“For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live! Do not seek Bethel or go to Gilgal or journey to Beer-sheba, for Gilgal will certainly go into exile, and Bethel will come to nothing.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been really angry with someone you loved deeply? Maybe that’s something you’ve experienced recently. I have three elementary-age boys. Sometimes it feels like that’s an almost daily exercise in our house. But when love is the foundation of a relationship, a little anger—or even a lot of anger—poses no existential threat to it. In fact, even when the anger and frustration are at their peak point, there is a gnawing desire to move past the anger and restore the joy of the relationship. In His own amazing love for us, God feels the same way.
“I gave you absolutely nothing to eat in all your cities, a shortage of food in all your communities, yet you did not return to me. This is the Lord’s declaration.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
“This is for your own good.” Did you ever hear that growing up? I’m grateful to say I don’t think I did. But what is usually the context of that particular gem of parental wisdom? It means something is about to happen that you aren’t going to like–probably a punishment of some kind. And if someone saw the outcome of whatever “this” was without the appropriate context, whoever did it was probably going to look pretty bad. That’s kind of the situation we have here.
“Come to Bethel and rebel; rebel even more at Gilgal! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tenths every three days. Offer leavened bread as a thank offering, and loudly proclaim your freewill offerings, for that is what you Israelites love to do! This is the declaration of the Lord God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever done the right thing in the wrong place? I was watching one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies with my boys the other day. In one scene, the main character was at a hotel with his family. After a misadventure out in the parking lot late one night, he went back to his room and crawled in bed with his parents only to discover the next morning that it wasn’t his room at all. He had spent the night with another family. That was a pretty funny episode, but as Israel reminds us here, doing things that look right in the wrong places can actually be a pretty dangerous thing as well.
This week we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called, Hard to Love. Do you have anyone in your life who is hard for you to love? If you do, this is a series you will not want to miss a single part of. Together we’ll talk about why and how we can better approximate God’s own love for everyone in our lives, not just the people we like. We’ll see why doing this is so powerful. And, we’ll be reminded that in doing it we’re only ever giving what we have ourselves received. Keep checking back here each of the next few Mondays to catch the next part of this critical conversation.
Hard to Love
Do you remember
some of the phrases your dad said a lot when you were growing up? Every dad has these. It’s part of the secret dad creed (but if you
tell anyone I’m afraid the consequences will be quite grave so just keep this
between us). One of the things I
remember my dad saying a lot to me was, “If you mess with the bull, you’ll get
the horns.” The point, of course, is
that if you pick a fight with something or someone bigger and stronger than you
there’s a good chance you’ll lose. I
learned this the hard way on a few occasions.
We had a friend of the family named Jerry who we saw every now and then
who was always fun to mess with, but he wasn’t much one to go easy on you just
because you were a kid. One Christmas
the family was all gathered at his house and I was being a bit bolder than
wisdom would have suggested was prudent and quickly found myself locked in a
closet, beating on the door, and screaming to be let out. In messing with the bull that night I
definitely got the horns.
“Indeed, the Lord God does nothing without revealing his counsel to his servants the prophets.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Are you the kind of person who likes to know what’s going on? Some people are go-with-the-flow people. They’re content to just sit back and let life come to them. Some are more of the type-A model. They’re the ones who sit on the top of life and are constantly leaning forward to see what’s coming next. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m definitely not type-A, but I also like to be very well-informed as to what is coming down the pipe at me if I can help it. Surprises aren’t really my thing. That’s why I love what God says here through Amos.