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Is not this laid up in store with me, sealed up in my treasuries?

Deuteronomy 32:34

 

The context of Deuteronomy 32 lets us know the “this” of verse 34 is God’s justice and judgement. Verse 35 says, “Vengeance is mine, …and their doom comes swiftly.” Although commentators have differing opinions of who God is saying he’ll judge, it will be upon Israelites’ enemies or the Israelites themselves. In effect, he is saying, “Don’t you understand judgment is stored up and will be released at the right time?” It may seem God is delaying or refusing to bring justice, yet here he declares he has not forgotten the actions of sinners because he is a just God.

Most of Deuteronomy 32 gives the reasons for judgment. Verse 32 gives us an interesting visual of one of those reasons.

For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom

and from the fields of Gomorrah;

their grapes are grapes of poison;

their clusters are bitter.

Some commentators have varying ideas about the “vine of Sodom” which the Bible refers to only this once. Over the years, many have tried to identify the exact plant God refers to. The most obvious are the grapes. Yet researchers have wondered if there is any other kind of what some call “apples of Sodom.”

The other fruit might be a candidate, appearing like a delicious, smooth, soft, yellow apple or orange. But when grabbed or bitten, the fruit disintegrates into a puff of air, a thin rind, and a few fibers. What seemed so fulfilling offers nothing of value.

That’s the point. God’s people are depending upon empty, ineffective, worthless things that become idols. Idol worship deserves judgment because the Israelites are putting their hope into a “puff of air.” The hollow “vine cluster” seems to give a tiny spiritual taste of satisfaction but doesn’t last.

Think of some of the ways we experience a spiritual “puff of air.”

A woman marries her Prince Charming, expecting he will always make her happy. But he expects her to always give him respect. When she expresses an opinion other than what he thinks, he gets angry, feeling weak.

Someone is finally promoted to their dream position, but the friend who is passed over now brings all sorts of troubles.

An infertile wife finally becomes pregnant expecting a delightful experience until her child seems to cry twenty-four hours a day.

Only God can offer long-lasting fulfillment, both here and for eternity. Click To Tweet

Every single person and experience on this imperfect earth will disappoint us at some point. Only God can offer long-lasting fulfillment, both here and for eternity. Of course, we still won’t receive everything we want, but God knows what is best and promises to meet our true needs (Philippians 4:19).

For any who seek fulfillment in earthly sources, God knows such vain worship turns them away from dependence upon him, the perfect source. No wonder our just God judges in order to motivate people to turn from unfulfilling sin.

  • What is your opinion about God being just and therefore responding in judgement?
  • When has it seemed God has delayed judging those who have harmed you? How have you dealt with that?

 

God of the Universe, I praise you for you are always motivated by being just.

Thank you for always judging rightly and thoroughly.

 

The Millers have been in ministry since 1978 as speakers, authors, and lay counselors. They married in 1970 and God empowered them to overcome the dysfunctional marriage and family they had developed early in their marriage. Larry is a retired police lieutenant from Huntington Beach Police Department. Both individually and as a couple, they have authored over 55 books and spoken in nine foreign countries. They live in Southern California and are parents and grandparents. Visit them at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Kathy is making a copy of God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature available to the winner of a book drawing. Enter to win by Thursday, March 26th by leaving a comment below. The winner will be drawn on March 27th (US addresses only, please. Thank you for understanding.)

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This guest blog is adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature

Order God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature at:

https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Intriguing-Questions-Testament-Devotions/dp/195197008X/

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www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor and https://www.facebook.com/larry.miller.3532?

Twitter: @KathyCMiller and @LarryMiller

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Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers-

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and Michele, Kingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend

 

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We are, if we have chosen the good part, sitters at the feet of Jesus, just as Saul
of Tarsus sat at the feet of Gamaliel; Christ is to us our great Instructor  

–Charles Spurgeon

 

An uncommon God, He lived as a common man. Exchanging the beauty of heavenly glory for human flesh, Christ—the One who had strolled through the streets of heaven–walked the streets of everyday towns filled with common people burdened by common problems.

woman-caught-in-adultery-2

He–who had known perfection–surrounded himself with the imperfect. He willingly gave up abundance for poverty, worship for rejection, and self for others.

hands-731265_1280Why did Jesus—who once stooped to breathe life into dust—bind himself to the earth…to men and women whose feet carried them further from truth and deeper into the deception of self…of false hopes and misplaced dreams…of willfulness and rebellion?

 

Because He knows what we are made of. (Psalm 103:14) And simple dust, once stripped of protection, shifts in the wind—sometimes mere inches while at other times it is moved completely from its place…drifting and unsettled. For hundreds of years, Dust had lived under the dark curse of sin–tossed about this way and that.

No one remained untouched. Suffering. Disease. Death. Corrupt men subjugated innocents to forced labor—stealing youth and hope. Outcasts—considered less than human—suffered in pain on the edges of the city while rotting flesh ached for relief. Human souls cried out to heaven and Jesus was the answer. And in becoming like the rest of us, God made clear the extent of his love for Dust.

 

A love so encompassing and grace-filled that He intentionally wandered from place to place—offering forgiveness, speaking words of love, and bringing the kingdom of heaven to aching, hurting people. And, unlike any other god before or since, the man named Jesus died to save Dust. The same feet—soiled and dirtied from travelling to the dwellings of Despair and Need—were nailed to the tree. Their blood flowed downward and marked the hill at the base of the cross. And blood and Dust became inseparable.

Jesus gave everything for this woman of dust. He gave everything for you, too, dear Friend. And at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus we receive the life of a common man and an uncommon God. 

Scripture for Reflection

Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction… (Duet. 33:3)

…and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. (Luke 8:35)

…but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

 

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“I’ve become the invisible woman,” she said.  The other ladies in the group nodded knowingly.  Surprised at the shared sentiment, I wondered how each of them had arrived at a place of feeling unnoticed…inconspicuous…unseen.  Had their identities been swallowed by motherhood?  Lost to unhealthy marriages?  Buried beneath daily demands and responsibilities?

The conversation prompted thoughts of Christ’s compassion and concern for those who lived unnoticed, invisible lives.  Lepers. Tax collectors.  Women.  Though each was an outcast, Christ spent the majority of his time ministering to the very people considered unworthy of his attention.

His gentle touch healed those slowly rotting away and dying for want of human contact.  His words of life transformed corrupt and greedy men into selfless givers of truth and hope.  His Creator’s heart acknowledged the value of the undervalued.

With Christ, dear friend, there is no invisibility.  Seek his healing touch.  Immerse yourself in the truth of his life-giving, transformational words.  Remember that your value and worth were ultimately expressed in his sacrifice on the cross.

Today’s Action Step: 

Embrace the truth.  Put your name where the words the world are written.

“For God so love the world that he gave his one and only son…”  John 3:16

Scripture for Reflection

“For we are God’s workmanship…”  Ephesians 2:10

Recommended Reading

Captivating Revised & Updated: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's SoulCaptivating by Stasi Eldridge

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

 

 

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“If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods …”

Daniel 3:17-18a (HCSB)

Hand in a hand - Stock Photo

I want to offer words of encouragement, but my thoughts are jumbled…incomplete…fractured.  What insight can I offer through simple impressions on a page?

Perhaps in knowing that another struggles with heart wounds from the past or fears the days ahead you feel less alone.  Or, when you hear the pleading prayers of a mother for her hurting child you realize someone understands.

Yet, I’m reminded that Another understands completely.  He is the one who walks beside us–no matter the place or circumstance.  The World holds no power over Him.  The roaring flames may lick at tender flesh and the World shouts, “Burn! Burn!”  But, He is there–ever protecting, faithfully guarding, lovingly guiding.  Follow me.  Don’t be afraid.  I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.

And despite our human frailty and doubt, we trust and believe.  And when we don’t?  He is still there.

Then…deliverance.  We breathe deeply and everything is fresh and new.  Our lungs fill with the sweetness of God’s goodness and mercy and we know–those wounds, fears, and fires are only momentary.

 

Reflection

Have you been asking God to deliver you from a difficult situation?  How have you seen his faithfulness in the midst of the struggle?

 

Word of Power

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Isaiah 46:4

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Are you going through that desert place?  desertHave burdens and doubts buried you like the blowing sands of a windstorm?

Maybe it’s your marriage. You feel like a woman wasting away…starved for affection, attention, acceptance.  Or, the dreams for your children have shriveled to dry bones–lifeless and unresponsive.  It could be illness has robbed you of  health. You search for solace…a respite…an oasis from the physical and emotional pain.

Your prayers seem like waater poured out on the burning sand; evaporting as soon as the words emerge from your dry lips.

Friend,  there is Hope.  He, too, endured trials in the desert–forty days of hungering and thirsting…forty days of yearning for relief.  Then, in his weakest and most vulnerable moments, Hope faced Temptation.

Seek your own fulfillment and you’ll be fed.  Indulge your desires for you only live once.  Deny God and serve yourself.

When we’re wandering in a spiritual desert, we’re faced with the same temptations. Isn’t there an easier way?   Why hasn’t God answered my cries for help?  How long must I wander in this wasteland?

Look to Hope, friend.  He understands.  He endured.  And He received his reward.

The desert place has boundaries.  There is a beginning…and an end.  And even in the most desolate place, God is with us.  His promises hold true and He provides relief.  He offers cool streams of water.  He gives us Hope.

Scripture for Reflection 

Matthew 4:1-11

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wheat fields

The arid prairie stretches to the horizon–it’s tanned face lined and creased–pulling away from itself because of the summer heat. And I’m reminded of my grandfather’s face. A farmer accustomed to toiling in the heat of the day, he was a man who enjoyed the feel of the earth sifting through his fingers.

And those grooves in  Grandpa’s face? They were the tell-tale signs of someone immersed in the day-to-day trials, frustrations, and pleasures of watching something nearly invisible grow into a gold-stemmed  life-giver.

I wonder…What sort of story does my face tell? Do the creases around my eyes convey joy? Are the lines around my mouth visible reminders of a mother impatiently pursing her lips or a woman smiling at the sight of her tousled children?

Even more–do I bear the likeness of Christ? If you were to talk with me or meet me for coffee, would you see that Christ has poured himself into my heart?  Is His love and compassion etched deeply enough in my life that you might notice Him?

 If only the day-to-day trials, frustrations, and pleasures of marriage and motherhood will leave spirit-impressions!  One day, maybe you’ll notice those  as much I noticed the creases in Grandpa’s face.

Scripture for Reflection

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

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Strains of praise music filled the sanctuary while God’s people raised their voices in adulation and reverence.  Yet I stood–motionless, unmoved, and angry.  Lord, help my unbelief.  I can’t see your plan in his pain…his struggle…his loneliness.  Why him?  Why my son?

This child-man bore the brunt of another’s sin.  It lay heavy and unshakable on his soul like the weight of a yoke forced upon the shoulders of a helpless slave.  Pressing and unrelenting– its sharp splinters were a constant reminder of the burden he carried.

This morning–surrounded by smiling faces offering praises to the One who gave me the joy of mothering this blue-eyed son–my heart rebelled.  And I ached to have an answer…a reason…some reassurance.

When the pastor shared his illustration it was as if Christ was speaking to me alone–simple words penetrating a mother’s hardened, grieving heart.  What did he say?

Caught in a fire, a young boy peered from his second story bedroom window hoping to escape the flames threatening to 

consume him.  Smoke filled the darkness, but through the roar of the fire the child heard his father calling from below.  “Jump      

          down, son.  I’ll catch you!”  

          The  boy cried, “Daddy, I can’t see you.”  

But I can see you–trust me.  Jump.”

 

You probably understand.  Maybe you’re in the same place today–wondering, unsure, and asking for faith.   Trust Him, dear friend.  He sees you–and yours.

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Wipe eyes Royalty Free Stock Images

We encounter them everyday–people who need.  

“How are you?” we ask breezily–moving on without waiting for the answer hidden behind the flippant response, “Okay.  I’m fine.”  But, the young mother who just walked through the door?  Did we notice the determined set of her face or the wetness glistening on the dark rim of her sunglasses?

She needs someone to be her cheerleader–just for one moment.  Someone who’ll remind of simple truths–God loves you…I care…you aren’t alone.

“It’s nice to meet you,”  we say with a bright smile.  And, in a rush to finish the day’s to-do list we hurry away thinking about today’s meeting…what we’ll make for dinner…whether or not we remembered to pay this month’s utility bill.  We brushed off the glimmer of response in her eyes–the invitation to friendship.

 

She needs someone be a companion.  A trustworthy traveler who’ll walk alongside without judging the depth of the valleys or height of the mountains.  Someone who’ll remind of simple truths–a friend loves at all times…He will never leave you…find joy in the small things.

People who need–words of hope, a tender touch, time from another.  People who need–the heart of Jesus expressed through those who love Him.

 

Scripture for Reflection

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

(Ephesians 4:1-3 MSG)

 

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riverIt was on odd, perfunctory ending to what had been an opportunity for reconciliation and restoration.  After years of dysfunction, I had hoped for more from our relationship.  More understanding.  More normalcy.  More love.

Sometimes, though, healing is slow…laborious…painful.  It’s like the scar I bear on the soft underside of my foot where the sharp edge of glass penetrated deep beneath the surface years ago–severing tendons and limiting movement.  Now, all that seems to remain of the injury is a rough, jagged line drawn tightly across the skin.

Heart wounds sometimes heal in the same way.  Open, festering hurts diminish with time.  The balm of forgiveness and gentle doctoring of the Holy Spirit soothes the pain, confusion, and fear.  But–the scar still exists.

Maybe the scar remains for a purpose.  Maybe, just maybe, the scar reminds me of the One who can and will heal all–if not today, perhaps tomorrow; if not here, then on the other side of heaven.

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Frayed edges

 

I methodically fold each piece of laundry–bending, creasing, aligning edges–and wish life would align as closely to my hopes.  If only the loose ends left from the hard, dirty places of living could be trimmed as easily as the loose ends left at the bottom of my son’s jeans–clipped away they look almost new.  Nothing remains of the damage.  But there are frayed, raw edges and nothing is as neat and trim as the cotton or flannel I press beneath my palms. 

The danger is that I begin to confuse the Designer with the one who creates the damage.  I forget that the One who wove each piece of fabric lovingly in His hands–stitching together flesh and bone and spirit–would never destroy his masterpiece.  But that January afternoon twenty ago when the farm girl and the ensign made a covenant with God to honor Him in their marriage and family, the Destroyer grew angry. 

He threatens and roars–while He can.  But this home?  This marriage?  These children?  They were purchased for a price.  Stains, rips, and faded places will all be made new.  The Destroyer may try to damage, but the Designer removes every blemish and stitches the beauty of His redemption in their place.

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