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?
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. 7“Go,”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 Healing13They 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