A major part of the Christian faith is to be a stubborn optimist. To see the days of bounty and goodness. To know that the Lord is good and regardless of present circumstances that the Lord will restore, the Lord will lift up, better days are coming.
The days are coming when there will be abundance. The days are coming when everything will go right for you. The idea of an optimistic spirit regardless of the stuff of life is one of the greatest Christian messages of all. The Christians of the Sumas Community are called to be an Amos for the people, reminding all who will listen that there is hope.
The good news: it’s a work of the Lord. The message is not that we are so great ourselves, that we have great ability or the power to restore: “I will bring back my exiled people…” (Amos 9:14).
In the situation of Amos, Amos is first telling the people that they will be removed from their land and homes, and then he’s saying, you’ll come back. The ruined cities will be rebuilt. You have to love the word “rebuilt.”
The message to the people in this community: the Lord will rebuild your life and restore you. I have a theory that I cannot prove: I believe there is only one greater miracle than creation. Creation must have been pretty awesome, when God created the earth using nothing, the creation of the earth, the skys, the seas, the land, the lights, the animals, culminating in the creation of human kind. The Lord fashioned us in his image, a beautiful creation testifying to his love and protection. And yet, the story of creation, for all of it’s amazing miraculous works, only takes up a few short chapters in the beginning of Genesis, and a few more scattered verses and chapters through-out the bible. There is a greater miracle than that of creation. That miracle is what occupies the bulk of the rest of the Bible. It’s a miracle that is promised to all who turn their heart to the Lord. It’s a miracle that is available to all without distinction. It’s the miracle of re-creation.
God created us once. That was amazing enough. But then sin entered the world. Amos starts his message to the people of Israel, you have trampled the heads of the poor, neglected the work of God, prideful and ignorant to those who have needs, with danger is lurking around the corner. Turn to the Lord and live, repent of your sins, come back to God. The message of Amos is the message of the Gospel; You have fallen away from the Lord, but come back, come back to a life of abundance, a life of blessing. Come back to the Lord and live. There is hope and salvation waiting for you.
The message of God is that there is nothing you can do for God to completely abandon you. The message Amos speaks for God is that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you. The Lord sees you. He sees your fears, your doubts, your frustrations, your bad choices, your anger, your hardness, and the Lord will never leave you. The last word is a word of hope: “I will bring back my exiled people.” i.e. I will recreate you.
I like the word re-creation. There is another way to pronounce it (take out the hyphen): recreation. As Christians, one of the great visions of God is to bring us to the place where we have a whole lot of fun: recreation. It’s the greatest miracle of all. To enjoy life and to enjoy life abundantly. That’s why the mystery dinner last month is such a good thing because it’s a lot of fun. What other quality is going to bring more people into the Sumas Christian community of faith than to have a whole lot of fun. When I envision the Live Nativity, I can already see the animals, a manger, the actors/actresses, the lights, the music, but more than that, a sea of people in the church building and on the property enjoying themselves, laughing, appreciating. I see lives changing. I see hope on the faces of those who are perhaps struggling, a place of recreation, or is that re-creation. Lives being mended and people changing,
It is your privilege to tell and show the people in your life that following the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest joy you will ever have. Amos was asked by God to say some pretty tough things to the people of Israel – words of judgment, prodding the people to recognize their sins, telling them what would happen if they did not change their ways, but it must have all been worth it to Amos, when the Lord gave him these final words: Amos 9:14-15.
“Never again.” Never again. In this day there is still heartache, still toughness, still trajedy, but how amazing are the words, Never Again. The day is coming. I will never forget my grandfather’s funeral, May of 81. He’d been a pastor his whole life, so it was fitting that at the funeral the pastors that were present came up and lined the front of the sanctuary in Bellingham. And the song that was sung: “What a Day that will be” It was no earthly award winning choir with a few tone deaf voices such as Pastor George Teshera, yet no more beautiful song of faith:
There is coming a day,
When no heart aches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky,
No more tears to dim the eye,
All is peace forever more,
On that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
There'll be no more sorrow there,
No more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain,
No more parting over there;
And forever I will be,
With the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
The Lord says, “Never More.” The day is coming when the Lord will rebuild your life and never more will you be uprooted. I don’t know what that final day looks like from experience, but I can see it. As surely as I can see the night of the Live Nativity, as surely as I can see some of you who are presently struggling, and others in this community. I don’t know exactly what the gift of prophecy looks like in our present world, but I really like the gift God gives his people through Amos: a vision of restoration, a vision of a better tomorrow, a vision of a re-creation, a vision of Never more. If that is what prophecy is, then I see a whole lot of prophets in this church because I see so many of you encouraging others, telling them that they are loved, showing them that they have great value. Isn’t that the message of Amos: in God’s eyes, you all have value because he wants to restore you.
The Lord promises restoration. Do you need to hear that word? The problem is that sometimes we have too small of a vision of what restoration means: we think that means going back to what we once were. We are talking God, folks. We are not called to pine for the good old days, the job we used to have, the good life that was taken away from us. The promise is: Better than ever. When Amos shouts out, “The Days are Coming” and describes a vision of coming days of restoration, he describes something they have never known. Better than anything they have ever had. I love the testimony shared in Sunday School a few weeks ago of a man in the community who is not at all healthy, but he says, "My life has never been worse, but it’s never been better." Never worse because of the physical deterioration of his body with little human chance of getting healthy, but never better because now he knows the Lord Jesus Christ. For those searching for work, I don’t know when the economy will turn around and jobs will become abundant, I have not been given that sort of prophetic gift, but I do know that the Lord can restore you and work out good in you and through you and transform you in your heart and attitude and life.
This week the county was privileged to welcome home the body of a fallen soldier, Aaron Aamott. I did not know Aaron, but I know some of the family. I know the man who officiated at the funeral service, Phil Dufrene. Thousands of people lined the streets of Ferndale and the freeway was closed for the procession. Aaron’s last call home to his family before he died, he spoke of witnessing of his Christian faith to his best friend, who also shortly thereafter died in the explosion that took his life. The family is grieving, but they are grieving with hope. Grieving with a smile. Phil spoke of the privilege of helping in the services, and speaking to the people gathered together that there is hope in Jesus Christ.
I don’t know what complete restoration will look like for those who are hurting and struggling in our community, it may not take the form of complete health, undoing a loss, but I do see hearts changed, an optimistic spirit, a life of recreation, enjoyment, appreciation, thanksgiving, peace. We have the same opportunity before us that God gave Amos: to tell the people and show the people in our community, that the day is coming when their lives will be rebuilt, re-created, and there is always hope, because there is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Winter is coming, but Spring is around the corner. Blessings will be in abundance. Your life will be restored. The day is coming when you will never again be uprooted. Put your hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.