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Sunday, January 11, 2015 pm                                Perfection 2015 Index

WOE TO THOSE AT EASE IN ZION
Amos 6:1

 This morning, we discussed the importance of determination as we deal with our need to “Go on to perfection” (in 2015).  If determination is not there, as we noted, there is a good chance we will succeed in our efforts, or not grow as we ought to.  ONE of the concerns we need to deal with as Christians is complacency.  Tonight, I would like to examine that subject by noting a text in the Old Testament and making application to day.  Our text is Amos 6:1

I.                    The Text and Context

A.                   Background of Amos -   Amos was a prophet from Judah who was sent primarily to the nation of Israel during a time of great prosperity to warn them of their impending doom (Amos 1:1).  Amos was a sheep breeder who was called by God to prophecy to Israel during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah and Jeroboam (II), king of Israel.  He was an early contemporary of Isaiah who prophesied around 780 to 740 BC, somewhere between 20 and 60 years before Israel would fall to Nineveh (Assyria). 

The time of the writing was a time of relative prosperity and peace in both Israel and Judah.  They were doing well, and as is often the case in such time, they were complacent toward God.  There was immorality and corruption in their midst.  Amos was sent with a strong warning to Israel and Judah to repent and turn to God, and if they did not repent, destruction would come against them.

B.                   At ease in Zion – our text

           While he wrote primarily to Israel, our text today was directed toward both Judah AND Israel.  The text reads, “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, And trust in Mount Samaria…”  (6:1)
Zion, was a name given to Jerusalem, that as it was used by the prophets often carried a double meaning – 1) a portion of Jerusalem that included the temple complex and 2) spiritual Jerusalem, or the kingdom of God’s righteous.  With both of these senses it can be said that Zion is: the place where God dwells with His people. 

Our text was a warning for physical Israel and Judah to repent and wake up.  But it also carries a message that it would do us well to be reminded of.   It is the 2nd of 3 woes in the latter part of this book.  The first was in Amos 5:18 where it speaks of their desiring the day of the LORD but they are told it would be a day of darkness to them.  The 2nd woe, is our text.  The 3rd if found in vs. 3, “Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near;” (Amos 6:3).  They did this because they thought they had all the time in the world and thus they sat back and took their ease.  Their senses were dulled to their condition and the coming destruction they were unprepared for.  Within a few years after the warning of Amos, Israel (Samaria) fell to Assyria, and Judah was greatly troubled by them.  If not for the grace of God, they too might have fallen (cf. Hezekiah pleading for them and being heard)

C.                   Complacency.  With that background, let us consider our lesson tonight.  Are we at ease in Zion?  Have we become complacent in our service to God? By that I mean, are we developing to the degree that we ought to be?  Do we live as if we have plenty of time and thus we can put off obedience for a while?  Can we put off our efforts to mature?  Can we put off warning others?
The Bible warns against complacency.  Speaking of one who delays applying wisdom, Prov. 1:32 says, “For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
In Matt. 25:1-13 we find 5 unprepared virgins.  They were unprepared because they were complacent.  Obviously, they thought they had plenty of time, but their delay caused them to fail to enter the feast.
Romans 12:11 describes us as, “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

II.                  Are we at ease in Zion?

A.                   It isn’t because: (BKT – vol. VI)

1.                   There is nothing to do –

a)                   There is plenty for us to do. The Christian life is to be a busy one. 

b)                   All we do is to be done to the best of our ability –
                Ecclesiastes 9:10; Colossians 3:23 – whatever you do, do it heartily.
                Romans 12:11 – speaks of not lagging in diligence and being fervent in spirit.

c)                   John 4:35, Jesus speaking to His disciples said, ‘Don’t say there is still four             months, the harvest is ripe now.   
                Mark 16:15-16 – we are to “go into all the world…

d)                  AS we follow the example of Jesus we find one “who went about doing good”
                – Acts 10:38

2.                   There are too many workers –

a)                   Luke 10:2, Matt. 9:37-38 – one more than one occasion Jesus told His disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

b)                   Again we are reminded that there is plenty of work to be done.  On another occasion, Jesus told His disciples about harvest, “lift up your eyes and look to the fields, for they are already white for harvest.” (John 4:35).  We just need to be looking

c)                   If you need something to do, ask the elders.  I’m sure they can find something for you to do.  There are always brethren that need encouraging.  We need to do things to try and reach the lost.  There is work to be done with our facilities.  Etc.   plenty that needs to be done. 

3.                   There is plenty of time

a)                   We live with a finite amount of time.  In fact, it can be said that we are living here on borrowed time.    Prov. 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

b)                   John 9:4, Jesus kept busy and on one occasion when he gave sight to a blind man said, He needed

c)                   2 Peter 3:10-12 – the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night … what manner of persons ought you to be?

d)                   In 2 Tim. 4:2-3, Paul warned Timothy to preach the word, “in season and out of season.”  He was also saying, “Preach it NOW!”  Because a time is coming when they will not hear it.

e)                   2 Cor. 6:1-2, “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

4.                   There is no reward

a)                   God takes note to what we do.   Eccl. 11:1 says, Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.
1 Cor. 15:58 tells us that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

b)                   Our rewards for service are many.  We receive some reward in this life as we see souls obey the gospel and others strengthened.  
We have brethren who will lift us up and express great appreciation for what we do.
The Christian life is a life that will work and is best where society is concerned!  It is a life of integrity, morality and caring about others.  Things the world so desperately needs.

c)                   And then there is the eternal reward.
Heb. 4:9 speaks of the rest that remains for the people of God (cf. Rev. 14:13)
 1 Pet. 1:3-5 speaks of our inheritance reserved in heaven.

d)                   BUT, it will only be received if we pursue it with fervor and determination.

II.  Why are we at ease?  There are many reasons why some become complacent.   Some include:

1.                   We are too comfortable in this world. 
As Christians, we are to be other worldly – Col. 3:1-2.    Yet materialism and worldliness make it too appealing, too comfortable.  There are things we don’t want to surrender to follow Him.  There is a reason those facing persecutions are closer to God.   They look to the day when these will end and God makes it right.  James 4:4 tells us that friendship with the world is enmity with God.

2.                   We have let down our guard.  Sometimes we get so busy with worldly pursuits, we don’t have time (or make time) to stop and pay attention to what is happening around us spiritually.  Sometimes our comforts (see above) cause us to relax too much.   Hebrews 2:1 warns us to give the more earnest heed lest we drift away.

3.                   We are ignorant - many are not aware of their need to change.   They don’t know God’s word well enough to know they need to change.  Some rely on others to tell them what to do and what not to do.  The religious climate in our society is one that avoids identifying and exposing sin.   Those following the positive, preaching movement (i.e. Joel Osteen, etc.) are lulled into thinking they are fine because they never HEAR those areas where they need to repent.

4.                   We are indifferent – some just don’t care!  They don’t want to change and nothing is going to make them change.  They are living for today and don’t want to be bothered with the future.  Many who are young and think they have all the time in the world will live this way.  But they are not alone!

III.                Overcoming our ease

A.                   It’s time to WAKE UP!  2 Corinthians 6:2 tells us that NOW is the time to awake. 
Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

B.                   Repent – resolve to do better.   Anytime we determine we are not what we ought to and there is sin in our lives we need to repent.  True repentance leads to change as it is needed 2 Cor. 7:11

Forgiveness only comes when we are willing to do what we are commanded to do – 1 John 1:7

C.                   Return to the Old Paths – when you were what you ought to be 
Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

 Hebrews 10:32 – Recall the former days…, 35-36 – you have need of endurance.

Revelation 2:5 – to the church at Ephesus, they were warned to Remember where you have fallen from.

D.                   Get to work – Galatians 6:9 – don’t lose heart and don’t quit.

 

Sadly, the warnings of Amos and other prophets did not cause Israel to repent.  As a result, they were carried away into captivity.   Judah, while their fate was prolonged also failed to listen and too suffered the wrath of God at the hand of the Babylonians.   We, face an even greater wrath if we fail to serve God.  We cannot afford to be at ease.  We must be diligent in God’s Service.  Our ease will come when we spend eternity with Him (cf. Rev. 14:13).