Today: Psalms 86:11-17; Romans 4:16-25; Romans 5:1-11; Amos 6 & 7

Psalms 86

“Teach me Your way, LORD, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name. I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” Psalms 86:11-13

God literally has “delivered me from the depth, from the realm of the dead.” Twenty-four years ago I was a completely different person than I am today. A string of bad decisions landed me jobless, nearly homeless, completely alone in a strange city. I was drinking too much and struggling with suicidal depression.

I felt trapped by my life situation, trapped by the black pit of depression. The only way out I could see was to end it all and so one night I swallowed a handful of sleeping pills.

I actually did die. My spirit floated above my body. But before I died, four angels appeared in my apartment urging me to “Wake up! Call for help!” I followed their directions and dialed 911 before slipping into unconsciousness. Because I called, paramedics found my lifeless body and got me to the hospital.

My disembodied spirit floated through the hospital corridors before God summoned it back. I hovered by the ceiling in the ER for a few moments, watching medics frantically work on me. Then abruptly, painfully, my spirit was shoved back into my dead body.

I was alive!

God sent angels to help me.

Then He brought me back to life.

I do not take my life for granted. It is a precious gift from God that I nearly threw away. I am so deeply, profoundly grateful that God saved me from that fate and gave me another chance.

So yes, God quite literally has “delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” And I will praise Him with all my heart. I will glorify His name forever!

Romans 4

God’s promise to Abraham’s descendants covers US as well. Because of his faith “he is the father of us all.” (v.16) Paul explains that Abraham “is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed — the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” (v.17)

What did Abraham’s faith look like? He believed the impossible — that he and Sarah would conceive a child, even though they were over a hundred years old, way past childbearing days. But God said it and so Abraham believed it. Abraham “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” (v.20-21)

And that’s the kind of faith we also need to have, faith that believes completely that God is completely in control, that God holds the keys to life itself, that the laws of physics bend before God’s will, that is God says it, it is TRUTH. THAT is Abraham faith. And it was “credited to him as righteousness.” (v.22)

Romans 5

Our righteousness credit works the same way that Abraham’s did. It is freely given to us by God. We have done nothing to deserve eternal life in glory with God. We could never be good enough to earn eternity with a perfect, righteous God.

So Jesus took our place and was perfect for us. He paid the price for us. His blood is our doorway to God. We can be sure of this… sure enough to boast about it!

And it changes everything. It gives new meaning to EVERYTHING, including our hardships and struggles, because we know that we will spend eternity with God. And even now His Holy Spirit is working within us, perfecting us, making us more like Christ.

"Prophet Amos" artwork by Gustave Dore

Amos 7

“Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

So the LORD relented.

Amos 7:2-3

So I’ve been talking lots of fire and brimstone lately. I’ve been getting visions of impending judgment. God’s prophets all over the world are prophesying the same impending judgment. It is coming. God is going to expose the enemy’s lies, shine His righteous light on the evil things that has been happening in the darkness. That means a lot of people are going down. It’s going to be very painful, probably for ALL of us. Things are going to get MUCH worse before they get better.

But there IS good news. In Amos 7, God showed Amos a vision of locusts having “stripped the land clean,” a vision of famine and death. When Amos cried out, “Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” (v.2) And the LORD relented. “This will not happen,” He said.

Then God showed Amos another vision of Israel being destroyed by fire. Again Amos cried, “Sovereign LORD, I beg you stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” Again the LORD relented. “This will not happen either,” He said. (v.6)

God’s prophets may look angry and crazy, shouting at the sky on the street corner, waving their “Repent, the end is near!” signs around. But here’s what you don’t see… You don’t see all the hours upon hours they are on their faces begging God to have mercy, pleading with God to change His mind, crying out “Sovereign LORD, forgive!”

This is the secret of the prophet… he intercedes for us with tears. The prophets seem angry and desperate because they ARE angry and desperate. God has shown them a vision of His judgment and they are mad as hell at the enemy who has deceived so many of us. And they desperately want to save as many of us as possible.

Yes, God’s prophets are again warning of impending judgment. But here’s the fantastic news. GOD CAN CHANGE HIS MIND.

One reason God sends His prophets to warn us is so that we will pray for mercy, so that we will turn to Him. This is also why He waits. He WANTS us to turn to Him, to repent of our wickedness. God does NOT WANT to bring calamity. But He is a righteous God. He can only allow evil to go so far.

It may sound mean hearted of God to want us to beg Him for mercy. But it’s not like that at all. He doesn’t care one bit about hearing us beg. He only cares about what that indicates has taken place in our souls, when we finally reach the end of us. Usually it’s after He’s already given us a long season of trying to lead us to repentance through His kindness. But when the kindness doesn’t work and He drops us to our knees — THAT’S when we finally understand TRUTH. That’s when we finally get it, how BIG God is and how small we are. Healing and transformation in our souls can only truly begin after we get to that point.