Advent…a Seeker’s Adventure

After receiving the news of the Savior’s birth, the shepherds immediately went in search of the Christ child. “They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” Luke 2:16-20

How often do you remember exactly what someone tells you? We have selective memories and only remember those things we like best, that which impressed us or scared us most. But in this case, God brought to their minds exactly what the angel had said so that nothing was lost of His truth. God will always see that His truth prevails. Here are the angel’s words again from verses 10-12, “but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

The Shepherds told everyone they met how the angels had appeared to them, how they came and found the child just as the angel had told them, how this child was to be their Savior. They were living testimonies to the power and truth of God’s Word and how God keeps His promises.

What about you? Have you encountered the living Savior? Do you trust in the truth of God’s Word and know Him as the God who keeps all His promises? If we believe Him, then like the shepherds we need to tell others of the wonders and power of our God. We need to tell of the truth of His love and forgiveness in sending Jesus to save us. When you have had a ‘God experience’, like the shepherds you will be so filled with amazement over what He has done for you that you will go and seek to know Him more and hurriedly desire to tell others about your amazing God. Does that describe you today? If so, praise Him! If not, seek Him and as He promises He will be found. Matthew 7:7-8 ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Let us all be seekers like the shepherds were and go in search of the Savior, ready to tell everyone we meet about our amazing God and His Son, Jesus.

May you encounter Jesus in a fresh new way this Advent season. Be ready to enjoy the adventure of following Jesus, knowing Him and walking in faith and trust each day. Ready to tell others to tell others excitedly what God means to you.

Linda

Advent…the Unexpected Places God Takes Us

As we enter the last days before Christmas, our focus shifts to the actual birth and arrival of the Christ child. Today’s scripture tells of the birth of our Lord. Luke 2:6-7
“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”

In the stable cave believed to be the birthplace of our Lord, we sang Silent Night.

These 2 verses pack a powerful punch. After the long journey by walking or on the back of a donkey, they arrived in Bethlehem to find the city packed and all the inns filled. The census had drawn many others to Bethlehem as well, which was a small town outside of Jerusalem. As they looked for lodging, they found that all the inns were filled, but the landlord of one inn offered them shelter in the stable attached to the inn. They would be with the animals but in a warm and dry place. The irony of the King of kings and Lord of lords, the one who owns all the cattle on the hills being virtually homeless and humble enough to be brought into this world in such a lowly way leaves me in awe. In addition, scripture reminds us again that the baby being born is Mary’s son, miraculously conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. This was no ordinary child and yet he was born as every other human child is born to a mother. She cared for the child and wrapped him to keep him warm and laid him down in a manger cradle. I’m sure she was exhausted but happy to be safely delivered just as any young mother would have been. Perhaps she had been scared as she only had Joseph to help her deliver the child, worried about his first cries and seeking to be comforted by by his sleeping pose in the manger. Joseph was undoubtedly worried about the delivery and the health of both her child and his young wife. These are possible thoughts that might have been in the minds of both Mary and Joseph that first Christmas Eve. But God, was with them and they both trusted in God’s plan and were walking in faith. Their faith was sufficient to overcome whatever obstacles were in front of them that day. Their faith and obedience to God is evident as no words of panic or despair are present in scripture, just calm hope.

Let us take a lesson from this scene. No matter how bad things look- no room, no place, no how, God is in control and has a plan. Nothing is greater than God and with God ‘nothing is impossible.’ This is hope that required faith on our part as God has got this. We need to walk in trust knowing He has us in the palm of His hand. Isaiah 49:16 is a promise to each of us “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

May the blessed hope shown by Mary and Joseph seep into your soul today as you consider this unusual birth in a very unexpected place. I love the promise in Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” Claim God’s promise and know in your heart and mind the truth of His loving care just as Mary and Joseph did that first Christmas Eve.

Linda

Advent…Omniscient God

In Luke 1:76-60 Zechariah turns his prophesies of praise towards God for who and what his newborn son will do with his life. Only an Omniscient, All Knowing God could have revealed these truths about a newborn baby.

“And you, my little son,
    will be called the prophet of the Most High,
    because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
77 You will tell his people how to find salvation
    through forgiveness of their sins.
We know of John’s ministry thought the gospels. Matthew 3:1-2 tells us what John was doing, just as had been prophesied. “In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

78 Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace.”
John preached about the coming Messiah in Matthew 3:11 “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.

80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Luke was able to add this comment about John’s adult life. Verse 80 was not part of the prophecy of Zechariah but added by Luke truthfully about John’s life and character. Matthew 3:4-6 also gives a bit of background for this unusual preacher. “John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

The thing that jumps out at me in this song of prophesy is God’s purpose and plan for John was specific. He had a ‘job’ for John to accomplish in his life. The same is true of each one of us. Jeremiah 29:11 speaks of God’s plans, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Do you believe that God has good plans for your life? Do you believe His plan is designed to give you a hope and a future? Essentially this boils down to believing that God is good and can use all things, even our screw ups and hard circumstances, to bless us and bring about good. Romans 8:28 speaks to this point “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. If you truly believe that God is who He says He is and will keep His promises, then you can be assured beyond any doubt that He will bring it to pass and it will be for your good and His glory. We cannot see into the future and know all the twists and turns of our lives but God can! Walking with Him is a walk of daily trust and obedience.

In light of what God specifically had in mind for John, may you meditate on His truths in Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 and be assured anew of His love and goodness causing you to live with hope knowing your future is secure in Him.

Linda

Advent…A Time of Reflective Praise

After being mute for 9 months because he questioned God’s ability to create a child through he and Elizabeth, Zechariah let’s his praises pour forth in a song of praise and prophecy about the Messiah to come and his own new born son. Luke 1:67-75 is today’s portion of this song. I have interrupted Zechariah’s song with verses from the Old and New Testament that speak of his prophecy being true.

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
Jesus came to redeem and save us. Romans 10:9-10 assures us of this. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
Jesus was repeatedly called the Son of David. The blind beggar called him Son of David and was healed, “They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” 42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” Luke 18:37-43

70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
Paul proclaimed Jesus was the long awaited Messiah in Acts 13:23 “And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel!

71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:9-10 how Jesus saves us “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.
Genesis 17:1-10 describes God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God reminds him repeatedly in Genesis 18:18, 22:18 and 26:4 that all nations will be blessed through him.

7We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
Jesus call us to serve and follow Him in John 12:26 “ Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”

75 in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16-17 how we are to live. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

May the prophesies of Zechariah’s song reassure you that God has a plan, God is sovereign and God desires good things for us through faith in Jesus. May you too raise your voice in praise for all God has done for you.

Linda

Advent…But God Experiences Teach Us

Everyone rejoices when a baby is born, new life brings hope and speculation about who the child looks like, who the child will grow up to be, what they will do and how they will fit into the world into which they have just arrived. In addition, in earlier times the health and survival of the baby and mother were not always assured. In our passage we see a group of family and friends rejoicing that aged Elizabeth was able to carry her baby to full term and deliver her child. They were both thriving and 8 days after birth, as was their custom, they gathered to circumcize the young child and officially name him. Luke 1:57-66 is fraught with joy and amazement as John speaks after 9 months of silence, just as the angel had said.

 “When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” 61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. 65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

This story is an example of But God! The child was delivered and healthy, and he was surely to be named after his father But God intervened. Zechariah had been mute for 9 long months But God opened his mouth so he could speak. Can you imagine in that moment what Zechariah would say? He could have spoken to Elizabeth, words of comfort and apology, to the child, words of love and tenderness but scripture tells us his first words were praises to God. Zechariah knew God had intervened in his life and brought this wonder of new life to he and Elizabeth, and that God had a greater purpose for this child. All the angel had told him about his son came flooding back into this mind, and he knew without a doubt that it was all going to be true. He knew God keeps His promises and what He says will come to pass.

Have you had a But God moment in your life? How did you use it? Did you allow God to mold and shape you with His Holy Spirit by having your heart transformed and pointed towards Him? Zechariah did as He allowed God to work in his life and knew he would and could father this child God had given him. He trusted God for his child’s future and knew God would take care of him. Think back to your own God moment. Have you been open to God’s leading in your life? Have you doubted and wasted time arguing with God? Have you been saying, ‘Later God, not now?” Acknowledge God and ask Him to lead you in His way and see how your life’s path will be transformed. Remember the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Claim His promises in your life and trust Him for the plans, hope and future He has for you.

Linda

Unchangeable, Promise Keeping God

And the journey continues….Ezra. Ezra is a history book about the Jewish people’s amazing return to Jerusalem from Babylon. Due to their evil idolatrous ways and forsaking of the worship of the one true God, they were carted away to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem was destroyed along with the temple. The precious gold bowls and articles of worship were carried away too. Their exile, which was warned about by a multitude of prophets, was accomplished by the Persian army and many of the Jewish citizens were deported to Babylon. All the prophets had foretold their exile and also their return. No date was given in earlier prophesy’s to their return but God promised to bring them back. As the time for exile approached, God sent a message to the people through Jeremiah that they would be exiled for 70 years and then be brought home to Jerusalem. The events in Ezra tell us how God used a pagan king to accomplish this feat and see to His people’s return 70 years after their deportation.

Daniel, one of the exiled Jews, spoke of how God uses all in His world to accomplish His will in his prayer. Daniel 2:21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
Daniel knew that God controlled who was in power and determined the future of His people.

The book of Ezra opens 70 years later. Ezra is a Jewish official, a scribe and a priest in the service of King Cyrus of Persia. The regime has changed and Cyrus had a revelation from God and his heart was moved towards the Jewish people living in his realm. Ezra 1:1-4  “In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom:

“This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:

“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”

There are several amazing things about this occurrence. Their return was foretold by Jeremiah before their exile in Jeremiah 25:11-12 and 29:10. Here is 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.” God was very specific on the number of years they would be in exile (70) and that when they returned they would have provisions. Cyrus ordered fellow Jews remaining in Babylon to support them and their efforts to rebuild the temple. He, a pagan king, was used by God in a mighty and miraculous way aid in the return of God’s people. They did return and began rebuilding the city, walls and temple. Ezra stayed, led in the instruction of the people in God’s ways so that they did not sin continue to sin against God. He had to return to Cyrus’ court and Nehemiah was led to go and continue this restoration.

What lessons can we take from this story? Foremost, God keeps His promises. God said they would go, they did. God said they would return, they did. The events were orchestrated by God and not by the Jews who were in exile. God knew the correct time for their return and who was going to be in power. God knew Cyrus would listen to His message and act upon it. One would never have thought that the golden bowls, etc. that were taken as plunder and placed in the Babylonian temple by King Nebuchadnezzar were there for safekeeping. Only God could take away, preserve and then return them to where He wanted them to be. That same God is the God we know today. Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He is our unchanging all powerful God who watches over all of us. This account gives me hope and assurance that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, always and forever. It also assures me that God is Sovereign over nations, those in power and events happening in our world. When things look bleak, I need to always remember that God is indeed in control and walk trusting Him for my safekeeping. I know God keeps His promises!

Be encouraged by God today.

Linda

Promises From Isaiah Always Give Hope

And the journey continues….. Isaiah. Isaiah is considered a major prophet due to the fact that the book is lengthy with 66 chapters. The first 35 chapters are marked with prophesy after prophesy about the coming judgement due to the Israelites not staying faithful in worship of the one true God. Isaiah uniquely refers to God as the Holy One of Israel. The middle section of Isaiah, chapters 36-39 are an interlude with specifics about Judah’s present day problems with the Assyrians and the growing Babylonian Empire. King Hezekiah prays for guidance as he spread the letter from attacking Sennacherib before the Lord. God answered by saving Judah and later extended the life of Hezekiah by 15 years from an illness that had him at death’s door. The final chapters 40-66 are some of the most beautiful and comforting in the Bible. Isaiah prophesizes about God’s love, protection and restoration for the nation that He alone will provide during their coming exile in Babylon and promises they will return to the land He has given them. When they returned from 70 years of exile from their homeland, they did not stray to the worship of other gods and their man made idols. They worshiped the one true God, the Holy One of Israel.

My favorite verses are found in Chapter 49. Several of the verses in this chapter have given me great encouragement and strength. I want to share them with you. God promises restoration in verse 8-9a “This is what the Lord says:

“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
    and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
    and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
Whenever God says, I will, He is making a promise to Israel and to you and me. God keeps His promises always. Here we see and feel God’s love and commitment to those who believe in Him. He will make things happen in His time and in His way. His ultimate way of freedom is in Christ as He freed us from the bondage of sin and restored our relationship with Him.

Isaiah 49:15-16 speaks of God never forgetting me and knowing who I am, and what I need is ever before Him. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me.
This is a precious image of the depth of God’s love towards me. I know He goes before me and is always with me. He knows exactly who I am and has me engraved in the palm of His hand.

Isaiah 49: 23 “Kings will be your foster fathers,
    and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
    they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
    those who hope in me will not be disappointed.
When I see things happening in my life that are beyond my control and frighten me, I can take comfort in knowing- God has this. He will be victorious and trusting in Him will never lead to disappointment.

Isaiah 49: 25 But this is what the Lord says:

“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
    and plunder retrieved from the fierce;

I will contend with those who contend with you,
    and your children I will save.
God acknowledges that many times things will look overwhelming or bleak in my life, but I need to remember that He will fight for me and that He will save me and those that will come after me. God promises there will always be a remnant of those who believe in Him.

One last favorite from Isaiah 55:11. I claimed this verse when I wrote and published my first book. I cling to God’s promise each time I give out God’s Word whether it is in a book, blog or when speaking. “so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
We can be assured that putting forth God’s Word will not return empty or void. His Word has meaning and eternal value and He guarantees it will not come back empty but will always accomplish that which He desires. I claim and stand on this promise because- God says it and His will cannot be thwarted! Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

I pray that these precious verses of promise speak to you today. May you believe that God loves you, that your faith in Him will not bring disappointment, that you will lean into Him trusting in His protection and supreme ability to fight your battles and that you will continue to speak out for Jesus knowing His words and truth will not return empty.

Linda

Working with God, No Fear!

And the journey continues….. to the small book of Haggai in the Old Testament. Haggai was a prophet God sent to encourage and motivate the returning exiles to Jerusalem. The king in Babylon, King Cyrus, had released Jewish captives to return and rebuild the temple which was destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army had ransacked Jerusalem and carried many Jews to captivity in Babylon. The work to rebuild and restore the temple met with opposition and ground to a halt. When Darius the Great became king of Persia he renewed the efforts and at this time Haggai and Zechariah began to preach and encourage, motivate and pressure the Jews to get going with the restoration.

I am drawn to Haggai 2:4-5 “But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.

Haggai is delivering a message of hope and courage from the Lord Almighty (El Shaddai, the All Sufficient One) that we too can take heed of and apply to our lives.

Here are some lessons and truths we can take away from this passage: 1. God promises to be with them, me and you, and He will never leave us or forsake us. That is a repeated promise throughout the Bible. I memorized Deuteronomy 31:6 and say it to remind myself of God’s presence with me at all times. 2. God is unchanging and eternal. What God promised and did when He delivered the children of Israel from the hands of Pharaoh in Egypt, He can and does still promise to for us as He sustains and helps us. 3. Fear does not come from God. His Holy Spirit is with us and will dispel our fears if we turn and focus upon Him. 4. I am to put my mind to the tasks God has given me and not waste time with fearful living. 5. God desires that I be strong and rely upon Him for my strength.

Haggai repeats over and over in this little book that God is God Almighty, the All-Sufficient One , who can be relied upon to carry us to victory. Where are you living in fear today? Haggai would say- get up, walk with God and trust Him to bring whatever you are afraid to face to completion. We need to remember His promises and move forward claiming His strength, courage, and hope as God will never leave you nor forsake you. God is Almighty!

Linda

Summer Wanderings… in God’s Word

As I was praying about what direction to go with my blogs this summer, I was led to share with you my favorite passages from throughout the Bible. Each week I will seek to blog on one Old Testament and One New Testament passage. I am excited to glimpse lessons and truths from the whole council of God. He uses all His Holy Scriptures to speak to us so we can live full, fruitful and glorifying lives as we walk with Him.

This week I was studying in the book of Ruth. Calamity surely befell this young widow and her mother-in-law Naomi as they lost their husbands. Naomi seeks to send Ruth back to her family, but Ruth clings to Naomi and speaks from her heart. Ruth 1:16-17 “ But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” This pagan young woman saw love and faith in Naomi in spite of her circumstances and chose to cling to her and her God.

They return to Bethlehem where Naomi’s husband’s family lived and they owned land. Ruth was devoted to Naomi and went daily to glean in the field to provide their food. Boaz, a relative, sees her devotion, work ethic, and love for her mother-in-law even though she is considered a foreigner in their land and would be looked down upon. He treats her with kindness and Naomi instructs Ruth to approach Boaz and seek his aid in redeeming their life and their land. Through a series of events, Boaz cleverly presents the buying of the land to a closer relative but tells him thoughtfully that purchasing the land that belonged to Naomi’s husband would entail marrying Ruth, the foreign girl from Moab so that her husband’s line could continue. The closer relative refuses as it would put his own inheritance in jeopardy, so Boaz ‘redeems’ the land and marries Ruth. Boaz is the ‘kinsman’ redeemer which is a beautiful pictured of Christ.

Ruth and Boaz marry and have a son they name Obed. Naomi is uplifted and renewed by this new grandson to love and cherish. Ruth is cared for by a kind loving husband. Boaz is rewarded for his love and kindness by a loving wife and family even though he is older. God shows favor upon Ruth, Boaz and Naomi as Obed becomes the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of King David who are in the line of Jesus the coming Messiah.

What do we take away from this lovely story? I see God’s providential care of Ruth and Naomi who loved Him. There was no luck involved in their circumstances as God knew what they needed and provided for them in a miraculous way. I also see God’s Sovereignty over horrible things that happened to them in Moab, the death of her sons and husband, yet bringing good from all those hard times. Two promises come to mind as I ponder this story. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, “ Naomi and Ruth loved and trusted God and He worked the circumstances of their lives for their good as He cared for them. Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Really hard things happened to Ruth and Naomi and God turned the circumstances so that they were mightily blessed and provided for. Ruth, the pagan girl from Moab, finds God, His people and has her life redeemed. God is indeed good.

Where do you see God’s hand of care and love in your life? Is He moving and changing things so that you can see Him more clearly? He drew Ruth and Naomi closer to Him. How is God doing that for you? Has something difficult happened to you in the past that you can see where God brought good out of tragedy? Many times we will not see why the hard things in life happen to us, but one day we will see how God has woven our lives with the dark and light threads of life into a beautiful tapestry. Until then, we need to trust Him and cling to His precious promises with hope and reassurance that He is sovereign and loves us beyond measure.

Linda

Take some time this week and read the story of Ruth. It is only 4 short chapters and will surely bring you hope and blessing.

God is Impartial, A Message for All!

Paul concludes his argument about putting on the new life in Christ in Colossians 3:9-11. His powerful words are as freeing to us today as they were to the first century Christians in Colossae. “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” These people lived in a society where people were separated race, religion, gender and social status. They were used to being put down, overlooked, cast out and neglected. Paul’s message was one of acceptance for all as those things do not matter or count in God’s kingdom. Jesus died for all!

Believers in Jesus could find freedom in God’s kingdom that was eternal and it promised equality for all. God is impartial. He sees no race, color, gender or status. God is only separated from us by our sin which knows no color or creed. All are called His children who believe in Jesus the Son. Romans 8:16-17 “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” He even names all Gentiles in Ephesians 3:6 “And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.

Additionally, Jesus called us His friends. John15:13-15 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” We are precious to Jesus and God the Father. We are called friend, sons, and heirs. We have an inheritance through faith in Jesus.

Paul’s last line in verse 11 is “Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” Jesus is all that matters. Faith in Him is the only way to a relationship with God as He imputes His righteousness to us and makes us clean before Almighty God. I love the fact that God is impartial and loves and accepts all of us. We are all sinners redeemed by the Son for a relationship with Him. Here are a few verses to meditate upon about the Impartiality of God. He is impartial and desires that we be and act with impartiality, too. He desires for us to love all people as Jesus did.

Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.”

Acts 10:34-35 “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”

Romans 2:11 “For God shows no partiality.”

1 Peter 1:17 “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.”

As you meditate on the sufficiency of Christ and the impartiality of God, let these verses resonate within you and cause you to seek to live with a loving and impartial attitude towards all men. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can seek to love others wholeheartedly and impartially.

Linda