Stories Lead to Truths about God

Just a slight deviation from favorite verses today to favorite Bible stories. When I asked my friend Kathy for a favorite verse or two she responded with her favorite stories. As I thought about this, it so suits Kathy. She is a lifelong student of the Bible and the consummate Sunday School teacher. She sees things relationally as they impact our lives. Here are her favorites:

“I love the story of Esther because it tells me that even though the name of God is never mentioned, He is there, working in our lives.” Do you see God working in each area of your life? Is He with you in the hard times- rescuing, helping, guiding and providing all that behind the scenes encouragement? Do you also turn to Him in praise when things go well? I am reminded of God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Esther believed God was there with her and her people. What about you?

I love the story of Ruth because of the love and devotion it speaks.” Ruth gives us an example to follow because of the love she showed her mother-in-law, Naomi. Do you have someone you are serving even though it is hard? Are you letting the love of God shine through you towards them? Paul put this in another context in Romans 12:9-11 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” What does your love reflect?

I love the story of Jonah because it tells me that I can’t outrun God.” Jonah is such a great example of thinking we know better and can get away from God. Do you try to second guess God and tell Him how things should be? Submission is not easy but it is biblical. Christ is our example in Hebrews 5:7 “ During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Let us learn from Jonah and strive to be like Jesus.

I love the story of the blind man in John 9 because it tells me that even though people can see, they may still be blind.” Jesus made mud and put it on this man’s eyes and his eyes were opened. He had been blind from birth. The Pharisee’s were incensed that Jesus healed this man and did it on the Sabbath. They considered healing work and Jews were not permitted to work on the Sabbath. They questioned the man’s parents to verify he was born blind. They questioned the former blind man about who had healed him. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not (meaning Jesus), I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” He was blind physically but Jesus gave him sight. The Pharisee’s were blind spiritually and could not see the truth of Jesus and His power. Are you open to His work and leading so that you can see God’s truth in your life?

I love the story of Ananias and Sapphira because it tells me that God knows me so well, I can’t lie to him (and lying never brings about a good ending).” This story occurs in Acts 5. Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. It would seem from what happened, they said they were giving all the proceeds from their land sale. Maybe they wanted to look good in the eyes of the apostles and their fellow believers so they would think well of them, think them generous and selfless when they secretly held back a portion for themselves. Their actions were deceitful and here is what happened. Ananias came before Peter:

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

Next his wife came in, not knowing what had happened to her husband. “About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.  The sin was not that they did not give it all to the Lord’s work but lying about it. If they had been truthful about the price and what they were giving, all would have been well but they tried to lie and get away with it. What a price to pay for pride and trying to be more than they were. I agree with Kathy this is an example of God’s Omniscience and man’s pride. God knows, and we kid ourselves, when we think we can get away with things. God always knows. I am reminded of 1 John 3:19-21 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”

Be encouraged today with these stories displaying God’s character. He is Omnipresent and Sovereign as in Esther showing His providential care and guidance. He is loving and the great Provider as seen in Ruth. He is Omniscient in the case of Jonah and Ananias and Saphira. He is Compassionate, Loving and Almighty God as seen by the blind man. Who is God to you? How do you see him in the story of your life? Is He Faithful, Unchanging, Savior, Redeemer and friend? Take time to thank Him for His presence in your life today.

I’d love to hear your favorite story too. Thanks Kathy for directing me to these gems of scripture that give us foundational truths to live by.

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.

Bringing us near = cross of Christ

In Ephesians 2:11-12 Paul summarizes the state of the world.  Basically there were two groups of people.  1- the believers in the one true God called Jews and 2-  those who did not believe in the one true God called Gentiles.  People could become Jewish by faith and the Old Testament is filled with them.  These were people who aligned themselves with the people of God.  There were even several in Christ’s lineage- Rahab, the prostitute, whose story is found in Joshua 2.  She aligned herself with the people of God as she had heard how God had led the people victoriously out of Egypt and even parted the Red Sea.  She was transformed by her faith in God, and later became the wife of Salmon.   Ruth, the Moabitis  whose story is in the book of Ruth aligned herself with the people of God when she decided to honor her mother-in-law’s God and follow her back to Israel after the death of her husband and father-in-law.   She later married Boaz, who became her kinsmen redeemer.   The Jews followed God’s laws, and had a covenant with God which required them to be circumcised.  Those men who aligned themselves with God’s people had to be circumcised also. After Christ came and died, the only thing required of believers is repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection.  Through In-Christ-Alonefaith in Christ alone is someone saved1 John 1:9 puts it this way, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  No longer was the outward sign of circumcision needed to prove belief in the one true God.

Paul concludes this discussion of Jews and Gentiles in Ephesians 2:13 as he reminds these new believers in Ephesus of their wonderful present position in Christ.   “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.”    Because Jesus ephesians 2 13died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are brought near to God through the blood of Christ.   This is good news!  We are no longer separated from God by sin,  but can be united with Him.  This really is the heart of the gospel that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are brought into relationship with Him.  We are covered by the blood of His sacrifice and our sins are washed away.  We are not far away anymore but brought near to Christ.  Hebrews 10:10 “For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”  His sacrifice was big enough, great enough and pure enough to cover all our sins.  Amazing!

How will you use this good news today?  Will you draw near to God and thank Him for sending Jesus to redeem you?  God loves a heart filled with gratitude and praise.  Thank you Jesus for all you have done and are doing in my life.

Linda