.  Famine brings great hunger.  When people are in a desperate place of hunger, it wears on them.  Going hundreds of years without receiving direction from God must have been frustrating to the Israelites.  They had been led by the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night for forty years in the desert.  They could seek out God’s prophets who were among them when they needed individual direction (even though, as a nation, they scorned and persecuted the prophets when their sinful lifestyles were brought to their attention and rebuked).

But isn’t it also true that the teacher is silent when the student is taking the test?

Desire Defeated

We are told to seek the Lord while He can be found.  As God withdraws His sovereign Spirit from a nation, they will soon be given over to their iniquity.  And when they seek the Lord, He may not be found.  The judgement of God may be at hand.  In that day, people will seek direction from God, and they may receive silence.

It is imperative that we seek God every day so that we will not experience a famine of the Word of God.  We choose how much time we spend with God and His Word.  When we don’t spend time in God’s Word and with God in prayer, we are voluntarily entering into a self-made famine.  Don’t be surprised if God doesn’t immediately jump to help you if you don’t spend time with Him.  Draw close to the Lord through His Word and through prayer, and you will never experience a famine of the word.

And if/when God is silent, remember: the just shall live by faith.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I spending enough time every day with God in prayer and in His Word?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me for my many sins.  Show me the path of righteousness.  Help me to draw close to You through Your Word and through prayer.  Strengthen my relationship with You that I would be able to trust You more and more each day.  Father, forgive our nation, for the people are not seeking You and Your Word.  Soften their hearts that they would seek You and return to You.  Only You, Lord God Almighty, are able to break through the hardness of hearts.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Taught by God – Isaiah 48:17

Choose Your Instructor Wisely

This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”

Time of Teaching

Whether or not we admit it, we are always learning.  We (hopefully) learn from our mistakes.  Technology forces us to learn new skills.  Television shows us new things.  When we read books, magazines, pamphlets, and words put together in any medium, we see new ideas.  People talk to us about new products and experiences.  Satan whispers in our ears.  In everything, unless we close our eyes, put our fingers in our ears, and shout “La la la la la la la” over and over again, we are learning something.

We can choose from whom we will learn.  For those who can see, what you allow your eyes and mind to be exposed to will influence you.  For those who can hear, what people, music, and other audio you allow yourself to be exposed to will influence you.  We choose, whether we realize it or not, what programs our mind.

God states that He is the one who is able to teach us what is best for each of us.  It should be noted that what is best for you may not be best for me.  Being created by God for specific purposes, not every person has the same purpose nor is given the same gifts:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Because this is the case, we need God, who is all-knowing, to teach us how to use the very gifting that He has provided to each and every one of us.  When we don’t do that, we will not be able to fully honor Him nor glorify His name for His purposes in His timing.

Directionally Driven

Everyone is driven to move in a direction.  Whether that is standing tight, in circles, or towards a specific location which is the goal, we are moving in a direction.  We can choose which direction we want to take.  Do we:

  • Listen to the world where everyone tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to the devil who tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to our own flesh that tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to God who directs us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?

Each of us chooses one or more of these influences when choosing a direction.  It is only by consciously choosing which influence (or influences) that we pay attention to and heed that will ultimately determine which direction that we will take.

Particular Path

We are told in the Bible that, effectively, there are really only two directional paths that we can take:

Any path that was not entered through the small gate and is on the narrow road was entered through the wide gate and broad road.  Only one path leads to heaven.  Jesus has said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

We all make our own choices because God has given us free will.  We need to carefully examine the advice that we have available to us, and choose wisely, for actions have consequences.  The good news is, if we are on the wrong path, we can stop, ask God for directions, and get on (or back on) the narrow road that leads out of the small gate.  And Jesus is the small gateAllow the Good Shepherd lead you into the way everlasting.  It is only there that you will find rest and provision, not only in this life, but in the next life as well.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What influences am I allowing into my life that are directing my path?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided for all my needs.  You seek me out when I am lost and stray from You.  The Holy Spirit provides me with instruction, encouragement, and empowers me to do what You desire.  Help me to stay on the straight and narrow path, that You would be honored and glorified.  Forgive me today of my sins.  Bring to memory all that I have done that displeases You, that I may turn from it, and walk in righteousness.  Show me where I should go, how I should think, and how I should act.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

Combat Training with God – Mark 9:29

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting (the text in these brackets does not appear in all of the manuscripts)].

Some of the greatest feats in the Bible were done by people who prayed AND fasted.  Fasting is a nearly lost discipline in the American church.  We have been so blessed by God, we truly miss our three square meals (and sometimes snacks in between) each day.  People in Biblical times knew the value of fasting, and its importance.

In Mark 9:14-29, we see a desperate father looking to the disciples for help with his demonically possessed son.  They had tried unsuccessfully to remove the spirit that had seized the boy and tried to kill him.  Luke tells us, however, that Jesus had already given the disciples power and authority to drive out demons and heal the sick (Luke 9:1-2).  So what made this so difficult?  Jesus provides us with the clue in His response to the disciples’ question about why they couldn’t drive it out – this kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.

It wasn’t the act of prayer, or even fasting, that made it possible.  It was the relationship with the Father that gave Jesus the ability to drive it out.  Prayer is our first go-to for intimacy with God (although some find it through praise worship).  However, we have a sin nature, and our flesh can cause us problems.  The flesh is constantly crying out, “feed me”, “pamper me”, “I don’t want to”, and all other kinds of rebellion towards God.  Paul said he beat his body into submission.

One of the easiest, or hardest – depending on your viewpoint, ways to bring your body back into submission is fasting.  The flesh greatly dislikes being denied its pleasures – food, sexual gratification, comfort, etc.  When we fast, the flesh initially protests.  But after a while, it calms down, and we experience a type of peace that we don’t normally have when we eat.  As our bodies are brought into submission, we are able to draw ever so much closer to God in prayer.

Jesus knew this spiritual discipline, and practiced it often.  When the Holy Spirit let Him out into the desert to be tempted (tested) by the devil, He was fasting.  He was fasting the day that he drove out the spirit from the boy that was brought to Him.  Jesus is our role model.  We should walk as He walked.  And He fasted.  Even the Pharisees fasted, but to outwardly show their piousness, rather than draw close to God.  Daniel, when seeking an answer, fasted by only eating simple food to mourn and draw close to God.

Are you lacking power in your spiritual life?  Do you require answers in order to move on?  Do you seek a more intimate relationship with God?  Be obedient to God’s word, and fast.  Tell God in prayer that it is the desire of your heart to draw close to Him, and when you fast, He will meet with you in a mighty way.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, it is my desire to draw very close to You.  Help me to overcome my flesh, and be obedient to Your word.  Help me to set aside time to fast, that I may experience Your presence and power in a more intimate, satisfying, and joyful way.  Help me to bring my flesh into submission through fasting.  Grant Your servant success that it might bring glory to Your name.  This I humbly pray in the character of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?