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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Lord, You Said

Think your kids are too young to understand your grown-up conversations? Think again. They not only hear what you are saying, they will repeat it – often at the worse time possible (like in front of your mother-in-law or at school). And very often, they repeat your own words to you.

“Mom, you said…”

“Dad, you promised…”

While moms and dads sometimes have selective amnesia failing to remember what they said or promised, there is nothing God loves more than keeping His promises. He waits for us to take Him at His word – His word which contains literally thousands of promises waiting to be claimed in faith. Promises like Psalm 50:15 – “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me” and like 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

God stands ready and waiting for you to ask Him about Isaiah 40:29 (“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.”) and Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”) And when we stand on His word, He stands by His word, faithful to keep every promise. You have to claim them. You have to know them. You have but to say, “Lord, you said…”

THIS WEEK search the Scriptures for God’s promises. Which do you need to claim? Pray them keeping in mind Psalm 84:11 (“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”) Praying is standing on the promises of God. If you take God at His word, you will experience the joy of knowing that He keeps His word.

You Said (Hillsong)                                                                                                                                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEpaG4VlBcA

Standing on the Promises of God  


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You are HERE

How did we survive before GPS?  I mean really!

When I learned to drive, road maps were all the rage.  I have very vivid images of my dad sitting at the kitchen table with his maps spread out and a World Atlas at his fingertips.  He would sit there for hours planning our family vacations, mapping the routes, making note of the connections, turns and exits.  I thought he and my sister were amazing the way they could recall and discuss highway numbers… “Turn right onto 42 and go about 37 miles then take NC 97 North to 301.  You’ll go about 12 miles then merge onto Interstate 95 North.”

I well remember my first solo trip with a road map.  Like Daddy, I sat at the kitchen table, spread the map, made my markings and jotted notes.  I was going on a job interview and, worried enough about that, I wanted the travel to be uneventful.  I even used the little scale in the bottom corner of the map to calculate mileage and approximate time.  All along the way, though, I had to keep stopping on the side of the road to consult my trusty road map.

Three things are important when planning a trip using a map – knowing where you are, where you need to end and which direction you need to travel to get there!  And therein lies the beauty of GPS.  The screen shot always includes a big arrow indicating YOU ARE HERE.  That’s good news to any driver!

Want some even better news?  Not only are you “HERE,” so is God!  He is everywhere!  He is with you!

Joshua 1:9 (ESV) reminds us to be strong, courageous and without fear or dismay because the Lord, our God, is with us wherever we go. Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV) echoes the same encouragement adding a reminder that He will never leave nor forsake us. David asked, “Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7-10, ESV) In the heavens, in Sheol, in the uttermost part of the sea – even there David said we find God’s hand which shall lead us and hold us!

I find that latter thought to be particularly encouraging because I live in the boondocks, and I frequently drive rural highways.  This means I regularly lose signals for my telephone and GPS.  The “GPS Lady” often tells me she is rerouting.  I suppose rerouting sounds better than “I don’t have a clue where you are.”  When the GPS loses its signal, I am left to go it alone trying to read road signs while I drive.  That is not only frustrating, it is unnerving, especially if I am traveling an unfamiliar and not well-marked route.  Whenever the signal reconnects, the GPS offers instructions to correct whatever mis-turns I may have taken and tries to get me back on track.  It’s rare, but sometimes GPS cannot get it right and I have to rely on other sources like stopping strangers to ask for instructions or accessing Google Maps on my cell phone.

Our God never loses connection with us though we sometimes choose to ignore the promptings of His Holy Spirit.  Now there are times when I know better than the “GPS Lady.”  She tells me to turn left and I am looking at a ONE WAY sign or a ROAD CLOSED sign, so I know not to follow her directions. But our God gets it right 100% of the time! Isaiah 40:13-14 asks, “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding?” The answer is NO ONE! He is omniscient and omnipresent, so He knows and He is with us. He is also faithful, so we can trust that He is with us, just as He promised, wherever we are.

There are times when we ignore God’s directions or believe that we know better.  Surely when God has us on a route that is bumpy or one that is twisted or winding or scary or lonesome or dark even, He has made a mistake, somehow gotten it wrong.  No, it is not God that has gotten it wrong, it is our perspective that is limited while God is finite.

Question God?  Be puzzled by His directions?  Surely, but never doubt.  Even Abraham had questions about God’s directions and decisions (e.g. the destruction of Sodom), but Abraham obeyed in faith.  He never mocked, rebelled or cursed God.  Abraham knew what we can know as children of God and that is that God is Here, right here with you!

THIS WEEK earnestly seek God’s direction for your life.  Charles Stanley offers seven words that will help us in seeking His direction. Study, meditate and pray on one word each day this week. (Cleansing, Surrendering, Asking, Meditating, Believing, Waiting, Receiving). Find more at:  http://www.intouch.org/you/article-archive/content?topic=seeking_god_s_guidance_article#.VMV5UrAo7IU


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Peace on Earth (Part 1)

WATCH:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8OYvHPpGDY

Before we can have peace on earth, we must have peace within our communities. Before we can have peace within our communities, we must have peace within our families. Before we can have peace within our families, we must have peace within.

Ourselves!

Unfortunately, instead of Christmas being a time of peace, it is a time of great stress for many. Overfilled calendars and planners, strapped budgets and strained family relationships often come along with the holidays. How, then, do we overcome the accompanying anxiety and dwell in peace? Let’s look to Paul.

While confined in a Roman prison he penned the text of Philippians proclaiming his contentment in whatever situations (including prison) he found himself (4:11).   How? How could he be content, at peace in prison? His “secret” comes in the preceding text, verses 4-8.

“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.” (Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV)

There are three key words in this text, and they provide us somewhat of a formula for peace. Prayer. Supplication. Thanksgiving.

In this stressful season and throughout life, pray. About what? Everything! Don’t get caught up in the theology of prayer – what it is, what it isn’t, how to, how not to… Prayer is talking to God. Whatever is robbing you of your peace, talk to Him about it.

Supplication is the fifty cent word for asking earnestly and humbly. Praying is not about laying out a list of requests before God. (Do not confuse God with Santa Claus.) In prayer we come humbly before our Father, and in that relationship of child and Father, we share with Him all that is on our hearts – our frustrations, our confusion, our fears, our angst, our sorrows our disappointments… Whatever you are feeling, tell Him.

Thanksgiving is synonymous with gratitude. “But God hasn’t answered my prayer yet,” you might say. Thank Him for loving you, for hearing you and for accepting the burden that is troubling you. Psalm 55:22 tells us to cast our burden on the Lord and, in the words of Charles Tindley’s 1916 hymn, leave them there! That alone is enough to be thankful for – not only can we give our troubles to the Lord, we are commanded to do so, and He will take care of each one. What else can you be thankful for? Past faithfulness. God’s love. God’s grace. Salvation! Thank Him when you pray expecting that He will answer!

In 1955 Jill Jackson Miller and her husband, Sy Miller, penned another familiar song that shares a powerful lesson for us. The opening line is “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Pray in earnest humility thanking God for what He can do, has done and will do – then let peace begin with you!

THIS WEEK: What action can you take each day this week to bring peace to someone or to some situation?

Leave It There:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyxQZQjLaC4

Let There Be Peace on Earth:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXFeeJ6LSMc


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Risk or Trivial Pursuit?

Forrest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.

Actually we apply a lot of metaphors to this journey called life. Oops, there was one right there! Perhaps you’ve compared life to riding an elevator. It has a lot of ups and downs and someone is always pushing your buttons. Sometimes you get the shaft, but what really gets you are the jerks. Or maybe for you, life is like cooking. It all depends on what you add and how you mix it. Sometimes you follow the recipe; at other times you just throw something together. Or maybe one of these best suits you:

Life is like a novel. You are the author and every day is a new page.

Life is like photography. We develop from negatives.

Life is like money. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.

Life is like an onion. You peel off layer after layer and sometimes you weep.

Life is like a pencil. Sometimes you are sharpened. Sometimes you correct your mistakes. Always you leave a mark.

I think life is often like a game or at least that is how we play it. Something like Trivial Pursuit. We drift from day to day without a plan and without purpose, and we focus a lot of energy on things that don’t really matter. Like what we wear. Or what we drive. Or where we live. And what people say about us. All of these are trivial. Our focus should be what is important to God – what matters to Him.

Consider Psalm 50:7-15 (MSG), Scripture that you likely don’t read every day:

“Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak; Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial. This is God, your God, speaking to you. I don’t find fault with your acts of worship, the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer. But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,  or more and more goats from your herds? Every creature in the forest is mine,  the wild animals on all the mountains. I know every mountain bird by name; the scampering field mice are my friends. If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?  All creation and its bounty are mine. Do you think I feast on venison? or drink draughts of goats’ blood? Spread for me a banquet of praise,  serve High God a feast of kept promises, And call for help when you’re in trouble—  I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”

Did you get it?

He said, “This is God. I’m telling you what matters to me, and it’s not your religion, and show and rules even though you are following the laws and traditions of sacrifice.” For us today He might say, “I could care less about your fancy sanctuaries and what you wear to church and all those programs you have and rules you have made up. All of that is trivial.”

What God wants is faithfulness, obedience, full trust in Him, kept promises and praise, lots of praise, genuine praise, a “banquet of praise.”

Are you serious? Doesn’t God realize that we need those rules and procedures, rituals and hierarchies?

No, He doesn’t.

He wants you, challenges you, calls for you to step away from all of that and to risk simply loving, following and praising Him. And not just on Sunday. Every day. Every moment. He wants you to love Him with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” (Luke 10:27, NIV)

I think He’d rather you play a game of Risk instead of Trivial Pursuit.

Your move.