Sun, Dec 15, 2013

Preparedness!: Amos 4:12-13

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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 4:12-13

Please turn in your Bibles to Amos chapter 4. And as you are turning there, listen to this story of General Eisenhower. It goes like this:

Just before General Eisenhower died Billy Graham was invited to visit him at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. He was told he could stay thirty minutes. When he went in, the General was wearing his ususal big smile, even though he knew he didn’t have long to live.

Later Billy Graham told what happened:

"When the thirty minutes were up, he asked me to say longer and said to me, Billy, I want you to tell me again how can I be sure my sins were forgiven and that I am going to heaven, because nothing else matters now.

"I took my New Testament and read him Scripture, I pointed out that we are not going to heaven because of our good works, or because of money we’ve given to the church. We are going to heaven totally and completely on the basis of the merits of what Christ did on the cross. Therefore he could rest in the comfort that Jesus paid it all!

"After prayer, Ike said, ‘Thank you I’m ready!’"

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, 4752

In our study this morning we are going to be looking at being prepared. In Amos chapter 4 God is trying to awaken the Northern Kingdom of Israel out of their spiritual sleep. And God does this through a series of judgments to get their attention. He brings about famine, but they don’t see it. He brings forth drought, but they don’t see it. He brought about crop failure, but they didn’t see it. He brought various plagues, destruction by the sword, the destruction of certain cities, and once again they didn’t see it. Some five times we read in Amos chapter 4 this sad statement by the Lord, "‘Yet you have not returned to Me,’ says the LORD."

It is out of their failure to repent, their failure to return to the Lord that we see God respond with the next thing He is going to do to them. So let’s begin reading in Amos chapter 4, starting in verse 12, and see what the Lord has for us this morning.

AMOS 4:12-13

Listen carefully to this. The children of Israel were going to meet God in a way they are not going to want to. God kept calling them to return to Him, and they refused. He kept pouring out His love to them and they kept rejecting it. And now, they will see His wrath. Their failure to listen and obey put them in a state of unpreparedness to meet the true and living God, the creator of heaven and earth. As Amos 5:8 says, "...The LORD is His name."

People today are preparing for all kinds of things, like going to school, going on dates, getting married, getting a job, having children, going on vacations, the holiday’s, retirement, and-so-on. And why do we do these things, why do we prepare for them? Because we want to be ready, we don’t want to be unprepared.

Let me give you an illustration of what I mean. My wife is one of the all-time great vacation planners. I shake my head in amazement at the places she has planned for us to see. We can go places we have never been before, and she has all the best spots picked out, and great places to stay. Now you may wonder how she does it? What her secret is in finding these great vacations spots are?

I will tell you, I don’t think she will mind, and if she does, oops, too late! First of all, what she doesn’t do is also important. She doesn’t do nothing, just sitting around and just leaving it up to chance happening, and maybe it will be good, and maybe it won’t! Her secret is this - she prepares ahead of time! She does all the research of the place or places we are going to visit. She gets books, videos, talks with people who have been there, calls the various parks we are planning on going to. And in the end, she has it all planned out before we get there. Thus, when we go we can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings, not worrying about what we are going to do next, where we are going to stay and-so-on. Sometimes she gets started a year in advance. We get home from one vacation and she would be working on the next one for next year. And I do tease her about that, I know it is hard to believe, but I do. But I also appreciate the work she has put into these vacations because we all are blessed by her work, by her being prepared!

Like my wife, many people today are planners. They have these appointment books that you have to take a class on so you can fill them in and use them properly. Now I do like to be organized but I don’t want to take a class showing me how to fill in my date book or organizer. I would spend all day just working on that instead of doing what I am suppose to be doing. And yet, I worked with people that had everything in these big books, prepared for anything.

And as I thought about that I realized how organized we can be in this life and yet we are totally unprepared for the afterlife, unprepared to meet our Maker, to meet our God, to stand before a holy and righteous God. And God tires to awaken us by bringing various situations in our life to get our attention, to awaken us from our spiritual sleep, and many times we are not moved.

I wonder how many Christians have read through God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation? You see, if you want to know the mind of God get into His Word so He can speak to you. Many Christians today are ignorant about what God desires in their life. It amazes me to hear Christians speak of pre-marital sex being okay for today as long as this is the person you are to marry. And yet, Paul tells us in Hebrews 13:4 "Marriage is honorable among all, and thebed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." I think that is very clear what kind of sex is honorable before God and what isn’t!

Or that lying is okay, it just depends on the situation you are involved in, a situational ethics you might say. And yet, in John 8:44-45 Jesus said "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, anddoes not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me." God does not promote lying, but Satan does!

Some say that abortion is okay, it is up to the mother to choose! And yet, we read in Psalm 139:13-16 "For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." And we can go on and on regarding the things people believe that go against what God has said in His Word!

Let me share with you something that was placed in our bulletin a few weeks ago that deals with the Word of God. It is very appropriate for our study and it goes like this:

This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.

Source Unknown

This is our sixth year we have been going through the Bible here at Calvary, and I hope many of you have taken the challenge and have read through the Word of God with us. If you haven’t, I am going to challenge you to get started. Each week, in our bulletin you will see the chapters you need to read so you can read through the Bible in a year. If you haven’t started yet, you can pick up where we are right now and I guarantee you, you will be blessed if you do. You can’t go through God’s Word and not gain anything unless you shut your eyes and close your ears to what God is trying to show you. And in one year, if you stick with it, you will have read through the whole council of God!

Early on in my Christian life I thought the end times would bring about days in which there would be no religious activity, that spirituality would be gone, that we would be in a non-religious society. But I was wrong. In fact, the exact opposite has occurred. Man has become very religious, very spiritual, but they are farther from God than they have ever been!

Why do I say that? Because the things they are clinging to for salvation are the things that are in direct opposition to what God has said in His Word. They may make people feel good about themselves and where they are going, but they are lies of the Devil and it is a false hope, a false comfort. Let me give you a for instance. Back in early January of this year the Pope closed the doors in Rome, the doors of St. Peter. These doors are opened every 25 years and any person that would go to Rome and pass through these doors would get a "Get into heaven free card," they would not have to spend any time in Purgatory! Now they really don’t get a card, but that is what the Pope and his followers believe about this door, you go right to heaven, and pass Purgatory right by, even though there is no such place as Purgatory!

Let me say this, and please, if you believe in this, don’t be offended, but seek the truth. Understand that going through any door won’t get you into heaven for there is only one door that will, and it is not in Rome! Jesus said in John chapter 10, "...‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep....I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." John 10:7, 9. You see, the tragedy is people are being made to feel comfortable about meeting their Maker when they should not be unless they have entered in through the door, Jesus Christ! Going to church, doing good deeds, being involved in various ministries does not make you a Christian any more than driving through MacDonald’s makes you a Big Mac!

Thus, we have a nation, a world that is unprepared to meet their Maker! Yes, very religious, but no relationship. And God is trying to get their attention, but they ignore it, or they blame it on global warming, or pollution or El Nino, or whatever the latest fad is, ignoring the judgments of God to awaken them from their spiritual sleep. And yet God continues to call out, even today, He is trying to get peoples attention so they are prepared to meet their Maker!

Turn to Matthew chapter 25, and let’s look at the parable of the Ten virgins, for it illustrates this point for us. In Matthew chapter 25, beginning in verse 1, we read "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels withtheir lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And atmidnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Thenall those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give ussome of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lestthere should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy foryourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said,‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Matthew 25:1-13.

Now please understand this, it is important. The story or parable we just read is not speaking of two types of Christians, those that are prepared and those that are carnal or backsliden. If you are struggling in your walk you need to get back on track, but that is not the point that Jesus is making here.

The five wise virgins had oil in their lamps, they were prepared for the bridegroom to come. And when He did, they entered in with Him. We, as Christians await our Lord’s return for us and we are in a state of preparedness. He could come at any moment. We don’t know the day or the hour, but we do know the season, and we are living in the days the prophets spoke of.

Now the other five virgins had no oil for their lamps, they were not ready, they were not prepared for the bridegroom to come. And when He came, the door was shut and these foolish virgins tried to get in, but it was too late. In fact, the Lord says "...‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you." Matthew 25:12. You see, they never knew Jesus, there was no relationship with Jesus, and Jesus says that He didn’t know them. Not something you want to hear!

And the main reason I say that this is speaking of the unsaved is they had no oil to light their lamps with. And we know that oil in the Scriptures is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Paul tells us in Romans 8:9, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spiritof God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His."You see, if you don’t have the Holy Spirit inside of you, you are not saved! How do we get the Holy Spirit to indwell us? By asking Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior in our lives!

In John chapter 14 Jesus is telling His disciples that He is going to leave them, but they will not be alone, He will not leave them as orphans. And beginning in verse 16 we are told "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17.

You see, the Holy Spirit comes alongside us to draw us to Christ. When you accept Christ the Holy Spirit comes inside of you to dwell in you. And we see this played out in the lives of the disciples as Jesus appears to them after His resurrection and He says to them "Receive the Holy Spirit." John 20:22.

Folks, the way you prepare to meet your Maker is by coming to Jesus and asking Him to be your Lord and Savior. Thus, as you stand before Him you will be seen as perfect, as white as snow as the righteousness of Christ fills your life. Outside of Christ you stand before God in your own righteousness and that is a big mistake because the Scriptures tells us that our righteousness is like filthy rages!

People who want to stand before God in their own righteousness remind me of what took place when I was in High School. We would hang out at the local MacDonald’s. And this one time a guy was causing some trouble, so they called the police. And as they were talking with him, trying to get him to leave, he refused. In fact he encouraged them to put the hand cuffs on him, which they did do. But it didn’t end there, he had the nerve to yell out "Tighter! Tighter!" And once again they obliged his wishes, only this time we could here him cry out as they were dragging him out of the MacDonald’s "To tight! To tight!" Man, who wants to stand before God in his own righteousness is just as foolish. And when the judgment comes it is too much, but it is also too late!

As I have said before, many have false assurance of their salvation because it is placed in other things instead of Jesus Christ. Don’t make the same mistake. Believe what the Scriptures say for they testify of Jesus! Listen to how Peter admonishes us in II Peter 1:10-12. He says"Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to youabundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For thisreason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know andare established in the present truth." May each of you do that, make sure of where your faith is at, who it is placed in so you will be prepared to meet your Maker!

You see, the bridegroom is coming, no matter what people may say. And for us as Christians we should be looking for the Lords return. In Titus 2:13 we are told that we need to be"looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior JesusChrist." Now some like to say that a person is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good. I don’t think that is correct, in fact I feel the exact opposite. I don’t think you can be any earthly good unless you are heavenly minded!

Also, as we await the Lords return, realizing it can occur at any moment, it helps us to live lives that are holy. John points that out for us in I John 3:2-3, as he says "Beloved, now weare children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know thatwhen He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyonewho has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

As Christians we should be praying about the Lords return, that His kingdom will come, that His will will be done on this earth just as it is in heaven. That through us God would touch the lives of many people for His glory.

You see, I truly believe God is bringing about various things upon this nation to awaken us from our spiritual sleep. We have seen droughts, floods, violent storms, earthquakes and-so-on. Some like to say it is just mother nature, but it truly may be, and I think it is, God trying to get our attention, just as He did with the children of Israel. He wants to awaken us once again and open our eyes and hearts to the things of God. That people will have a hunger for the truths of God found in the Word of God and no longer will they play church but their lives will reflect that deep relationship they have with Christ! May we not follow what the children of Israel did after God tried to get their attention. Remember what the Lord said to them,"‘Yet you have not returned to Me,’ says the LORD." May that not be the case for America!

As I bring this study to a close this morning, let me leave you with this story that deals with being prepared. It goes like this:

Preparing For Heaven, Anyone?

"Mamma," said a little child, "my Sunday-school teacher tells me that this world is only a place in which God lets us live for a while, that we may prepare for a better world. But, Mother, I do not see anybody preparing. I see you preparing to go into the country, and Aunt Eliza is preparing to come here; but I do not see any one preparing to go there. Why don’t they try to get ready?"

That is a very interesting question, for has God said "‘Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!’ For behold, hewho forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth-- the LORD God of hosts is His name." Amos 4:12-13. May you be prepared to meet your God, for if you are not, you will see His wrath! May you truly be ready, may you be like General Eisenhower who said at the end of his life, "Thank you I’m ready!"

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