Justice in an unjust society 2

Is God’s chief goal for society that everyone comes together to sing him songs of praise and pray to him?


Amos 5:6-7, 10-15, 21-24

6  Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, 7  O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth!

10  They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. 11  Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12  For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. 13  Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.

14  Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. 15  Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

21  “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22  Even 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 the melody of your harps I will not listen. 24  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


Observations and reflections

Notes: The Context of these verses is the warning of pending judgment on the ten Northern tribes of Israel (also called Samaria) because of the tolerance of injustice in their society.

In the ancient Middle-East, the city gate was a place of wisdom where the elders gathered to give counsel and judgment in difficult situations.

  1. For every verse, list the injustices present in Samaria in the time of Amos the prophet.
  2. Record and summarise what God desires from his worshippers in these verses.

Reflection and application

  1. Look at the “transgressions …and great sins” God accuses Israel of (verse 12). Which of these are present in our society, and even in your Christian community?
  2. Considering these verses above
    1. Why would God “hate the solemn assemblies” of corporate worship and fasting (verses 21-24)?
    2. What do you learn about the character of God and what really pleases him? Try to summarise your answer in your own words.
    3. What could you do today that will please God?
    4. How could you help your small group and church see what God truly desires from his worshippers?


In your own words, pray for God’s justice to manifest in the court rooms, community and especially for the poor and needy in your society.


Give thanks to the Lord!

The aim of the devotional study is to reflect on the year (or recent season), recognize God’s goodness and render him the thanks and praise due to him.


Psalm 100:1-5

1  Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!

2  Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

3  Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4  Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5  For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.


Note the outline: A call to worship (verse 1-2) | Worship God for Who He is (verse 3) | A call to worship (verse 4) | Worship God for what He is like (verse 5)

  1. What is the mood of the psalmist? (note the adverbs or descriptive words in verses 1 and 2)
  2. What is the key theme or call of this Psalm? (verse 4)
  3. To whom does this call go out? (verse 1)
    • Why could this universal invitation be considered strange?
    • Why does the Psalmist think it is appropriate that this call to thanksgiving and praise is appropriate for “all the earth”? (hint: consider verse 3)
    • Considering the pastoral parable in verse 3, for what would “all the earth” give thanks to God? (hint: what does a shepherd do for sheep? compare Psalm 23)
  4. Can you identify seven ways given in this Psalm of how God should be worshipped?
  5. We should praise God for who he is:
    • Who does this Psalm say God is? (identify five… verses 1 and 3)
    • What does this Psalm say God’s character is like? (verse 5)

Personal Reflection

  1. Thanksgiving benefits the believer: how does the discipline of stopping to think of and thank God for what he has done impact a person?


  1. In which ways have you recently experienced the Good Shepherd’s
  • guidance,
  • protection, and
  • provision?
  1. Are there other ways in which you have experienced the Lord’s faithful, loving goodness during this year?
  2. Take time to respond with appropriate worship
    • joyful thanksgiving: declaring what God has done for you
    • prayer of praise: declaring who God is to you
    • worship God with other believers.


REVELATION 5 – The Lamb upon the Throne

John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) during his exile to Patmos (AD 96), including this chapter on the Lamb receiving the scroll in the throne room. Note that Revelation chapters 4 and 5 is one thought, one vision.


Revelation 5:1-14

1  Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2  And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4  and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

5  And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6  And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7  And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

8  And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9  And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

11  Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12  saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13  And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14  And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Observation and reflection questions

  1. John shifts his attention from the worship of him on the throne (chapter 5) to a scroll. What does John record to indicate the importance of this scroll?
  2. Why would John weep so much? Why could this scroll be so important?
  3. An elder announces that there is one worthy to open the scroll. Note what John records about the Lamb. What do we learn about the worth of the Lamb from each of these attributes?
  • Lion of Judah:
  • Line of David:
  • Amidst Throne:
  • Seven Horns:
  • Seven Eyes:
  • Takes the Scroll from God:
  • A Lamb that is Slain, yet standing in Heaven:
  1. Note at the response of those around the throne – who does what? What do you learn about Him from the worship of the Lamb?

Personal Reflection questions

  1. Christ is recognized as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, yet he is worshipped as the Lamb who was slain.
  • How would this way of the Lamb have comforted the persecuted church in the first century?
  • How would this way of the Lamb have challenged the expectation of the persecuted church for deliverance from the Roman persecutors?
  1. Consider Philippians 2:5-10 that speaks of Christ’s example of meekness and obedience. How does this way of the Lamb challenge your response in conflict and hardship today?  Do you have examples of how the way of the Lamb have resulted in godly outcomes to difficult times?

Prayer and Worship

In prayer declare 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 today:

“But I know [His] grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”




REVELATION 4 – A Throne set in Heaven

In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) including this chapter of the throne set in Heaven, the nature and character of the One seated the throne, and the response of those around this throne.


Revelations 4:1-11

1  After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2  At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.

3  And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5  From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,

6  and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7  the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 9  And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10  the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11  “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Observation and reflection questions

Notes: After recording the seven letters to the congregations (chapters 2-3) John saw a vision: of a throne in heaven, of Him on the throne, and of the response of those around the throne. “jasper” probably refers to a diamond-like stone (refer to Revelation 21:11) while “carnelian” is a deep red stone.

  1. John writes the same command twice in verses 1 and 2 – did you notice it? What does he call the reader to do, and why?
  2. Record what you learn from John’s vision about:

(a) the throne (verse 2)

(b) the One who sits on the throne (verses 3-5)

(c) the response of those around the throne (verses 6-11)

  1. What do you learn from the character and nature of “the one seated on the throne” by each of these descriptions?
  • Like the biggest and clearest jasper (think diamond) and carnelian (verse 3)
  • Encircled by a rainbow (verse 3; hint: think Noah, Genesis 9:15)
  • With many righteous rulers on the thrones around His throne (verse 4; hint: think of these representing the church through the ages)
  • With flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder” (verse 5; hint: this phrase appears another three times in Revelation (8:5; 11:19; 16:18), each time before God’s judgment is poured out on rebellious people)
  • With “seven torches” lighting evening before the throne (verse 5; hint: seven implies perfection – so what could perfect light imply here?)
  1. What could these responses to the One on the Throne mean or imply?
  • Before the throne was “a sea of glass, like crystal” (verse 6; hint: sea in Jewish writing usually refers to uncertainty, danger, and elsewhere chaos among the nations – see Psalm 93 below)
  • Four living creatures covered with eyes (verses 6-8; hint: could more eyes observe and take in more beauty and glory…?)
  • The four living creatures creaming “Holy!… Almighty!… [Ever-Living!]” (verses 7-8; hint: consider the mightiest domestic animal, mightiest wild animal, mightiest creature on earth, mightiest bird in flight, mightiest angelic being (Isaiah 6), yet what is their response to Him on the Throne…?)
  • The 24 rulers casting their crowns, prostrating themselves before Him on the Throne in Heaven (verses 10-11; hint – what is implied in the church falling down before God?)

Personal Reflection questions

  1. The first recipients of John’s Revelation were severely suffering congregations, being tried for their faith by an egotistical ruler (Cesar Domitian) and tempted by their perverse societies. What would this vision of God seated on his heavenly throne have meant to them? (consider the throne, him who sat on it and the response).
  2. How does this vision of the heavenly throne, the nature and character of God, as well as the response around the throne (a) comfort and (b) challenge you personally?

Prayer and Worship

Read Psalm 93 to note the similarity with Revelation 4, and respond in prayer and praise of our God who reigns!

Psalm 93:1-5

1  The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 2  Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

3  The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.

4  Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! 5  Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.




Leaders must grow in the skill to facilitate sincere and passionate worship

Christians are essentially worshipers of the Triune God; Christian leaders must grow in the skill to inspire, direct and facilitate worship!

You don’t need to be a musician to facilitate worship! This practical and encouraging video teaching by Theo Burmeister will help small group leaders to facilitate worship when you gather.


Psalm 105:1-6

1 Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
and make his deeds known among the people.
2 Sing to him! Praise him!    Declare all his awesome deeds!
3  Exult in his holy name;    let all those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;    seek his face continually.
5 Remember his awesome deeds that he has done,

his wonders and the judgments he declared.
6 You descendants of Abraham, his servant,  You children of Jacob, his chosen ones.


Context: This Psalm is a call and instruction to corporate worship.

  1. In your own words, what does the psalmist call the congregation to do in each phrase of the psalm above? Rewrite these as practical steps or instructions for corporate worship.

Personal reflection and application

Many of the psalms were written as examples or deliberate instructions on why, how and when to worship God. Christian leaders can use these as baseline for inspiring and facilitating worship – even without musical instruments!

  1. Would you call yourself a worshipper of God? When and how do you worship God by yourself? What do you enjoy doing when you worship?
  2. How confident are you to facilitate worship? If you had no music with you, how would you do it?
  3. Read through this psalm line by line, and follow the example or instruction to give thanks and praise to God in your own words.
  4. At your next fellowship, prayer or Bible Study session, start the meeting by leading the group to worship God together in this way.


Worship 4 – overflow of a thankful heart

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on worship as a natural response to a thankful heart.


Psalms 40:1-3 (A song of David)

1  I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.

2  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

3  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.


  1. Read the Psalm slowly and picture everything you read.
  2. A helpful way to study a text is to look at the verbs and who does the work:
    1. Who is mentioned in this text? (hint: verse 1a, verse 1b, verse 3b)
    2. Who does what? In other words, list all the verbs (action words/phrases) for each of the parties mentioned.
  3. What emotional shift did David move from before and after God’s intervention?
  4. What is the end result of God’s saving intervention for David?
  5. What is the result of God’s saving intervention in David’s life in other people’s lives?

Application and Prayer

Reflect on times in your life when God really intervened in your life for the good

  1. Tell God those stories (note these accounts in your notebook as you go along).
  2. Thank God for where you are today because of his saving intervention in these events (consider where you would have been with God’s intervention).
  3. Now praise God as David did: “he turned to me and heard me; He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.)

Praise him for being the God who sees, the God who hears, the God who saved, the God who strengthens, the God of hope.  Give God his praise!

  1. With whom can you share one or two of these testimonies that they may recognize how big God is and put their trust in him as you do? Make that appointment now to share your “song of praise”!

Worship 3 – key to the presence of God

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on and practice the presence of God.


Psalms 22:1-3

1  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2  O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3  Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.


  1. In your own words describe the emotional state of the Psalmist at the beginning of this Psalm.
  2. Record the thought flow of the Psalmist through these three verses.
  3. What truth does the author want to convey about God’s relationship with mankind in the third verse?
  4. What does this Psalm teach us about the key to experiencing God’s presence?

Application and Prayer

Psalms 100:4  “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”

Shut down everything that distracts; even close your eyes if you need to.  Start thanking God for all the good things in your life, and for all the times He has intervened in your life in the past – be specific.  Then praise God for his great works, for his power and his character.  Devote the rest of your quite time to keep on praising God – even recall his Names by which he has revealed himself. Enjoy your time with God.  (Record what God reveals to you and respond as His Spirit leads).


Worship – 2 why to praise the Lord

The Aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the motive study the motivation for praising the Lord.


Psalms 150:1-6

1  Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!

2  Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3  Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4  Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5  Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

6  Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Observation and Reflection

  1. In your own words rephrase what does this Psalm teach the hearer/ reader?
  2. Now, answer these questions about the appeal to “Praise the Lord”!
    1. Where ought one to “Praise the Lord”? (v1) What does that imply?
    2. For what ought one to “Praise the Lord”? (v2) What does that imply?
    3. How ought one to “Praise the Lord”? (v3-5) What does that imply?
    4. Who ought to “Praise the Lord”? (v6) What does that imply?

Application and Prayer

  1. As in the Psalm, praise the Lord “for his mighty deeds”
    1. By reciting the amazing works the Lord has done in the past for Israel
    2. By recalling the good things the Lord has done for you in the past
  2. As in the Psalm, praise the Lord “for his excellent greatness”
    1. By reciting his attributes: God is holy, all-mighty, all-knowing, everywhere, ever-living, unchanging…
    2. By worshipping his characteristics: God is righteous, faithful, truthful, merciful, kind…

Worship 1 – surrendering all to God

The Aim of this devotional study is to study the first mention of worship in the Bible.


Genesis 22:1-6

1  After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  2  He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

3  So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

4  On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.  5  Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”  6  And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.


Context: This is the beginning of the historic event where Abraham obeyed God and offered Isaac went to offer his son Isaac, before the Lord intervened. 

  1. When someone invite you to a worship celebration, what do you expect?
  2. This is the first mention of “worship” in the Bible. What other words would you use to describe Abraham’s attitudes and activities in response to God’s command?
  3. Look at Abraham’s response to God’s command
    1. How soon after God commanend this big sacrifice did Abraham obey? What does that say about his devotion to God?
    2. How long did Abraham journey to obey God? What does that say about his devotion to God?
    3. What efforts did Abraham make to obey God? What does that say about his devotion to God?
  4. Considering this text, what do you learn of Abraham’s worship in terms of:
    1. Surrendering all to God.
    2. Obedience to God.
    3. Faith in God.
    4. Devotion to God.

Application and Prayer

God asked Abraham for the biggest and most precious thing in life – Isaac, his son, his legacy.   And Abraham worshipped God by implicit, radical surrender and obedience.

  1. What is the ONE thing in your life that – if God asks you to do or to give up – you might be tempted to say “no”?
    1. Honestly tell God how you feel about that.
    2. As Abraham, reflect on God as the “Giver of All Good Things” that gave this and can bring it back to life again.
    3. Ask God for grace to surrender even this to Him, and when you’re ready – surrender this thing to God from the heart.
  2. In prayer, worship God by surrendering every aspect of your life to God, devoting your whole self in service to Him, as Paul wrote:

Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”