Old Testament reading: Amos 4-5
“Come to Bethel and transgress” (Amos 4:4). Bethel was a place of worship in the northern kingdom, being one of two locations of Jeroboam’s golden calves (cf 1 Kings 12:28-29). This is the reason for Amos’ mention of the “cows of Bashan on the mountain of Samaria” in verse 1. They brought their burnt offerings and tithes, all to no avail. The Lord would say, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them” (5:21-22). God does not accept worship simply because it is offered. It escapes the understanding of many that one may actually sin in the act of worship. Examples of such include Cain (Gen 4), Nadab & Abihu (Lev 10), and Saul (1 Sam 13). True worshipers worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). In this condemnation, the prophet foretells of the ways of the Assyrians, who put fish hooks through the noses of their captives and marched them into captivity (cf Isa 37:29). In Amos 5:18-20 the prophet says there will be no escape, “It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him” (v 19).
New Testament reading: Philippians
In the first nine verses of Philippians 4 are found what I call “The Keys to Joy.” There is one key in every verse: 1. Joy comes from having a steadfast faith (cf 1 Cor 15:58); 2. Joy comes from being of one mind with my brethren (cf Psa 133:1-3); 3. Joy comes from knowing my name is in the Book of Life (cf Rev 3:4-5); 4. Joy comes from the ability to rejoice in every circumstance (cf Phil 1:12-18); 5. Joy comes from recognizing the nearness of the Lord (cf Heb 13:5); 6. Joy comes from the opportunity and ability to live without worry (cf Matt 6:25-34); 7. Joy comes from the opportunity and ability to live at peace (cf John 14:27, 16:33); 8. Joy comes when I set my mind on worthy things (cf Col 3:1-2); 9. Joy comes in finding a good example and following it (cf Phil 3:17; 1 Peter 2:21-23). In a world filled with sorrow, Christians have the great blessing of being able to live in joy!