Home Altar: Week of August 15, 2021

by Tracy Hilts

August 15
Psalm 34:9-14 

A Good Use of Fear 

Fear can be an excellent motivator for action. My husband and I were once pursued by a black bear for 45 minutes in the Alaskan wilderness. We used everything we knew to get us to a place of safety because we wanted to live to see our children again. 

God wants us to believe he is who he says he is. He is the holy, loving Judge and Savior of our lives. We are wise to live our lives as if pleasing God matters. God is worthy of our obedience just because he is God. In his kindness, we have a role to play in the pursuit of a righteous life. It is not that our actions lead to salvation, but embracing the wisdom of God can bring immeasurable peace in the sufficiency of his supply.

Lord, I want to worship you by letting my life be a holy-fear pursuit of pleasing you. AMEN. 

August 16
1 Kings 3:3-14 

What Should I Know? 

In my 17 years of being a hospital and hospice chaplain, I often arrived as a stranger and walked into the rooms and homes of countless strangers. Before I cross the threshold I ask, “What is the ministry I am to bring to this situation?” Asking God sets my spirit on the lookout for his answer. 

God wants us to have eyes that see and ears that hear his purposes in our ministries as a kingdom of priests. It is counter-cultural to believe that humility will lead to an abundant life, but then again, we have been forewarned that God’s wisdom would appear as foolishness to our natural selves. 

It pleases God and glorifies him when we acknowledge our need of him. And why wouldn’t we take direction from the Almighty God of the universe?

Lord, with a grateful heart, I trust you to lead my hands and feet to do the work of your kingdom. AMEN. 

August 17
Proverbs 2:1-15 

Wisdom’s Pleasant Path

I found my relationship with Jesus as a six-year-old child. It was immediately obvious to my family that the Holy Spirit was making a difference in the choices I made. Not that my family knew it was the Holy Spirit, because none of them knew Jesus at that time. I used words like “I’m sorry” and “Forgive me” instead of the more common four-letter types my family often used. I prayed out loud instead of the “in private” way my family suggested because I thought it was amazing that God wanted me to talk to him. I determined that there were some behaviors I witnessed in my family that I would not copy. 

Only in relationship with God, could the Holy Spirit have shown a little girl growing up in a not-yet Christian home the way to a more “pleasant to my soul” path. That God would exist as indwelling Holy Spirit shows the lengths he will go to lead us.

Show me your way, Lord! AMEN. 

August 18
James 1:1-5

Trust the Foundation

The impact of Covid-19 has left the world in a perpetual state of “trials of many kinds” (v. 2, NIV). Conversations reflect our wonderings about what a post-Covid world will look like. Will there even be a post-Covid world? When I find myself in a trial of uncertainty, I have found it good practice to assess what I do know to help offer insight into what my next step might be. 

God has offered us a unique partnership when we are facing trialed times. When our foundational response is to ask God for wisdom to help us endure, he gifts us by growing our faith, maturing us in our journey of Christlikeness, and then tops it off with a connection to joy. Such a feeling of “pure joy,” as James describes it, can only exist when I let my mind, heart, and feet rest firmly on the foundation of God’s promise to complete a good work in me. What’s next?

I need your help, Lord! AMEN. 

August 19
James 1:12-16

The Wise Protector

I ask God for many things, but I’m not always quick to ask him to help me recognize sinful temptations and choices. God is not our tempter to sin but our protector from it! He wants to save us from the soul-deadening consequences of sin. When we recognize a temptation, we know God did not cause the temptation, but Holy Spirit is the author of that moment of hesitation we can use to address it. 

I was angry with a friend and knew I was “in the right.” She asked for forgiveness. I had that moment—aware that I could be present with grace or anger. I chose anger. As I began to lecture my friend, I moved into sinful anger. More damage was done. God had offered the way of wisdom and a choice toward healing. My rejection brought destruction. Thankfully, God will continue to offer his protective wisdom and his grace.

Lord, let me not put your grace to the test! AMEN. 

August 20
Ephesians 5:15-20 

See the Wonder! 

“Make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks” (vv. 19- 20, NIV). 

I don’t have to look far or long to see the brokenness of our world. I need wisdom to know how to navigate it so the darkness does not overwhelm me. God tells us that one thing we can do is pay attention to the light that he offers us in each day. Maybe I witnessed an act of kindness. Maybe I heard a song that moved me to worship. Maybe I heard my grandson giggle and saw his gapped-tooth grin. Maybe I enjoyed the sight, smell, and taste of a chocolate cupcake. 

God goes to extraordinary lengths to shine the light of his presence into our days. When I take the time to notice and give thanks, it’s music from my soul that becomes worship for his glory. 

Lord, may my entire being connect with the wonder of your love every day! AMEN. 

August 21
Job 28:20-28 

Reporting for Duty 

“God understands the way to [wisdom] and he alone knows where it dwells” (v. 23, NIV). 

I’ve met many wise people, but not one of them has come to their wisdom in themselves. Anything that reflects wisdom starts as a blessing from God who generously offers it to humanity as a gift.

I learned from a spiritual mentor, who learned from a spiritual mentor that I can seek that gift daily. 

I know God’s mercy is given to me every day whether I ask for it or not, but wisdom is something I must pursue. Each day will be filled with challenges and choices. How do I choose the way of God? Every morning I do as my mentor taught me. I lift my arms to the heavens and say, “Good morning, Lord! Tracy here! Reporting for duty. I can’t wait to see what we will do today!” 

Thank you, Lord, that you delight in leading me to wisdom. I’ll take all I can get! AMEN. 

About the Author: Tracy Hilts

My husband and I have lived in Colorado Springs for 20 years. We have emptied our nest of six children and are now enjoying life as grandparents. I’m pretty sure that coming up with the grandparent role is the best thing God has done after giving us himself as Savior! I am a recently retired hospice chaplain who is now diving in to teaching at Denver Seminary. I volunteer with several boards within the Covenant. My husband and I, with the unique perspective of being an interracial couple for more than 35 years, spend time speaking and teaching at churches about God’s work of redeeming race. You will most likely find us on adventures with our children or grandchildren. We return to my husband’s home state of Alaska as often as possible where the fish fear my arrival and name.

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