Brokenness . . and Christianity

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV)

Photograph by oatsy40Do you have a few cracks?

Have you taken inventory of your chips lately?

Ever worry that if there’s even one more faintest touch of trouble, you’ll crumble?

. . Have you ever shattered?

When you think about human frailty, who comes to mind?

Yourself?

A close family member who disintegrated after a final blow of ‘bad luck’?

Maybe a coworker who landed in prison?

A successful friend who had to take disability after an unexpected turn in life?

Or perhaps some stranger who just had too heavy a load, now wasting away in an insane asylum?

I would guess hardly any of us first thought of the most fragile human being of all.

If you’re now putting on your theological cap and guessing again, you might think of Samson or Saul or Adam–all ruined by their lack of self control.   But you’re still not right.

Who is the most fragile human being?  Who has the weakest vessel of all?

Absolutely, unequivocally, Jesus Christ.

If you’re astonished, think only of this: Who has been the most crushed by sin?

He [Jesus] took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” (Luke 22:19, NLT)

There has to be comfort, overwhelming comfort for the believer who realizes that Jesus has experienced their own sin, shame, and suffering more intensely than they have themselves.  When I stop to picture it, I’m awestruck: the picture Jesus gives us is one of Himself being divided into pieces and ground to bits to nourish His followers–the very ones who wound Him.

There is no one on the entire earth, no matter how much trouble they have been through, who has ever gone through such an experience.  Jesus chose to be spent, utterly, for us.  His spirit was crumbled to powder under the weight of our sin (though He kept His purity throughout), and His body was destroyed beyond anything we can imagine by the agony of our guilt(see Isaiah 52:14).

What does this mean for the believer?

First, that the awe of who Christ is cannot ever be overstated.

Second, that we shouldn’t pout or despair when our fragility is revealed.

Whether our cracks come by our own sin, or by things we didn’t have any say in (like  sickness, unforeseen circumstances, or the sins of others) we can always hold onto what Christ did when He faced the burden of brokenness.  He didn’t brace Himself with supernatural power.  He could have.  But He didn’t.

He chose to shatter.  For you.  For me.

So many times, when I’m confronted with breaking, I try to guard myself, defend myself, flee in fear, or search for a hide-away.  But really, I don’t have to be afraid or angry or bitter.  I can instead peer through the cracks to the

all surpassing power  . . from God

that is inside of me.  As a believer, I no longer have to be consumed by my brokenness.  I don’t have to be terrified or worshipful of it.  I can simply give it to God, and follow the example of Christ in opening my hands to receive wounds that will allow Christ to be seen more clearly through me.

Through . . me.

What treasure to be a vessel who belongs to Jesus.

And what an honor to be broken so that He can be revealed more stunningly in my life day by day.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV)

________________________________________

Photograph by oatsy40, profile on http://www.flickr.com/photos/oatsy40/

Photograph under Creative Commons License.

Advertisements

What’s the point of Christmas?

This:

Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79, NLT)

Published in: on December 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Boaz: A reflection on love before you give your heart away . .

Before you give your heart away Ben carrying Teej

We all have hearts.  And most of us, at one time or another, give our hearts away.  This ‘giving of the heart’ treasure is a one-time honor meant for only the one person who will truly cherish your heart.

But how do you know who to give this honor to?  After all, you only have one heart.  How can you possibly make the right choice?

Absolutely only if you have given your heart to God first.  Only He can take your fragile earthly heart and guide you to “the one” your “heart loves” (see Song of Songs 3:1).

God arranged for Ruth to give her heart to Boaz.  And this romance happened between two otherwise ordinary sinners.  The only thing that separated these two from every other romance on the shelf was their extraordinary love for and trust in Him.  He held their hearts, and, as such, He changed their eternity–and even gave them a taste of the redemption to come in the extravagant romance that unfolded on this side of eternity, in a little book we call Ruth.

Though Boaz was never a king, he bore a line of kings . . and the priceless honor of being an earthly ancestor to the King of Kings, Christ Jesus.  But above even this astonishing honor, his place in history is chiseled into eternity by his worship of Jesus Christ.

Boaz is a man to give you heart to . . and Boaz is a man worth waiting to give you heart to.  But how will you know when you find him?  Only by the grace of God.

We often talk about “red flags” when we mean warning signs about someone you shouldn’t marry.  But when we look at Boaz’s life, we see it marked by an outpouring of “green flags”!

Here are reflections from the book of Ruth to think about and, most of all!!, pray about, as you’re looking for a man to marry.

The caveat is . .

If you’re looking for someone to fill your deepest desires and meet your deepest dreams, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.  Not even Boaz did that.

Only one Man was or ever will be perfect: Jesus Christ.  Every other man will at times disappoint you, ruin your special day, fail you, and do things you can’t believe he did.  That’s the reality of sin.  (Of course, there’s a flip-side: Every woman will do the same.)

Keep in mind, girls, that Scripture records some of Boaz’ good moments, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have tragic failures, too.  If you look only at the piece of his life we have in Scripture and try to find someone to fit that mold, you won’t.  Even if you met Boaz on the street, he wouldn’t!  So please don’t use the following reflection as a “checklist”–recognize we are sinners.

Rather, look at the life of the man you’re wanting to marry.  Does the kaleidoscope of who he is reflect the image of Jesus Christ?  That is who Boaz is, and that is the kind of man you want to marry.

______________________________________________

Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech. (Ruth 2:1, NLT)

–Boaz had wealth and influence, but his heart was for God.

Questions to think and pray about for any man you’re considering marrying:

  • Does he use his wealth for himself, or for God?  (In America, nearly everyone has wealth.  The question is, how do we use it?)
  • Does he use his influence to make power plays, or to love on people?
  • Does he tout the authority he has, or does he care about others?
  • Most of all, who is his heart for?

One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.

“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied. (Ruth 2:2-4)

–Boaz treated those who were under his authority with kindness and he witnessed to them.

Questions:

  • If he is an employer, how does he treat his employees?
  • How does he treat people he meets in common, everyday places?
  • Does he find time and opportunities to witness?
  • When he has authority over someone, does he mistreat them, take advantage of them, lord it over them . . or respect them?
  • Most of all, does he fear God?

Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?” (Ruth 2:5)

–Boaz is attentive to what’s happening in his workplace and in the world around him.  (Field hands weren’t that important in Boaz’s day, nor would it have been expected for him to care about a poor beggar.  It’s doubtful that Ruth, after a long trip from Moab and with no money for perfume or beautiful garments, looked stunning as she gleaned that field.)

Questions:

  • Is he attentive to the world around him, or self-focused?
  • Does he take the time to ask about and get to know ordinary people and people of ‘no influence’?
  • Does he care for the homeless, the poor, and the needy?
  • Is he aware of what’s going on around him, or is he too busy with deadlines to notice?
  • Most of all, does he make time for what God wants him to do?

And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. . .” (Ruth 2:6-8a)

–Boaz took time to talk to a woman of ‘no importance’ and a foreigner!  He addressed her with respect and compassion, seemingly without regard to what anyone else thought about it.

–Boaz may have mentored his foreman to be gracious to  beggars.  The fact that the foreman allowed Ruth to glean from the field could well mean Boaz had a precedence for kindness.  Since the foreman did not seem ashamed to tell his employer who she was, this speaks to Boaz’ character.  (Ruth wasn’t just a beggar, but a beggar from a country that was detestable to them.)

Questions:

  • Does he mentor those under his authority (or those younger)?  Does he teach others to treat the weak with respect?
  • How does he speak about people?  (Does he use derogatory names for groups of people?  How does he address women?)
  • Does he take the time to introduce himself to people who aren’t high in social power?
  • Is he willing to talk to someone who others might judge him for talking to?
  • Is he willing to show kindness even if others don’t like it?
  • Most of all, is his heart anchored in a love for God?  (because if it is, it will pour out into a love for people!)

“. . Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.” (Ruth 2:8b-9)

–Boaz not only allowed Ruth to glean in his field–showing his fear for God in following the Law–but Boaz went well beyond this.  He didn’t stop at the fulfillment of the code, he went back to the very Ten Commandments and loved his neighbor, Ruth (as Christ would teach hundreds years later).  Very few of God’s chosen people seemed sensitive to this command in the way Boaz was.

Boas offered Ruth a welcome (v.8b), a plan to make friends and belong (v.8c-9a), protection (v.9b), and gracious hospitality/extra thoughtfulness (v.9c)

Questions:

  • Does he welcome others?
  • Does he help newcomers, strangers, and the socially awkward feel like they belong?
  • Does he protect your purity in how he treats you?
  • If someone comes to his home unexpectedly, is he a gracious host?
  • Does he do things that show extra thoughtfulness to his family (especially his mother), friends, and coworker?
  • Most of all, does he desire to live out the greatest commandments? (See Matthew 22:37-39)

Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

“Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers . .” (Ruth 2:10-11)

–Boaz didn’t make Ruth feel “in debt” to him because of his acts of kindness.  He wasn’t looking for an ego boost or sexual favors, but rather to bless her.

–Boaz seems to have kept up on the news of his relatives, maybe even good deeds happening in his village.

Questions:

  • When he pays for meals, opens the car door for you, or takes you out to a movie, is he looking to bless you or boast about you?
  • Do you feel pressured or obligated to give him sexual favors because of ‘nice things’ he’s done for you?
  • Does he pay attention to good things happening around him, or only the dark side of the news?
  • Most of all, what motivates his kindness?

” . . May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” (Ruth 2:12)

–Boaz shows beautiful theological understanding of his God–in his mind and heart.  (Little did he know that many years later, his great grandson David would use similiar poetry in Psalm 17:8).

–Boaz takes the opportunity to bless her–just what he did with his workers when he came on the scene.

Questions:

  • Does he read the Bible and talk about God’s nature?
  • Does his love for God inspire him to reflect that love?
  • Does he seek to bless others through Jesus Christ?

“I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over. (Ruth 2:13-14)

–Boaz tenderly honored Ruth, invited her once again to belong with his group, and demonstrated extraordinary generosity.

Questions:

  • Does he care enough about the poor to act on their behalf?
  • When he sees a need or hears about needs through his church, does he give to help when he can?
  • Does he give above and beyond what most people’s definition of generosity is?  (Is he giving obligatory gifts to the church and church charities or is his giving enormous and free?)
  • Most of all, what is his generosity motivated by?

When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket. She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal. (Ruth 2:15-18)

–Boaz is persistent in providing for Ruth.

Questions:

  • Is he persistent in helping the church and church charities?
  • Does he habitually watch over the weak, poor, and disabled?
  • Most of all, does he conceal his good deeds out of humility and reverence for God?  (See Matthew 6:2-4)

“Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”

So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.” (Ruth 2:19-20)

–Boaz is a man of considerable power, and yet two woman who have no power can truly speak graciously about him.

Questions:

  • Do people speak well of him behind his back?
  • What do those under his authority, or those in need, say about him?
  • If a woman goes out on a date with him, can she come back beaming to her family about how well he’s treated her . .or does she come back ashamed of how he used her?
  • Most of all, does he view his role on earth as to be a reflection of Jesus?

Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”

“Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.” (Ruth 2:21-22)

–Naomi and Ruth trusted Boaz.  He wasn’t like other men who might not take such good care of Ruth if she came to their fields (perhaps because she was vulnerable, a woman, a beggar, and/or a despised foreigner).

Questions:

  • Do his actions cause you to trust him or mistrust him?
  • What does your family and friends think of him?
  • If your grandmother was sitting next you to on one of your dates, what would she say about him?

So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:23)

–Boaz kept his word to Ruth.  He stayed faithful to what he’d said, and allowed her to gather grain in his field under the safety of his protection.

Questions:

  • Is he serious about what he says?
  • Does he often keep his word?
  • Is he faithful to his family, friends, and to you?
  • Was there a time in your relationship he was dating you and someone else at the same time?

One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.” (Ruth 3:1-4)

–Ruth’s mother-in-law had confidence in Boaz’ integrity.

Questions:

  • Does your family have confidence in his integrity?  (Does he give your father or brother reason for concern?)
  • Has he been rude and rebellious to your family . . or does he respect their feelings and concerns for your purity?
  • Most of all, does he view your family the way God does as He has revealed in Scripture?

“I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law. (Ruth 3:5-6)

–Ruth trusted Boaz.

Questions:

  • Do you trust him?  (What Naomi was asking Ruth to do was a picture of God’s covenant of redemption for His people.  Of course, you don’t want to place yourself in risky circumstances or tempting situations to test his intentions.  This was not a test of his intentions, but rather a step of obedience to trust God’s Word and in His provision.)
  • If you have been in a situation where something happened (like your skirt blew up in the wind or an inappropriate commercial danced across the TV screen), what was his reaction?
  • Does he make it a habit to protect your purity or does he try to pull a piece of it off each time he sees you?
  • Most of all, does he see your relationship as a picture of Christ and the church?  (See Ephesians 5:25-33)

After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. (Ruth 3:7-9a)

–Even in the midst of a very confusion situation, Boaz doesn’t act violently, use bad language, or lose his temper.

Questions:

  • How does he act when something unexpected happens?
  • Does he have a bad temper?
  • What comes out of his mouth when he’s upset?
  • Does he ever act aggressively towards you?  (Does he try to frighten you when he’s angry?)
  • Most of all, does he feel accountable before God for what he does?

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

“The Lord bless you, my daughter! . .” Boaz exclaimed. (Ruth 3:9b-10a)

–Boaz continues to use kind language in a very surprising situation.  He brings the grace of God into even an awkward and confusing moment.

Questions:

  • Is blessing others such a habit of his that he does it even when he’s caught off guard?
  • Most of all, does he want to bring the grace of God into everything he does?

“. . You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor . .” (Ruth 3:10b)

–Boaz is deeply humble about Ruth’s proposal.  He thinks highly of her and lowly of himself.  He doesn’t boast that she’s asking him because he’s so handsome, powerful, or wealthy.  Rather than focus on what a ‘great hero’ he would be in her life, he honors her with a blessing because she is seeking after God’s provision.

Questions:

  • Does he look at himself as a “catch” and that you’re so “lucky” to get him, or is he humble in his love for you?
  • Does he see God at work in the good that happens to him?
  • Is your relationship based on outward appearances, or on the heart?

“. . Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman . . ” (Ruth 3:11)

–Boaz takes leadership.  Ruth has placed herself most vulnerable in hope of his grace, and his heart is set on not disappointing her.

–Boaz continues to address Ruth in honor: “my daughter“, “virtuous woman“.

–Boaz indicates here he would be willing to marry her because she is a follower of God, not out of pity or because she’s beautiful or young.

Questions:

  • Does he have, or is he trying to cultivate, leadership qualities?
  • Does he seek to not disappoint you when you are vulnerable with him?
  • Is he drawn most of all to a beautiful figure or a beautiful heart?
  • Most of all, is your love for Christ what matters most to him?

“. . But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you . .” (Ruth 3:12-13abc)

–This speaks possibly the most highly of all about Boaz’ integrity.  Here is a young woman, probably very beautiful in his eyes, who is asking for him to marry her.  The temptation for dishonesty, a bit of ‘fudging’ on God’s Law, had to be tremendous.  He could easily have justified that he had earned the right to be a bit unethical by how kind he had been treating her all along.  But he chose to tell her the truth, and to do things the way God wanted.

Questions:

  • Does he work to resist temptation?
  • Does he have integrity even when he could get away with a bit of dishonesty?
  • Is he honest with you?  (Do you catch him in lies?  Does he flatter you constantly?)
  • Most of all, is he concerned most about what God wants?

“. . But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.” (Ruth 3:13b)

–Boaz reflects a taste of the integrity and purity of God.  He foreshadows, in a little glimmer, how Christ will redeem His bride, the church.

Questions:

  • Does he take your heart seriously?
  • Most of all, does he reflect, in a glimmer, attributes of his Lord Jesus Christ?

So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” (Ruth 3:14)

–Boaz’ protects Ruth’s purity first, and then her reputation.

Questions:

  • Does he diligently help you stay pure, even when no one is watching?
  • If something embarrassing happens to you, does he try to shield you from further embarrassment?
  • Does he keep your secrets?

Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town. (Ruth 3:15)

–Boaz’ love is more than words.  He moves to action that he demonstrates to Ruth.  Again, he is a flicker of the picture of Christ in His action at Calvary and demonstration of love for us.  (See Romans 5:8)

Questions:

  • Does he only tell you he loves you, or does he show you love?  (Girls, I’m not talking about kisses or playing with your hair.  That is no real challenge for most men.  And I’m not talking about buying you stuff like flowers and candy.  Ask around and see how many men did that for their wives while they were dating but gave it up or rarely do it anymore.  I’m talking about, does he ever inconvenience himself?  Does he ever go out of his way to do something helpful for you?  Does he ever sacrifice for you?)

When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.” (Ruth 3:16-18)

–Boaz demonstrates his love for Ruth to her mother-in-law, too.  From his reputation already established, Naomi is confident Boaz will take care of her precious daughter-in-law.

Questions:

  • Does he demonstrate his love for you in front of others?  (Does he withdraw or is he shy when others are around?  Is he embarrassed to ‘claim’ you around certain friends?)
  • Does your family speak well of him?  (Does he do things for them that show his thoughtfulness for your whole family–not just for you?)
  • Is your closest family confident in his ability to take care of you if you were to get married?

Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. (Ruth 4:1)

–Boaz followed through on the intentions he stated to Ruth.

–Boaz could have felt impatient and agitated since he didn’t know what would happen next.  But he spoke graciously once again, and this time to a relative he might have envied (since he had a closer place to Ruth).

Questions:

  • Does he usually follow through on what he says he will do?
  • Gauging by his usual actions, is he sincere when he makes commitments?
  • Is he gracious to others even when he could be envious or impatient?
  • Most of all, what motivates his actions?

Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. (Ruth 4:2)

–Once again, Boaz’ character is reputable and his actions in the open.

Questions:

  • Does he invite others to view his actions toward you?
  • Does he invite leaders in the church and in his family to talk with him and advise him?
  • Does he see marriage as a commitment for life?

And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”

The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”

Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”

“Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.” (Ruth 4:3-4)

–It seems to me as though Boaz first states the positive so the other family redeemer will want to redeem the land–and then the negative so that he will not.  (I think Boaz was really in love with Ruth, and he didn’t want someone marrying her just to receive property.)

–Boaz also brings up that Ruth is a Moabite, so that if the other redeemer was prejudiced against her, he would know right away her nationality.

–Boaz wanted Ruth to be well taken care of.  He mentioned the Law of God (that this man would need to give Ruth children and those children her husband’s inheritance).  I think he may have been making sure that, if this man did marry her, he knew Boaz was holding him responsible to provide her what the Law expected.

Questions:

  • Does he try to anticipate problems and protect you from them when he can?
  • Does he care about your future–even if it is a future without him?
  • Most of all, does hold himself accountable to God for his role in your life–recognizing that he will always need the forgiveness of Christ Jesus?

Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.”

Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.” (Ruth 4:7-10)

–Boaz made a covenant in front of witnesses and asked for their accountability.  He clearly stated his intent to protect and provide for Ruth.

Questions:

  • Is he willing to make a covenant before God, his friends, his family, and a pastor that he will be faithful to you before he receives you sexually?
  • Most of all, does it matter to him to be known to everyone as a follower of Jesus Christ?

Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.” (Ruth 4:11-12)

–The people blessed Boaz because of his loyalty and integrity.  And Boaz certainly would become famous in Bethlehem through a Descendant, a little boy born in a manger . .

Questions:

  • Does he care about how others view his relationship with you?
  • Do other believers, especially older believers, want to bless his life?
  • Most of all, does he care about how others view his relationship with God?

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. (Ruth 4:13)

–God blessed their marriage with sexual intimacy and a child.

  • Is he committed to doing things God’s way, or his way?

Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! . .” (Ruth 4:14)

–Boaz’ reputation became as a redeemer.  What a high honor, more than he could even know in his lifetime!

Questions:

  • Does he have a reputation for reflecting a glimmer of who Christ is?
  • Do those who have witnessed his life see God’s work in it?
  • Do those who have witnessed your relationship see God’s work in it?
  • Is his mindset earthly or eternal?

” . . May this child be famous in Israel. May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”

Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron.

Hezron was the father of Ram.

Ram was the father of Amminadab.

Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.

Nahshon was the father of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz.

Boaz was the father of Obed.

Obed was the father of Jesse.

Jesse was the father of David. (Ruth 4:14b-22)

–Boaz left a godly legacy.  Little did he know that his great-grandson would be a king and, many generations later, another grandson would be the King of Kings.

Question:

  • What kind of legacy does he want to leave?

______________________________________________

Reflection

You have one heart.  Give your heart to God.  God is the only One who can give your heart to a man who will really treasure it.

. . Even if your most intimate relationship fails in this life–even if sin tears apart your deepest love here–if your heart is given to God, it can never truly be broken by an earthly man.  Give your heart to Him, and receive a love that will last for an eternity.

He is our perfect Boaz.

I pray every single girl who reads this will give her heart to the One who can really treasure it.

And I pray she will be wise in who she gives her heart to here on earth.

This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:10)

________________________________________

Dedicated to the God who loved me first, and to my earthly Boaz named Ben.

A critical misunderstanding

I’m not saying I have any right to judge you.  I’m telling you there is a Judge.

There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. (Jesus, quoted in John 12:48, NIV)

Published in: on December 2, 2013 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Gifts If You Have Little or No Money

  • Handmade cards and gifts mean a lot, but can cost only a little.  Do you have a talent?  Play a song on the piano or juggle or make your famous spaghetti casserole for the one you love.  If you aren’t crafty and you don’t feel like you have any talents, you still write or draw something on paper.  Tell someone how much they mean to you or draw them a little picture of something special about them.  Chances are, they will not remember whether or not you were a wordsmith or an artist, but instead that you took the time to write or draw something for them.  Even the simplest words of encouragement or most primitive drawings can play a melody of love.
  • Most of us know relatives and/or friends who are going through a really tough time this Christmas.  The need can be overwhelming.  Choose one person each day to pray for, and maybe send them a quick card in the mail or a simple email to let them know you’re thinking of them.  The gift of caring can mean more to them than gifts under their tree.
  • The most precious gifts are not gifts that can be bought in a department store.  Gift someone you love the gift of special attention or the gift of words.  Choose to email, write, text, or tell someone you love something special about them every day throughout December–and why not throughout the rest of the year?  That’s a far better gift than mere merchandise.
  • Most of us already know it, but the gift of time is precious.  A family meal, baseball in the backyard, a walk through the neighborhood, or making tents in the living room are all ways to give the gift of time.  You can meet a friend at your home, a park, or for a walk through a nature center, and you can have a great time together without noticing you didn’t have to spend a lot of money!
  • Give the gift of asking Jesus to help you strengthen a quality your friends and family don’t often see in you.  For example, if you’re always losing your temper, pray for Jesus to strengthen your patience.  Do expect to have opportunities to practice the quality you are praying for!  Giving family and friends the gift of witnessing your walk with Christ is the best gift you can give them.  So many spouses would choose to be dirt poor if only their husband or wife would be more tender towards them . . so many children would choose to never open a Christmas present if they could have peace in their home.

This Christmas season (and all year long!), may we be able to say as Paul did:

“You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35, NIV)

Santa Claus?

God is sometimes seen as someone like Santa Claus, no more interest in changing you than a man in a costume making minimum wage.

It seems to me that there are two major lies perpetuated about the I-AM in our culture, both on opposite ends of the spectrum and both equally wrong.

  • God doesn’t want you.
  • God doesn’t want to change you.

In an effort to disprove the first lie, we have often tried to find shelter in the second lie.  As a result, we have countless untold thousands in the church, or who irregularly attend the church, or who don’t attend church but have sentimental feelings about God, who believe that they are all right with God.

In one conversation I had with a young woman who had at least a bit of an evangelical backdrop through her family, she said something like this,

“I just can’t believe that God gets angry with us.  No.  God doesn’t get angry.  I think that’s wrong.  I don’t think of God like that.”

She’s not alone in her belief.  Many who have some inkling about Christianity have taken truths they feel comfortable with (i.e., God is love) and carved out truths they aren’t comfortable with (i.e., God’s wrath is poured out over sin).

Did you catch the important words in this young woman’s statement (paraphrased by me)?  The new culture in Christianity of God-as-Santa-Claus usually drop catch phrases like this:

I think . . I don’t think . . I see . . I don’t see how . . I can’t imagine . . I believe . . I don’t believe . . My opinion . . The way I see it . .

What is so insidious about their misunderstandings is it’s hard to get them to see God as a pre-defined Being, not as a Being that they can illustrate or story-tell about with their word choices.  And it’s not just a them issue.  I see this very same problem in myself.

Here’s a simple look at why this is so ludicrous.  If I wanted, I could go around saying my fiance, Ben, is a  basketball player.  I could do that.  I could paint word pictures of Ben as the way I want to see him.  But . . does that change the reality that he is NOT a NBA player?  Does my “viewpoint” of him make him a NBA player?

If I actually did this, and seriously did it, people would think I had a mental illness.  Yet, when people subjectively make stuff up about God, most don’t bat an eye.  

What is the big problem with defining God any way you wish?  The answer to that is obvious: You don’t know who God is. 

I don’t think Ben would want to be around me if I kept talking about how great he is at basketball.  After a while, he’d get a hint that I don’t really want to know him at all, I just want to imagine him the way I want him to be.

Don’t you think God feels this same way about us?  He knows our hearts.  He created them!  He knows what we keep inside of them.  If we want to serve a god who does not fit His description, if we refuse to fall in line with who He says He is in Scripture, we are in defiance of our Creator, and we are not genuinely pursuing a relationship with Him.

If I said to you, “I just love Ben.  I love what a great basketball player he is.  He’s right up there with Michael Jordan.”  Do you think I really love Ben, or I love who I want Ben to be?

So many times,  think we have tried to bring people to salvation by allowing them to think what they want to think or keep their misconceptions about God.

Do you not want to believe God would send you to Hell?  That’s ok.  Ask Jesus into your heart.

Do you not want to believe God would require of you to abstain from sexual activity before marriage?  Well, God loves you.  Believe in Him anyway and I’m sure it’ll work itself out.

Do you not want to believe God would require that you forgive the people in your life who have most hurt you?  No problem.  Say this prayer and we’ll worry about that later.

As a result, we have many people in the churches who have fallen in love with a god who does not exist.  As such, we have many in congregations and in the unchurched who firmly believe they are going to Heaven to meet the god they have made up.  They can’t wait to see family members who have died and are “looking down on them”.  They have vague, self-thought-up identifications for who God is: He’s never disappointed with me . . He loves me just the way I am . . He wants me to be happy.

But just like the man in the Santa Claus costume takes it off and goes home at the end of the day, no more planning on buying presents from your wishlist than a man in the moon . . so, at the end of life, these thousands will find the god they costumed up was nothing more than the fanciful thinking of their mind, and all illusion will dissolve like snow in the summertime.  Then they will find themselves face-to-face with an Almighty and Fearful Judge who is not their Father or Savior or Friend, who does not know them, and who will not allow them, stained with filthy sins that have never been forgiven, into Heaven.

This is a serious and frightening reality, friends.  If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, will you commit with me to gently but truthfully help the unsaved realize that they are not going to Heaven and that the god of their dreams is nothing more than a costumed hoax?

And if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, will you rethink your position that God is whoever you invent Him to be?  Maybe you never realized you were doing it before, but now you see that you have been believing in a fantasy.  Will you release your idea of who God is to Him and allow Him to teach you He is through His Word?  Will you commit your life to Him, give your soul to Him, and get serious about learning who He is?  Will you take the journey of really knowing Him through Scripture, a Bible-focused church, Christian small groups, and fellowship with other followers?

Or will you wait until Judgment Day to find out that the god you wanted . . is not real . . and cannot save you from your sins?

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NIV)

Published in: on December 1, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Easter–365 days a year.

Could I survive without Easter?  Could I love without Easter?

No way.

I need Easter every day.

Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. (Mark 16:6b, NLT)