God’s Creatures: 2

‘Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him.’ 1 Peter 1:8 NIV

In his book, Talking Dogs, Sam Mason continues:

‘During the last couple of years of his life, Tigger, one of our dearly loved Italian greyhounds, gradually lost his sight. He’d developed cataracts. They robbed him of his vision, but they couldn’t steal his precious relationship with his masters. My wife Carol often referred to Tigger as her “lovey-dovey boy”. He would stand (not sit!) on our laps, putting his paws on either side of our necks, then affectionately tuck his head under our chins. It was adorable. Blind though he was, Tigger’s desire for the ones he could no longer see was unaffected. In spite of the cataracts that blurred our features, somehow he still managed to look us in the face. His diminished capacities may have hampered his movements, but his love and trust towards his masters remained rock solid. All of us who have placed our trust in the Lord possess handicaps… even spiritual ones. Do we use them as excuses for not pursuing God as intensely as we ought? Do we allow these hindrances to ration our love for Him? Or do we, with God’s help, find the strength to reach past our limitations to experience the unbounded joy of His presence, and fulfil the calling He’s placed on our lives? Yes, we may sometimes grope about in darkness every now and then, even stumbling and falling. But we can trust the One who understands our seasons of blindness. We can open our hearts to His love and love Him back… sight unseen!’

SoulFood: Amos 5:18–9:15, Luke 19:11–27, Ps 103:13–22, Pro 19:17

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2020

Today’s Readings

Amos 5:18–9:15 ()

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18   Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
    Why would you have the day of the LORD?
  It is darkness, and not light,
19     as if a man fled from a lion,
    and a bear met him,
  or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
    and a serpent bit him.
20   Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,
    and gloom with no brightness in it?
21   “I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22   Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
  and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.
23   Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24   But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

25 “Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 26 You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, 27 and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.

6:1   “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
    and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,
  the notable men of the first of the nations,
    to whom the house of Israel comes!
  Pass over to Calneh, and see,
    and from there go to Hamath the great;
    then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
  Are you better than these kingdoms?
    Or is their territory greater than your territory,
  O you who put far away the day of disaster
    and bring near the seat of violence?
  “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
    and stretch themselves out on their couches,
  and eat lambs from the flock
    and calves from the midst of the stall,
  who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
    and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
  who drink wine in bowls
    and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
    but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
  Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile,
    and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.”

The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:

  “I abhor the pride of Jacob
    and hate his strongholds,
    and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

And if ten men remain in one house, they shall die. 10 And when one’s relative, the one who anoints him for burial, shall take him up to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is in the innermost parts of the house, “Is there still anyone with you?” he shall say, “No”; and he shall say, “Silence! We must not mention the name of the LORD.”

11   For behold, the LORD commands,
    and the great house shall be struck down into fragments,
    and the little house into bits.
12   Do horses run on rocks?
    Does one plow there with oxen?
  But you have turned justice into poison
    and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood—
13   you who rejoice in Lo-debar,
    who say, “Have we not by our own strength
    captured Karnaim for ourselves?”
14   “For behold, I will raise up against you a nation,
    O house of Israel,” declares the LORD, the God of hosts;
  “and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath
    to the Brook of the Arabah.”

7:1 This is what the Lord GOD showed me: behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,

  “O Lord GOD, please forgive!
    How can Jacob stand?
    He is so small!”
  The LORD relented concerning this:
    “It shall not be,” said the LORD.

This is what the Lord GOD showed me: behold, the Lord GOD was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said,

  “O Lord GOD, please cease!
    How can Jacob stand?
    He is so small!”
  The LORD relented concerning this:
    “This also shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.

This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,

  “Behold, I am setting a plumb line
    in the midst of my people Israel;
    I will never again pass by them;
  the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
    and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
    and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said,

  “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
    and Israel must go into exile
    away from his land.’”

12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore hear the word of the LORD.

  “You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
    and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’

17 Therefore thus says the LORD:

  “‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city,
    and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
    and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line;
  you yourself shall die in an unclean land,
    and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’”

8:1 This is what the Lord GOD showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the LORD said to me,

  “The end has come upon my people Israel;
    I will never again pass by them.
  The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,”
      declares the Lord GOD.
  “So many dead bodies!”
  “They are thrown everywhere!”
  “Silence!”
  Hear this, you who trample on the needy
    and bring the poor of the land to an end,
  saying, “When will the new moon be over,
    that we may sell grain?
  And the Sabbath,
    that we may offer wheat for sale,
  that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
    and deal deceitfully with false balances,
  that we may buy the poor for silver
    and the needy for a pair of sandals
    and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
  The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
  “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
  Shall not the land tremble on this account,
    and everyone mourn who dwells in it,
  and all of it rise like the Nile,
    and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?”
  “And on that day,” declares the Lord GOD,
    “I will make the sun go down at noon
    and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10   I will turn your feasts into mourning
    and all your songs into lamentation;
  I will bring sackcloth on every waist
    and baldness on every head;
  I will make it like the mourning for an only son
    and the end of it like a bitter day.
11   “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
    “when I will send a famine on the land—
  not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
    but of hearing the words of the LORD.
12   They shall wander from sea to sea,
    and from north to east;
  they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD,
    but they shall not find it.
13   “In that day the lovely virgins and the young men
    shall faint for thirst.
14   Those who swear by the Guilt of Samaria,
    and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’
  and, ‘As the Way of Beersheba lives,’
    they shall fall, and never rise again.”

9:1 I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said:

  “Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
    and shatter them on the heads of all the people;
  and those who are left of them I will kill with the sword;
    not one of them shall flee away;
    not one of them shall escape.
  “If they dig into Sheol,
    from there shall my hand take them;
  if they climb up to heaven,
    from there I will bring them down.
  If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
    from there I will search them out and take them;
  and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
    there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
  And if they go into captivity before their enemies,
    there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
  and I will fix my eyes upon them
    for evil and not for good.”
  The Lord GOD of hosts,
  he who touches the earth and it melts,
    and all who dwell in it mourn,
  and all of it rises like the Nile,
    and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
  who builds his upper chambers in the heavens
    and founds his vault upon the earth;
  who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
  the LORD is his name.
  “Are you not like the Cushites to me,
    O people of Israel?” declares the LORD.
  “Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,
    and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?
  Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom,
    and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground,
    except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,”
      declares the LORD.
  “For behold, I will command,
    and shake the house of Israel among all the nations
  as one shakes with a sieve,
    but no pebble shall fall to the earth.
10   All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
    who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’

11   “In that day I will raise up
    the booth of David that is fallen
  and repair its breaches,
    and raise up its ruins
    and rebuild it as in the days of old,
12   that they may possess the remnant of Edom
    and all the nations who are called by my name,”
    declares the LORD who does this.
13   “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD,
    “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
    and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed;
  the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
    and all the hills shall flow with it.
14   I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
    and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
  they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
    and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15   I will plant them on their land,
    and they shall never again be uprooted
    out of the land that I have given them,”
      says the LORD your God.

Luke 19:11–27 ()

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11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

Psalm 103:13–22 ()

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13   As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14   For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.
15   As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16   for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17   But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18   to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19   The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
20   Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
21   Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
22   Bless the LORD, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
  Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Proverbs 19:17 ()

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17   Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
    and he will repay him for his deed.

Tue 01 September, 2020


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