Avoiding calamity

Calamity: An event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster.

Joel says our God is a god who “relents from sending calamity”.  Calamities in other versions reads: sending disaster, evil, punishment and chastisement. We learn from this verse two things: God does at times plan punishment or sudden disaster. We also learn from the verse that there are times that he “relents” or loosely translated, he is “willing to change his mind”. This is good news! We can ask that God would relent from sending calamities to us.

Joel reminded his people of this and reminds us as well. I also find it interesting that this week’s memory verse includes the word “calamity”. In this case, it tells us we will experience calamities. We are told in 2 Cor. 12:10, that Paul somehow was able to be content, for the sake of Christ, when he had to go through calamities. He was able to do this because he trusted and knew he would be made strong through them.

God can use calamities in our lives to strengthen us, and He can also decide to protect us from experiencing calamities. Either way, it will always be His decision. So, what part do we play?

This is where we can invest our energy in the first part of today’s verse and in Paul’s words. Rend our hearts-return to God from the heart, in those areas we have wandered. Look at where sin has crept into our lives.  Repent of it. Do everything possible to turn away from it in the hopes of God relenting from the punishment and consequences those sins may incur otherwise. When the calamities come upon us and have not been avoided, we are to hang onto God. Using every ounce of faith we have, trust that while we absolutely may not understand the “why”, He has chosen this path for us to strengthen us-despite all that we see, know and feel. We can still fully trust Him.

Waiting for something?

“Wait”. That is what I had to do before I got married. It was a long time. It was not my plan. I thought I would get married quickly after college. It was not an easy wait. I did not understand why I had to wait and why things were not working out as I had planned.  I did not know what (or more specifically “who”) I was waiting for, and I did not even have any promise to hold on to that God had someone in mind for me. There were a lot of lonely Friday nights and questions for me in my 20’s. I still remember. But looking back now, God had me “waiting” for Dad.  For God’s timing. For God to mature both of us and bring us together in His time, not mine. All I can say now is THANK GOODNESS!!!

In today’s verse from Hosea, we read the words “wait for your God always.” I want to say, yes, do this! Wait for God. This entire verse is easily understood, but not so easily obeyed, especially the second part about “waiting”. Other versions translate this  as “wait continually” , “always trust him”, “always depend on him” , “wait with hope” or “wait patiently”

It wasn’t easy for Saul, the king, to wait. He decided not to wait and his life turned into a shambles because of that.  Many kings of Israel were impatient and went into battle instead of waiting on God. Thousands died because of this impatience.

We all have times when we must wait. We wait for healing, for clarity of what we are doing in the future, for a spouse, for a job, for a problem to be resolved, and for many other things. We often won’t know how long we have to wait, and we won’t know why. The tendency will be to take matters into our own hands like Saul and move forward without God. This is not the choice to make.  Instead, we must choose to heed God’s Word through Hosea and to “wait for your God always.” Wait patiently,  trusting and with hope.  I sure am thankful I waited and you will be too.

To “know” or not to “know”

Jordan’s graduation speaker is of course, President Trump. We all “know” President Trump. That is, we know who he is. But we don’t know him personally like we know our friends, family or neighbors. President Trump will most likely not be calling us by name over the loud speaker to greet us. My point? There are 2 different kinds of “knowing” people.

In the Bible project series, they recently discussed this concept related to Hosea and the word “acknowledge”. Acknowledging someone is a form of knowing them. God wanted his people to “know” or “acknowledge” Him as God.  They chose the wrong form.

Today’s verse spells this out. The people are saying with their mouths “We acknowledge you!” but they are rejecting good. Their lives are not acknowledging God in any way shape or form.

God wants His people to know Him-not like we know  President Trump, but to know Him personally, like we know our best friend. What is the best test of which way we “know” or “acknowledge” him? Do we reject or embrace what is good? Good is the opposite of evil. We know what is evil: theft, murder, haughty spirit (think rolling of the eyes), lying, looking down on someone or making fun of others, disobedience, speaking with malice, proud hearts, wicked schemes, rushing to evil, someone who causes strife,  feet that are swift to run to mischief, and much more of course. Perhaps the easier question to ask is, do we embrace the evil that God actually hates? The answer to either of these questions will help us to see how well we actually “know” or “acknowledge” God ourselves.

Who is our God?

I have been praying for Miriam and Jordan this week as they have their exams.  Why do I pray? Because God acts on behalf of his people. This does not guarantee that they will get all A’s. It also doesn’t negate the need to study, get a good amount of sleep, attend and listen in class. But I have been praying.

Psalms talks about the fact that I am not praying “in vain” or to a figment of my imagination. I am praying to the God of eternity.
Let me remind us all, through the Psalms, who the God we pray to is. He is THE ONLY God who has ever been seen. His creation is what we are stepping on now. We can see His work, and people saw Him walk on earth as Jesus Christ. He created us. There are NO OTHER gods. He is the only one-always has been, always will be.

He does “act”, or do things. He did not start the world like a spinning top and is now just watching it slowly wind down. God acts. He interacts with us. He helps us.

We play a part. We are to recognize Him as the only God. We are not to play around putting ourselves on the throne of “god” in our life nor allow anything else to take his place.
We are to wait. Yes, sometimes, serving and following God means just waiting. Waiting for him to guide us. Waiting for him to help us get through a difficult, unanswered circumstance.

We are to do right. God desires we do right. As believers, He has given us the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power and ability to do right.

We are to remember God’s ways. We need to read up on, know, and remember the things God has taught us through His word and the things He continues to teach us.
Our God is special. He is active, not passive.  He is a helper, and has sent the Holy spirit to give us power.  This is our God, the only God, and the one to whom we should continue to pray and live for.

“True Confessions”

Ever heard of the phrase “True confessions”? I suspect there is a meme or something now for that. Well, today I am going to give my own “true confessions” example.

Everyday when I start to read the Bible, I try to pray before hand. I read the Bible with a goal of learning more about God.  My prayer before reading is short and sweet: I pray God would “reveal His character and my sin.” So, I prayed that as usual this morning…and He was faithful as usual. As I read Isaiah 58-60, verse 9 spoke directly to me.

In this section of Isaiah, Isaiah has recounted how God’s people “seek” God out, and seem “eager to know” God’s ways (Is. 58:2) but in reality they have forsaken his commands. In other words, perhaps some of their actions, activities, maybe even conversations “look” or sound right, but in their hearts, they love themselves and the world far more than God, and do not obey Him at all. They are quarreling, in strife and fighting with each other. (Is. 58:4) God wants a total change of heart from them.

Then comes verse 9. He says when they do choose to truly obey him and love Him he will answer their cry for help and be there for them.

And THEN, look at the next sentence: They are told to do away with all the bad stuff INCLUDING the pointing finger and malicious talk. This hit me squarely-God immediately brought to mind my own tendencies to be quick to find fault in too many situations and even worse, to talk about it with others. God faithfully answered my prayer-and in the book of Isaiah nonetheless! Imagine that. God revealed to me his character: God only wants true obedience from the heart, not fakers. God also showed me my sin: pointing fingers and malicious talk.

I share this as a means to show that God’s Word truly is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword and it does judge thoughts and attitudes. If we read seeking to know Him and have our sin revealed to us, He will be faithful. Pray before reading. Seek God’s face and His spirit to reveal sin in our lives. In the meantime, I know what I need to be working on!

“Knowing” makes all the difference

What would you all think if I decided to sign up in a marathon next month? What if I did not prepare at all for it? Well, if  you can stop laughing at the thought, you would know that either I do not know a thing about  marathons or I am just plain crazy. You don’t just run a marathon. It requires knowledge about the body, knowing what to eat, and knowledge about training so one can build up the body to prepare it to run the distance and survive without damage.

I am reading in Isaiah now and I feel like there is a similar point God is constantly trying to get across to the Israelites. They are His chosen people, but apparently, they really don’t know him. Somehow, at the deepest level in their hearts, they do not know that there is “no other” like him and that He is the Lord above all. The only God. In fact, the phrase “I am God” is used countless times in Isaiah as He tries to impress this upon them. Because they do not fully recognize who God is, their worship fell apart time and time again, even to the point of worshiping other idols. Lack of knowledge and an incorrect view of who God truly is lead to disastrous and destructive behaviors. The one followed the other.

It is the same for us. In fact, I was thinking today, it might be valuable for us to look at this in reverse,: look at where we go wrong and consider if it is because we were not seeing God as Lord? Is loving the things God loves and  hating what he hates easier or harder every day? Is our desire to read His Word increasing or decreasing with time? Are we committed to doing what is right in God’s eyes? If not, maybe we need to consider what we truly think of God. Is He Lord, above and beyond all or not? In fact, this is why we need to read the Bible, to learn more every day about our God so our view of Him is correct. Challies recently posted a Trevin Wax quote that reads: “Go to the Bible looking for God. Find Him, and application will follow. But go looking for application, and you may miss both.”  We need to go looking in the Bible every day for God, not application. The behavior after finding God, will come naturally.

🌷Spring Break! 💐

It is Spring Break here for us, so I will be taking the week off from doing the published devotions. (Still doing my private time in the Word-hope you are too!)  This year has clearly been a year of changes in schedule as can be seen by the more sporadic postings of the devotions. I am praying to see what God would have me do in this area, but for now, taking this week off and we will see what next week holds for postings!

Hope everyone had a restful Easter and is enjoying some spring weather!

~Holly

What did you do today?

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ~Matt. 5:16 (esv)

Remember this verse I used last devotion? Let’s think about it again, and while doing that,  list 3 things that you did today below…

1. _____________________________

2. _____________________________

3. _____________________________

-Put an asterisk beside the numbers for the things above that required you use a gift of yours.
-Circle the items that were things done for another person or helped them.

If any of the items above have an asterisk and circle, you have been productive in God’s eyes. Today, Mrs. K. shared an article (see link-don’t be deterred by the title either!) that was a huge encouragement to me in terms of what true productivity is. It highlights that in God’s eyes, we are truly “productive” when we are using our gifts for the good of others and to God’s glory. This means, that texting a friend or praying for them, may, at times, be of more heavenly value than zeroing out our email inbox or earning gobs of money. It means sitting on the couch to just talk with your kids instead of cutting the grass is truly more important sometimes. Talking to our grandmother is of more value than spending that same time cleaning our room. It changes the value of everything.  Read the Bible and consider what God is really calling us to do to glorify Him. Let’s be productive!

✅  What are 3 of your gifts, strengths or natural skills you can clearly identify or others say you have that you enjoy using or doing?

 

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Why are we here?

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ~Matt. 5:16 (esv)

Why did God create human beings?  Think about your answer BEFORE reading any further!

Did He create us because He wanted to fellowship with us? Was it because he felt creation was not complete without us?  Did He need us? No, not at all. God is self-sufficient and needs absolutely nothing. He is complete, satisfied and without need in the triune without us. Every single thing He created is for his glory, including us. We are here to bring him glory. The plan of salvation was planned all along ultimately to bring God glory. The Bible fully supports this.

This truth is put forth and explained much further in the book, The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, which I just started reading. (Thanks Mercer’s for the recommendation!)  This has been very eye opening to me as I process this.  It helps me understand much more clearly when things happen to look from a viewpoint of “God has allowed this for some reason that will ultimately bring Him glory.” If you are interested in checking out the book, I have attached an amazon link with the picture.

✅  Can you think of a time in your life when you did something that may have brought glory to God or pointed others to him?

✅  What does it look like practically for someone or something to bring glory to God?

Conversations

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? ~ 2 Cor. 13:5

Last year I was able to get together with a group of friends I had not seen in a while. It was  really fun time, but one thing struck me about our time together: the conversation was different. When I talk with my family or close friends-it never takes long for the conversation to turn to a current spiritual struggle, an enlightening podcast or a great Christian book we heard about. There is almost always something “God-related”  brought up. Those things did not come up in this conversation. The interesting part is, we all would have called ourselves “Christians”-but the evidence was lacking. I have thought about this time and time again.

When God is a vital part of our life-it should “leak” out in some way. Everyone involved grew up in Christian homes but a stranger observing would have never known. Some heart wellsprings were not spouting “God”.  I realized this is a good way to examine ourselves, as Paul encourages us to do. Look back on our most recent texts or conversations with friends or family who call themselves believers. Does God quickly come into the conversation in one way or another, or do things go on naturally without the existence of God at all? If the second is the case, it is time to step back and consider where our heart truly lies. For additional reading  for those interested, I am attaching a link to our conversation related specifically to immoral joking.

✅  When you were last together with your friends, what were the topics of conversation? What were you excited about, anxious to tell or show in regards to pics, videos, podcasts, new shows, etc?

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