There are pendulum swings in a walk with God.
We sometimes beat ourselves up trying to be what we think we ought to be, until we get so frustrated that we just give up completely.
And at other times we just enter into the rest of the Lord and trust Him to shape and form us as He sees fitting, as the Master Potter and we as the passive lumpy clay.
Through the years we find ourselves swinging from one side to the other, back and forth.
So how do we find that balance, that center-line that is the best place to be in?
Today's lesson will address this and bring you into a whole new dimension in your thinking when it comes to these things.
The first few chapters of the book of Amos record prophesies and exhortations that were related to various events.
Chapters 7 through 9 describe the many visions prophecies and exhortations that Amos received.
Amos was a shepherd, and he also worked with orchards.
He himself said that he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet ( Amos 7:14); but a Word from God came to him.
It is very important that we get the picture of this Word, for it will show us what God is doing in the earth today through the restoration of the New Testament Church.
Thus the Lord Jehovah showed me: and, behold, He formed locusts in the beginning of the shooting up to the latter growth ( in Palestine, where the land would yield to it, and where irrigation or other means were used, it was possible to produce more then one crop in a year); and lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings.
Then, as now, the government received its portion first.
The first mowing went for the taxes, and the poor people had to get by with whatever happened to grow after that.
And it came to pass that, when they made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord Jehovah, forgive, I beseech thee, how shall Jacob stand?
For he is small.
Jehovah repented concerning this: It shall not be, saith Jehovah.
Thus the Lord Jehovah called to contend by fire; and it devoured the great deep, and would have eaten up the land.
Then said I, O Lord Jehovah, cease, I beseech thee: how shall Jacob stand?
For he is small.
Jehovah repented concerning this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord Jehovah.
Twice Amos saw a vision of Judgment that was to come against Israel for their sin.
Though God was ready to judge them, at the entreaty of Amos the judgment was pulled back.
Then the third vision came.
Thus he showed me; and behold, the Lord stood beside a wall made by a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand.
And Jehovah said unto me, Amos, what seest thou?
And I said, A plumb-line.
Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not again
Then Amos proceeded to describe a number of events. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam about the prophesyings of Amos, and then very deceitfully he said," The land is not able to bear all his words."
Then he tried to make a deal with Amos to get out of the country.
He even bribed him.
Amos prophesied the death of the king and the fact that even Amaziah's wife would be a whore in the streets and his sons and daughters would fall by the sword.
He predicted other bloody things.
All of this came to pass in due course.
Rather than being concerned with these historical facts, however, let us consider the procedure by which God accomplished them.
First of all, God sent the locusts; then He sent the fire.
But each time He was entreated to back off.
But then God put forth the plumb line, saying," I will not pass this up again."
When God lays the plumb line of the Word before us, from that time on we must measure up.
It seems that there are times of ignorance when God deals with us a little differently.
Acts 17:30 tells us that the times of ignorance God winked at.
However, He probably never winks at His saints in their ignorance; He deals with them.
Sometimes He deals with them without destroying them, as He did when He sent the locusts and the fire and was entreated to back off.
But once He puts down the plumb line, His people will either measure up to that, or judgment will
The picture of Amos and his plumb line is often misunderstood.
It does not mean that God is going to lay the plumb line to the wall, and if it does not measure up, the wall will be knocked down.
Basically, that is not the intent and purpose of God's dealings.
A plumb line is not a measure of destruction.
It reveals defects that must be corrected; it has a positive and constructive purpose.
Ephesians 4 shows us that the New Testament ministries were given to drop the plumb line.
Zion is to have that plumb line until the people measure up to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The plumb line has the positive approach.
As you go into a spiritual battle, you must realize how important it is to win.
But when you win a battle, it does not necessarily mean that you have won the entire war.
The complete victory may be promised to you, but even though you attain one victory after another, you have not attained the ultimate victory.
Rejoice as you win one battle after another, but do not get the idea that the victory you win today is the last battle that you are going to fight.
You are participating in a great victory that God gives to the Body.
Thanks be to God who gives us, not victories, but the victory ( I Corinthians 15:57 ).
Each little battle gives us one of the victories that is an overall part of the great victory that god has ordained for His people to walk in.
Many hearts are crying to measure up to His righteousness.
But the focus is not on beating people down concerning their problems.
God is setting the plumb line for His people to measure up to what they are to be, and He will not pass by again.
He will no longer back off, so that they can barely miss measuring up.
He is laying the plumb line upon them.
There can be no fooling around.
Their situation would not be serious if they were not in such a position of blessing.
God wants His people to focus on becoming a Church without spot or wrinkle.
Ephesians 4:11-13 describes the plumb line:
And He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the Body of Christ ; till we all attain unto the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
That is the yardstick which test whether or not we are going in the right direction.
We may be tempted to preach or to become involved in a certain project; but if it is not related to the wil of God in the earth, we had better forget it.
God is going to measure us up to all that He has for us.
God has apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers to lay the plumb line constructively and positively before us, and we must measure up to it.
What is the ultimate goal?
That we reach the measure of a prophet?
No, we must reach the measure of the stature of the fullness of Jesus Christ.
This is the goal.
Prophets are but a means to an end.
Being a prophet is just part of it.
A beautiful car is not an end in itself; but where it goes is important.
An army is not an end in itself.
The army achieves its purpose in the strongholds it pulls down and the kingdom it brings forth.
Never get your eyes upon the means that God is creating as though that were an end in itself.
You are not an end in yourself; you are a means to an end.
You were raised up to bring forth the will of God in the earth.
This vision has to fill your heart and your mind and your thinking.
There is no excuse for being discouraged.
If you are humble and you are focused upon what God is doing, you will refuse every bit of discouragement.
Put your efforts into labors which will help to bring forth the will of God and glorify God in the earth.
For how many soever be the promises of God, in Him is the yea: wherefore also through Him is the Amen, unto the glory of God through us.
II Corinthians 1:20
This tells us where our focus must be.
Through us will come forth glory to God.
Through Christ, God's promises are yes in any language.
The purpose of inheriting a promise is for God to be glorified through us.
The promises of God are not given to satisfy our personal desires.
Nothing is to be done to the praise and glory of man.
Every plan that is a man's idea and not what God has spoken, every program that might squeeze through to bring glory to man, will abort.
It will die on the vine.
God wants to be glorified in you.
He wants to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe ( II Thessalonians 1:10 ).
Do not get the idea that the Parousia, the presence of God, will suddenly make a big difference so that everyone will see that you are serving God, while others are not serving God.
I rather doubt whether any of those who serve Him will receive recognition.
They are seeking only to glorify God in their lives.
The plumb line is dropped in your life, but not to make you measure up and conform to any standard.
That is not the end in itself.
The goal is to measure up to the stature of the fullness of Christ so that you glorify the Lord.
Why should you prophesy and make proclamations?
Just to create another religious style of worship in the earth?
No, to bring forth the glory and the will of God through you, to let the Lord move through you.
If you had that focus, you will also give more attention to the little details that you are required to carry out.
You will want to please the Lord in His house.
You will want everything to be done to the praise of His glory.
Whatever you do, in word or deed, you will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ ( Colossians 3:17 ).
Will this cool your fire?
No, this will put coal on the grate.
This will give you impetus.
Paul said, "I run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one who beats the air" ( I Corinthians 9:26 ).
If you only beat the air, ready to hit someone without having a definite target, you are going to get hurt.
Someone will hit you back.
In God's end-time spiritual warfare, your focus must be exactly right.
The goal is to see the complete elimination of all demon power in this generation from this planet, to see an end of all deeply rooted principalities and powers, because it is Christ's right to rule.
He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
His is the right to rule.
Do not be zealous to have a throne; be zealous for His role.
If you have the wrong focus, you will become discouraged.
Luke 19:17 tells how a faithful servant was given authority over ten cities.
After being faithful to a project that the Lord has given you to accomplish, you may look forward to retiring.
But suppose the Lord gives you ten cities to oversee.
If you have the wrong focus, you will say, "Who needs ten cities?"
You will utterly fail unless you have the pure motive to see Him glorified; then you will be glad to glorify Him by life or by death, by any way that He is magnified.
Unto the glory of God through us- this is what is behind all the promises and the plumb line that is laid to your life.
In I Corinthians 3:10, Paul wrote:
According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise master-builder I laid a foundation....
A foundation for what?
For we are God's fellow-workers: ye are God's husbandry, God's building.
It is easy to build a church.
If the pastor stops to think that it is God's church and wonders how He wants it built, there will be no trouble.
But if the pastor looks upon it as his church, he will have a problem on his hands.
Let him not be ambitious to have his church; his ambition must be for God to have a church.
It is God's building.
But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is.
Why is it necessary to be so careful about the way we walk?
Young people, because they are young people, may be expected to slip a little now and ten.
But they may miss out, too.
The day of the Lord is going to declare everything that we have done in Jesus Christ, whether or not we have built for Him to have His building stand as a living temple, made up of living stones for a habitation of God by the Spirit so that He can live in it and walk in it and be glorified in it ( Ephesians 2:22 ).
That is the eternal goal.
Jesus will test what we have done.
If we have built wood, hay, and stubble, it will burn up.
He will pass what is still standing after He puts the fire to it.
The ministries of authority had better be careful how they build the house of God.
Instead, they ought to point out what is being done right.
A pastor must not beat the people concerning what they are failing to do, but hold up high the goal of what they are to be.
Then he will see them reach up into God and gravitate to what God wants of them.
He must constantly give them something to rise to, a challenge in the Spirit for Christ to become more real, a challenge to measure up to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
If a man hears a positive sermon, he will go away feeling far more repentant than if the pastor emphasizes the little things in his life that are wrong.
It is far better to lift up the Lord and encourage a man to rise to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The plumb line is not a negative measurement; it is positive measurement.
It is the measurement of eternity that is applied to our present-day labor in God, our walk with God, our day-by-day existence with the Lord.
Prophesy, but prophesy with a focus; prophesy with a knowledge of things that will come.
Hit every problem that you have.
For example, every play in a football game is not just one more big game in the season.
The next play must be the most important effort in that whole season to the player.
He must strive to get through and see the play completed that he is responsible for, so the whole season will go well.
He must always keep in mind that he dare not slack off in even one game, or that might be enough to keep his team from winning.
Likewise, you must meet every battle, every challenge, just exactly the way God wants you to meet it, looking at the whole objective.
Paul said, "So fight I, not as one that beats the air.
Run so that you may win.
Many run, but one receives the prize."
( I Corinthians 9:24-26 ).
Run to win, having your eye on the Lord Jesus.
Cast aside every weight and sin, so that you can run; but do not concentrate only on the weights and sins.
While you are doing that, keep your eyes on the goal.
Look unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of your faith.
When you get a little weary, consider Him ( Hebrews 12:1-3 ).
Run with Him.
When you have your eyes on the goal, it helps you to throw off the weights and the sins at the moment.
As each battle presents itself, go into it as a faithful steward to do the will of God.
Although the goal may at times seem a little fuzzy, God will also give the next step.
A walk with God is very practical.
Ethereal things out in the distance are emphasized, but you will always know where to place your foot in the next step, too.
There is always a present emphasis
You cannot make it unless you have both.
Moses endured, as seeing Him who is invisible ( Hebrews 11:27).
He could put up with the Israelites and their murmuring as long as the Lord was real to his heart.
As long as he could see the Lord, he could get through anything.
You can get through today's spiritual battles if you know where you are going.
Keep your eye on the lord and walk with Him, and it will be easy to take the present step.
In a business that is set up with Kingdom principles, the goal is to not make money; it is to glorify God and to see His will done.
If that is not the vision, nothing will come out of it.
Dedicated believers will not feel disillusioned when they sacrifice or work long hours for only the barest necessities.
They do not worry about it because they know that God is going to take care of the situation.
Faithful stewards do not make a vow of poverty; they make a vow of sacrifice, to tune in to His plenty.
All the riches of Christ are going to be appropriated.
The wealth of the nations will come to God's people.
A believer does not need much.
He can only sleep in one bed at a time; he can only drive one car at a time.
You will not have this pure vision if you do not see what is coming.
If you feel poor, you will be grabbing for things.
But in Christ you are a king; you are rich, and you should feel rich.
You will not struggle to get into the full freedom that God has promised for His people unless you feel rich in Christ already.
You will not struggle to do the will of God unless you feel that you are the will of God in the earth.
You will not struggle for a word from God unless you believe that the word is coming forth and being made flesh within you.
You have it, and yet you are attaining it.
The fourth chapter of Leviticus contains a touching picture that is symbolical for us.
When a man came in with his sin offering, he laid his hand upon the head of the victim, the animal that would have to die.
It was a simple little act, and similarly, you can reach into the Lord and lay your hand upon Him, recognizing that He has become your forgiveness, your substitute.
He has become the source of every blessing that pertains to life and godliness.
Identify with Him.
Reach up and lay your hand upon the sacrifice.
Touch Him, not just draw from Him, but to identify yourself with everything that He is, with the riches of His glory.
He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
We touch Thee, Thou Lamb of God.
We lay our hand upon Thee, Thou blessed sin offering.
We are identified with Thee.
We are one with Thee.