Tim Johnson, editor
May 22, 2011
Preachers: Amos and Amaziah
Contrasting Attitudes in Prayer
Having the right attitude is the key to success in so many things. William James wrote that, "The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude." For the child of God, prayer is one of those things in which our attitude is critical. The success of your prayer life is determined by which of several contrasting attitudes you choose to have.
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY
The Lord is not impressed with people who are full of their own self-importance and self-righteousness. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Jesus illustrated this truth in the following parable:
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14).
Few people would identify themselves as the Pharisee in this story, but more of us probably need to. Any feeling of superiority over others must be completely removed if we want God to respect our prayers.
BOLDNESS VERSUS TIMIDITY
There is no reason for a true child of God to be shy about coming into His presence. Jesus' blood cleanses us and opens the way for us so that we have the God-given right to approach Him. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16).
CONFIDENCE & FAITH VERSUS DOUBT
If we believe in an all powerful God who loves His children and wants the best for them, there should never be doubt in our minds as we pray to Him. Jesus assured His disciples, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22).
Of course, it is necessary that we ask for things that God in His goodness and concern for us would want us to have. We cannot expect Him to bless us with things that are not good for us. As John writes in 1 John 5:14-15, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
One example of something that the Lord wants every one of His children to have is wisdom. So the Bible says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-8)
FORGIVENESS VERSUS RESENTMENT
Nothing so limits the power of a prayer for forgiveness as the unwillingness of the one who is praying to forgive another. Jesus said, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25-26).
Prayer is powerful. It can truly change things. But for our prayers to be powerful, it may be that we first need to change ourselves. Our attitudes can make all the difference.
-- Steve Klein
The Old Testament prophet Amos was a shepherd turned preacher. The crowd to whom he preached was the upper class of Israel, including the King himself. He was not their choice of a preacher, however. They did not choose him -- God chose Amos for them. His oratory was not refined eloquence. His preaching was not "polite" by their standards. If they could have "fired" him, they would have, but Amos was God's preacher, not theirs. Amos 7:10-13 provides commentary on his work in Israel. "Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel saying, 'Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said: "Jeroboam shall die by the sword, And Israel shall surely be led away captive from their own land." Then Amaziah said to Amos: "Go you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread and there prophesy. But never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the King's sanctuary, and it is the royal residence." This text shows Amaziah to be a different kind of preacher than Amos. Amaziah would preach what his hearers wanted, rather than what they really needed. He disliked Amos' style and message. He scoffed at the warnings Amos issued about judgments coming upon Israel because of her sins. Doubtless, it pleased King Jeroboam to hear Amaziah rebuke Amos. Amaziah told Amos to leave Israel and go to Judah, where his kind of preaching might be more appreciated. "We are too refined and sophisticated for this kind of preaching," Amaziah might be heard to say. But Amos did not keep quiet. He did not allow Amaziah to ridicule him and his work. He said, "I was not prophet, nor was I the son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, 'Go prophesy to My people Israel.' Now therefore, hear the word of the Lord..."
Amos was not a preacher for hire! He was not a prophet because his father was, or because he had gone to a "brotherhood preacher school." Nor did he preach because he was looking for employment! He was preaching because God told him to prophesy. We are made to wonder, "Why was Amaziah preaching?"
Many churches today want preachers like Amaziah. He would never be so rude as to disturb the peace of a congregation by pointing out its errors. He would not bother people by calling them to repent! No one would leave his preaching with feelings of guilt. Everything would be so sweet and pleasant that God would become nauseous! Conversely, Amos' preaching would not always be pleasant. It might even be troublesome at times if people insist on remaining in sin. His harsh rebukes might even cause some guilt feelings and unrest. But, remember -- Amos was God's preacher! Honestly now, which kind of preacher would you prefer--Amos, or Amaziah?
-- Mark W. White
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