Start All Over Again

Read Amos 5:1-7,  Luke 17:5-10

Today we hear from the prophet Amos. In broad terms the situation he is writing about is this. A relatively small group of people are living extremely well.They believe that their prosperity is a sign that God is pleased with them They believe that God favors them because they faithfully go to the temple and follow all the designated rituals . Yes, there is  poverty all around them, but they believe that the poverty of others is their own fault. They believe that the poor people of their nation have somehow disturbed God, and as a result are suffering God’s wrath.

But God, speaking through Amos and other Israelite prophets, says that they are wrong. The affluent are not living well because God favors them. And those in poverty are not suffering because God is punishing them. The truth is that the well to do have devised various ways to take from the common people, forcing them into poverty, using what they have taken, to enhance their own positions. God says that no amount of synagogue attendance and following religious rituals will offset what they are doing. God wants justice and righteousness for all people. God wants an equitable distribution of resources.

God wants those who are well to do, at the expense of the poor, to change their ways. But they do not listen. They are too self-centered and self-satisfied. So God had to do the changing. God would destroy them as a nation. God, who brought them into the promised land, would send them out. Back into the wilderness. Not to punish them. But to purify them. To change them. To transform them. Strange as it sounds, in God’s destructive actions, there is hope. Those who hold onto that hope will be justified. There will some day be a return to the promised land. , where they can start all over again.

That seems to be the story of human life. God creates a good universe. Humanity perverts God’s creation. God decides that this cannot go on. God acts in such a way that humanity has to start all over again, with renewed hope. Centuries after the time of the Biblical prophets, like Amos, and the return of the Israelites to the promised land, God again found it necessary to give the people a chance to strat sll over again.  This time, God himself came into the world, in the form of the man Jesus. In the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, humanity was able to start all over again. In Jesus there was and still is the assurance that anyone who desired to be the person God made them to be, can be that person.

At first, Jesus’ followers didn’t exactly understand how that worked. They believed that the only way they could become who God created them to be, was by faith. Uutil they had faith, they couldn’t do anything.They were right about that. But they weren’t even going to try to do anything.  Instead they asked Jesus to give them faith. But Jesus said that they already had faith. Not much faith. But some faith. Otherwise they wouldn’t be following Jesus in the first place. Jesus told them to use the faith they aready had. Already they would be able to do things that they believed they could not do. They would  receive additional faith as God decided it was needed. For the moment, Jesus told them to place themselves in the position of servants. That was hard for them to do. It meant they had to reorient their understanding of who they really were. They had to start all over again.

It is difficult for anyone to accept the idea of starting all over again. Before I became a pastor, I was working as the Director of Public Relations for a church related non-profit organization. I was very happy with my job. I was doing “church” work. I was an “executive”. I was well paid. I was involve in important activities on a national scale.  I was reconized. I was “important”. That’s the way I saw myself.

I was sure that I was blessed bcause I was doing what God wanted me to do. I’m sure that for a few years that was true. But the time came when God, in various ways, kept on saying to me, “I want you to become a pastor. It’s time start all over again.  I told God I didn’t want to change anything. But God would not give up on me. God said, “You need to be changed. Transformed. And if you won’t do it. I’ll have to do it for you. I got you into this job (promised land). Now it’s time to move on. Back to the wilderness. Like it or not, that’s where you are going”.

For a while I didn’t hear anything more about that from God. Until the day came when my job was terminated. Once I accepted the reality that I was unemployed, I realized that God was doing what had to be done in order for me to become the person he created me to be. Before long I realized that God was calling to me to become a a pastor. This time I asked God to give me the faith I needed to start all over again. Go said, use the faith you already have, and I’ll give you the rest as it is needed. And that’s what God did and continues to do with and for me.

Most Christians come to a point where they believe they have all they need to know about what God expects of them. And they believe they are doing whatever that is. Especially if they are living relatively comfortably. They believe that God must be pleased with them, and nothing more is expected from them.

The prophets said no, you must start all over again. Jesus says you must start all over again.  The difference vetween the Biblical prophets and Jesus is that the prophets could only proclaim the Word of God. They could not change people. But Jesus could and still can and does change people, as he did with me.

During my service as a pastor, one of our small groups agreed to study a book having to do with how to respond to God in mid-life, when God says”Start all over again”. Here’s how I publicized this event:

Starting on March 1, and on most Sunday nights over the next few months, there will be an opportunity to invite Jesus to change you. We will be embarking on a spiritual journey. A journey upon which you can be changed, transformed, and born again. A journey upon which you can experience the connection between the Holy Spirit and our own spirits. A jouney upon which you can discover how to place your life totally in God’s hands, using what little faith you have.  A journey upon which you can start all over again.

What a difference God has made in the lives of those who faithfully participated in that study, and applied it to their lives. May we all begin or continue to hear God saying “It’s time to start all over again. And then, with God’s help, proceed to become the people God created us to be.

Grace  and  peace,  Ray


We welcome any comments and questions you might want to share with us and others. We expect to publish a new Bible study on or about October 24.

(you can contact us by E-mail at ( Please note that this is a new e-mail address.).


We have also written an extensive reference – How to Study the Bible – which you can always access by clicking on the “Study Guide” tab above.

You might also find it helpful to view web-sites which contain complete texts of various  versions of the Bible, as well as additional material helpful for Bible study, such as ( and  (

We also invite you to view our other web-sites, as follows:

* Our blog, Today’s Enlightenment at

* Ray Gough’s e-book , noted below, which can be read, downloaded, or copied free at

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

    How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

This entry was posted in Bible, Enlightenment, Faith, Faith, God's grace, God's Will, Good News, Hope, Jesus, Life Style, Purpose, Trust in God, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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