In a storm? In the midst of adversity?


What are you going to do about it? Are you able to find the strength you need to make it thru? Are you able to find peace in the midst of it? Are you able to have hope thru it? What do you do? Where do you turn? How do you keep going?

In my case the answer is Jesus! He is with me every step of every day! On my own I would be in trouble, but with Jesus all things are possible! He is able to bring a peace that goes beyond all understanding! He is able to calm the storm or calm me based on His plan! He is the way, the truth, and the life! Thanks to Him, I can consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds! Thanks to Him, I can have hope in times of troubles and adversity because He has overcome the world!

Around the world, we see Christians being persecuted, facing adversity, and being opposed! In some countries we see them tortured, some killed, some imprisoned, and some being opposed! Some countries are a bit more subtle but the tone is against Christianity. Some countries seem to be ramping up to be in opposition and becoming more aggressive.

Whatever happens…Whatever is coming…Whatever you are going thru, put your trust in Jesus! Don’t lose hope or allow anyone to rob you of your faith or allow anyone to take your eternity that will be spent with God!

Don’t be surprise when it happens for in 2 Timothy 3, we read:

everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

–from 2 Timothy 3:12

Whether the adversity is coming at you from those you don’t know or who are far away. Whether the adversity is coming closer to home from those you thought you knew and could trust. Put your trust in Jesus and lean not on your own understanding! Trust Him and ask Him for peace in and through it all! Walk in the joy of the Lord as your strength! Walk in the wisdom that your permanent home will be in heaven with God! Fear Not, Just Believe!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. –from Philippians 4:6


How to Find Peace in Adversity

— Day 140: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 12:18-27, John 11:45-57, John 12:1-11, 1 Samuel 5, 1 Samuel 6, 1 Samuel 7


1. Promote peace … Proverbs 12:18-27

How can you do this?

Bring healing

Promote peace with your words. ‘Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise’ (v.18, MSG). Words are so powerful; they can hurt deeply but they can also heal.

Be truthful

‘Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment’ (v.19). Truthful words are not only cathartic, they also have a lasting impact – they ‘endure forever’ (v.19).

Be restrained

‘Fools blurt out folly’ (v.23b). But ‘a prudent person is reluctant to display his knowledge’ (v.23a, AMP). Knowledge is like underwear – it is useful to have it, but not necessary to show it off! The mere fact that you know the answer does not mean that you should give it. I am always so impressed by the restraint of hosts and helpers on Alpha.

Be kind

‘Anxiety weighs down the heart’ (v.25a). God wants you to enjoy life, to help others, not to be weighed down by anxiety. ‘A kind word cheers’ up other people’s hearts (v.25b). By an encouraging word you can transform a person’s day or even their life.

— Day 140: Bible In One Year 2017

2. Live in peace … John 11:45-12:11

God’s got a plan! God’s plan is good! God’s plan is to give you a hope and a future! Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from John as follows…

God is sovereign. He uses even the worst things for good. Supremely, we see this on the cross: the very worst plot ever – torture and murder of the innocent Son of God – was used by God to bring salvation to the entire human race.

This being the case, you can live in peace, trusting that God will use even the worst things that you face in life, for good (Romans 8:28).

Jesus faced evil plots. The motive appears to be envy (a sin the religious are prone to). People were envious of Jesus because he had so many followers and seemed to be more ‘successful’ than the religious leaders. Out of envy, the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin (John 11:47a).

The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the nation. It comprised seventy-one members including the high priest. The chief priests were the majority and the Pharisees an influential minority. They asked, ‘What are we accomplishing?’ (v.47b). It was a very good question! They were envious of the popularity of Jesus and plotted to take his life (v.53).

They meant it for evil. God meant it for good. Caiaphas (who was high priest from AD 18 – AD 36) prophesied, ‘It is better for you that one person die for the people than that the whole nation perish’ (v.50). God is able to speak through an unwitting agent.

John comments, ‘He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people’ (vv.51–52, MSG).

Perhaps because he knew of the plot against him, ‘Jesus no longer moved about publicly… Instead he withdrew… he stayed with his disciples’ (v.54). But this was not to be the end of the opposition Jesus faced.

Most painful of all must have been the opposition from Judas. When Mary pours the perfume on Jesus’ feet, Judas objects, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages’ (12:5). This, on the face of it, is a perfectly good objection, but we read, ‘He did not say this because he cared about the poor’ (v.6).

It must have been so distressing for Jesus that his friend and disciple, Judas, was, in fact, stealing money from the gifts made to Jesus and his disciples by generous donors (Luke 8:2–3).

Jesus simply responds to Judas’ objection, ‘You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me’ (John 12:8).

Jesus was certainly not encouraging complacency about the poor. The fact that we will never obliterate poverty in the world does not mean that we should not try – after all, compassion for the poor was central to Jesus’ ministry. Rather, Jesus was turning the attention of his disciples to the significance of what Mary had done.

Whilst all this was going on, plans against Jesus were being formed (vv.9–11). Envy can lead to murder. Not only did they plot to take Jesus’ life (11:53), they also made plans to kill Lazarus as well, because he was leading many people to faith (12:10–11).

The extraordinary thing about this passage though is the way in which we see God’s hand at work through it all. Despite opposition and wrongdoing, God’s ultimate plan was still fulfilled. What Jesus’ opponents meant for evil, God used for good.

— Day 140: Bible In One Year 2017

 

3. Pray for peace … 1 Samuel 5:1-7:17

Remember what was said from 2 Timothy 3:12. Pray to God! He hears every prayer! Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from 1 Samuel as follows:

God never forgets a single prayer you pray, even though you may forget. Things may have happened to you today as a result of prayers that you prayed years ago and you have forgotten all about them. But God is still working on them in his timing. Keep stacking up the prayers. Persevering prayer prevails.

Under the old covenant, the ark of God was the place where God was supremely present, and it was the location of God’s glory. Yesterday we read that ‘the glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured’ (4:22).

We sometimes have to wait a long time for the Lord to act and answer our prayers. ‘It was a long time, twenty years in all… all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord’ (7:2). I think we have prayed for a long time if we have prayed for a week, but they prayed for twenty years for their country before God acted.

The path to deliverance often begins when we return to the Lord with all our heart. Samuel said, ‘“If you are truly serious about coming back to God, clean house. Get rid of the foreign gods and fertility goddesses, ground yourselves firmly in God, worship him and him alone, and he’ll save you from Philistine oppression.” They did it. They got rid of the gods and goddesses, the images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and gave their exclusive attention and service to God’ (7:3–4, MSG).

The first thing you need to do in your life when you are seeking God’s presence and help is remove anything that is drawing your attention and focus away from God.

After the return to the Lord there was a need for a period of confession and repentance, which was shown by their fasting: ‘On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.”’ (v.6).

Finally, it was Samuel’s intercession and persistence in prayer for twenty years that brought the people of God victory. Samuel said, ‘I will intercede with the Lord for you’ (v.5). They said, ‘Pray with all your might! And don’t let up! Pray to God, our God, that he’ll save us from the boot of the Philistines’ (v.8, MSG). Samuel ‘cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him’ (v.9).

They recognised it was an amazing answer to prayer: ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us’ (v.12). They were delivered from the power of the Philistines and there was peace in the land (v.13).

— Day 140: Bible In One Year 2017

peace-of-god-that-surpasses-all-understanding

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There is always hope…Renew your strength!


When things are going well, there is hope! When things are ok, there is hope! When things start getting tough, there is hope! When things seem at their darkest, there is hope!

In this world, we will have troubles, but take hope because Jesus has overcome the world!

Because of the hope of Jesus, we can consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds!

Today’s devotional shines light into what hope is when it says:

Hope is the confident expectation of God’s ultimate blessing in this life and the life to come, based upon the goodness and promises of God. With Jesus, there is always hope. –from Day 139: Bible In One Year 2017

Throughout history there has been a roller coaster of ups and downs or a pendulum effect of back and forth where the focus has gotten onto and off of God. Through history we see the impact when people walk away for God and try to do it their own way. Throughout history we see the impact when people get to the end of their own ropes or hit rock bottom and then turn back to God. They know about God and chose to try it their own way and then when they realize there is no hope without Him they turn back. The great news is that He is the God of second chances and the story of the lost son also called the prodigal son speaks to how is looking for us to come back! Even some cry out that the church is dead or dying, but because of hope we know that He can raise it just like He did with Lazarus! God’s not dead! Neither is the church! God’s Word tells us that

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. –from Matthew 16:18

The hope of Jesus goes beyond today, beyond this year, beyond this lifetime to eternity where we will continue to have relationship with God and worship Him.

We can see what shutting God out of the lives of people and countries looks like when we look at what happens in society. Consider the broken families – divorce, abuse, etc. Consider society – pornography, witchcraft, psychics, violence, murders, etc.

What if we all chose to live to the higher calling of Jesus and lived lives focused on LOVE?

What if we all chose to live to the higher calling of Jesus and became more focused on others that ourselves?

Do you have hope? Do you have a rock that you can anchor to when times of trouble show up?

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

–Psalm 62:5


13 Our hope comes from God. May He fill you with joy and peace because of your trust in Him. May your hope grow stronger by the power of the Holy Spirit.

14 I am sure you are wise in all things and full of much good. You are able to help and teach each other. 15 I have written to you with strong words about some things. I have written so you would remember. God helped me write like this.

–Romans 15:13-15


My hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ love!


Your Hope in Times of Trouble — Day 139: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 64, John 11:1-44, 1 Samuel 2:27-36, 1 Samuel 3, 1 Samuel 4


1. Hope in the ultimate triumph of good over evil …Psalm 64:1-10

Today’s devotional speaks to the reading from Psalm 64 as follows…

Do you ever feel terrified by something you are facing in your life? David faced ‘the terror of the enemy’ (v.1b, AMP).

He went through times of real trouble, ‘the conspirators out to get me’ (v.2, MSG), ‘evil plans’ (v.5a) and ‘traps’ (v.5b, MSG). Yet, he is confident that God will triumph over evil. What should you do when you face similar troubles? The psalm today gives us some clues:

Cry out to God

David prays, ‘Listen and help, O God’ (v.1a, MSG). David asks God: ‘protect my life from the threat of the enemy’ (v.1b).

‘Rejoice in the Lord’

‘Rejoice in the Lord’ (v.10a). As the apostle Paul puts it, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’ (Philippians 4:4).

Stay close to the Lord

‘Take refuge in him’ (Psalm 64:10b). ‘Fly to God’ (v.10b, MSG).

Keep praising God

‘Let all the upright in heart praise him!’ (v.10c). ‘Make praise your habit’ (v.10c, MSG).

–from Day 139: Bible In One Year 2017

 

2. Hope in the resurrection of Jesus … John 11:1-44

Let’s walk in faith not fear! Trust in God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight! When we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior we put our focus on Jesus so we can see beyond our circumstances and can find hope of knowing that we will get to spend eternity with Jesus!

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from John 11 as follows…

Do you fear death? Many people are afraid of death. But if you put your faith in Jesus, you do not need to fear death. Jesus has defeated the power of death.

The English comedian, Russell Brand, said, ‘Laughter is addictive because of the inevitability of death. It gives us a temporary escape – for the moment it stops the fear of the inevitability of death.’ Every human being will face the ‘trouble’ of death. Where does your hope lie?

In today’s passage we see the full humanity of Jesus in the face of death. Lazarus was his friend. Jesus loved him (v.3). He was ‘deeply moved’ and ‘troubled’ by his death (v.33). In the shortest verse in the Bible we read, ‘Jesus wept’ (v.35).

Yet Jesus is also, uniquely, the answer to death. Jesus said to Martha, ‘“Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”’ Jesus’ response was: ‘“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all”’ (vv.24–26, MSG).

There is life beyond the grave. Jesus died and rose again. Everyone who believes in Jesus will rise again from the dead. As a foretaste of the future, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

The story of Lazarus is the story of each one of us. Jesus calls you to rise up and become fully alive in order to give life – to bring hope to your family, friends, work colleagues and the world.

This resurrection power is within you. Paul writes to the church of Rome, ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you’ (Romans 8:11). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis of your future hope.

Christianity is the largest movement of all time. It is the only one that never loses a member through death. I remember one of my sons, when he was a little boy, saying, ‘When you die, I’ll be sad. Then I’ll see you in heaven and I won’t be sad anymore!’

Mother Teresa was asked shortly before her death, ‘Are you afraid of dying?’ She said, ‘How can I be? Dying is going home to God. I have never been afraid. No, on the contrary,’ she said, ‘I am really looking forward to it!’

This passage also indirectly provides a picture of hope for the church. There is a sickness in parts of the church and many are declaring its death. Some parts of the church seem to have ‘fallen asleep’ (John 11:11). And in some cases there seems to be a ‘bad odour’ (v.39).

This passage reminds us of Jesus’ power to bring even the dead to life. This resurrection power is still at work in the church today. The same Jesus who said over Lazarus ‘this sickness will not end in death’ (v.4), also promised that he would ‘build [his] Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18, KJV).

Some parts of the church seem to have been prematurely buried. Jesus said about Lazarus, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go’ (John 11:44c). Maybe Jesus would say something similar to parts of the church today. The Brighton and Hove Argus described what has happened at one of our church plants – St Peter’s, Brighton – as ‘the Lazarus-like recovery of the city’s “unofficial cathedral”’. We have called our church planting programme: ‘Project Lazarus’!

–from Day 139: Bible In One Year 2017

 

3. Hope in the word of the Lord … 1 Samuel 2:27-4:22

Would you recognize God’s voice if He calls you? Would you answer God’s Word if you heard it? Would it matter if it was a still quiet voice or a loud booming voice? Will you listen?

Today’s devotional speaks to the reading from 1 Samuel as follows..

Do you realise that God wants to speak to you? You can say, like Samuel, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening’ (3:9).

These were times of trouble for the people of God. It was a time when it seemed that God was almost silent. ‘In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions’ (3:1).

It must have been heartbreaking for Eli to see his own sons dishonouring the Lord. They slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (2:22). They dishonoured God who has said, ‘Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained’ (v.30).

As a result of the dishonouring of God, the people of God are defeated (4:1b–11). Eli dies heartbroken (vv.12–18). His daughter-in-law gives birth to a child with the name Ichabod: ‘The glory has departed’ (vv.19–22).

Yet, in the midst of these terrible times of trouble for the people of God there is hope. The Lord called Samuel (3:4). God revealed himself to Samuel and he listened to the Lord (vv.9–10). He said, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen’ (v.9, MSG). The Lord said, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle’ (v.11).

Samuel was prepared to pass on the message in its entirety, however unpopular, embarrassing and difficult it was (v.18). He did not hide anything. As a result, God was able to use him greatly: ‘The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground’ (v.19).

–from Day 139: Bible In One Year 2017

 


Let’s not try to go through this life alone! Let’s put our hope and trust in God! Let’s build up an intimate relationship with Him! Let’s talk to Him and listen to Him! Let’s walk out our lives in hope because of what Jesus has done and who Jesus is! God’s not dead! Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father, interceding for you and me.

Feeling that something is missing? Do you realize what the missing piece is?


Are you at the top but still feel like something is missing? Are you financially set and yet still feel that you need something else? Are you in a great job and yet feel there is something missing? Have you bought everything you want and still feel something is missing? Whether you’re famous or not…rich or not…popular or not…successful or not… did you know there are many who still feel they are missing something? Like there is a hole or a void they try to fill with different stuff. Consider all the “famous” or “popular” people who look like they have everything and then the wheels fall off.

Jesus is the answer! For our soul to have peace, we need to add Him into the mix. He needs to be invited into our life. We need to ask Him into our hearts. He is the only one who can satisfy our souls!

Today’s devotion put it this way…

You are not simply body and mind. You are a soul created for relationship with God. How then do you satisfy your soul? –from Day 138: Bible In One Year 2017


Satisfy Your Soul — Day 138: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 63, John 10:22-42, 1 Samuel 1, 1 Samuel 2:1-26


1. Seek God day and night … Psalm 63

Do you realize that the longing, the thirst, the hunger is we need God in our lives? We are more than just physical beings, we are spiritual beings and so we need to also take in spiritual food, the bread of life, the Word of God! Physical things cannot satisfy the need, even though so many have tried and will try in an effort to fill that void, but the reality is that it can only be filled by God! We need Jesus who is and gives living water that will make it so we won’t thirst spiritually anymore. We need Jesus who is the bread of life.

So let’s worship God! Let’s walk with Him and talk with Him and build our relationship with Him stronger and more intimate! It’s not a one time thing but a relationship we need to build up so that as we walk out each day we walk in His presence and allow Him to give us wisdom and discernment for every situation and decision we make.

Having problem focusing? Having problems sleeping? Having problems staying asleep?

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

— Psalm 63:6

We don’t have to try and go it alone! God created us on purpose for a purpose to be in relationship with Him!

7Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me. –from Psalm 63

2. Communicate with God through Jesus … John 10:22-42

We don’t need to go through life alone! Jesus spoke with and walked with His disciples. He is still available today for us to speak with and walk with. Jesus is God! We see in today’s reading where he says so but there was resistance or as today’s devotional puts it…

Communication with Jesus is communication with God. Those who met Jesus understood he was claiming to be God (v.33). When he said, ‘I and the Father are one’ (v.30) and ‘the Father is in me, and I in the Father’ (v.38), there was no ambiguity in the ears of his hearers. His opponents understood it as blasphemy – ‘because you, a mere human being, claim to be God’ (v.33) – and they picked up stones to stone him (vv.31–33).

–from Day 138: Bible In One Year 2017

So listen to Jesus as His disciples did when He communicates with you. Today’s devotional speaks to the importance of being in relationship and communicating with Jesus this way…

Jesus communicated with his disciples and he continues to communicate with us. He says, ‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me’ (v.27). We see here the marks of a true Christian:

Believing in Jesus

There is a contrast in this passage between those who ‘believed in Jesus’ (v.42) and those who ‘do not believe’ (vv.25–26). Belief in Jesus means believing in him when he says, ‘I am God’s Son’ (v.36) and putting your trust in him.

Knowing Jesus

Jesus says, ‘my sheep listen to my voice. I know them…’ (v.27). To be a Christian is to recognise and follow the voice of Jesus. This is what defines a Christian – not so much knowledge about Jesus, but actually knowing him. This is then followed up by the wonderful declaration that Jesus also knows us.

Following Jesus

Jesus says, ‘they follow me’ (v.27). It affects your life. As Jesus said elsewhere, ‘By their fruit you will recognise them’ (Matthew 7:16,20). James wrote, ‘Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead’ (James 2:17). The primary evidence of faith is love. Those who follow Jesus will follow his example of love.

Jesus promises every true Christian: ‘I give them eternal life’ (John 10:28). This is not just about quantity of life; it is also about quality. Jesus satisfies our spiritual hunger and thirst. In a relationship with Jesus we find this deep soul satisfaction that cannot be found anywhere else.

Jesus promises that this relationship with him will go on forever. It starts now, but it is ‘eternal’ (v.28). Those who follow Jesus will ‘never perish’ (v.28). This is a gift (‘I give them eternal life’, v.28). It cannot be earned, nor can it be lost. Jesus promises, ‘no one can snatch them out of my hand… no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand’ (vv.28–29).

There may be many struggles and temptations along the way, but ultimately the hand of Jesus and the hand of the Father are engaged together in protecting you. A Christian may lose their job, their money, their family, their liberty and even their life, but they can never lose eternal life.

–from Day 138: Bible In One Year 2017

3. Pour out your heart and soul to God — 1 Samuel 1, 1 Samuel 2:1-26

Do you have a need? Do you have a desire? Do you have a question? Do you need help? Is there anything that you desperately need God to provide?

Cry out to God! Be like Hannah who gave it all up to God because she couldn’t do it in her own strength or power. So she gave it all up to God!

Will you trust God? Will you give your needs up to Him? Will you walk in obedience to His instruction and direction?

Don’t allow a bitter root to take heart! Trust in God! Be obedient to what God tells you! Don’t abuse or take for granted God’s love, but build up your faith and your relationship with God!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s reading from 1 Samuel about Hannah and her family as follows…

Is there something you want desperately from God?

It is almost inevitable that at times in our lives we will feel ‘distress of soul’ (1:10, AMP). Never allow bitterness to eat away in your heart – but, like Hannah, pour it out to the Lord. ‘Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried – inconsolably’ (v.10, MSG).

There is nothing more releasing than to pour out your soul before the Lord – to tell him what your problems are, rather than carrying them around yourself – and to ask him for the solution, and then to receive the peace of God (Philippians 4:6–7).

Relief from her anguish comes to Hannah long before she actually sees the answer to her prayer.

This is a beautiful picture of heartfelt prayer from the depth of the soul. ‘As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard’ (1 Samuel 1:12–13a). Eli accuses her of being drunk. She replies, ‘Not so, my lord… I am a woman who is deeply troubled… I was pouring out my soul to the Lord… I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief’ (vv.15–16).

Eli tells her, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him’ (v.17). And as she left her face was no longer downcast: ‘She ate heartily, her face radiant’ (v.18, MSG). She knew deep down that God had heard her prayer and, indeed, ‘the Lord remembered her’ (v.19). In fact, God more than answered her prayer. Not only did he give her the child she longed for, she gave birth to six children (2:21).

Meanwhile, ‘the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with people’ (v.26). This is the prayer we have prayed so often for our children.

Hannah’s prayer after Samuel’s birth is a vivid demonstration of the soul satisfaction that she experiences through her relationship with God. She prays and thanks God that ‘those who were hungry hunger no more’ (v.5).

The amazing thing in Hannah’s prayer is that the supreme source of her joy is not her child, but in the Lord. She says, ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord’ (v.1). He is the source of soul satisfaction:

‘I’m walking on air… God brings life… he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives’ (vv.1,6,8, MSG).

–from Day 138: Bible In One Year 2017

 

Do you know God or do you just know about God?


Are you aware of God through observation, inquiry, or information? Have you developed a relationship with God through meeting and spending time with Him?

In John 10:14 we read about knowing… I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me

1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

–from John 10

What do you consider the answers to the following questions raised in today’s devotional?

  • What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else?
  • What were you made for?
  • What aim should you set yourself in life?

As you consider these questions, do you already have a relationship with God? As you consider these question, do you feel a void or uncertainty? As you consider these questions, does it seem like there could be many answers? As you consider these questions, does it seem like there aren’t answers?

Without God there is a hole that can’t be filled by stuff! We need to invite Jesus into our life and allow the Holy Spirit to move into our hearts and fill that hole! We need to allow God to start working in and through our lives from the inside out! He can go into our hearts and help clean up the mess! We have all missed the mark at sometime in our lives! We all need a savior to make amends! The ten commandments shows us how inadequate we are and how much we need God! Jesus calls us to a higher calling so that we can live out a life that glorifies God even more! Jesus paid it all! Jesus came and gave us everything we need! All we need to do is to receive it, accept it, believe it!

So the answers are:

  • What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God
  • What were you made for? To know God.
  • What aim should you set yourself in life? To know God.

–from Day 137: Bible In One Year 2017

So will today be your day? Will you ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you? Matthew 7 speaks to us:

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

–from Matthew 7


Knowing God as a Father … Day 137: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 62, John 9:35-41, John 10:1-21, Ruth 3, Ruth 4


1. Trust him, at all times … Psalm 62:1-12

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. –Psalm 62:8

Let’s trust Him on the mountain tops! Let’s trust Him in the valleys! Let’s trust Him in the peace! Let’s trust Him in the storms! Let’s trust God all the time! Put your trust in God alone! Not in stuff or in people, but in God who can be trusted! Sometimes the greatest challenges come in the midst of success! Success flatters but does not provide a lasting sense of purpose! Don’t get tripped up by material things, rather put your trust in God!

Knowing and trusting God leads to:

Soul-rest

In the midst of all your fears and anxieties you can find peace: ‘My soul finds rest in God alone… Find rest, O my soul, in God alone’ (vv.1,5)

Salvation

Salvation comes by faith in God: ‘My salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation… My salvation and my honour depend on God’ (vv.1b–2a,7a)

Security

Everything else in life is uncertain, and ultimately insecure, but God ‘is my fortress, I shall never be shaken… he is my mighty rock, my refuge’ (vv.2b,6b–7b)

–from Day 137: Bible In One Year 2017

2. Enjoy life in all its fullness … John 9:35-10:21

Jesus came to fulfill God’s plan and purpose, for God’s plan is good and it is to give us a hope and a future! Jesus came that we will have life and life to the full, to overflowing! So don’t miss out on all that God has planned for you! Don’t miss out on the benefits of walking in relationship with God! Yes, in this world we will have troubles, but take heart because Jesus has overcome the world! By walking in relationship with God, we have the benefit that God is with us in and throughout our lives! Don’t go it alone! Don’t go in your own strength! And then we can consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds!

Will you accept Jesus? Will you receive Jesus? Will you go beyond seeing to believing? Will you not allow success or riches to keep you from receiving the hope that comes from a relationship with God? We know how in God’s Word it speaks to the difficulty for the rich to receive Jesus but we also read that nothing is impossible with God!

“Then Jesus said to his disciples,“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said,“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””

–from Matthew 19:23-26

People who are in need we see in our reading will receive Jesus – the blind, the sick, the troubled. People who think they are well or wealthy seem to find it challenging.

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading for today as follows…

The man healed of blindness had no trouble believing in Jesus. When Jesus finds him and says, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ (9:35), he asks, ‘Who is he sir?… Tell me so that I may believe in him’ (v.36). Jesus replies, ‘“You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him’ (vv.37–38). In Jesus, the man realised that he had encountered God himself. You too can encounter God in Jesus.

Jesus explains how, through him, you can know God. He uses two analogies. First, he speaks of himself as ‘the gate’ (10:1). The Greek word ‘thura’ is perhaps better translated as ‘the door’. Jesus is the door for the sheep to come in and find salvation (v.9). He is the door to the Father. The door to knowing God is to know Jesus.

The second analogy Jesus uses is that he is the good shepherd. The Greek word for good (kalos) means ‘beautiful’, ‘noble’, ‘wonderful’. The sheep know the shepherd: ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father’ (vv.14–15). The background to this is that God himself is described as the ‘shepherd’ in the Old Testament (for example, see Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11). To know Jesus is to know God.

Enjoy fullness of life

In a relationship with Jesus, you find meaning, purpose, fulfilment, peace, forgiveness, and life in all its fullness.

Don’t let the devil rob you

Jesus contrasts himself with ‘the thief’ who comes to ‘steal and kill and destroy’ (John 10:10a). The devil wants to rob you of your peace and enjoyment of life. Don’t let him.

Be assured of God’s love for you

Jesus also contrasts the good shepherd with the ‘hired hand’ who, when the wolf attacked the flock, runs away because he cares nothing for the sheep (vv.12–13).

On the other hand, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (vv.11,15). This is entirely voluntary: ‘The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord’ (vv.17–18). If you ever doubt that God loves you, you simply have to look at the cross: Jesus laid down his life for you.

Jesus came to give his life on the cross to take away all the blocks that prevent you knowing and being in communion with God as your Father.

Learn to listen to his voice

It is in the instinctive nature of sheep to recognise the shepherd’s voice. ‘The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice’ (vv.3–4).

The more you get to know Jesus, the more you will get to discern whether it is his voice rather than the deceptive voice of the wolf.

Know that you have eternal life

The one you know not only dies for you but he also rises from the dead for you. He has the power to take his life again: ‘I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again’ (v.18b). He gives you eternal life.

Jesus later defines eternal life like this: ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (17:3).

–from Day 137: Bible In One Year 2017

Ever wish you had known? Why not start the journey to knowing God today by starting your relationship with Jesus?

3. Honour God in all circumstances … Ruth 3:1-4:22

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading from Ruth as follows…

God honours those who honour him and do what is right – even when it is costly to do so and even through the trials and difficulties of life. We see how each of the main characters honours the Lord: Naomi (1:8–9), Ruth (v.17 and following), and Boaz (2:4,12; 3:10,13; 4:11). They are great models for us to follow.

The book of Ruth begins with Naomi despairing of the kindness of God (1:20–21). She then experiences many of the people around her displaying great human kindness. She experiences it in her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah (v.8), and in Boaz’s treatment of Ruth. Finally, she declares, ‘He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead’ (2:20).

Ruth obeys her mother-in-law in every detail. Naomi’s concern is wholly for Ruth’s wellbeing. Boaz is self-controlled, generous and honourable. Boaz’s life is obviously God-centred. His immediate reaction when he wakes up and sees Ruth is, ‘The Lord bless you’ and ‘as the Lord lives’ (3:10,13).

Yesterday, we saw how Ruth honoured the Lord and did the right thing by being loyal to her mother-in-law. Today, we see how Boaz clearly wanted to marry Ruth and felt it was the right thing, yet did not simply go ahead as he could have done on the basis of the end justifying the means. He was completely upright in the way that he approached the matter – abiding by the etiquette and traditions of the culture.

Boaz did not just rush ahead and get married. He went through the correct process. Humanly speaking he was taking a great risk and might have lost Ruth. But he trusted that the Lord was in control.

The Lord honoured this in an amazing and wonderful way. Boaz and Ruth were married and gave birth to the grandfather of King David (4:17). Indeed, Ruth, the servant girl, became an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5–6). In one sense, Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 4:14). He calls us his brothers and sisters, understands our struggles and acts to redeem us (Hebrews 2:11–12, 17–18).

We see the kindness of God throughout the book of Ruth. Behind the human kindness of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz lies the kindness of God.

–from Day 137: Bible In One Year 2017

Do you share your story?


If given 10-15 minutes to share a story about you which one would you pick? It really depends on what topic they would like to hear about as God’s been so good to me that I have several stories. Stories of trying to avoid God’s will but once I submitted to Him how incredible things happened. (somewhat reminds me of the story of Jonah). Stories of trying to do things my way and inadvertently blessing God and walking into His plan. (gave option of what’s next in my career to my parents and my in-laws when one of the decisions would have meant taking their only grandchild thousands of miles away which reminds me of God’s Word that we are to honor our father and our mother because it is the first commandment with a promise that things will go well with us) Stories of lies and manipulation, bitterness and anger which were turned on their head when I gave them up to God through the power of forgiveness. (shared it with many who were around me at the time who had similar experiences and needed to forgive the offender, not because they deserve it but because it will set themselves free. Shared it with GoDaddy because they wanted to hear a story about how things were, something happened, how things changed and it couldn’t have to do with my work at GoDaddy) Stories of obedience and listening to the Word of God like when I had a morning reading about Peter walking on water and questioning God if Microsoft was the boat if He could tell me what side to get out of it on and to have God use Twitter to answer me as I drove to work telling me to get out of the boat, triggering the updating of my resume and LinkedIn profile and the pursuit of a new job which led me to GoDaddy and the amazing miracles that took place on that journey and continue through my journey at GoDaddy. Stories about how God’s timing is perfect! Stories about how God can change your perspective about a reading! (Like Job which for the longest time made me think “oh no, what is about to happen” up until it ended up being the reading during my last days at Microsoft and then on my last day the verse that was part of my reading was Job 42:12 which says that the second half of Job’s life was twice as good as the first and so I held onto and continue to hold onto the truth that the second half of my life will be twice as good as the first half. (I remember telling a friend who said “that’s not what it says” and then I showed him Job 1:3 and we did the comparison at which point he said “you’re right”) There are so many stories that can encourage others when they are going thru the valley or going thru challenging times. Will you be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and be able to speak hope and life and love into the lives of the people God brings around you? Stories about falling into a downward spiral and the need to stop and look up to God!

So will you tell your story? Will you testify what you have gone thru? Will you testify how things were, how something happened, how you were transformed?


Your Story Has Power — Day 136: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 12:8-17, John 9:1-34, Ruth 1, Ruth 2


1. Tell your story authentically … Proverbs 12:8-17

8A person is praised according to their prudence,
and one with a warped mind is despised.
9Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food.
10The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
11Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
12The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous endures.
13Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
and so the innocent escape trouble.
14From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.
15The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.
16Fools show their annoyance at once,
but the prudent overlook an insult.
17An honest witness tells the truth,
but a false witness tells lies.

–from Proverbs 12

2. Tell your story persistently … John 9:1-34

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 Neither this man nor his parents sinned,said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7Go,he told him, wash in the Pool of Siloam(this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
10“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
11He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
12“Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
17Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
18They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19“Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

–from John 9

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading by speaking to it as follows…

I love the story in today’s passage about the man born blind. First, Jesus expressly repudiates the automatic link between sin and suffering (vv.1–3). The Pharisees assumed that the man was blind because he had been ‘steeped in sin at birth’ (v.34).

Even Jesus’ disciples asked the question that every culture asks: ‘Why is someone born with disability? Whose fault is it – this man or his parents?’ (v.2). Jesus tells them that they are asking the wrong question. He replies, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned… but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life’ (v.3).

Jesus heals this man through his words and his touch. He touches him with deep love and respect. The miracle causes much excitement. Those who know the blind man begin to discuss the matter.

We see how it is always possible to attempt to explain away miracles of healing. When the blind man’s eyes were opened, his ‘neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No he only looks like him”’ (vv.8–9a).

We see the danger of getting caught up in minutiae and missing the whole point. When the man gave his testimony of healing, some responded, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath’ (v.16).

This man simply tells his story over and over again. He does not have the answer for all their complex questions. However, he gives the best answer that you can give when you are asked questions to which you do not know the answer. He simply says, ‘I don’t know’ (v.12).

What I love most is his answer when he finally gets frustrated by all their scepticism and cynical questioning. He tells them he does not know the answer to all their questions, ‘But one thing I do know, that whereas I was blind before, now I see’ (v.25, AMP).

As his eyes are opened, so too are his heart and his mind. He begins by knowing ‘The man they called Jesus’ (v.11). Then he sees him as ‘a prophet’ (v.17) ‘from God’ (v.33). Finally, he believes he is ‘the Son of Man’ and worshipped him (v.38).

This is the power of the testimony. It is an almost unanswerable way of dealing with objections: ‘Before I was like this… and now I am like this… This is the difference that Jesus has made to my life.’

Telling your story is still one of the keys to communicating your faith in the modern world as it was here in the New Testament.

–from Day 136: Bible In One Year 2017

3. Tell your story humbly … Ruth 1:1-2:23

Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons

1In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
3Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem

6When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
11But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
14At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
19So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
20“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
22So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

–from Ruth 1

Ruth Meets Boaz in the Grain Field

1Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.
2And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
4Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”
“The Lord bless you!” they answered.
5Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
6The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
8So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
10At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
11Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
13“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
14At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
17So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.#17 That is, probably about 30 pounds or about 13 kilograms 18She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
19Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
20“The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”
21Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’ ”
22Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”
23So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

–from Ruth 2

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading in Ruth as follows…

Real love is often hard, inconvenient and costly; but true happiness only comes to those who care about others at some cost to themselves.

The book of Ruth is a story of two widows and a farmer in a remote village. It is a wonderful contrast to the previous book of Judges. While the context of the two books is identical (Ruth is set ‘in the days when the judges ruled’, 1:1), the content of the two books is very different.

While Judges recounts a catalogue of evil and upheaval because ‘everyone did as they saw fit’ (Judges 21:25), the book of Ruth is a wonderful story of loyalty, faithfulness and kindness – all the more impressive for taking place in this period of strife. Furthermore, while Judges looks at the big picture of the nation of Israel during this period, the book of Ruth is focused on a specific family.

It is a reminder to us that the God of the universe and of history is also the God of all the little details in your life. He is not just almighty and powerful, but he is also your Father who is intimately concerned with you. Your life and all the details matter to God. Your life counts.

The book of Ruth reminds us of God’s care, provision and faithfulness in the little pieces of our life.

Naomi was more concerned for Ruth than for herself. Naomi wanted Ruth to return home so that she might have a better chance of remarrying and Naomi is prepared to lose Ruth for the sake of Ruth’s happiness (Ruth 1:8–13). Ruth’s love for Naomi was equally unselfish and self-giving.

She is quite prepared not to get married again. She shows extraordinary loyalty to her mother-in-law. She says, ‘Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God – not even death itself is going to come between us!’ (vv.16–17, MSG).

Boaz was also a God-fearing person. He had heard of Ruth’s reputation. She was not only loyal and faithful – she was extremely hard working (2:7). Someone must have testified about her. Boaz says, ‘I’ve heard all about you – heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers’ (v.11, MSG).

Furthermore, Ruth had obviously testified about her own faith in God, for Boaz knows that she is committed to ‘God, to whom you’ve come seeking protection under his wings’ (v.12, MSG).

Boaz then shows extraordinary kindness to Ruth. Ruth says to her mother-in-law, ‘The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz… He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead’ (vv.19–20).

–from Day 136: Bible In One Year 2017