Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I was reminded of the following passage yesterday in a sermon and it has gripped my heart re-reading these words.
From Luke Chapter 16, verses 19-31. The story of a rich man and Lazarus
"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores."
"The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side."
"And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.'"
"Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm, has been fixed, in order that those who pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.'"
"And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house-for I have five brothers- so he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'"
"But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets (referring to God's Word); let them hear them.'"
"And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone GOES TO THEM FROM THE DEAD, THEY WILL REPENT.'"
"He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, NEITHER WILL THEY BE CONVINCED IF SOMEONE SHOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD.'"
Fast forward to the end of Luke in Chapter 24 when Christ appears to his disciples after having risen from the dead...
"'Peace to you!' But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see.'"
"Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he OPENED THEIR MINDS TO UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day and RISE FROM THE DEAD, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'"
I'm sure you have asked this question before as well, but how is it that even Christ's disciples who lived and ministered with Jesus for 3 years, still doubted when they saw Christ after he had risen from the grave?
Back in the 16th chapter of Luke the rich man is calling out to Abraham from the pit of hell and begging for him to have Lazarus go and tell his brothers of Christ's resurrection so they will repent and and be saved. Abraham responds that in order for his brothers to believe, THEY MUST HEAR GOD'S WORD.
Can you imagine the agony of what this man must be feeling as he sits in the pit of hell? He no longer has the opportunity to repent and be saved. He choose the riches of the world to be his comfort; something that scriptures say moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal (Matt. 6:19) He can't even go back and warn the people he loved about what would happen if they didn't repent.
It is in the power of God's Word and God's grace alone, that hearts and eyes may be opened to the truth of who God is..causing us to see our sin and REPENT AND BE SAVED.
You aren't promised a rich life in this world, but if you repent and choose Christ, you will spend eternity in the presence of a Holy and Righteous KING.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Something about the season of fall overwhelms my heart with excitement as the new season begins showing bits of itself around my small town of Fort Worth. Okay, so Ft. Worth isn't all that small, but it does a pretty great job of presenting itself in such a way that it makes you feel like it is. I remember this time last year sitting in my living room blogging about fall. I love the way it makes me feel. Everything is so crisp and fresh. I love fall...for more reasons other than just Pumpkin Spice lattes are back at Starbucks.
I have been reading through the gospels lately to look at who Jesus is and how He lived on this earth when He walked among men. I came across Luke 15 yesterday, verse 14 when Jesus is describing the joy of finding one that was once lost and is now found in the parable of the "Lost Son" to the Pharisees and scribes. The words, "and he began to be in want," stopped me. Have you ever been reading God's Word and all of the sudden a word or phrase catches your attention and you have to stop and kind of chew on what He is saying? I was listening to a sermon the other morning as I was getting ready for work and the guy speaking talked about how cows digest their food. Cows have four stomachs..did you know that?? Cows will chew grass, swallow it, regurgitate it, chew it a little more, swallow, regurgitate and so on until they have done this four times! Cows really chew on something until it is fully digested. I'm a very visual learner, so I am constantly thinking of how to describe something in painting a picture. I felt like this painted the picture perfectly for us as to how we are to chew on God's Word and really take it all in.
What does being in want really mean? And why does David say in Psalm 23:1, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want?".
The parable of the lost son begins when the younger of a man's two sons comes to him and asks him for his inheritance. Only a few days later the son gets together all of his belongings and sets out on his own path. The scriptures say he wasted his substance with riotous (lack of self-restraint) living and spent all that he had. When his money ran out, there was a great famine and the son began to be in want. For days he worked on a field feeding and eating with the swine. "And when he had come to himself, he said, 'How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger!'"
How many times do we often take the bread that the Father has given to us and think we can walk down a path without him and survive? In the Old Testament, God provides manna for the Israelites on a daily basis. Every morning they would go out unto the fields and collect the bread that God had provided for them for that day alone. If they tried to take in more bread to store up for the next day, it would go bad and they would be hungry the next day. God gives us only what we need for today. He tells us not to worry about tomorrow. He is focused only on today. This causes us to recognize our dependance on Him. Read Proverbs 30:8-9. “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Proverbs 30:8-9 Some versions read, feed me with your daily bread.
Look at the rest of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4 David says he shall not want, because he chose to walk with the Father.
When we choose to walk with the Father, He leads us in the paths that He had planned for us. Paths of righteousness. When we walk through dark places, we hold confident that He is still with us.
To bring all of this to an end, I want to share with you the other brother's response when his brother came home and he saw his father rejoicing and celebrating the son's return. The son said to him, "'These many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I any time thy commandment: and thou never gavest me a kid, that might make me merry with my friends.' His father responds, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."
Let this be a reminder to all of us, that even though there will be times that you feel even when you are walking with the Father and doing His will, you may not feel as though there is a celebration going on everyday of your life. There is always work to do and trials that will come even when you choose to walk in the path of righteousness. But when you are walking with the Father, He gives to you all that He has. It is more then enough.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Lord has recently led me to the book of Ruth, which in turn took me to several other books of the bible studying some of the questions He has laid upon my heart. I am so excited and filled with joy to have the opportunity to share these words with you. I pray they will bless you and that you will search out the scriptures as well, asking God to reveal to you even more knowledge and insight of who He is. I encourage you to leave things on here that He has taught you as they will encourage His children. I love to see how God works...”that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3
After reading and re-reading the book of Ruth over the years, I always felt as though the whole book was simply about a virtuous woman and what she looked like. After going through the scriptures, I’ve realized there is so much more that the Lord is showing us in this book. And it is breathtaking...
Has God ever sent you on a journey and along the way He teaches you small things that fill you with so much joy, but you continue on because you just know that He is going to use those small things to show you the big picture? It’s as if He’s laying the foundation. That is the feeling I have had for the last few days. He showed me one verse that would correspond with another somewhere else in the Word and then another. What kept me searching was the feeling of knowing that there was more He was wanting to pour out. I love how God’s Word is perfect. It is without fault. And when He gives you the grace to desire His Word...He will show you so much of Him.
I’m not sure where to start so let’s just dig in...
Ruth had lost her husband. She also lost her brother-in-law and her father-in-law. She was left with only her sister-in-law, Orpah, and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Now Ruth was from Moab. Her husband’s family had come to Moab from Bethlehem during the time when the judges ruled and many people were living in idolatry and serving other gods. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25. His family had come to Moab because of the famine that was in Bethlehem. (Notice they left God’s people during a time of drought; testifying their lack of faith in the Lord and then they died).
Now Naomi decided to head back to her homeland in Bethlehem because she had heard that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread (1:6). On the way, Naomi tries to convince Orpah and Ruth that it would be better for them to stay in Moab and find for themselves rest in the house of a husband. Orpah and Ruth’s desire is to follow Naomi, but Naomi questions how she would ever be able to provide them with husbands again in her old age. Take a moment to think about a time that you felt God calling you somewhere in faith, but in your head it didn’t make any sense...
Orpah makes the decision to return back to her homeland in Moab, but Ruth clings to Naomi and makes a very bold statement in saying, “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. 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” (1:16-17). Her love and devotion for Naomi is astounding...
In verse 20, Naomi tells her people not to call her Naomi anymore, but Mara, meaning, “bitter,” for the Lord had had dealt very bitterly with her. Didn’t God save her from the pit of death?
“..Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest” (1:22). This verse is actually what caused me to search out the scriptures. It is almost as if the Lord had highlighted this verse. Why did He choose to add in this verse about when they returned to Bethlehem? What significance does it hold in the Word? Although barley and wheat were both planted in the autumn, barley matured faster and would be harvested sooner. The firstfruits of grain offered during the Festival of Unleavened Bread would have been barley. "In the early stages of the Israelite settlement the most important cereal was barley...because of the necessity to settle fringe areas and barley's tolerance of harsh conditions" (Oded Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 1987. Keep this scripture in mind...
Upon entering Bethlehem, Ruth tells Naomi she desires to go to the fields and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor. And she said to her, “Go my daughter” (2:2). Boaz is not working the field, but says to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” and they answer back to him, “The Lord bless you!” This shows Boaz’s care and love for his servants and their respect for their master. Boaz takes notice of Ruth in vs. 5 and tells Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close to my young women. 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.” 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?” (Being Gentiles should we not also be asking God the same question?) Boaz responds...”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 left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.” Ruth did not let the death of her husband cause her to stop working. By the grace of God, she endured, and pressed on for God’s greater calling. She was doing His good works. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Is this not the complete picture of God’s will for us? To be a servant of Christ and work His fields? To stay close to Him and not wander into any other field? Does He not desire for us to eat from His table and drink of His living water that is freely provided for us? Has he not called us to leave our father and mother to be the bride?
Ruth returns to Naomi in the evening to share with her mother-in-law all that Boaz has done for her. Naomi reminds her again to stay close by the young women of Boaz and not to let anyone meet her in another field, and to glean until the end of the barley and wheat harvest. Ruth is obedient in her calling and does not rest until the end of the harvest. For in the same way that the Lord worked for six days and rested on the seventh, so shall we also enter into that rest when we have ceased from our works here on this earth. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10). “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 3:18-4:1).
Naomi discusses with her daughter-in-law Ruth’s need for a husband. “Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do. And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do” (3:2-5). **Barley has two parts, the seed and the chaff. Boaz would use the seed for food and the chaff would be scattered in the wind. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).
Now Boaz stirs in his sleep and finds Ruth lying at his feet. “Who are you? So she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.’ Then he said, ‘Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.
When Boaz says to Ruth that she had shown more kindness at the end than an the beginning, I questioned what he meant. What time frame was he looking at? He was talking about the time of the harvest. Remember what Boaz told Ruth in vs. 11? ”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 left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.” He continues by saying, The Lord repay your work, and a full reward by given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” She had shown more kindness because of her obedience. As believers, we have been faithful to answer when He called, but have we been obedient in doing His calling? “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Boaz tells Ruth that he will perform the duty of a close relative, marrying her, if the relative that is closer shall choose not to redeem Ruth’s dead husband’s land. “..it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you-good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives!” (3:13). We see the excitement in Boaz to honor the Lord with this marriage. Yet, Boaz’s desire to marry Ruth does not keep him from being willing to surrender her to the relative that is closer to him, honoring God and the laws that were set during that time.
I believe in God’s permissive will and His perfect will. I believe God sets opportunities before us to choose our desire or the choice to be obedient. In this case, Boaz chose to surrender his desire to the Lord and be obedient. In his choice to be obedient, God blessed Boaz and gives him the desire of his heart; Ruth. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:3-4).
Boaz gives Ruth six ephahs of barley (somewhere between 180-250lbs!) before she leaves to return home to Naomi. I believe Boaz choose to give Ruth this gift as a promise that he would fulfill his vow to her.
Ruth returns home and shares with Naomi all that Boaz had done for her. I love Naomi’s response to Ruth, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day” (3:18). How I wish someone would have shared these words with me. “Sit still.” How often do we see God moving and act upon how we think it might turn out? Do you know the mind of God? Certainly not! “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Walk in faith, but do not walk until God has made your steps firm, lest you fall.
“Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, ‘Come aside, friend, sit down her.’ So he came aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, ‘sit down here,’ and they sat down” (4:1-2). Boaz explains the matter to the relative and shares with him that if he chooses not to redeem the land, and take Ruth as his wife, that he will redeem it. So the relative tells Boaz to buy it, for he could not redeem it. “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. ‘Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife..”(4:9-10).
Boaz and Ruth are married and the Lord gave them a son, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David; giving Ruth and Naomi a place in the lineage of Christ.
The book of Ruth is a perfect illustration of how God grafted us in. “For is the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God; on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cutoff” (Romans 11:16-22).
Ruth was from Moab, a land of foreigners, and walked in faith to Bethlehem, the land of God’s people. She continued in His goodness and did His works, reaping the harvest. She was made into a bride because of her obedience, just as we also are called to be the bride of Christ. God rewarded Ruth for her work in that He grafted her in with His Son at the time of The Harvest.
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having His head on a golden crown, and in His hand, a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped.” Revelation 14:14-16
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6
Sit still and do His works today.