Lesson 5

Seek the Lord and Live!

(Amos 5 & 9, Romans 7, Genesis 12)
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Introduction: Last week we studied the "roars" that God sent out to the pagan nations that surrounded His people. Next, we read that God's roars were also directed towards His own people. What should we learn from that? God is an "equal opportunity" roarer? How about reaching the conclusion that God encourages us to live holy lives? If that is God's message, and I believe it is, let's explore that message in more depth and learn how do we do that by jumping into our study of Amos!

  1. Laments


    1. Read Amos 5:1-2. Last week we had roars, this week we have laments. What is a lament? (An expression of grief or sorrow.)


      1. Who is lamenting? (Amos, speaking for God, is making statements of grief for Israel.)


      2. What is wrong? (Israel has fallen to her enemies. God calls her "virgin" because He remembers her back in the days when she was faithful to Him.)


      3. Why does Israel have no one to pick her up? (Normally God would be her defender, but she has abandoned God.)


    2. Read Amos 5:3. When we read about "marching out" what does that bring to mind? (Battles. Military contests.)


      1. How are these battles going for Israel?(Ninety percent losses! That is why Israel has been defeated.)


    3. Read Amos 5:4. What is the formula for life? (To seek God. "Seek Me and live.")


      1. What does this have to do with the laments? (Our lives enter an age of sorrow and defeat when we leave God behind.)


      2. Those of you who regularly read these lessons know that I place a strong emphasis on grace. What does this say about grace? (The phrase "seek Me and live," points out a simple truth about grace - it comes from God. We cannot find it elsewhere.)


      3. What about the lost battles and failures in life? (This is an important part of living a holy life, a relationship with God makes your life better. When you fall down, you can turn to God. He will help you in life's battles.)


  2. Reflections


    1. Let's skip down to Amos 5:14. Why do you think Amos writes, "Just as you say He is?" (The people falsely claim that God is with them.)


      1. How do you understand this: if we do not seek good, will God leave us? (The real issue is whether the people are followers of God. Amos says that if we have a relationship with God, it will be reflected in our lives.)


    2. Read Amos 5:15. Notice the shift here. We go from being told to "seek good" to "love good." We go from being told not to seek evil to being told to "hate evil." What problem do you find in this? (God is raising the stakes, He is requiring more. Seeking good is a decision. Loving good or hating evil is an emotion. Decisions are easier than emotions.)


      1. Can you control what you hate and what you love?


    3. Read Romans 7:5-6 and Galatians 5:22-24. What is the secret to having the power to love good and hate evil? (Read Romans 8:1-4 and Romans 8:9. Jesus has now fulfilled the requirements of the law! Our focus is not obedience to the law, Jesus has done that, but rather our focus is on having the Holy Spirit live in us. We need a life controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that changes our heart and gives us true love.)


      1. Amos shares a fundamental truth when he says first "seek good" and second, "love good." What truth do you find? (Holy living is a decision. We make the decision to seek a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then the power of the Holy Spirit transforms us to "love" good.)


    4. Read Amos 5:21-24. What is God's complaint? Is He against noisy songs?


      1. Notice verse 22, God sounds like He is rejecting the Old Testament equivalent of grace. How can that be? (Attending church, singing praise songs, giving offerings, even superficial praying are no substitute for seeking a relationship with God through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. God wants worship, praise, offerings and prayer to arise from our relationship with Him.)


  3. Judgment and Restoration


    1. Read Amos 9:9-10. What does this suggest about our actions? (Not only do sinners get shaken up, but they die.)


      1. What kind of attitude do these sinners have? (They do not believe in a judgment, or they do not believe judgment is for them.)


      2. What does this say about living a life led by the Holy Spirit? (This is a serious matter. We cannot take lightly God's means for avoiding judgment - for judgment is very real.)


    2. Read Amos 9:11-12. What is God promising when He says He will "restore David's fallen tent?" (A tent is a place of dwelling. God is promising to restore God's people to the glory they enjoyed when King David was alive.)


    3. Read Amos 9:13. Is Amos prophesying disorder among farmers? (No. He seems to be saying that the harvests will come so rapidly that it will seem the harvesters are getting in the way of those preparing the soil and planting for a new crop.)


    4. Read Amos 9:14-15. What does God say that He will do?


      1. What does God say that the people must do? (Amos writes of what the people must do to reap the benefits God has given them. However, Amos says nothing here about what the people need to do to cause God to bless them.)


        1. Why would God save them even though the people are not turning to Him? (I think the point (again) is that God judges sinners, but He provides free grace to those who turn to Him.)


    5. Let's look at a familiar Old Testament story which helps to clarify our thinking. Read Genesis 12:1-4. What are the terms of the contract? (Abram needs to follow God by leaving, and God promises to bless him and curse his enemies.)


    6. Read Genesis 12:10-13. What do you think about Abram's honesty?


      1. What does this say about Abram's faith in the promise given to him earlier in this chapter? (If He had believed God, he would know he would be safe.)


    7. Read Genesis 12:14-16. What happened to Abram and what happened to Sarai due to Abram's dishonesty? (He got rich. She was taken into the harem.)


    8. Read Genesis 12:17-20. How does this turn out for Pharaoh? (Is this fair?)


      1. How does this turn out for Abram? (He gets to keep all of his money and he gets his wife back.)


        1. Is that fair?


        2. Is this precisely what God promised Abram in the first verses of Genesis 12? (This is something that every Christian needs to contemplate. Abram made the decision to follow God. God blessed him even though he failed God.)


        3. Fit this into our discussion about Amos. What did God want His people to do? (To turn back to Him and turn away from false worship.)


          1. If they turned back, would they have to be perfect? (No. This is grace. Abram's story is a perfect illustration of grace. Our part is to follow God. To choose to life a life led by the Holy Spirit. God says, "choose Me," and we do. After that, the work is all God's. We can turn reject God and be lost, but that is a big decision about the direction of our life. It is not the slips on the road to holiness.)


    9. Friend, right now, will you make that big decision to turn to God? Will you agree to be blessed by undeserved grace? We you invite the Holy Spirit to live in you and lead your life?


  4. Next week: Eager to Forgive (Jonah).

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