Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Robbing God

Today's Reading (last book of the Old Testament!): Malachi

Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, "How are we robbing you?" In your tithes and offerings! Malachi 3: 8 NRSV

I must confess that my husband and I have gotten behind on our tithe this summer. Of course, we have many excuses: taxes, bills, vacation, loss of income...you name it, we can use it to rationalize why we have given less.

The truth is that we have been robbing God. Yep. Because we have not sat down every time we do bills and said first, "What do we owe God?" before a single "necessary" bill was due, we have robbed God. It doesn't make us happy and it really makes me pretty uncomfortable during the offering in church. But most of all it puts me in a very uncomfortable place in my relationship with the Almighty.

I can truthfully say that my prayer life is not currently what I would like it to be. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on something when I try to follow God's lead. Often I end up doing what I want or what seems to be the emergency of the week. It isn't though I feel distant from God. I just feel like we aren't on the same wave-length. And I know part of that is my own with-holding of giving to God.

I must bring my full tithe into God's house, knowing that I will be blessed to overflowing.

God, forgive us for robbing you. You want to bless us to overflowing but we are so stingy toward you. We are sorry. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Lord is King Over All the Earth

Today's reading: Zechariah 8-14

And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one. Zechariah 14: 9 NRSV

In the midst of these Revelation-like prophecies given by Zechariah comes this hopeful verse. God will reign supreme over all the earth and God and God's name will be the same.

To think that the God of a people who gave a particular land and instructed to be worshiped in a particular place would later become the God of the whole earth seems peculiar. Wouldn't God just want the remnant of those people to worship God? Why the whole earth? Maybe this has something to do with the fact that God created the whole earth and desires for its complete redemption.

Do you think you are part of the whole that God wishes to redeem?

Is there someone you know who needs to realize God's mercy for them?

May we all recognize God's sovereignty and give all our complete allegiance to God.

In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don't Devise Evil

Today's reading: Zechariah 1-7

Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. Zechariah 7: 10 NRSV

How do I oppress the widow?

What do I do to help the orphan?

Do I help the alien?

How often do I truly help the poor?

And when have I devised evil in my heart against others?

My first response is: I have helped the less fortunate and have not devised evil in my heart against other people.

But have I? Do I really help the less fortunate? It is easy to say my tax dollars or the money I tithe at church go to help many unfortunates. But even Ebenezer Scrooge could say the same before he was visited by the four spirits.

I think I have not devised evil in my heart...unless it has to do with those in politics. They are easy targets. And yes, everyone else thinks ill of them as well. But if God really wants me to do such strange things as pray for my enemies, then I better be careful when I open my mouth to put down someone who doesn't share my own political leanings. Whether they are in the wrong or not, when I speak against them I come to hate them and my hatred becomes evil in my heart. Just one more step from acting on such evil.

My next response is: God, help me to not oppress those less fortunate than me and prevent me from devising any evil in my heart. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Failure to Thrive?

Today's Reading: Haggai

You have looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because me house lies in ruins, while all of you hurry off to your own houses. Haggai 1: 9 NRSV

How does your house or the place you live compare to where you worship? I am talking the actual building. Which is cleaner? Which needs more repair? Which one have you spent the most taking care of? Do you think there is more you can do to care for the place where you worship?

In Haggai's day, the people had returned to Jerusalem and begun rebuilding. However, the Temple has yet to be rebuilt. God is accusing the people of living in nice homes while God's house lies in ruins. The people are trying to do well, yet they cannot seem to prosper. Even what they bring home is blown away in the storms. This is because they have yet to set God and God's house as a priority.

What is your #1 priority right now?

Where does your church fit in your list of priorities?

Perhaps it is time to reorder  your priorities before you find yourself failing to thrive.

God, help us to put you in proper priority in our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Draw Near to God

Yesterday's reading: Zephaniah

It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the Lord; it has not drawn near to its God. Zephaniah 3: 2 NRSV

Zephaniah, of course, is speaking of the city of Jerusalem. God is trying to communicate God's judgment against this city as well as surrounding countries. But Jerusalem has refused to listen to any of the prophets; it is a city who thinks it is so holy and perfect that there would never be a need to correct it. Likewise, the people of the city have refused to trust God. Because they haven't listened to God's own messengers, they don't seem to trust when God is trying to lead them. They are as far away from God as they can get.

In order to really put ourselves in the place of Jerusalem and to really hear God's words spoken to our lives, try putting your name in this verse. For example, Amelia has listened to no voice; Amelia has accepted no correction. Amelia has not trusted in the Lord; Amelia has not drawn near to her God.

I don't know about you, but in doing that I was able to really think about my level of trust, listening and closeness to God. It made me realize I am not so perfect as I would like to think. Try if for yourself!

God, we have not listened to your voice, we have not accepted your corrections. We have failed to trust in you and be near you. Forgive us, we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Keeping Quiet

Today's Reading: Habakkuk

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him! Habakkuk 2: 20 NRSV

In Scouts, the way to get the boys to be quiet is to raise your right hand with your fingers making the Scout sign. You aren't supposed to do anything but that. And you stand there silently while one by one the boys do the same. It might take a while, but once the boys are "trained" to respond, it will only take a moment.

This is easier said than done! I have seen boys with their hand in the air turning to their neighbors and saying "Shh!" or "Be quiet!" I have also seen others continue to talk but with their hand in the air!

In Old Testament times, everyone in the Temple were to be quiet during holy sacrifices. I suppose this was because God wanted their attention and if they were talking to one another, their attention was not on God. Habakkuk says that the time is coming when the entire earth will be quiet during worship. Everyone will have their attention on God, not just those in the Temple!

How quiet have you been around God lately? Have you spent your time with God talking, asking, pleading, requesting or have you spent time listening?

I think sometimes God is standing there with one hand in the air, trying to get us to shut our mouths, trying to get our attention. May we all stand in silence before the Lord!

God, you want our attention. You want us to close our mouths and be silent. May we listen and give you our full attention. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Slow to Anger?

Today's reading: Nahum

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. Nahum 1: 3 NRSV

God is slow to anger but great in power.

I guess that means it takes a lot to make God angry, but you better watch out when you do!

I suppose I assume that Christ will take away my guilt and prevent God from being angry. However, as a person who is easily angered, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that concept. The question that is always in the back of my mind is: Can Jesus really keep God from being so angry with me?

I certainly hope so and I have to trust that is so. That does not stop me from worrying about it from time to time.

Nahum's words are against he city of Nineveh, the same city that Jonah preached to several days ago. Nineveh's wickedness is so great that even God who is slow to anger is livid. Because God is also extremely powerful, that city had better watch out! The guilty will not be cleared. Even nature, which might seem out of the realm of God, is going to be God's instrument of judgment and punishment.

I really hesitate to think and speak of nature as God's arm of judgment and punishment. Certainly more than nature is about to attack Nineveh. I continue to struggle with God's nature that could be so vengeful as we see here in the Old Testament.

God, we want to see you as ultimately forgiving and merciful. What should we do with these images of you as a vengeful God? Help us! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

God's Plan for your Life

Today's reading: Micah

But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor. Micah 4: 12 NRSV

Do you know God's plan for your life?

My guess is that you do not.

None of us can know God's thoughts and we can only take a guess at God's plans.

In Micah, restoration that seems impossible is promised. Even though there is no longer one people in one place, God promises that the remnants will be gathered together. The image in this verse is all the sheaves on the threshing floor. When gathered on that floor, they are piled high and nothing is wasted. Even though they seemed like all they were good for is to be swept into the fire or left in the fields, God gathers them in. God has other plans. At first seen as an opportunity for gleaners, these sheaves are now becoming the crop for the farmer.

How do you suppose God might make something of the leftovers in your own life?

God, help us to not overlook what seems to be the remnants in our lives. Your plan may include even those things we see as worthless. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Throw Me Overboard

Today's reading: Jonah

He said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you." Jonah 1: 12 NRSV

I once had a teacher that said she would give anything for someone to be honest if they were caught doing something they shouldn't. The example she gave was a person who was caught speeding. What if that person, when the cop stood at their window, calmly admitted that they had been speeding and were simply willing to accept the consequences without crying, arguing or lying? My teacher said that would be a person they would greatly admire.

I'm afraid I am not that person. Crying, arguing (not sure about the lying part) were part of my own repertoire when this happened to me. Sure, I got out of the ticket. But I was not ready to accept my own responsibility for my actions.

Jonah is willing to accept responsibility for his actions. He knows he has not done as God has asked. In fact, he would much rather drown than do as God wants him to do!

Not sure I could take such responsibility. I think I would cave in and do as God asks rather than be thrown overboard! I would be convincing the sailors to return to port so that I could head to Nineveh.

But God has other plans for Jonah and other ways of getting Jonah to do what God wants. Perhaps it is Jonah's honorableness that God needs for Nineveh. Perhaps anyone else would not be believed by these foreigners. Only a man so greatly admired could convince an entire city to repent and be saved.

God, help us to be honorable and to take responsibility for all our actions. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Today's reading: Obadiah

On the day that you stood aside, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you too were like one of them. Obadiah 11 NRSV

Guilty by disassociation. Sometimes we believe that just because we didn't get our hands dirty means that we are not guilty. But remaining silent, refusing to assist and standing around observing seem to be sins of similar proportions in God's eyes.

Has there ever been a time in your life that you decided not to help someone or to get in the middle of a situation that you later regretted?

Why did you hesitate or refuse to get involved? did you think it was none of your business? Were you afraid of being hurt or ashamed?

Was there another time when you did step in and were ridiculed by others even while you felt you had done the right thing? Or maybe you came away wishing you had never gotten involved.

According to Obadiah, God sees indifference as just as wicked as committing a sin.

Where is God calling you to get involved today?

God, you ask us to have compassion rather than indifference. Help us to know when to stay silent and when to get involved. And may we be obedient rather than fearful. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Straying from the Path

Today's reading: Amos

Thus says the Lord; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes, but they have been led astray by the same lies after which their ancestors walked. Amos 2: 4 NRSV

I wonder if we aren't led astray by the same sorts of things that our parents, grandparents and past generations have been deceived. Certainly the enticements of power, money, fame, success and knowledge have always been weaknesses for the human race. But we can be led astray simply by following paths other than God's.

Amos suggests that rejecting God's laws and not following God's commandments have certainly been the downfall of present and past generations. When we stick with God's law, we stick with God's path. When we stop following God's rules, we stop following the path that God would have us travel. This is true now and it has been true in proceeding generations.

What commandments have you been guilty of ignoring?

What are your weaknesses when it comes to following God?

What would help make you stick to God's path?

God, we are just as guilty as our ancestors when it comes to straying from your way. Help us, Lord, help us! In Jesus' name we plead. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tell Your Children

Today's reading: Joel

Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. Joel 1: 3 NRSV

I find it surprising the most adults don't evangelize their children. Sure, we take our kids to Sunday school and church, but how much religious upbringing are they getting at home? What kind of Christian example are we setting as parents to our own children? Will our children really be able to tell their children about God?

I know of a set of godparents that do more to share Christ with their godchildren than those children's parents are doing. While I give praise for the godparents, I am saddened by the lack of direction given by the parents. 

Joel doesn't ask folks to share what God has done with the neighborhood, just their families and future generations. Certainly, the news that Joel shares is not what we would term the good news. However, Joel is asking folks
to share what God has done. And is not that what we should be doing?

God, help us to share what you are doing and what you have done with our children. And may we understand who our children truly are. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Good in You

Today's reading: Hosea 8-14

Take words with you and return to the Lord; say to him, "Take away all guilt; accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips." Hosea 14: 2 NRSV

When you are first dating someone, all you see is the positive. You tend to overlook their weaknesses and those annoying things that will crop up in your relationship later on. In other words, you accept that which is good in the other person, overlooking the negative.

When we come before God, that is what we would like. Just as Hosea asks God to only see the good in the people by taking away their guilt, we want God to do the same for us. If only God would take away our sinfulness and all the bad feelings and thoughts we have. Then, God will only see our positive traits and the goodness in our hearts.

Once God sees our goodness alone, we can speak of God and verbally rejoice in God. This is the fruit of our lips: to glorify and praise God.

God, we give you the praise and the glory. We know you can take away our sin and all of our guilt. We ask you to do so now. Help us not to wallow in our past mistakes, but to be able to bear the fruit of our lips for your sake. See only the good in us, God! In Jesus' name. Amen

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Press On To Know the Lord

Today's Reading: Hosea 1-7

Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth. Hosea 6: 3 NRSV

How hopeful and reassuring! God will appear, God will come to us, and all we have to do is keep on moving toward God. As sure as we are about the dawn and about rain in the spring, we can be confident in God's presence in our lives.

Things didn't seem so hopeful in Hosea's day. In fact, God asked to Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife so that their marriage would be a living likeness of God's relationship with the Hebrew people. God saw the people's worship of other gods to be like adultery.  God was then honor-bound to reject the people, just as Hosea was allowed to throw his own wife out the door. Yet, Hosea still has mercy on his wife and still desired a healthy relationship with her. God, too, desired a healthy relationship with the people.

And God desires a close and healthy relationship with us.

God, thank you for continuing to pursue us even when we are vile and hurtful. May your mercy fall on us and refresh us, giving us new life and hope. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Give Me Strength

 Today's Reading: Daniel 10-12

He said, "Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!" When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Let my lord speak for you have strengthened me." Daniel 10:19 NRSV

The angel Gabriel is rather frightening and basically seems to cause Daniel's knees to weaken and he falls down on his face. Daniel is afraid. Yet, Gabriel tells him not to be afraid. In fact, Gabriel tells Daniel that he is greatly beloved. Daniel is safe with this angel present. Gabriel wants Daniel to be more than brave, though. Daniel needs to be both strong and courageous -- words that Joshua spoke to the people after Moses' death.

Who can you go to when you need courage or strength for life's crazy situations?

Would you rather just be alone to gather your strength?

Are you able to give others courage?

May you have strength and courage to face this day!

God, help us all to be strong and courageous. Take away our fear and remind us how greatly beloved we are. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, August 16, 2010

Writing Down the Dream

Today's Reading: Daniel 7-9

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream.... Daniel 7:1 NRSV

Have you ever kept track of your dreams?

The best way to do it is to keep a notebook and pen right by your bedside. When you wake up from a dream, quickly write down what you remember. Even if you only wake up when the alarm goes off, if you begin to do this on a regular basis you will recall more and more of your dreams and will begin waking after each dream cycle. You will also have more "control" over what happens in your dreams.

Obviously, keeping track of dreams is not a modern thought!

Daniel writes down his dream or vision. I would imagine that he has been doing this for some time. The biggest difference is that his dreams seem to come directly from God. The visions that Daniel has are messages about what God is going to do in the world and many of them are quite horrific. In his dreams, Daniel has an angel guide to help with the interpretation.

 For many of us, we have no one to help guide us or provide interpretation. We must do what we can to figure out what our dreams are trying to say and where God has sent any kind of message to us. Yet, dreams can be invaluable ways of listening to God; God does have our undivided attention when we sleep!

God, thank you for dreams. Help us to know when you speak to us in our dreams. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Know Thyself

Today's Reading: Daniel 4-6

...Because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called and he will give the interpretation. Daniel 5: 12 NRSV

The queen remembers Daniel's powers of interpretation. In fact, she lists his Spiritual Gifts: an excellent spirit, knowledge and understanding. She also knows his strengths: dream interpretation, explaining riddles and solving problems. No one else seems to recall Daniel and his assets. When the writing appears on the wall, it is the queen who knows who to ask.

Do you know your strengths? Your Spiritual Gifts? Personality inventory?

In other words, how well do you know yourself? Can you clearly articulate to others your gifts and graces? Do you believe that there are at least one person out there (besides immediate family members) who know and would share your abilities with others?

Knowing ourselves and letting others know what we are capable of is very important if we want to serve God with all that we are and all that we have.

God, help us to use our gifts, strengths, and talents for your glory. If we don't know what these are, we ask that you provide the means for us to discover them. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Prayer Request

Today's reading: Daniel 1-3

....and told them to seek mercy from God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions with the rest of the wise men of Babylon might not perish. Daniel 2:18 NRSV

The King of Babylon is mad because no one will tell him what his dream was nor interpret it. In fact, the reason for his anger is that his advisers said they could interpret but he figured that they were just going to lie about it. The king plans to put all the wise men to death unless someone comes forward to do as he asks. I am finding it hard to get the logic with this decision. Won't he be out of wise persons to advise him if he carries this out?

Daniel is among the king's wise advisers. Daniel needs God's help to tell the king what he wants to know and save many lives, including his own. To get God's help, Daniel asks his three friends to be praying on his behalf.

They pray on his behalf, and Daniel receives knowledge and wisdom from God. He is able to tell the king what he dreamed and the meaning of his dream. He not only saves his life and the life of the other advisers, but gets a great promotion at court as well. 

What prayer requests have you recently given to others and clearly received God's mercy as a result? Is there anyone you know who might request a prayer from you?

God, have mercy on us and bless us. Cause your face to shine upon us and grant us your peace. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Lord is There

Today's reading: Ezekiel 45-48

The circumference of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord is There. Ezekiel 48: 35 NRSV

Where is God?

In heaven?

In your heart?

In every creature on earth?

In the planet?


For the Hebrew people, God was in the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem. When the city and temple were destroyed, God's presence was taken away from them, even as the people were sent into exile.

But God wanted to bring them back and rebuild. God wasn't just concerned about the circumference. God wanted to re-establish a relationship with God's people. So God declares that from the time of its reconstruction, the whole city will be called "The Lord is There."

How is your relationship with God right now? Do you think it could be closer? What would it take for your relationship with God to be so strong that you can say without a doubt, "God is here!"?

God, we all could strengthen our relationship with you. Reveal to us what it would take for that to happen and may we all be drawn closer to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Following the Plan

Today's reading: Ezekiel 41-44

When they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the plan of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances and its whole form -- all its ordinances and its entire plan and all its laws; and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe and follow the entire plan and all its ordinances. Ezekiel 43: 11 NRSV

What kind of plans have you made for today? Do you think you will need to change them in any way?

If it is at the end of the day, did any of your plans work out the way you wanted them to?

What do you think God's plan for you life is?

God wanted the exiles to know that there was plan for not only returning them to Jerusalem but also for rebuilding the temple. However, God knew that they would not be ready to hear and follow the plans until they acknowledged their mistakes and felt the need for forgiveness. Otherwise, there was little chance that they would follow through with God's plans.

If God revealed God's plans for your life today, would you be ready to listen to them? Are you prepared to follow them? Perhaps, like me, you need a bit of confession and restitution before following through.

God, forgive us for our mistakes and sins against you and others. May we receive your forgiveness and mercy in a humble spirit. May we then be ready to receive your plans for our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

They were very dry.

Today's reading: Ezekiel 37-40

He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. Ezekiel 37: 2 NRSV

Those dry bones in that valley.

Sounds hopeless doesn't it?

When in your life has God sent you to a place of dry bones? What was your first reaction? How did you feel? Were those around you sympathetic?

Did God give you any hope at all in that situation?

Were you able to trust in God's resurrection power?

Ezekiel leaves the situation up to God. He knows that his strength is in prophesying, not resurrection. He waits, trusts, watches, and listens to instructions.

Next time you find yourself in a valley of dry bones, please remember to wait, trust, watch and listen to God's instructions.

God, you are the God of resurrection power. We give you the praise and the glory! Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

They would have saved their lives.

Today's reading: Ezekiel 33-36

They heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; their blood shall be upon themselves. But if they had taken warning, they would have saved their lives. Ezekiel 33: 5 NRSV

How many times has the weather alarm gone off in the middle of the night and you listened to the report, then went right back to sleep without going to a safe place in your home? I must say I have done this on many occasion. Perhaps the bad storm was a bit more South or to the North of us. Or I was tired. Or even slept right through the alert!

I was warned, but didn't listen.

Ezekiel is the sentinel, the nightwatchman, the weather system alarm. No one is listening.

God says that is fine. God has given plenty of warning. They were supposed to leave but they didn't. They didn't listen to what God was telling them. God was providing a way out, a way to turn a bad situation around. God wanted them to save their lives, to get to the shelter, to take precautions.

But they didn't listen.

Are you?

God, you give us warnings from time to time. We sense nudges or have insights. Forgive us when we stop listening to your promptings. Help us to follow you when you are trying to save us. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, August 9, 2010

It is Mine!

Today's Reading: 29-32

...and the land of Egypt shall be a desolation and a waste. Then they shall know that I am the Lord. Because you said, "The Nile is mine, and I made it...." Ezekiel 29: 9 NRSV

Boy, does this sound like a toddler or what?

"The Nile is mind and I made it!" says Pharaoh.

What boasting, what gall, what incredible self-centeredness!

Pharaoh should have realized two things:

1) The Nile is not really his but belongs to God.

2) Pharaoh is not the creator of the Nile. God is.

In this day and age of ownership and copyright, science and full disclosure, we tend to think in these terms. This is my house, I bought it. This is my car, I restored it. This is my child, I gave her birth. I own it. I made it. It is mine.

God wants us to see the world around us from a different perspective: God is the rightful owner (no matter who holds the deed) and the true creator (makes no difference if you take the first two chapters of the bible literally or not).

God says, "No, it is actually all mine. But I give it to you for your use and enjoyment. Take care of it and I will take care of you!"

Thank you, God! Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rejoicing with Malice?

Today's reading: Ezekiel 25- 28

For thus says the Lord God: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the malice within you against the land of Israel.... Ezekiel 25: 6 NRSV

I have tried hard to teach our son to lose well and win will in playing games. Just last night we played Sorry! together. He got mad because I won and he never wins at that game. I don't think there is any special skill involved with this game, rather it is the luck of the cards you draw. But the point is I want him to lose and win gracefully. When he won at another game last week, he was overly victorious and gleeful.

I am not sure I know how to teach him except for setting an example and talking with him about his actions when he doesn't win...and when he does. I have let him know that the losers always get their feelings hurt at a time when they are already feeling defeated.

The Ammonites have not been gracious as Israel and Judah have fallen. In fact, they have been like small children, clapping their hands and laughing that God's people  have lost. Their glee has been noticed by God. Now Ezekiel is prophesying against them.

Have you ever rejoiced over anyone else's hardship? Maybe an ex-spouse or co-worker. A former friend or neighbor. Or maybe someone half a world a way that you have never met but you, in your heart of hearts, are actually happy over their misfortune.

God, we want to be honest with you. We do rejoice over the misfortunes of others from time to time.
We just can't seem to help ourselves. But you take notice and you gently remind us like a parent that we must be gracious and merciful just like you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Today's reading: Ezekiel 21-24

In you, they take bribes to shed blood; you take both advance interest and accrued interest, and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; and you have forgotten me, says the Lord God. Ezekiel 22: 12 NRSV

I guess I think of accrued interest and loan sharks as modern inventions. But we find in Ezekiel that this sort of behavior was rampant in his day. And God was angry about it. God does not want God's people to take advantage of one another because then folks become slaves which is what God saved them from in the first place. God says if you do these things -- make money by extortion -- you have forgotten God. You certainly have not loved your neighbor as yourself!

God is the God who offers freedom. When we become greedy, especially at the expense of other human beings, we forget what God has offered to all of us. Greed becomes our ultimate motivator while money becomes our goal. In greed, we lose sight of the humanity of our neighbors. Instead, each person becomes a pawn or means of gaining wealth.

In order to remember God, we need to recognize other people as loved by God and as, well, people. We need to remember that God wants us to be instruments of justice and mercy, not makers of money.  In remembering God, we are full of love rather than greed.

God, help us not to be greedy, to love others and to remember you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, August 6, 2010

You Shall Surely Live

Today's reading: Ezekiel 17-20

But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Ezekiel 18:21 NRSV

It is interesting that the most popular musical these days is entitled "Wicked." Now I admit I have not seen it but I have heard the music. Nor have I read the book it is from. However, I find it ironic and a bit concerning that a musical with the name of "badness" is that popular.

In Ezekiel, God is promising retribution on those who have been wicked, but only on their own behalf. So, if they repent and return to God, God will forgive and have mercy on them. They will then live and not die.
I want to live. Don't you?

What sins have you committed? I am thinking of all mine right now. And I do have several!

Are we doing what is right? What is lawful? I mean, are we loving God with all that we are and loving our neighbors as ourselves?

Hmmm....maybe. Maybe not.

God, forgive us for all our sins. We list those that come to mind right here and now: ________________________________________________________________________________.
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prophecy or Imagination?

Today's reading: Ezekiel 13-16

As for you, mortal, set you face against the daughters of  your people, who prophesy out of their own imagination; prophesy against them. Ezekiel 13:17 NRSV

Interesting that God is not against women who prophesy; God is against women who prophesy out of the their own imaginations. In other words, it is not gender that God is against. God is upset when people make up things that God has not spoken to them or inspired them to say.

Of course, this follows God's discourse on the men who are doing similar things. The men who prophesy are also making things up and claiming: "Thus says the Lord!" God is against all those who speak falsely on God's behalf.

Whether we are men or women, you and I need to be careful that we aren't speaking on God's behalf. Just because we heard it on talk radio, feel strongly convinced or even had it from a good source (such as our pastor), does not mean that God said it. It is when we are full of the Holy Spirit or God calls us specifically to speak a word that we can claim it is from God. We need to carefully listen to our own hearts and test what we are thinking before saying it is from God.

God, thank you for Christian communities where we can share the messages and opinion on our hearts and minds. Thank you that together we can discern what is your will and your words before opening our mouths on your behalf. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Life is Tough

Today's reading: Ezekiel 9-12

Mortal, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, who have ears to hear but do not hear.... Ezekiel 12:2 NRSV

Mortal: finite, human, will face death

Living in the midst of a rebellious house: Why? Can't I get out of this house? Where would I go? Can I not improve the morals of those around me? How can I stay true and obedient in the midst of all this rebelliousness?

Eyes to see, ears to hear: Everyone around me is perfectly capable of obedience. They all have the resources, senses and body parts to be the people God created them to be. Yet, they can't seem to use what they have been given. Why is that?

I am in the humble state of not being immortal.

There is only so much I can do.

I am among others who are not obedient to God.

Others in my own home have what they need to be close to and belong fully to God.

Those closest to me are not using what they have been given.

Life is tough when I must live in these circumstances.

God, help us stay on course even when we are surrounded by those who have eyes to see and ears to hear but are using neither. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

According to My Ways

Today's reading: Ezekiel 5-8

Now the end is upon you, I will let loose my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, I will punish you for all your abominations. Ezekiel 7: 3 NRSV

This verse reminds me of the part of the Lord's Prayer in which we pray: "Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us." I think because the Lord is speaking to Ezekiel that the people will be judged according to "their ways." God is not judging them on who they are. Neither are God's punishments given on a whim. It is the actions and behavior of the people that are called into question. If their behavior is right, then God will be right. If their behavior is wrong, God will punish them. We will be forgiven if/how much we forgive others who sin against us. Straighten up, people, and God won't get mad at you!

If God were to judge you according to your ways, how would you fair?

Do you see any improvements that are needed?

Who have you judged lately?

What could you do to work on forgiveness rather than judgment?

God, you ask us to be right with you. But first we need to be right with our neighbors. Help us to live more in forgiveness than judgment. Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, August 2, 2010

God is a Rainbow

Today's reading: Ezekiel 1-4

Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. Ezekiel 1:  28 NRSV

I love finding a rainbow in the clouds right after a rainstorm. There is something so hopeful and awe-inspiring in seeing those colors shining in a gray and blue sky. And I always want to share the rainbow sighting with someone else. It is never something I want to keep to myself, even if I am just taking a picture of it.

But I have never thought of God looking like a rainbow. Isn't that a wonderful image? God looking like a rainbow carries the same feelings of seeing a rainbow after a storm: hopefulness, awesomeness and something to be shared. To be truthful, the verse says the appearance of God's glory is like a rainbow, not that God looks like a rainbow. However, even knowing that God's glory is like a rainbow is comforting. In the midst of Ezekiel's rather frightening imagery of heaven in his vision, picturing a rainbow in the clouds brings a level of assurance rather than fear.

God, you bring us hope even while your glory fills us with awe. Help us to have the joy of finding a rainbow in the clouds when we come closer to you in our everyday lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wait Quietly For God

Today's reading: Lamentations

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3: 26 NRSV

Today, just spend some time in silence, waiting for God.


Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims