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It seems so minor…

Ruth 4:13,14 – “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.”

Obed. He may not be the most famous person in all Israel, but in the eyes of those closest to Boaz and Ruth, he certainly was famous. He was a child of blessing. 

Ruth was a woman of Moab. She had married an Israelite and was barren for the 10 years (or so) that she was married to him. And then, he died. Long story short – when Naomi, her mother-in-law, decided to go back to Israel, Ruth went with her. She left her family, her country and everything she had ever known to follow Naomi. She trusted Naomi and in some way (although it’s never mentioned), I believe she trusted God. When they got to Israel, Ruth’s reputation proceeded her. Everyone knew what she had done, what she had given up and what all those sacrifices showed about her character. No need for Ruth to brag or put on an act – everyone already knew. 

And then there’s Boaz. He was a godly man from the get-go. He showed kindness to everyone. He was fair and honest. He was compassionate. He was a man of integrity. 

To bring you up to speed on this verse, Boaz procured Ruth as his wife in a legal and binding agreement that was wrought in truth and honesty. And because Ruth chose God’s way in her life and because Boaz demonstrated God’s principles in all he did, God blessed them with a son. And that son, Obed, was in the lineage of David and, therefore, in the lineage of Christ. How cool is that!

My point is this – you never know how far your obedience will reach. You have no idea the impact you are making on some person’s life that you may never know or meet. I mean, think about it – the obedience of Ruth and Boaz has impacted my life – not only in reading and studying about them in the Bible, but most importantly, because of Jesus. That’s enough to get those glory bumps going (goose bumps)! 

Don’t think that your random acts of kindness or just following God’s principles are something minor and unimportant. They are incredibly important! You may be changing the life of someone important with your “minor” acts of obedience. Be that change. See the forest, not just the trees. 

On my heart

James 5:16 – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

This verse has been on my heart and in my mind the last couple of days. 

As with any sermon, there are many lessons that speak different things to different people. And although this specific verse may or may not have been used, God brought it to my mind when I was at church in Sunday. 

We NEED to pray for one another. 

I began studying different portions of my Bible at the beginning of the year. After my Bible study, I began an “On my heart” section of each page. I have found that it keeps growing and growing. As I open my heart to those God lays upon it, my list gets longer and longer. I find myself praying for different people randomly throughout the day. God brings them to my heart and I say a word of prayer for them. 

Now, does that make me righteous and holy? Absolutely not. It does show me that I am being available. That’s what God wants. He wants availability and teachability. He wants me to listen closer to Him in all areas of my life – prayer, decisions, actions and words, just to name a few. 

I want to encourage you to start an “On my heart” list. God wants your availability. The best way to get started is by listening. And once you hear, act. That’s part of being available- the willingness to act. Pray for one another. Let’s see what God is going to do today. 

Control

John 10:17,18 – “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Power. We like to think that we have power over our life. We like to think that our date book is our own. We like to think that we have control over when we sleep and when we rise. We like to think that we have control over what the scales say or doesn’t say. We like to think that we have control over how our children are raised and who leads us into the future of our country. 

But do we really have control over any of those things?

I’d venture to say no. No we do not. Oh, our perception may be that we got this. But in reality….we don’t. 

In these verses today, Jesus reminds us of a very important fact – He has control. He has so much control that He has the power to freely give His life and take it back up again. This blew His audience’s mind. How could this possibly be?

We serve an amazingly powerful God. One that has the capability to give His own Son who has the power to willingly sacrifice His own life. One that has the power to raise Himself from the grave because He is all God and all man all at the same time. Did you hear that? Minds being blown all over the place!

What I want to get across today is God is in control. He knows what has been, what is and what will be. And if Jesus can raise Himself from the grave, He won’t forget you when He returns. Sometimes life feels so uncertain, so easily downtrodden, so discouraging. But take heart, God is in control. Truly, we have nothing to worry about. 

The Power of a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”

Gifts. We all love them. We love do-dads and widgets and practical things and things to eat – it doesn’t matter; we love gifts!

But as I was reading in my Bible yesterday, God laid it on my heart to further explore the word “gift”. 

Here in Ephesians, the word for “gift” means a sacrificial present. In other words, the gift cost something extreme. We all know that that cost for salvation was – God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. 

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here, the word for “gift” means a spiritual endowment. An endowment is something given without expectation of return in payment but does come with the expectation that the receiver will utilize and work with what is given for a determined end. You receive wages for the work that you do. You receive an endowment with the expectation that work will follow to accomplish some goal. Death is the wages for working at a sinful life without Christ. Eternal life is the expected outcome from the free gift of salvation. 

The free gift of salvation is not something to put on a shelf and look at from time to time. No, the free gift of salvation should be seen more in the light of receiving a major appliance as a gift. When someone you know gives you a stove as a gift, you don’t put it in your kitchen and look at it. You use it. You feed your family with it. You make food for others on it. You provide comfort and assurity with it. Looking at it gets nothing done. Looking at our salvation does nothing to advance the will of God that all men should come to Him for salvation and thus eternal life. We need to use it. We need to share its’ blessings. We need to tell other people how to receive such a magnificent gift. 

So today, get out there and share your gift. It wasn’t given to you to make you look pretty. It wasn’t given to you to beat someone over the head with it. It was given to you to multiple and grow. It was given to you to bring others to Him. Be nice – share. 

Acting like an animal

Mark 4:37-41 – “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

We had a missionary come and speak to us last night. He is heading to the Solomon Islands, hopefully, in August. He brought a message in regards to obeying to God’s voice. 

Read this Scripture one more time. Pay close attention to the end. 

The message last night reminded us that all of creation obeys God’s voice. Why can’t we?

Just think for a minute, the wind ceased when Jesus said to do so. The waves ceased when Jesus said to do so. Not a gentle, progressive calming – they ceased or stopped. 

The speaker also reminded us of the great fish that swallowed Jonah. How did it know to do that? And what about the animals getting on the ark – how did they know where to go and what to do? They all heard God’s voice and obeyed. They didn’t question it. They didn’t fight against Him. God said move; they moved.

So we have all these examples in the Bible of things that have no soul and no upper level thinking capabilities- creatures and things we consider inferior- obeying God. And then in walks a human and boom! All sorts of questions and fussing and whining about a simple command. 

Just think for a moment what God is asking us to do on a most basic level – read and study His word, go to a local New Testament church and worship Him, talk to those around you about Him and His work in your life, obey Him. These are not difficult commands, yet we act like a two year old when asked to do any of them. Why is it so difficult to obey His voice? 

So, my challenge to you (and to myself) this week is to obey His voice, period. Obey His voice in the simple things. Trust me, if the animals can do it, so can you. 

Friendship

James 2:23 – “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

We have all had or do have a best friend. That person who we tell everything to, with whom we discuss our problems, share our dreams and hash out our fears. That person who understands when the words just won’t come. That person who is not afraid to tell us that we are acting stupid. We all need that person in our life. 

So, what does it mean to be a “friend of God”? God doesn’t need council. He doesn’t need someone to hear His fears or tell Him when He is doing wrong. He doesn’t have those issues. So, how can we possibly be a friend to God?

James reminds us that Abraham was God’s friend because he obeyed. He listened and then he acted. God doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do. He doesn’t need us to solve problems. He wants us to obey. 

Now, here is the difference in a relationship and a religion- rules. God wants us to obey Him out of love not out of a desire to keep rules. Some people love rules. They love the structure and security of rules. They need rules to have order in their life. I guess that’s why when the writers of the Bible were inspired to write what they did, they speak of “commands” or “commandments”.  Rules can be broken or bent. Commands leave no room for option. They require obedience. When you think of those people in a military type position following commands, they are doing so because they love what they do. They have a sense of honor and respect and a love for what and whom they are fighting for. 

When God gives us commands, He gives them to us in love. And when we follow them, we follow them out of love and respect and honor for Him. 

When our friends give us advise, they are essentially giving us commands. They are giving them out of love and respect and the  desire to see good in our life. When we listen and go through with their “commands”, we are doing so because of our love for our friend and the respect we have for their suggestions. 

Being a friend of God doesn’t mean that we are commanding Him. No, just the opposite. We are following His commands because we love Him. His commands are not rules to be broken and bent. They are commands for our life to create righteousness within us. 

Hmm…how about that?

John 12:42,43 – “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

When I read this the other day, I though to myself “Hmm, how about that?”

Many people believed on Jesus but they were afraid to confess Him because of the fear that they had in what others would think. 

Sound familiar?

How many of us today keep Jesus tucked in our back pocket for emergencies and fail to put Him in the spotlight? It’s all well and good to express our gratitude and thanks and praise when we are in the walls of our church building, but what about when we survived a tough commute to work? What about when the weather miraculously changes in our favor? What about when we somehow have more than enough money to pay the bills this week? What about when we go into the doctor for something terrible and somehow or another it is gone?

Jesus said in Matthew 10:32,33 – “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

Don’t you think that Jesus meant that just as much now as He did then? 

This is serious stuff. We are neglecting to share Jesus with others because we don’t want to offend or we are afraid. And I am just as guilty as the next person. I have a tough time with this. But do I, for one minute, think that those lame excuses will fly at the Judgment Seat? Nope. They won’t. And I know that. 

So what is to be done? Be brave. Don’t be a scaredy-cat when it comes to Jesus. Don’t hide Him in your back pocket. Wear Him on the front of your shirt where everyone can see Him. Hey, I’m speaking as much to my heart as yours. 

Just look around you. Do you see the wind moving the trees? God is doing the same thing to our hearts today. He is stirring and churning and trying to poke us into service. He wants us to share. He wants us to brave. He wants us to, at the very least, try. Let’s never let it be said of us that we loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.