Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not Forsaken!


17
So she gleaned in the field until evening, and beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 Then she took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. So she brought out and gave to her what she had kept back after she had been satisfied.
19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? Blessed be the one who took notice of you.”
So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”
20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.”
21 Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also said to me, ‘You shall stay close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’”
22 And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field.”
(Ruth 2:17-22, New King James Version)

Not Forsaken!

As we continue to go through the story of Ruth, I was particularly struck by Naomi's words in verse 20.

Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.”

Naomi had come back to her country bitter and discouraged, but now we see a turning point. The Lord has not forsaken her! How often do we feel as though God has forsaken us when everything around us is falling apart. In dark days, we often cannot understand how the Lord is working in our behalf. That was certainly the case for Naomi, but we see her beginning to have a glimmer of hope.

Look at the blessings God is pouring upon Naomi and Ruth. First, He is providing them with sustenance, second, He has shown kindness and protection to Ruth, and third, the man whom God is using to show kindness to Ruth is a close relative.

I am sure that Naomi was concerned about these very things. How would God provide for them? She could see that the diligence of her daughter-in-law was being rewarded when Ruth returned with grain. But, what about safety for Ruth? Knowing the vulnerability of Ruth, a foreigner, I am sure she was very concerned about her. Then, Naomi was overjoyed when she heard that Ruth had gleaned in the field of Boaz, and that he had showed kindness to Ruth. Boaz was a close relative! What significance did that have? We will find that out as we continue through the book of Ruth.

The book of Ruth is encouraging to us, as believers, on so many different levels. Just as God kept Ruth and Naomi in the shelter of His wings, so He does the same for us today. We often take these things for granted, but how do we react when we lose our job, or become ill, or are cast out by family members?

We may forget God or take Him for granted, but He never forgets His own. As children of God, we are not forsaken, but will always be kept in the hands of our God. Faith shines through when we are able to look at everything falling down around us and still say, "I am not forsaken by God!"

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Under His Wings


10
So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”
11 And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. 12 The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
13 Then she said, “Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”
14 Now Boaz said to her at mealtime, “Come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed parched grain to her; and she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back. 15 And when she rose up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 Also let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her; leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”
(Ruth 2:10-16, New King James Version)

Under His Wings

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

I do not know which impresses me more in this passage, whether it is the humility of Ruth or the generosity of Boaz. Ruth's character is highlighted in Ruth 2:10, and the grace of Boaz is shown not only in his kindness to Ruth, but also in his words to his men in verses 15 and 16.

What picture is God showing us through this Bible couple? Ruth represents the attitude that should be evident in all Christians. Is heaven the land of our birth? Moab may have been the land of Ruth's birth, but God had a better country waiting for her. We were born into this world, but God has a better country waiting for us as well. How should we respond to such love? We should pray that God would grant to us the humility shown in the character of Ruth. We certainly do not deserve His love; nothing in us qualifies us for life with God. Only in Christ can we boast.

Boaz is a picture of Christ, who looks upon us who are foreigners, totally undeserving of His love, and surrounds us with His grace. Look at the kindness and grace that Boaz showed to Ruth. First he spoke kindly to her and encouraged her to only glean in his fields. Then, he provided for her in including her in the food and drink which was supplied to his workers. Last of all, he spoke with his men, telling them to let grain from the bundles drop purposely for Ruth.

Compare that picture to Christ, who shows us His undeserving love, cares for our daily needs, and blesses us above what we could ever hope or think. What an amazing Savior we have!

Take some time today to fellowship and pray with Christ, and rest all of your cares upon Him. Under His wings will you find hope, joy, and peace, as well as life everlasting!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kindness of Boaz


4
Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!”
And they answered him, “The LORD bless you!”
5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”
6 So the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered and said, “It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a little in the house.”
8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”
(Ruth 2:4-9, New King James Version)

Kindness of Boaz

If you have ever lived on a farm, you know that, for the farmer, harvest time is one of the most important times of the year. Everything that has been done, the preparation of the fields for planting, sowing the seed, and nurturing the crops, comes to fruition at harvest time. It was natural, then, for Boaz, the owner of the fields, to come and check on the reapers' progress.

In doing so, Boaz noticed a young woman he had not seen before. Upon inquiry to the servant in charge of the reapers, he discovered that this was the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Being impressed with her character, and her faithfulness to Naomi, he encouraged her to continue gleaning in his fields, and promised his protection from the men doing the reaping.

Why did Boaz show such kindness to Ruth? He could not have even fathomed the plans that God had for him with this woman. Yet we know that this is the beginning of a lifetime relationship for this couple.

How often do we tend to overlook the ordinary things in life? Yet, it is through the ordinary things in life that God works out his plans for his children, and for this world. Life is not like the magic of the movies! Actually, it is even better. The movies create a fairy-tale world that does not exist; usually God is not even factored into the movie, at least in the way God is presented in the Bible. But, reality is so much better. Heaven is no fairy tale!

As we see the story of Ruth and Boaz unfold, let us remember that God is working in our lives today just as he did in the lives of Ruth and Boaz. It is through the ordinary things of our every day life that the kingdom of Christ is coming. Did the people of Christ's day really expect that the Messiah would come in their generation? Did the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph seem unusual to the people of that day. No! To most it was just another birth.

Pray that God would keep you from being bogged down in your ordinary every day living, but that each day would be to you a new day in Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boaz


1
There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. 2 So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.”
And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
3 Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
(Ruth 2:1-3, New King James Version)

Boaz

The beginning of Ruth 2 introduces us to a man named Boaz who was a relative of Elimilech, Naomi's deceased husband, and who was very wealthy. Technically Ruth was not a blood relative of Elimelech, but due to her decision to remain with Naomi, she retained her position as the daughter-in-law of Elimelech and Naomi.

The fact that Boaz is introduced in this way tells us that he is going to be an important person in the story of Ruth. As a matter of fact, we begin to see this in the next few verses.

Naomi and Ruth were poor, but that did not stop Ruth from determining to provide for her mother-in-law and her. It was barley harvest so she requested that Naomi allow her to glean behind the harvesters. When crops were harvested, the poor were allowed to follow behind the reapers and take whatever was left for themselves.

After giving her permission, Ruth found a field nearby and followed after the reapers, gleaning grain for Naomi and her. Not knowing anyone in this land, she had no idea that she was in a field owned by Boaz. It is plain to see the leading of the Lord, is it not? God has a plan for Ruth which is beginning to slowly unfold before our very eyes.

What a lesson for us! God was using the very circumstances of Ruth's life, her poverty, to lead her to glean in the field of Boaz. How little we think of the ways that God is continually leading in our own lives. Yet, we do understand that He has a plan for our lives, and just as in the case of Ruth, that plan is slowly unfolding before our very eyes!

As we return to Ruth 2 tomorrow, we will see how Ruth meets Boaz, and we will continue to see this drama unfold. Praise the Lord our God who has not left us without a Redeemer!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Came to Bethlehem


19
Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
(Ruth 1:19-22, New King James Version)

Came to Bethlehem

It was a bittersweet time! After about 10 years of absence, Naomi came to Bethlehem, creating no small stir.

And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”

But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

The name, Naomi, means pleasant, and the name, Mara, means bitter. It must have been very hard for her to return to her city of birth empty handed, poor, and bitter. Little did she know that through Ruth, God was going to bless her with kings for descendants. Not only the kings of Judah, but the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ would come from the line of Judah.

We do not live an easy life. Why is that? Recently my son and I read the history of the church, from Christ to Constantine, by Eusibius. He made some very interesting comments regarding the church during that time. The early church was resisted, and the early Christians suffered much persecution under the Roman rulers. After one particularly long time of peace for the Christians (long meaning about 20 years), Eusebius stated that the church became complacent. When a new king was placed upon the throne, however, the persecution resumed in even greater force. Yet, the church grew more under the times of persecution than in the times of peace.

That is really something we should think about. That does not mean that every time a Christian sins, God zaps him or her, but it does mean that God does not want us to get too comfortable with this world. This world is not our source of peace and happiness; the effects of sin have destroyed that possibility. Our only true peace and happiness rests in the Lord Jesus Christ; He alone guides and keeps us and will bring us safely into His kingdom to live with Him forever!

The book of Ruth is such a great book to study, as we see the lives of Ruth and Naomi transformed through the events God brought into their lives. That was certainly not evident at this time, but they would come to understand it later.

How often is God blamed for the bad things that happen to people, causing them to turn away from Him forever? Oh how little do they understand the amazing love that God has for His people, that will be revealed through time. As a parent scolds and corrects their children so that they may set them on the right course for live, so God channels His children through all of the experiences of life, good and bad, so that they will go the direction He has planned for them to go.

Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem and their life would change forever! We, too, need to come to Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, so that our lives will also change forever!

That reminds me of the Hallelujah chorus written by Handel.

Forever, and ever, and ever, and ever,
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
And He shall reign forever and ever.
King of Kings; forever and ever,
And Lord of Lords; forever and ever.
And He shall reign forever and ever.
Hallelujah!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Your God, My God


14
Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
16 But Ruth said:

“ Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

17 Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.
(Ruth 1:14-18, New King James Version)

Your God, My God

In our Bible passage today we get our first look into the character of Ruth. Naomi has urged both of her daughters-in-law to return to the land of their people and their gods. Ruth, however, is adamant that she remain with Naomi.

“ Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

The key to her reasoning is found in the last two lines shown above. "Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God." We find that Ruth not only loved her mother-in-law, but she also came to know and love God. She finished her plea to Naomi with the following words.

"Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”

Naomi, understanding the reason for Ruth's love for her, and Ruth's determination to go with her, finally gave in.

We know what is coming next, but Ruth and Naomi did not. Just think of Ruth's situation. She was leaving her own family and returning, with her mother-in-law, to a land that was not hers.

Think of her dedication to the Lord. How dedicated are we to our Savior? To what lengths are we willing to go to serve Him? That is a question we should seriously consider; we get so sidetracked with our lives that we often forget why we are really here! Our purpose for being here, as Christians, is to serve the Lord our God in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

Ruth had no idea that she would be part of the line of Christ. As a new believer she may not have even known the prophecies, in the book of Genesis, concerning His coming.

We do not know our own futures, but we do know the God who holds our futures in His hands. I challenge you to seek a closer relationship with the Lord; He is already there, ready to fellowship with you. How amazing is that?

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, October 19, 2009

Naomi's Plea


6
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them bread. 7 Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.”
So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, 13 would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me!”
(Ruth 1:6-13, New King James Version)

Naomi's Plea

Life had dealt Naomi some severe blows. Having outlived her husband and both of her sons, Naomi determined to return to the land of Judah. The famine had ended, and Naomi sought solace among her own people.

Naomi was so loved by both of her daughters-in-law, that they determined to return to Judah with her. She looked at both of them and said, "Why?" If a woman died childless, she was to be given in marriage to the oldest surviving son. But, Naomi had no more sons to give to Orpah and Ruth. What purpose, then, would be served by Orpah and Ruth to return to a land that was not theirs?

Naomi pleaded with both Orpah and Ruth to stay in the land of their fathers and seek husbands among their own relatives. Due to their love of Naomi, both women desired to remain with Naomi rather than to return to their fathers' houses. Naomi looked at both of them and said, "I have no sons to give to you in marriage. Even if I had another son, would either of you want to wait for him to grow up so that you could marry him."

No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me!”

It seemed as though all hope for Naomi had ended. She would return to her homeland alone and bitter, because of the hand of the Lord that had gone against her. Is this the way Naomi's life ended? Did she die a bitter death, alone and unloved?

How many times have we undergone an event or several events that have left us feeling as though the hand of the Lord has struck out against us? Why would God allow such things to happen to those He loves? Are we just left with the cold thought, "Ours is not to reason why; ours is but to do or die."?

We must leave Naomi for today, but her story is not ended. Naomi could not see into the future; she did not know of the great things God still had in store for her. Could that be true in our lives as well? Does our God work the same way in our lives as He did in the days of Naomi? Yes, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This is the God we serve! Pray that He will grant you peace and joy even in the middle of the dark days of life.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ruth


1
Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.
(Ruth 1:1-5, New King James Version)

Ruth

I am going to take a break from our "What is in a Word" devotions, and go through the Old Testament book of Ruth. Did you know that all of the books of the Bible point to Christ? That is certainly true of the book of Ruth. Not only do we see that Satan sought to destroy the Jews, but in so doing he was also trying to prevent the birth of Christ, who would come through the line of Ruth. It is an amazing story, and best of all, it all really happened. As we go through this book, remember that this is the same God we serve today! What an amazing God we have!

The first five verses of the book of Ruth give us background history of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi. From verse one, we discover that Ruth lived in the time period covered by the book of Judges.

Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.

We have often noted in our devotions that God uses things we consider bad, or in this case devastating, to bring about His will. The famine in Israel was so bad that Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, were forced to move to the neighboring country of Moab in order to survive. Little did they know that this move was foreordained by God in order to preserve the line of Christ. In the process of time, Elimelech died, leaving Ruth with her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.

Mahlon and Chilion both married Moabite women, and in the course of time, both Mahon and Chilion died leaving Naomi with only her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. It has been ten years since Naomi left her home in Bethlehem, and what a sorrowful time it has been. How could God use such circumstances for His own glory?

How often do we question God when He allows bad things to happen in our lives? We are creatures of the here and now, but God views the entire course of human history from the time of Adam and Eve until the end of time when Christ will return for his saints. We cannot even fathom the power of God as He works in the lives of all people to bring about the plans which He has made before our time began!

Remember this as you view your own circumstances and those of others around you. How can bad things happen, and yet you are able to maintain a peaceful countenance? Certainly, it is not in our own power to do so. Only in Christ can we find peace and joy, even when things about us seem to come tumbling down.

Go to Christ today, who is the only source of true peace and joy.

God Bless You,
Linda



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Appointed to Die!

23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
(Hebrews 9:23-28, New King James Version)

Appointed to Die!

The book of Hebrews is a true gem, often delving more deeply into subjects covered elsewhere. That is exactly what we see in Hebrews 9. Keep in mind that the author is speaking to the Jews of his day. It was important that they (and we as well) understood the the sacrifice of Christ as a replacement for the sacrifices of the priests.

In Leviticus, much detail is given to the laws of God and the sacrifices required for specific sins. Why would God require such a thing? In our culture it would appear to be rather barbaric! God was illustrating visibly to the people the graveness of their sin, as well as teaching them the concept that blood needed to be paid to absolve their sin.

So, why do we not continue the sacrificial offerings in our day? The sacrifices were done as symbols or "types" of the true sacrifice that would be made by Christ. Once a year the High Priest had to enter the Holy of Holies (forbidden for all other people) to offer incense for the sins of all of the people. Christ, however, did not enter the Holy of Holies; rather, He entered heaven above and claimed once and for all his purchase of a people for himself.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.

Christ's one death atoned for the sins of all! Christ will never need to return to this earth and die again and again for our sins. He will return, but this will be for the salvation of his people.

These are amazing teachings that we can easily gloss over due to our very familiarity with them. But, stop! Take some time to meditate upon this passage. You see, it is appointed once for man to die. No matter how successful aging research may be, man cannot set aside this appointment with God! Unless we accept Christ's payment for our sins, that death will result in an eternal, second death from which no man can return.

It is a sobering thing to contemplate, is it not. Appointed to die! How ready are you?

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, October 16, 2009

Before Time Began!



8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
(2 Timothy 1:8-12, New King James Version)

Before Time Began!

How secure is your faith? On what (or who) do you base your faith? Do you ever have doubts about your faith? These are good questions to ponder; 2 Timothy 1 is a good passage to reflect upon when we are questioning the reality of our own faith.

It is so important that we understand that our faith does not rest upon us, but rather, on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . . who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

We base our salvation upon the Lord Jesus Christ; it is He who has saved us, not according to our works, but according to His purpose. And, that purpose was decided before time began! It is so hard for us to wrap our minds around that thought, because we are creatures of time. If we base our salvation upon ourselves, there are days we will feel like a Christian and days we will not, which can lead to our questioning of the validity of our salvation.

How secure is our faith? Here again, if our faith was contingent upon our ability to believe apart from the power of Christ, we would at best, have a wavering faith. However, because our faith is based on the Lord Jesus Christ, we have no need to fear or doubt its existence. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who saves us, who keeps us, and who brings us to Him where we will spend eternity.


How sure was Paul of this.


I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.


Take that thought with you this day, and remember that, as a Christian, your faith was secured in Christ before time began!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Peace of God


12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
(Colossians 3:12-17, New King James Version)

Peace of God

Read through Colossians 3:12-17 shown above. Do these verses describe you as a Christian?

I have noticed that it is much easier to see the Christian attributes that others lack, rather than those we, ourselves, lack. Why is that? When we read through verses such as this, we do not expect to score 100%! As a matter of fact, if we see a few of these attributes in our lives we tend to feel pretty good about ourselves. This is often reinforced by looking at other Christians and seeing their failures.

We also tend to think that lists such as these are for the more spiritual Christians like pastors, missionaries, and teachers. We can accept our carnal qualities because we are not in full time Christian service. However, that is not true. Every single Christian is in a full time Christian service for Christ! That is our purpose for being on this earth.

We really have no excuse, as God has given to His children the tools necessary for the job! God grants His grace to His children, giving us the ability to live in a manner pleasing to Him. He also gives us the Word of God to teach us more about Him and to show us the life that He expects us to live.

In doing this, however, God does understand our weakness and our own lack of power to fight the sins which so easily entangle us. Therefor, He grants us His Holy Spirit to live within our hearts and lead us in the way we should go.

So let us, by the grace of God, heeds these words written to us by Paul.

Put on love . . . let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . . be thankful . . . let the Word of God dwell in you richly . . . And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through Him.

May the peace of God rule in your hearts this day!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Raised with Christ


1
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
(Colossians 3:1-11, New King James Version)

Raised with Christ

It seems as though every time I read another of the letters written by Paul, it becomes my new "favorite." Colossians 3 is rich with practical advice for Christians. The opening words of this chapter show us that this passage was written for Christians, who were raised with Christ.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Why do you suppose Paul spent so much time warning believers against becoming entangled in the sins of the world? Paul understood two things. First, Paul understood the deceptive devices of Satan, and second, Paul understood the weakness of our flesh.

I find it interesting that Paul uses the phrase, Set your mind on things above. That really is the key for the Christian, is it not? Our outward actions reveal what is in our hearts and minds, so by controlling our minds, we are controlling our actions as well. How do we control our minds? That is a tall order! Look at what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, New King James Version)

Not only should we spend time alone with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading, but Paul admonishes us to pray without ceasing. Pray for God's grace to help you live in an attitude of prayer all day long! God is always present with you; talk to Him as you would to a friend continually throughout the day.

As Christians we are tempted to commit all of the sins Paul mentions above in verses 5-9 shown above. Christ, however, does not leave us to face the battle alone. We are to use the tools He provides to us, the most powerful of which, is prayer!

We are raised with Christ! By His grace and power let us walk in the newness of life He has given to us!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Complete in Him!


4
Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Colossians 2:4-10, New King James Version

Complete in Him

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

What do you believe? Are you torn by all of the religions and philosophies of this world floating around you? When you think of the millions of people in this world, do you ever wonder how you could possibly be right in your beliefs and so many be wrong? Did you know that the devil is the great deceiver? Look at the warning Paul gives us in his letter to the Corinthian church.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, New King James Version

How can we avoid being entangled in such a deceptive web?

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Develop a close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by reading His Word daily and spending time with him in prayer and fellowship. Do not be caught up in the thinking that only those who have received a Doctor of Divinity degree can understand God's Holy Word. Do not be afraid to compare everything your pastor preaches with the Word of God. Your life depends on it!

That is exactly what Paul is speaking of in verse 8 of Colossians 2.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

As a child of God you are complete in Him; the Holy Spirit within you guides you into the light of the truth.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Complete in Him! Oh what a Savior we have! He saves us through His shed blood on the cross, teaches us in the way we should go, and keeps us from the hands of the great deceiver. Yes, we are complete in Him, and in Him, alone!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rejoice!


4
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9, New King James Version

Rejoice!

How can such a short book contain so many riches? As I was thinking of this, I realized that it is plain to see that Christ was at the center of Paul's ministry. I know that is rather obvious, but it does make me pose the question. Is Christ at the center of the ministry of our church? And, even more important, is Christ at the center of our lives? In a sense, that has been Paul's message all along, has it not?

Philippians 4 is a wonderful chapter, and one I needed to read today. My husband has heart disease, and has a rather uncertain future. Well, uncertain from our perspective, certainly not from the Lord's. You see, it is easy to rejoice when everything is going well, but what about the times when things are not going so well?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Just drink these verses in for a moment. That is exactly what we need, is it not? God's peace will guard our hearts and our minds through Christ Jesus. How do we do it? How can we not be anxious?

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Meditate on Christ!

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “ For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “ Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
Romans 11:33-35, New King James Version

It will take a lifetime of meditation, and one could still never plumb the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I leave you with one short verse with one powerful message.


Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I Press On!


12
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Philippians 3:12-16, New King James Version

I Press On!

Memories are always sad! If they are good memories, we are sad because they are over and we would love to experience them again. If they are sad memories, the reminder of them makes us sad all over! Memories can also bring great discouragement. The old adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," is certainly harder than it sounds! Perhaps that is what Paul meant when he said, "Forgetting those things which are behind."

In heaven, I look forward to meeting the Apostle Paul. Bold, and not unwilling to chastise when necessary, he always had such a positive attitude about himself, no matter what his circumstances. That is certainly true in this passage from Philippians 3, when he says, "I press on!"

What good advice for the Christian today. Why do we press on? I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The interesting thing about this prize is that there is more than one! Every Christian can attain or win this prize.

It is so easy to become bogged down with life, living in the day to day drudgery, and so loose our perspective for life's meaning. We may think that our part in God's plan is so insignificant that it does not matter whether we follow God's leading or not.

At times like this, and we all have them, Philippians 3 is a great Bible passage to turn to.

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.


Paul is so confident in God's working among his children that he tells us, if we are not pressing on toward the goal given to us by Christ, He prays that God would reveal it to them.

Pray, this day, that God would encourage your heart and fill you with such a love for Him that you, too, can say with Paul, "I press on!"

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, October 05, 2009

I May Know Him


7
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Philippians 3:7-10, New King James Version

I May Know Him

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

What does Paul mean in this verse from Philippians 3? What things did he have to lose in coming to Christ? Take a look at the "before Christ" Paul.

If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Philippians 3:4b-6

According to the Jews, he had it all! Yet, Paul tells us in verse 8, shown above:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Where does your righteousness lie? Is it in the goodness you show to others, the power you have in your job or family, how about the money you have in the bank, the nice house in which you live, your boat--well, I think you get the idea. Most people in the United States would tell you that they are Christians. Many of them base their comments on the life they live and have lived compared to others around them.

Can we rest upon ourselves? Will it get us to heaven? At one time, Paul thought it was enough! Then, he met Christ and nothing was ever the same again! All of those things which had been so important to him, he now counted as rubbish, so that he may gain Christ!

Philippians 3:10 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

That is a lifetime pursuit! As Christians, may that be our life's goal, for only in Christ do we find true love, joy, contentment, and peace. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mind of Christ


5
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11, New King James Version

Mind of Christ

How would you compare yourself to Christ? That question seems almost absurd, does it not? How can we compare ourselves to the One who is God, and yet was willing to come to this earth for the sole purpose of purchasing a people for Himself through His shed blood on the cross?

Does it not surprise you that He chose to come to live with a poor, humble family? He could have lived with any family--even in the courts of the rich and wealthy of that day! He could have been raised in the eyes of the people, who would rejoice at such a fine prince. Would He not have been more effective in reaching the lost? Absolutely not!

Christ was not interested in the self-righteous of the land; He came to seek and to save the lost lambs. The rich were certainly welcome into His kingdom, but, sadly, very few of the rich were even interested. Christ even said, "It is more likely for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to come to Christ."

Why do you suppose that is true? I suspect that it is very hard for the rich to humble themselves to the point of being willing to give all to Christ. That does not mean that a rich person cannot be saved, but it means that many of the wealthy will not be willing to give up all they have for Christ.

What do you value more than Christ? That can be a painful question to answer, but it is one we must consider. Anything we place before Christ has become a god to us. By the grace of God we must pray that God will help us to serve Him, alone. It is true that Christ gives us many blessings, but these blessings must never come before Him!

Now, let us look at the rest of the story. What happened to Christ after His resurrection?

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What could we possibly have here that would be worth more than all of the blessings and glories awaiting us in heaven? That is the real issue!

We must pray that God would grant to us the mind of Christ! It may take all of our life to achieve, but with it comes peace, joy, and contentment!

God Bless You,
Linda