Monday, October 17, 2011


MATURITY? What do you think of when you hear the word, mature? Maybe like me, your first thought is, "senior discount"! The truth is we can be senior in our years and still not be mature. I can remember when I was six years old I could not wait to be ten, then when I was ten, I could not wait to be sixteen and on it went until now - now, I am over sixty and would love to be six again. As a child many of us want to advance in years, believing that the advancement will bring with it more freedom, more experiences, more acknowledgement - but what we found was that the advancement in years really brought more responsibility.

As parents our goal in life is to bring our children to maturity - maturity in stature (body), mind and spirit. There is nothing sadder than that of stunted growth and it is equally true in the Spiritual realm. The Bible speaks of both mature and immature Christians and gives each one instruction as to how to advance in and respond to maturity. There are many places in the Bible that distinguish between the mature and the immature and encourages us to become mature and to be patient with those who are not.

FOOD: How does one mature? The first and most important thing for maturity or growth is food. When a baby is born the first thing he or she wants is his or her mother's milk and in fact they cry for it. Peter tells us that we are to be like newborn babes desiring the MILK of the Word of God that we may GROW by it (I Peter 2:2). Spiritual growth comes from the food of the Word of God and it begins with the milk of the WORD not the meat (or solid food) of the Word. One would not give a new born baby a steak! But, it would be even more sad if that baby only had milk the rest of its life. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that solid food is for the mature and that the one who uses milk is unskillful in the Word of God, for he is a babe (Hebrews 5:13) . In fact, the book of Hebrews is written to urge us on to maturity. We do not stop eating as we grow rather our choice of food changes and increases. It is just as important for a grown person to eat as it is for a baby. The only difference is the type of food he eats. In fact when the Apostle Paul talks about wisdom among Christians, he says that he speaks wisdom among those who are mature (I Corinthians 2:6). So, the first step and the continuing path of growth and sustainment is food, or the Word of God.

FALLS: (OR TRIALS) - Another path to maturity is trials and falls. Have you ever studied a toddler as he or she begins to walk. I dare say you have never seen one who has just gotten out of the crib and started walking. Walking begins with a step usually followed by a fall. It is only after proper food and growth in body that the child is finally able to take stable steps and walk normally or we might say, in maturity. Trials and falls are to be expected in the Christian life. In almost every book of the Bible we are exposed to the fact of trials and the experience of trials for many of God's people. We are often critical of Peter and his many falls but those experiences are given to teach us that falls are to be expected and in many cases to instruct us as to how to avoid some of them. They also reveal God's great patience and restoring grace and the fact that "what God begins, God completes"! Unfortunately, for many of us we are also critical not only of Peter but of one another when he or she falls. Instead of taking them by the hand, lifting them up and strengthening them so that they too may go on to maturity we often judge and criticize. What is your first response to a toddler when it falls? You want to help it up and encourage it to try again. That should be our response to the fallen believer - to help him or her up and to encourage them in their trials. "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual (mature), RESTORE such a one in the spirit of gentleness: each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:1-2). Too many of the members of Christ's body today are involved in "critical and judgmental downfalls rather than encouraging uplifts". Jude tells us that we are to have compassion on some, making a difference and on others, save with fear, pulling them out of the fire" (Jude 1:22-23). So, falls and trials will be a part of spiritual maturity just as physical maturity. In fact even grown-ups are subject to falls on occasion. So, lets strive to be patience with one another and with ourselves.

FUTURE EXPECTATIONS: A third aspect of maturity is TIME. We should not expect to be mature over night. None of us expect our children to go from the crib to the first grade or from the first grade to college. We know that it takes TIME and we focus our sights on the future when maturity should be achieved. But, we do expect it to be reached and we work toward it, both in ourselves and in others. This requires as I said before, PATIENCE! James chapter one tells us that trials come as a testing of faith to produce patience but we are to let patience have its finished work that we may be MATURE, lacking nothing. Again the goal is MATURITY!

So, I ask the question again, what do you think of when you hear the word, maturity? I hope after these thoughts that you will think of the importance of it in your spiritual life and that you will take the necessary steps toward it by desiring the milk of the Word of God, graduating to the meat of the Word of God - that you will realize that the falls and trials in your life and in others are a necessary part of that maturity and that you will strive to be patient with the weak (or immature) as well as yourself. And, that you will give maturity in your own life and in others TIME to develop. Remember too, that "He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus". "Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise GOD our SAVIOR,
be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and forever". And, may you "GROW UP(mature) into HIM in ALL THINGS." (Ephesians 4:15) My children used to sing a song when they were young and I couldn't help but think of the words as I wrote this.

He's still working on me to make me
what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars
the Sun and the Earth and
Jupiter and Mars.
How Loving and patient He must be, He's still working
on me.

There really ought to be a
sign upon the heart,
Don't judge him yet,
there's an unfinished part.
But, I'll be PERFECT (MATURE) just according
to His plan,
Fashioned by the Master's loving Hands!

In the mirror of HIS WORD
reflections that I see
Make me wonder why
He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and
helps me when I pray,
Remember, He's the POTTER
I'm the CLAY!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


PLEASING GOD OR PLEASING OTHERS: Are you a "People Pleaser"? If you are, you know how difficult it can be to accept or reject the recommendations of other people for your life and activity. While there is good Scriptural reason for us to "submit ourselves one to another, to "follow good counsel", to even "yield" to other's desires - perhaps even while suffering wrong ourselves, there are times when we have to stand alone and do what we believe GOD has called us to. That can be a hard thing to do if you are commonly known as a "people pleaser". The Gospel of John chapter seven gives us an incident in the life of Christ when He had to do just such a thing.

Jesus began His life and ministry with such high expectations from people. He had been proclaimed by the popular preacher of that day, John the Baptist, as the "Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world"and was baptised by him. Later He fought the great temptations of Satan in the wilderness and WON!! He was proclaimed by God Himself in a voice from Heaven saying, "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased". He began to gather followers, and disciples. Soon He was preaching and teaching in the Synagogues (the religious place of worship of the day) and He was doing many great miracles among the people. Jesus' first year of obscurity soon gave way to a year of popularity and He was a welcomed and wanted preacher and teacher.

However, it wasn't long before the year of popularity begin to give way to adversity. In John chapter six we are told that as Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, there was a great multitude who followed Him because they saw the signs (or miracles) He performed. Then He performed a sign on the multitude themselves by feeding them with five loaves of bread and two fishes. We are told that they were filled and that there were even "left-overs". They began to sing His praises after they saw this sign saying, "this is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world". It seemed they believed wholeheartedly in Jesus and He had gained yet another following. In fact they were so in awe of Him that they tried to take Him by force and "make Him a king". Now, in our day many would gladly accept this honor, this success, this adulation of praise - but, not JESUS! We are told that He departed into a mountain by Himself ALONE. They still looked for Him however, only to receive a rebuke by Him as He judged the true reason they were searching for him. He then began to teach them some hard lessons of Theology. (John 6:26-65)

This began His year of unpopularity and adversity and we are told that from that time, MANY went back and walked with Him no more. There He stood with a ruined teaching ministry as He questioned the twelve, "will you go away also?" - to which Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go, YOU have the words of ETERNAL LIFE". I wonder if it was here that Judas began his feeling of disappointment leading to his eventual betrayal of the LORD? After all, if the multitude were going away so was much of the monetary support from which Judas had been stealing. And too, he was no longer associated with a popular preacher of the day but with one to whom many were objecting. Was this what Judas had signed up for?

This brings us to John chapter seven and an event that will be repeated several times before Jesus' final death and departure from this life. The chapter begins by telling us that Jesus walked in Galilee not Judea because the Jews sought to kill Him. However, the Feast of Tabernacles which was held in Judea was near and He always made the Feasts as was required by law. So his natural brothers gave Him a recommendation and with it came the test of "people pleasing". After all, these were His brothers and they expected Him to go. But, their true motive is revealed as they gave him the encouragement to, "Depart from here that your disciples may SEE the WORK that you are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to BE KNOWN OPENLY. If you do these things, SHOW yourself to the world". They too, were disappointed that Jesus was now loosing His popularity. So they encourage His ministry but with a selfish motive - "SHOW the WORLD what you can DO"! They might have said, "After all, is not the approval of ministry shown in its success and popularity?"

Jesus however, knew something about his brothers that even they themselves did not know. It was that they did not KNOW HIM or BELIEVE IN HIM. While they knew him "after the flesh" and knew Him as their brother, they did not know Him as the SON OF GOD and as their SAVIOR. And, Jesus knew something about His own purpose from God and the timing of it. So, He tells them, "My time is not yet come". We are then told that he STAYED in Galilee while they went ahead to the feast. He stayed following the will of God not the recommendation of this brothers. Jesus did not stay because He was afraid of the Jews who were seeking to kill Him, for he later did go and faced them - teaching openly in the Temple. He stayed because God had a time for Him to go up and He would not be influenced by the suggestion of His brothers to step aside from the will of God's timing for Him.

A similar occurrence happened later in John chapter eleven. Lazarus, Jesus' very good friend, had gotten sick and Mary and Martha, Lazarus's sisters, sent for Jesus to come. They knew that Jesus had healed others and He could heal Lazaurs also. So, surely He would heal His very good friend who had ministered to Him and given Him hospitality many times. But, we are told that when Jesus heard it, He STAYED two more days - in fact He stayed until Lazarus died. Why did He not follow the request of his friends and go to Lazarus. Because God had a time and a further glory for Lazarus than being raised from a sick bed. Jesus, in the will and timing of God would raise him from the DEAD!!! Surely, if Jesus had been a "people pleaser" He would have left immediately at the request of his beloved friends but He waited on GOD, His Father.

This type of incident is repeated over and over again in the Life and Ministry of the LORD Jesus and there is not enough time to mention all the examples. These are given, however, for us to make application in our own lives. They bring us back to the question I asked at the beginning, "Are you a "people pleaser"? Are the reasons you do the things you do in your life to please others (even when and if they are very good requests and recommendations) or to please GOD. How can we know when it is okay to please others. I must tell you that by nature, I am a "people pleaser". It is difficult for me to say "NO" to others - but, I have found that in many cases I have to when I clearly know that the suggestion is in opposition to God's time and will for me. I have discovered a few ways for me to discern when to follow man's opinion and when not to. One way is the clear instruction from the WORD OF GOD. Another is committing the situation to PRAYER and then to wait the PROVIDENTIAL leading of God, the Holy Spirit in the situation. It has been said that, "God's ways are behind the scene and He moves all the scenes He is behind". So, finally, it comes to trusting HIM as you have sought clear instruction from his Word, prayerfully committed it to Him and then follow the leading before you. Many times, you may not clearly know whether to follow the recommendation. In such cases you must follow the best course before you, doing all things for the GLORY of GOD, in LOVE and for the EDIFICATION of others, trusting that the LORD who has promised to be with you, IS with you in the situation.

We should also be careful not to judge others in their decisions to reject our suggestions. Jesus carefully warns the people not to judge according to appearance (things are not always as they APPEAR to be) but to judge righteous judgment. Remember that God has a will and time in other's lives too and it may not be according to our recommendations for them. My prayer is that we all may carefully and prayerfully follow the LORD, pleasing HIM in all things - even when it means displeasing others. May we become "GOD PLEASERS" not "PEOPLE PLEASERS"!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


TORNADOES: So many people have experienced storms and tornadoes this year - many to their sorrow - others, in gratitude that they were spared the destruction that some experienced. I stood at my window today listening to the wind and watching the hail. As I listened and watched, I wondered if it was too soon to get into my "safe place". My safe place is my utility room - the central most room away from windows in our home. As I stood there I was once again reminded just how helpless mankind is in the face of some of life's storms. I had experienced this before when we lived in Fairhope, AL and watched as hurricane Katrina came tumbling through the Gulf and caused such havoc, destruction, and death.

As I thought about Katrina and the storm I was presently facing I was reminded that in reality my "safe place" was not a utility room, although wisdom would dictate I go there if the need so arises. But, let's face it - even a safe room didn't help some going though Katrina nor others who have experienced tornadoes this past year. Those rooms may have indeed been the means of safety for some but they were not the ultimate cause of their survival.

Psalms 91:1-4 states: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty, I will say to the LORD, "My REFUGE and my FORTRESS, My God, in whom I trust!" For it is HE who delivers you from the snare of the trapper, and from the deadly pestilence. HE will cover you with HIS pinions and under HIS WINGS you may seek SHELTER (or REFUGE); His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

As I looked at the storm facing me from my window and realized that my real safety was not a utility room, it dawned on me also that I had no control over the storm. I did not cause the storm and I could not direct the storm. That's just like a lot of the storms which come into our lives by way of various trials and circumstances. They may come (as in the life of Job) for NO reason of our own - nothing we have done to cause them. And, like Job too, there is nothing we can do to control them. Some storms just have to take their course as we find refuge in the LORD and wait his timing for the end of the storm. I have watched many storms this spring last a significant amount of time and others I have seen last only a few minutes. That also may be the case with many of the trials we face - some may seem to never end and others may last only a short time. But, in each of the storms whether long or short, I had to simply WAIT and find SHELTER until the storm was passed.

If you are facing a storm in you life today, whether the literal storms of a tornado or the stormy trials of life, take SHELTER in the ONE who controls it all and rest in HIS SOVEREIGN purpose for it. That's the only real "safe place" for us to find shelter. May HE hide you under the shadow of HIS wings in whatever trial or storm you may face today.

Monday, May 2, 2011


REJOICING IN JUDGMENT: Today, May 1, 2011, the world has gotten the news that a mass murderer has been found and executed. Many have received that message with elation, others with sadness, and few with indifference. What were your emotions as you heard that the one who masterminded the attacks against innocent men, women and children had finally met his doom?

The book of Revelation chapter 15:3-4 states: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O KING of the saints! Who shall not FEAR You, O Lord, and GLORIFY Your name? For You ALONE are HOLY, for all Nations shall come and worship before You, FOR YOUR JUDGMENTS HAVE BEEN MANIFESTED."

If we do not rightly understand the manifested judgments of God, we do not rightly understand the Cross of Calvary and the Christ who died there or the Father who "so loved the world that He gave his only begotten SON". Calvary was all about judgment! God the Father poured out His RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT on the innocent Lamb that He had provided for the world. And, in the book of Revelation we are told that the Saints REJOICE in that manifested judgment that will come to those who do not believe or accept the salvation FREELY offered to them in this lifetime. The saints are not rejoicing in the suffering of any, but in the "MANIFESTED JUDGMENTS of a RIGHTEOUS GOD" Who JUDGES SIN.

Osama Bin Laden had his "TIME TO REPENT", but he chose a lifetime of murder and evil practices instead. Since Bin Laden's planned attack on America, The Righteous God gave him ten years to turn - ten years to repent - ten years to believe. Osama chose his fate - he spurned the Mercy of a loving God and chose the JUSTICE due to him. So, I for one rejoice that a murderer is brought to JUSTICE and there is one less person to practice the works of EVIL on the innocent. I do grieve in his eternal suffering but not in the cessation of his practice of evil on the earth.

So, where does that leave me and you? We too must face the judgment of God - "it is appointed to man once to die and after this the JUDGMENT". While we may not have sinned after the same manner as Osama Bin Laden, nevertheless, "ALL have sinned and come short of the GLORY OF GOD". We either face that judgment in the death of Jesus Christ in His suffering FOR US or we will face it at the end of the world in an eternal judgment right along Osama Bin Laden.

The merciful God gave Osama Bin Laden TIME TO REPENT and BELIEVE the GOSPEL - He also gives us time to REPENT and BELIEVE, but reminds us that, "TODAY is the day of Salvation" - we are not promised tomorrow"! "The Lord is LONG SUFFERING toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to REPENTANCE". How is it with you and me today - have we experienced that repentance and faith? Do we believe the GOSPEL - the GOOD NEWS that, "God so LOVED the World that He gave HIS only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in HIM should NOT PERISH, but should have EVERLASTING LIFE"!! Choose LIFE today - turn to HIM - Repent and Believe the GOSPEL - don't follow in the steps and finality of OSAMA BIN LADEN!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


INTERRUPTIONS AND INTERLUDES: How do you respond to interruptions and interludes? An interlude has been described as: "an intervening or interrupted period, space or event." I don't respond very well to these and have always had a problem when circumstances did not go according to my plans - just ask my family!

After days of planning and hoping to write about the Kinsman Redeemer mentioned in Ruth chapter two, I now find myself in an interlude and instead of writing about the Kinsman Redeemer, I have been impressed to discuss the importance of the WORD OF GOD.

God's WORD: Have you ever realized its importance? The book of John begins by stating, In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. The Epistle of First John begins: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the WORD of LIFE - we declare to you. When the writer to the Hebrews begins his letter he starts by saying, God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers through the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in the these last days has spoken to us through His SON... (Heb. 1:1-2). The writer continues in the next few chapters to exhort us to LISTEN to that WORD and to give the more earnest attention to it.

God's Word is His communication to mankind and He has revealed that communication through His Son, the LORD Jesus - THE WORD OF GOD. How important was God, the Father's Word to Him when Jesus ministered here on earth? It was so important that He informed us that the Words that He spoke were not HIS but the Father's who sent Him (John 14:24, & 17 14). The Father also testifies of the importance of the WORD OF GOD when He speaks to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration and says, This is my beloved SON, HEAR HIM. Jesus felt the importance of the WORD of God so much that he tells us that those very WORDS that the Father gave to Him, He also gave to His disciples that they might give them to their listeners and eventually make them known through the written Word. If the Word of God was so important to Jesus, and to His disciples, how important and what preeminence should it have it our lives?

Not only were the words that Jesus spoke His Father's words but the works He did were those of His Father as well. He stated in John 14:10-12, The Words I say unto you, I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does HIS WORKS.....believe on account of the WORKS themselves. The people living during the time of Christ's ministry saw the works He did and should have believed on Him. He tells them that those very works were not His but that His Father did those works through him. The Father both spoke His words and did His works though Jesus, His Son. Why was the Word of His Father and the Works of His Father so important to Him?

One reason the Father's words and the Father's works were so important is because Jesus desired the WILL of His Father. The book of Hebrews tells us in 10:7-9, Behold, I am come (In the Roll of the Book it is written of ME!) TO DO THY WILL, O GOD. You can find similar texts confessing His desire to do His Father's will in John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38. We see the extent of that desire to do His Father's will in the Garden of Gethsemane as He is facing Crucifixion (the WILL of His Father). There He prays, Take this cup from me, nevertheless, NOT what I WILL, but what YOU WILL ( Luke 22:42).

What do the Word of God, the Works of God and the Will of God have to do with interruptions and interludes? Because in all of these there was the "timing of God". The Psalmist states that our times are in HIS hands but so many times we want to control the time. When interruptions and interludes happen we are flustered and frustrated. How did Jesus respond - or did he even experience those interruptions and interludes?

Jesus recognized that His Father had a planned TIME for him for all the events in His life - but, especially for the Cross. He states in John 7:6-8, My time is not yet at hand... My time has not fully come. In many places in the Gospel we hear Him referring to His hour or His TIME is not YET.

What were some of those times in the Life of Jesus and how were they effected by interruptions and interludes? He began with a time to be born. Even at His birth however, there was an interruption. We hear of Herod seeking to kill the young child and his early childhood was interrupted by a time spent in Egypt. There was an interlude. Then there was the time of early childhood or of growth and learning. We find Him at one point in the temple learning from the teachers of His day and His mother and Joseph come to "interrupt" His time there and take Him back home. His statement to them was, "Don't you know that I must be about my Father's business" - and yet, he submits to their authority for His time had not yet come. In fact, we don't know exactly how long that submission lasted but we do know that it was not until he was thirty years old that we see Him finally beginning that "time" of ministry. There was an interlude in which He grew in His home, worked in the Carpenter's shop, faithfully attended the Synagogue and waited His Father's time for full ministry.

Even after He began His ministry, we find Him "interrupted" many times. At one point after he had healed many people and resumed His preaching (that for which He said He came to do), his disciples came to Him and said, "all men seek for thee". His response was, "I must go to the next cities to preach and teach for that is what I was sent to do."
At one point, he was preaching in a house and a great multitude was there and we are told that his mother and brothers sought him and tried to get him to "take a break". But, His response was, Who is my mother, brothers and sisters? He who does the will of my Father in heaven - the same is my mother, brothers and sisters.
Many times he would escape to a lonely place to pray only to find himself "interrupted" in prayer by his disciples or some crowd of people. Jesus knew what it was to face the interruptions and interludes of life. His peace came in accepting each interruption as the will of God and continuing in the plan of God for His life.

I have often imagined that as a young child listening to those teachers in the Temple that Jesus longed then and there to begin His ministry - to do "His Father's business" - but he knew His TIME had not come. I wonder how many times while helping Joseph or Mary He longed to begin His heavenly Father's business - but His TIME had not come. Even after he began that ministry of preaching God's Word and doing God's Works how often did He long to finish that by His atoning work on the Cross and go back to the fellowship of His heavenly Father. Jesus knew the boundary of time and circumstances and submitted Himself to the interruptions and interludes of life.

What application can we make from these truths in our own lives? I am sure that many of you, like I, can identify with interruptions and interludes. Some of you have started college and the finances are just not sufficient at the moment to finish. Perhaps a parent has gotten ill and it is up to you to care for him or her. Maybe you have finished college but you can't find a job.

Perhaps sickness has interrupted your own life and you must spend time bedridden instead of doing the job for which you were trained. Maybe you had planned to be a stay-at-home Mom now that your children have come along but circumstances have forced you for the time being to help with the family income by working outside the home in your little vineyard (Prov. 31:16). Maybe you are the other mother who had trained and planned for a career only to find you must remain at home and do the work for which you had never planned.

Maybe you were very happy in a ministry at your church and circumstances have forced you into a situation where you feel you may never minister again. Maybe as a wife who supports her husband, your life has been interrupted by a job change for him and now you must be the one to leave family, home, friends, church or position to go where he goes - perhaps to face many days and nights alone. The situations can be endless and I think all of us can say that at some point we have faced these interruptions or interludes in our lives. What can we learn from Jesus about how to respond to them?

First, like Jesus, we should recognize the importance of the WORD of God and give it priority in our lives. We should both learn it and communicate it to others. We also should seek to do the WORKS of God and not our own works. We should desire the WILL of God above our own will. And, we must submit to the TIMING of GOD for our lives. If for a time, like Jesus we have to journey into Egypt, then let us wait for His word telling us when it is time to return. If we feel the call of God to ministry and long to be "in the Temple" learning and asking questions and going about our Father's business, but find we must submit to some higher authority, let us do so with patience and faith that God will bring about His will for us in His time.

If we long to stay in prayer but the baby cries or a loved one is in need, answer the call and resume to prayer as you can. Find His Will in His Word and continue to move toward that Will with resolve even if for a time, there are interruptions and interludes. And, trust that God has a Good purpose in all the interruptions and interludes of life. Remember that Jesus has passed this way already and above all He is a compassionate and merciful High Priest and when it comes to the interruptions and interludes of life - He can have compassion on the weak and is able to give aid to the needy. Look to Him - trust Him - and commit your way unto Him, He will bring it to pass - IN HIS TIME.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


PROVISION: Have you ever been in real need? I was not raised in a wealthy home but I can say that everything we needed physically was provided. We may not have had all our wants, but we did have food, water, clothing, housing and an education. While there are segments of the American population who perhaps suffer in poverty, most of us do not really know what it is to experience real need. What is the real need for the life of a body? It is basically two things - food and water.

I introduce the blog this way to help us think about Boaz's provision for Ruth. What was that provision? Boaz first provided a field for Ruth to glean - to gather the necessary grain for making food. In Ruth Chapter 2:8, Boaz encourages Ruth to remain in his field only and to continue to work beside his workers. He provided permanent employment.

Not only was Ruth's employment permanent but it was abundant in its wages. Boaz commands his servants to allow Ruth to glean or reap even among the sheaves and not to insult her for doing so. Why would he say that? In the last post we contrasted law and grace and in Ruth 2:15-16 we see a further contrast. The law said that the strangers were to reap the outer portions of the field and to leave what had fallen for the poor and needy (Leviticus 19:9-16). Gleaning among the sheaves was left for the owner only. In Ruth chapter 2, Boaz tells his servants to allow some of the harvest to fall for her on purpose. As we see from that law in Leviticus, anything that had fallen to the ground was to be allowed to be gleaned by the stranger. Boaz is providing for Ruth lavishly and abundantly. He is allowing her to reap the most she can according to her ability and even more than her ability.

Boaz not only provided a field of permanent work and abundant wages - he also provided water for her thirsty need. The work Ruth was doing was hard and it was dry and hot. Boaz knew she would need water to quench her thirst. He tells her in 2:8, When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw. He not only provided the water but he provided that which his servants had already drawn from the well. That was one less chore Ruth had to do and she was able to quench her thirst from the water already drawn. Boaz's grace is abundant toward her and she is humbled and thankful for it.

The provision of Boaz continues to be shown by his desire for communion or fellowship with Ruth in chapter 2:14, "Come here, that you may eat bread.." The invitation to a meal was not only to share in the host's provisions but it was to enjoy fellowship with those invited. Boaz invites her to eat with him and then provides the very food for her to eat. He not only provides it but the text says that he served her the roasted grain. He prepared and served her lunch. No wonder Ruth is in such awe of Boaz whom she is coming to know as a gracious and generous man.

Ruth is also gracious, for we are told from those verses that after she had eaten and was satisfied that she kept some of the food back. She was not a glutton. Even though there was plenty of food - she stopped when she was satisfied. She also kept what was left over for a very good reason. The rest of the chapter says that she later shares what she had left with Naomi. She not only takes what she gleaned from the field to Naomi - she also takes some of the lunch that had been prepared for her so that Naomi might enjoy the benefits of Boaz's abundance too.

This story reminds me of the incident the Apostle John gives in John chapter 4. That chapter tells of a women who is a Samaritan and like Ruth - an outcast from Israel. The Lord being hot, tired and thirsty from ministering through preaching and a long journey sat down at a well where this woman was drawing water. He had the audacity to ask for a drink from this woman. In fact she is even surprised that He, an Israelite, would ask from her, a Samaritan woman.

Jesus' response to her after she questions his intentions in talking with her is, "If you knew the GIFT of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked HIM and HE would have given you LIVING WATER."
WHO is it that spoke to her and what is the GIFT he desires to give? In response to her request for that Living water, Jesus reveals her sin and confesses to her that HE is the Messiah - the One who is to come to take away the sin of the world. HE is that Living Water. The GIFT He desires to give to her is ETERNAL LIFE and she must drink of the water that HE GIVES - the water that gives life eternal. His desire is to give LIFE and to give it more abundantly.

Are you thirsty today? Have you been drinking from the fountains of this world - The fountain of education, popularity, success, money, entertainment - even family? Have those fountains left you empty and dying of thirst? Have you found them to be dry and not life giving but life taking? Jesus longs to give you that Water of LIFE which only HE can give. Come to Him, ask from Him.
It is His desire to fill you and to satisfy you with Living water - the water that gives LIFE ETERNAL and LIFE ABUNDANT. Do you know Who He is? He is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world - He is the Water of Life. Do you know the GIFT of GOD? It is Eternal Life and it is found only in HIM. Now that you know HIM and the GIFT He longs to give, ASK from Him. His promise is that HE will give it to you.

Ruth and the Samaritan woman are alike in another point. Ruth took her provisions and shared them with Naomi. In this chapter of John, we see that the woman at the well also takes what she has learned of Christ and shares that knowledge to the town of Samaria. This causes a whole town to come and hear Him themselves and to drink of His Living Water. This situation launches a discussion from his disciples about his actions - which they question. They think that perhaps he just needs to eat some food. The Lord's response is that He has food to eat that they don't know about and eventually has to explain to them that his food (or true satisfaction) is doing the will of His Father in Heaven.

In the rest of John chapter 4, Jesus begins to talk to His disciples about the harvest and the reaping that needs to be done. He tells them to pray that the LORD of the harvest will send for reapers into HIS fields for they are ready for harvesting. Much like the time of Ruth - it is the barley harvest season - only the harvest that Jesus longs for is the harvest of HIS PEOPLE into His Kingdom. Have you entered that harvest? Are you praying for the Lord to SEND those reapers? Each of us has his or her duty to either go, pray or send. What can we do to see that the harvest is reaped and Christ's barns are full of grain for bread?

In the next few chapters of John, Jesus talks about the importance of BREAD and just as He reveals Himself to be the WATER of LIFE - He now reveals HIMSELF as the BREAD OF LIFE. He tells them that just as we must ask and drink of the WATER OF LIFE, we must also ask and EAT of the BREAD of LIFE. As explained in the opening of the blog, the great need for physical life is water and bread (food). So, also, the two great needs for Spiritual life or Life ETERNAL is the WATER of LIFE and the BREAD of LIFE. They are Christ Jesus Himself - he says, I AM THE LIVING WATER and I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE. He invites you as Boaz did Ruth to COME and drink of the WATER that HE gives and to eat of the BREAD that He provides. Do you see your need? Do you know yourself to be a sinner and HE the Savior that was to come to take away the sin of the world? IF so, He offers you that WATER and that BREAD of eternal life and bids you DRINK and EAT.

If you have drank of this WATER and eaten of this BREAD - don't be "stingy" with what HE has given. Like Ruth - take that which was given you to others who are in need also. Like the woman at the well - GO - TELL others about this ONE who has told you all that you ever did and say, "IS THIS NOT THE CHRIST?" Give to others the WATER and BREAD of LIFE and become a reaper in the LORD'S harvest. Remember that sometimes the work is hard and hot and you need to sit by the reapers and drink of that water too and eat of that bread as well - even as you go about your work of harvesting. May the LORD PROVIDE you with abundant WAGES as you go, tell and share.

Hark! The voice of Jesus crying,
who will go and work today?
Fields are white, and harvests waiting;
Who will bear the sheaves away?
Loud and long the Master calls,
Rich reward He offers free:
Who will answer, gladly saying,
"Here am I, send me, send me!"
If you cannot be a watchman,
Standing high on Zion's wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven,
Offering life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your bounties
You can do what God commands;
You can be like faithful Aaron,
Holding up the prophets hands.

Friday, August 6, 2010


LAW VS GRACE: Have you ever heard or said, "Laws were made to be broken"? Well, that statement is false. Actually, laws are made to be kept. There are reasons for making them and consequences in breaking them. If you have ever gotten a speeding ticket, you know the consequences for breaking the speed limit set for a certain highway. In fact, I paid a heavy consequence for breaking the speed limit while driving back from Texas a few years ago. While it sounds like freedom to say, "laws are made to be broken", breaking them brings bondage - not freedom.

What could broken laws possibly have to do with the story of Ruth and Boaz? The book of Deuteronomy is the second giving of the Law of Moses from God to the nation of Israel. One of those laws stated in Deut. 23:3 is: An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD: even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever. The chapter continues to give us the reason why. For now, it is enough for us to know that Ruth was a descendant of Moab and by law had no right to enter the assembly of Israel. Some feel that at the time of the events in the book of Ruth, the tenth generation of the Moabites had been reached. We do not know that for sure, but we know that there was a law that no Moabite could enter its assembly. How then could Ruth become a part of Israel?

Ruth entered the blessings of Abraham by faith in the God of Abraham through the grace of God. When she left Naomi to find work Ruth made the statement that her need was to find favor or GRACE from one of the field owners. Boaz favored her in giving her a place to work but he also favored her by offering her provision and protection. By the grace of Boaz, Ruth entered into the riches of Boaz. As we will eventually see, that grace was bestowed because of the love of Boaz.

What a picture of the Gospel is this second chapter of Ruth! There is a law that keeps all of mankind from the riches of God. That law states, "the soul that sins shall die". Since all have sinned, all have died spiritually and will die physically one day. We are like Ruth - without hope and without God. How can we possibly approach a holy God since we too are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel? (Eph. 2:11-12)
The only way is by GRACE.

The pictures of grace are numerous in God's word and in the lives of His people. I love the story of Esther when she desired to approach the king in her need to save her people. There was a problem, however, in approaching the king. That problem was a law of the Medes and Persians that said that no one could come into the presence of the king that had not been called except the one upon whom the king FAVORED or showed GRACE by holding out the golden scepter. That scepter was held out to Esther and she found grace to help in her time of need. (Esther 5:2-3).

The life of David is filled with examples of the grace of God both to him and from him. Mephiboseth, the grandson of Saul, had fled in the day that Saul and Johnathan were killed for Saul's rebellion against God. But, because of his love for Jonathan, David desired to show "KINDNESS" or "GRACE" to anyone left of the family of Johnathan. We are told that David sent for Mephibosheth, restored to him all that he had lost and treated him as one of his own sons. What was Mephibosheth's response? He said, "What is your servant that you should regard a dead dog like me?" Mephibosheth knew that he had no right to the goodness of David - but out of love to Johnathan and now Mephibosheth, David showed the kindness and grace of God to him.

Grace has been defined as "favor bestowed on someone who does not deserve it and can not earn it."
The responses of people to undeserved kindness to them says a lot about them. What was Ruth's response to the grace of Boaz? She says, "Why have I found favor (grace) in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?" (Ruth 2:10) "I have found favor (grace) in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants". Ruth was overwhelmed or surprised by GRACE! She was also humbled by that grace for she knew that it was undeserved and unearned.

How would it have looked if Ruth had proudly said, "Well, Boaz, it is about time you took notice of ME - I have been working in this field all day and I deserve this payment and this attention." No - Ruth knew better! She knew she deserved nothing from Boaz. By law, she was "shut out" of the blessings of Abraham. She neither deserved it nor earned it. Even her ability to work in his field was a gift from Boaz and Ruth knew that! She was both humbled and thankful for the grace of Boaz.

I have often wondered if in after years - after the stress of time and family - Ruth began to think she "deserved" anything from Boaz? Perhaps she could have said, "I have born him this child (or children as the case may have been), I have taken care of his house, labored in his field and while our relationship may have begun in grace, I have certainly added to it by my works". The reason I ask that is because, many times (to our shame), I think we Believers begin to think that way about the grace of God. After becoming His servant and working in His field, do we feel that God is "obligated" to us in any way? The Apostle Paul said that even the "ability to be a servant was by the GRACE of God" - it is His gift. (I Cor. 3:10,) and as with Boaz, it is His field in which we serve. God never OWES anyone anything but He certainly loves to GRACE His people with everything, even the ability to serve Him and then to one day reward them for the very service with which He gives them. What a GRACIOUS GOD we serve.

I am sure that if Ruth ever began to think that way, God brought back to her memory her time in Moab, her long journey back with Naomi and the hunger she felt as she left Naomi that day to go out and try to find work to provide for herself and Naomi. And, I am quite sure that He reminded her of the fact that HE provided for them in giving them Boaz and all the riches that came with him. This was enough to keep her humble and grateful both to Boaz and to the God of Boaz and now her God too.

How is it with you? Have you come to experience the Grace of God in Christ Jesus? Ephesians 2:8-9 says, By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,it is the GIFT of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
If you have come to experience this grace, how has it been with you in after years? Have you served Him faithfully for years? Have you began to think that the blessings of God are "deserved" because although you began in Grace, you are being perfected by your works? If that is the case, maybe it is time to remember all that God has done for you instead of all that you have done for God. Remember where you came from and where you could have been had not God revealed Himself and His GRACE to you. Maybe it is time to "humble yourself" once again under the mighty Hand of God, that He may exalt you at the right time. Maybe it is time to ask again as Mephibosheth did, "What is your servant that you should look upon such a dead dog as I am," or as Ruth, who said, "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?" Remember, as the Apostle Peter said, in 2 Peter 3:18, to Grow in GRACE and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To HIM be glory both now and to the day of eternity.

Amazing GRACE! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretched like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas GRACE that taught my heart to fear
And GRACE my fears relieved.
How precious did that GRACE appear
The hour I first believed!

The LORD has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures,
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

John Newton