Day 10

Seek God and Live

Amos 5:1-27, Micah 6:8, Philippians 4:8-9

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Amos 5:1-27, Micah 6:8, Philippians 4:8-9

I am a first-born, Type-double-A achiever, fluent in the languages of performance and gold stars. Grace, on the other hand, consistently boggles my mind.  

I can think back to one such moment several years ago. My husband was on staff at a small church. I did everything I could to partner with him in the ministry that became the functional nucleus of our existence. Ministry is time-consuming and, at times, gut-wrenching. And while my husband seemed to feel a tinge of external pressure, I faced a daily temptation to spontaneously combust. That’s what happens when you try to earn something that has already been freely given; things become volatile in a hurry.

I was serving my guts out for all the wrong reasons, trying to earn God’s favor through church attendance and program planning. I was living for the gold stars that I hoped existed on a cosmic sticker chart in heaven. It’s not that anything I was doing was “wrong” or “bad.” It was just an outflow of a heart tied up in self-inflicted knots. The carrot that was always in front of me was the false gospel of good deeds, not the true gospel of Jesus Christ. That experience taught me that false gospels are terrible taskmasters—cruel, demanding, and ultimately hollow.

God’s people find themselves whipped by such a taskmaster in Amos 5. Instead of seeking the Lord, their hearts chase wildly after everything else. Amos promises destruction in return for their rebellion. God’s people find themselves fallen, forsaken, and on fire (vv. 2,6). And then comes the wailing, mourning, and lamenting (v. 16).

As dramatic as this sounds, it feels like the same old same old. God’s people turn to idols and He raises up a prophet to yank them back from the brink of judgment. But this time things are different. There is no golden calf, no Asherah poles, no altar set up to honor a pagan god. Instead, God is enraged by their offerings of “good things,” given for all the wrong reasons (Amos 5:21-23).

God’s people were following the rules. They gathered like He commanded them to (Exodus 12:16). They faithfully brought their offerings, just like their righteous forefathers had (Genesis 8:20, 22:3; Leviticus 1:3). They even held spirited worship services. What gives?

I think back to that season of ministry and know there are no gold stars in heaven. There is only grace. And grace can never, ever be earned. So Amos might as well have been preaching to us because our hearts are not unlike those of the Israelites: our motives are misshapen, our goal is our own glory, and our worship is all wrong.

Yet, even as God breathes out judgment upon His people through Amos, He also offers redemption. He calls out to us even now, saying, “Seek me and live!… Seek the Lord and live” (vv. 4,6).

Worship and sacrifice are meant to be an exclamation of God’s goodness toward us, not a means to try to grab more from Him. If we find our hearts tied up in knots, worrying that we  haven’t earned the gift He freely offers, then we must look for the thread of salvation woven into every tapestry of God’s judgment.

If you are tired and worn out and empty from striving and performing, look once again to Jesus. It’s His love and devotion—not ours—that turn our hearts back toward Him.

Seek Him and live.


Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (51)

51 thoughts on "Seek God and Live"

  1. Destiny says:

    These devotional tore my heart. If you find yourself in the Father’s presence asking “What gives?” ask yourself what you are truly giving.

  2. Natasha Woodcraft says:

    I normally find these devotionals so helpful but I think this one missed the point. The problem here was not that Israel was trying to earn God’s affection, which of course we can’t do, but that it was trampling the poor and allowing injustice. The bulk of the passage, and the quote from Micah, is about the fact that if we claim to be worshipping God, while forsaking those he calls us to look after (the poor, orphan & widow etc) then our worship is not just meaningless, it is actually despicable to God. Yes the writer makes an important point, but it is out of context here, Amos is here preaching against hypocrisy and the divorce that we all have in hearts between worship and justice.

    1. Morgan Hoy says:

      I agree! The passages were powerful but the devotional just didn’t fit.

    2. Christine Willis says:

      Yes this!!!! I was so confused by this devotional today. This is hopefully supposed to bring godly guilt that leads to repentance for not opening our eyes to our lack of pursuit of justice. I think we see in scripture gods overwhelming heart for the poor and needy. In Jeremiah 22:16 it’s says to seek the cause of the poor and needy is what it means to KNOW Him. I think it’s easy for us as Americans to do our religious practices without blinking when we see injustice all around us.

  3. Rachel says:

    I love this quote from the devo, “There are no gold stars in heaven. There is only grace. And grace can never, ever be earned.”

    While I agree, my mind first went to passages that imply that we will be able to earn crowns/rewards to cast at the feet of Jesus (I Cor 3:14, Rev 22:12, James 1:12, Rev 3:11). Scripture indicates that Jesus has various rewards for those who are obedient and faithfully serve him on earth. So while there is absolutely grace, what do we do about the information that there is clearly rewards and crowns to be EARNED for the cause of Jesus and His kingdom?

    If we are to live heavenly minded, should those heavenly rewards and crowns to cast at Jesus’ feet be just as important as grace?

    1. lisa says:

      Hi there, im way behind so im not sure if you will see this reply or not, but I think the difference is that the forgiveness of our sins and our entrance into heaven is something that can not be earned. relying on good works will only see us fall away from grace. I believe that only faith in Christ and his resurrection will get us into the kingdom of heaven yet at the same time, when we do things to please him and as a way of showing our gratitude and love for God, we can earn heavenly rewards. However, as she stated in the study, the motive behind those actions are the key point as well. If we do good things solely for earning crowns and rewards, this will backfire and be despicable to God. If we are doing it purely out of godly love toward others, the rewards will be heaped upon us. I hope that makes sense! Lisa

  4. Mircea says:

    I di’dnt know where to find this info then kaboom it was here.

  5. Danya Ho says:

    hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
    22 pEven though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
    and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.
    23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to qthe melody of your harps I will not listen.
    24 But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

  6. Kylee says:

    Why do I glaze over Philippians 4:9?? I remember 4:8 by heart, but maybe it doesn’t stick because I always forget the promise in verse 9: “And the God of peace will be with you.” My anxiety has been SKY HIGH lately… seems like I start the day pretty Ok, but by bedtime deteriorate into a self-loathing ball of nerves. Lord, let me remember to steady my mind on You, not just because your ways are lovely and noble and true, but because when we steady our minds on You, You in turn promise us PEACE. I need that peace, lord, we all need it. And you so liberally provide our every need – thank you God!

  7. Kristen Clegs says:

    I read this somewhere recently:
    It is not my productivity God loves, it is me. It’s not my ministry God wants, its my faithfulness.

    Father, forgive me for giving You productivity instead of my heart, for valuing ministry above faithfulness. Protect me from measuring myself and others by our productivity, our ministries. The value You place on love freely given, on faithfulness in spite of circumstances, is immeasurable. Give me Your heart, Lord!

  8. Joanne says:

    Twice in this section Amos says seek me and live. Also those who turn justice into wormwood and through righteousness to the ground will be destroyed by the One who made Pleiades and Orion and who turns darkness into dawn. It is often tempting to seek false strength. This is especially true for me in my work place. There are so many modern teachings, even precepts if you will, that may appear strong and true but are weak and false. It is vital, but so difficult to always keep my mind on the things of Phil 4:8-9.

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