Series: Shepherds Roar
Message: Our Own Issues
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Nathan Brown
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Amos 5-6 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: One way or another, remnant is a word that captures our Adventist attention. For some, it is a bold claim of a unique identity and mission in a hostile world. To others, it sounds like a note of arrogance and exclusivity that is often not borne out by the reality of the church as they have experienced it. Others consider it an oddity of our Adventist history and theological development, arising as it did among a group of church people who had been cast out of their church communities and then been sorely disappointed in their hope of the Second Coming but continued to cling stubbornly to their faith in Jesus. As an understanding somewhere between these extremes, remnancy has been described as a calling to live up to the ideals of what it means to be the people of God, even in difficult and hostile contexts and circumstances.
As small as a remnant might be—Amos described it earlier as perhaps “only two legs or a piece of an ear” (3:12)—Amos introduced an additional and essential element to what it might mean to be a remnant. Importantly, the concept was less focused on the people themselves: “Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of His people” (Amos 5:14, 15, NLT, italics added).
In Amos’ understanding, the defining feature of the remnant of the people would be the mercy of God. Yes, they would be people who would “do what is good and run from evil” (Verse 14) but what rendered them a remnant was the mercy—or grace, in a number of other translations—of God. Without the grace and mercy of God, any would-be remnant is simply made up of people who are socially maladjusted and are somehow still standing. When society is broken, unjust, and oppressive, social maladjustment is not a bad thing but is not automatically good. It is always the mercy of God that truly sets His people apart—and that always demands our humility and gratitude.
Recalibrate: Why do you think the concept of “remnant” creates such strong reactions, positive and negative, from many people?
Respond: Pray these words: “God, help us to be Your people as humble recipients of Your grace and mercy.”
Research: Do a word search on “remnant” in the writings of the Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament. What do these add to our understanding of the concept of remnant that is often focused on other parts of the Bible?
Remember: “This is what the Lord says to the nation of Israel: ‘Come to me and live’” (Amos 5:4, ICB).
Nathan Brown is a writer and book editor at Signs Publishing Company, near Melbourne, Australia. Nathan is author/editor of 16 books, including two this year—Of Falafels and Following Jesus and For the Least of These.
Make an obstacle course appropriate for your child’s ability. Place some pillows for them to jump over and chairs to crawl under and toys to crawl or walk around. Go through the course with them, talking them through each stage. Then see if they can go through it by themselves. Wait at the end of the course, calling them and encouraging them along the way. Know that whatever obstacles you have to face today our Heavenly Father calls, “Come to me and live” (Amos 5:4, ICB).
Do you answer the telephone at your house sometimes? Do you try to guess who is calling just by being able to recognize their voice? If you hear a voice that you have heard many times before it’s easy for you to know who it is. Did you know that a newborn baby can recognize their mom’s voice in just a few days? And a sheep can recognize the voice of its shepherd! The more you listen to God’s voice in your life the easier it will be for you to know when He is speaking to you.
Do you like being labeled? Usually we tend to think of labels as negative. In the book of Amos, God identifies a specific characteristic that He would like His people to have. Check it out: “Seek good and not evil . . . hate evil, love good” (Amos 5:14). God is asking His people to be known for “being good.” In this instance however, being good does not simply mean not breaking the rules. Goodness is much more than that. To love good and hate evil means to actually go out of your way to show kindness, mercy, justice (not revenge), and love.
Let’s get real: In what ways are you practicing the instructions to “hate evil and love good?” Are there things in your life that you must change in order to do this?
Have you ever struggled to love what is good? As I reflect on the words of Amos, it seems clear that God was calling Israel to “hate evil and love what is good.” I think it is fair to say that we all love some things that we know are “bad.” It is also sometimes easier to do what is evil rather than what is good. When thinking about this I am tempted to get frustrated and discouraged with myself. Why do I like doing the wrong thing? As I’ve grown in my understanding of God, I think this is what Satan wants us to do. God, on the other hand, wants us to turn to Him. When you are confronted with doing the right thing or the wrong thing—or loving good rather than evil—ask God for help! He wants to help us and change our hearts. What is something you love that is bad? Are you willing to ask God to take that desire from you and replace it with good?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Art Preuss pastors in Massachusetts at the Springfield, Florence, and Warren Adventist churches and serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserve as a chaplain.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.