August 28, 2018
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 28 August 2018
William Ashley “Billy” Sunday was a professional outfielder in the National League from 1883 to 1891. He was converted to Christianity during the 1880s, and resigned from his athletic career to pursue Christian ministry. Sunday was one of the most popular American evangelists during the early 20th century. He was a very interesting revival preacher, to say the least, and he had an unusual perspective with regard to the Christian life. Sunday was occasioned to say that it would be preferable for someone who was saved at a revival meeting to die that night and go immediately thereafter to heaven. His perspective emphasized a person’s conversion to the exclusion of living a life in faith and repentance toward God. According to Titus 2:14, the believer is saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for their redemption, “and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” The Bible refutes the idea that one is saved for heaven only. There is “fruitful labor” to be accomplished in the present life (cf. 2 Cor 4:18; Phil 1:12—2:13; Col 3:1-4); it is a biblical priority to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).
Many of the people in Amos’ day were living similar to the perspective of Billy Sunday. They believed that their religious festivals, holy days, and worship were the priority of life. God, however, was angry with the people not because they refused to worship in the Temple regularly, but because their actions were not consistent with their profession of faith in Him. The prophet Amos corrected the mistaken perspective that religion is the priority of life without any regard for a “transformed” life that is “acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1-2).
According to Amos 4:1-5, the people loved to worship so they could flaunt their social status, and did so through meaningless religiosity. The women, in particular, were declared to be “cows of Bashan,” who insisted that their husbands bring them ample drink and other luxuries for their partying, even if the poor were oppressed in the pursuit for such pleasures (4:1-3). God was no longer the priority of the worship (4:3-5). Although the people were loyal to their traditions, Amos shocked them by revealing their separation from God. Worship (or religion) that ignores the existence of the one true God or his revealed Word is false. The people had forsaken and rejected God in their worship, and ignored the Lord’s discipline of the nation; consequently, the nation must either repent or perish. God’s discipline is for the purpose of restoration, when the people come to true repentance.
Amos demonstrated that disaster will overtake the nation if the poor are abused, time is wasted with partying, and religion is outrageous and without both faith and repentance. Although the nation was chosen by God to reveal his presence and for Him to dwell among them (Exod 25:8), this did not make the nation exempt from difficulties and sufferings if they disobeyed the Lord God. Several catastrophes were brought by God to cause His people to return to Him (4:7, 9, 10). Regardless of God’s warning, the people did not return (Heb. shub) to the Lord by turning from their sins. Therefore, the Lord would discipline the nation, according to 3:11-15.
Even today, people use “religion” solely as a masquerade to hide their sins. The final word of Amos 4 gives one last hope: “Prepare to meet your God” (v. 12). Meeting with God today includes worshipping with other believers where God’s Word is taught accurately (cf. 2 Tim 2:15). The second preparation is to renounce all known sin. Also, be sensitive as to how God may be working in your life to arrest your attention. Finally, keep your heart near to God (cf. Matt 15:8).
Your Missionary to Georgia's Leaders,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.