THINK: Have you ever noticed that most people who engage in self-indulgent or self-destructive behaviors aren't content to do so alone? They're intent on involving others. Followers of Christ must avoid this tendency at all costs. God takes it very seriously when people who know better use their influence to lead others into behaviors that cause them not only to contradict their own conscience, but to defy God's intentions for them. It's one thing to defy God on our own, but it is an even greater offense if we cause others to rebel against Him. You probably have more influence than you realize. Use it to inspire people to get closer to God, not to nudge them away from Him.
RESPOND: What job did Amos have, and what does this indicate about who God can use to deliver His message? (See 1:1 note.) Why does God tell Israel's neighboring nations, "I will send fire" (1:7,10,12,14; 2:2,5)? (See 1:4 note.) Considering most sins listed for these nations, what kinds of behaviors are involved, and how does God view such actions? (See 1:6 note.) What were the primary sins of Judah, Israel's sister nation (2:4-5)? (See 2:4 note.) In addition to disregarding God's Word, what other sins was Israel guilty of (2:6ff)? (See 2:6 note.) In what ways did rebellious people encourage more sincere people to defy God (2:12), and how is this similar to what some people-even Christians - do today? (See 2:12 note.) Why did most Israelites object to Amos' message, and why must Christians today be careful of the same attitude? (See 3:2 note.) How does 3:3 apply to one's relationship with God and the responsibilities involved? (See 3:3 notes.) What nation would overrun Israel, and who would survive (3:11- 12)? (See 3:11-12 note.) How were the people's religious practices adding to their sins (4:4-5)? (See 4:4-5 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you show His kindness, consideration and compassion to others in words and actions. Pray that you will not be guilty of influencing or persuading others to defy God or their own consciences.
ACT: Find practical ways to help and encourage people who are hurting or in need. If you're influencing anyone to do something he or she may not feel right about, apologize to God and to them.
THINK: Do you love to listen to God's Word? Does it inspire you? Encourage you? Challenge you? How do feel when it offers discipline or correction? How about when it tells you to change your ways, or else? Through His Word, God speaks to our lives on every level, and He expects us to respond accordingly. Yet it can be easy to take the Word for granted. It's always there. It will endure forever. But sometimes, God becomes silent. Amos prophesied to people who repeatedly rejected God's messages and warnings. They didn't want to hear any of it. They would get what they asked for. The prophets would leave them alone. God wouldn't send anyone to challenge, warn, or encourage them. They would get no word from God (8:11). When they looked for His guidance, they would find only silence. This never needs to happen to you. Keep listening-and responding obediently - to God's Word.
RESPOND: Whose sorrow does chapter 5 convey, and why? (See 5:1-27 note.) What could the people have done to spare themselves from the doom and destruction Amos spoke about (5:4,6)? (See 5:4 note.) How were people oppressing each other (5:12), and how did this defy God's desire? (See 5:12 note.) In practical terms, what does it mean to "hate evil, love good" (5:15)? (See 5:15 note.) How were the Israelites mistaken about what "the day of the LORD" (5:18) would mean for them? (See 5:18 note.) Why did God despise the people's religious feasts, assemblies, offerings and songs (5:21-23)? (See 5:21-27 note.) Why were the people complacent, and how can we avoid this? (See: 6:1-7 note.) What does 7:1-6 indicate about how God's people can affect how He enacts judgment and mercy? (See 7:1-6 note.) In what way did the ripe fruit (8:1) represent Israel? (See 8:1 note.) Because people had persistently rejected God's message, what kind of famine would He send (8:11), and how would it affect their lives? (See 8:11 note.) What promise did God make regarding Israel at the end of Amos? (See 9:11-15 and 9:11 notes.)
PRAY: Pray that you'll get a better sense of God's sorrow over sin, and that this will drive you to reach out more deliberately in words and actions to those who don't know Jesus. Give God thanks for His Word and for faithful ministry that you receive. Pray that you won't become complacent about God's purposes nor take His Word for granted.
ACT: Have you become complacent or spiritually lazy? Make sure you're not just going through religious routines. Sincerely practice your faith in and out of church. When you read or hear God's Word, put it into practice.