I have spent the majority of my life in central Indiana. I am a graduate of North centeral High School. I love to travel to visit family, especially my four nieces and nephews who live in Southeast Asia. I am the youngest of three. My oldest sister has Down Syndrome. After graduating from College, I began working at a church and for over 17 years served as a youth pastor and a caring ministries pastor. Currently, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist continuing in ministry through a different context.
God is bigger and greater than we can imagine or understand.
War is not something that I understand. I spoke with a friend today about their experience with war and he said that wars don’t ever end. Reading our passage from Obadiah and Jeremiah today, I would have to agree with him. The Israelites seemed to go from war to war, from battle to battle.
We have a God who used war to turn people towards Him. To punish. To correct. To demonstrate to others what He desires. I don’t understand that part of God.
“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Psalms 147:2-3 NIV
We also have a God that protects…comforts…guides and heals. We cannot pick and choose what parts of God we want to keep and what parts we want to disregard. I want a God who is bigger than my understanding. That means there will be parts of Him that I don’t understand.
So what do we do with those parts of God we don’t understand?
“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
Psalms 147:10-11 NIV
We hold loosely the characteristics of God we don’t understand and we Cling to the Love He so graciously and abundantly gives. The author of Psalm 147 states that the Lord delights in those who fear Him. This fear is not that of an angry and abusive parent. The fear the author speaks of is fear of a strong parent who is capable and powerful.
I fear the Lord because He is powerful and beyond my capability to fully understand. And I rest in His love and His comfort and His compassion and His wisdom.
Praise Be To God!
Dear God, thank you for being bigger than my understanding. Thank you for your love and comfort and healing. Help me as I seek to better understand all aspects of who you are. Be patient with me in my misunderstandings. Have compassion on me in my wanderings. You are Good! Amen.
One of the things I love about the Psalms is the authentic expression of emotion from the different authors. At times there’s pain and fear and disappointment. At other times there is almost a giddy joy! In Psalm 76 we see the author bragging about God.
When was the last time you bragged on God?
“You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game.”
Psalms 76:4 NIV
Here is how I would brag on God today…
God provided a peace in the midst of Grief that was a gift.
God created a clear blue sky, with mild temperatures for me to enjoy.
God has provided wise people in my life who love me and encourage me and challenge me.
God loves me…in my most unlovable times.
God has consistently reminded me that He is for me, that He is fighting for me, that He desires good things for me and that He loves me.
God has provided words and wisdom when I needed them most.
God has comforted those close to me in such tangible ways.
God has empowered a friend to overcome addiction and mental illness.
God continues to strengthen and support a friend on their journey of sobriety.
God has restored a marriage that was ravaged by lies and mistrust.
I am regularly overwhelmed by how God shows up in my life. He consistently demonstrates His nearness and love, even in the midst of hurt and pain. What I consistently hear from God is “I know, I know. I’m right here. I’m right here.” What a gift we have in the presence, power, wisdom, saving grace and peace of God.
Take some time and brag on God today.
Dear God, what a gift to have you so near. Thank you for your presence and blessing and love. May we never grow tired of declaring your praise! Amen.
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.”
2 Kings 21:1-2 NIV
How do we expect a 12 year old boy to rule a nation? How do we expect a boy to have the character to withstand the temptations and pressures of ruling? There is so much we don’t know about Manasseh. We have what the Lord has chosen to share with us…the consequences of his evil actions. Those consequences don’t just affect him but all the people of Judah.
How have my sins and evil actions affected those around me? Even when I don’t think I’m hurting anyone?
Manasseh’s sin influenced the nation of Judah to walk away from God. Could his repentance also influence them?
“In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”
2 Chronicles 33:12-13 NIV
What a turn around! I would love to know what Manasseh said to God. What is more important in this story, however, is what we learn about Gods character. He is a God of forgiveness. He is a God who’s heart is for His people. He desires to withhold his wrath. He is FOR His people.
“The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.”
2 Chronicles 33:17 NIV
How humbling that our repentance can influence others just as our wickedness can. I pray that our lives will be marked by repentance.
Dear God, I don’t want my sin to be what influences those around me. I want my repentance…my humility…my turning towards you to influence. God continue to convict me and heal me and change me! Amen.
Have you heard the quote “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”? I’ve seen this quote many times and each time it’s ascribed to a different author. (Philo, Socrates and Plato to name a few.) Whoever said it, was very wise. There are battles that everyone is fighting and we only get to see the tip of the iceberg.
“With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.”
2 Chronicles 32:8 NIV
For the people of Judah, the words of Hezekiah were enough to give them the confidence they needed to keep going. What about you? What gives you the confidence to keep going? Gods presence? Gods wisdom?
How does God fight our battles?
Can I take this promise from God to fight for the people of Judah for my own life? Yes and no. Yes, I have a God who is present and near and actively involved in my life. I am never alone. And no, God will not always save me from my battles. And yet…I can have hope.
We can have hope because we have a God who is present and consistently demonstrates how He loves by providing what we need. More than anything, what we need is Him. His presence. His love. His protection. His wisdom. Him.
God fights for us by showing up. All the time. For everything.
Dear God, may we sense your nearness. You have promised to never leave us nor forsake us. You have promised to fight for us. Please show us how you desire to do that in our lives. We trust you. We love you. Amen.
Peter is one of my favorite disciples. He was bold in everything he did. Right or wrong it didn’t matter, he was bold in doing it. I wish I had more of Peter in me. I wish I had more boldness at times.
Where in your life do you wish you were more bold?
I hear a lot of people say they wished they were more bold in sharing the Gospel. I love that! The Gospel is good news and worthy of sharing! When I have good news I love sharing it with my people. I love to celebrate! I love to tell people about my amazing God!
In the story of the transfiguration that Matthew shares, Peter was bold in a different way. He was bold in his hospitality and the way he loved.
“Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.””
Matthew 17:4 NIV
I know we read this words and smack our heads and think “Peter!! You just don’t get it!” Of course he doesn’t get it! He doesn’t have the whole story like we do. He doesn’t know how things end for him and for Jesus. He only knows that moment. In that moment he saw a need and desired to be a blessing. A blessing to Jesus. That’s bold!
Dear God, May we be more bold in the way we love. May we be more bold in the way we help others feel like they belong. May we be more bold in seeing others as You see them…beautifully created. Amen
Join us again in 2021 as we read the Bible in a year using a 5-day weekly reading plan. Take the weekends off, or use them to catch up at your own pace.
We hope you’ll journey with us!
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