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  • Pastor Darren Rogers

Preached on Sunday March 22, 2020 in Wellsville Ohio


Theme: Blessing in Disguise

When calamity and suffering come, they are not meant to be the end of the world. Instead they are a blessing because cause us to seek after God and reinforce relationship with Your God!

Amos 4:6 ¶ And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.

Amos 4:8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.

Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.

INTRODUCTION

Most of us have experienced the anxious feeling of having to be somewhere, whether to work, school, or some other important event but had to wait on someone else who was either dragging their feet, having a wardrobe malfunction, or was just plain slow.

You are usually okay and patient early on, but as the minutes went by, and the time to go came nearer, your blood pressure began to rise because it was important that you arrive on time.

Then when you know certain people’s habits, you pad the time by telling them to be ready 30 minutes, an hour, maybe two hours early because you know they will be late!

For those of you who don't know what that feels like, you are probably the one who is always late, always behind and always getting fussed at because you are always taking too long!

Those types of things are not fun, but they don't really affect where you will spend eternity.

But one appointment you don't want to procrastinate preparing for is your appointment with your creator.

Heb 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

What you do here on earth determines where you will spend eternity.

Rather, what you do with the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection will determine your peace now and your eternal peace.

Our text reveals Amos delivering a revelation to Israel explaining why they were beginning to experience devastation and disasters that they were not used to or prepared for. All these seemingly devastating things were sent by God in order to wake them to the truth and turn as a people back to God!

SERMON FOCUS

When devastation and suffering come to us, it is not meant to destroy us and separate us from God.

Suffering comes in order to draw us closer to God!

It might not look like it, it might not feel like it, and it might not smell like it, but it's a blessing in disguise!

The book of Amos takes place during the Assyrian conquest of Israel in the 8th century BC.

You can get a feel for the moral and social climate and conditions by looking through kings and chronicles.

Amos is unique because he is the only writing prophet who has a narrative story.

Although He was sent by God to prophesy to the Northern kingdom, Amos was actually a businessman and farmer from a Judean village, Tekoa, before he was sent by God to speak God's oracles to the people of the Northern Kingdom.

The northern kingdom was in a spiritually dark place and were disconnected from the worship the Lord.

After Solomon died, Jeroboam revolted causing a civil war, breaking the northern Kingdom off from Judah.

This meant in order to worship they would have to make pilgrimages into the south which the King did not want.

Jeroboam instituted cultic Bull Worship (Golden Calf) and established temple cities in the north in order to keep the people from Going south to worship in Jerusalem.

This would cause knowledge of true worship to be erased from their collective consciousnesses within just a few generations.

In the same way corporations, the entertainment industry, and the media bombard you 24/7 with images and ideas that make you thirsty for trendy fashion, tech products and exotic lifestyles in order to turn off your critical thinking,

Jeroboam succeeded in causing an entire nation established and built by God to forget all about him in order to chase the Israelite dream! Sound familiar?

With that shift came a decrease of God consciousness and an increase of their national pride and patriotism that was void of God.

Though they believed it with all their hearts, God was not with them because as a nation they forsook the Word and the Worship of YHWH for a cheap substitute.

They thought they were on the right road but they had been led astray by the manipulation of a wicked and powerful king who erased the worship of YHWH from their collective consciousness and replaced it with a counterfeit version of religion that felt good, gave them a sense of unity and purpose, but put them on the fast-track to judgement.

During this time the northern kingdom was experiencing economic growth and prosperity on a wide scale where resources were in abundance, trade was profitable, and there was a national sense of invincibility because they were so richly blessed.

Because of their prosperity, they began to believe that gain and profit were a sign of approval from God.

Even if it meant cheating your neighbor and taking advantage of the poor.

Amos 2:6b "…because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;"

It was a time where the poor were cheated out of property and land by the rich.

It was a time when the poor, the fatherless, the widow, and the immigrant were cruelly exploited and at the mercy of the immoral and the wealthy.

It was a time where idolatry, drunken revelry, sensuality, promiscuity, and gross sexual immorality ran rampant in every level of society, yet they thought because they were Israelites and they had been the strongest economic power in the region that God approved of their behavior.

They developed a form of godliness that had no substance or power that was based upon pride in their religious system, national unity.

Therefore, God sent Amos to them to preach the Word and turn their hearts back to God!

Sometimes it takes a reality check to help us realize that we are on the road to everlasting destruction and we need to come back to living God.

In verses 6 through 11 there were five specific and intentional things that God inflicted upon Israel to get them to repent and turn to God.

1. I have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities and want of bread in all your places, but you haven't come back to me.

2. I have withholden the rain from you, but you haven't come back to me.

3. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew, but you haven't come back to me.

4. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt, but you haven't come back to me.

5. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, but you still haven't come back to me.

In everything that God did in order to get their attention, they still did not return to the Lord!

God was standing there with his arms folded and his foot tapping, but what was taking them so long?

The spiritual and moral condition of Israel from top to bottom was corrupt to the core and God saw no other way to get their attention except through making them suffer.

· Was everyone in Israel guilty of exploiting the poor? No.

· Was everyone in Israel guilty of sexual immorality? No.

But unfortunately, God could no longer allow them to continue to blaspheme through greed, idolatry, and immorality.

Amos 4:6 ¶ And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.

Amos 4:8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Amos 4:11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Not all suffering is caused by God, but all suffering should cause us to think about our condition, examine ourselves, and then draw closer to God. But like Israel, we often rationalize instead of repenting, when what we really need to do is call upon the name of the Lord.

We find ourselves today in the midst of the most terrifying public health crisis in over 100 years and everyone is searching for answers.

Scientists are working feverishly trying to create cures and vaccines, but they admit they are months away. The white house is limiting public gatherings and creating social distance, while state Governors are closing businesses, canceling elections yet the virus continues to spread. It’s not a matter of stopping it but it’s about finding a way to slow it down. People are panic buying toilet paper, guns and ammunition, preparing for the worst possible scenario. It seems the more we know and learn, the more questions we ask.

I do not for one minute believe that God delights in disaster, pestilence, suffering and death. No! God wants to heal you, bless you, and deliver you!

Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

God is waiting for you, but he is taking his time because he wants you to come to him before it's too late for you to be saved!

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

But what does that have to do with this horrible outbreak of corona?

When Moses was about to lead ancient Israelites out of Egypt, Pharaoh increased his oppression and abuse of them in order to break them. Even though God was working out their deliverance, they felt all of the pain that was being inflicted upon them.

Then one day God told Moses, I'm delivering my people tonight. I'm sending the death angel through the land to take the firstborn of every first-born son in the land.

But I want each family to gather in the house kill a spotless lamb, roast it and have it for dinner. Take some of the blood and apply it to the door post and lintels of your doors.

So that when the death angel comes through the land, I will see the blood, and pass over you! Don't go out unprotected! Don't go to the golden corral for a buffet! But stay inside and you're going to make it through! But if you disobey, take it light, or dismiss what I am saying, you take your life in your own hands!

Stay in the house! Stay inside?!

Stay inside of the will of God!

Stay in, and walk, in the Spirit!

Stay in the Word!

Stay in prayer!

Stay in the right attitude and frame of mind!

Stay in Jesus!

Jesus, the Son of God, entered this world almost 2000 years ago through the womb of a young girl named Mary to become human in order to redeem humanity. His love is far reaching and does not discriminate. Jesus was beaten, humiliated, then executed like a common criminal so that the sins and infirmities of all humanity might be cleansed by his broken body and shed blood.

Isa 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

It was the blood that Jesus shed on the cross and the beating that he took in his body that gives us repentance to life and communion with God! Jesus gave his very best and committed his all when he went to Calvary!

What is taking you so long to commit your all to the Lord!

  • Pastor Darren Rogers

God’s Ultimate Plan for a House -pt. 3

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the moneychangers sitting there.

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” John 2:13-16

If we can fill our minds with positive thoughts and walk according to God’s Word, and in the Spirit, there won’t be room to fill our lives and minds with trash! We should carefully consider the consequences of where we allow our minds and hearts to wander off to. Let’s stop trying to date the Lord and get serious about our relationship with Jesus! Let’s clean up that house and get ourselves fully aligned with God’s Word!

The apostle Paul’s words should also resonate with this generation of Christian believers…

He said, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19 KJV

It PROBABLY won’t be easy, but it’s time to man or woman-up (concerning our faith in Christ) and, like Jesus did in the temple, start turning over the tables in our lives, and in our hearts!

Jesus cleansed the temple that day by himself at great personal risk! It doesn’t say it but is it possible that the temple guards were pulling out their weapons and bystanders were picking up stones after the processing the shock of Jesus’ violent act in the temple?

As the Jewish reacted by shouting at Jesus…, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” John 2:18-19 (NIV). If it were anyone else, they would have probably been stoned to death!

Like Jesus, we can’t worry about the consequences of cleaning house, because the zeal for God has got to consume us!

We have to decide:

· No more half-stepping!

· No more excuses!

· It’s time to get down and dirty against the trespassers in our life, over turn the tables, and throw them out!

Why? Because we need New Life to flow through us as God’s people who worship him in Spirit and in Truth! People are looking for the same peace and joy you found in Jesus! Let's clean house and share the good news!

Those who came to the temple before Jesus arrived were broken and looking for a God Encounter, but were sadly disappointed because the Church, the Temple, completely missed the point of true worship. After all of the hype they saw before their eyes, the experience and result were no better than a trip to the carnival or the circus, where they can buy some souvenirs, and see a good show! That’s not how it ought to be! How many times have we gone to church empty and left empty because our minds were filled with anxiety, stress, and distractions? When we needed to hear a life-giving, Spirit filled, word of encouragement from the Bible, we saw a good show that left us empty and wondering, “Is that all there is to this? In order for our worship to become more than Christian entertainment we have to examine ourselves and ask God to help us clean the temple that was meant for his Spirit to dwell in. Ourselves!

  • Pastor Darren Rogers

God’s Ultimate Plan for a House

The temple made with human hands would never be adequate because the God who fills the universe cannot be contained in a building. His true desire was always to fill the hearts of humankind, transform them from sins brokenness into a new creation with unbroken fellowship with Himself.

It’s always been all about his love for you!

Ezekiel 11:19-20 ESV

[19] And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

[20] that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

As Jesus told the woman at the well, “the Father seeks after those who will worship in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:24). Which is being filled to the brim with His Holy Spirit!

In order for true worship to be instituted, there were some necessarypreparations that needed to be made (by Jesus) along the way to set the stage fortrue worship.

On the surface, this incident might appear to catch Jesus to be acting a bit out of character because of his violent outburst in the temple. He cracked and swung the whip. He turned over tables dumping money and merchandise on the ground! He opened cages and pens setting birds, and animals free! After that he drove all of the vendors and cashiers out of the temple court.

Like a Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris fight scene where the hero is out numbered and out gunned, yet with lightning speed, cat-like agility, and razor sharp skill, he mows through the bad guys like a freshly oiled chain saw on dry wood! This imagery doesn’t match the soft spoken, always smiling, gentle, long-haired, doe-eyed, Swedish looking Jesus of the western world.

Though out of character, according to how we have been programmed to think about Him, Jesus was in full control of the situation and knew exactly what he was doing when he shook things up in the temple on that day!

Sometimes God has to shake things up in order to straighten things outconcerning his will for us.

Because in order for our worship to be acceptable to God, our temple (our body and mind) has to be cleaned out!

After attending a wedding in Cana, Jesus spent the next few days with his family at his home in Capernaum, Jesus then travels to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Upon entering the temple, he was livid at the complete disrespect of God’s house! The Jewish leaders sanctioned the Temple courts, the place Set aside for God to meet with his people, to be used as a market, instead of the solemn and sacred worship space it was supposed to be.

Just like you know and respect your family home, Jesus knew and respected his Fathers house!

Every year Jesus and his family went to Jerusalem for the feasts.

In fact, Mary and JOSEPH lost track of him when he was 12 years old. They left Jerusalem, travelled and entire day before they realized he was missing! When they went back, they found him in deep Theological conversation with the priests. When they tried to scold him, they were left speechless at his response!

Luke 2:48-49 KJV

[48] And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

[49] And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

WHEN JESUS SAT DOWN AND BRAIDED A WHIP, HE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT SHOULD BE TAKING PLACE IN HIS FATHER’S HOUSE.

After attending a wedding in Cana, Jesus spent the next few days with his family at his home in Capernaum, Jesus then travels to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Upon entering the temple, he was livid at the complete disrespect of God’s house! The Jewish leaders sanctioned the Temple courts, the place Set aside for God to meet his people, to be used as a market, instead of the solemn and sacred worship space it was supposed to be. Just like you know your family home, Jesus knew his Fathers house!

Every year Jesus and his family went to Jerusalem for the feasts.

In fact, Mary and JOSEPH lost track of him when he was 12 years old. They would head home from Jerusalem, travelling an entire day before they realized they lost Jesus!

When they went back to Jerusalem, they found him in the temple and in deep Theological conversation with the rabbis, priests, and scribes.

When Joseph and Mary tried to scold him, they were left speechless by his response.

Luke 2:48-49 KJV

[48] And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

[49] And he said unto them, how is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Jesus knew exactly what should take place in God’s temple.

The specific place where this happened was called the court of the gentiles. This area was specifically set aside so that the stranger and foreigner would be able to hear about, experience, and turn to the one true God who had the power to change their lives. But instead those in authority desecrated by misusing it for an unauthorized purpose. They Transformed this sacred space into a marketplace; Jesus himself calling it a den of thieves!

I imagine how he must have felt, when he saw his fathers house being disrespected the way it was. It would be like coming home from a trip to find your teenage kids having… the house party of the decade, and your house is in shambles. You walk in the house expecting it to be as clean as you left it, but instead you walk into a HOT mess! You walk people everywhere, red cups and paper plates all, food and trash on the floor and on your furniture, and plenty of alcohol to loosen things up.

The music is ‘turnt’ up! The joint is Jumping! The bass is booming! And the house is packed!

Your sanctified ears burn as hear Chris Brown’s voice, so loud you can’t hear yourself think…

“They packed up in here wall to wall and

I don't hear nothing but ladies calling

I'm tryna give one of them all this

But they keep coming from wall to wall…”

…And just before you unplug the DJ’s Equipment and pick up the aluminum baseball bat behind the coat rack, Your heart pounding, fists clenching, your breathing rate deepens, your eyes scan the room, your children see you coming and terror fills their eyes as the Adrenalin courses through every cell in your body! The zeal for your own house has completely consumed you.

What Jesus saw ticked him completely off! He walks into his Father’s house expecting to see a place where people could encounter and experience the one true God, but instead he…

(14) found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

He was enraged, but not out of control. Not Bruce Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk and destroying everyone and everything in his path. No!

· It was a controlled response!

· It was more than an act of passion.

· It was a 100% premeditated house cleaning!

Notice verse 15, “And when he had made a whip out of cords, he drovethem all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;”

The word to describe this is the Greek word ekballō (ek-bal'-lo). This means to eject: Meaning to bring forth, cast (forth, out), drive (out), expel, pluck (pull, take, thrust) out, put forth (out), send away (forth, out).

This is the same word used to describe the way Jesus would cast out demon spirits from those possessed by them.

John 2:16 And said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

Those things had to go! They didn’t belong in the sacred space of God’s Temple! Some of us might want to take this to heart and begin to clean our own houses through the Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit. If you’re a child of God and resident of the Kingdom, you can’t just let any old thing go on in your house! You can’t abdicate authority and lit someone else run your house! Who pays the bills? Your children? Your dog or cat? Choices have to be made and the house that you share with the Holy Spirit (your body and mind) must be clean!

Joshua told the entire nation of Israel…, choose you this day whom ye will serve; …: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! -Joshua 24:15 (KJV)

Therefore, “if you ain’t paying the bills, you don’t get a vote!”

· Time to do some house cleaning!

· Time to throw out all the mess!

· Time to redeem at that sacred space back to the Lord!

· Time to stop fighting my parent’s authority!

· Time to love my spouse!

· Time to teach your children by example!

But what about when the problem is not in those around you? What if the problem is you? Are you ready to get serious with God and clean your house!

It’s hard to justify getting upset when you catch your children stealing from your liquor cabinet when you drink in front of them. You seethe with rage if you catch them smoking, but you smoke in right in front of them. Lead by example and clean your house! People are watching you! You might be the only bible someone may ever read. So whatever you do, don’t put off cleaning your house!