Ruth (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He blesses the sacrifices we make

The story of Ruth and Naomi reminds me of the selflessness portrayed in the story of the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry that we often read at Christmas.  It is the story about a desperately poor young couple, Jim and Della, who want to buy gifts for one another at Christmas.  The husband chose to sell his prized gold watch to buy ornate combs for Della’s beautiful long hair. Della cut and sold her beautiful long hair to buy a gold chain for Jim’s prized watch.  Both had sacrificed their most valuable treasure because of the deep love they shared.  Their story reflects the gifts of great value given by the wise men to baby Jesus and God’s most valuable treasure, His Son, that He gave to redeem us.  Out of love, Naomi and Ruth, too, selflessly gave to one another the only gifts of value they possessed. 

@ Ruth 1
“With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.  But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.’ Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.” (7-8)

All three women had lost their husbands.  Widows of that day were often neglected and lived with little provision, especially older widows who could not work.  Naomi gave up her daughters-in-law who could have cared for her in the years ahead, giving them the freedom to marry again in their own land.

“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.  Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.”(16-17) The young woman, Ruth, gave up her freedom to marry again so that she could remain with Naomi and provide care for her in the days ahead.  Not only did Ruth love Naomi, but she had come to serve the God of Naomi.  How could she ever turn her back on Him!

Sometimes circumstances in life ask us to make a personal sacrifice of our own desires and goals to help fulfill the dream or calling of another because of our love and commitment to that individual.  And sometimes God requires us to put aside our own desires to accomplish His higher purposes – His eternal purposes.   When we choose the difficult road of sacrifice, not only are we blessed in the doing of it, but we open the door to future blessings we cannot imagine.

“So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women of the town said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family!  May this child be famous in Israel’…And they named him Obed.  He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David…” (4:13-17)  And from this lineage came Jesus!

Who would have thought that the offspring of this lowly Moabite widow would one day deliver royalty into the world!  Not only did God reward Ruth for her unselfishness when He provided a husband, a wealthy one at that, but He also extended the blessing on her children for generations to come – something beyond her imagination.

We don’t know how God will use the sacrifices we make for Him and for others, but if we do it with the willing heart of Ruth and not grudgingly, He will bless our lives in ways beyond our imaginations. 

Moving Forward: I’m even more grateful today for the supreme sacrifice He gave at Calvary.  It calls me to a willingness to sacrifice all that I am and all that I have to fulfill His eternal purposes. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 27-29

Romans 11-12 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He transforms us into the person He created us to be

When my son was young, he had a collection of toy cars called Transformers.  Each car transformed into a warrior robot in full armor ready to conquer the world – talk about a makeover!  So popular were these Transformers that in recent years several movies have been made about their exploits.  Unique entertainment, to say the least.

More to my liking are the makeovers on television that take plain or fashion-challenged women and men and transform them into living, breathing creations of awe.  The audience always gasps when the transformation is revealed and then breaks into thunderous applause.  This causes me to wonder if my transformation, the new creation that I am in Christ, has been startling enough to bring perhaps a gasp out of heaven. 

@ Romans 12
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (1-2) The ultimate makeover!

I’m sure those makeover candidates feel a little like sheep going to the slaughter as they step behind the curtain to be transformed, uncertain of the outcome.  Similarly, Paul suggests we should present ourselves as living, sacrificial lambs on the altar, submitted to His transformation.  But of course, as they say, the problem with living sacrifices is that they have a tendency to climb off that altar.  It’s usually painful to change the way we think.

Now as Paul often did, he provided a little checklist for us in verses 9-21 to see just how transformed we really are, a gasp meter if you will:

  • “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.
  • Hate what is wrong.
  • Hold tightly to what is good.
  • Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
  • Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
  • Rejoice in our confident hope.
  • Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
  • When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.
  • Always be eager to practice hospitality.
  • Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.
  • Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
  • Live in harmony with each other.
  • Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.
  • And don’t think you know it all!
  • Never pay back evil with more evil.
  • Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
  • Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone…
  • Never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God…
  • If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them…drink…
  • Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

Well, then.  I think the only gasp I’m hearing right now is my own. These aren’t bucket list items.  They are characteristics of the transformed life!  This is the life of one who has remained on the altar and allowed the transformation of God’s power to change that life, even the way he or she thinks and relates to others.  And the makeover bonus, the parting gift for this transformed life, “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (2)  Who doesn’t want to know that! And again I gasp. 

Moving Forward:  I pray I will do something today that leaves heaven breathless…even just for a moment. 

Tomorrow @ Genesis 20-23

Ruth (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He blesses the sacrifices we make

The story of Ruth and Naomi reminds me of the selflessness portrayed in the story of the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry that we often read at Christmas.  It is the story about a desperately poor young couple, Jim and Della, who want to buy gifts for one another at Christmas.  The husband chose to sell his prized gold watch to buy ornate combs for Della’s beautiful long hair. Della cut and sold her beautiful long hair to buy a gold chain for Jim’s prized watch.  Both had sacrificed their most valuable treasure because of the deep love they shared.  Their story reflects the gifts of great value given by the wise men to baby Jesus and God’s most valuable treasure, His Son, that He gave to redeem us.  Out of love, Naomi and Ruth, too, selflessly gave to one another the only gifts of value they possessed. 

@ Ruth 1
“With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.  But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.’ Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.” (7-8)

All three women had lost their husbands.  Widows of that day were often neglected and lived with little provision, especially older widows who could not work.  Naomi gave up her daughters-in-law who could have cared for her in the years ahead, giving them freedom to marry again in their own land.

“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.  Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.”(16-17) The young woman, Ruth, gave up her freedom to marry again in order to remain with Naomi and provide care for her in the days ahead.  Not only did Ruth love Naomi, but she had come to serve the God of Naomi.  How could she ever turn her back on Him!

Sometimes circumstances in life ask us to make a personal sacrifice of our own desires and goals in order to help fulfill the dream or calling of another because of our love and commitment to that individual.  And sometimes God requires us to put down our own dreams to fulfill His higher purposes – His eternal purposes.   When we choose the difficult road of sacrifice, not only are we blessed in the doing of it, but we open the door to future blessings we cannot imagine.

“So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women of the town said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family!  May this child be famous in Israel’…And they named him Obed.  He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David…” (4:13-17)  And from this lineage came Jesus!

Who would have thought that the offspring of this lowly Moabite widow would one day deliver royalty into the world!  Not only did God reward Ruth for her unselfishness when He provided a husband, a wealthy one at that, but He also extended the blessing on her children for generations to come – something beyond her imagination.

We don’t know how God will use the sacrifices we make for Him and for others, but if we do it with the willing heart of Ruth and not grudgingly, He will bless our lives in ways beyond our imaginations. 

Moving Forward: I’m even more grateful today for the supreme sacrifice He gave at Calvary.  It calls me to a willingness to sacrifice all that I am and all that I have to fulfill His eternal purposes. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 27-29

Romans 11-12 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He transforms us into the person He created us to be

When my son was young, he had a collection of toy cars called Transformers.  Each car transformed into a warrior robot in full armor ready to conquer the world – talk about a makeover!  So popular were these Transformers that in recent years several movies have been made about their exploits.  Unique entertainment, to say the least.

More to my liking are the makeovers on television that take plain or fashion-challenged women and men and transform them into living, breathing creations of awe.  The audience always gasps when the transformation is revealed and then breaks into thunderous applause.  This causes me to wonder if my transformation, the new creation that I am in Christ, has been startling enough to bring perhaps a gasp out of heaven. 

@ Romans 12
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (1-2) The ultimate makeover!

I’m sure those makeover candidates feel a little like sheep going to the slaughter as they step behind the curtain to be transformed, uncertain of the outcome.  Similarly, Paul suggests we should present ourselves as living, sacrificial lambs on the altar, submitted to His transformation.  But of course, as they say, the problem with living sacrifices is that they have a tendency to climb off that altar.  It’s usually painful to change the way we think.

Now as Paul often did, he provided a little check list for us in verses 9-21 to see just how transformed we really are, a gasp meter if you will:

  • “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.
  • Hate what is wrong.
  • Hold tightly to what is good.
  • Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
  • Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
  • Rejoice in our confident hope.
  • Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
  • When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.
  • Always be eager to practice hospitality.
  • Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.
  • Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
  • Live in harmony with each other.
  • Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.
  • And don’t think you know it all!
  • Never pay back evil with more evil.
  • Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
  • Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone…
  • Never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God…
  • If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them…drink…
  • Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

Well, then.  I think the only gasp I’m hearing right now is my own. These aren’t bucket list items.  They are characteristics of the transformed life!  This is the life of one who has remained on the altar and allowed the transformation of God’s power to change that life, even the way he or she thinks and relates to others.   And the makeover bonus, the parting gift for this transformed life, “Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (2)  Who doesn’t want to know that! And again I gasp. 

Moving Forward:  I pray I will do something today that leaves heaven breathless…even just for a moment. 

Tomorrow @ Genesis 20-23