Several years ago, I met Lori Hatcher at a writers’ conference. She’s become a dear friend and I’m delighted to have her as my guest today. Today she’s launching her new devotional book, Refresh Your Faith.
Lori wrote sixty-devotions as the result of looking for something more. “I was frustrated by many of the devotionals I read, that seemed to focus on the same basic verses I’d memorized with my children twenty years ago; John 3:16, Romans 8:28, Psalm 23, Matthew 3:5-6. I treasure the familiar verses and stories. I’ve held them close to my heart during some of the darkest times of my life, but I knew there was more to the Bible than these well-worn favorites.
I reached a point in my spiritual life when I needed something new. If something didn’t change, my spirit was going to wither up. My time with God shouldn’t be something I did out of duty. I wanted to delight in God and His Word. So I asked God to help me. I needed something to refresh my faith and energize my Bible reading. Wow, did He answer. I’d been reading through the Bible every year for more than a decade, but all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to passages I’d never noticed before.
These uncommon verses sparkled like gems. The more I read, the more I spotted them, tucked into obscure stories and buried under genealogies and census reports. I found some hiding out in plain sight—golden nuances and nuggets in the shadows of the more familiar stories.
I hope my book will energize your faith, inspire your devotional time, and make you say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that before!’”
Today, I’m pleased to offer a sneak preview of one of those devotions from the book of Deuteronomy. The sixty-six devotions, each representing a book of the Bible, may start out with an uncommon verse, but you are bound to find personal relevance.
One Reason God Says No
Deuteronomy 5: 9
Jealousy is a powerful thing.
Those who succumb to its green-eyed madness have made public spectacles of themselves, done things they’ve regretted later, and even committed crimes like assault and murder.
So why would God say, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 5:9)?
God’s brand of jealousy is very different from human jealousy. We feel jealous when our husbands or boyfriends talk too long to other women. We struggle when our coworker gets the promotion we deserve. Or when we notice how terrific the neighbor looks since she lost all that weight. Human jealousy is self-focused.
We feel jealous because we feel threatened. We compare ourselves with the other woman, the ladder-climbing coworker, or the svelte lady next door and realize we don’t measure up. We fear our well-being is in danger. Our jealousy, by nature, is rooted in self-preservation.
God’s jealousy, however, rises from a different motive—our good and His glory.
God doesn’t feel jealous because people pray to Buddha, Muhammad, or any of the thousands of gods in the world. He doesn’t compare himself with pantheism and wish He’d thought to suggest people worship trees and nature. And He doesn’t check His appearance and think, If I looked more appealing, people would love me more.
Instead of being self-focused, God’s jealousy focuses on the well-being of those He loves -us. He wants us to serve Him because He knows that true fulfillment comes from serving others, not from serving ourselves. He wants us to desire a relationship with Him, spend time in His presence, and share our hearts’ desires with Him because He knows our lives will be better if we know Him intimately.
He wants us to follow Him because He knows wholehearted devotion gives our lives the right direction, God-directed purpose, and ultimate meaning. He wants us to love Him not because it’s good for Him but because it’s good for us. And when we love Him, we bring Him glory, which is mankind’s highest calling.
Because God wants the best for us—the objects of His love—He jealously pursues us. He loves us unconditionally and forgives us every time we genuinely repent. And, oftentimes, He withholds those things that will compete with our loyalty and affection for Him. He protects us from what He knows will distract or hinder us from following Him wholeheartedly. Sometimes He says no to good things that stand in the way of His greater purpose.
We may think we’re praying for good things. However, the good things we pray for could replace God in our lives. Sometimes even the desire for these good things can take God’s place. We think if we could just find a husband (or get rid of the one we have), we’d be happy. Or have a child, get a promotion, or buy our dream home. We set that thing—whatever we’ve set our affection on—squarely on the throne of our lives.
And if something else is on the throne, guess who’s not? And here’s a frightening thought—many times we don’t even realize that our desire for something good from God has displaced God himself.
Seventeenth-century scientist Blaise Pascal, in his book, Penśees, described an “infinite abyss” in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing, but only by God himself. Because God knows we won’t be truly happy until we find our satisfaction in Him alone, He jealously seeks to protect us from the good things that might distract us from what’s best.
Uncommon Thought Sometimes God says no to good things we pray for that stand in the way of His greater purpose for us.
Unusual Faith Sometimes we want something so badly we forget that God and His will must come first. Today, if you’re longing for something God hasn’t granted yet, take a step back. Remember God’s promise not to withhold anything good from you. Picture yourself holding the object of your desire in your hands. In a time of commitment and surrender, lift your hands to God and offer up that desire to the Lord.
Pray something like this: Father, I deeply desire _______. But even more than _________, I want you. Help me trust that if this desire is from you and for my good, you’ll bring it to pass in your perfect timing. If this would harm me, hinder me, draw me away from you, or not best serve your greater purpose, I ask you to remove the desire from my heart. I surrender it to you today. Amen.
Read Deuteronomy 5:1–10.
Lori’s book is available on Amazon and Christianbook.com today. Since we’re hunkered down, this is a great opportunity for something new without leaving your home. You can learn more about Lori and her writing you visit her site Hungry for God, Starving for Time,