Posts Tagged faith-based decision
Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz did not live during an ideal time of history. But they were part of God’s master plan to change history. God used them to establish the beginnings of something new in Israel.
And although the trio did not understand their unique position at the time, each responded to God in faith, doing the best they could to live their lives according to God’s Will for them. Their faith to respond to God when they lived a hidden life in the hills of Bethlehem of Judah offers us hope. Life is full of periods, but God is at work. He always has a plan, even when the world does not understand or recognize Him.
Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:11:”13)
During a prayer meeting we attended last week, a fellow shared a challenging prophetic message. I felt it was important at the time so I jotted down what I could, and stuck it in my Bible.
From there it went home where it was placed on a stack near my desk.
Tonight I’m feeling overwhelmed, faced by the need for internal and external resources I don’t have, feeling self-imposed pressure to make decisions that can wait. And we’re going on a short jaunt for a few days
Here’s the message I found when trying to organize that stack of papers:
Arm yourself with the Word, with prayer, with praise, and with the blood of Jesus.
Put on the armor to stand against the enemy.
Become an enforcer [in the Spirit]. Use your sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
Rise up and take your place. Take your righteousness.
Don’t be shy.
Don’t be ashamed.
Don’t be afraid.
Authority belongs to me and I’ve given it to you.
It’s your will.
It’s your choice.
It’s your move.
So move forward.
Do not retreat.
Do not draw back.
Go forward and the gates of hell will not prevail.
Now, I know this message could be criticized on several counts. But you don’t know the man and you didn’t hear it in context. He’s not suggesting God wants us to foolishly take on spiritual battles we aren’t ready for.
But God is calling His people to spiritual battle. The world needs Jesus. I need more of Jesus, you need more of Jesus, we all need more of Jesus. And we won’t receive Him as we need Him unless we put on God’s armor and do what He tells us to do.
I also know I’m not the only one who has heard a message, identified it as important, and then walked away. But I’m so glad God didn’t let me get away with it. He saved it for tonight—when I’d be too tired and vulnerable to set it aside again.
I initially remembered a verse. Proverbs 25:11 reads, A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. If ever a word was fitly spoke, this one it. But there’s even danger when I revel a word—and savor it as a way of avoiding the bite
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not weighed down by condemnations by this message. In fact, I’m not as burdened as I was before it hit me.
The word convicted and liberated.
God knows how to deal with people that way.
And here’s the crazy thing: I don’t feel called to a specific function—I’m called to a different mindset.
There are times and there are times. And this is one of those times.
It is time to listen to the Spirit.
It is time to actively listen to the Spirit.
Add it’s embarrassing to acknowledge He’s saying this to me because I do hear Him—quite a bit.
I get messages now and then. God is my friend.
Yet He’s telling me to listen.
And I know it is time to hear His voice.
I know it. I feel it. He is calling me—and probably many others—to something different. Something new.
Do you feel it, too?
Ruth continues to labor in the fields throughout the barley and harvest season. This post, based on Ruth 3:1-5, looks at what Naomi does and doesn’t say after she learns Ruth’s benefactor is their kinsman Boaz.
Then the season comes to a close and Naomi does offer specific advice. As the one who understands, she becomes a counselor with a plan. Naomi knows that although Ruth gleaned in the fields simply to survive, God was doing something bigger, something special that could open up a future.
And as is always the case, moving forward to receive God’s plan requires another leap of faith and an increased level of obedience.
After Chapter 2 of Ruth introduces Boaz, we learn how he and Ruth interact during this first encounter. After all, Boaz knew about Ruth and his connection to her, but he hadn’t tried to establish a connection or relationship. Now she shows up in his field and he must make a choice. How will he treat the young woman?
Also in this message, a brief look at how Ruth’s ongoing faith-based decisions set the stage for her. God has a plan, and she is an importnt participant.
In the second chapter of Ruth, Boaz saw Ruth working in his field and he wondered who the young woman was. In verses 5-16, when his hired men identified her, he approaches the young stranger and reveals the nature of his character.
First, he spoke to Ruth as an actual human being. The workers referred to her as the Moabite or as an outsider, but he addressed her as “daughter.”
Second, he let her know she could remain under his protection from possible abuse by young men. Not all the men working in the fields shared his concern for others.
And then he offered cool water to drink during the heat if the day. She could refresh herself by receiving from his provision for his workers, even though she worked for herself rather than for him.
Boaz did have a reason to be interested in Ruth: he was one of several possible kinsman-redeemers. Meanwhile, Ruth didn’t know what a kinsman-redeemer was.
This message identifies the purpose, obligations, and qualifications of a kinsman-redeemer. It also links Boaz to Jesus, because Jesus came to earth to become the kinsman-redeemer for all people.
I’ve been reading Deuteronomy—something I don’t do often. And I’ve been blessed in the reading. God made a covenant with His people and the benefits of walking in it were astounding. Moses laid it out:
God is brining you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing…. (Deut. 8:7-9 ESV)
Food was a major issue for people at that time in history; God promised abundance.
But there was one condition:
[W]hat does the Lord require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statues of the Lord….(Deut, 10:12,13)
I could quote pages of God’s promises to His people—and pages of the judgment that would follow if they fail to fulfill His condition.
How many know it isn’t easy to obey when obedience conflicts with personal desires? The Israelites demonstrated that they would not—could not—obey, and so they experienced judgment.
I have an issue, a problem. Can’t expose it here because that would betray a confidence. Suffice it to say it concerns no one in our family. But I’m quite sure that if I walked away forever, people who know me would understand and bless me in the process.
But my reality is more complicated. I feel God is asking me to walk with Him through the problem.
And I don’t know how to do it. A solution can’t be discerned by following an obvious principle, and I’m feeling more than a little rebellious.
During our nightly devotions, when Ken read Matthew’s account of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five small loaves of bread and two fish, God opened up a reality I don’t especially like—one which I’ve understood mentally and even experienced on a limited scale.
This miracle was not an instantaneous event. Not like when a woman was instantly healed after reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. (Mt. 9:20-22) Or when he healed a sick girl after her mother made a profession of faith. (Mt. 13:21-28)
No, it happened little by little over a period of time. Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to the disciples, and the disciples gave it to the crowds.
The disciples could not have carried all the bread necessary to feed 5,000 people. Never.
So the miracle had to happen repeatedly. After Jesus divided bread and fish between them, they divided it for the crowd. Over and over and over and over the bread and fish multiplied.
Jesus had to walk the miracle out—and His disciples had to walk it out with HIm.
And then I had another thought.
Most of my life I’ve heard or read the stories of Jesus in bite-size pieces. An isolated event or story, a segment of Scripture.
But that’s not how Jesus lived His life.
Jesus walked out the directions of His Father—over and over and over and over. And He didn’t always know what was coming.
He said, [T]he Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (Jn. 5:19 ESV)
And He transferred this to the disciples. Thomas asked, How can we know the way?
Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. (Jn. 14:6)
A few verses later, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (Jn. 14:15)
Ouch. More of that obedience stuff.
Now, there isn’t time for an explanation of salvation in this post. Through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, my sins are covered. I am free from condemnation.
But Jesus promises something else. He said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…. (Jn. 14:15,16)
I can’t follow through on this. I simply am not able to commit to long-term obedience on the issue.
But God can. Furthermore, his Spirit within me can and he will help me.
I’m just not there. But because God’s Spirit is within me, He has given me the right heart.
Yes, I’d kinda like to run.
But I won’t.
I’ll follow His still, small voice within me. I’ll stand in faith, believing he can do it. Over and over and over and over.
Naomi surprises her daughters-in-law Oprah and Ruth after they begin their journey from Moab to Bethlehem of Judah. She gives each a choice that forces them to make a difficult decision.
The Scripture for this portion of their story is found in Ruth 1:8-19.