14 Feb

The Greatest of These

Have you ever tried to define love? The song writer describes it: “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.” (Frederick Lehman) As inexhaustible as the subject of love is, in I John 4:8, John defines love in three words. “He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is Love.” Love finds expression in our service to God and others. “My little children, let us not love in word neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:18)

The book of Ruth is a story of love in action. Love manifests itself in dedication as we find Naomi planning to return to Bethlehem after being in Moab for many years. Her husband and two sons have died in Moab. Both of Naomi’s daughter-in-laws commit to going back to Bethlehem with her. However, only Ruth proves her love for Naomi by her dedication as she promises: “Whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

After arriving in Bethlehem, faithful Ruth goes to glean corn for food. Little does she know that she is gleaning in the field of Boaz who is Naomi’s brother-in-law. This was no doubt God’s leading. Noticing a new reaper gleaning, Boaz inquires who she is. Finding that she is Naomi’s daughter-in-law, he immediately has concern for her safety and invites her to glean only in his field with the other maidens. He also asks the men to leave handfuls of corn for her to gather. This is love manifesting itself in kindness. Here also is a reminder of God’s love for His children as He leaves these handfuls of blessings for us today.

Since Boaz is the nearest kinsman to Naomi, his love manifests itself in obedience. Boaz accepts his responsibility as kinsman of his dead brother’s inheritance. He asks Ruth to be his wife, and he assumes the responsibility of Naomi.

At the end of the book of Ruth, there is a short genealogy which reveals that Salmon of the tribe of Judah is the father of Boaz. Salmon is married to Rahab the harlot, who is the mother of Boaz. This is the Rahab who hid the spies that came to spy out the land of Joshua. There is indeed a love story here of God’s love for the sinner. Although we don’t know the story of Rahab’s conversion, she does express to the spies that she knows that God has given the land to Joshua and refers to the story of God’s parting of the Red Sea when His people left Egypt. She also says: “The Lord your God is in heaven above and in the earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:11) What a marvelous example of God’s love. He redeems a harlot who becomes David’s great grandmother and has her name listed in the genealogy of Christ. What love is this!

In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Paul reveals the characteristics of love and declares that in considering faith, hope, and love, that “the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) God is the essence of love. Let us declare our love to our God in word and deed. Does God not rejoice to hear us say: “My Lord I love you who loves mankind with an everlasting love?”

For a reading assignment on love, read I Corinthians chapter 13 and the book of Ruth. Your heart will be blessed.

04 Jan

God’s Promises for the New Year

As we ponder what the new year may hold, the believer in Christ can find peace in knowing that help comes from the Lord who gives promises of hope, guidance, and strength. Take joy in these promises.

There is HOPE for the journey.

“The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that HOPE in His mercy.” Psalm 33:18

“This I recall to my mind; therefore, have I HOPE. It is of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

“Blessed is the man whose HOPE is in the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7

Also, our Lord promises to be the GUIDE for the journey.

“For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our GUIDE even unto death.” Psalm 48:14

“Thy God shall GUIDE thee continually and satisfy thy soul in drought and made fat thy bones, and thou shall be a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isaiah 58:11

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will GUIDE thee with Mine eye.” Psalm 32:8

Indeed, our Lord will give STRENGTH as we travel.

“Trust in the Lord forever for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting STRENGTH.” Isaiah 26:4

“It is God that girdeth me with STRENGTH, and maketh my way perfect.” Psalm 18:30

“Fear not for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God I will STRENGTHEN thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

The Lord knows the way through 2021, and He will be our HOPE which gives encouragement, our GUIDE which gives peace, and our STRENGTH which gives endurance.

Travel on; our Lord knows the way!

23 Dec

Christmas in the Heart

It’s Christmas in the city; it’s Christmas in the town; it’s Christmas all around, but is it Christmas in the heart? The word Christmas is made up of two words: Christ and mass which means a worship service of a group of people; thus, the literal meaning of the word is a time of worship honoring Christ. Christmas is that time of the year when most of the world is confronted with the glorious news that there is a Redeemer.

For the Christian, Christmas should be a joyous time of worship when we see personal meaning in the activities involved. The Christmas tree is a great example. The foundation of the tree is of most importance. Without a firm foundation, the tree will not stand. Christ is a sure foundation because He is the eternal, everlasting foundation. The silver and gold tinsel on the tree are a reminder that every believer is a child of the king.

The tree becomes a blaze of glory as the lights are turned on. In Matthew 5:14, Christ states that Christians are the light of the world. How dark the world would be without this light. The beautiful ornaments represent the multiple gifts the Father bestows on His children, which include the greatest gift of all the gifts: eternal salvation wrapped in the promises of Christ and purchased at Calvary.

The joyful sound of the carols ring out the Christmas story:

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men. Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace! Hail the son of righteousness. O come let us adore Him; O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord. O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend on us we pray; cast out our sin and enter in – Be born in us today.” Medley of Carols LH

Let us worship the Christ who is called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“O come to my heart Lord Jesus; there is room in my heart for Thee.”

07 Dec

The Shepherd’s Care for His Sheep

The Twenty-third Psalm is a beacon of hope for this earthly journey. Its encouragement rejoices the heart, and its promises give strength for each day.

WANT – “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.”

I shall not want rest. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

I shall not want drink. “He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

I shall not want forgiveness. “He restoreth my soul.”

I shall not want guidance. “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

I shall not want companionship. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me.”

I shall not want comfort. “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”

I shall not want food. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

I shall not want joy. “Thou anointest my head with oil.”

I shall not want anything. “My cup runneth over.”

I shall not want anything in this life. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

I shall not want anything in eternity. “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” — Selected

“My Lord and I walk through the meadows green.”

25 Nov

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving was a celebration that came with a great cost. Of the 102 passengers who left Plymouth, England, on the Mayflower in September 1620, many died on the long journey for religious freedom. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth Colony in Virginia. Through the years, the Thanksgiving celebration continued.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving. In 1941, during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, Congress declared the fourth Thursday in November as the national day for celebrating Thanksgiving. The day is rich in family tradition and national pride. Not only do we have the opportunity to give thanks verbally, but also we have the occasion to honor Thanksgiving daily in action. “Thanksgiving is after all a word of action.” (W.J. Cameron)

Thanksgiving through Action

Thank God for His unspeakable gift.
Herald His greatness.
Abide in His care.
Noise abroad His love.
Keep His Word.
Serve Him with gladness.
Give Him your best.
Intercede in prayer.
Vanish temptation and doubt.
Invest your talents for Him.
Nourish the heart with hymns of praise.
Glory always in God’s promises.

19 Nov

“Off Key” in a Strange Land

Music is a means of expressing the thoughts of the heart. Every believer who has trusted Christ for salvation has a reason to have a song of thanksgiving and praise in the heart. The song writer calls it a song of deliverance of courage of strength. Since in this life, we still do battle with the sin nature of the old man, we sometimes allow our song to be muffled or silenced because spiritually we get “off key.”

In Psalm 137, the exiled Jews taken to Babylon found themselves to be “off key” in a strange land. Jerusalem had been destroyed along with the magnificent Temple of Solomon. In discouragement, they hanged their harps on the willow trees beside the river of Babylon. Their captors mocked them and asked them to sing one of the songs of Zion. The exiled Jews replied: “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4)

What an opportunity here was lost. What a difference if the Jews has immediately reached for their harps and even through tears engaged their captors in song. Was God no longer their God? Was heaven no longer a hope? The words of spiritual songs planted in the heart give assurance, hope, strength, comfort, praise, faith, joy, and courage. How inspiring are these examples in song:

“Burdens are lifted at Calvary.”
“Just as I am, Thou wild receive.”
“My Lord’s a rock in Him I hide.”
“Great is Thy faithfulness.”
“To God be the glory.”
“Under His wings, I am safely abiding.”
“To the old rugged cross I will ever be true.”
“My hope is in the Lord.”
“Lord, I am coming home.”
“Tell me the old, old, story.”
“O to be like, Thee, blessed Redeemer.”
“It is no secret what God can do.”
“Lord, I need You.”
“He keeps me singing.”
“It is well with my soul.”

As we journey through this “strange land”, music can be a key that nourishes the soul until we reach Home. Keeping a melody of faith in the heart will keep us “on key” in praise to God.

16 Nov

Victory in Stillness

There is such a soothing stillness in autumn days. The poet Hood described it as being like “silence speaking to silence.” There is indeed much benefit in just being still and casting all concerns on God as He has invited us to do. It is difficult to hear God speaking when the soul is overwhelmed by the noise of doubt, anxiousness, and other distractions.

In Psalm 46:10, we are reminded: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.” This verse comes near the end of the Psalm. In the verses before, we are given reasons as to why we may be still and rest in God’s promises. These promises give every born-again believer an overwhelming insurance policy.

In verse one, God promises to be a refuge(shelter) from the storms and to be our strength and help in trouble. This personal protection should calm our fears. Also, this protection is so secure that we need not fear losing it because the price has been paid in full at Calvary.

Verses four and five give assurance that heaven awaits at the end of the journey. Eternal security is there because God is there, and heaven “shall not be removed.” Finally, God’s mighty works in the past remain clear evidence of His faithfulness and that “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Eph. 3:20)

Psalm 23 promises that we shall walk “beside still waters.” Consider also the words in Psalm 4:4: “Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.” Surrender the battle to God who is the God of victory. “Be still and know. . .” (Psalm 46:10)

24 Oct

Glory in the Heavens

The stars, sun, and moon are mentioned many times in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Psalm 19:1 states: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” “Declare” is a strong verb in that it means to broadcast. To “declare” also emphasizes that the truth of a statement is so evident that it cannot be denied. The heavens (sun, moon, stars) declare the glory of God through their mystery, beauty, and constancy.

The mystery of the universe remains because of its vastness in size. Job asks: “Is God not in the height of the heavens?…Behold the height of the stars how high they are.”( Job22:12 ) The distance between the earth and the stars was not known until 1838, when the astronomer Bessel was able to calculate the distance from the earth to the stars to be more than one-hundred thousand times the diameter of our solar system. The sun is the size of an average star, yet the sun itself is over one million times as large as the earth. Today, man has made much progress in exploring space, but the vast size of the heavens cannot be comprehended.

Mystery also remains concerning two miracles in the Old Testament which God as ruler and sustainer of the universe performed. In Joshua 10:13 when Joshua was in a battle against the Amorites, he needed more daylight to finish the battle, so he called upon God, “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves against their enemies.” The miracle in Isaiah 38:8 is just as glorious. Hezekiah the King of Israel who served God faithfully became ill and was facing death. He prayed and asked God to give him more years. God agreed to give him fifteen more years and to also deliver Israel out of the hands of the King of Assyria. As a sign that He would keep his promise, God caused the sun dial to move backwards ten degrees. Not only did the earth cease its rotation, but also reversed the earth’s rotation for a short time. The mystery of God’s power declares His glory.

Another mystery involves the star of Bethlehem which occurred at the time of Christ’s birth. Its brightness was most unusual. The star was not stationary but moved to guide the wisemen to the Christ Child. In Revelation 22:16, Christ calls Himself “the bright and morning star.”

Not only do the heavens declare the glory of God in their mystery, but also in the beauty which they produce. The stars, sun, and moon bring much beauty to the earth. How beautiful is the sky at night when the stars light up the world. They differ in size, color, height, and distance from the earth. How peaceful is the burst of color produced by the setting of the sun. The moon creates a changing beauty as it passes through its course each month. The seasons display their beauty as the earth rotates around the sun.

Finally, the constancy of the heavenly bodies declare the glory of God. We count on the time table of the universe. It is always on time. The sun rises in the morning; the moon appears always in the evening. The timing of the universe is so constant that scientists can predict when an eclipse of the sun or moon will appear.

In Psalm 8, David addresses the glory of God: “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who has set Thy glory above the heavens…. When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou art mindful of him? Christians too can declare God’s glory when we
allow His love to shine through our lives as we keep His commandments.

20 Oct

The Wellness Center for the Soul

Memories are a gift that connects us to the past. Recently, I was reminded of a memory that always brings a smile. However, this time as I recalled that memory, I immediately associated it with a spiritual truth for the times in which we live.

My husband was a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. During one of his sales meetings, his manager was introducing the Wellness Centers that many hospitals were opening. The manager, who was from another country, spoke with an accent. As he began talking about the Wellness Center, he pronounced Wellness with a V sound, so it sounded as though he were talking about a Vellness Center. Finally, my husband, who could not imagine what a Vellness Center was, raised his hand and asked the manager: “Just what is a Vellness Center”? You can imagine the laughter this produced.

This story is a reminder that the world is seeking for a Wellness Center for the soul, but the answer has become distorted. The true answer is that the Wellness for the soul is in Christ and His finished work on the cross. How does one get to the Wellness Center? The journey begins when the individual realizes that he has a disease called sin. There is only one cure for this disease. The door to the Wellness Center for the soul is called faith, faith in God’s plan for salvation which He has described and prescribed in the Bible: that is to place one’s faith in Christ.

The Bible states: “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) All are born sinners because Adam and Eve chose to sin. However, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The belief that Christ died on the cross, and rose from the grave so that all sinners who believe in Him might have eternal life is the cure for sin. Salvation is eternal. The believer will never lose his/her salvation. However, because man will never be perfect in this life, God has also made provision for future sin. Christ not only died for our sins, but also He remains the Great High Priest who is always ready to forgive our sins. I John 1:8-9 reminds us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Thanks be to God for His great salvation, which even in the darkest hours gives cause for the redeemed to say: “It is well; it is well with my soul.”

29 Sep

Abounding Strength

In I Kings 19:4, Elijah the prophet of God is fleeing for his life because King Ahab and his wife Jezebel have vowed to kill him since Elijah has exposed their evilness.

After a day’s journey into the wilderness, Elijah falls asleep under a Juniper tree. An angel awakens him and offers him bread and water and says: “Arise and eat because the journey is too great for thee.” (I Kings 19:7) What an encouraging truth to know that the Father knows when our journey is too great for us and provides strength for our need. This strength includes physical, mental, and emotional strength.

The Bible gives many accounts of God’s strength in action. For example, the journey was too great for Abraham without God’s strength. Abraham obeyed God’s command to take all of his possessions and leave his family to go to a land which he had not seen. This was only the beginning of a journey filled with much adversity as Abraham was to become the father of the Hebrew nation. God’s strength was with Abraham every step of the journey.

Also, God gave Hannah the emotional strength to keep the promise she made to Him. Hannah promised God that if He gave her a male child, she would give the child to God for His service. God answered Hannah’s prayer and also gave her the strength to keep her promise. When the child was weaned, Hannah and her husband brought the child to the temple and presented him to Eli the priest, and Hannah said, “As long as he liveth, he shall be lent to the Lord.”(I Samuel 1:28) This child Samuel became a priest who was faithful to his calling.

Refreshing Promises from the Word

Isaiah 12:2: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.”

Psalm 18:32: “It is God that girdeth me with strength and maketh my way perfect.”

Psalm 29: 11: “The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.”

Psalm 81:1: “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.”

Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater. He sendeth more strength when the labors increase. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again.”
–George Beverly Shea

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