Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Witness of Boaz

10“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.12Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. (Ruth 3) 

Thoughts: Boaz was the grandson of Rahab the Harlot.  He knew about second chances, grace, and reaching beyond the people of Israel to those who have faith.  Boaz was a great manager but also a keen observer of character.  Boaz saw and cared for Ruth.  He showed her kindness and grace.  His grace worked hand in hand with his wanting to do things right and in a way that pleased God.
     Would that we should extend grace to those who believe and seek to follow God's way with all their heart.  

Prayer: Lord, as you are kind to me, let me be kind and considerate of others.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Witness of Ruth

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. (Ruth 1:16-17) 

Thoughts: Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law even though she had no hopes of getting any help from her.  Ruth was determined to follow God, and not give up through any cultural pressure or a desire to do what is easy.  Her faithfulness to Naomi, her mother-in-law, paid off in that Boaz married her.  She became the great grandmother of David.
    In our faithless age- where we value self and getting things for ourselves more than helping others- Ruth witnesses to us.  In a faithless age, faithfulness stands out and makes us want to do better.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be faithful to you and never leave you nor forsake you.  Help me to be a loyal person to those around me.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Samson's Strengthening Witness

15Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
18When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him.c And his strength left him.
20Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.  (Judges 16:15-21)

Thoughts: Samson was strong.  His strength was a gift of God- but Samson gave up that gift by disobeying God.  He allowed himself to be infatuated with women who did not believe because they were beautiful- valuing physical strength and beauty over the soul.  He told the secret of his strength and that knowledge cost him his freedom.  When Samson disobeyed, the Lord left him (vs. 20).  Samson is a very sad story.  He ended up with his eyes put out.  He killed many Philistines.  But he could have really rescued his people if he had used his gifts wisely.  Samson is a warning to listen to God and not value our own beauty or strength above pleasing God.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to calue you and your way.  Keep me strong in every way- but especially strong in faith.  

Samson- Peter Paul Rubens

Gideon's Shaky Witness

12When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
16The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Thoughts: If you have ever been nervous about standing up for your faith then maybe you can sympathize with Gideon.  The Midianites were nomads who raided and destroyed the crops of Israel.  The angel appeared to Gideon and told him that God would deliver through him.  He was very hesitant.  He couldn't figure out the problem with evil and used that as an excuse not to fight evil at first.  Then he couldn't figure out why him- he was not influential or powerful.  But the lesson of Gideon is that God can use anyone to make a difference for Him.  Gideon then put out a fleece as a test twice to confirm his vision.  Then Gideon destroyed the altars to other gods and blew the trumpet to assemble Israel.  God shrunk the army to only a few hundred to show what He could do with the weak and helpless.  The Midianites defeated themselves in the end by God's help.  If we feel inadequate we should not give up in our witness for God.  

Prayer: Lord, if I am weak, be Thou strong.  Use even me to make a difference for you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Joshua's Witness

14“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord15But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
16Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! (Joshua 24:14-16)

Thoughts: In the beginning God tried to give Joshua courage telling him to be strong and courageous by focusing on the Word of God (Joshua 1:8).  At the end of his life Joshua recounted to the people of Israel that God had been with them and had helped them conquer the land against the odds.  Joshua pointed out that God had done this for them- and not the gods of the peoples.  

Prayer: Lord, when you have led me and saved me, help me to give you credit and glory.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Moses Deutero witness

The book of Deuteronomy (literally "Second Law") is a reiterating of the Law of God before the people entered into the promised land.

4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.a 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Thoughts: Moses wanted all the nation to know that they need to love God, and to teach that love to their children.  The faith was to be passed on.  In some ways that is the key witness of Moses.  He not only brought the Law, but he taught us to pass that teaching on because God is the God of all generations.  He is not just God of the past or of creation- He is God now.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to hear your great Word and to respond in love to you with my heart, soul, and strength. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Moses the Friend of God

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. (Ex. 33:11) 

16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountainb trembled violently. 19As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.c
20The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up  (Ex. 19:16-20)

Thoughts: Moses was the friend of God.  This was a title given to Abraham and a title Jesus gave to his disciples (Jn. 15:15). God is knowable and lovable.  He is not an impersonal force or an uncaring maker.  This is the good news.  God cares for us- caring about our behavior.  When we mess up He offers a way to start over. 
One of the way God cares for us is in revealing to us His will.  The Ten Commandments have stood the test of time as a great way to live.  These Ten are not just negative prohibitions but they have implied positives.  So not committing adultery means being loyal and faithful to your spouse and your body.  So not stealing implies the positive of being content but also being generous.  So not lying also means preserving the truth.  So not coveting means being content with what you have.  So honoring parents does not simply mean not disobeying them.  So keeping the Sabbath means doing deeds of love, mercy, worship and rest.  Moses was the one used by God to convey these ways of living to His people.  It is a blessing that God cares about what we do.  Moses was the ultimate witness to the Law- and to God's care for us through telling us the ideal way to live. 

Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear your care through your Law.  Help me to be your friend as Moses was- listening to your voice.