Tag Archives: Faith

Use HIS Power, Not Yours

5 Jul

Discovering Our Spiritual Gifts (2) – Continued

WE are the church. The building we meet in on Sundays is a meeting place. God lives in our hearts and His Holy Spirit will motivate us at times to go out of our way to meet a need or to help someone.

We should be sensitive to what motivates us the most. For instance, if a friend was transferred to another city and had to move to a new location – and really didn’t want to go, in what way would you prefer to help? Would you (1) Have an immediate idea of people who could help and start making plans to line them up for the task; (2) Physically offer your assistance to pack and move them; (3) Help them financially; (4) Encourage them in the areas that are troubling them; (5) Do some research to help them gather information that may be needed; (6) Show compassion and understanding about all the things that are concerning them with the situation; (7) Make sure they are aware of all the facts of their decision and do your best to make them aware of any possible problems?

You may find that there are many areas listed above where you could help. More than likely, there will be one in particular that your are the most concerned with. That will be a hint of the gift God has placed in your heart to reach out to others. Eventually, as we mature in Christ, we will be more effective in many of these areas. Knowing the one thing that motivates us the most does not mean we are exempt from becoming more sensitive in the other areas of need.

God will be honored when we use our gifts. The Holy Spirit is always at work around us, and when we use our gift in His power, God receives the praise.

(1 Peter 4:10-11)
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

God determines what gifts we are given. Discovery of what motivates us may take some time. As we mature in our walk with God we will gradually become more like Jesus and participate in all gifts, as needed. But there will always be one that motivates us – this is by God’s design.

1 Cor 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

1 Cor 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

Gifts of the Spirit and Fruits of the Spirit are different. The fruit of the Spirit is evident in our character – how we behave. The gifts of the Spirit reflect God’s work – what we do for Him. Following are the Fruits of the Spirit. Our goal is to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to walk with the evidence of these fruits in our lives. (Galatians 5:22)

Fruits of the Spirit

• Love
• Joy
• Peace
• Longsuffering/Patience
• Gentleness
• Goodness
• Faith
• Self Control

Note: We learn these fruits by facing issues in our lives. For example, in order to learn “longsuffering (patience)” we will be faced with issues that require us to put it to work! Read the list again with that in mind!

Motivational Gifts
Of the Spirit

• Serving/Helping
• Giving
• Administration
• Prophecy
• Exhortation/Encouraging
• Showing Mercy
• Teaching

There are other gifts God gives us that will be discussed later, but first we are going to go a little deeper into the characteristics of these 7 gifts and how to recognize them in our lives.

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Don’t Give Up Too Soon!

3 Jul

The LORD selected Joshua to replace Moses after his death. Joshua and Caleb were the ONLY two men from the entire generation of Israelites, delivered from slavery out of Egypt, who were allowed to enter the land God promised to give them! The only others who were allowed to go were the children under the age of 20 – the new generation. Moses wasn’t even allowed to go because even He lost his temper and disobeyed God. (Numbers 20)

Please see the importance of the faith and obedience of Joshua and Caleb. Not only were their lives at stake, but so were the lives of many others. They were the minority when it came to trusting God and receiving the promise of an abundant life. Instead of seeing their enemies as giants, they knew that since God had promised them this land that He would give them the wisdom, the knowledge and the strength to win the victory. The other men just looked at the negative side of things and let fear guide them. I also think they were disappointed that the land wasn’t just going to be handed over to them. They had to fight for it.

How often do we do the same thing? If we happen upon difficulty – or even what seems to be an impossibility – we don’t even try. We are defeated before the fight begins. Battles make us strong. Our faith in God is stretched and know this – God honors faith! Scripture teaches us that “It is impossible to please God without faith”. Keep in mind – if we can see the outcome – we are not walking in faith.

*The first men sent to spy out the land God had promised them went down in history as cowards and losers. They never even got to see what God had for them because of their doubt and unbelief. And – Because of their fear.

*They limited themselves – God didn’t! He gave them every opportunity to be winners and to achieve great and wonderful things.

*It was their own decisions – their own choices that brought them a sad end to God’s promise of a “land flowing with milk and honey”. Instead, they finished out their lives wandering the hot, dry desert.

*In other words, we can’t just SAY we believe, we have to ACT like we believe. We have to continue to walk in faith, believing God, taking Him at His Word and ACTING on it!

We all face giants along our journey. Some of them look impossible to overcome. I wonder how many wonderful gifts from God we have lost because we gave up too soon?

Please be encouraged to go full steam ahead with God. Do not limit Him. Do not doubt Him. It’s okay to ask questions and to check things out. Scripture tells us to do that. But when He gives His approval or says “No” to something. The best thing for us to do is to believe God – not to limit Him or to challenge Him. Only HE knows what our future holds and what great things we can accomplish as we pray and obey!

Just Because You Can’t Do It, Doesn’t Mean God Can’t!

2 Jul

Don’t Limit God!

What God has given me for you today pertains to any limitations you have placed on Him regarding yourselves and your abilities. This means in your personal life, as well as, in your ministry.

If you are limiting God this is what you are doing:

1. YOU are placing boundaries around what God can do and what He cannot do. YOU are telling Him that He can go THIS FAR, but no further.
2. YOU are telling God to what extent He can move in your life, YOU are placing restrictions on your vision, your money, your work, your ministry – your life in general.
3. YOU are RESTRICTING God because of the limits you are placing upon Him.
4. Remember, God gave you a FREE WILL. YOU make choices daily. It is not His plan for you to be limited in any way.
5. FAITH is the substance of things unseen.
6. You will see by the examples listed below what limiting God in your life can do.
7. More than likely you SAY just the opposite. But, take a close look to make sure. Ask God IF you are limiting Him and ask Him to show you HOW you are limiting Him.

In Numbers 13 God told Moses to send out 12 men, the leaders of each clan of the children of Israel to check out the land He had given them. Check it out:

 I believe this was one way for God to prepare His people so they could get ready for the job that was before them.
 The Bible identifies the men – they were hand-picked by God. They were the leaders of their clans.
 They saw that the land was full of giants. There was a bountiful supply of fruit. The grapes were so big that two men carried a cluster back home to show their people.
 Then came their report. Out of twelve men, 10 of them were afraid and doubted God. I guess they thought that what God gave them to do wasn’t possible.
 The doubting 10 leaders spread their doubt, unbelief and fear among the people. They were responsible for inevitable punishment of their people.
 There were only two men (Joshua and Caleb) who said “Lets go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with them said “We can’t do it. These men are stronger than we are. Then they said: “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
 What they were saying was “to those men we looked like grasshoppers, and to US – we looked like grasshoppers. SO – THEY win!” They didn’t even attempt to do what God told them.
 They didn’t even stop to think that God would not have sent them to the land and told them to look it over to scare them out of their wits! He wanted them to prepare. To get ready to take the land that was their inheritance. He had already proven Himself to them and promised to be with them.
 When these leaders went back and gave their people this bad report, what do you think they did?
 It is important that you see the influence you have as a leader.
 Whose report will you believe? God’s – Your’s – Satan’s?
 This is what their people did: “And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!”
 Do you know who God held accountable for all the murmuring? THE LEADERS!
 Joshua and Caleb tried to convince the people that it was a good land, flowing with milk and honey and that they could take it. God would be with them. They begged the people not to rebel against God. But the people stoned them for their good report! Can you imagine! Then the glory of the LORD appeared before the people. Uh Oh!
 This is what God said to Moses: “How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.”
 Moses begged God not to do it. He interceded on behalf of his people.
 So, God pardoned them because of Moses’ prayer, but because those men saw His glory and His miracles and still tempted Him by not listening to what He told them, He denied them the privilege of entering into the promised land. They had to wander in the wilderness until they were all dead.

Only Joshua and Caleb and the younger generation were permitted to leave the desert after 40 years of wandering. Once they reached the promised land, only Joshua and Caleb had faith in God’s promise to give them the land. The other clan leaders let fear and grumbling rob them of the future God had planned for them.

Only Joshua and Caleb trusted God enough to encourage the people to take the land. God honored their faith. Only Joshua and Caleb and the children under 20 years of age were allowed to enter the land God has promised them. All those who doubted God let fear and unbelief rob them of God’s best. Instead, they lived out the remainder of their years living in the desert.

Comfortable?

26 Jun

As God’s children we are sometimes led into areas we are unfamiliar with. In the Scriptures there are stories of many who were called by God into unfamiliar territory or tasks that appeared to be way out of their comfort zone.

In Genesis we are told that God told Abram (later called Abraham) to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household to go where God would later show him. Wait for it . . .

What in the world would you do if God placed that instruction in your heart? Oh, and did I forget to say that Abram was 75 years old at that time. So, in case you are thinking you’re too old – think again.

Further, the Scripture says, “So, Abram left, as God had told him”. Okay, I’m sure I can imagine what you may be thinking. I don’t have the space to say it all here. However; if you think God wouldn’t ask something of you without giving you a map from beginning to end, you are mistaken, my friend. That is what faith is all about.

Besides, I’m sure God may have directed many of you reading this, already. And, if so, how did you respond? I can probably guess at many of the questions and excuses that you could come up with.

“God, are you talking to me?”
“I must have imagined that.”
“Surely God wouldn’t tell me to do that.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I can’t do that. How would I . . . ”

You see, the very lives we live follow God into many unknown areas and uncharted waters if we are truly listening to Him and letting Him direct us. It may not be about going to a “far country” as God instructed Abram. But, it may be a tug at your heart to do something else which may take just as much faith. We can’t map out our lives like we do a vacation. When we walk with God, life gets very interesting at many levels. Besides, a “far country” is anywhere that is unfamiliar to us.

Think I’m a little out of balance? Well, it’s okay if you think that. Sometimes I’m not so sure myself. But, I do know this. I trust my God in heaven. I know His voice, and I follow His direction to the best of my ability.

Do I make mistakes? You can be sure of it. Will I again? I’m sure of it. Why? Because I am most certainly human. But, I have plenty to say about how faithful God has been to me in the midst of many a trial and many a storm. Most of them took me on a journey of not knowing exactly where I was going or how I was going to get there. AND, about another million questions. My peace came from within, knowing that God would never fail me because He never has.

Each journey I take with my Heavenly Father, takes more of my trust and faith. And, each journey gets more exciting. Scary, yes, but exciting. God knows where I’m going – that’s what is important.

Walking with God doesn’t allow for being in a rut. Don’t like being uncomfortable? Neither do I, but I want what God wants for my life and that usually means being a bit uncomfortable. It also means not coming to a dead-end. My friends, God wants you still kicking until He calls you to your mansion in the sky. If you sit down and get comfortable you’ll miss out on some exciting things.

Do You Know Where You Are Going!

13 Jun

THE BIG TRIP

Whether you know it or not, God is taking you on a journey. Meditate on the following questions. Open your heart to receive new insights into what God is asking of you.

1. Think about one or two things you are facing that are new to you or that you are not sure about.

2. When you plan a trip there are things you know and things you do not know. Think about the things that are new to you and what challenges they present. Ask yourself if these things are keeping you from doing what God is asking of you.

3. The Destination – Do you know the destination? Did you choose it or did God?

4. Do you enjoy the journey, or do you just want to get to the destination? Most of us just want to hurry up and get where we are going. God doesn’t get in a hurry. There are milestones along the way for you to manage. Don’t let them frustrate you or cause you to turn back. This is the most important part of the journey.

5. If you chose the destination are you willing to let God change it? Or, are you determined to go your own way? Make sure it is a God thing and not just a good thing — because all good things aren’t necessarily God things. His hand is upon those things that He has called you to do. Don’t waste your time with something that does not have His blessing on it.

6. If God did choose the destination, are you charting the course (telling God how to do things)? God doesn’t need you – you need God.

7. How much of your plan is based on past experiences and things you know? This can be a major problem when you are walking in faith. Let God do the leading – He will probably take you down a path you have never been before – Check with Him continually – Make sure you are not just doing what you always do. God may have a much better way — IF you will allow it!

8. What part does fear, anxiety, not knowing the outcome — driving you and to what extent? Oooo – hard one! Remember, God said “Fear not, for I am with you”.

9. When something unexpected happens, do you automatically assume you’ve made a mistake or that you must be headed in the wrong way? Don’t let obstacles stand in your way. Think about the Israelites when they left the only home they new and followed Moses to the promised land. They wanted to turn back at every obstacle. They would rather have lived in the slavery they knew so well than to fight for what God promised them. They just wanted to sit back and let Him do it all for them.

10. When you get where you think you’re headed and it is different from what you had planned, do you try again to go back? Or, do you seek God for you inner peace to determine what your next step is? – DON’T GO BACK! God is able to take you out the front door!

11. Would you just as soon stay where you are or do you really want to take the trip God has planned for you?

12. Do you want to see (learn) new things along the way?

13. Are you willing to let go of what you believe the outcome is to be and let God give you something better? It may not always look better to you. That’s where faith comes in. Trust God. He knows what you want more than you do! Really.

14. Do you understand that “better” to God has a different meaning than “better” to you? Can you, and will you, trust Him to see you through to the end?

15. How many times along the way are you tempted to turn back?

16. How many times have you actually turned back? What were the results? Do you think that means God can’t get you back on track? Charles Stanley says “God always knows how long it will take you to get where you are going and He knows when to start preparing you”. Your timing is not God’s timing.

17. Do you think God could/would change your course or destination along the way? Would you let Him? Or, would you determine that the enemy had come to steal from you? God will definitely change your course many times. He wants you to let him do the driving. I once heard a teacher say that following God is like going through one of those car washes where you stay in the car. God wants you to “Put it in neutral, take your foot off the brake and your hands off the steering wheel”!

Some Hints:

Don’t limit God with the way you are praying.

Don’t do things the way you have always done them before.

Do what you need to do and leave the rest to God.

Experience the lessons in the journey – don’t miss it while anticipating the destination.

When you get where you are going – don’t turn around and go back!

Let God surprise you – trust Him with the parts you don’t know.

What Does The Future Hold?

6 Jun

Today’s world gives us plenty of reason to become discouraged. Worldly conditions are becoming more and more uncertain.  We wonder if things are going to get better. It is frightening. Our economy is bad. Many of us don’t have a job, leaving us with financial problems. There have been hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, and wars. Our leaders have been caught lying and cheating. Danger lives on our streets and invades our homes. Our schools are overrun with children out of control. Shootings are taking place in public places where we should feel safe. We are experiencing occurrences in our weather that are inexplicable. We are seeing more bizarre acts of violence. What is happening?

Life is challenging! We work hard and play hard. We move at a very fast pace. We have rigid schedules, time constraints, very little leisure time. Eventually, we become tired and weary. We may even become so exhausted that we begin to make decisions based on our raw emotions. We lose our enthusiasm. We become skeptical, sarcastic, and hard to live with. We may even become so overwhelmed that we become weary and want to give up.

Remember the childhood nursery rhyme, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”? We dreamed about our future, our plans, how wonderful life would be. We weren’t prepared for how difficult things could be. The second verse of that nursery rhyme is, “Row, row, row, your boat gently down the stream, if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream”.  We didn’t know that some of our dreams would turn into nightmares!

We couldn’t wait to grow up so we could be in control of our own lives and do what we wanted.  We would then be able to go anywhere and do anything without asking anyone. Well, how did that work for us? It is sort of like joining the army so we wouldn’t have to do what mom and dad said!

Over time, our daily routines can change from exciting and challenging, to dull and boring. Eventually serious issues come up, causing more and more stress, fear, and anxiety.

God wants us to experience unsurpassable peace. It doesn’t mean that the world around us is going to be different. Situations around us won’t necessarily change. People who challenge us won’t be different. Difficult things won’t cease to affect us.

The change that will take place has to be internal. We will begin to transform our way of thinking.

There is good news! God gives us this Word from the Bible.

  • 1 Peter 1:6-9  “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  NIV

Inexpressible joy – wow!  Impossible to put into words – unutterable – unspeakable  – can you even imagine what it must feel like to feel so much joy that you cannot put it into words or express it in any way?

Our relationship with God begins in our hearts. Our temperament, personality, disposition and moral fiber come from our hearts. We have to begin there.

  • Prov 2:1-6 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom. . .” NIV

 

  • Prov 2:9-11 “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair — every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you,and understanding will guard you.” NIV

Our accountability is to God, our Father, for in our hearts is where He lives. We must develop a personal and intimate relationship with Him. It is paramount to our reaching joy inexpressible. Attaining life’s most important treasures comes from this most important relationship. Nothing else can take His place. We may strive to reach our goals and objectives on our own. We may even gain a little ground. It won’t last. Nothing will last that is not of God. Joy inexpressible only comes only if our spirits are in tune with our Almighty Heavenly Father. It can happen no other way.

Most essential is making Him our first priority. The omnipotent God of the universe, the creator or life who has complete, unlimited universal power and authority wants a personal relationship with us. He wants our hearts devoted to Him. He wants to spend time with us! Joy inexpressible! How can we understand or explain it? We can’t.

When we reach intimacy with God, we will be so in love with Him that He can ask what He wants from us and we will be eager to obey. This is part of what inexpressible joy and peace that passes understanding is all about.

Are You A Background Person?

3 Jun

I can’t get Ruth out of my mind. There is so much hope and encouragement in her story. Ruth’s story makes it clear that God has a plan for all of us. Ruth was a “background” person. She wasn’t particularly special to anyone but God. She didn’t hold any notable positions or move up the ladder of success. She didn’t do anything to get the attention of those around her – except – just be herself!

We don’t need to promote ourselves to any kind of special position in order to be used of God. I’m just taken with the fact that Ruth had an entire book of the Bible dedicated to her and she didn’t part the Red Sea, or build an ark — see what I mean? Ruth just humbled herself and took steps to do the honorable thing. God had a plan – He had a future planned for her even after it appeared she lost everything!

Notice that God sent someone into Ruth’s life that could disciple her. She would have done the same for Orpah (the other daughter-in-law). They each had the opportunity to be blessed by God. However; Orpah chose to remain in the pagan world she knew. She couldn’t let go of the things she was comfortable with. This is a clear example of how God gives us all the opportunity to be blessed by him. It is our choice – He gave us the choice – a free will.

I don’t think this means that God gives us only one chance. I believe that He sends many of His disciples our way over our lifetime. God is a good God. He wants the best for us. We can’t blame Him for things that go wrong when we make bad choices.

His Word, the Bible, has already been written. The principles are set. The Scriptures are given to us for example. The people written about are like us. Through our reading of them we learn about God and His ways. His Word is new every day. It is alive and progressive! It is not old and out of date.

As you read the Bible, God helps you to understand it. You will read something that “jumps” off the page and speaks to your heart – it will be just what you need. I believe it is vital to our lives, especially in today’s world.

Some of His promises are conditional. His offer of salvation is to everyone, but in order to receive His perfect will for our lives we have to develop a personal relationship with Him and seek to make the right choices. To be able to make the right choices we need to know what He says in His Scripture. We need to spend time talking to Him and then listening with our hearts to His leading.

We won’t become perfect. We will still make mistakes. The difference is that if we are seeking to know God and seeking His will for our lives, He will see to it that all things work together for our good.

Notice how Ruth, after she chose to go with God – through Naomi – God began to open doors for her to see that she came into the blessings He had in store for her. She just lived out her life. She listened to godly counsel from Naomi and God led her to a renewed life.

Ruth struggled along the way. She had to make many choices to be obedient to the one God had put in her path to help her. It took courage, and faith. Ruth may not have even known she was using her faith. We all use our faith – either in God or in something else. The point is, she continued to make wise choices. She continued to humble herself.

I don’t know how long it took for all this to take place. The important thing is that she didn’t give up. She lived her life day by day and God led her out of the wilderness and into a life of His love and blessings.

I hope you, the reader, can see in Ruth’s story that God is truly no respecter of persons and that His goodness and favor depend so much on our choice to follow Him.

He is merciful to us. He is long-suffering – He waits for us to turn to Him. Just knowing about Him is not enough. We must really know Him. It won’t happen over night. It takes a lifetime. He is an amazing God, so amazing. The more you get to know Him, the more you want to know Him. It doesn’t get old or boring. In my opinion, God is the only thing in my life that is fresh and new every morning – I can’t wait to see what He is going to do next.

Of this I am certain, God has never failed me. Oh, there are many things that don’t go like I want them to. I’ve had many failures in life – made some very bad choices. But, as long as I continue to serve Him and seek Him, He turns everything into good for me. Even when things go opposite to what I think I want, in time I see that God knew best all along. My Momma used to say “God is so smart”! He truly is. He knows our hearts and our longings more than even we do. Trust Him. Give your heart to Him wholeheartedly. You won’t be disappointed.

Boaz, The Son of a Harlot, Ruth, a Pagan – Brought Together by God and Became Part of the Lineage of Jesus Christ!

1 Jun

Continued . . .

How great is our God! He took ordinary people – sinners – saved them and turned their lives around and made them part of the lineage of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and King!

So, we find Ruth under the blanket, at the feet of a strange man. She did not sleep, she waited. It must have seemed a long time to Ruth. Finally, Boaz was startled and woke up! He asked who was there. Ruth replied, giving her name, and announcing she was his servant girl. She requested that he spread his cover over her. She told him she was a relative and reminded him that he was supposed to take care of her. The more we learn about Ruth, the braver she seems to get! Obedience certainly takes courage.

“Boaz was an older man, possibly a leader in the city. Naomi was certain that he would do the right thing and redeem her as was the custom of the day. If there was anything improper about this action, the fault must lie upon Naomi. . who knew or should know, the laws of Israel better than Ruth. It is true that Boaz, being near of kin to Naomi’s oldest son, and then nearest of all now alive, was obliged by the divine law to marry the widow of Mahlon, who was the eldest son of Elimelech, and was dead. Her coming to lie down at his feet, when he was asleep had such an appearance of evil. . . It is dangerous to bring the spark and tinder together; she (Naomi) knew Boaz to be not only an old man, but a grave sober man, a virtuous and religious man, and one that feared God.” (Bible Commentary)

Just imagine what God can do with one so dedicated and obedient. Here we are today, a couple of thousand years later, reading about a young woman born into a pagan land, submitting herself to one of God’s own and reaping such a mighty reward, here on this earth, in her lifetime – -God’s grace – His mercy – His blessing! Amazing!

Boaz blessed her! Wow! He realized Ruth was once again being obedient to Naomi by being there. He told Ruth he thought this was the greatest kindness that she had shown Naomi even from the beginning. Boaz was so intuitive. He told Ruth of his respect for her because she had not sought after a husband to marry, either rich or poor. Even more amazing, Boaz told Ruth he would do all she asked. He went so far as to tell her that all the people in their town knew she was a good woman. Then he then told Ruth that there was another kinsmen who was a closer relative than he. This meant there was a problem. Well, isn’t that the way life is?

This was an open door for doubt and unbelief to come in. We all face this in our daily lives. Many give up at this point and begin to murmur and complain. But, we can look back at how the path God had prepared for Ruth and know that He is still in control. His plan is still in operation. This is just a slight detour.

Boaz told Ruth not to be afraid. He told her of his plan to go to the other relative to see if he would take care of Ruth and if he refused, Boaz would do it. He then told her to stay there until morning. Ruth slept at his feet, not at his side, and got up just before daylight while it was still too dark for anyone to recognize her. “But as soon as the day broke, that she had light to go home by, she got away, before one could know another, that, if she were saying, yet she might not be known to be abroad soul unseasonably. She was not shy of being known to be a gleaner in the field, nor ashamed of that mark at her poverty. But she would not willingly be known to be a night walker, for her virtue was her greatest honor, and that what she most valued”. (Bible Commentary)

Ruth returned to her mother-in-law and told her what happened. Naomi advised Ruth to “wait”. She said that Boaz would not rest until he took care of the matter. And, as Naomi predicted, Boaz went to the city gate and waited there until the other close relative passed by. Boaz invited him to come and talk. He also gathered ten of the older leaders of the city as witnesses and told them about Naomi’s return to Bethlehem from Moab. He told the men that Naomi wanted to sell the piece of land that belonged to their relative, Elimelech. He offered the nearest relative the opportunity to buy the land and asked for an answer. The other relative said he would buy back the land. Goodness, another bump in the road of God’s plan. To be expected – right?

Boaz continued to explain that if he (the nearest relative) purchased the land from Naomi he must marry Ruth, the Moabite. That meant the land would stay in the name of Naomi’s son, which was customary in that day.

This changed everything! The close relative said he could not buy the land because it might interfere with what he could pass on to his own sons. So he told Boaz to buy it himself. Finally!

We all face bumps in the road as we wait upon God. Many times we give up – or take matters into our own hands. We live in a world where most things we want are instant, so waiting on God is not easy for any of us. But, the Scripture tells us that “Good things come to those who wait”.

So, Boaz declared to the older leaders that they were witnesses as to his purchasing from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech and his two sons. He also announced that he was taking Ruth, the Moabite, as his wife so that her property would stay in his name and not be separated from his family. The older leaders testified to their witness of Boaz’s claim and blessed Boaz and Ruth.

So Boaz took Ruth as his wife. They had a son and Naomi was praised by the people of her town. They all gave credit to the faithfulness of Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, who loved her. The child’s name was given to him by the people of the town. They call him Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse and Jesse was the father of David from whom our Lord Jesus descended.

To make this story even more amazing, Boaz was the son of Rahab. Just think about it. Rahab was a harlot. God saved her and blessed her and she became a part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. And Boaz, born to Rahab, a fine man of God married a Moabite woman, called “strange” in that day due to her heritage. Yet, God saved her and brought her together with Boaz. Together they brought forth a son and became a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. “Ruth is hereby brought in among the ancestors of David and Christ, which was the greatest honor. The genealogy is here drawn from Pharez, through Boaz and Obed, to David, and so leads towards the Messiah, and therefore it is not an endless genealogy”. (Bible Commentary)

Only God – – -only God – – -could bring about such an amazing, miraculous plan. As we were promised in the beginning of this story, “all things worked together to those who loved God. . .”

This is not the end of Ruth’s story – it’s a new beginning!

God Doesn’t Wait For Us To Get Things In Order Before Blessing Us!

31 May

Continued. . .

How difficult to imagine a young woman going to the threshing floor late night, hiding herself from everyone. Then, making her way to Boaz uncovering his feet and lying there and covering herself up. Ruth’s instructions from Naomi were to lie there until Boaz told her what to do. It’s hard to imagine what must’ve been going through Ruth’s mind. She once again proved herself notable, brave and dedicated to a woman of God because of God’s incredible love flowing from within Naomi.

This story is truly hard to imagine! However; God’s hand is at work – a God Ruth didn’t know about – a living God. How amazing is His grace! How glorious are His ways! How true are His promises!

In reading the book of Ruth, – a Book of the Bible dedicated to this woman of valor – the outcome of an unfolding plan becomes apparent. A woman named Ruth –ruthless in her character to the point of facing head on the trials and tribulations that confronted her – – refusing to back down – – determined to keep going. What strength! What character! How pleased must God have been!

Think about it – Ruth’s character was so notable that the Holy Spirit inspired an entire book of the Bible to tell her story. She was not wealthy – had no high-ranking job – and she served idols. She seemed insignificant – to herself and to us, had we known her. God didn’t wait for her to “get things in order” before He began to work in her life. He was with her all along. All she had to do was listen to her heart and deny her self-will.

Scripture tells us that God is no respecter of persons. I believe that God does this for each and every one of us – but the decision remains in our hands as to whether we will make good choices or not.

Ruth was not expecting anything or looking for anything as a reward for all she endured. Her motives were pure. She displayed such a heart of purity and selfless love. Ruth was clearly a picture of what blind faith is all about. She had God’s promises, all she had to do was make good choices. A foreign woman from a pagan land – – a land of sinners and idol worshippers, married into the family of God. Wow! That’s all of us! We do absolutely nothing to deserve God’s love and His favor, yet He is faithful.

In Ruth’s mind she probably thought her life had gone as far as it could go. She had already told Naomi she was prepared to follow her to death, even to be buried with her. She didn’t make that promise or declaration lightly. She was steadfast, constant, completely devoted to Naomi.

God had a plan! One particular fact we can see from Ruth’s story is that God finishes what He starts. We can’t see what lies ahead. Like Ruth, we have no idea what God is doing providentially to unfold His plans in our lives.

Ruth now finds herself at the threshing floor, in the dark of night, lying at the feet – – under the covers – -of a man she hardly knows. It is obvious that Boaz must have been an extraordinary man. Otherwise, Ruth could have found herself in a very uncomfortable situation. Bible scholars cannot explain why Naomi instructed Ruth in this manner. But, Naomi has been shown to be a virtuous woman, as well as, a wise woman. We must trust that Naomi may have known more than we are aware of. She knew the character of her kinsmen, Boaz, and was confident that Ruth would be safe.

Ruth was once again submitting herself, without question, to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Her bravery is evident, the faith and honour she bestowed upon Naomi was incredible.

To Be Continue . . .

Nothing By Accident

30 May

Continued . . . God prepares our way as we struggle day by day, putting one step in front of the other – sometimes not knowing where life is taking us.

As providence would have it, Ruth decided to go and work in the fields to glean the corn so that she and Naomi could eat. She just happened to select a field owned by a well known kinsman of Naomi’s husband named Boaz. One day Boaz saw Ruth gleaning in his field and asked the worker over his servants who she was. When the worker told Boaz it was Ruth, he had already heard what she had done for Naomi. She had proven herself as a notable woman in her deeds – everyone heard about it and then saw it. Boaz recognized that God had recompensed Ruth for all she had done for one of his own and saw that God was rewarding her and covering her with his protection.

Boaz gave instructions to his workers that they were to allow Ruth to continue to glean in his field. He even told them to drop extra corn so that Ruth might pick it up. He commanded them not to rebuke her or send her away. He also ordered them to watch over her and to keep her safe.
Boaz showed much kindness to Ruth for which she was very grateful.

One day, Ruth humbled herself and bowed low before him in thanks and asked him why she had found grace in his eyes. He told her that word had come to him about how she had devoted herself to her mother-in-law since her father-in-law’s death. He also knew she had left her father and her mother and her country to live in a land and people she knew nothing about. Boaz told Ruth that God wanted to repay her for these things and because she had put her trust in God and turned from pagan idols. Then, he told her that he wanted her to stay in his fields, close to his maidens. He wanted to make sure she was protected. This was God’s way of watching over her, again, unknown by Ruth.

When Ruth went home and told Naomi of the day’s events Naomi praised God and told Ruth that Boaz was a near relative who could redeem them. Naomi was a godly, perceptive woman. She wanted to find a home for Ruth and a husband. She wanted Ruth to prosper.

When the harvesting was finished, Boaz went among his workers to the threshing floor where they were winnowing the harvest. There was food and drink and celebrating.

Naomi told Ruth to bathe and perfume herself and change her clothes. She wanted her to put on her best clothes but not to look like a harlot. Naomi then instructed Ruth to go to the threshing floor where Boaz would be eating and drinking. She told Ruth to stay out of sight, not to let anyone see her, but to watch and see where Boaz slept. Ruth was to wait until he fell asleep and then go and lift the covers and lie down at his feet. Naomi told Ruth that Boaz would then tell her what to do. Ruth agreed to do everything Naomi told her.

Once again Ruth proves her courage her respect and complete trust in Naomi. Keep in mind that Ruth was from a foreign land. She knew nothing of the customs of Naomi’s people. God’s love continues to draw this young woman and continues to soften her heart. She was not an Israelite. She was a woman from another land. God had forbidden marriage to the pagan women there. It is even believed by some Bible scholars that Naomi’s sons died an early death because they married against God’s will.

This is an amazing act of God’s mercy and grace. God opens His arms to receive everyone. His love drew a pagan woman to Himself through one of His own. He then completely changed her through her hardships and made her into a virtuous woman, worthy of a good husband, a man of stature and wealth. Incredible!

The picture portrayed here is one of extreme proportions. To summarize, the two sons of Naomi sinned against God by taking foreign wives, forbidden women because of their heritage. Then, one of the very same women turned her heart over to God through her commitment and dedication to Naomi, one of God’s own people. God open the door for Ruth to marry into this godly family. How true it is that God’s ways are so much higher than ours!

To Be Continued . . .