True Worship

Open Your Bible

Amos 5:18-27, Micah 6:1-8, Mark 12:28-34, 2 Peter 3:8-13

Over the Christmas holiday last year, my husband, kids, and I all had the flu. Instead of festive gatherings with family, we spent the week in our beds coughing, sneezing, and aching down to the marrow of our bones.

When I finally felt well enough to leave the house, I ran into a friend who told me I looked great. 

“New exercise program?” she asked. She attributed my gaunt face to cardio when it was really a sign of the illness my body had endured.

In our reading today from the book of Amos, God speaks strongly against the fancy religious festivals and hollow burnt offerings of His people. Concerned with appearance rather than substance, they sought to appease God through rote religious practices, all while oppressing the innocent, taking bribes, and defrauding the poor (Amos 5:12). Things looked good. In practice, they were nothing but a smokescreen for disobedience. God calls this what it is: idolatry.

“You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god—which you made for yourselves” 
—Amos 5:26 (NIV)

The gods of self, money, power, sex, and influence lead only to destruction. They may look alluring for a while or from a distance, but in the end, they will devour us. And God is not fooled by pretense, polish, or pretending: He sees all that truly is. As God reminds the prophet, Samuel, “The LORD sees the heart” (1Samuel 16:7).

Gardeners waste no time on weeds, instead simply pulling them up and throwing them away. They focus their attention on the plants they wish to see flourish. Similarly, the prophets remind us that God will prune us out of love, removing that which hinders our spiritual health and growth as well as impedes the flourishing of our neighbors. This pruning can—and will—be painful. We may sometimes wonder if it has gone too far.

Yet God’s love is a force indeed. “But let justice flow like water,” writes Amos, “and righteousness, like an unfailing stream!” (Amos 5:24). Amos reminds us that God can be trusted—and that within His divine will is the only true place of peace for us and our world.

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38 thoughts on "True Worship"

  1. Candice Hernandez says:

    Today I noticed how Justice and righteousness go hand in hand. I saw it repressed my in todays scripture. I’ll be pondering this the rest of the day I’m sure. After all, how can we have Justice without righteousness being at the helm of serving up Justice? God is perfect righteousness.

  2. Megan Russell says:

    I feel the pruning this week. But now I feel grateful. It means I’m in the vine.

  3. Amy EB says:

    “Yet God’s love is a force indeed.” When I read that and then thought about the memory verse for this study which mentions water and a stream, I thought of the Grand Canyon. This huge canyon was formed by water. The force of the Colorado River carved away rock and earth to form the canyon, shaping it over time, following its path. God’s love also shapes us over time even as we go back to old habits, attitudes, or patterns of thinking. His love keeps working to erode those stubborn spots.

  4. Chelsea Wilson says:

    Pruning is not meant to be gentle. When God sees sin in my life that needs to be taken away, it will be painful. But the process of removing sin is so I can flourish as a child of God! Lord you know my heart, any evil you see will in me, remove and make me clean! I want to be more and more like you. That process is not easy, but it is worth it! Amen

  5. AG says:

    Lord help my heart to focus on you and not earthly things!

  6. Debbie Lightle says:


  7. Victoria E says:

    Searching and CeeGee it is good to be seen! I missed you all. I’ve been reading the Scripture but not the devotionals or the comments for a little while, felt it was time to return to this wonderful community.

  8. Claire B says:


  9. Esthera Cotoarba says:

    It hit me today that God is not only pruning me for my own good and health but also to eliminate that which “impedes the flourishing of our neighbors”. God’s work always overflows …

  10. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I hope that I would please God with my heart and my intentions. I know I am still a work in progress, but I know he isn’t done with me yet.

  11. Alayna P. says:

    I have to start leaning into the pruning

  12. PamC says:

    Colleen Deveau, wow. You nailed it. Thank you. Kelly (NEO) you as well. Thank you all for further speaking to my heart. The Russ Ramsey piece at HRT was really powerful. Our church has been saying so much of the same thing.

  13. Lindsey Williams says:

    Yesss !! Leaning into the pruning right now, and it is painful but it is so necessary and I see why it has to be done. Even though I sometimes feel angry and even resentful to God for this, I have to remind myself that it wasn’t God that has done this to me – instead, it was the result of my own sin that I cannot deny. God is showing me the way out. I asked to be purified and through the fire I must go.

  14. Patti Griffin says:


  15. Donna Wolcott says:

    Amen Colleen! May we all remember and remind our children and grandchildren what this day means, a great sacrifice for freedom. Every day may we humbly thank Jesus for our soul freedom.

  16. Audren Bruszer says:

    This study has been refreshing! We often talk about God’s “nice” side of His love, (trying to put this the right way) which is wonderful, and as someone who struggles to believe what God does about me, I really need that. But in that we can forget that He is a God of justice, righteousness, and wanting such things from us. It honestly motivates me to lean into the pruning, because I can see how much He commands us to be continually pruned to grow in righteousness and sensitive to the needs of justice.

  17. Jamie Tufts says:


  18. Katie L says:

    The passage today was so fitting for a struggle one of my closest friends has been having finding an authentic church where she lives, like the devotional said – so much show, not much substance! Had to share with her.

    Remembering those that gave their all this Memorial Day, may our country honor their sacrifice and as a “Christian” nation be called to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God!

  19. Jennifer Ficklen says:

    Father guide me and prune me to be more like Jesus. You are the potter and I am the clay. Mold me into the person you want me to be.

  20. Michelle Patire says:

    Good morning, Shes.
    Been quiet, but processing a lot of this Scripture, still. Seems like an important time for me to be just sitting with the Lord and receiving from Him.

    @Colleen D- love that you brought up that Jon Foreman song… He has some really good ones… from years ago. That is exactly it.

    Happy Memorial Day to my American Shes! Hope you enjoy your day off, if you have been blessed with one!
    May all our Mondays be blessed by the presence and love of the Lord.

  21. Nancy S says:

    Good points, @Colleen DeVeau. We cannot love perfectly in our own strength, but we can open our hearts & let the love of God pour out!

  22. Rhonda J. says:

    @Tricia- I read HRT as well, so good! I have been thinking about this lately…when we enter the sanctuary of the church, of the LORD, Jesus Christ…what posture do we have? Let our churches not just be a country clubs to get a feel good message! Let us bow humbly before the Lord, give Him ourselves, and praise and worship the Holy One!!

    “Today’s text invites us to think about our posture when entering the presence of the Lord (Amos 5:18–24). On whose terms do we enter? Whose agenda do we follow? For what purpose do we participate? Think of such things, worshipers. The Lord is holy. Like Him, there is no other.” HRT

  23. Lily Ashtin says:


  24. Aimee D-R says:

    Father help me to see the world through Your eyes to guide my heart and actions. In Jesus name, Amen

  25. Candace Smith says:


  26. Rhonda J. says:

    Good morning, Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all the families with veterans, and for their service. That you loved your neighbors and your Lord to serve your country and to sacrifice your own life for that love is exactly what part of the scripture talks of today. What would I sacrifice for? I can’t imagine being in an unknown country, going into battle and being away for an undetermined length of time, if I even would come back! It is something that our young people are oblivious about, even my generation in my 50’s. Our parents wanted to give us more, yet there is where we lost it, it became about “our” best interest. Lord, keep reminding me that I am to be living for YOUR will, not mine. You have a purpose and plan for my life. (sometimes it takes the pruning to bring about life and purpose!) But when you awake to His wonderful and loving care, your life becomes anew! It is the most glorious thing! Life can still be complicated and aggravating, it doesn’t turn into the perfect life, yet we have a focal point! Keeping our eyes on Him!! We are chosen, thank you Lord for letting your word come to us! Jesus is the answer for every generation! You want our heart, our sincerity. Let it be so.

    @Mercy-praying for a wonderful little get away with your family!

    @all my she friends, have a fun, sunshiny day!

  27. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    I just read the HRT commentary by Russ Ramsey. “Today’s text invites us to think about our posture when entering the presence of the Lord (Amos 5:18–24). On whose terms do we enter? Whose agenda do we follow? For what purpose do we participate? Think of such things, worshipers. The Lord is holy. Like Him, there is no other.”


  28. Rachel H says:

    What a beautiful reminder to check in on the motives of the heart. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “ If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have aprophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, bso as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 cIf I give away all I have, and dif I deliver up my body to be burned,1 but have not love, I gain nothing.”
    May love for God and my neighbor be the motive of the heart and mind and soul and strength.

  29. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    Kelly (NEO) I like that pastor’s response. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

    Good morning Sisters! What a beautiful reminder. Love God and love others. Everything else will fall in to line.

    On this Memorial Day, I am grateful for the sacrifice many made for our freedom. I am also grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for our freedom. Have a blessed day Sisters. I am keeping you all in prayer and also remembering those we have not heard from in a while. 

  31. Libby K says:

    Lord, help me to never come with an empty offering. Search my heart!

  32. Kelly (NEO) says:

    I had a pastor who used to respond to people who complained about Christianity having too many rules with “there are only two rules, love God with your whole self and love others”
    But even breaking it down to these foundational truths, we cannot do them without the indwelling Spirit’s power.

  33. Colleen DeVeau says:

    As I read today’s Scripture, I could hear Jon Foreman’s “Instead of a Show” playing loudly in my head.
    Father, forgive us when this may still be the case. Please forgive us when we worship worship, an experience instead of You. Father, forgive us when we forget our neighbor is the man asleep with all of his belongings in front of the library, the woman who comes to church for hope but is turned away for seeming hostile because of her disheveled state and loud speech. We are still Your hands and feet. Forgive us for forgetting who You have called and charged us to be. You are the God of justice, the Lord of Armies. Let us fall in line. May we take on the spiritual armor You have given us and do something about the brokenness we see instead of merely mourning it. Forgive us for forgetting who we are in You: Your church, Your bride, Your army, Your people thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  34. Searching says:

    Some of the the Lord’s harshest, most plain spoken words in Amos 5:21
    “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.”
    So much show and so little substance.
    He sees what is in our hearts, just as He saw what was in their hearts. We may fool ourselves (or try to, since we are – as RHONDA J said – “decent people”) and we may fool others, but no one fools the Almighty God.
    Lord, help me to hear You, obey You and follow You. Minding my own heart, praying for others and not judging where I “think” others may be falling short.

    So true SOPHIA, DONNA MITCHELL and CEE GEE. Thank you, sisters.

    TRACI GENDRON – praying for you, sister. ❤️

    VICTORIA E – happy to see you!


    Praying for all those traveling on this busy day.
    Thankful for the sacrifices made by our armed forces ❤️

  35. Cee Gee says:

    VICTORIA E – ❤ it is good to ‘see’ you.

    TRACI – praying for you as you deal with closing out Tanners home and the memories and emotions involved.

    MERCY – prayers for safe travel!

  36. Cee Gee says:

    Micah 6:8- Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you:
    to act justly,
    to love faithfulness,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

    According to 2 Peter, the very celestial bodies that some of the people worshipped will be burned up in the end. Wasted worship.

    “And God is not fooled by pretense, polish, or pretending: He sees all that truly is. As God reminds the prophet, Samuel, “The LORD sees the heart” (1Samuel 16:7).” Beautifully written, COURTNEY ELLIS!

  37. Donna Mitchell says:

    No other commandment greater than theses: love the Lord with all your heart, your mind and strength. And the second is like it love your neighbor as yourself. If we follow these commandments and love as Christ loves us, we can live in the presence of the Lord filled with the fruits of the Spirit.

  38. Sophia says:

    What really stuck out to me from the readings today was the simplicity of the message “you know exactly what God desires of you, to live righteous, love justice and love kindness”. It popped up in all passages that we know how to live. So often I think I get distracted by what job I should have, where I should live etc even really my attitude of heart is the most important. There is no secret message to decipher because God has been very clear from the beginning what we were created for and that is love him and others.