Disobedience After Disaster

Jeremiah 44:8, “And why do you deliberately make me angry by what you do, offering sacrifices to these no-gods in the land of Egypt where you’ve come to live? You’ll only destroy yourselves and make yourselves an example used in curses and an object of ridicule among all the nations of the earth.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“The group of Jews who had fled to Egypt were still involved in idolatry. These people somehow thought that their well-being depended upon their worship of the ‘queen of heaven’ (44:17, 18). It took seventy years in exile to finally cure Israel of idolatry. The Jews had problems with legalism and Pharisaism after the exile, but never again did idolatry become prevalent.” English Standard Version Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible Notes

When disaster strikes, God gets the credit; but we give everything else credit for the good things in our lives. We have it backwards, every good gift comes from God.

James 1:17, “Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.” The Message

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Live Wherever You Wish

I love reading stories of the old west. A man could choose 40 acres, build his house and make a life there. Just like the opportunity Jeremiah was given today.

Jeremiah 40:4, “…Look the whole land stretches our before you. Do what you like. Go and live wherever you wish.” The Message

“Jeremiah alone had the option given him of staying where he pleased, when all the rest were either carried off, or forced to remain there.” Critical and Explanatory Commentary, Vol. I

But, we must not make our house more important than our relationship with God, like the King of Tyre did in Ezekiel 28:2.

“Down to the thirteenth century A.D. the grandeur of the ancient city of Tyre was still visible. But God’s Word does not fail. Soon Tyre had become an almost uninhabited pile of ruins. A large part of the western section of ‘the island’ became covered by the sea, and early travelers told of seeing ‘houses, towers, and streets far down in the deep.’ ” Amplified Bible Notes

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Justly and Fairly

A storm hit as we drove into Ottumwa for our anniversary dinner. The wind was pushing the semis on the highway.

There was road construction on Main Street – the detour took us by the high school. A football game just ended and the traffic was thick. I watched a youth climb over the chain link fence to retrieve his water bottle. As he climbed back over, I prayed his ride was nearby.

David turned on the local radio station and they were urging everyone to take shelter. We weren’t sure where to go. I directed him to where I thought the restaurant was. We drove right by it.

The tornado siren went off. We pulled over at 2nd Street Cafe to get out of the storm. After 2 minutes, we decided we didn’t want to celebrate there.

Back in the van, David realized he was almost out of gas. He drove to Pennsylvania Avenue where the gas station had a canopy. He used the pump next to the building where the canopy almost reached the roof. While I waited, I called “Appanoose Rapids” for directions.

Turning on the correct street, we drove through the alley and parked under the bridge. The radio predicted hail and downed trees. It was raining as we rushed through the parking lot. The rain came hard after we sat down. Tornadoes hit North English, Parnell, and Williamsburg.

But, why wasn’t I terrified? Normally, I would be yelling at David to get me somewhere safe. I didn’t even yell at him for almost running out of gas. That would have been exciting in a tornado.

I realized my steps of faith last week helped me overcome my fear. It no longer held me in a paralyzing grip. I would rather live in peace. God is in control. I’m His favorite – as are you.

* * * * * * *

I felt confident when I opened my Bible today. Then God showed me a new area to work on – getting along with family members.

“…the twins Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25-36)…came out of the womb fighting. Jacob…the people of Israel, Esau…the people of Edom. …They had a long history of war and rivalry. When Israel was taken into exile…Edom stood across the fence and watched, glad to see her old relative get beat up. …But the last line…Israel…is…saved from the injustices of the past and taking up a postion of rule…But instead of doing to others what had been done to them…they are…taking over the reins of government and administering God’s justice justly. …On the Day of Judgment, dark retaliation and invective do not get the last word.” The Message Introduction to Obadiah

* * * * * * *

Obadiah 1:21, “The remnant of the saved in Mount Zion will go into the mountains of Esau, and rule justly and fairly, a rule that honors God’s kingdom.” The Message

Studying Proverbs 14, I found this gem in the cross-references.

Proverbs 19:11, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” New International Version

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 19:11, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.” The Message

We are good at forgiving our family members but not at forgetting. When offended, we bring up every offense from before. We know which family members to share the latest hurt and who will agree with us. We don’t mention it to the ones that will disagree with us.

“Peacemakers…make excellent therapists and mediators… But sometimes they’re inclined to seek peace at any price, use their relational skills to blend in, and avoid taking the initiative or assuming risks because of their undue attachment to comfort and security. They often suffer from ‘terminal niceness’ when courage is what’s really required.” The Word for You Today

Am I keeping the peace or enabling one to continue in an unhealthy manner? Is my silence interpreted as agreement? Am I a doormat because everything I say or do is used against me? I need courage. I guess I am still facing my fears.

Dear God, Help me be just and fair. Amen.

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A Circle of Quiet

Derek texted me: “UPS shipment today wedding stuff”

Me: “Not our anniversary gift?”

Derek: “Sheesh”

Me: “I couldn’t resist.”

Reflecting on our marriage, I thanked God for holding it together when we were falling apart. I tell brides that marriage takes 3. Stick to your vows and cling to God. Let God thump your husband on the head when he gets out of line!

Sometimes, we get in God’s way trying to correct him ourselves. That is God’s job. Unfortunately, it works both ways!

Marriage is hard work and everything is against it. There is a hurricane of evil trying to tear us apart.

Psalms 74:12-13, “How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in Your Word, (13) providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil…” The Message

* * * * * * *

“…How happy we are if the hurricanes that blow across life’s raging sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious to us! It is better to weather the storm with Christ than to sail smooth waters without Him.” J. R. Madcuff, “Streams in the Desert,” August 28

Instruction in God’s Word is the secret of a long, successful marriage. David and I both read and study the Bible every morning. I found the reward for daily devotions while studying Proverbs 14 today.

Proverbs 14:26, “Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” New International Version 

* * * * * * *

“…the godliness of parents will result in blessing for themselves and their children (20:7)…” New International Version Study Bible Notes

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 20:7, “The righteous lead blameless lives, blessed are their children after them.” New International Version

The Bible gives practical advice for staying married and having a fulfilling marriage. We are to love each other as Christ loved us.

Romans 12:10, “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” The Message

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David and I at the restaurant

Don’t Run from Trouble

“You are writing for yourself. …If it amuses you – put it in.”

“On Writing Well” William Zinsser

I just wrote a post about facing my fear. Yet, I was afraid to publish it! What if so-and-so read it. They might get mad. I decided to read today’s verses first.

Lamentations 3:30, “Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The ‘worst’ is never the worst.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Paul withstood not only the tests that came while he was active in his service to Christ but also the tests of solitude during captivity. …Through it all, he saw only the hand of God at work. To him, the prison became a palace, with its corridors resounding with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.

Forced from the missionary work he loved so well, Paul built a new pulpit – a new witness stand. …What precious messages of light came from the dark shadows of his captivity.”

S. C. Rees, “Streams in the Desert,” August 27

Paul didn’t run from trouble. He treated each new circumstance as a new opportunity.

I cannot write each post thinking of a possible reaction. I have to share my experiences and how they correlated with a verse I read. I have to stop over thinking everything!

“At their best, loyalists help everyone else become better. …Loyalists often perceive God as hard to please, so their signature sin is fear.

Jesus told of three servants who were each given a sum of money to invest. …The ‘takeaway’ in Christ’s parable is that God reserves His harshest judgment not for those who try and fail, but for those who fail to try because they give in to fear.”

The Word for You Today, August 27

Nothing risked, nothing gained.

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God Owns the Day

I went to the lake with my future daughter-in-law, Rachel, and came home with a rope burn…on my neck…

“…‘What I really need is a trip to the ocean.’ So I went to the beach, but the ocean seemed to say, ‘It is not in me.’‘Perhaps, the mountains will provide the rest  I need.’ I went to the mountains, and …gazed at the magnificent mountain… But the sight did not satisfy, and the mountains said, ‘It is not in me.’

What I really needed was the deep ocean of God’s love, and the high mountains of His truth within me. …Christ’s wisdom is our deepest need. Our inner restlessness can only be pacified by the revelation of His eternal friendship and love for us.” Margaret Bottome, “Streams in the Desert,” August 26

I was nervous and worried as we turned into the park. My daughter was with me. If I had a major problem, she could drive. We started curving our way around the park and “Fear is a Liar” came on the radio.

I didn’t need to worry. I took every precaution. I braided my hair and tucked it under a bucket hat. No pollen got in my hair. (I look awful in a bucket hat!) I put on oversize sunglasses and SPF 50 sunscreen. I wore Capri leggings and a tunic over my swimsuit. I told everyone I was “incognito.”

I wanted to try paddle boarding. Rachel rented two and we took turns. When I got on it, I couldn’t turn left! I got in a current headed to the center of the lake. I told God he had better have a whale prepared.

I got around a peninsula and paddled furiously to the beach near the rental cabin. Our hour was not up and Rachel ran to meet me before the man took the board. They said I was the fastest, but it was partly due to panic! (That’s one item off of my bucket list.)

Back under the tree shading our stuff, I thought I got a bug in my eye. Rachel’s mom, Corinna, checked it and said, “You had better take some Benadryl.” I spent the rest of the time in the shade.

I thought I would only last an hour but I made it to sunset. The stars came out, I ate a s’more, and headed home. A shower washed away the allergens. I took more Benadryl and went to bed.

Psalms 74:16-17, “You own the day, you own the night, you put stars and sun in place. (17) You laid out the four corners of the earth shaped the seasons of summer and winter.” The Message

…the rope burn was from my swimsuit…which never got wet! I guess it is time for a new one! I faced my fears and found “Fear is a liar!”

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The Plains of Jericho

After the Exodus, God moved the Israelites into the Plains of Jericho. It was a fragrant place of palm trees, rose gardens, balsam, etc.

The Ark of the Covenant, the priests, and the army led them. It was a relief from years in the desert. A fruitful land, the crops were ready to harvest. What a contrast to the verse today.

Jeremiah 52:8, “They caught up with them in the Plains of Jericho. But by then Zedekiah’s army had deserted and was scattered.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“…there has been a clear shift in perception among academics who study ancient, pre-Greek cultures.

Time and time again we hear how ancient cultures were not…primitive and barbaric but rather sophisticated and cultured, based on shockingly high levels of technology and understanding of the night sky.

…the Hebrew authors…keen observers of the world around them, endowed with an insight into the natural world that rivals or even surpasses ours.

The word ruah, [one root word of Jericho],…denotes a collective movement by a general driving force.”

Derived from the same root…riah, meaning to detect or produce a scent or fragrance (Job 39:25, Amos 5:21). The root word rawah II, [the second root word of Jericho],…meaning space, interval or respited, relief.”

abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jericho

God drove the people into exile. The siege lasted so long that they ran out of food. They resorted to cannibalism and became a stench to the ancient world. The army scattered, the Temple burned, and everything of value carried off. The priests massacred, the people enslaved and confined in Babylon.

As servants of God, we have a choice:

  1. Follow Him and be a pleasant fragrance with abundance, or
  2. Reject Him and become a stench and have deprivation.

In every situation, I can make a stink or be a fragrance!

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The Message of God

A friend invited me out tomorrow. I was going to decline out of fear. This is a busy weekend with the Nursing Home Service. I started making excuses.

1. I don’t have time to relax.

2 Chronicles 36:21, “This is exactly the message of God that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended Sabbath rest, a seventy year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths.” The Message

2. It’s going to be over 90°.

2 Kings 25:24, “…Trust Me, everything is going to be all right.” The Message

3. Ragweed has bloomed.

Jeremiah 39:12, “Look out for him. Make sure nothing bad happens to him. Give him anything he wants.” The Message

4. There’s a haze from the wildfires.

Jeremiah 39:18, “…You’ll walk out of there safe and sound because you trusted Me. God’s Decree.” The Message

I got out an extra-fine Sharpie pen and wrote on my palm:

  • 2 Ch. 36:21, Extended rest.
  • 2 Ki. 25:24, Trust Me.
  • Jer. 39:12, Nothing bad will happen. You’ll get anything you want.
  • Jer. 39:18, Safe and sound.

I’m taking those promises with me. Faith over fear.

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Things That You Could Never Figure Out On Your Own

“Understanding” was the subject of Pastor Monte Knudsen’s sermon on Wednesday night. We read 30 verses in Proverbs about understanding. Then he pointed out several details in Mark 6:35-52. It was where Jesus fed the 5000 men.

  • There were not enough resources to meet the need.
  • The disciples wanted to send them to buy food in the city.
  • We think our resources are somewhere else.
  • All the resources needed are in Christ.
  • Look at what you have in your hand.
  • Because we don’t have enough, we never think about what we have.
  • They prepared for a miracle by having them sit down in groups so everyone’s needs were met.
  • Jesus blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples.
  • The food multiplied in the hands of the disciples.
  • God was teaching them something through the miracle, not trying to impress them.
  • “Their hearts were hardened” means their minds were closed.

Pastor Monte Knudsen, August 22, 2018

Faced with a sticky situation – an unsolvable problem – I asked God for understanding.

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” The Message

I told God that I could not figure out what to do. I gave the problem to Him and did nothing. It wasn’t easy. I wanted to do something!

  • When Jesus gets into our boat, the wind stops.
  • When Jesus called the disciples, He called them to be with Him.
  • We are human beings, not human doings.

Pastor Monte Knudsen, August 22, 2018

I went to bed with the problem unresolved. God worked out an answer without my help! Had I gotten involved, I’m sure it would have made matters worse! All I did was “be” with Jesus.

“Miracles” by Jesus Culture

“…The One who made the deaf to hear is silencing my every fear…

The One who does impossible is reaching out to make me whole…”

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The Transforming God

“The Enneagram” was not an article I expected to see in “The Magnolia Journal.” Written by Chris Heurtz, it made me curious enough to go to the website, enneagraminstitute.com. When I realized it cost $12.00, I decided I didn’t have time to take it. Then I read my devotional.

“In his book Signature Sins: Taming Our Wayward Hearts, Dr. Michael W. Mangis identifies nine of these patterns using an ancient system called the Enneagram. …it’s thought to have originated out of consideration of the seven deadly sins and the fruit of the Spirit,…To help you become more self-aware and build a defense against your particular area of vulnerability. …” The Word for You Today

Building a defense for my vulnerable areas is a good idea. I’ve tried conquering them on my own unsuccessfully.

Jeremiah 30:1-2, “God’s Message, the God of Israel: ‘Write everything I tell you in a book. Look. The time is coming when I will turn everything around…’ ” The Message

One area is my health. I battle sinus headaches, allergies, atopic dermatitis, and asthma. The headaches have been persistent this week.

Jeremiah 30:17, “As for you, I’ll come with healing, curing the incurable…” The Message

I want to be healthy, productive, inspiring, and hopeful. Transformation – that’s what I want! Only God can transform.

Jeremiah 30:22, “…God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God.” The Message

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