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                        "A FAMINE FOR THE WORD"  
                             Amos 8:11-14   
1. About 750 B.C., an obscure farmer and shepherd was called by God to  
   be a prophet...  
   a. The man's name was Amos  
   b. His mission:  to warn Israel of God's coming judgment if they did  
      not repent!  
2. Sadly, the nation did not heed the call to repent...  
   a. As a result, they were led into Assyrian captivity  
   b. Part of Amos' prophecy that was fulfilled concerned an unusual   
      famine that would come upon the people:  A FAMINE FOR THE WORD OF  
      GOD! - cf. Am 8:11-14   
3. Today, there is also a famine for the Word of God...  
   a. Different in some ways  
   b. Yet similar in other ways, and producing similar results!  
[In our study today, we will compare the present-day famine with the   
one foretold by Amos...]  
      1. The present famine for the Word of God was not sent by God  
      2. On the contrary, it is evident God has provided for a "feast",  
         not a "famine"!  
         a. We enjoy an abundance of Bibles  
         b. Never before in the history of mankind has the world   
            enjoyed such free access to God's Word  
      3. Indeed, today's famine for the Word of God is SELF-IMPOSED!  
      4. Despite such access to the Bible, the following "Diary Of The  
         Bible" illustrates what is often so true:  
         a. January:   A busy time for me. Most of the family decided  
                       to read me through this year. They kept me busy  
                       for the first two weeks. I'm now forgotten.  
         b. February:  My owner used me for a few minutes last week.  
                       He had an argument and was checking references.  
         c. March:     Grandpa visited us. He kept me on his lap for  
                       an hour, reading 1 Cor 13  
         d. April:     I had a busy day. My owner was appointed a  
                       leader of something and used me. I got to go to  
                       church the first time this year...Easter Sunday  
         e. May:       I have a few grass stains on my pages. Had some  
                       early spring flowers pressed in me.  
         f. June:      I look like a scrap book. They have stuffed me  
                       full of clippings. One of the girls got married.  
         g. July:      They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we're  
                       off on a vacation. I wish I could stay at home,  
                       as I will have to stay in this thing for a   
         h. August:    Still in the suitcase.  
         i. September: Back home again, and in my old place. I have  
                       lots of company. Two "True Stories"and four  
                       "Funny Books" are on top of me. I wish I could   
                       be read as much as they are.  
         j. October:   They used me a little today. One of them is   
                       sick. Right now I'm all shined up and in the  
                       center of the table...I think the preacher is  
         k. November:  Back in my old place.  
         l. December:  They are getting ready for Christmas. I'll be  
                       covered under wrapping papers and packages.  
   [Why is there this present-day famine for the Word of God?  The   
   answer may be found as we compare this famine with the one foretold  
   by Amos and notice...]  
   B. HOW IT IS "SIMILAR"...  
      1. The present famine is the result of similar causes  
         a. E.g., material luxury  
            1) In Amos' day, this became the cause of pride which God  
               hated - Am 6:1-8   
               a) Their luxury prompted them to "put far off the day of  
                  doom" in their minds (i.e., they did not want to   
                  think about the future)  
               b) God had warned Israel that it might cause some to   
                  forget God - Deu 8:11-14 ,17  
            2) Likewise, Jesus warned that riches could choke those who  
               had received the Word - cf. Lk 8:14   
               a) Today, many in their search for wealth forget about  
               b) Others have so filled their time enjoying their   
                  luxuries, they have no time for the Word of God  
         b. E.g., moral corruption  
            1) Consider how corrupt the people had become in the days   
               of Amos - Am 2:6-7   
            2) Who can deny that immorality is having its effect on the  
               church today?  
               a) The world's standards often become the standards of   
                  those in the church  
               b) When this happens, people will not want to feed upon  
                  the Word of God  
                  1/ If they did, it would make them very uncomfortable  
                  2/ Because of its ability to reveal our true selves   
                     - cf. He 4:12-13   
         c. E.g., religious corruption  
            1) The people of Israel couldn't wait for religious days to  
               be over - Am 8:4-10   
            2) Today, many people can't wait for services to be over so  
               they can work or play  
               a) If they are unwilling to spend time in sincere   
               b) ...it is easy to see why they won't take time to feed  
                  daily on God's word!  
      2. The present famine also produces similar results!  
         a. Amos described a sad picture in Am 8:13-14   
            1) Young people fainting from "thirst"  
            2) Others falling and not rising again  
         b. Doesn't this describe the daily lives of many Christians  
            1) Suffering from a lack of "spiritual food"...  
               a) They are easily overcome by temptation!  
               b) Even the common trials of life overwhelm them!  
            2) This may help us understand why...  
               a) Some new Christians fall away  
               b) Young people often lose interest  
               c) The behavior of some elders, preachers, and teachers  
                  is what it is!  
         c. There are two things that are necessary to resist trials   
            and temptations...  
            1) Faith in God:  believing that He will provide a way of   
               escape - 1 Co 10:13   
            2) Fear of God:  that awesome reverence that motivates us   
               to turn from evil - Pr 16:6   
            -- The Word of God is designed to impart both! - Ro 10:17 ;  
               Deu 17:18-19 ; 31:10-13  
[The condition of many churches today is one of "spiritual   
malnutrition"!  Influenced by materialism, immorality, and a lack of   
true spirituality, by CHOICE many have imposed a famine upon themselves  
for the Word of God!  
This helps to explain the discouragement and defeat in the lives of so  
many Christians today!  What can be done about it?  How can we end this  
self-imposed famine for the Word of God?]  
      1. It possesses the power of CREATION  
         a. Demonstrated with the creation of the physical realm - He 11:3   
            ; Gen 1:3   
         b. It has similar power in the spiritual realm, producing true  
            regeneration! - Jn 6:63 ; 1 Pe 1:23 ; Ja 1:18   
      2. It possesses the power of SANCTIFICATION  
         a. As praised by David in his psalm - Ps 19:7-11   
         b. As mentioned by Jesus in His prayer - Jn 17:17   
      3. It possesses the power of PRESERVATION  
         a. The young are instructed to keep their ways pure by it - Ps 119:9  
         b. The elders are exhorted to keep the church pure by it - Ac 20:28-32  
         c. A lack of knowledge has always destroyed God's people   
            - e.g., Hos 4:6   
      4. It possesses the power of SALVATION and CONDEMNATION  
         a. It can save our souls when properly received - Ja 1:21   
         b. It will be the standard by which we will judged - Jn 12:48   
      -- Should this not motivate us to learn the Word of God?  Would   
         it not be foolish to neglect such power in our lives?  
      1. Like newborn babies longing for their mothers' milk, so we   
         need to long for the word of God! - 1 Pe 2:2   
      2. I contend that nothing less than daily reading of God's Word   
         is necessary!  
         a. We appreciate the value of daily nourishment for our bodies  
         b. Do our souls deserve any less?  
            1) They were created in the image of God!  
            2) They redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!  
            3) One soul is more valuable than the whole world put  
               together! - Mt 16:26   
      3. A simple practice of DAILY BIBLE READING will go a long way to  
         ending this famine for the Word of God!  
         a. A reasonable goal at first is to read a chapter a day  
            1) I recommend reading through the New Testament first  
            2) At the rate of one chapter a day, one will easily read  
               the NT in a year  
         b. Once the habit of daily Bible reading has been established,  
            reading three chapters a day will enable one to read   
            through the entire Bible once a year  
            1) That is really not much, yet many Christians have never  
               read the Bible through once!  
            2) It takes the average reader only 20-30 minutes a day  
            3) The use of some Bible reading chart or checklist may be  
      4. As you read, make it a time for meditation and prayer  
         a. Meditating upon the Word - cf. Ps 1:1-3   
         b. Praying for wisdom and help to obey God's word - cf. Ps 119:18   
1. It must have been terrible for the Israelites...  
   a. Taken away as captives to a strange land  
   b. Unable to feed on the wonderful Word of God!  
2. But how tragic for those who impose a famine for the Word upon   
   themselves today!  
   a. By their own neglect they languish from spiritual malnutrition  
   b. By their own neglect they remain captives to sin  
3. Their tragedy is increased when we realize...  
   a. Their neglect is not just one related to the Word of God has it  
      existed in Amos' day  
   b. But they are neglecting the full and final revelation of God's  
      Word given through Jesus and His apostles!  
   -- By God's grace they have so much more to enjoy, yet they turn   
      aside from this spiritual feast!  
4. I challenge everyone to...  
   a. Make the commitment not to neglect the all-powerful Word of God!  
   b. Feast daily upon that Word which can save your souls!  
As Paul told the Ephesian elders when he bid them farewell:  
   "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His  
   grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance  
   among all those who are sanctified." - Acts 20:32   
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