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. Micahlee says:

    I struggle with this so much. I’m also first born and type a and extroverted to boot. I love people. And though I understand this message of the gospel and grace, it’s hard to put into practice. I constantly want to defend Martha for wanting to take care of people when she and Mary are pitted against each other. I see the injustice in the world and feel like prayer is not enough- we need action. I know there is pride at the root of this…. but as much as I pray and confess and study and pray more I haven’t been able to find any relief

  2. Beth says:

    I remember as a child we sang a song “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?” I worried that there wouldn’t be and this translated to a competition to earn my crown in heaven. I suppose I have always had that mindset. As Churchmouse said, I tried to always sign up and do whatever they asked. I remember one day driving home from delivering a meal to a family and realizing that I hadn’t made enough for my family. We had nothing prepared for dinner. I stopped cold and thought that this isn’t right. God can’t intend for me to be so busy serving others that I neglect my family. It took awhile, but I also decided to resign from all of the committees and jobs I had and just be a Mary.
    Thank you, ladies, for helping me to see that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. You all help me so much by just sharing your hearts.

  3. Xara says:

    It’s like I wrote this myself. It’s exactly where I am right now.

  4. margo says:

    I am not sure where I found this quote but it was brought to my mind when I read today’s reading. Thought I would share with all you wonderful women.
    “When ministry becomes performance, then the sanctuary becomes a theater, the congregation becomes an audience, worship becomes entertainment, and mans applause and approval become the measure of success. But when ministry is for the glory of God, His presence moves into the sanctuary. Even the unsaved visitor will fall down on his face, worship God and confess that God is among us.”

    1. Emily says:

      Wow, what a great quote! Thank you for sharing!

    2. GramsieSue says:

      That is truth well spoken! ❤️

    3. Julie says:

      Wow this is great—I would like to share this quote with others, but do you know who said it?

  5. Jessica cebc says:

    No gold stars just God’s grace. Check my hearts motives!

  6. Emily says:

    I have been struggling so much with trusting God. I love him, I love to worship and learn about him, but I don’t pursue him in prayer and trusting him is hard. I guess I’ve had a hard time trusting people, so it made me bitter. I don’t want tube bitter. Please pray for me.

    1. PursuedByHim says:

      Praying for you Emily to not be bitter but to see and feel God’s love for you.

  7. Chris says:

    First born double type A over achiever!! Oh that’s me! This devotional was point on!! Thank you!! And thank you ladies for sharing. I work in a pregnancy resource ministry– it’s banquet time– so our “to do” list is long! Each morning we meet for prayer and ask God to slow us down, to know He is in control!! It is His banquet!!! Please pray always for your local Pregnancy Center!! Pray for wisdom for the staff and volunteers and especially for our abortion minded girls!!! Thanks.

    1. Other Karen says:

      Thank you, Chris, for the work you do to help young women. Praying that the banquet will go smoothly, give God glory, and be a blessing for many more women!

    2. Kimberly says:

      Praying for you and your center this morning Chris. I too work at a pregnancy resource ministry. We do our banquet in the spring, but I know all about the stress of the annual banquet. As the ED the main responsibility of the banquet falls on me. After several years of struggling with the stress, a few years ago I began doing a Daniel Fast or another type of fast or cleanse along with a devotional designed to be done with a fast, for the three or four weeks coming up to the event. It has transformed how I handle the stress because I stay so much more centered on the Lord and trusting the Lord with the details and the outcome of the event. I have a book titled “The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast” that gives teaching about the Daniel Fast, a list of foods and recipes, and a devotional. I highly recommend it. The Author is Kristen Feola. May God bless, anoint, and bring abundant provision through your center’s banquet. And May the Lord grant you peace through the process! Thank you for all you do, Chris, for the women in your community and their unborn babies!

  8. Gloria Tucker says:

    Doing things on our own can be pretty tiring! Especially when we mess up at our jobs, with our kids, or even in sin! But I know God has a bigger plan for us and his grace covers even the little things in life! So beautiful!

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