Winning in Death and Life

2 Samuel 15:21

“But Ittai answered the king and said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be.’”

On Thursday, I came to Raleigh to be with my parents as my Dad underwent a very delicate heart surgery.  The doctors led us to believe that the chances of death without the surgery were great and the surgery could cause death.  It seemed like no matter what Dad chose, he could die.

On Friday, we sat in the surgery waiting room while many family and friends were bathing us in prayer across the US.  As we sat in the waiting room, I was reminded of times spent in the surgery waiting room while Joel was going through his illnesses.  While I pondered life and death, the Holy Spirit showed me that in either outcome,
death or life, we win!  If we live, we get to stay with family and friends and live out our Christianity.  If we die, we get the ultimate prize!

So, like Ittai, whatever the King says, death or in life, we will live with our King.

Change!

Psalms 37:23

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”

Much is being said about reimagine, reformation, and change within the ranks of The Foursquare Church.  The enemy would like for us to believe that this is a bad thing.  However, I think it is a great thing.

Look at the development of humans.  A baby is born and there is a certain amount of organized chaos and uncertainly, but the parents know the this process is required for the baby to grow.  Around the age of six, the child moves into an elementary school slumber where things typically move along at a normal pace.  WHOA!  Puberty hits!  An amazing amount of reformation happens during this time.  Around the early twenties, things even out again and the now young adult settles in a bit.   Then it happens!  The young adult falls in love and the chaos of engagement

and marriage begins.  After the honeymoon season, life swings back to more normality.  Only to find out they are pregnant!  T
he chaos starts again.

Wouldn’t it be sad if these seasons came and never left?  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says it so well, “To everything there is a season.”  What season are you in right now?  Are you enjoying the season?  Or are you fighting it every step of the way?

If, as Psalms 37:23 says, “Our steps are ordered of the Lord,” then a better path will be to accept the things cannot change and change those things we can change.  Let’s delight in the path that God gives us and enjoy the changing seasons!

My Redeemer

 

Ruth 1:14-18

And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.  Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

 

Naomi, Elimelech (her husband), and their two sons were living in Moab.  While there, Elimelech died, and the sons took Moabite women as their wives.  Ruth was one of these Moabite women.  After about 10 years, both sons died, leaving both daughter-in-laws and Naomi on their own.

Naomi was tired of living in a foreign country and decided to go home to Bethlehem.  She told her daughter-in-laws to stay in their own country, but Ruth was not interested in staying.  She had watched Naomi for over ten years and had learned about and accepted Naomi’s Lord.

The writer of Ruth uses words that could be defined as persistent words.  In verse 14, “Ruth clung to her” meaning she held tightly to Naomi as a dryer sheet holds to a fleece jacket.   Verse 16 says, “Ruth urged Naomi” or entreated earnestly for Naomi to let her go along to Bethlehem.  Ruth also said in verse 16, “Your people shall be my people.”  The verb “shall” indicates that the action will definitely take place.  Ruth also said that “If anything but death parts us” meaning that nothing would separate them.   Ruth was not going to allow anything to get in her way of going back to Bethlehem with Naomi.

The ultimate blessing was Boaz!  When Naomi and Ruth get back to Bethlehem, Ruth is blessed with Boaz as he becomes her kinsman-redeemer.  Boaz is a symbol of Jesus.  And, Jesus is our Kinsman-Redeemer.  Without her decision to stay with Naomi and return to Bethlehem, Ruth would not have been in a position to receive all that God had for her.

Are we persistent and tenacious in the pursuit of our Savior?

Are we letting things and people get in the way?

What things and/or people in your life are keeping you from your Kinsman-Redeemer?

A Sweet Aroma

Ephesians 5:2

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Philippians 4:18

“But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”

Romans 12:1

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Have you ever walked outside on a spring evening and smelled someone grilling out?  Oh the smell!  It makes me want to go introduce myself and join the party.  It is “a sweet aroma” to our nose, and we are drawn to it.

“A sweet aroma” is used thirty-seven times in Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus when God gives Moses the Sacrificial Law.  When the Israelites offered up their sacrifices according to God’s design, it was a sweet aroma to Him.  There were daily offerings, Sabbath offerings, monthly offerings, and yearly offerings, which include Passover, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, etc.  I am sure it seemed they were always making an offering up to God for something!  But, I believe this was one of His ways of helping them stay focused on Him.  Every time they gathered the animals and grain for an offering, it was an opportunity to focus on God.

Ephesians 5:2 gives us, as New Testament Christians, a picture what our sweet aroma to God—being imitators of God, walking in love as Christ did, and being willing to give ourselves up as an offering.  Romans 12:1 tells us to present ourselves to God as a spiritual sacrifice to God.  In Philippians 4:18, Paul told the church at Philippi they had given, him a sweet aroma which was an acceptable sacrifice that was pleasing to the Lord when they supplied him with the items he needed for daily life.

It is my desire for my life to be a sweet aroma to my heavenly Father.  As I live each day, I will strive to imitate Christ, walk in love, give of myself to others, present myself to God, and serve others along my journey.

Am I Content?

Philippians 4:11

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:”

The children of Israel grumbled and complained a lot!  They were upset at Moses for leading them out of Egypt because they ran out of food.   God sent manna.   Then they wanted meat, so God sent quail.  They wanted water, so God told Moses to strike a rock, and out flowed water.  They set spies into the Promised Land, and only two of the twelve had a good report.  Today the Life Journal reading was from Exodus 14-15.  Israel refused to go into Can

aan; the land flowing with milk and honey; the land where grape clusters were so big, it took two men to carry them.

It is very easy for us to look at the children of Israel and boast, “If we had been there, we would have seen all the things that God had done for them.”  Our view is hindsight and we know that hindsight is 20/20.  I would submit to you that many times I act the same way.

I am so blessed, and yet, I always want more and complain that I don’t have enough.  The picture here of my son and me is one of my favorites because we are having such fun and seem so content.

Today, Lord, I want to be content with what I have.  Please let people see You, Lord, when they look at me.  Please let people see a grateful Christian, not a grumbler or complainer.  Show me how to walk in contentment and grace.  In Jesus Name, Amen!

Let Your Light Shine!

Numbers 8:8

“The Lord said to Moses, “Give Aaron the following instructions: When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.”  So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps so they reflected their light forward, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.  The entire lampstand, from its base to its decorative blossoms, was made of beaten gold. It was built according to the exact design the Lord had shown Moses.” (New Living Translation)

Aaron’s directive from God (by way of Moses) was to make sure that the light from the lamp stand faced forward.  The lampstand was across from the Table of Shew Bread in the Tabernacle.  The Shew Bread was symbolic of God’s presence.  There were several things that I believe God spoke to me about the Numbers 8:8.

  1. We need to shine our light (our Christianity) forward for all to see.  By this I mean that we should continue to move forward in our journey with Jesus.  We should continue to pursue Him and while we are pursuing Him, shine His light so that others will want to take the journey of a relationship with Jesus along with us.
  2. Looking back and trying to fix “unfixable” things in our past will only cause our light not to shine in the right direction.  There are some things in our past that need our attention, but there are others things in our past that we should release.
  3. The lampstand was made of beaten gold.  Even if we have lived a life full of things that have beaten us down, God can still use us to shine His light for His glory!  Never think that God cannot use you because He absolutely can!
  4. Moses had the lampstand (and all the Tabernacle) built with the exact design that God gave Moses.  God has a design for your life.  Have you listened to Him to find out what that design is?

Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  I want my light to be pointed forward so that God can use my life for His glory!

All That I Need

 

Psalm 23:1

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need.” (NLT)

 

This morning as I was listening to the journaling chapters for the day (You Version Life Journal devotions), I was struck by Psalm 23:1.  Because I was listening in my car, the only version for Bluetooth was the New Living Translation.   “I have all that I need.”  Really?  To say that out loud made me stop and think about what I do have.  I am blessed beyond measure, but some days my speech and my attitudes certainly don’t show it.  Today, I plan to meditate on the incredible blessing God has given me, and realize that I do “have all that I need.”  Jesus is all I need!

 

He Hears Me

Psalm 22:21-24

“Save me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered me.  I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from Him;
but when he cried to Him, He heard.”

What is the cry of your heart today?  What are you going through that is making you feel troubled?  David wrote, “…but when he cried to Him, He heard.”  Cry out to Jesus because He will hear you. The song “Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day says it like this:

(And) there is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
And love for the broken heart
And there is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are

Cry out to Jesus,

Cry out to Jesus!

Are You Waiting with Joy?

Luke 2:25-26  ”And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

We do not like to wait!  We live in a world that is fast-paced and most of us have a fast food mentality.  We want it now and we want it like we want it!  Waiting is not in our vocabulary.  And when we do wait, we are impatient and worried that things will not turn out the way we want them to.

Joseph was 17 when his brothers sold him into slavery, and he was 30 when he became the 2nd in command of Egypt.  Moses was 80 years old before he followed God’s plan to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.  Jesus waited until he was 30 before He started His earthly ministry.  We don’t want to wait for 3 minutes for our fast food meal!

In Luke 2:25-26, The Scripture seems to imply that Simeon waited for a long time to see the Messiah.  But the Scripture also says that Simeon was just and devout.  Waiting is a theme in the Bible.  Almost every major leader waited before they led.

Most likely, everyone of us are waiting for something in our lives.  As much as we fight it, we usually have to wait.  An old cliche says, “Good things come to those that wait.”  So, why not enjoy the journey instead of bemoaning the waiting?

Dinner With a Treasure

John 15:13  ”Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Tonight, I had an unexpected pleasure.  I had dinner with a young lady, Naomi Hamilton, with whom we met when we lived in Vero Beach, Florida.  We met Naomi’s family when she was about ten years old.   She is the oldest of ten children, and she has grown into a beautiful woman of God.  Naomi loves the Lord deeply and serves Him as a mid-wife working with young women in trouble in the Phillipines.  Her website is http://saferefugeinternational.com/ and you should go check out what she is doing.  She started this ministry over 10 years ago and God is doing great things through her.

Jesus laid down His own life for us.  Her website states, “At age 21, she left the comforts of western life and began working with families in developing countries. She worked as the clinical director of a free maternity and birth clinic situated just outside of a large slum in Manila, Philippines. This birth center provided care for the poorest of the poor at all hours of the day and night. She supervised countless deliveries, prenatal appointments, and postpartum visits. In addition, she led a staff of more than twenty people, modeling compassionate and quality medical care as well as sensitivity to the spiritual and emotional needs of the clients being served.

“Through these experiences, Naomi knew there was something more than just helping these women with their maternity needs, and then watching them  children go back into devastating circumstances and being used in the sex-trade. In January 2007, she opened Safe Refuge. Since then not only has Naomi helped countless woman through medical and pregnancy needs, but she has been able to rescue them out of dire circumstances.”

If you feel like you would want to do more to support this ministry, go to the website and check it out.  I pray that God will continue to change lives through the life of Naomi, but I also pray that God will give Naomi the desires of her heart.