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“Famine in the Land”

 

Foundation text: Amos 8:11-12

Introduction: First let me “paint” a picture for you about Amos.  God called Amos from his home in Tekoa, Judah to go to Bethel Israel (7:10-16).  Bethel was about 25 miles north of Tekoa. The prophet Amos was a common man who made a living herding sheep and tending sycamore fruit trees.

I believe if Amos could have traveled through time, he could have preached the same messages today.  Amos declared that there would be a famine of hearing God’s Word.  Some of you may be thinking that was for Amos’ time, not for today.  But you are wrong.  It is for today.  The Word of God is eternal.  It is not bound or limited to time.  It can go through “time barriers.”  It is for all believers throughout history (past, present, and the future).

Even as God spoke to the people in the time of Amos, God is still speaking through the same [Word/Bible] to the people today.  Throughout periods of Jewish history, there were “dry times with God.”  God was simply not speaking.

Now, let’s fast forward it to today.  Today we have more Bibles, Churches, Christian television/radio and Christian books than any time in history, and there’s still “a famine of knowing and hearing God’s word.”  Remedy for [Bible/word] famine…


Outline

1.     Daily study of God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15, Acts 17:11)

2.     Memorizing and meditation of God’s word (Psalm 119:11; 1:2)

3.     Prepare for famine now (Genesis 41:47-49, 53-57, Exodus 12:37, 2 Timothy 4:1-2)


# 1. Daily study of God’s Word

“Now, the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians” Why?  Because they searched and examined the Scriptures daily (day by day) to see whether those things were so.”  The word ‘searched’ in the Strong’s/Greek #350 means: to scrutinize, to investigate, to interrogate, to determine, to ask, to question, to discern, to examine, to judge, and to search.

Many people casually [read/study] their Bible, like they are reading the newspapers or a magazine.  Most of us don’t like to study, because it reminds us too much of school, college, and homework.  Now, let’s get to some studying.

A.   Questions you should ask when you are studying the Bible:

1.     Who wrote the book (author)

2.     Whom was the book written to

3.     When did he write it (the time/date)

4.     What is the theme or message of the book

5.     What is the historical background or major events in the book

6.     What is the key idea or word in the book

7.     What are the key dates in book

 

B.   Be regular in your studying of the Bible:

Regularity counts more in bible study than the person who spends a great deal of time one day (they run a Bible marathon) than does not study it for days and even weeks at a time.

Example:  It’s like a runner who runs six miles [one day a week] and another runner who runs one mile a day [six times a week].

But who do you think will do better in their training?  The one who runs or studies once a week or the one who runs or studies six times a week?  I think even Lassie could figure that one out.  The person who studies the word day in/day out, good days and bad days will do better than someone who picks up their bibles occasionally once a week.

Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”  Lack of Knowledge of what?  Of knowing the Word of God.  Many Christians are like parrots.  They never study anything out for themselves.  They only repeat what they hear or is told to them (usually by their pastors). God doesn’t want us to be like parrots, just repeating what someone else says.

Study the Bible for yourselves.  Take time out of your busy day and schedule to study the Bible every day.  Don’t be satisfied with second or third hand information.  Get it out of the horse’s mouth (the Bible) for yourselves.

 

C.   Find a quiet place:

Have a place or room where you can study and write every day.  I have my study Bible, a pen and note book that I can write and take notes.  I also have a calendar that I record the time in everyday.  I have been doing this since January 1, 1999. 

For the best results choose a place where you will be least interrupted.  Also choose a specific amount of time you will be studying everyday (between 15-20, 30-40, or 60 minutes a day).  When you study, turn off the phone, television set, Est.  When you study you may want to try the “sandwich approach”: some in the morning and some throughout the day.

 

D.   The Do and Don’ts for studying:

1.     Do most of your studying in the morning (if you can).  I call it “front end loading.”  The mind is the most alert and best able to take in and process information in the morning.

2.     Don’t wait til one hour before you go to bed to study the bible.

Hint: You will probably be too tired from your long day or work or school to want to study the bible at that time.

3.     Do set up a set time to do your studying.  If you don’t set one, you probably won’t do it. 

4.     Don’t study lying down in your bed or bedroom.  You will probably fall asleep.

 

E.   Classify and write down your results:

Why?  Because it is a good way of recalling your studies and information when you need it.  If you don’t write it down, it will probably be forgotten.  Information that is not retrievable is not usable.  Put your studying down on paper.

If you are listening to someone speak, write it down.  You will remember about 10% of what you hear.  You forget about 90%.  That’s a lot to forget.  If you don’t write it down, you will probably forget or lose most or all of it.  When you write it down, write it out into an orderly manner where it can be easily read and understood.

The men who wrote the Bible were “writers.”  See Deutoromony 31:24-26; Jeremiah 30:2; Revelation 1:11). You might even think about getting some folders and a file cabinet, or you can open files on your computer.

 

F.    See the Big Picture:

From Genesis to Revelation see the Bible as one whole book, divided up by 66 smaller books.  It’s like the United States; we have 50 states but are still one country/nation.  Get a panoramic view or the books/bible.

Story: “The little boy and the parade.”

The father took his little boy to a parade.  They stood by a wooden fence about five feet high. The father could see over it, but the little boy couldn’t. So, the little boy looked through a small hole in the fence and could only see one person marching and playing a drum. Finally, the father picked up the boy and put him on his shoulders so he could see better.  The little boy was surprised to see the whole parade marching by, singing and dancing and playing their musical instruments. 

See the smaller picture, as well as the larger picture.  See the Bible books as parts to a whole. Many Christians only know a few verses here and a few verses there.  They don’t see the big picture or what the theme or message of the book is.

 

G.  Tools you will need:

Get a good study bible (that is your “workhorse”); a Bible Concordance; a dictionary; a pen/notebook and a calendar.

1.     Study Bible: with notes and introductions to each book.  An introduction usually tells of the book’s author; the date or time of writing; the theme or message of the book; the historical background; major events in the time period; key idea; key word and key dates.

2.     A Bible concordance: a bible concordance does two things

a)     Tells you the meaning of the words, either in Hebrew (Old Testament) or in Greek (the New Testament).

b) All the passages in which the word is found in the Bible.

3.     Dictionary: for spelling and looking up words/meaning

4.     A pen and note book: to write/take notes in: take notes while you are studying.  Notes are important because they help you to remember thing when they are fresh on your mind.  So you should write them down.

5.     A calendar: To keep track of your time.  I have been using a calendar since 1-1-1999.

 

#2  Memorizing/Meditation Of God’s Word

 

Psalm 119:11: “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” 

Hide God’s word in your heart, so you can recall it when you need it. How many of you carry a bible around with you 24/7?  Memorizing God’s word is like putting spiritual money in the bank.  You put money in a regular bank, so start putting money into your “spiritual bank.” We need to have a reserve of the word of God “hid in our hearts.”  Too many people are hiding God’s word on the shelf, not in their heart.

When you memorize Scripture, memorize it by book, chapter, and verse, not a bunch of scattered verses in your mind.  Back in the time of Jesus, Jewish boys were taught to memorize large portions of Scripture.  Jesus also memorized the word, and every time the devil came to Jesus and quoted the word, Jesus quoted the word of God right back at him (Matthew 4).

Meditation On God’s Word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2-3; )

Meditation: When you say the word meditation, the first thing that comes to most people minds is cults, Eastern religions, or yoga.  Yet meditation upon God’s word is good.  Christian meditation might mean turning (or rolling) a Scripture verse over and over again in our minds.

The word ‘meditate’ in the Hebrew (Strongs #1897) means: to ponder (think deeply about) to consider carefully, to study, speak, talk or utter.  The prophet Amos probably meditated on the word of God as he took care of the sheep and fruit trees.

Meditation: Cows chewing the cud (half-digested food returned to the mouth for a further chewing).  We need to “chew the cud” with the word of God.

 

# 3. Prepare For Famine Now

I am reminded about a story in the Bible (about a famine) and what they did to prepare for it.  See Genesis 41:17-30.

The first dream Pharaoh had: Seven fat cows came up from the banks of the Nile, grazing along the river bank.  After them, seven skinny-bony cows came up from the river and ate the seven fat cows.  After they had eaten, they were still just as skinny-bony as before.

Second dream: Pharaoh saw seven heads of grain (full of good) on one stalk, then suddenly seven more heads appeared on the stalk (withered and thin) that swallowed up the seven good heads of grain.

Meaning of the dreams:  Both dreams mean the same thing.  The seven fat cows and seven good grain speak of seven years of plenty ahead (good growing and abundant bumper crops).  The seven skinny cows and also the seven thin heads of grain speak that there will be seven years of famine (crop failures/scarcity of food) following the seven years of plenty.

Back to the Text: Amos 8:11-12

The Bible says the time is coming when there will be a famine of hearing the Word of God.  There are people running from meeting to meeting, from church to church, from person to person “wanting to hear a word from God, not to know “the Word of God.”  I believe we are living in that day “right now”, and I believe it is only going to get worse.

First, let’s talk about a natural famine.  Someone tell me what the word famine means?

Famine means: a scarcity or (short supply) of food.

What if on the world news, they said ‘there is famine coming’, but we didn’t grow enough food for next year.  What would you do?  We would all run, walk or drive to the store and buy extra food (lots and lots of extra food).  For a famine in the future see Revelation 6:5-6; 8.  The Bible mentions the Black horse rider who brings worldwide famine/food shortage.

Now, let’s get back to the story about “little Joe”.  See Genesis 41:35-36; 47-49: they knew a famine was coming; God told them, so Joseph collected the food and stored it up.  It says that Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, and after seven years the granaries were full to overflowing (v. 49).

Genesis 41:56-57: There was a famine in “all the world” (the Middle East).  All the countries came to Egypt to buy grain.  As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual.  If you were to go out in the Midwestern part of the United States (like North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and parts of Illinois), you will see wheat fields for miles and miles.  You will also see these huge silos where they store the grain and corn.

Even as in the natural, those huge silos that store up the grain, in the spirit we should be store houses for God.  God wants us to be silos, filled with the word of God. As Christians we should be “breadbaskets” to the world.

2 Timothy 4:2:  Be prepared in season and out of season (especially Pastors and Bible teachers and those who are doing ministry.  Prepare yourselves for the (spiritual) famine NOW (not later). Don’t wait till it comes, it will be too late then.  Be a storehouse for God, filled with God’s word.  You can’t give out what you don’t have.

Story: “Detective with a Gun”  A detective with a gun worked in a city.  For many months he did not have to use his gun. So one day he decided he did not need to carry his gun.  A few weeks later he came face to face with a criminal.  The criminal pulled a gun on the detective.  The detective also went for his gun but it wasn’t there.  Guess what happened next?  The criminal shot and killed the detective.  Why? Because he was not prepared.  Have your “guns” loaded and ready to go.  Some Christians draw their guns and there is nothing there (they just shoot blanks or rubber bullets).  A man with no word is like a cowboy in the old west fighting Indians with a gun…with no bullets.

Joseph saved a Nation (actually TWO nations): 

1) The Egyptian nation

2) The Israelite nation

3) and the [known] earth from a famine.  In our time of plenty, we should be preparing for the time of spiritual (famine).  Who knows what people or nation God is preparing you for?