“They shall wander … in search of the word of the Lord.” (Amos 8:12)

It’s hard to think of anything worse than a “famine” of the word of God. What if you lived in a country where you were forbidden to worship the Lord, own a Bible, or even speak the name of Jesus? Scripture tells us that something like this did happen to the Israelites of the Northern King­dom around 721 b.c. It seems that Amos’ prophecy was indeed fulfilled when the Assyrian army overran Israel and sent the people into exile. And, as history attests, such persecu­tions have happened in many other countries and at many other times, including our own.

As bad as such a famine is, there is something worse: not listening to God when he does speak. That was essentially the problem with the peo­ple Amos was preaching to. They were observant: They celebrated the Sabbath, kept the feasts, and heard God’s word regularly. But even if their ears were open, their hearts were closed. Focused on their wealth, they couldn’t hear God’s call to love the poor, needy, and unwanted.

The truth is, we can get a lit­tle hard of hearing too, in spite of the fact that we have more access to the gospel than any culture before us. We are saturated with Bibles, churches, and teachers, but that doesn’t mean we find it any eas­ier to love our neighbor. Faced with the weakness of our flesh, we can sometimes just cave in and say, “Not today, Lord!” So how can we make sure that God’s word gets past our ears and into our hearts?

For many of us, the answer may be to cut down on the “junk food” that is spoiling our spiritual appe­tite. Maybe we could turn off our computers and televisions for a short time, or get up a little bit ear­lier, and give Scripture the chance to soak into our spirits. If we sit with one passage and take the time to let God speak to us, we may hear some­thing new and inspiring. After all, God’s word is “living and effective” (Hebrews 4:12). Brothers and sisters, we simply can’t live by bread alone, so let’s all decide to feed on the life-giving word of Scripture!

“Lord, I praise you for your word! May I love it more and more, and may it always give me the wisdom to live as your child!”

Psalm 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131 Matthew 9:9-13