Who's ready for some good news?
Well, that's the plan for today. Some of that is going to come from me hopefully, in this message.
But, surprise, some is going to come from you. There's a microphone down here, and we're going to use it in a little while. Don't get nervous. Save your nerves for later.
My talk is part 5 in a series, we're letting God speak to us through the Bible. The Bible is actually a library. It's not just one book. There are 66 books in the Bible. Taken together, these 66 books all tell one, beautiful, life-giving, interconnected story.
We are looking at one book in particular. It's the book of Amos. Amos was a prophet way back 8 centuries before Christ. He was a maverick spirit, and that is what I'm calling this series. Even though he preached and wrote so long ago, he still matters today.
My title today is a question: What's Your Testimony?
Your testimony is your story. Specifically, your testimony is you speaking some words for Christ. It is you taking a stand for Christ and the gospel, even when doing that is uncomfortable.
The Bible says that every believer is a minister. Every believer is an ambassador. Every day, your life is giving off a message. There are five gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the believer in Jesus. Most people never read the first four.
They are reading you. Your story. Your vibe. Your testimony.
For good or for bad, if you are a Christian, you are communicating something about your God all the time.
The Bible says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" (Psalm 107:2). I'm wondering if you would be willing to rise above your fears and do that today.
Whether you do that with your words or with your life, in every interaction every day, your life is a flashing neon sign declaring what you think and believe about your God.
That is what was happening with the people of God in the days of Amos. Unfortunately, their lives were communicating something pretty awful.
So God sends a profit to them. That is Amos. He has something to say about their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad testimony.
"Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, "Bring wine, let us drink!" The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: "Behold, the days shall come upon you When He will take you away with fishhooks, And your posterity with fishhooks. You will go out through broken walls, Each one straight ahead of her, And you will be cast into Harmon," Says the LORD." (Amos 4:1-3)
Amos is preaching a message pretty much nobody could preach today. But the funny thing is, his should be preached today, because our culture is guilty of the same offenses against God.
Amos says, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, as noble as you are. As rich as you are. As glamorous as you may be. You have set yourselves against your maker, and you have become an offense to him! Why?
Offense 1: Because you are materialistic.
Bashan was a region of rich pastureland, ranches that went on forever, and herds of cattle that were known for being especially fierce, and especially big.
These are the women and men who ran the households in Samaria and Israel. They are spoiled. Overfed. Selfish. Ungrateful.
Never forget that everything good in your life is there because God put it there.
Offense 2: Because you are predatory.
Whatever kindness they had is gone, because they oppress the poor.
Whatever compassion they had is hardened over, because they crush the needy.
It's one thing to be rich, which is actually a blessing from God. But it's quite another thing to use your wealth or power to suck the life out of people less fortunate than you.
God has a heart for those who have a heart for the down and outer, the hurting, the lost, and the least of these.
Offense 3: Because you are hedonistic.
Hedonism is the quest for pleasure, and the quest for pleasure is a numbing agent for a heart with no purpose.
Bring me a drink. Bring me another bottle of wine. Let's go to another party. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.
They live in luxury, but there's no tenderness. They have the best that money can buy, but that only makes them sophisticated animals.
God put you on earth for a purpose. That is to receive his grace in good times, in tough times, in blessing, in adversity.
Your purpose is to shine forth as an agent of grace in this world of confusion and pain. To be a channel to heaven roaming across this giant pain machine of earth. That is your purpose. Help lost people find the treasure you found when you found Christ.
God designed your heart to live for something bigger than yourself, bigger even than this space-time continuum. God designed your heart to live for an eternal and heavenly cause.
That may take you places you may not wanna go. That may bring you trials you may not want to face. Living for that transcendent purpose may even bring you to an old rugged Cross, like I did for our savior.
The ironic thing is there is no better way to live, and there is no greater joy.
When you turn your back on that, all that's left is living for the next paycheck, the next score, the next moment of pleasure, the next big deal, or — like the people of Samaria – the next drink.
People become blind to how messed up they are.
The only way to break through it is by delivering a shock to the system. Gentle measures won't work. It takes someone intense, saying something shocking to shake people out of their complacency, wake them up to the danger they are in, and call them to turn their hearts back to the Lord.