THE HAGF WOMEN'S DEVOTIONAL
This devotional has been written by our Hmong AG women pastors, women leaders, and women members. This is a resource to encourage our Hmong AG women, as well as to use to instruct and teach. A new devotional is available quarterly. We pray it will encourage you all.
AUGUST 2022 DEVOTIONAL
God’s Promise in the Midst of Our Circumstances - Devotional
Written by Linn Thao (Niam Joe Thao)
“15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her by the name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth to a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” 19 But God said, “No, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.“ Genesis 17:15-21 NASB
“9 Then they said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 He said, “I will certainly return to you at this time next year; and behold, your wife Sarah will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, am I to have pleasure, my lord being old also?” 13But the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I actually give birth to a child, when I am so old?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah denied it, however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Genesis 18:9-15 NASB
At the time the Lord spoke this over Abraham and Sarah, they were both over 90 years old and we can all say that their reaction to God’s words were very valid. Their unbelief and doubt was founded on their current circumstances. They were both old and have tried many times to bear children but it never came to fruition. Failure after failure and year after year. How could the impossible happen when the reality of their current circumstances were stacked against them?
Do you find yourself in Sarah and Abraham’s shoes sometimes? Do you laugh when you hear God speak over you? Do you trust your current circumstances more than God’s promises over you? There’s nothing wrong with being in a place of disbelief. Both Sarah and Abraham laughed in disbelief. They even did it in front of God. Can you imagine? Challenging God’s promise with your disbelief? What are your disbeliefs? I challenge you to share them with God and leave them there with Him to hold onto.
I believe God wanted to use their story to remind us that no matter our circumstances, He is greater. His promises endure forever. We ARE the descendants of Abraham and Sarah. We carry the legacy of God’s faithfulness despite current circumstances.
God is faithful no matter who we are, what we’ve done and what our circumstances are.
“1 Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. 2 So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. 3 Abraham named his son who was born to him, the son whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.” Genesis 21:1-3 NASB
May you hold onto the truth of Abraham and Sarah’s story that God is faithful, always and forever.
OCTOBER 2021 DEVOTIONAL
Sisters in Christ - Devotion
By Choua Vang (Nam Tswv Ntaaj Vaaj)
As I reflect on our recent Annual Conference in June, I am amazed at the teamwork and dedication we sisters have with each other. There is something to be said about women helping and working together for the glory of God. Even though many of us have not met in person and did not know each other very well, we felt an instant connection and we all had one common goal and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. God brought us all together for a purpose. We were called to serve and not be served.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We have so many talents and skills among us. There is so much we can learn from each other. God gave each us our own gift so never feel that you do not have anything to offer. Sometimes just being a shoulder to cry on or someone with a kind heart who just listens can make a big difference. I know that our older sisters have much knowledge from life experience that they can pass on to the younger sisters. They are the role models for our younger generation.
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children..."
Keep in mind that when our love and bond for each other starts to grow and be strong, the enemy will try to destroy our friendship through gossip or other forms of mistrust. Be very careful to avoid these toxic behaviors. When we participate in these behaviors, we hinder our divine blessings.
2 Timothy 2:16
"Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly."
Being sisters are many things. We do not have to be blood related to be sisters. It doesn’t mean that we are the same, it means that we made the decision to acknowledge each other as sisters. We as women have so many hats that we wear. Only a sister truly understands what another sister is going through. I feel very blessed to know all these godly women. I pray that God will bless each of my sisters and open their hearts to the gift he gave them. Let us continue to work together to spread the love of God.
“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.” – Isadora James
APRIL 2021 DEVOTIONAL
Pursue Love and Commit to Prayer - Devotion
By Niam Semone
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
We live in a society where people follow the direction to win the heart of others. You may try to impress others but it can distract you from the important things in your life. You are unique. One of a kind. You don't want to imitate anybody but be the person you want to see. Strive to be yourself and develop the talents God has given you to shine unto others. Sometimes you have to try a lot of different things before you discover your true identity. But that's okay. When you hit it, you'll know it. The world we live in needs more love today.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
When you follow others to fit in technically it can squander your life. You can be so concerned about what "they" think that you might not consider to pursue doing it with love. Chase after what you can do for others with integrity otherwise in the end you'll be drain from trying to win people over. People will move on and from time to time you'll find yourself back at square one. When you do anything for anyone and it's out of love you should never regret or want anything in return. When you have love and can spread love you will be content with yourself.
Even if it takes you most of your life to discover your journey, that's still a more valuable use of your time than living a fake life to win the approval of someone else. Continue to do the good for it doesn't go unseen and one day it'll return back to you. It's been said of Jesus Christ that he accepts you just as you are but that he loves you too much to leave you that way. When you don't have God in your life, what standards do you follow? You may think trying to fit in is the most important thing you can do. You can buy this and buy that and think you'll be a model citizen everybody will admire.
What you'll become is a shallow trend-follower with a house full of junk. No, impressing people or following the world will not bring you the peace and happiness you want in life. Take some time to think about what matters. Isn't it love, kindness, compassion, friendship, loyalty, and decency? I've found we don't have to try to impress God. He already loves you. He wants you to grow in these qualities every day. If you've been living to impress and to gain others approval, get on the right path for you. Be you. Be the good, authentic person God destined you to be. The Apostle Paul explains that love is more important than all the other things we can do. If we do anything without love, it means nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
No one can promise you that there will never be another war or that stormy clouds will never darken our day, however we can say that whatever life brings before us, we will always stand by each other's side. Although we can’t always promise that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we can say that we will having fun together chasing those rainbows. We can always be there for each other, to listen and to hold hands, and always do your best to make the best of things, and make one feel loved. One can say that I’ll see you through any crisis, and have hope with you, dream with you, build with you, and always cheer you on and encourage you. You can commit everlasting devotion, your loyalty, your respect, and your unconditional love for a lifetime. In the end you can say that you can share your love in this world, and every aspect of your life is sincere.
Be willingly to be a helping person, a protector, an advisor, a therapist and a partnership for everything. I believe that’s what love is truly all about.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
When things don't seem right in the world be an Encourager to those around you:
If you're going through trials in your life, be strong of courage my friends. Look unto the Lord and rest in Him. Everyone has battles and challenges and with God, He will help you through it. At this time, you may be in a storm but it will come to an end in Jesus name. Amen! As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory.
The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.
The Bible is crystal clear on prayer:
Along with Bible reading, it is the fundamental practice of the Christian life. Paul encourages us in his first letter to the Thessalonians to pray continuously (1 Thess 5:17) and we read in Acts that the first gathering of Christians was marked by the fact that, “they all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14).
A great danger for all Christians is that we neglect our prayer life, or that we do not have a personal prayer life at all. But there is an equal and opposite danger. And that is the Christian who does have an active prayer life, but who never turns their prayer into action.
It is in the book of James that does the most in emphasizing the importance of transforming faith and prayer into action and works.
James does not tell us to do works instead of prayer. He values prayer highly, telling us that, “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (Jas 5:16). But what James stresses over and over is that, having prayed and meditated on God’s Word, we are to go out and do what it says!
In James 1:22-25 he writes: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it they will be blessed in what they do.”
It is not always straight forward to discern what God wants us to do. Jesus himself spent nights in prayer communing with his Father and discerning the next step to take. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help and lead you.
As a Christian pray for your Pastors, they're making difficult decisions about how the church should gather during this hyper-politicized pandemic time and getting a pinged from every side with critiques, opinions, and questions. Pastors also struggle and they bear a unique responsibility that can be difficult to navigate. They're prepping sermons while caring for the sinning and hurting members. Your Pastor makes impacts and holds an important role for your church so don't forget to pray for them. Pray for your family, friends, others and things you encounter etc.
God is all powerful! The Lord God Almighty can do all things; there is nothing impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). The character and heart of God is the very fabric of the gospel. When we close our eyes, get on our knees, the spirit of God whispers, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” It’s as if to say to our hearts, no need is too great or small.
You may wonder what is the power of prayer or how can it heal? How does prayer comfort those who are anxious or sinking into the depths of sorrow and pain? Why do Christians pray for their future or pray prayers of protection over their children? How can prayer impact those who don’t know Jesus or help in a time of crisis like a pandemic? In Matthew 18:18-20, Jesus tells us about the power of prayer when he said, "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. He parted the red sea for Moses to lead His people through. God shut heavens and prevented rain from falling for three years at Elijah’s request. He cast out demons; Jesus healed the sick and gave sight to the blind, and, on more than one occasion, raised people from the dead, like Lazarus. There are dozens of real-life accounts in the bible where Jesus and other disciples battled in prayer. We must realize the power we have available to us when we take our authority in prayer? If we did, we would be praying in Jesus’ name more. We would be on our faces before God, storming the heavenly realms in battle with the darkness and evil forces in our world.
JANUARY 2021 DEVOTIONAL
Ignite Our Passion - Devotion
By Mauii Lee
“Passion for God’s house will consume me.” - John 2:17
Entering a fresh, new year after the one we just finished has left us feeling isolated, restless and bored. We're carrying over routines and patterns we adjusted to in 2020 that we thought were only temporary. And in the midst of all that changed, we might've lost a bit of who we are.
The new year is here and I’m sure you’re ready for a fresh start. You’re probably wondering what’s in it for you in this new year. Everyone desires a new fresh start, a new beginning and a new journey with God. Some of you might even wonder, “what do God have in store for me this new year?” 2020 was a year that many have said,” Best Year Yet” or “2020 Vision.” But 2020 didn’t turn out to be the year that everyone had in mind, yet it was the most devastating year EVER! It was all due to COVID-19, a dangerous virus. So many unexpected things had happened and changed our global drastically.
What is normalcy now? How do we connect or unite again? Or how do we find passion in our hearts again for God?
Everywhere we go now requires a mask. Everyone has their own share of pain, meltdown and hardship. It’s hard to process when the world is going crazy. What a season we live to witness! Again… in the midst of all these changes, we might've lost a bit of who we are. But even so, do you feel a sense of distant or far from God? Tired, weary or droughtful? Or just simply spiritually dry? Do you pray and hope for a new amazing experience of God’s presence!? I believe many of us have thought about these things and wonder what’s next.
In the New Testament, the local church is referred to as “the household of God” (Eph. 2:19 and “a spiritual house” (1 Pet 2:5). What does God intend his house to be?
A place of prayer for all people.
“My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7).
In the beginning of Isaiah 55, God invites His people to come to Him and fellowship with Him. In verse 3 & 6 God says, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live… Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”
What God is really saying is that all peoples would come to him in prayer. God speaks here of a day when that will happen, a day when people from every tribe and nation will worship him. The passion of Jesus is that God’s house would be a place where people from all nations would come and seek the living God.
One of the greatest experiences that could ever happen to you is when you respond to God. When God is near, He can be found by you! And when you respond to his invitation, God will penetrate your heart. Yes, you hear me right. He will penetrate your heart and ignite a fire in your heart to have a zeal after His very own heart. God is all about relationships! He wants to have fellowship with you. He wants you to go to him. He wants you to hear His voice. He wants himself to be found by you so he can ignite a fire in your heart, a passion that never dies.
In John 2:17, it says “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” What does this mean? To consume me?
A place where God’s presence is known.
“There I will meet with you… above the mercy seat…” (Exodus 25:22)
If we are like Jesus, zeal for God’s house will consume us. Lord, let the controlling passion, the consuming zeal, the first love of our lives be zeal for your house.
Ask yourself, “With all the things for which I have passion, is it true of me that I have passion for God and for his house?”
I want you to begin to see God’s desire for the church (that’s you) and how you can find that passion in your heart again in 2021. It’s not just about serving within the four walls in the church, but in every aspect of your life - the passion and the enthusiasm to be the person God called you to be. To be consumed passionately in and out of the house of God.
We are not called to be set apart from God, to be isolated from His presence nor to be consumed by this world. God is calling His church. He is calling his people to return to Him. He wants us to be consumed with passion and live with purpose.
A great pastor leader of mine said this and I was so thrilled… “ a life not lived for others is not a life.”
Let’s live a purposeful life, full of passion, for others and for the church of Christ. AMEN.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Psalm 51:12 NIV
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, my heart is in awe of you. Thank You for giving Your only Son to cover my sin. Your love for me is overwhelming, and I thank you. It's hard to fathom the gift You have given me of daily grace and mercy that covers my sin. Forgive me when I forget how faithful You are. Help me to find passion in my heart for you once again. Thank You for Jesus. In Jesus' name, amen.