Wednesday, August 15, 2012

He Comforted Me

In Ruth 2:13, Ruth says to Boaz, "Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."

This verse is reminiscent of our own prayers. “Help me to live a life that is pleasing to you, Lord. You have comforted me and been so kind to me. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me and showing so much patience with me. You have given me such an indescribable inheritance in Christ. Lord, thank you.”

Here, in the book of Ruth, we have a beautiful love story unfolding against the dark backdrop of the time of the Judges. In a world of violence and injustice, disobedience and ignorance, true love reveals the strength of two people who are more than conquerors. Ruth has lost her husband, her father-in-law and her brother-in-law. She has only her mother-in-law, Naomi. Though she is surrounded by death, she is faithful to trust God to work out her circumstances.

Boaz was an extended relative of Ruth’s husband. Her husband had died many years previous to this reunion of Boaz with Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law. Boaz was Naomi’s (and Ruth’s) kinsmen redeemer, her close relative. As events unfold, we see Boaz fulfilling his duty under God’s law (Lev. 25:25 and Deut. 25:5-6), of redeeming the wife of a relative that died, to support her and carry on his relative’s family name. In this short story, probably told to us by the prophet Samuel around the inauguration of David as king, we see a beautiful type of Christ revealed. Boaz is a picture of Jesus, and his wife Ruth represents the bride of Christ, the church. Jesus is our Kinsmen Redeemer. The eternal God became a man, and therefore could redeem mankind from it’s death, from our separation from God; to make us right before God and to take care of us. In verse 13, after Ruth has found favor in Boaz’s eyes, she says softly, “you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not one of your maidservants. Ruth was not an Israelite, she was from Moab. As Christians, we are said to have been outsiders to the covenant and grace of the Lord, but now through faith in Jesus, we have been brought into the family of God.

In this quick paced and distracting society we live in, these words of Ruth’s soften a busy heart! To contemplate the Lord’s kindness, and to bask in His comfort is something I could do all day long! He is our comforter, and He has spoken the truth kindly to our hearts. He has redeemed us from spiritual death, and given us eternal life with Him, as Boaz, in love, redeemed Ruth to take care of her and honor his relative’s name. God has honored His promise to Abraham by blessing people of all nations through Jesus.

Now, as we get down to verse 14, Boaz instructs Ruth to come, and eat of the bread, and to dip her piece of bread in the vinegar. This verse reminds me of our communion, with our Lord. The eating of the bread, representing the body of Jesus broken for us. And the drinking of wine, His blood shed for us.

It also reminded me of the words of Jesus in John 6:51 & 55, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live.” “For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink.” He came to give us new life in abundance, as Boaz did for Ruth.

What a wonderful reminder of communion and intimacy with our Kinsmen Redeemer, tucked away nicely in this little book written about 3,000 years ago. Jesus is our sustenance and our life. Our communion with Him is a continuing romance that will carry on into the eternal glories of His Kingdom. Come quickly, Lord! Call us home to the wedding feast.

Also, in the book of Ruth, we have a necessary reminder of all that the Lord has redeemed us from: loss, pain, want, worldly desires and death; to ultimately be united with our God through His sacrifice. Though Ruth was a Moabitess, she is chosen by God to be David’s great-grandmother, and the ancestress of the Messiah, our Savior and Lord, Jesus. Oh, how God’s grace abounds eternally! Though, like Ruth we were on the outside, Jesus has redeemed us to God and we have been brought into His glorious Kingdom forever. If you have not received God’s wonderful gift of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ, why not ask Him now to forgive you of your sins and let Him into your heart. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Grace Is Sufficient For You

Paul, speaking in 2 Corinthians 12 of his “thorn in the flesh” (given to him, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, lest he be exalted above measure), said that he pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from him. In response, the Lord Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Grace is what God does for us, and has done, despite what we’ve done. Paul said, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul equates the power of God with Jesus’ statement, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore,” Paul says, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The power of God, His grace, works through us, whether we are weak or strong. But the weaker we are, the stronger the Lord will be for us! But, we have to let Him, we have to trust Him, we have to seek Him, we have to give it all to Him.

Seek the Lord and be filled with the joy of the Lord, knowing that you have God’s grace in all that you do for Him and in Him. In our infirmities, His power is available to work in and through us, to strengthen us and to accomplish His will. We need to call on Him. When we are reproached for our faith, His grace is sufficient in our weakness, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We need to ask him to give us the words to speak and the power to live for Him. In needs, in persecutions and distress, these are our opportunities to see God work in miraculous ways in our lives, to draw closer to Him than ever and to be built up in our most Holy faith.

His grace is sufficient. He has done the ultimate deed for us, in sending His Son to die for our sin. He has done that for us because we were dead in sin. We are weak and unable to do it for our self. He has given us eternal life in Christ. We could not work to achieve that, He has given it freely to us.

Paul said, “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh (Gal. 3)?

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17).”

We received the Spirit of God by the hearing of faith. We can not do the work of God in the flesh. We can not make it through this life as Christians on our own, in our weakness. We need to do all things after coming to Him, then do them in His power as He leads. It is so easy to get off course and to trust in our own strength, ingenuity or ability. But I have the Spirit of God, His grace, His strength, His perfect knowledge, perfected in my weakness, “to press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead (Phil 3:12-13).”

We have access to the throne of the Creator of all things, our Maker and Father, through our faith in Jesus Christ. He will give us all things that we ask in His name, to accomplish His will. But we need to ask. We need to spend time in prayer, worship and study in His Word every day. We need to access His grace and allow His Spirit to work in and through us. We need to become dependent on our God! We need to be close to Him. Let us come to that throne often every day. Let us seek His will first, and His power first before we venture out in His name.

Oh merciful Father, empower us in your Spirit. May my strength come from you. May my every step be led and moved by You. May it be true of us as it was of Paul, that in our weakness, You are strong in us. May your Son be glorified in my life today. Be strong in me today Lord, in my weakness be glorified. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Give Thanks and Enter In

There’s a worship song by Henry Smith called Give Thanks. It goes like this,

“Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son. And now, let the weak say, “I am strong,” let the poor say, “I am rich,” because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks.”

Let’s give thanks today for all that the Lord has done for us. Are you weak? You are strong in the Lord (2 Cor 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” and Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”). Are you poor? You are rich in the Lord (Luke 6:20, "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God”).

The mystery that God has revealed is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Us in Christ and Christ in God. “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph 1:22-23).”

Ephesians 1:3, 7, 10, 11, 18, 19; 2:5-6, 19; 3:17, 19:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace… that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him… In Him also we have obtained an inheritance… the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints… and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power… even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love… to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God…

Romans 8:16-18:
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

With such a hope and future, we can rejoice here and now in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in our glorious inheritance in the Lord. May we enter into His rest today. May we be filled with His peace that passes understanding, and the joy of the Lord. Oh, Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you and your plan for me, in this life and the life to come. May I enter into your rest now, Lord, and may I glorify your Son in and through this new life you’ve given me.

Hebrew 4:8-9, 11, 16:
For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God…Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience…Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

James 4:8: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Phil. 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Psalm 150: v1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! v2 Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! v4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! v6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!

The poor shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! Ps 22:26

Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. Ps 30:4

He has put a new song in my mouth-- Praise to our God… Ps 40:3

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Ps 104:33

Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Ps 106:1

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. Ps 147:1

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Word of God is Living

The word of God is living and active. In the world there are so many words flying around, ideas and philosophies trying to convince us of their truth and value. Some Christians say that the Word of God is not contemporary enough. "People don't want to just hear about the Bible and go to some boring old church where they talk about the Bible all the time," they say. So many leaders in the church today have messages of health and happiness, how to be financially responsible and how we should protect the environment. Obviously, I don't think those things are bad, I live here, too. But, as Christians, we have in our possession the very Word of God to humanity, and it is alive. Many generations have come and gone, their contemporary cultures dying with them (those roaring 20's were hip once upon a time). But God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What we are doing now, that seems so hip and so now, in the future will look the way the roaring 20's look to us now; outdated and far removed. But God and His Word is always now, always contemporary. His Word speaks into our lives now because it is Him speaking through it to us. In fact, the Scripture says that the Word of God can discern what is happening in our hearts and that we've been born again through it.

Hebrews 4:12 says that "the word of God is living and powerful (active in the NIV) and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. In 1 Peter 1:23-25 Peter says, "we have been born again through the word of God... which lives and abides forever." Peter then quotes Isaiah 40:6-8 which roughly says "that the glory of man is like a flower, it's glory falls away, but the Word of the LORD endures forever."

In eternity, there will still be God's word. This current, foolish world will be changed and the Lord will reign in righteousness and peace. Should we be listening to men's wisdom or should we turn to the Living Word? Should we be trying to please people with our own cunningly devised anticdotes or giving them the eternal, life giving Word of God? Paul said in Romans 10:17, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

The Bible says, "where is the wise? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:20)?" Paul also says, "I did not come to you with excellence of speech or of wisdom, for I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:1-2)." "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Cor. 3:19)." "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us." Do ambassadors take their own words or the words of the one who sent them? And what is the word? "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:20-21)." "We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake (2 Cor 4:50)."

There is a watered down Christianity out there. There is a "Christianity" that isn't even Christianity! And it's not that I am judging or saying I am any better of a person, I know that I am not. But "how will they hear unless someone preaches the word?" This "contemporary" culture we live in is only temporary. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. There is only One that never changes, and His message is the same as it was 2,000 years ago from the cross of Calvary, and His plan of the redemption of mankind was known to Him before creation.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom (Col. 3:16).

That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word (Eph. 5:26).

Receive with meekness the implanted word (James 1:21).

Holding fast the word of life (Phil. 2:16).

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you (2 Thess. 3:1).

For You have magnified Your word above all Your name (Psalm 138:2).

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17).

Monday, July 30, 2012

Jesus Spoke of His Life A Thousand Years Before He Was Born

"Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother's children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. Let not the floodwater overflow me, nor let the deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut its mouth on me. You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; my adversaries are all before You. Reproach has broken my heart, And I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. But I am poor and sorrowful; let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high."
(Ps 69:7-9, 15, 19-21, 29)

Do you hear the Lord’s voice in these verses? Read them again, this time remember that this is a prophecy about the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father on high. Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, spoke these words prophetically through King David, around 1,000 years before He became a man to die for our sins and rise for our eternal life!

Verse 21 is referred to in all four Gospels. Again, verse 21 says,

“They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Matthew tells us, “... they gave Him vinegar mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine (vinegar) and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink (Matthew 27:34, 48).”

Mark, Luke and John all record the same event.

Now, David, the writer of Psalm 69, wrote, “they gave me gall... and... vinegar...” Was David speaking of himself? No, he was speaking prophetically, or as Jesus said of him, “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit... (Mark 12:36).” In other words, David was speaking by the Spirit of God. So David was speaking a prophecy by the Holy Spirit, and the voice speaking is non other than Jesus Himself!

So, this paints some of Psalm 69 in another light. Yes, David is, in much of the Psalm, speaking about circumstances in his own life. But, this also is prophetic of the circumstances in Jesus’ life. Jesus even speaks through David about Himself and about elements that only apply to Him!

Let’s look at the Psalm a little closer.

“Because for Your sake...” Jesus did everything in accordance with the Father’s will and for His sake.

“I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face.” In Hebrews 12:2 it says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him (our salvation) endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

“I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother's children;” Jesus was not recognized by his ‘brothers,’ His own people, the nation of Israel. And His own brothers and sisters in His family rejected Him until after the resurrection.

“because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,” John records the following event and quotes this verse: “When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!’ Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up (John 2:15-17).’”

“and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.” Paul the Apostle identifies this statement as a statement of Jesus, not David! He said, “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me (Romans 15:3).’”

“and let not the pit (the grave, death) shut its mouth on me.” This prayer was answered, the grave could not hold Him! Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).” And an angel told the women at the empty tomb early resurrection morning, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said (Matthew 28:6).”

“let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high.”

“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven (John 3:13).”

“Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God (John 20:17).'”

“Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8).”

“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things (Ephesians 4:10).”

“Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven (Luke 24:51).”

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9).”

“A Psalm of David. The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool (Psalm 110:1).”

Jesus has ascended and been “set up on high,” “Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34).” He will be there until the Father “makes His enemies His footstool,” which is apparantly about to unfold shortly on planet earth!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Love One Another Fervently With a Pure Heart

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:22-23).

In verses 2-5 of this first chapter of Peter's first epistle, Peter seems to recall Jesus' words recorded in John 14:1-6. And in our present text, do verses 22 and 23 recall the Lord at His last supper with the disciples, recorded in John 13:1-17?

Peter says to the sojourners of the dispersion, "You have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit." In John 13:10 Jesus said to Peter, "he who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean..."

Peter then says, "through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart..." So too Jesus, after washing the disciples feet says, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." And in John 13:34-35 he says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Having been born again of incorruptible seed, that is of Jesus Christ, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever, let us, through the Holy Spirit, love one another with a sincere love. Let us who love the Lord, love one another self-sacrificially, so that Jesus is glorified in our lives and that we may please the Lord with our lives. 

Oh, Lord, empower us to love as you have commanded. Let us see through any differences within the church and let us see each other with your eyes. Fill us to overflowing today with your Holy Spirit, to share your love with the world and that the world may know that we are your disciples, because of the love we have for each other. Amen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

7 Churches of Revelation Comparison Chart

7 Churches of Revelation Comparison Chart
(Click Picture to Enlarge)

Summaries of the churches:

Ephesus: Off. Good doctrine. Had it right, lost first love (fellowship/intimacy). Needs to remember and repent.

Smyrna: Right On. Good doctrine. The suffering church. Spiritually rich. Stay faithful to the end.

Pergamos: Off. Bad doctrine. Living in sin. Needs to repent, build on the Word of God.

Thyatira: Off. Bad doctrine. Living in sin. Needs to repent, build on the word of God.

Sardis: Off. Bad doctrine. Living in the flesh. Spiritually dead. Repent and yield to the Spirit.

Philadelphia: Right On. Good doctrine. Spirit filled and led. In the will of God. Keeping God’s Word. Hold fast.

Laodiceans: Off. Bad doctrine. False/apostate church. Spiritually dead, in the flesh. Repent and receive Jesus.