How Do You Measure Up A Sermon on Amos 7 (Audio VIdeo and text)

How Do I Measure Up?

Amos 7:7-15

In Jesus Name

As you experience the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may you desire that they free you from all that oppresses you, confident of their mercy and love!

Jesus measuring us up

The Old Testament Vision that Amos sees and describes this morning is frightening!

What would happen if the words of the Lord in verse 8 were true today?

“I will test my people (at Concordia) with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins.

Imagine the Lord Jesus showing up this morning, with the intent of comparing us against the standard, like a building inspector, trying to figure out if a building can be occupied, or should be condemned. So who is going to measure up, and who needs some demolition work done?

Anyone want to volunteer?

Al?  Tom?  Jim?

Surely someone wants to be the first to step up to Jesus, and find out if they measure up to the standard God set for us….

Hey I know, Chris, you just got back from a missionary trip, where you spent time sacrificing comfort in order to be able to teach people how to help others learn to worship God in all of His glory.  Surely you measure up…..

Or maybe I should start with…. Me.

How many of us are ready for this?  I mean the really scary part

Are we willing for God to not ignore our sins?

How do we react to the news?

As we explore this test of God, I have a few questions that will help us understand this work of God, that is promised.  This question of whether we measure up.

The first is, “How do we react to the news that God will do this?”

We see the actions of the priest at Bethel, and the King of Israel   They react to the prophet’s message with anger and fear

They will threaten and accuse him of being in it, “for the money”, that is how deeply he threatened them.

What did Amos’s prophecy threaten?  Everything they counted on! (and everything we do as well!)

First the prophecy attacks the shrines of their ancestors.  As God measured them, what they would find is that they defined themselves.  For the Jews, this was their ancestors, they are good because they were Abraham’s descendants.

Do we ever define ourselves as good because of our heritage, because of our connections?

Then Amos says God will take on their false idols, what they count on for the future, what they place their hope in, and what they turn too when life is tough.

Today that could be our money or fame or anything else we count on when time gets tough.

The last threat is to their pride, to their arrogance, to their independence.  God will crush the idea that we are in charge of our lives.  The dynasty of Jerobaom would fall, they wouldn’t be in charge.

Amos tells them it is all worthless….

And still they try to justify themselves…

So do we, and we need to stop. For these things – How we define us, what we cling to, our idea that we are in charge warp us from being true, from measuring up.

Law – Herod’s problem

We can see this in the gospel reading, where the interaction between Herod and John is described.

for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.

I think that is how we are at times, we know we need to repent of some sins, or of sin in general, but we struggle when we hear someone saying exactly what we need to hear.  It is disturbing, yet in a way, comforting.  We can’t hide any more, something has to be done. Paul knew this well.

17  But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! 18  I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. 19  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. 20  My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 21  It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 22  I truly delight in God’s commands, 23  but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24  I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? Romans 7:17-24 (MSG)

We need to realize this vision the prophet Amos sees of Jesus, coming to us and measuring us is like Paul’s realization that he doesn’t.

We need to realize we need God to take His perfect standard, and find out if we need to measure up…

We don’t, we need Him, we desperately need Him to ruin the things we count on instead of Him, we need Him to smash the idols we have, and we need Him to replace the person who wants to be in control of our lives, and take control Himself.

Gospel seen in the prophet

When the prophet Amos answers the high priest, there is a clue to the hope we need, if we are going to let God deliver us from us.

He says he isn’t a professional prophet, nor was he one who was trained up to be one.  He had two real jobs, and in those jobs, we see a picture of what Jesus would do…

The first is one we are well aware of, the Good Shepherd, the pastor. The One who will guide us, protect us, see us even through the valley of the shadow of death.  For He died, so that we would rise from the death of that Valley, and live forever in the presence of the Father.

The other is amazing, the caretaker of sycamore-fig trees.  What it means in Hebrews is the one who very carefully cuts open the fig, and trims that which would hinder it from becoming ripe. It is a tedious process, the worst job in the vineyard and one which requires the most skill.

That is what is amazing when you back and look at what the prophecy is about. About how Jesus carefully cuts away all that impedes our growth in our lives.

Jesus carefully cut away the things we count on to define us. As the Jews counted on their link to Abraham, so things we count on beside Jesus are trimmed away.

Jesus carefully cut away the idols, those things which we turn to when life is stressed, that we count on for when times are stressed.

And lastly, Jesus gently brings an end to our being the king of our lives, the captains of our fate.   And removing that need, the Spirit binds us to Jesus, so that even as He died, we died with Him, and were raised to a new life.

Such is the work of Jesus, carefully cutting out that which doesn’t fit the image we are to measured up again, the image we were made to reflect.  Paul tells the church in Colossae this has been fulfilled, when he says,

11  When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. Colossians 2:11 (NLT)

It is what God has planned to do all along, and in doing so, rids us of that which separates us from Him.  That’s what the cross is about.  It is what Herod couldn’t dare to hope for, or what the priest and king couldn’t bear to hear, saying it was intolerable.

That which they found intolerable is the exact reason why you and I have hope.

Because God cuts away our sin in baptism, when we died and rose with Jesus.

He reminds us the sin is cut away, as we hear, “your sins are sent away, your are forgiven”

Then He invites us to the celebration of our being in Jesus, measuring up, for He has made it work, which is why we praise Him, and thank Him for the peace that passes all understanding, and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!  AMEN!

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on July 12, 2015, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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