Monday, September 30, 2013

Judging by Appearances Only



I Sam. 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.’

What did God see in David that Samuel didn’t see? It is so easy to judge a person by what we see instead of what we know. Let’s be honest about it. We do it all the time. We judge a person by what appeals to us and by what makes us feel good or comfortable. We rarely take the time or to get to know someone well enough to really know their heart. And even if we do, we tend to ignore what we really know to be true about them. We also tend to be reactive and influenced by circumstances. Our ability to judge is always filtered through the lens of our imperfect and limited knowledge.

We must never forget, only the Lord really knows the heart.   Only the Lord is able to make right judgments, because only He knows the intent of the heart. He isn’t fooled by actions. He alone is able to get it right all the time. We must be very careful when we judge others. We need to bathe our judgments in much prayer and in light of God’s Word, knowing even then we may be wrong. It is not an easy task to judge others and it should be done humbly and fearfully.

We should always consider the fact that our judgments always have consequences. We affect the lives of those we judge and usually our own lives. Remember, when we judge another person, we are essentially judging his worth. We deem him unfit and unable to continue to do whatever he is doing.

Sometimes it is necessary to render judgment on others because sinful behavior renders them disqualified to continue doing what they are doing. We are responsible before God to hold each other accountable for our actions, but we must be very careful when we do it. The Lord holds us responsible for the judgments we make so we must not do it lightly.

We dare not cast anyone away and deem them unfit for our fellowship and love because of what may have been said or done. The goal of all judgment we render should be restoration.  And remember, the Word says we are to look inward and judge ourselves before we decide to judge another.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Obedience is far better than sacrifice.

I Sam. 15:22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice.”

First, foremost, and always, the Lord wants your heart allegiance to Him. It doesn’t matter how much you do for Him if your heart is not right with Him. It doesn’t matter what you do for Him if you aren’t doing what you know He wants you to do. You cannot please the Lord by living in disobedience or if you are trying to approach Him any way but His way. The Lord is very specific about this. There is no wiggle room.

You cannot please the Lord with your pocketbook. No matter how much you give to the cause of Christ, it doesn’t buy you one ounce of favor with God. If your heart is not right in your giving, you might as well keep your money in your pocket. The Lord does not need your money. He wants your heart’s allegiance to Him and nothing else.

If you are not obeying Him out of your love for Him, nothing that you do in His name matters. You cannot work your way into His favor. Our relationship with the Lord is a grace and not works relationship. He took care of what needed to be done for our salvation. There is nothing we can add to or subtract from His atoning work. Therefore, we live for Him through Him. We obey Him because we love Him and for no other reason than that.

Do things God’s way and you will please Him. Do things your way, and you will not please Him. You cannot obey the Lord with a proud heart. Only those who humble themselves before God and yield to His way will be able to do what the Lord wants them to do, and thus please Him.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

God does not play around.

I Sam. 15:15, 22-23  “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep and cattle,” Saul admitted.  “But they are going to sacrifice them to the LORD your God.  We have destroyed everything else”…..But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD, your burnt offerings or your obedience to his voice?  Obedience is far better than sacrifice.  Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams.  Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.  So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

God does not play around.  He has a purpose for the things He says.  And what He says, He means.  Obedience is a heart attitude.  It is submitting to the Lord and doing what we know God tells us to do.

God had told Saul through Samuel that he was to go to war against the Amalekites and completely destroy them.  Saul only partially obeyed God.  In reality he didn’t obey Him at all because a little disobedience is the same as a total disobedience.  The Lord does not let us get away with doing what we want to do while serving Him.  It’s God’s way or no way.

No matter our intentions, if we don’t obey God it doesn’t matter.  No matter what we give to the Lord or do for Him, if our heart is not right when doing them, it is not pleasing to the Lord.  Jesus said that if we truly love Him we will obey Him. 

We know what the Lord wants us to do by faithfully spending time alone with Him in His Word and in prayer.  We approach Him with a desire to know what He wants us to do.  We don’t take lightly what He says and skim over it.  We take God’s Word to heart and apply it to our lives.  We don’t select what we want to do and expect it to be alright with God.  He holds us accountable for all of His Word spoken to us.

The sobering truth is that if we, like Saul, reject God’s Word and do what we want to do, God will reject us.  What we do indicates the condition of our heart.  Those who love the Lord will obey Him.  Sure, there are things in the Word that we may find difficult to do or that we don’t want to do, but that does not give us license to not do them. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Doing what is right in your own eyes.

I Sam. 13:12  So I said, “The Philistines are ready to march against us, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!  So I felt obliged to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

Saul was king over Israel.  He was chosen by God.  Scripture tells us that at the time he became king, God had changed his heart.  But as we read about how he led his people, we begin to see real flaws in his character.  He evidently let his position and power alter his character.  Instead of relying solely on the Lord and obeying Him, he took it upon himself to do things he was not given to do.  Saul was not allowed to offer sacrificial offerings to the Lord.  It was a role that only the priests could do. 

Samuel told Saul that he would arrive on a specific day and do it for him.  When Samuel was a little bit late, Saul got impatient and did it himself.  Instead of trusting the Lord and obeying Him, Saul took matters into his own hands.  We must understand that there is only one right way to do things, God’s way.  No matter who you are or your position in life, you do not have the right to ignore God’s Word and do what you think is right or what is convenient for you to do.

Guard your heart!  Don’t neglect your need to keep your heart right before God.  Stay tuned into God so that you don’t get the idea that it’s okay to do what you think is right instead of what God says is right.  Like King Saul, it leads to a downward spiral of self-destruction.  It drives us farther and farther away from God.  Obey God in all things and it will go well with your soul.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stand and See

I Sam. 12:16  “Now stand here and see the great thing the LORD is about to do.”

We often miss what the Lord is doing because we are too busy running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off to even notice.  We miss out on so much of what the Lord is doing because we aren’t still long enough to pay attention. 

The Lord is doing great things all around us and in the world.  Are you noticing?  He is changing people daily.  He is displaying His power wherever man is found and in various ways.  He is preparing the world for His coming.  He is revealing Himself as Lord of life in fresh and exciting ways to all who will see.  And, the best is yet to come!

Before you do anything else today, pause for a moment and see what great things the Lord is doing around you and even in you.  Stand still and know that He is not done.  His kingdom on earth is ever-growing and ever-changing.  Give Him praise today for all that He is doing.  Give Him praise for all that is yet to come.

The world is full of bad news; don’t let it captivate you.  The Kingdom of God is full of good news; let it captivate you.  When we focus on God and what He is doing, our days look brighter.  He puts a spring in our steps.  Knowing that the Lord is in control and is working out all things for His glory and our good makes life worth the living.

The Lord is about to do some great things, don’t miss them.  Wait on the Lord, keep your eyes fixed on Him.  Stand still and in awe look at what the Lord is doing.  No matter how bad things seem to be, the Lord is at work!  Praise Him for His faithfulness in working things out in your life for your good and His glory.  Wait on Him and you will see that it is true.  Thank Him for what is yet to come.  Rejoice!  The Lord is on His throne and is watching over you today.  Rejoice!  The best is yet to come.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Forgetting God

I Sam. 12:9 But the people soon forgot about the LORD their God, so he let them be conquered by Sisera, the general of Hazor’s army, and by the Philistines and the king of Moab.

The children of God forgot about God. They ignored the Lord to the point where they no longer even thought about Him. They went about their merry way doing what they wanted to do as if God did not even exist. We need to think about this for a few moments today.

It is a dangerous thing to dismiss God from our thoughts. When we begin to neglect our Bibles and stop praying except in times of great distress or want, we begin to travel down the slippery road of pushing God out of our lives. When we begin the process of shuffling the Lord down the list of our priorities in life, we begin shutting Him out. When we begin to tolerate sin in our lives and treat it as if it’s no big deal, we begin to push the Lord out.  When we get too busy to pray, we begin to push Him out.  When we find excuses to stay away from church, we begin to shut Him out.  When we start avoiding being with other believes, we begin shutting Him out.

It doesn’t take too long and it doesn’t take much effort to get to the point where we soon forget about God and fall into sin. It takes a lot of work to keep the Lord fresh in our minds and no effort at all to soon forget Him. We are by nature prone to wander away from God. Only those who are determined and put forth the effort will keep their hearts pure before God.

What about you? Are you living a life determined by God, or are you crowding him out? Are you living with the Lord on your mind, or are you forgetting that He is even a part of you? We have no one to blame but ourselves when we wander away from God and come underneath His judgment.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wanting What You Shouldn't Have

I Sam. 8:19-20  But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning.  “Even so, we still want a king,” they said.  “We want to be like the nations around us.  Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.”

Up until this time Israel had no king.  God had provided judges to lead them and bring them back to Him.  There history was very unsteady, but it was obvious that God was watching over them and taking care of them.  God had raised us Samuel to be their judge, but it was obvious that his life was drawing to a close and there was no one qualified to step into his shoes.

The people of Israel needed someone to lead them.  They looked around them and noticed the way other nations were governed by kings.  They decided that that was what they wanted.  “We want to be like the nations around us.”  To want what others have or to be like others is a very dangerous place to be.

God knows best what we need.  He alone knows what we need.  He alone is wise enough to determine what we can handle and what we can’t.  The Lord does not give us what others have because He knows that if we had it, it would not be in our best interests.  Having more than we have or something different than we have would become for us a snare.  We would let it interfere with our relationship with God.  It would take prominence in our lives that would not be good for us.

Contentment with what God provides is what gives us peace and joy in living.  Living the life we are given makes life meaningful and worth the living.  God knows what He is doing.  Keep your eyes off of what you don’t have.  If the Lord wants you to have it, He will give it to you.  Enjoy what He has provided for you and let Him use you just the way you are. 

Discontentment leads the soul into sin and the consequences are never good.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Be careful of what you long for.

I Sam. 8:19-20 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.”

The problem most people have with God is found in today’s verses. We want what we want. We want to fit into the crowd and be like those around us. We don’t like standing out and being different. We don’t want to be confronted with the opposition of those who oppose us. It is much easier to blend in than it is to take a stand and be different.

What we must accept is that as believers, we are different. We live in a world that is ruled by the demonic forces of hell. It is a dark world encased in sin and is opposed to God and his kingdom. There is a spiritual war going on and it will not cease until Jesus comes to take the church out of the world. Don’t kid yourself; you will face opposition if you are living in and through Christ. If your life is an easy road to heaven, you are not living in submission and obedience to Christ, and that is simply the way it is.

Jesus said that the people in darkness don’t come to the light because they don’t want to have their deeds exposed. Misery loves company and those who aren’t living in the misery of sin will not be looked upon kindly by those who are. It is important that we understand this. Dear friend, the Lord does not call us into a life of comfort. He commands us to go into the world, knowing full well that we will face great opposition from the world. We are called to be faithful to Christ in spite of the difficulties we face. We are to be lights in the darkness instead of letting the darkness squelch or consume our lights.

The world does not want us around. It does not want to listen to us. It often will treat us unkindly. But, let us never forget; greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Christ has overcome the world and as long as we are faithful in our walk with him, so are we. Don’t let the world silence your witness for Him.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tell Them!

I Sam. 3:13  “I have warmed him continually that judgment is coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them.”

We have a responsibility to one another to reveal sin when we become aware of it.  A real friend, one who really loves us, will care enough about us to warn us when we fall into sin.  Such friends do not look down on us, but admonish us in a loving way.  God makes it very clear that all sin will be punished.  We must realize that at stake is eternity.  He who lives in sin will die in sin.  Do not ignore sin, whether it’s in your heart or in the heart of another.  Prayerfully address sin wherever it is found.

Parents have a responsibility to their children.  We don’t like to confront our children about sin.  We love them and do not want to create a rift between us and them.  Most parents will not talk about sin they see in their children, especially as they get older.  When we know about sin and ignore it there is a price to pay.  For Eli, it cost him the life of his sons.  God held Eli responsible for not telling them about their sins. 

Think about it.  How would you feel if you knew that someone you love dearly would die in their sins because you failed to do something about it, especially in your own family?  At the very least, we should be talking about sin and our responsibility for it.  How will others know they are living in sin if no one tells them?  It would be quite a burden to carry to your grave if you kept your mouth shut and never spoke out about sin and know that they will be in hell because of it.

God is patient and constantly warns about sin.  When it is dismissed as being not important enough to talk about or do anything about it, judgment comes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Recognizing God's Voice

I Sam. 3:9  So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, “Yes, LORD, your servant is listening.”  So Samuel went back to bed.

Samuel was living with the prophet Eli.  One night the Lord had called out to Samuel, but he did not know it was the Lord calling him.  Samuel thought it was Eli and had gone to him to find out what he wanted.  After the third time, Eli knew that it was the Lord calling Samuel.  It was then that he gave Samuel the instructions in today’s verse.

Can you hear the Lord calling you?  Are you so connected to the Lord that you recognize His voice when He is calling you?  If you can’t recognize His voice, how do you know when He is calling you?  I wonder, how many calls have you missed?

The Lord calls us to Himself for instruction and guidance in life.  He calls us to certain tasks in life.  He calls those who are listening to hear His voice.  There are so many voices out there calling us and vying for our attention.  In order to be sure it is the Lord we are listening to, there are certain things we must do.

We must be willing to get away from the many activities of life and spend time alone with Him.  We must find a time and place where we can be all alone with the Lord and focus on Him.  You must be deliberate about this.  Daily we must make a commitment to spend time in our meeting place with God.  If you have to readjust your schedule so that you can do it, then do it.  You will never know the voice of God unless you spend quality time alone with Him.  If you are too busy to spend quality time with the Lord, your priorities are all messed up.

You must open your Bible, read it and meditate on it.  You must be open to what the Lord says to you in it.  You must ask the Lord to give you fresh truths to chew on.  You must read the Word with the intent of applying it to your life.

You must spend time in praying talking and listening to God.  There is no subject that is off limits when talking to the Lord.  The Lord wants you to talk about everything on your heart.  He already knows about it, but it’s important for our sake for us to express it.  Carrying on a conversation with God requires time and we can’t rush through it.

God does not confuse us.  When we put ourselves into a position where we can hear the voice of God, we will hear and know that it is Him who is speaking to us.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Cost of Sinning

I Sam. 2:25  “If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party.  But if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede?  But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the LORD was already planning to put them to death.

Our sins not only hurt us, but they cause damage to others.  We may be guilty of leading others into sin or we may hinder other people from worshiping the Lord.  We must weigh carefully how our sins will impact others.  It is a very serious matter when we lead others astray because of our sin.  It is a very serious matter when we damage the faith of others because of our sin.

It’s bad enough when we sin against each other, but Eli’s sons sinned against God and there was nothing Eli or anyone else could do about it.  They had treated with contempt the things of God.  They had used God for their own advantage.  They had brashly treated in an unholy manner that which was holy before God.  They had continued in their sin to the point that there was no turning back God’s anger.  Their time was up.  They had to now face God and account for their sin.

The Lord is not going to let us go on forever with our sin.  Once we understand that we have sinned, we are held accountable by God for it.  We may think we are getting away with it, but we’re not.  God is just and all sin will be dealt with in His time.  No one can stand in your place when you sin against God.  No one can help you when you stir up God’s wrath against you.

The only way we can stave off God’s wrath when we sin against Him is to let Jesus intercede for us.  He alone is qualified to stand between us and God.  He alone has the right and authority to forgive sin.  He alone can take away our sins so that God will not condemn us to spiritual death.  He who refuses to acknowledge, confess and repent of their sins before Christ will surely die.  Do you have sins you need to take to Jesus today? 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pretenders are everywhere.

I Sam. 2:12-15  Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests.  Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork.  While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons.  All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way.  Sometimes the servants would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar.  He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

Pretenders are everywhere.  Often they are disguised very cleverly.  They may stand out in the crowd as leaders.  They may have all the appearances of people who have it all together, but in reality they don’t.  They may have winsome personalities and are smooth talkers.  They may have great influence and are successes at what they do.

Jesus called people like that wolves in sheep clothing.  Just because someone may have a title or position or authority does not meant they are speaking the truth.  There are many church leaders who are scoundrels.  They may have a lot of good things to say and may even do a lot of good things, but they are self-serving and not Christ-serving.  Be aware of those who those who have no respect for their role of leadership and take advantage of others.  Do not cater to their whims.  Do not follow them.

Be wise and discerning.  Have some guts and reject those who have no respect for the Lord or their position of leadership in the church.  Speak out against them.  Silence is not acceptable; it just gives them a license to continue to do what they are doing.  There will always be those who will take advantage of others, even in the church.  We have no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t hold our leaders accountable for the lives they live.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A spirtual legacy

I Sam. 2:12-13a Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the LORD or for their duties as priests.

How would you like history to record your life? Eli was a priest, a respected leader in the Temple. He served the Lord faithfully all his life, and yet, there were his sons. They too were serving the Lord, but not like their father was. Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they were taking advantage of people and committing all kinds of sin while in office. These men had no respect for the Lord or his house. They used both for their own advantage. They unlawfully took of the offerings people brought into the Temple for their own purposes. The Scriptures also tell us that they often took advantage of women as they came into the Temple and abused them.

Scripture doesn’t tell us all the reasons why Eli’s sons turned out the way they did. We can only guess. They should have known better; their father was a priest who taught and lived the Word. Yet, they chose to ignore the Law and live for themselves and their pleasures. Given opportunity to serve the Lord, they abused their opportunity and rejected Him.  Living under the constant presence and influence of God does not guarantee one will live for God.

We cannot control how our children ultimately respond to the Lord. They have to decide for themselves whether or not they will live in Him and let Him guide their lives. But, we can influence their decision in a profound way by the way we live.

The issue before us today is: are you doing all you can to live a godly life so that those who watch you will be drawn to the Lord? How we live out what we teach has a huge impact on whether or not others will want to live the life we live. How about it? Are you doing all you can do to live a godly life, a life that is well-pleasing to the Lord? Your living will not guarantee that others will embrace your faith, but one thing is for sure, if you are not living what you profess and teach, it will give others an excuse to reject your faith. Live faithfully to the Lord and strive to obey his Word and you will be long remembered as an example worthy to be followed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fighting against the Lord.

I Sam. 2:10 Those who fight against the LORD will be broken. He thunders against them from heaven; the LORD judges throughout the earth. He gives mighty strength to his king; he increases the might of his anointed one.

Fighting against the Lord is futile, but we do it all the time. There is a price to pay for resisting what God wants to do in your life. Those who refuse to humble themselves before Him for salvation, lose their soul to sin and its consequences. Those who refuse to obey Him and serve Him, live in misery. Those who refuse to follow Him into a deeper walk with Him, miss out on the abundant life He came to give us. Those who refuse to hear His warnings and follow after their own desires, plunge into sin. Those who refuse to sit down and wait on the Lord for renewed strength suffer the effects of burnout.

It is futile to think that you can fight against the Lord and win. He won’t stop you from trying, but neither will He let you win. Jesus came to make us whole, to right the wrong in our lives. He came to heal and forgive, to lead us into the life God intended us to live when he first created Adam and Eve. Jesus opened up to us life at its best. Most of us don’t ever get to experience the best of the Christian life because we never give up the fight against His will for us.

If you want to enjoy the abundant life that is ours in Christ, you must submit to His authority over you with your whole heart. Are you willing to stop fighting against the Lord and get on with living in Him? Why waste your energy on a battle you cannot win? It’s your choice, wholeness or brokenness.  You will never find peace in resisting the work that God wants to do in you.  You will never know peace while contending with the Lord. 

The Lord will drive everyone to their knees before Him.  He breaks the spirit of all.  Either we will bow before Him willingly or we will bow by force.  Make it easy on yourself and humble yourself before Him now while you can.  Let Him have His way with you.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Praying without words.

I Sam. 1:15-16  “Oh no, sir!”  she replied, “I’m not drunk!  But I am very sad, and I was pouring out my heart to the LORD.  Please don’t think I am a wicked woman!  For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

Hannah was childless.  She and her husband, Elkanah had gone to the Tabernacle to present themselves to the Lord, as was their custom.  Hannah was deep in prayer and her lips were moving but no words came out.  Eli, the priest, had noticed Hannah praying and assumed that she was drunk.

There are times in which words just don’t cut it.  Our hearts become so heavy that we can’t even express the emotions that we are feeling inside.  During these times of life, no one can really help us, because no one really can understand how our circumstances are affecting our souls.  The load is so heavy that all we can do is pray.  Praying from the deep anguish of the soul is something that only God can hear and understand.

Praying without words may seem to be not right, but it is so right.  The Lord listens to the heart.  The words we utter do not always tell the true story of what is going on in us.  The Lord reads the heart and is not swayed by what we say.  This is both good and bad news.

The good news is that the Lord hears the prayers we can’t even pray.  He knows what we need whether we can express it or not.  The bad news is that we can’t fool God with our words.  No matter how eloquent our prayers may be, God is not impressed.  He listens to the heart.  If what we say matches up with what is in our hearts, great things happen.  If they don’t match, then our prayers don’t mean much.

Pray much, and if it works, use words.  Words spoken are good if they come from the heart.  If words just aren’t adequate, pray without words.  Let your heart cry out to the Lord without words.  He hears and answers the prayers of the anguished heart.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The anguish of the soul.

I Sam. 1:10  Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD.

Maybe you understand what Hannah went through.  Either you have, or are now going through, something that defies words.  No words of comfort helps.  No well-meaning words can make it better.  The pain and anguish is so great that you feel like there is no hope, no help.  If so, I would encourage you to do whatever you need to do in order to see the Lord.  Zero in on Him. 

Consider His love that moved Him to die on a cruel cross for our sins.  Consider how though He was rejected by the world and deserted by His closest friends, He refused to not die for our sins.  Think about our Savior who had to endure utter loneliness as He fought the battle for our souls.  He had never in all eternity past known suffering or what it was like to be all alone, unable to reach out and touch our Father.  The pain and anguish of His soul was so great that He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Thinking about our Lord won’t make your pain go away or change your circumstances, but it does help change our perspective.  When we know that the Lord loves us more than life itself, that He willingly endured the physical and spiritual agony of the cross, gets our minds off of ourselves and onto Him.  No matter what may be agonizing your soul today, Jesus understands what you are going through and can help you.

He wants you to share your concerns, your burdens with Him.  He wants you to put them on Him so that He can lighten your load.  He wants you to see Him instead of focusing on your circumstances.  He wants you to know today, that things are not as bad as they may seem.  He is faithful to His children and will see you through the worst of what life may bring you.  Your momentary struggles are not eternal.  They will pass.  The provisions and promises of God are sufficient for whatever you may be dealing with.  Trust in the Lord.  He will give you the strength you need and He will show you the way through your trials if you will let Him.

Tell Him how you are feeling.  Tell Him about all you are going through.  Tell Him everything that agonizes your soul today.  He hears the heart cry of all who cry out to Him and gives peace and comfort.  Jesus will help you if you will let Him.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Marriage made in heaven.

Ruth 4:13-14  So Boaz married Ruth and took her home to live with him.  When he slept with her, the LORD enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son.”

What a delightful love story this is.  Boaz and Ruth were two godly people living in two different countries.  Their lives were so different and the chances of them ever meeting, let alone getting married were nearly impossible.  Yet, God had a plan.  He worked in both of their lives in such a way that not only did they meet up, they fell in love and got married. 

Never underestimate what God can do.  He knows what He is doing and He works all things out according to His will.  Some might say that Boaz and Ruth getting together was by chance, but it wasn’t.  Both of them were living godly lives and striving to do what is right before God.  God honored their faithfulness and brought them together.  It was a marriage made in heaven.

Not every godly person will marry.  In His wisdom God sometimes lets a person stay single.  He knows the plans He has for a person’s life and what needs to happen in order for His purposes to be fulfilled.  Some people can just serve the Lord better being single than they can if they are married.  It is an honor to remain single if it best serves God’s purposes.

When a couple is rooted as one in fellowship with God, then God is glorified through their marriage.  The son born to Boaz and Ruth was the grandfather of David who would become the greatest king that Israel ever had; he was a man after God’s own heart.  Most children born into a godly home do not live a life so honored by God.  But what does happen is that those children grow up to have a chance to become great servants of the Lord.

Good things come to those who live life God’s way.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Good Reputation

Ruth 3:11 “Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter.  I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are an honorable woman.”

What are you known as around town?  Everyone who knows you or does business with you has an opinion of you.  They observe how you act and talk.  They know whether or not you are trustworthy by how responsible you are and how much integrity you display.  They know how you treat them and others.  No one lives in a bubble totally isolated from human contact.  We are by nature of our existence observable. 

Are you known in the way you want to be known by?  If not, why not?  You don’t have to be the person others see and know.  If you want others to have a higher opinion of you, then you need to change the way you think and act.  No one can make the changes that need to be made in you but you.  God gives us the will to change when we let Him have control of our wills.

Are you working hard at maintaining a good reputation?  It does take a lot of work on our part.  Good character comes from a good heart rooted in Christ.  The pressures to say and do things out of character for a child of God are great and never ending.  It takes determination and effort on our part to stay out of sinful practices.  Satan is a master at exploiting our weakness and delights in our messing up.  We must diligently resist him every day.

A good reputation can easily be destroyed by a momentary lack of judgment or resolve.  We must stay close to the Lord and draw from Him our strength and abide in His protection.  When we stumble and fall people don’t easily forget.  Our sin may haunt us for the rest of our lives. 

Protect your soul at all times by staying close to the Lord.  Do not neglect your time in His Word and in your prayer closet.  Stay in close fellowship with God’s children.  Make it your life work to serve the Lord in all you do.  People will notice and so will God.  May each of us be welcomed home by the Lord with open arms for a job well done. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Character Matters

Ruth 2:10-12  Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly.  “Why are you being so kind to me?” she asked.  “I am only a foreigner.”  “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied.  “But I also know about the love and kindness you have shown your mother-in-law since the death of your husband.  I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers.  May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.”

Character matters.  People noticed how Ruth lived her life, how devoted she was to Naomi and how she took care of her.  They noticed how she left her old life behind and followed Naomi back to Judah to her family and her God.  They noticed how hard working she was.  They noticed how she kept herself pure since the death of her husband.  Ruth made and impact on those who knew her and got to know her.  Ruth lived in humility and it mattered to those around her.  “I am only a foreigner.”  “I don’t deserve this life I am living.”  “I am so blessed and grateful for it.”  Humility and gratitude are garments every believer should be wearing.

Regardless of your lot in life, character matters.  How you live in the circumstances you are in matters a lot to both God and man.  How you live reflects on your faith in God.  People often associate your living with their understanding of the God you profess to belong to.  If you are living a godly life, then people will know that what you say about God is true.  If you live a different life than what you talk about, then they will question the truthfulness of what you say.  Character matters.  You don’t have to make a lot of noise when talking about your faith.  Your actions are what people listen to the most. 

If you are not living what you are professing, no one is listening to what you are saying.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I will follow Him.

Ruth 1:16  But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back.   I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live.  Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”  

This verse has a special place in my heart.  It was the theme verse of a song my wife sung to me at our wedding many years ago.  As she spoke these words to me I knew it was from a heart of love and that it was a commitment to me that she was willing to forsake all other love attachments and attach herself to me alone.

This same message should flow from the heart of every believer.  Out of our love for the Lord we should pledge our allegiance to Him above all other allegiances we may have.  We take on His identity.  We commit ourselves to His life.  We no longer are our own; we are His.  There is no turning back to who we once were or to what we once did.  We commit ourselves to following Him, wherever that may take us.

The problem so many of us face is that we lack a total commitment to the Lover of our souls.  We attach strings to our commitment.  We agree to follow Him as long as it leads us to where we want to go.  We follow Him as long as it doesn’t take us out of our comfort zone.  We follow Him as long as He stays in step with us.  We follow Him as long as He doesn’t require more of us than we want to give.

The problem we face is that the Lord does not accept us on our terms.  We can only follow Him on His terms.  He will not share our loyalties.  He commands all of our heart, mind and soul.  We conform ourselves to His image.  We obey Him in every area of our lives.  In order to follow Him we must give Him our all and not just that part of us that we want to give to Him.  We leave behind us all that would hinder us or entangle us.  We identify ourselves with Him and His people.  In other words, when we follow the Lord, we become totally engaged with Him.  We become one with Him and let Him become our number one priority in life.