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January 3, 2021

Bulletin for January 3, 2020

In Sunday school, our teacher James taught from Amos 9:10-15. The people of Israel had a misplaced trust in their status as "God's people." They were that, but this did not exempt them from punishment for their sin. In fact, their status as God's people actually heightened their responsibility.

Some Scriptures that deal with their special status before God: Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6-9, 26:18, 32:9; Psalm 147:19.

Where the people went wrong is that they looked at what God did in making them special as Him granting them possessory rights, rights that other do not have. They thought then that nothing could take those away. In fact, they have promissory rights, but there are conditions that come with such rights. There is a bi-lateral nature to these rights.

They wanted God to keep His part of the agreement, while they did not keep up their side of the agreement. All the sinners of God's people would die by the sword.

There are ten verses in Amos that mention judgment declared by God (thus says the Lord) because of transgressions. Judah also is in line for judgment. Amos 1:3, 1:6, 1:7, 1:9, 1:11, 1:13, 2:1, 2:4, 2:6, 3:14, 5:12. See also Gen 18:23 and following.

At verse 11, there is a dramatic shift in the content. It sounds entirely different than judgment and famine which was the focus for most of the prior part of the book. The Day of the Lord referred to earlier in the book was near-term. But now, "that day" refers to a future period of time. Despite its future timing for them and yet for us, it was still to be an encouragement to the audience of Amos. We understand the text literally.

To demonstrate that this is future, we can ask a simple question: has the tabernacle of David (the Davidic dynasty) been rebuilt? It existed as a split kingdom at the time of Amos's writing. The near future was that the Assyrians were coming. 722 B.C. was the approximate date for the destruction of the northern kingdom. Judah was not taken at that point, though the southern kingdom was damaged by the Assyrians. Jerusalem was protected. Then in 586 B.C. the southern kingdom was finally taken in the third incursion of the Babylonians. From that time, David's dynasty was in need of restoration.

For us, Amos seems afar off. He prophesied 2,800 years ago. And the things he speaks in 9:11-15 are in the future for us. But they are an encouragement for us because God will accomplish His purposes. God always has a remnant. God will never fail.

In the worship service, the message title is "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled." Pastor O'Dell asked our brother Therman to read John 14:1-4 and then challenged and encourage us in light of the new year that we will face in 2021.

Pastor O'Dell presupposes a pre-tribulation rapture based on a plain reading of the Biblical text. There is a clear distinction between the rapture and the second coming of Jesus Christ. In the latter, the Lord is coming back to the earth, and will sit on his throne literally in Jerusalem for 1000 years. See the connection to the millennial kingdom in Isaiah 11 and 12. In the rapture, He comes in the clouds to receive the church, and this is prior to the second coming. It is imminent and can thus happen at any moment. There are no signs that need to be fulfilled before it occurs. There are many signs that deal with the second coming. No man knows the day or hour of the rapture. However, there are indications that the rapture is potentially very near. This is illustrated in how we see the signs of upcoming holidays in October and November of the year (Christmas movies, songs, decorations in stores), so we know that Thanksgiving and Christmas is around the corner.

We do not, however focus our attention on this world and things happening in it. We should not be disturbed and fearful of the things that are coming. The message today is that we must not be troubled. No matter what we face, we can face with peace and joy. We can be at comfort because our provision and protection is found in Christ—not in our abilities or possessions.

See John 16:33. Pastor O'Dell appealed to us to make sure that we are "in Christ." Otherwise, we will not have the peace available "in Him." If you do not know Christ, you face a fearful future. But even though we can have peace in Christ, and even though we will escape the Tribulation, that does not exempt us from tribulation in general. "In the world, you will have tribulation." The stage seems clear that the rapture may be soon; but God can reset the stage!

Tribulation need not destroy our peace. Security is found in Jesus Christ. We can overcome tribulation. See some verses on overcoming: 1 John 2:13-14, 4:1-4, 5:4-5; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26. The Spirit of Antichrist is stronger today than it ever has been in the past 3/4s of a century of experience of Pastor O'Dell. He encouraged us to see behind "the man" to spiritual issues that are driving upheaval, hatred, and all that is going on.

Israel's possession of the land is unconditional; their occupation of the land is conditional on Israel's obedience.

Pastor O'Dell closed with the idea that we are without excuse if we do not come to faith in Christ. Whatever we face: fear not, look up, be ready, redemption draws near. Until it comes, trust in God because He will see you through, and He will see you through with peace and with great cheer. Be cheerful no matter what happens in 2021.

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