A “quiet time” is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God. This usually means listening for God’s voice by reading the Bible or devotions, and speaking to God through prayer. Jesus did this numerous times in the Gospels, sometimes slipping away all night or in the early morning, to spend time with his Father.
Here are some well-respected reading plans that can help you plan this time, they all come with mobile optimised options so you can even take them with you as you travel to work.
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Have you ever tried to watch a litter of puppies, or a room full of toddlers? It is not easy, is it? Well imagine keeping track of every person, all at once.
Israel to Be Destroyed
9 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said:
“Strike the tops of the pillars
so that the thresholds shake.
Bring them down on the heads(A) of all the people;
those who are left I will kill with the sword.
Not one will get away,
none will escape.(B)
2 Though they dig down to the depths below,(C)
from there my hand will take them.
Though they climb up to the heavens above,(D)
from there I will bring them down.(E)
3 Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,(F)
there I will hunt them down and seize them.(G)
Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea,(H)
there I will command the serpent(I) to bite them.(J)
4 Though they are driven into exile by their enemies,
there I will command the sword(K) to slay them.
5 The Lord, the Lord Almighty—
he touches the earth and it melts,(O)
and all who live in it mourn;
the whole land rises like the Nile,
then sinks like the river of Egypt;(P)
6 he builds his lofty palace[a](Q) in the heavens
and sets its foundation[b] on the earth;
he calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.(R)
8 “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord
are on the sinful kingdom.
I will destroy(W) it
from the face of the earth.
Yet I will not totally destroy
the descendants of Jacob,”
declares the Lord.(X)
9 “For I will give the command,
and I will shake the people of Israel
among all the nations
as grain(Y) is shaken in a sieve,(Z)
and not a pebble will reach the ground.(AA)
10 All the sinners among my people
will die by the sword,(AB)
all those who say,
‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’(AC)
The fifth and final picture in Amos is terrifying. God is seen standing beside the pagan altar, calling for the pillars to be struck. The roof collapses on the people and nobody can get away. If they dig, climb, or hide, God will get them. There is no escape. The scene is terrifying and his judgement is total.
The news was overwhelming for the nation of Israel. God was ready to judge and there was no escape. But… isn’t it a relief when there is a word like ‘but,’ ‘yet,’ or ‘however’ in a passage like this? But God will not totally destroy the people.
Glimmer of hope
Again there is a glimmer of hope in the bleak message of impending doom. Throughout Amos there have been hints of this; hints that God discriminates; hints that God will destroy the nation and yet there is still hope for any who are responsive to him. That hint will become full-blown hope in the next and final section of the book.
For now, let us rest secure knowing that God can destroy our whole world in judgement and yet protect those who are his.Peter Mead
Thank God for the privilege of a personal salvation. Thank God that if you have trusted in his Son, then you are secure from all ultimate judgement.
The bad news continues, but Amos’ words evoke memories of other biblical texts, which can help us. The dramatic collapse of the Temple sanctuary begins at the tops of the pillars, going down to the loosened shaky thresholds (v 1). Judgement will be released from top to bottom, showing that it is a divine act like an earthquake, rather than a human assault.1 It reminds me that when Jesus died to take our own judgement upon himself the curtain of the Temple was torn from top to bottom – an act of God, not of human hand (Matt 27:50,51).
Verses 2–4 emphasise that there is nowhere to hide – God’s presence will pursue the people wherever they go. Here, it is a horrific picture, but in Psalm 139, the psalmist envisages a different scene, giving us comfort that God’s presence accompanies us at all times, in all places (Ps 139:1–12). Furthermore, Amos tells the people of Israel that there is nothing that can separate them from God’s wrath, because trust and obedience are missing, replaced by pride, empty worship, oppression of the helpless and so on. What a relief to read Paul’s words to those of us who trust and obey him that nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus! (Rom 8:31–39)
Verses 5 and 6 are part of an ancient hymn, reinforcing who God is and what he is doing, shaking the nation in the sieve of his judgement (vs 9,10). It is God himself who will bring an end to Israel’s life. None will fall through the sieve, because none is good grain.2 In short, Amos is underlining that ‘God’s presence is at home everywhere in the universe from top to bottom, and that presence is utterly dependable and permanently to be reckoned with.’3 This is still true; we take Amos’ warnings lightly at our peril.
1 Eg Hubbard, p242
2 Achtemeier, p232; see tomorrow’s note for v 8c
3 Hubbard, p246Vivien Whitfield
We are told that ‘it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:31, ESV), and descriptions of judgement sound horrific. Are we afraid of God? It is true that we should hold him in awe and treat him with respect, but we also need to remember that ‘perfect love casts out fear’ (1 John 4:18, ESV).
A judgement will be made over us all when Jesus returns. However, our guilt has already been declared and our punishment endured – by Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:15,21). So there is no fear for us in judgement.
Our attitude is so often different to that of God. We can find it almost impossible to forgive ourselves and we tend to project this on to God. However, we can be assured about the extent of his forgiveness following true repentance:
‘For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us’ (Psalms 103:11,12).
Hold onto this promise and let God’s mercy flow over you.
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