FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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She Didn’t Know

I love the story of Ruth from the Scriptures of the Bible.  A good love story is always a joy to read, and certainly Ruth and Boaz’s story is counted among the great love stories of history.  But that Ruth, a widowed woman left with her also widowed mother-in-law, is literally rescued by the wealthy kinsman redeemer, Boaz, is not even the best part of the story.

The best part of this story is actually what even Ruth didn’t know!

Scripture says that Ruth and Boaz married and had a baby boy named Obed.  Obed grew up and fathered his own son, Jesse.  Jesse grew up and fathered several sons, one named David.  Yes, the same David who slew Goliath, who became King and who was counted as a man after God’s heart.  Exciting?  Yes!  Fascinating?  Yes!  The best part of the story?  Nope!

The best part of Ruth’s story is actually tucked in the Scriptures of the book of Matthew!

Matthew 1:2-16 (NASB) reads:

“Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.  Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.  Jesse was the father of David the king.

David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa.  Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.  Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.  Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah.  Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.  Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor.  Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud.  Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob.  Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.”

Did you see it?  Do you get it?

Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior came through Ruth’s generational line!

Ruth never knew.

There was a lot of “begetting” and “fathering” between Ruth’s baby, Obed, and Jesus but nevertheless, Ruth and Obed were essential generational links.

Ruth’s story offers many invaluable lessons for us; here are a few to ponder:

  • God is faithful.  The Scriptures foretold the coming of the Messiah.  The genealogy in Matthew makes clear that many generations passed before the actual birth of Christ, but just as promised, the Messiah came.
  • God rewards obedience.  Ruth experienced a long, hard season of loss.  Her husband died leaving her with her mother-in-law.  They were poor.  They were alone.  Ruth had to glean the fields (translation:  harvest the leftovers) for food.  She had no inheritance and was rejected by the closest relative expected to be her redeemer.  But Ruth made a commitment to her mother-in-law and to God.  God, in turn, rewarded her faithfulness, obedience, perseverance and commitment.
  • Ruth never knew, and we may never know.  We can only imagine Ruth’s simultaneous delight and relief when in Ruth 4:10 (NASB) Boaz said, “I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place…”  Many of us can relate to her joy at conceiving and birthing a son (Ruth 4:13) NASB.  But Ruth never knew that Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior and Redeemer, the Messiah, came through her generational line.  And we may never know the generational line or influence that flows from us.

Three passages best summarize the lesson for us:

Galatians 6:9    

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”

Colossians 3:23-24

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

Luke 6:22-23a

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.  Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.

Be faithful.  Obedient.  Persevere.  You just never know!

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Taste Buds

Taste Buds. Also known as gustatory cells. Sometimes confused with papillae. Filled with very sensitive microscopic hairs called microvilli.

Okay. More than you want to know or even feel that you need to know? I get that. Just glad to have them? I get that, too! Without them a ripe peach, a juicy steak, even the quiche that is in my oven at this very moment just wouldn’t be the same! It is our taste buds that allow us to experience the joys of things that are sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

Through the years my tastes have changed somewhat. As a child, I didn’t like okra; now, I love it. I used to like bananas; just don’t now, though. Beets, however? Never did and suspect I never will!

Why those particular tastes have changed for me, I am not sure. But guess what – God changes our taste buds. Probably not so much when it comes to things like okra, bananas and beets, but when the new life of the Holy Spirit resides within us and begins to grow His influence in our submitted lives, we change! Our tastes change! Again, not so much with regard to food, but certainly in regard to our desires, thoughts and passions.

Philippians 2:13 (NLT) teaches that “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” God’s work is to align our “tastes” (desires) with His “tastes” (will) for our lives. His desire is that our thoughts, will, emotions, attitudes and passions be progressively transformed to align with His so that we carry out the plan He has crafted for us – a plan for our good (Jeremiah 29:11), a plan to glorify Him.

When I was a child, my parents would put beets on my plate. Yuck! I didn’t like the smell, color or fact that the nasty juice from them spilled over onto the other good food on my plate! My parents would implore me to just try them; take a bite.  They believed my tastes would change, be renewed even to like beets.

When we “taste” God’s plan (accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives and submit to the Holy Spirit), we will see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8); the spirit of our minds is renewed (Ephesians 4:23).  Renewed minds begin thinking God’s thoughts.  Renewed wills begin desiring God’s ambitions.  Renewed spirits result in emotions, attitudes and postures that align with God.

Many times I was too stubborn to taste those beets (or any other questionable food).  Sometimes I missed out on good things because of that stubbornness.  Admittedly, I am sometimes too stubborn to submit to God and accept His Word and His plan.  How about you?  Oh what we miss when we think we know best!  The more we surrender to God, the more we are transformed and conformed to the image of Christ.

Oh, taste and see.  Indeed, He is good and His plan for us is good!


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Was I Robbed or What?

Make no mistake about it. Satan is a liar (John 8:44). He is also a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

He came last Tuesday.

But he did not steal, (kill or destroy) my joy. I gave it to him!

Yes, as soon as he showed his face, I threw up my hands and gave it to him. Without a fight.

Of course I didn’t recognize that right away. As a matter of fact, I spent several hours and engaged in several conversations discussing how he had robbed me. Interrupted an otherwise glorious morning and stole my joy! It was a beautiful, sunny day. I had a plan and a list, and I was working both. The skies were blue, my steps were light and peppy, I had checked two things off my list and was well on my way to number three.

Then, out of the blue, Satan showed up bringing with him several demons from the past.

What?

I handed my joy right over to him. I let him take me back to a dark place. A sad place. An overwhelming place. For a few hours I settled into that place – rolled around in the muck and mire, had a pity party and resigned myself to the fact that “this” would never be over, would never go away, that there was just no end to “it.” I even texted my girlfriend that “this” was a gift that just kept on giving.

So what?

Thankfully, my Father reminded me of some things!

First, He reminded me of Who He is – all powerful, almighty and all knowing (Psalm 147:5, Isaiah 40:28, Luke 12:7)! He was not caught off-guard or by surprise. He knew just what was going to happen every minute and moment of Tuesday, and He already had a plan.

Secondly, He reminded me of who I am and where I am – that He is mindful of me (Psalm 8:3-4) and that He is with me, upholding me (Isaiah 41:10), protecting me (Psalm 20:1, 140:4), helping and delivering me (Psalm 46:1, 34:19).

Thirdly, He reminded me that while He fights for me (Exodus 14:14), I am to always be alert and am to resist the devil and stand firm in my faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). I am to be dressed in full armor at all times so that when (not if) Satan comes, I am ready and able to stand (Ephesians 6:11-17) not turn tail and run and not surrender! I am to remember that in all “these” things I am more than a conqueror through Him (Romans 8:37) and I can be strong and courageous not trembling and dismayed (Joshua 1:9)! My enemies have been subdued under me (Psalm 18:39).

Now what?

I reclaimed my joy!

And I encourage you to do the same. When we belong to Christ, the enemy never has the final word over our lives. We are secure in God’s hands (2 Chronicles 20:15).  He fights for us but we are to be ready at all times so that when Satan comes, we stand!