Be Flexible

‘Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.’ Philippians 2:4 NKJV

When it comes to the truth, you should be unbending. But when it comes to relationships, learn to be flexible. If you always need to be in the ‘right’ and to ensure the other person is ‘wrong’, you’ll never enjoy stable, long-lasting relationships. No human being is perfect—apart from Jesus, of course—and it’s not the wrong we do that is most deeply destructive to relationships. It’s the inability to acknowledge that wrong! For relationships to thrive, we not only need to repent of the wrong we do and to correct it, if possible, but to look to God for the grace to change. Relationships are never perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a way into the fullness of life Jesus promises.

So what should you do? What’s your part in the restoration of a relationship? You must be open to change. You must face the challenge of possible correction, acknowledge the pride that refuses to admit you can be wrong, work through any shame that is an ongoing barrier in the relationship. Make the hard choices needed to reconcile with the other person. And don’t let things stagnate! Always be willing to reassess your relationship to ensure that decisions you’ve made in the past are still a proper fit for your growing maturity.

Do you know what the biggest problem in relationships is? Selfishness! We want to have things our own way. But that’s not the Scriptural way. The Bible says, ‘Let each of you look out not only for his [or her] own interests, but also for the interests of others.’

When you live with that kind of mind-set, you’ll enjoy rich, rewarding relationships.

SoulFood: Amos 5:18–9:15, Luke 17:20–37, Ps 119:145–160, Pr 19:1–2

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2021

Today’s Readings

Amos 5:18–9:15

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 17:20–37

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

Psalm 119:145–160

Qoph

145   With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD!
    I will keep your statutes.
146   I call to you; save me,
    that I may observe your testimonies.
147   I rise before dawn and cry for help;
    I hope in your words.
148   My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
    that I may meditate on your promise.
149   Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
    O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
150   They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
    they are far from your law.
151   But you are near, O LORD,
    and all your commandments are true.
152   Long have I known from your testimonies
    that you have founded them forever.

Resh

153   Look on my affliction and deliver me,
    for I do not forget your law.
154   Plead my cause and redeem me;
    give me life according to your promise!
155   Salvation is far from the wicked,
    for they do not seek your statutes.
156   Great is your mercy, O LORD;
    give me life according to your rules.
157   Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
    but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
158   I look at the faithless with disgust,
    because they do not keep your commands.
159   Consider how I love your precepts!
    Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160   The sum of your word is truth,
    and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Proverbs 19:1–2

19:1   Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
    than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
  Desire without knowledge is not good,
    and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Thu 26 August, 2021


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