Sun, Dec 22, 2013

Hope for the Hopeless: Amos 9:11-15

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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AMOS 9:11-15

Please turn in your Bibles to Amos chapter 9 as we are going to see the glorious conclusion of this book, which, I believe, gives hope to the hopeless. You see, hopelessness is a terrible condition to be in. It will weaken you and cause you to give up, to even do things you would not normally do.

Several years ago there was a study done in California with wharf rats, or rats that live by the water. And as you listen to the results of this study you will see the ultimate despair of hopelessness and the life that hope gives. In this study they found out that if you put the wharf rats in water, after about 16 minutes these rats would give up and die, drowning in the water.

So they then put another group of wharf rats in the water and after about 15 minutes they took them out, dried them off, gave them something to eat, and then they placed them back into the water. And they did this several times until they finally just left them in the water to see how long they would last. Do you know how long they lasted this time? Not 16 minutes, not 32 minutes, but this time they lasted some 32 hours!

What happened? What was the difference between these two groups of wharf rats? One group had no hope, the other did. You see, this last group had hope that they would be rescued again, and it encouraged them to go on. Thus, the focus of our study this morning will be on, not wharf rats, but hope, something that all of us need in our life!

Now before we get into our text this morning we need to understand what these verses are born out of. Amos was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, only for about a year, then he returned to his work as a herdsman or a shepherd. And during this time, under the leadership of their king, Jeroboam II, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was living in very prosperous times.

They had obtained much of this prosperity by oppressing the poor, taking advantage of others, probably thinking it was their right to have these things. They were selling their own people into slavery for a profit. They worshiped other god’s. They compelled those who were living for the Lord to turn away from God, they tempted them. They were into all kinds of immorality, a father and son were having sex with the same woman.

They had winter homes and summer homes and these homes were luxurious, filled with ivory! The women had usurped the role of the man, telling their husbands what to do, and the men oppressed the poor so they could get their wives the things they wanted. The justice system was perverted. The religious system was defiled. And the social structure was in chaos. The streets were unsafe, and wickedness filled the land. They had crossed over the line that God had drawn in the sand, the plumb line was off, the people, the nation was crooked!

And thus, God says that His people have ignored His warnings, they have not returned to Him but they are continuing on this path of sin and rebellion, and thus, judgment will soon come upon them. In Amos 3:11-15 we read "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘An adversaryshall be all around the land; he shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken out who dwell in Samaria-- in the corner of a bed and on the edge of a couch! Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,’ says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, ‘That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end,’ says the LORD."

The picture that is being painted here is God devouring, destroying, pouring out His wrath upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel for their sins and their refusal to return to Him. But in this judgment He will leave a remnant behind, like a leg or a piece of a ear, showing what has happened to the people of God for their sin.

Obviously things look very bad at this point. There is no hope, only darkness. And yet, as we are going to see, in the deepness of this darkness the light of God will pierce through it and give His people hope for the future. With that said, let’s read through our text this morning beginning in Amos chapter 9, starting in verse 11 and see what the Lord has for us.

AMOS 9:11-15

As the judgment came upon them, these words must have been an encouragement to the people, it gave them hope for the future even though things were looking very dark at this point. And God is promising them a king on the throne once again, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. That even though they have been removed from the land in this judgment, that God would return them to the land and their boarders would be increased. The barren land would once again be fruitful. That the land will be rebuilt and it will grow. And once they are back in the land, they will never leave, that is what God has promised them. And of course this is looking forward to the kingdom age, where we see the nation of Israel restored and Jesus Christ ruling and reining from Jerusalem.

It is interesting to note that the beauty of a diamond is seen against the backdrop of a black cloth. And here we see the beauty of God as His love is shining forth against the backdrop of their wickedness. It is as Jeremiah 29:11-13 says "For I know the thoughts that I thinktoward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and ahope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

And God desires to give to each of us peace, to show us the future He has planed for us which will give us hope as we live in these wicked days. Now these promises to Israel look towards the kingdom age and Israel’s future restoration, as I have said. But I also see in these verses a promise that God has for each of us. Five promises to give us hope, to encourage us to forge ahead, to give us peace in the Lord in the midst of the storms. So with the remainder of our time this morning, we are going to be looking at these promises and see how they might apply to our own lives.



It all begins here with the King reigning on the throne. People are living lives that are in shambles, torn apart, in ruin, and the King wants to restore them, He wants to rebuild. You see, there is no hope without the King, Jesus Christ, ruling and reigning in your life. So the first step in obtaining hope is SALVATION!

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle andlowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Jesus is saying that if you want rest, if you want comfort, if you want restoration, you must come to Him and ask Him to be Lord and Savior of your life, to forgive you of your sins, and He will! You see, to put on His yoke means to put on the Lord Jesus, allow Him to rule and reign in your life.

The problem comes when we try to rule our own lives, and we only bring more trouble than good into them. It truly is tragic when you see people whose lives are in a mess, their therapy bills continue to mount without relief, they are on pills or alcohol to try to numb their feelings, and Jesus is saying "Give it to Me that your soul may find rest!" The first step in restoration is repentance! It is as Paul said in Romans 5:1-2, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory ofGod."


I think what we see here is a person who has come to know the Lord is different than he was before he was saved. And people will notice that change, and they may be drawn to you, they will want to know what makes you tick, why you have changed, where that joy is coming from.

You see, once you are saved you are being transformed day-by-day into the image of God. You are to be a reflection of Him, not that you are God, but you are His representative to a world in need of God. Thus, as this representative or ambassador of Christ, as people watch you and listen to you they will draw some conclusions about God by your witness.

The exciting thing to me is that once we are saved we can give hope to the hopeless by pointing them to Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus said in John 20:23 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Now that does not mean we have the power within us to forgive sins, for only God can forgive sin. What Jesus was saying here in John is that you have the power of the Gospel message and for those who have received it, you can tell them that their sins are forgiven. On the other hand, if they reject the Gospel message, you can tell them they are still in their sins. But you have a message of hope to give to a hopeless people and in your life, people will be drawn to you, your boarders will increase, and you can share the love of God with them.


God is so good to us in so many ways. Here we see God desiring our lives to be fruitful. He does not want us to be a barren tree that does nothing. He desires us to be fruitful, we were created for good works.

Turn to John chapter 15 and listen to what Jesus has to say regarding this issue of fruitfulness beginning in verse 5. Jesus said "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them andthrow them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father isglorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, Ialso have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide inMy love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. Thesethings I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:5-11.

First of all, to be fruitful at all, for your work to be accepted at all, you must attach yourself to the vine, Jesus Christ! And as you abide in Christ, as you dig into His Word, His will will be done in your life, He will make it known to you. And as you ask in His name, according to His will, God will bring it to pass. Too often we go out, plan everything, and then ask God to bless it. First pray, and then seek His will, and you will bring forth much fruit.

And as we do, God get’s the glory, He get’s the praise and we get lives that are filled with joy as we serve the King of kings and Lord of lords! Many today are not joyful because they are not attached to Jesus, they have broken off that relationship. And God is saying to them, "Return to Me that your joy may be full!"

And the fruit that is born in our lives is seeing people saved, the fruit of our lips or praise unto God, the fruit of righteous living and-so-on. And please understand this, you don’t work to produce fruit, you abide in Christ, being nourished by His Word and you will produce much fruit in your life! It is as Paul said in II Corinthians 9:8-11, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God."


Some feel that salvation is the beginning and the ending of what we need to do, but that is wrong. God wants you to grow in your relationship with Him, it is called sanctification or the purging out of the garbage in our life to make us more like Him.

Paul, in Hebrews chapter 5 said this in regards to Christian growth or maturity. He said beginning in verse 12 "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Hebrews 5:12-14.

Paul’s rebuke is they did not grow, they were spiritual infants and thus, their lives were shaky, unstable, unable to make wise decisions. The call that Paul is making is that we are to grow, we are to mature in our faith so that we may exercise it, put it into practice instead of depending on everyone else. Peter put it this way when he said in I Peter 2:1-3, "Therefore,laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes,desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."

If God has truly impacted your life, then grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Be in His Word, ask the Holy Spirit to help you to grow and to exercise your faith, for without exercise, like a muscle, it will atrophy!

And those things that seem to have you captive, He wants to set you free from them. He wants to build your life in the things of God instead of the waste of this world. He wants to fill you and overflow you with His Spirit so that what He has given to you, you can impart to others. It is as Peter said in II Peter 1:5-10, "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add toyour faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-controlperseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble."


If we build our life upon the solid Rock, Jesus Christ, we will be stable, unshakable. The problem comes when we build our faith upon the shifting sand, which is unstable. Listen to what David said in Psalm 61:1-4, "HEAR my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From theend of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings." Like David, we too must look to the Rock that is higher than we are, and that Rock is Christ!

If your Christian life is like a roller coaster, up and down, and you are tired of that ride, you need to find rest and stability in the Lord. It may sound simple, it may sound even a little foolish, you may not believe it will work, but it will! Paul said in II Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."

Also, we can get discouraged in the work, become frustrated and that too can bring instability in our life as we look to ourselves instead of the Lord. And again Paul gives to us the proper perspective of things in I Corinthians 15:58, where he says "Therefore, my belovedbrethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

You see, for the Christian, there is great hope. God not only saves us, but He transforms our lives and increases our boarders, He makes our lives fruitful for His glory, He wants us to grow in His grace and knowledge, and He wants to bring stability in our lives.

Now some may feel they don’t need the Lord, they have hope without Him. I can’t imagine what a person is hoping for outside of Christ! We are awaiting the Lord’s return, to establish His righteous kingdom here on the earth for 1,000 years, to do away with evil, to create a new heavens and a new earth with a new Jerusalem where we will be eternally with the Lord. That is our hope for the future, it is what keeps us going!

But, as Paul said in Ephesians 2:12, "that at that time you were without Christ, beingaliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise,having no hope and without God in the world." There is no hope outside of Christ! Think about that, outside of Christ what are you hoping for? Death, to be obliterated to nothingness? Are you looking for this world to get better? I am sorry, there is no hope outside of Christ! And for anyone to have true hope, real hope, you must come to Christ.

The hope that God gives to us keeps us swimming you might say. It keeps us moving, forging ahead for the kingdom of God. As I close this morning, let me share with you this story by John Maxwell:

John Maxwell tells about a small town in Maine that was proposed for the site of a great hydro-electric plant. A dam would be built across the river and the town submerged. When the project was announced, the people were given many months to arrange their affairs and relocate.

During those months, a curious thing happened. All improvements ceased. No painting was done. No repairs were made on the building, roads, or sidewalks. Day by day the whole town got shabbier and shabbier. A long time before the waters came, the town looked uncared for and abandoned, even though the people had not yet moved away. One citizen explained: "Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present." That town was cursed with hopelessness because it had no future.

John Maxwell, Your Attitude, p. 120

May that not be our outlook for the future, but as the Psalmist said in Psalm 62:5-7, "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation [hope] is from Him. He only is my rockand my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and myglory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." The only way we can truly lose hope is to lose our focus of God. Keep Him in the center of your life and that hope that He has given to you will encourage you to forge ahead in the building of the kingdom of God. But, as we read, "Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present." May that not be true in our lives, but because of the hope we have, there is a power in our life that comes from above and touches the lives of others!

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