Tag Archives: lifestyle

Love (Ruth 1-4)

The book of Ruth is about love. I imagine many of you had Ruth’s declaration of love for her mother-in-law Naomi read at your wedding. It’s a beautiful passage. But if we read the book of Ruth merely as a love story, I believe we miss some important lessons God wants us to see. The first is this:

Love is more than words. If you look at Ruth you see a woman whose love made the choice to leave her family and follow Naomi and Naomi’s God. Ruth left everything familiar to her, and willingly went to live in a country that very well could have considered her an enemy. But her love for Naomi was stronger than any ties she had to her former life, and she showed her love – not just with those beautiful words – but by choosing Naomi over anything else.

Love is self-sacrificing. You never see Ruth demand her rights. She never acted like Naomi owed her something for the “sacrifices” Ruth made for her mother-in-law. Instead, when Naomi told her to do something, Ruth obeyed every detail without complaining or without thought for her own comfort. She went and worked a step below a servant because she and Naomi needed food. To me she is an example of someone who emptied herself of herself, which is totally opposite of today’s philosophy of life and love.

Love is courageous. When Ruth went to Boaz at night, she put her reputation, the possibility of rejection, and her very life on the line. She knew she was doing the right thing for herself and Naomi, but doing the right thing came with risks. Ruth had the courage to go to Boaz because of love.

I think you could read Ruth’s beautiful declaration of love all day everyday, but the words themselves are meaningless unless that love is lived.

Let me just say that if you are thinking about getting married, I pray you love and are loved like what we see in the book of Ruth. This kind of love is more than words or feelings. The question is not, does he (she) make me happy. The question is, am I loved in the details of life, in the hard times as well as the good. Is my welfare more important than a video game or a shopping spree? And, even more important I think, do I love that person like that, too.

If you can’t answer “yes” to those questions – run! Marriage is hard enough without the added complication of a love that isn’t genuine, active, self-sacrificing, and courageous.

But let me ask us all this question. Do you (do I) love God with this kind of love? Do I show Him I love Him, or am I satisfied with saying the words to Him when I pray? Do I love others like He told me to? Do I obey Him without question? Do I choose Him above anyone and anything else? Is my love for God self-sacrificing and courageous?

I think that’s what God would have us take from the book of Ruth. Love is not a feeling so much as it is a lifestyle, a choice to live love. I want to love God like that. He deserves that kind of love.

2 Kings 17-20; Cleaning House

When Hezekiah became king he did some housecleaning. He removed the idols the Jews had been worshiping, including the bronze serpent Moses had made while their ancestors were in the wilderness. Hezekiah didn’t want any trace of any false god in the land.

I never really thought about what that must have looked like to the neighboring nations. They were used to worshiping their “gods” at high places that were everywhere. Now here the Jews were demolishing their high places and limiting themselves to worship only one God, and only in one place. Ridiculous.

The Assyrian king interpreted this as vulnerability (chapter 18), and decided it gave him the means to defeat the Jewish nation. He didn’t understand the action taken by the Jews, because he was interpreting it though blind eyes.

The world is still judging God’s people through blind eyes. They see us obeying God as being judgmental, because they are judgmental. They see our stand against homosexuality as hateful because they are hateful. They see hypocrisy in us because they are hypocritical.

Christian, that’s why we have got to show them through our witness, both verbal and life-style, that they are wrong about us. If we hate homosexuals instead of loving them while hating the sin, we prove them right. If our language is as judgmental as theirs, they are right to call us judgmental. If our lifestyle doesn’t match our profession of faith, we deserve the label hypocrite.

When the Assyrian king tried to bully the Jews into surrender, they didn’t get caught up in a war of words. They didn’t return insult for insult. They kept their mouths shut. Then Hezekiah went to the Lord and allowed God to do His thing.

Non-Christians will continue to misunderstand us Christians until they become believers themselves. May we, as followers of the One True God, remove any visible signs of conformity to the world. May we worship God in Spirit and in Truth, and allow Him to do His thing in and through us. May we love people to the Savior at the same time we are standing on the Truth of Scripture.

In other words, may we do some spiritual housecleaning, and let God remove the world from us, so that the world can see Jesus through us.

The Healing Stream

As I read Ezekiel 47 this morning about the Healing Stream, I was reminded of Jesus, the Living Water. The angel in Ezekiel’s vision described water that would freshen the Dead Sea, cause fruit trees to thrive so that they wouldn’t go dormant, and produce fish of every kind for fishermen to catch.

Fruit trees, fish, a useless body of water restored, blessed, “life will flourish wherever this water flows”. (verse 9)

Shouldn’t that describe the life of a believer in Jesus? Sometimes we don’t really know how dead we are in our sin until we are faced with the Truth of Scripture. Accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness causes our worthless lives to have meaning. We, too, become fishers of men, we bear fruit that reveal Jesus to those around us. And none of this comes from our effort, our frame of mind, or even our faith.

Just like in Ezekiel’s vision, our transformation comes when the Healing Stream, the Living Water, Jesus Himself, flows through us. Which makes me wonder.

“Life will flourish wherever this water flows.”

I wonder if I haven’t built a dam that prevents the water from flowing freely. Would a sin I hold onto, harboring hatred or jealousy, neglecting my time with God in his Word and prayer, cause the Holy Spirit, that Healing Stream, to hit a snag?

I want my life to be like that which the angel showed Ezekiel in his vision. I want the Healing Stream to flow freely through me. I want to bear fruit, feed hungry souls, and be an example of the power of God to a world that needs him. 

Dear Father, Forgive me when I begin to build a dam that would prevent you from flowing through me. You are the Healing Stream, the Living Water. What a privilege it is to know you. I pray that I will be that vessel through which you can flow freely to draw others to you, too. Give me the ability to recognize the beginnings of dam-building, may I quickly repent, and may you use me today. Refresh me. Flow through me. And may Jesus receive the glory.

A Tattoo On My Life

Tattoos are the rage these days. I have a friend who got her first tat when she turned 60. I recently saw a boy of about eight with a cross tattooed to his leg. Both his parents were covered in colorful ink.

Tattoos are no longer “Mom” written on a sailor’s arm. Flowers and skulls and dragons and butterflies, even faces and catchy phrases are worn from the scalp to the toes and everywhere in between by a growing number of people.

In Ezekiel’s vision, an angel was given the task of putting a mark on the forehead of the people who were grieved over sin. (Ez 9) Only those few, with the angel’s tat, were saved. Everyone else lost their lives as a result of God’s judgement.

So I ask myself: is there a visible sign in me that identifies me with the Savior? Is it possible to be a closet Christian? Or, like in Ezekiel’s vision, are we to live as though we had “JESUS” tattooed on our foreheads? The Bible tells us there is no other name under heaven that can save us.

I have no plans to ever have a tattoo. I’ve only ever seen one worth having, and that’s my niece’s personal tribute to her brother, who was tragically killed in an auto accident two years ago. It’s the Hebrew word for “brother” that Jesus used when he spoke to his disciples, and it’s on her right wrist.

I don’t want a tattoo. But I want to live my life in such a way that Jesus is as visible as if his name was tattooed to my forehead. May Christ be seen in me by the words I say, the places I go, the things I do, by the very look on my face.

Dear Jesus, I love you. What you did on the cross so that I can be with you is everything to me. Help me live my life so that others know that about me. May they recognize your love, your grace, your peace, your Presence when they look at my life. Convict me when I begin to get off track and may I be quick to confess. I would be honored to represent you today according to your Word. You have tattooed your Name on my heart. May I wear it proudly and truly so that someone will recognize you and want you in their life, too.

How Do I Look?

I’ve heard the account of Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego many times and for many years. But when I recently read about Daniel’s desire to abstain from the kings food, I found myself wondering what it is I am ingesting myself. Not the chips I ate yesterday, or the big piece of angel food cake I had for dinner last night. I’m wondering what it is I’m feeding my soul.

What do I read, watch on TV? What is it a pastor or teacher or friend or blogger has said? The Bible tells me to guard my heart. How am I doing?

If I’m watching acts of sin played out on TV, what is that doing to my heart’s condition before God? If I go to a church with a “God is Love” theology without preaching the truth about his holiness, is that effecting my relationship with God? Is the music I listen to slowly separating me from God’s Presence? Relationships, thoughts, what I do in secret, are feeding my soul.

The difference in Daniel and his friends was noticeable They looked better than everyone else because of the food they rejected, the pure food they ingested. 

I wonder if people, when they look at my life, can tell I’ve feasted on God’s Word and abstained from what was offered to me by the world. I want to look different: better, more joyful, kinder, more honest. I want to BE a person others identify with my Savior.

 

 

April 12

I Samuel 10:1-13:22

Saul is Israel’s first flesh and blood king. He wasn’t real sure he wanted the position, was he? They found him hiding in the baggage the day they annointed him. Some of his neighbors weren’t too thrilled with the choice, either. But Saul proved to be a great military leader and the people eventually accepted him as their king.

But as you read today, did you see how quickly Saul allowed his new-found position to give him a sense of entitlement? Saul wanted Samuel to offer up a burnt offering and Samuel was late in arriving. So Saul did it himself.

When Samuel saw what Saul had done, he told the king that the nation would be taken from him, that God had already chosen his successor.

Once again I am remided that it doesn’t matter who you think you are. God’s standards cannot be broken without serious consequences. You can be a lowly slave or the king of Israel and the rules are the same.

Let’s not get so full of ourselves that we assume God will make an exception for us. Saul found out the hard way a lesson we all must learn.

Father, we bow before you today as the One who wrote the rule book. May you find us obedient, knowing that it doesn’t matter who we are. You expect the same of all of us.