Overnight between February 1 and February 2, 2013 I experienced a dream or vision that, at first, greatly troubled me… because it was very much like the first dream or vision that I experienced between September 13 and September 14, 2009: which is to say that its initial impression was negative.
Please read my post ‘God Still Speaks…‘ here … for an account of that first dream or vision.
For a reason known only to God, I do not remember as many details of the second dream or vision as I remembered from the first dream or vision. I do remember, however, a man of color more or less ‘in my face’ loudly telling me ‘Stop! Stop!!’… it was very emphatic. I do not remember being afflicted with dread or foreboding like I was in the first dream or vision, but when I returned to a conscious state, I was lying in my bed, and after a short time of reflection on what the dream or vision could have meant, this came to mind:
Amos is a book of the Old Testament, one of the minor prophets. However, there was not a verse that came to mind; in my first dream or vision, I was given both a book (Matthew) and a chapter (16), which I had to read through to find the verse with which the Holy Spirit convicted me (24). After a second, shorter lapse of time, the chapter was given.
The 6th chapter of Amos is not a long one, and it is presented here in its entirety:
Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! Go to Calneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end. The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself – the Lord God Almighty declares: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.” If ten men are left in one house, they too will die. And if a relative who is to burn the bodies comes to carry them out of the house and asks anyone still hiding there, “Is anyone with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.” For the Lord has given the command, and he will smash the great house into pieces and the small house into bits. Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow there with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness – you who rejoice in the conquest of Lo Debar and say, “Did we not take Karnaim by our own strength?” For the Lord God Almighty declares, “I will stir up a nation against you, O house of Israel, that will oppress you all the way from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah.” (Amos 6:1-14)
The verse that the Holy Spirit convicted me with was Amos 6:1…
Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!
I discussed with a very special friend and mentor what I had experienced, and during the course of a social engagement that we both had that day, we read the 6th chapter of Amos and discussed its meaning. I thought that the verse I was convicted by (an “echo” of the man of color in my dream or vision shouting ‘Stop! Stop!!’ to me) was a warning to cease a practice of complacent religion, while my friend and mentor thought that the verse I was convicted by was potentially a call by God upon my life.
I believe that both of our interpretations were valid revelations of the Holy Spirit… hence this post.
I am in reverent fear of God at this point… because it is critical to walk circumspectly when one claims that a dream or vision has been received from God. Holy Scripture is very clear that those who speak falsely will be condemned:
But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
As a result of my first dream or vision, I was able… by the grace of God and the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone… to lay alcohol at the foot of the cross, never again to offend my Lord and Savior with habitual drunkeness. In God alone there is infinite, righteous power for the attainment of the purposes for which His Word and His only Son Jesus Christ were sent… the salvation of men from their sins, and the sanctification of men before a just, pure, holy and righteous God, both purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ.
I believe in God, yes… but in the book of James, the Word of God says this:
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder. (James 2:18-19)
Belief alone is not faith. Belief alone leads to what I fear has happened to me… complacent religion. It is a 100% certain fact that God does not need us to do anything on His behalf. He needs to consult with no man, and He is beholden to no one. If we have been marked in Him with the Holy Spirit, as His possessions, as testified to in these verses:
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
then we who profess belief in God and in the One that He has sent must be willing to be His workers in the world that we find ourselves in. Our willingness to be used for His purposes is the fruit that true faith in God produces, and that willingness brings glory to God and to His Son and to the Holy Spirit. We must be ready to work for Him, ready to bring His Word to the broken and forsaken, ready to suffer for Him, and ready to die for Him should that be demanded of us.
Let us not have a complacent religion, and a lukewarm… if not altogether cold… faith.
There is work to be done… God’s work. To give you an idea of what it means to be complacent, that we all might better understand its insidious, albeit softly pedalled, poison, here are frightening definitions:
Marked by self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.
Satisfied with the current situation and unconcerned with changing it, often to the point of smugness.
American Heritage Dictionary
It is one thing to be self-satisfied with one’s career, or with one’s hobbies, but it is another thing entirely to be satisfied with one’s faith, especially as it relates to fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations: which is equivalent to saving those who are lost. There, I’ve said it… yes, saving the lost. I make absolutely no apology for the saving faith that is belief in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commands; I echo the sentiments of the Apostle Paul:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)
There is no room for complacency in the Christian life… indeed, there is no time! Witness the words of the Apostle Peter:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Christians always were, are now, and always will be, until the coming of Jesus Christ in glory, soldiers at war. Do you doubt this? Do you call me overly melodramatic and purposelessly intense? Holy Scripture tells the truth:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
We must never lose sight of the ever-present dangers that surround us, which are the forces of darkness in a fallen and broken world ruled ruthlessly by a liar and the father of lies, a murderer from the beginning who seeks the destruction of all that God has created and nutured so that he might exalt himself above God. Make no mistake about the evil one: he has come to seek, kill and destroy. Every weapon that can be used against us, he will use against us. Every technique that can be exploited to his advantage, he will exploit to his advantage. Nothing, no matter how immoral, perverse, rotten, corrupt, and filthy it may be, will go unused in his struggle to defeat and kill us: but he does not stop there. He will use attitudes of our hearts and minds… including, and almost chief amongst them… complacency. He will use our self-satisfaction with our lives, our sense that everything is going well, our unawareness of present dangers, the deficiency of our sin nature, and our built-in inertia against changing anything that appears to be working just fine to make us lax toward God. This is not unknown to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He speaks of it in Holy Scripture; He speaks of the Laodicean church in these verses, but it rings true for a vast majority to this very day:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:15-17)
This is a concise description of… COMPLACENCY
It is not only individuals that must be warned against complacency… it is nations as well.
In the United States, our society has become nothing if not complacent in nearly every aspect of life as we know it at the present time. Ever since the migration from a largely agrarian economy to a largely industrialized economy has started and accelerated, we have indeed seen quantum leaps in knowledge and technology, with an increasing accumulation of leisure time, but… at what cost? The cost has been nothing less than catastrophic in the deterioration and eventual destruction of civilization’s most basic building block: the God-sanctioned nuclear family unit of husband, wife and children. We have traded the family for conveniences, for jobs, for cars, for houses, for vacations, for careers, for the mindless pursuit of any and all pleasures despite what the costs of those pleasure might be, for politics, for technology, for jewelry, for sports, for alcohol, for drugs, for anything and anyone that makes us feel good about ourselves, for security, for…
Holy Scripture testifies with a sober warning of what is to overcome and utterly destroy nations and peoples that are saturated with complacency:
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.’ Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. They will build houses but not live in them; they will plant vineyards but not drink the wine. The Great Day of the Lord “The great day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:12-18)
The solution is plain for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear:
Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation, before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you. Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3)
Do you refuse to believe in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to pay the penalty for your sin? Are you a scoffer and a mocker? Do you deny the One who has created and sustained you, and who has loved you before the world was? Read this and understand…
First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:3-9)
Unbeliever, scoffer, mocker… you are the reason that God waits!
Let us not have a complacent religion, but understand that the will of God is that we should live with an abundance of joy so great in its magnitude that it overflows to everyone around us. Let us rejoice in our faith, and by God’s grace use whatever gifts God has given us that we might be witnesses to those who are lost, because God’s desire is that everyone should turn from their sins and know Him in the free pardon of sin that has come by the blood of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. The time is short, and we must be about the work of God with urgency, for His righteous judgment will shortly come upon the earth.