Tag Archives: Obedience

God Speaks Through Internal Peace

9 Nov

When God speaks to our hearts, He gives us a deep sense of internal peace to confirm the message is truly from Him. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Don’t let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

When the deceiver speaks to us, he cannot give us peace in our hearts. We might experience peace, emotionally, but emotional peace won’t last. Only spiritual peace will last. When we try to solve things with our own reasoning, we cannot experience lasting internal peace. “The mind of the flesh (which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit) is death (death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter). But the mind of the Holy Spirit is life and peace (both now and forever). Romans 8:6

One of my Mother’s favorite expressions was “follow peace”. God’s Spirit lives within us if we are born-again believers. One of His gifts to us is His peace if we are following His will. If not, that peace becomes disturbed. There is a fine line within us about recognizing God’s peace. We may have hardened our hearts to God’s Spirit. In other words, we may have trained ourselves to ignore that still small voice within us by giving way to the comfort of the flesh (our bodies) or our emotions (our souls).

Ignoring the peace within our Spirits to follow the peace within our souls (our emotions) can be very dangerous. The Scriptures tell us that our hearts are deceitful and that we don’t even know how deceitful. That is why we need the Holy Spirit within us to be our guide. Some of us have become accustomed to selective hearing and obedience. God didn’t intend for us to live like that. We must be deliberate about listening for the Holy Spirit and in walking in obedience. Our commitment to God should be deliberate and constant. We are to “acknowledge God in all things”. This indicates that we don’t sail along doing things our way and stopping to ask God when we feel like it. To walk in this way is like walking on a slippery slope.

If we want a true and real relationship with our Father, God then we must yield to Him in everything. He isn’t just a “Sunday morning God”. He is a “24/7/365” God. He lives IN us. He is WITH us at all times. Sometimes we feel like God doesn’t keep up with us. We get in a hurry and don’t take the time to ask Him about things that concern us. The truth is we are the ones not keeping up with God! We like things done in our time and in our way. God just takes too long sometimes – most of the time. So, we think we just don’t have time to ask Him about it.

I would go so far as to say that I believe that many of our problems would go away if we would take the time to wait for God’s direction. That being said, know that there are times when God directs and things still seem to go wrong. Recognize that when this happens God did not call us to a life free from difficulty and hardship. But He IS there to walk us through those things. To walk through them on our own is possible but with much more turmoil. When we are yielding to God, we can keep our peace and know that we can trust Him to guide us to our destination, shielding us from anything not acceptable to Him.

Advertisements

About Spiritual Gifts. . . I Do Not Want You To Be Ignorant! I Cor. 12:1

11 Aug

SPIRITUAL GIFTS (13)

The words “Gifts or Spiritual Gifts or Ministry Gifts” as they relate to Scripture can cause some to squirm. These terms, along with others from Scripture, can cause confusion and bring up uncomfortable feelings. Some just don’t want to hear anything about them at all. Truthfully, I can relate. I was brought up around these things and I was uncomfortable much of the time.

I want to dispel some of those fears and misunderstandings, to the best of my knowledge and with the help of others who have written about these things.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  God does not want us ignorant concerning these things. (1 Cor. 12:4) Because of all the confusion and fear surrounding the mis-use of these gifts and the fear surrounding the unknown, we allowed the enemy to steal some of God’s most valuable resources for our edification.

If you have had any of these experiences or have heard of them please realize that God never forces Himself on us. His gifts are given freely and are to build us up and to heal us physically, emotionally, spiritually – and in every other way.

The fears that have kept us from God’s best should be dealt with in prayer and in reading God’s Scriptures for clarification. I am going to do my best to explain these gifts, the way they differ and the way they are used today. There are many who believe that God’s gifts were only for Bible times and are not effective today. That is a big lie of the devil to prevent us from receiving God’s best for our lives.

  • There is no evidence whatever that the Gifts ceased because the Lord withdrew them. (Gordon Lindsay, All About the Gifts of the Spirit)
  • A Scripture that has been commonly used by those who hold the position that the Gifts of the Spirit have ceased is I Cor. 13:8-10.
  • Here we are told that prophecies, and tongues, and knowledge shall cease, or pass away. Just one glance at the Scripture shows however, that the period referred to is not this age at all, but the perfect age which is yet to come! (Lindsay)

The gifts we are discussing in this series are the Spiritual Gifts from Romans 12:3-8:

  • Rom 12:3-8
  • 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body , and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. NIV

Following are Scriptures relating to the other gifts God has given to us and we will discuss them in a future series.

  • Eph 4:9-13
  • 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets , some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. NIV
  • 1 Cor 12:1-13
  • 12:1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
  • 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
  • 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
  • 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. NIV

The next Motivational Spiritual Gift we are going to discuss is the gift of PROPHECY. That’s one that turns some off. Many believe that prophecy is no longer relevant today. However; God still gives this gift to many and it is His will that they use it properly. To use it in any way other than directed by God is a very dangerous thing to do.  There are characteristics you will recognize by those with this gift and you will be able to discern whether they are using it properly or not.

We are not speaking of “Prophet” as in the ministry gift or  the gift of prophecy found in   I Corinthians 12, we are learning about the gift found in Romans 12:6-8.

The Gift of PROPHECY:

Today this gift is primarily associated with powerful preaching, however; all preachers do not have the gift of prophecy nor do all persons with the gift of prophecy preach.

The person with this particular gift goes “out of their way” to exercise one or more of these basic points:
  • An analysis of the current situation from God’s perspective
  • The consequences of continuing in that path
  • The need for change/repentance
  • The promise of God’s grace and restoration if the change in direction is made

I believe a person given this gift is tested to the max. They cannot be used effectively unless they are well versed in God’s Scriptures and have learned strict obedience to God.

God knows how to train us for the gift He has given us. That is one of the duties of God’s Holy Spirit. He teaches us to “hear” His voice as He speaks to our hearts. This is for everyone, not just a select few. God’s Word tells us that if you are one of His sheep, you hear His voice and the voice of another you will not follow.

  • John 10:26-27
  • 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. NIV

Some of the characteristics of the gift of PROPHECY are as follows:

  • Prophecy does not usually involve foretelling – predicting the future – as much as it does forthtelling – forcefully speaking the truth. Forcefully is a strong word. What it means here is that the Prophet motivated person wants to make sure God’s Word is understood and that there are consequences to disobeying it.
  • The word proclaim is perhaps a better word than preach to describe what a person with the gift of prophecy does
  • Typically their ministry is a public one
  • They are not as comfortable in smaller groups as others
  • They prefer speaking to larger groups than ministering one on one as do those with other gifts
  • They are tuned in to how God views situations, especially if evil or hypocrisy is present
  • The are Issues-oriented; usually have an opinion about everything! Not fearful to tackle tough issues
  • They proclaim God’s truth with a passion, even if they must do so alone
  • Their message is one of urgency; tend to expect an immediate decision or response (Repent NOW!)

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!

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.

God Is Talking To You – Are You Listening?

24 Jun

Yes, if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, God speaks to you! You think not? The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus said. “My sheep know my voice and the voice of another they will not follow”! If you are one of His sheep, you know His voice. You may not yet recognize it or even know how to recognize it, but He IS speaking to you.

It is critical that we know how to hear God speak to us if we want to be able to truly know Him and be led by Him into His perfect will for our lives. God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit – to our hearts. There are many different ways He speaks, but when we begin to recognize His voice, it will always, always be in line with the Bible, God’s Word – already given to us. I like to explain it by saying that it is kind of like making a new friend. At first, when our new friend calls us, we may not recognize their voice. But, we talk to them more and more, the better we get to know them. Eventually, we will recognize their voice immediately.

The more time we spend with our new friends, the better we get to know them. It works the same way with God. The big difference is He already knows us. He knew us in our Mother’s womb. As we read His Word, we learn more about Him. As we read about characters in the Bible we find that they all were plain, ordinary people like we are. You see, Moses only performed the mighty task of leading God’s people out of slavery because God called him to do it. Moses, argued with God and did his best to convince God that he was not capable to do what God wanted because he wasn’t good enough. God does not called the equipped – He equips the called. God knows how to get your attention. But, like anyone else talking to us, we have to pay attention. We have to listen.

God wants to be our friend – yes, He does. I know it is hard to believe. Friends talk. And, it’s not just one-sided. We talk, we listen. So, if we listen, God must be speaking. If you are a born-again believer, have accepted Jesus Christ into your heart, then you are His child and he speaks to you. It is as simple as that. You will need to develop a sensitivity to listening to Him. He speaks in many different ways. When you accepted Jesus into your heart, the Holy Spirit took up residence there. Part of His duty is to change your heart so that you understand the ways of God – He helps you to rightly divide God’s Word from the other words that try to overcome you.

You cannot rightly divide God’s Word if you don’t read it. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, was written by men who were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. There is nothing to be added to it and nothing to be taken away from it. As we read the Scriptures, we learn about God and His ways. We are taught how to distinguish God’s ways from man’s ways. We can clearly identify with the men and women of the Bible because they were the same as we are. They weren’t super human, holy individuals who led perfect lives of peace and glory. They made mistakes – bad mistakes – mistakes like we make today. So, as we read about them, we learn how God dealt with them. We see how much God loved them. We see how they disobeyed and the consequences they paid or the blessings they received from doing as God directed.

The voices we hear in our minds come from a myriad of different places. He speaks in a still small voice to our hearts. Sometimes, so small that we ignore it. God speaks to us through friends, Pastors, nature, children – just about any way you can imagine. What makes it possible is the Holy Spirit within us. So, we can’t just believe everything we think we hear. All things that we hear aren’t in agreement with God’s written Word. If we hear something that doesn’t fall in line with the Bible, it isn’t God speaking. So, how can we know it’s God if we don’t read His Word?

What’s Missing?

15 Jun

Continued . .

I am writing about Walking With God. Job is an example of endurance, which means faithfulness under trial. “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 Satan accused Job of serving God only because God blessed him. Satan’s claims in the book of Job were that God would not have followers if He did not reward them! Job’s example was for us to learn some valuable lessons about trusting God when everything around us tells us otherwise.

Much of life is cruel, painful and disappointing. The people we love may treat us unfairly and may even wrong us again and again. Almost daily, we come into contact with people who are rude and unkind. We live in a world where truth is difficult to recognize anymore.

Success is not only temporary; it still leaves a void in our lives. No matter how much we have materially or how popular we are, without God we will eventually perish.

“Do you not know of old, since man was placed on earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?” Job 20:4&5

Many times, as we try to be all that we believe God wants to be, some of our decisions are affected by what others think. It is difficult to take a back seat – even to God. We live in a society where we have learned that we are lacking something if we don’t make things happen. The natural thing for us to do is to take matters into our own hands and begin to seek results based on our own experiences and our own wisdom and knowledge. We acknowledge God in our “quiet time” then we go about our business doing what comes naturally to us. We don’t really spend time seeking God and letting Him direct our every path and our every decision. We don’t want Him to have that much control. One reason is because He’s probably going to give us some instructions we don’t want to follow. So, we just make sure we are respectful enough to say our traditional prayers. However; we definitely turn to Him when there is a crisis. After all, that’s when we really need His help. We can manage everything else.

Let me ask you something. How do you feel when someone comes to you only when they have a need? God made us for fellowship with Him. He created us and loved us enough to give us His only Son to die that we might live. Have we heard that story so much that we’ve lost the value of it? Or, have we really ever understood what it means?

Some of us go to church and follow our traditional rituals out of habit or guilt. Or, we may go to save face. How many of us truly go to church on Sunday, or any other day of the week because we love God with all our hearts and want to go and worship Him? Why do we attend so many classes and studies? We gain so much knowledge, yet what do we do with it? Are we studying God’s Word because we love History and we are fulfilling an obligation to read our Bibles every day? Let’s investigate the motives behind our Christian walk and our service to God.

What is God to you? He is the Supreme Being – the Maker of all things. We take a few hours out of our week to pay our respects to Him. We do our best to memorize Scripture and familiarize ourselves with Bible stories. We pick up some interesting facts along the way.

We fill our days and weeks with committee meetings and programs and social gatherings. We love having our schedules arranged and our days planned ahead. We’ve become so busy that we don’t even time with those we love. We’re okay with it. Instead of communicating face to face, we stare at bigger and better wide-screen computer screens with beautiful graphics and wonderful sounds. We work on our laptops and watch our big screen TV’s at the same time we are answering all of our emails. Sometimes we even communicate with several people at one time online. Communication has reached a level that causes us to distance ourselves from those we love.

Where does communication with God fit into all of this? Never in our history have we had so many ways to communicate with so many people from anywhere in the world at any time. Yet, we fail to communicate with the One who created us for friendship and fellowship with Himself. We may think that all of our sophisticated technological equipment means that God is just outdated – too old-fashioned. Where does He fit into all of this?

What kept Job was his faith in God and his personal integrity. God used Job to prove that his friends couldn’t supply what he needed. They didn’t have the ability to comfort him or answer his questions. They tried to find answers that would explain what was going on in Job’s life, but all they did was make matters worse.

God also used Job’s example to disprove the accusations of the devil. Job did not serve God just because God blessed him with material things and health. He didn’t turn from God when his wife refused to stand by him or when he lost everything he had. Job knew he was in right standing with God, no matter what others thought. His friends did not encourage him, they did all they could to try to discover what Job was doing wrong. If you are perplexed about something in your life, wait on the Lord and let Him work out His hidden purposes.

What is it that you believe are true works of God’s blessings in your life? Are they health and wealth? Are they freedom from pain and suffering? Are they success on the job or in a marriage? How about perfect children? How many times do we examine God’s love for us based on our surrounding circumstances? How often do we blame Him for the unpleasant things that happen in our lives? We examine what happens to us against our behavior or someone else’s behavior. The standards we use are standards of good and bad as they relate to whatever seems right to us.

When something goes wrong in our lives (according to what we have perceived against our standards of right and wrong) – we begin to assess the blame. Many of us automatically assume someone else is at fault.
Somewhere along the path of life we have acquired a standard of right and wrong. We have also already made up our minds after experiencing life, what things are good in life and what things are bad in life. Each of us has a totally different view of this standard for successful living.

Along this path somewhere we have found God. At that point in our lives we begin to learn about Him and we acknowledge that He exists and that He is a supreme being. We stand in awe of Him and usually we allow Him a couple of hours on Sundays, and possibly an hour or so on weeknights to fulfill our obligations to Him. Some of us go a few steps further and join an extra hour or so of Bible Study. (That makes us feel really special.) And, even others of us go beyond that to doing all sorts of extra activities to show our devotion and love for God. We’re trying to earn His love and acceptance just as we try to earn it from everyone else.

It’s also possible that we want to fulfill a need within ourselves – something that is missing. It’s our way of patching a hole within our hearts – some sort of shortcoming or failure in our lives. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It gives us stature. We feel somewhat satisfied that we have added another accomplishment to our uneven list of successes and failures.

Continued . . .

Another Sinner – Used By God!

12 Jun

Lydia was a woman of substance. She grew up in paganism and became disillusioned with it. She wanted more. Lydia had something very special – an open heart. God had a plan for her life and saw to it that she was at the right place at the right time to receive Him into her life.

Scripture tells us that “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” We are all called, some just don’t answer.

Lydia loved her family. It has been determined that she was a widow. We pick up her story when she was away from home on a business trip. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatire, famous for its dyeing trade.

It is interesting to note that Lydia had not yet accepted Christ. She was not a child of God. Or, was she? We have the advantage of seeing Lydia’s story from start to finish, through God’s Holy Scripture. We read it in God’s Word, after the fact. God is omnipotent, He sees it before it happens! As a matter of fact, He orchestrates all of the events.

God is always in control. Sometimes, it doesn’t appear that way to us. Circumstances become overwhelming and we just can’t seem to get a handle on things. We do all we can. We take the steps we know to take. This is the point where Scripture tells us to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. We are told to rest in Him as we go about our daily routines.

It is too far out of reach for us to understand how God can orchestrate –arrange our lives – everyone – so that all things work together for everyone’s good. Just think about it. That is exactly what He does. Knowing this should help us to rest in Him, as we are told through the Scriptures. We don’t actually take that as a profound direction. But we should. This story of Lydia and Paul will help us understand a little about how God works all things together for good.

Paul was a mighty man of God by the time he met Lydia. He had been forbidden to preach in her hometown. Interestingly, God arranged for Lydia to be on a sales trip in the same city where Paul was ministering. Had she not been away from home she would never have been where God had arranged for her to meet Paul and be introduced to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

On that day, Lydia was at the gate on the Sabbath for her own purposes –to gather with her people to pray. Paul and Silas also journeyed to the gate on that Sabbath. Paul, Silas and Lydia were brought together by the providence of God. This is an example of how God’s plan is working together to bring about good. Paul was shut out of Bithynia and silenced in his journey through Mysia and was now in the same place as was Lydia!

In this case, all circumstances were changed in their lives. God brought them together, and Lydia was introduced to Jesus Christ and became the first European convert. God had prepared Lydia’s heart and opened it to hear and receive Paul’s words.

Why is this story important enough to be in the Bible? Lydia is only mentioned briefly in the Scripture. She was enough of an example for us that she was mentioned by name that we might follow her example.

Meditation upon God’s word is important. If we read through it quickly without understanding, we can miss valuable insights that God has for us. As God gives us revelation to these insights our faith is increased, our trust in God becomes stronger, and we learn more of how to walk in peace and not to fear our future. God is always in control.

God brought His mighty Apostle, Paul, together with this widow proselyte by rearranging both their circumstances. As soon as Lydia heard Paul’s message and believed in Jesus, her heart was at rest. Her destiny had been changed for eternity!

Lydia immediately, with her family, took a stand for Jesus. Her heart was full of excitement and gratitude. She wanted to give back. It did not take weeks or months, it was immediate. The joy of the Lord was now in her heart. Her life had been changed forever. It now had meaning and purpose. Some people never apply the truth they hear. They are hearers only, not doers. Some think what they hear is for others and not for themselves.

Lydia wanted to show her gratitude and invited God’s servants to her home to abide there. God knew Lydia would respond and step forward to provide what his servants needed. Once again, we see God providing for His own.

It is said that actions speak louder than words. Although there aren’t many verses of Scripture in the Bible about Lydia we can learn many things from her example. In fact, Lydia sets an example for all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives.

Amazing is the fact that one individual made such an impact that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Acts to tell her story. Of major significance here are the actions of Lydia upon her conversion. We get a glimpse of how we are to behave in the world around us to show our love for God in our actions. We don’t have to be someone special. Like Lydia, God can use as in a mighty way even if we are a salesman.

There are many people today who only learn about Jesus through our actions. We are not always free to discuss our beliefs with those we love or those we see on a regular basis. When we do try to “preach” at someone and they are not receptive, we are then scrutinized with our every move, and especially every mistake or failure. This indicates clearly that our actions have made more of an impression than our words.

Additionally, we need to realize that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts – not an individual. It is not our words, or our prayers – really, it’s not even our actions that change a person’s heart. It’s the Holy Spirit of God who tells us in his Word that He knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s womb. Still, our actions as we listen and obey God, following His lead, show the world there is something different about born again believers. Even we, as believers, recognize other believers by their actions, as well as their words.

Continued Tomorrow. . .

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 . . .

%d bloggers like this: