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Sermon 2/19/06 - At Ease
Amos 6:1

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At Ease

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria, the distinguished men of the foremost of nations, to whom the house of Israel comes” (Amos 6:1)

In today’s Scripture, we find God expressing concern about pretty much everything we consider important in life. Just like those in ancient Israel (Zion), we want to be “at ease,” to have gentle, easy lives! We want to “feel secure” with our insurance policies, police departments and retirement plans! But God shouts “Woe” to those who look intently to the solutions of this world, instead of FIRST looking to and placing their trust in the Lord.

Are YOU “at ease” in life? Maybe not, but do you HOPE to be? Do you “feel secure” in the “mountain” of protection you’ve built around yourself? Somewhere inside, do you want to be one of those “distinguished” people everybody looks to? Maybe you feel you’re already there! You want to feel “secure” in who and what you are, but God your Creator wants to bring you to Himself, for He’s the One you really need.

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” because they will soon be lost (Matthew 6:19). Rather, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). The Lord is offering you that which lasts, that which satisfies – forever. To accept anything or anyone less, is to completely miss God’s plan for your life. A great goal for mankind in the history of this world, has been the "pursuit of leisure time." Thousands, millions of gadgets have been created with that aim in mind, and the interesting fact is that, in this past century of amazing devices, most of us have far less time than before. Washers, dryers, cars, indoor lighting, computers and plumbing, are just a few of the many items that are designed to give us more time to rest; but we are busier, more frantic than ever. Nobody has time for anything – or anyone!

The ancient people in “our” Scripture for today (Amos 6:1), who carried the name, “Israel,” sought leisure time, just like we do. God was not impressed. He shouted "Woe" to their pursuits, just as He shouts “Woe” to you and me - He has higher goals for us than we have for ourselves. We should consider that our failure to find lives of leisure may be a sign of God's concern. He may be saying "Woe" to your lofty ideas – right now!

By the way, there is nothing inherently “bad” in seeking comfort, not only for yourself, but also for those around you. And it is NOT “wrong” to provide the safety and security that you and your family need. What’s wrong is when we seek the comforts of this world exclusively, shutting out God from our hearts and lives. He would give us – everything!

Words are interesting, aren’t they? I read about the Tarahumara Indians, also called the Raramuri, who live in northwestern Mexico. They are a shy people, discovered by the Spanish in the 1500’s, and their defense against the encroachments of what is called “civilization” was to do what WE have done at certain times in our lives – they retreated! The Tarahumara moved to isolated canyons to get AWAY from people like you and me, but mineral wealth was discovered in those canyons, and they had to retreat still further. Christian missionaries followed them, intending to bring them out of hiding, but, as the article pointed out, they met with limited success.

The Tarahumara’s manner of living should remind us of ourselves - by seeking isolation within the protective “canyons” of our culture, building walls around our properties and placing money in the bank; we are not unlike them. Note that the languages we speak tend to divide and isolate us. The attorney, economist, social worker, psychologist and theologian, each have languages of their own, created especially for their professions. In the Western world, Latin mostly passed out of use for “professionals” a century ago, and subsequently hundreds, thousands of special descriptive words and phrases were created within various professions to take its place. The Tarahumara (who are even more isolated than psychologists, attorneys and theologians), have peculiarities in language that tend to shape their thinking, just as our languages shape ours.

For instance, they have only one word for the colors blue and green. That doesn’t sound like much of a problem, and it isn’t, except that, when tested, they tend to not see any difference between blue and green. In other words, if you use just one word for two different colors long enough, you begin to lose your ability to distinguish between them. Blue becomes green and green starts to look more-and-more like blue. As the article stated, “words help us see,” and that’s true, but it’s also true that our words, our customs, our ways of thinking can make us blind.

So many times our ideas about God and mankind limit us and blind us to the glory of God and the good that He brings to this world. We associate only with “our kind,” forgetting that God is reaching out to us all. He is revealing Himself to all who will “listen,” and if you close yourself to others, you may exclude yourself from learning of Him.

By thinking that the protective devices we build and retreat to are necessary for our survival, we lose the ability to understand there may be a better way for us to live. God DOES understand that we need to come out of our “canyons,” our “mountains,” and that’s why He was calling, “Woe” to Israel, and it’s why He is shouting “Woe” to our “professional” ideas, our culture, and to many of our pursuits in life. He wants to rescue us from ourselves.

Today’s Scripture reveals a danger for us. Israel had become self-centered, selfish and wanted to be “at ease” more than anything else. The Book of Amos states they would be destroyed for their selfishness, their sin, but right in the midst of His judgments, God said to them, “Seek Me and live” (Amos 5:4). It’s not that different for you and me. We are told, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). It is also revealed that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We need the Lord.

Let’s agree to come out of our hiding places and focus less on being “at ease.” If you think about it, your ideas (and mine) haven’t been completely successful anyway. Confess your need of Him, your neglect of others, and trust in Him today. Let’s pray:

Lord, I have excluded You, and recognize now that I need You more than any “safety” this life can offer. I receive You now. Please show me the way. Let me become a person who really cares – for You and for those around me. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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