Thursday, December 31, 2015

God gives Us a Future

Scripture: Ruth 4:15
“May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

Insights: In today’s verses we see Naomi not only receiving life, but also being taken care of in her old age.  In other words, she is given a future.  Once again, we go back to the spiritual correlation which is we are also given a future in Jesus.  Now there is a sense in which there is a future here on earth, but the primary focus of our Lord is not on our time on earth, but rather our time with Him in eternity.  If we are born again, if we have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, then we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and we will one day enter into eternity with the Triune God.  In this eternity we have a good future with this most gracious and perfect God of glory.  We will work for Him, but without the pains and frustrations found in this imperfect world which is bound by sin.  The part I think I am looking forward to the most is the continual learning of new things about this wonderfully infinite God whom we love and adore.  I used the word infinite to describe our glorious God.  Here is what I want you to understand about our God being an infinite God.  There is no end to Him and His greatness.  After we have been there for a billion years our Father is going to call us over and say to us, “Watch this!”  And after He displays His power and might we are going to be like, “WOW, I did not know You could do that!”  Beloved, it is my prayer we take as many people with us to this great future we have in Jesus.  If one does not have this relationship with Jesus, they will not spend eternity in joy and grace, but in the lake of fire separated from the love of God.  They will not have a future and a hope there.  Pray for God to draw on their hearts and pray for Him to give you boldness and courage to share the truth of the gospel with them.  May God be brought glory for your faithfulness.

1. Do you ever think about your future in Christ?
2. Who do you long to see there?

Prayer: Father, one of the mysterious of eternity is Your infinite nature.  You will for all times amaze us with Your great power and goodness.  I long for that day.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God give Us Offspring

Scripture: Ruth 4:13
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Insights: In today’s verses we see Ruth gave birth to a son.  In the spiritual sense we are also to be procreating.  Think for a moment how the apostle Paul addressed Timothy and Titus.  He called them true sons in the faith.  They were not his biological sons, but he was their spiritual father.  Whenever we lead someone to know Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior, we become that persons spiritual father or mother.  We are the ones who become responsible for them and their growth in the Lord.  We need to take on an active role of discipling them in the ways of the faith.  It is not the responsibility of the church staff to feed this baby in Christ, but of the one leading that person to Jesus.  It is for this reason I really personally prefer for the person who lead the individual to Jesus to perform the baptism of this new believer.  It gives a sense of spiritual blessing being passed on to the next generation.  Beloved, I fear we have grown very impotent in our proclamation of the gospel.  In a recent survey quoted on Thom Rainer’s podcast it stated it used to take fifty church members to lead one person to Christ.  Today it now takes eighty church members to lead a person to Christ.  What that survey was stating was not that eighty individuals have to go and share the gospel with a person before they get saved, but rather in a church of eighty they will likely have one conversion in that calendar year.  A church of 160 may have two conversions in a year.  A church of 240 may have three conversions in a year.  This statistic is the current average, but it does not have to be normative.  Any church, at any time, can say, “That is not good enough,” and can start to have an evangelistic zeal for the lost in this world.  I pray you will begin now asking the Lord to give you opportunities to share your faith and become a spiritual father or mother.  May the Lord richly bless you with a full quiver of spiritual children and grandchildren.  May His name be praised in all the world as a result of your faithfulness to Him.

1. Are you actively sharing your faith with people?
2. Have you ever had the blessing of leading someone to know Jesus Christ?

Prayer: Father, thank You for every opportunity You have given me to lead someone to Jesus.  Lord, I pray You open doors every day for me to share my faith with those around me and let Your love pour through me into their lives.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

God gives Us a Husband

Scripture: Ruth 4:13
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Insights: In today’s verses we see Ruth became Boaz’s wife.  In other words, we have a wedding taking place in this verse.  As with yesterday’s verse, today’s verse also is pointing us to a spiritual truth found in the Lord Jesus.  If we have received the gift of life we learned about yesterday, then we become members of the church.  When I say church in this context I am not referencing FBCBG, but the church universal.  I am referencing any person who has entered into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.  When one has that relationship, then they are a part of the church.  The church is called the bride of Christ.  Jesus tells us He has gone home to prepare for His bride.  In the book of Revelation we are told about the marriage feast the Lord Jesus is preparing for His bride, the church.  So, just as Ruth was given a husband, so we, who are a part of the church will also receive a husband.  I will readily tell you I do not understand the dynamics of how billions of saved souls through the ages become one bride, but then I also cannot fully comprehend how Jesus is One in Three.  I take these two concepts by faith because the Scriptures are abundantly clear this facts to be true.  Beloved, here is what I do know.  I know I long for the day in which Jesus returns to take His bride home with Him for this wedding feast.  I know that day will be a day of great rejoicing for Jesus’ bride.  I know on that day we will be changed and not be hindered by our old sin nature any longer.  It will be a marvelous day.  It is my prayer that every person that has not entered into this relationship with Jesus will do so and do so quickly because we do not know the day in which the Lord will return.  May God be glorified with a feast pact full of people and may we be intentional about reaching those people.

1. Do you long for the day when you will experience the wedding feast with the Bridegroom?
2. Is there anything preventing you from attending this wedding feast?

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your grace to allow me to be a part of this wedding feast as a member of Your church, the bride.  I long for the day of our union together and ask You to come quickly.  Amen.

Monday, December 28, 2015

God gives Us Life

Scripture: Ruth 4:15
“May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

Insights: This week we will be looking at the parallel between Boaz the kinsman redeemer and Jesus the Kinsman redeemer of all who will receive Him.  The first aspect we will look at today is the fact that the kinsman/Kinsman redeemer gives life.  Notice in today’s verses the women of the community say to Naomi her grandson is her restorer of life.  You will recall in chapter three there is an interchange where Naomi identifies herself among the dead, but now she is being identified as one having life restored to her.  This picture is the same of all humanity.  We are all born dead in our trespasses and sin because all have fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death.  Yet, God loves us and extends to us the offer of heaven as a free gift.  One of the problems is many people try to save themselves, but this notion is a joke because no one can save themselves.  In order for us to understand some of this idea regarding salvation and the sin of humanity we need to understand a little about God.  God is love and does not want to punish us, but He is also holy and must punish sin.  How then does God solve this apparent problem?  He solves it in the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ to the earth.  In the Old Testament we are told  all things are cleansed by blood and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.  Because our sin is an eternal problem, God needed an eternal sacrifice which was perfect.  Jesus was the answer to this apparent problem.  Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and three days later, He rose from the dead to live forevermore.  All one has to do is confess with their mouth Jesus died for his/her sins and believe in their heart God raised Him from the dead and he/she will be saved.  This faith is not just head knowledge.  The demons believe God exists, but they shudder because they know their eternal destiny is in the Lake of Fire.  Belief without repentance is NOT saving faith, but an intellectual activity.  Faith changes who we are and how we interact in this world.  Faith is not just temporary either.  In other words, too often people run to God in their time of trouble, but as soon as the trouble passes, they return to life their way.  This kind of faith is not saving faith either.  Saving faith is trusting Jesus Christ alone for one’s salvation.  If you have never received Jesus offer of life, let me challenge you to call out to Him today for salvation.

1. Are you trying to earn your own salvation?
2. Are you willing to receive Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior?

Prayer: Father, thank You for my salvation.  Grant me boldness to tell others about Jesus and His saving grace.  Amen.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Evaluations from 2015, Part 2

Yesterday I reflected on the first lesson I learned in 2015 which was focus and intentionality are vital for success.  The next one is similar to the first, but with a slightly different nuance.  The second lesson is priorities must constantly be evaluated.  Everything is bidding for our time, but our lives must have a proper alignment.  The alignment for me that I verbalize is God first, family second, work third and recreation last.  Recently I watched a Michael Hyatt video on priorities and it caused me to think about my list.  Not only does my list not have a provision for my personal health, but my list is just lip service.  If you were to poll my family, they would say my list would be God first or work first and vice versa, then would come the family.  As a result, I am asking the three important questions Michael Hyatt has challenged me to ask and am evaluating my priorities and their proper placement for the fulfillment of my life goals.  I recommend his three part video to you.  You can find it at the following link

The third lesson I learned this year was partnership and team-building are an absolute must.  I am absolutely incapable of accomplishing my goals without the help of others.  For example, Kristy’s and my financial goal for our adoption would not have been met if it had not been for two other couples with whom we partnered.  A second example is in regard to the vision FBCBG has just passed unanimously.  If the strategic planning team had not worked as hard and as diligently as they had, we would never have been able to present the proposal to the church.  As for the team-building aspect of this lesson, it is something the staff at FBCBG are constantly striving to develop in our lives.  We read books, listen to leadership cd’s and videos and spur each other on through conversation and reflection.  If it were not for this staff helping me stay focused and prioritized, then I would be drifting through my ministry and that would be an absolute failure.

The final lesson I learned was pleasure can be experienced vicariously.  As I have already stated, Kristy and I adopted three precious girls this year.  I have experienced more joy and pleasure in watching them tackle life than I believe I ever did living it myself.  I recall going to the beach with them and watching them play in the Gulf.  The thrill of watching them play soccer or show me artwork.  The pure fascination of listening to a child giggle with uncontrolled pleasure from playing and wrestling.  I had believed I was capable of rationalizing the joy of parenting, but to actually do it is a completely different matter.  It is far greater and more fulfilling than I could have ever dreamed.  I am truly a rich man because of these three young ladies.

There were other lessons I have learned this year, but these four I have written about yesterday and today are of the most important.  They are going to be tools by which I will judge and determine what I will do in 2016.  

Merry Christmas and may God bless you richly this day!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Evaluations from 2015, Part 1

Today is the first blog of this nature for me.  I began to ponder earlier in the month about my blogging process and procedures.  As you readers of my blog know, I blog summary statements from the sermon I preached the preceding Sunday.  There are, however, times in which I only have three points or possibly even four.  In the past, I have not blogged on the remaining Thursday and Friday of that particular week.  As I pondered my blogging I made a decision and that is to blog Monday through Friday even if I only have three or four points.  The last day or two of a week in which I don’t have five or more sermon points will consist of random Thoughts by Scott.  The subjects could deal with leadership, vision, relationships, or a host of other topics I sense the Lord would have me to write about that particular day.  I will still keep my words to around 500, but I am sure there will be times in which it will be less than that and times in which it will be more (like today).  On these days the format will be just this plain block paragraph look with no section division like my sermon blogs.

For today and tomorrow I wish to be reflective about 2015 and next week I will be using the remainder of the week to write about 2016 and various thoughts I have.  As you know Kristy and I adopted three girls this year and it has caused me to rethink my life.  There are four lessons I have learned and they are:

  • Focus and Intentionality are Vital for Success
  • Priorities Must Constantly be Evaluated
  • Partnership and Team-building are an Absolute Must
  • Pleasure can be Experienced Vicariously

Let me clarify these four lessons.  Here is what I mean by focus and intentionality are vital for success.  In this world there are all kind of good things which fight for our time and attention.  There are funny television shows.  There are good work projects.  There are enjoyable relationships.  There are a lot of good things, but I am reminded of Jim Collins book Good to Great which was written in 2001 in which he talks about why some companies become great and others just remain good.  Jesus Himself did not give us the good commission or the good commandment.  Rather He gave us the great commission and the great commandment.

As a result of this thought process it has made me evaluate and make certain decisions this year and I can tell it will already be making an influence on my decision in 2016.  Let me list a few here for you.  I have not watched television (this does not mean Friday night movie night with my family) since June of this year.  I have chosen to stop scrolling through Facebook feeds.  There were two game apps I used to play and one of them was not relaxing and it took too long to accomplish the daily task.  As a result, I quit playing it.

The point I am attempting to make is we need to focus the use of our time and be intentional about doing things that will help us meet our life objectives.  There were a couple of television shows I found enjoyable.  Facebook did help me keep up with friends and family (though more often than not, I was frustrated with what I would read).  As for the game, I really have no idea why I played it.  These activities though took up too much time and did not help me meet my life objectives.  As a result, I had to get rid of them.  In order for me to succeed as a father and a pastor, I needed become more focused and intentional about the activities in which I chose to participate  Tomorrow I will elaborate on the remaining three lessons I learned this year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Characteristic #3 of REAL Worshippers Motivated by Love is Blessing

Scripture: Ruth 4:11-12
All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem.  “Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

Insights: The third characteristic of a real worshipper motivated by love is blessing.  What I mean by that sentence is we are blessed by the Lord when we live a life of integrity and commitment.  Notice in the passage today the elders of the town dispense three blessings on Boaz.  Firstly, they blessed him with the phrase about Ruth bearing him children like Rachel and Leah.  You will recall these two ladies are the mothers of the twelve sons of Jacob and they become the twelve tribes of Israel.  In essence these men have blessed him with a mighty nation.  Secondly, they bless him with wealth and fame.  Thirdly, they bless him with a descendent of whom would have power just as Judah was a source of power for Perez.  So, through these elders God was promising Boaz many children, wealth and fame and ultimately power through his great grandson David who would be the king through whom the Messiah would eventually come into the world.  Beloved, when we read a passage like this it ought to make us thankful for the Lord with whom we serve.  The old hymn Count Your Many Blessings ought to resinate in our hearts and in our worship.  It also ought to spur us on to seek the Lord’s favor and reap even further blessings.  I think much of the churches problem in America is a lack of gratitude to the Lord for His blessings and a failure to request more blessings because of our self-sufficient attitude.  Let me challenge you, especially as we approach Christmas day on Friday, to count your blessings and name them one by one.  Let me also encourage you to seek the Lord with a whole heart and ask for His favor to be on your life with rich blessings.  May your life resemble that of Boaz and have a heritage follow behind you, to receive great wealth and fame, and to be a person of influence to those around you.  May God bless you in this light as you draw closer and more dependent on Him.

1. When was the last time you counted your blessings and named them one by one?
2. Do you regularly pray for the Lord to bless you with His favor?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the blessings You have given me in the past.  I pray also for Your hand of favor to be on my life now and bless me with Your great provision and grace. Amen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Characteristic #2 of REAL Worshippers Motivated by Love is Commitment

Scripture: Ruth 4:5-10
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.”  The closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it.”  Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel.  So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal.  Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.  “Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.”

Insights: The second characteristic of a real worshipper motivated by love is commitment.  In our passage today we see the closer kinsman-redeemer is unwilling to commit to the task of marrying Ruth.  Boaz, on the other hand, is more than willing to commit to such a life change.  Let me be a little transparent at this point.  I, whether I ought to or not, often times, relate lack of commitment to laziness.  If there is anything my parents did right it was to teach me the value of hard work.  Laziness is a major source of irritation for me and one in which I often have to go to Jesus to help me show grace.  I share this little rant because commitment is something I fear is waining in the church today.  People approach church life as a country club (for further information about this idea, please read Thom Rainer’s book I Am A Church Member).  As a result, they often times do not serve in any capacity, but are upset when things do not go the way they wish they would.  These individuals then move into the complainer category.  The best solution for this mindset is to commit to serve in the local church.  When you are working hard, you are too busy to get sidetracked by the negativity of the uncommitted.  Let me encourage you to serve valiantly for the Lord.

1.  Are you committed to following hard after Jesus?
2.  Is there any possible reason you could give that would validate non-commitment to the Lord?

Prayer: Father, You gave Your everything for me, how could I possibly not commit to You.  Forgive me in my failings of the past and strengthen me to be faithful in my future obedience.  Amen.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Characteristic #1 of REAL Worshippers Motivated by Love is Integrity

Scripture: Ruth 4:1-4
Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down.  He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down.  Then he said to the closest relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.  “So I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it before those who are sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am after you.’ ” And he said, “I will redeem it.

Insights: This week we will look at three primary characteristics of REAL worshippers motivated by love.  Today we will examine the first characteristic and it is integrity.  Integrity does two things for us.  Firstly, integrity shows we trust God.  Notice from today’s verses Boaz was willing to risk losing Ruth in order to do things correctly.  He went to the city gate, which was the location of legal actions, and assembled the elders in order to be witnesses at this business deal.  He then gathered the man with whom he desired to do business.  The third thing Boaz did was present the situation to this closer kinsman-redeemer.  Finally, he waited and risked Ruth for the man’s response.  Secondly, integrity keeps us from hypocrisy.  In other words, we live and act the way we believe.  If we are hypocritical, then our words do not match our actions.  Boaz, however, knew there was a closer kinsman-redeemer.  Instead of eloping with Ruth and causing a family feud, Boaz did the honorable thing and his actions gave proof to his words.  He did not avoid the proper channels, but acted in a forthright and honorable manner.  I fear our world is full of people who do not live a life of integrity.  They are not dependent on the Lord and as a result their words do not match their actions.  Beloved, let our lives be characterized by integrity.  Let us worship the Lord through our actions which display our trust in Him.  May our lives bring Him glory as we radiate consistency and grace.

  1. Does your life exhibit trust in the Lord?
  2. Do your words match your actions?

Prayer: Father, I desire to live a life of integrity which proves my trust in You.  May I not be duplicitous in nature, but always the same in my private life and my public life.  Amen

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Love Waits Patiently

Scripture: Ruth 3:14-18
So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”  Again he said, “Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it.” So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city.  When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her.  She said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”

Insights: The final way to walk through the uncertainties of life is to wait patiently on the Lord to work in midst of your situation.  As soon as I write those words, you may be one who has been told, “Don’t ask the Lord for patience.”  The reason people make this kind of statement is because there is only one way the Lord teaches us patience and that is by taking us through life situations that require us to display patience.  In other words, trials and tests.  Yet, we as believers do need to learn this very important spiritual discipline.  In today’s verses we see Ruth and Naomi waiting at home with great anticipation for Boaz to go and setting the matter of kinsman redeemer.  I can only imagine the anxious atmosphere of their home that day, but I know of other situations in my own life that help me to relate in a small way.  Beloved, the reality is we all face these difficult circumstances we have written about this week.  Good or bad, the lessons of patience we learn in these situations are not always fun, but very valuable.  The key to learning these lessons quickly is maintained intimacy with the Lord.  Seek Him daily in His Word, the Bible.  Pray to Him every time you feel anxious.  Worship Him in song and other ways to take your focus off of your circumstance and on to Him who can fix your problem.  In all of it ask Him for wisdom and discernment and the wait.  It will not be easy, but don’t rush Him, trust Him and be amazed at His grace.

  1. Do you find it difficult to wait patiently on the Lord to work in the midst of your circumstances?
  2. Have you learned the importance of prayer during the times of waiting on the Lord?

Prayer: Father, I am not a patient person, but You have worked in my life over the years and I am better today at waiting because of Your grace.  Lord, continue, please, to dispense Your mercy on my life as I learn to wait patiently on You.  Amen

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Love is Encouraged

Scripture: Ruth 3:9-13
He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning.”

Insights: Ruth took a great risk when she took her mother-in-laws advice and went to Boaz at night.  She face potential scandal and major repercussions if things had turned out differently.  As a result of all that was at stack, Ruth was definitely one in need of encouragement.  Boaz gave her this encouragement when he spoke kindly to her, praised her for the choice she had made, and promised to take care of her in the morning.  Beloved, in the world in which we live, I believe this subject of encouragement is one of the most needed in the church today.  People are stressed like at no other time in my life.  The pressures and speed of life have picked up rapidly as the decades have rolled on through to the present day.  People face words of criticism at work, at home, at church, and countless other places.  People are literally shriveling up from the oppression of negativity and frustrations of life.  It is because of this reality, as I see it, that I believe the church needs to be a beacon of hope and positive encouragement.  People need to know there is a future and a hope for them.  Ultimately for those of us in Christ Jesus, our hope is in heaven.  Yet, while we traverse this world, we still can have hope Jesus is walking with us through the good times and the bad.  As a result, we ought to be intentional about sharing hope with others.  We need to tell them life is going to get better and tell them to trust in Jesus.  It is my prayer you become a great encourager of others in this world.

  1. Will you be willing to encourage someone today?
  2. In what ways have you been encouraged lately?
Prayer: Father, I am not always the best at recognizing those who are in need of encouragement.  Help me to see them with Your eyes and then grant me Your words to speak hope and life into their lives.  As a result may we all be more encouraged in the days of uncertainty to remain faithful to You.  Amen

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Love Adheres to Godly Advice

Scripture: Ruth 3:6-8
So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.  When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.  It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.

Insights: Yesterday we learned we need to seek out godly advice.  Today, however, we go one step further.  I have known people who have come to me for advice, and at times on a fairly regular basis, but at the end of the day, they have not adhered to the advice I had given.  In many of these cases all the individual wanted was someone with whom to unload their woes.  In other situations, they were coming for advice, but with the intent to tell me what they were going to do.  When this scenario occurred, it was because they wanted me to grant them my blessing.  The sad part is, in most of this second situation, the person was asking me to condone his/her sinful decision.  In those situations I had to tell the person I was incapable of supporting his/her decision.  Beloved, here is the point.  After receiving godly advice, Ruth “did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.”  Here is a woman who adheres to the advice and models for us the proper response to godly wisdom.  When I think about Ruth’s proper response, it make me evaluate my life and the council I have been given in the past.  There have been times in which I have listened to this advice and there have been other times in which I have not.  I believe this is true for all of us.  I would encourage, however, to be more on the receptive side of adhering to godly advice.  These individuals with whom we have been given council are not living in some ivory tower somewhere spitting out platitudes which are not relevant to our daily lives.  These individuals are often in the trenches.  They have faced what we have faced and made it through to the other side.  They have sought the Lord God through His Word and they themselves have often times been mentored along their life journey as well.  Let us listen.  Let us prayer.  Let us read God’s Word.  Let us adhere to what we have learned.

1. When you are given godly advice, do you adhere to it?
2. If you don’t, what do you think is the reason for rejecting such advice?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the people You have put in my life to give me advice which honors You.  Grant me the courage to listen and follow the advice given to me.  Amen.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Love Receives Godly Advice

Scripture: Ruth 3:1-5
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?  “Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight.  “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.  “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”  She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”

Insights:  Life is full of uncertainties.  We all face these times of indecision or lack of clarity.  When we are in those situations we need to do exactly what Ruth did.  She received godly advice from her mother-in-law, Naomi.  I am not saying we need to run to our mother-in-law, rather what I am saying is we need to seek out godly advice.  This advice needs to come from someone with whom we know is growing in their relationship with the Lord.  We also know this person is not going to give us advice in contradiction to the Word of God, the Bible.  As a side note, more often than not, the advice given is not going to be easy to accomplish.  In other words, godly advice is often the tool God uses to stretch and grow us as His children.  A second thought regarding this godly advice that stretches us is it often times requires us to take a risk.  The advice Naomi gave Ruth had the hint of scandal to it if things did not go according to plan.  It did not negate the advice, but it did add extra pressure.  Beloved, your circumstance will most likely be different from that of Ruth, but it is still a life circumstance.  It could fall in the realm of a relationship circumstance or a financial circumstance or an addiction situation.  At the end of the day, you will not be able to walk yourself out of the circumstance.  You desperately need God and He often uses people as His instrument of communication.  I encourage you to seek them out and listen to their words of advice.  Tomorrow I will tell you what you need to do with the advice you receive from these godly people.

1. Is there a person in your life with whom you can go and receive godly advice?
2. What advice have you recently received and was it helpful?

Prayer: Father, I am grateful I do not have to traverse this life alone.  You put godly people in my path who help navigate my circumstances.  They are a treasured asset to me.  Thank You for them.  Amen.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

God is Not Satisfied with JUST Lavishing on His Own, He Desires to Awe Them

Scripture: Ruth 2:20-23
Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives.”  Then Ruth the Moabitess said, “Furthermore, he said to me, ‘You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.’ ”  Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field.”  So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

Insights:  We conclude this week with the reality God not only wants to provide for us, but He wants to do it in such a fashion we understand He is lavishing grace on us.  God, however, does not just stop with lavishing His provision and grace on us.  He goes one step further as well.  God also desires to awe us with His power and purpose.  Recall with me that Naomi’s interests were peaked.  After her interest was peaked, she asked questions.  When she heard the answer Ruth gave her, she then was awed by God’s wonderful love.  Remember with me the mental state in which Naomi was living when she returned back to Bethlehem.  She asked for the ladies to call her Mara because God had afflicted her.  She looked at her life as being that of a dead woman.  Upon hearing the news Ruth gives to her, Naomi states, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.”  Many presume the dead Naomi is referencing is her son who was married to Ruth.  Others, and I tend to fall into this camp, think she is referencing herself in that phrase.  Ruth is the one living and she is the one dead.  She can produce no more children.  She is older in life and has one foot in the grave as the old saying goes.  Yet, in spit of those conditions, God wows her.  She is in awe of His immense mercy and grace.  Beloved, we ought to live life in such a fashion we are eagerly anticipating God to do something marvelous.  He desires to awe us with His majesty and might.  We need to open our eyes to His great activity and love.  Praise be to the Lord!

1. Are you able to recall the last time God awed you?
2. What was it about that moment that made it truly unique and God inspiring?

Prayer: Father, I request this day You open my eyes and help me to see You working in this world.  Help my heart to be tender enough to be awed by You.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

When We Tell Others, Their Interests are Peaked

Scripture: Ruth 2:19
Her mother-in-law then said to her, “Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.”

Insights:  We learned yesterday when we are lavished on by the Lord, we need to tell other people about it.  As we are displaying this excitement to them, more often than not they will begin to ask questions.  Look at today’s verse for example.  Ruth has the “show and tell” we discussed yesterday and then Naomi responds, “Where did you work today?”  She has become interested in this lavished provision from the Lord.  Ruth tells here about Boaz and that answer sets us up for tomorrow’s Thoughts by Scott.  Until then, let me elaborate a little more on this idea of people asking us questions.  In 1 Peter 3:15 we read, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”  People will ask questions because their interests are peaked if our life is different.  The reason our lives are different is because we have this hope.  Ruth had hope and proof the Lord was going to provide for them.  As a result, she encouraged Naomi to believe in God’s grace as well.  Naomi wants to know more about this amazing grace of God.  Beloved, we must be ready to share with others the reason we have hope and we must unashamedly tell them the answer is Jesus.  It is my personal fear the reason the church is not seeing more dramatic advancements in the gospel is because the church has become blinded to the activity of God.  With our impaired vision we rationalize and justify the activities of this world and miss the connection between the Creator and His creation.  If we the church are not connecting the dots, then how can we expect the lost world to see His activity.  Romans tells us they are still accountable to God’s testimony even if they reject it or don’t acknowledge it because God is still working.  The church needs to be the one to help them to accept this message of hope and grace as they see it displayed in our lives.  Pray for the Lord to give you boldness and wisdom to point those pricked by your excitement to the Jesus.

1. Have your conversations in life stirred others to ask you questions about your excitement in Jesus?
2. Do you have an intentional plan as to how to respond to people when they start asking questions for the excitement in your life?

Prayer: Father, please grant me the boldness and wisdom to know what to say to people who ask me for the reason I have hope.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

When We are Lavished on, We Tell Others

Scripture: Ruth 2:17-18
So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.  She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.

Insights:  The second point this week is in some fashion difficult to put in written format.  If you had been at FBCBG Sunday, you would have watched me visualize this scene in such a fashion you would understand Ruth SPOKE words to her mother regarding the barley she harvested.  When God lavishes His love on us we have but one response and that is to tell others.  Ruth comes home and has “show and TELL” with Naomi about the days work.  To help you better understand the extend of the lavished love of God on Ruth you need to know what an ephah is.  There are historical discrepancies because of price gauging regarding how much an ephah weighed.  On the low end it would have been thirty pounds.  On the high side it would have been around fifty pounds.  Either way, this amount is far greater than any poor peasant gleaning the leftovers would have ever produced after a days worth of work.  It is for this reason Ruth comes home and “without” words just nonchalantly places the barley on the floor and opens her lunch pell and hands dinner over to Naomi and finally goes to bed quietly.  This version of the story just did not happen.  Ruth rushed home.  She flung the door open wide and hurriedly came inside.  She calls her mother-in-law loudly to come and see what the Lord has done and she proudly shows the ephah of barley and leftover lunch.  This thirty pounds was the lightest she had ever carried.  Beloved, do we get excited to tell others WITH OUR WORDS about the love of God?  He has done so much for us.  His Son died on a cross for our sins.  He purchased eternal life for us in His kingdom.  We have a future free of pain and sorrow and it is filled with joy and gladness.  We must go and tell others about Jesus.  This proclamation is imperative on our parts if we are going to give a proper response to God’s lavished grace.  Pray for God’s passion to fill your heart and out of the overflow spread His love.

1. Who are you telling about God’s lavish provision in your life?
2. How excited are you at the privilege of being God’s mouthpiece to the world regarding His amazing love?

Prayer: Father, let my prayer be the same as the early church.  Lord, grant me boldness to proclaim unapologetically the name of Jesus.  Thank You for the way You lavish me with Your love, may I respond in a proper manner and tell others of Your grace.  Amen.

Monday, December 7, 2015

God does not just Provide, He also Lavishes on His Own

Scripture: Ruth 2:14-16
At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.  When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her.  “Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”

Insights:  Last week we learned God provides for those whom He loves.  In today’s verses, however, I want to expand the thought regarding God’s provision.  Notice with me Boaz feeds her lunch to such an extent she has to get a doggie back to take the rest home with her.  Also notice Boaz gives instruction to his sight manager to let her glean from the sheaves and to intentionally drop some grain for her to pick up along the way.  Beloved, she was already provided for in the previous verses we looked at last week.  In these verses we see God lavishing her with extra blessing and grace.  I would tell you this pattern is God’s hearts desire.  He does not just wish to supply our needs, but rather wishes to WOW us with His grace.  Does Ruth need more food than she has already harvested at this point?  The answer is no, but God is in a very real way displaying to her His amazing grace and provision.  I think one of the problems with the modern church is we have become so self-sufficient and prideful we no longer “need” God to provide for us.  Because we don’t even “need” His provision, we have lost the possibility of being lavished upon by the Lord.  We need to return to a biblical state of humility, gratitude and dependence on the Lord God.  As we display such an honest and contrite heart to the splendor of our King, we will be awed as we experience His ever increasing provision with which He is lavishing upon His own.  It is my prayer you evaluate your life and your walk with the Lord.  It is my desire for us all to experience the WOW of God’s love as He lavishes His goodness on us.  Tomorrow we will see Ruth’s response to being lavished on by the Lord.

1.  Have you expressed gratitude to the Lord for the way He lavishes provision and love on you?
2.  How have you recently experienced God’s lavish provision in you life?

Prayer: Father, Your abundant provision is always amazing, but when You lavish Your grace on me, I am overwhelmed with inexpressible joy and thanksgiving.  Thank Your for Your love.  Amen.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Love is Grateful

Scripture: Ruth 2:10-13
Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”  Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.  “May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”  Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”

Insights:  My final thought this week deals with gratitude.  Notice how Ruth responds to Boaz for his kindness and provision.  She fell on her face and bowed to the ground.  She has physically demonstrated her appreciation for the love Boaz has extended to her.  When I read of such authentic displays of gratitude it forces me to evaluate my own life.  I fear all too often I say prayers of platitude to the Lord without much sincerity.  In other words, I know I ought to say grace before a meal so I pray and thank God for His provision.  Is this prayer of mine just a prayer or am I honestly seeking the Lord and giving Him true expressions of gratitude.  If I am honest with myself I think I fall into the category of taking God’s blessings for granted.  I mean, He always takes care of me, why ought I to expect something different.  Yet, He does not promise to make my life here on earth all roses without thorns and cake for dessert.  As a result, when He does extend His hand of mercy to me I ought to be extremely grateful and overly expressive of my love for His kindness.  Let me challenge you, Beloved, especially as Christmas approaches, to take an inventory of your life.  After thinking about your life, give the Lord honest and sincere gratitude for His loving kindness.  It will bless your heart to love Him in this fashion and He will be brought glory.  Thank Him today.  Thank Him right now!

1.  Are you grateful for the Lord’s provision?
2.  In what ways do you demonstrate your gratitude to Him?

Prayer: Father, thank You is not enough.  May my life be spent serving You to the point all see You and You are brought glory.  Amen.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Love is Provided for by God

Scripture: Ruth 2:8-9
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids.  “Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.”

Insights:  Boaz responds to Ruth in the earthly equivalent to how God ministers to us.  In fact, Boaz is an Old Testament picture of Jesus and the way He ultimately redeems us from our sin.  In today’s verses we see Boaz providing for Ruth through the permission to glean from his fields and his willingness to let her drink from his servants water jars.  We know God’s heart is to be our Jehovah Jireh, which means the Lord God our provider.  The story in which God is given this title is found in Genesis chapter twenty-two.  God has asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and as he is about to when God stops him.  God then provides him a ram that has gotten caught in the thicket.  This theme of God’s provision is traced all the way back to the Garden with the fall of Adam and Eve and continues on all the way into the book of Revelation with God’s provision of the Wedding Feast.  At this point in our story of Ruth we see Boaz telling her to go to no other fields to glean, but to always return to his.  Boaz is giving this instruction for provision and protection.  What a beautiful picture of the way God treats us.  Beloved, God is still in the provision business.  He wants us to call out to Him and make our requests known so that He can sweep in and be our great provider.  One of our problems is we try to be prideful and self-sufficient.  We need to not be self-sufficient, but dependent on the God who owns the entire universe.  It is my prayer you will turn to Him and let Him be your provider.

1.  In what ways has God provided for you in the pass?
2.  What need are you presently looking to the Lord to fulfill?

Prayer: Father, thank You for always being my provider.  Your are always on time and I say thank You.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Love is Perceptive of Others

Scripture: Ruth 2:4-7
Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”  Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”  The servant in charge of the reapers replied, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.  “And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.”

Insights:  I love this portion of the passage.  Boaz the CEO comes and does a walk-a-bout with his employees.  He comes to his operations manager and is shooting the breeze about the daily activities.  He looks up and a notices a lady sitting in the break room and interrupts his managers report and asks, “Who is that young woman over there in the corner?”  Now, what we don’t know is if there were other sojourners in the room or other poor people from town or if it was just Ruth.  Whatever the situation, however, Boaz’ perception is specifically drawn to her and his interest is peaked.  The operations manager gives him the run down on who she is and what her work ethic had been that morning.  Beloved, people who are real worshippers of God have such a relationship with the Father they are pliable in His hands.  He prompts their hearts and He guides their eyes to notice other people and their needs.  For some people this comes as naturally as breathing.  For others, however, it is an area in which the Holy Spirit must continually work on the individuals visual perceptions.  Unfortunately, I fall in this later category, but even a few weeks ago, I was at a gas station and noticed this man who obviously was in need.  He was not in need of food or clothing.  In fact he was dressed very well, but as he stood there, I could tell he was needing something.  Normally, I would walk past a person like this and “not” notice them.  On this day, however, the Holy Spirit told me to say hello.  I ended up giving him a ride to the bank and I was late to my appointment.  The Lord was trying to teach me to be perceptive of other people and their needs.  I am grateful the Lord does not give up on me and continues to work on my heart.  May He continue to work on yours as well.

1.  Would you describe your personality as one which is perceptive of other people and their needs or are you oblivious to them?
2.  If you are typically not perceptive of others, what might you do to become more intentional about noticing other people?

Prayer: Father, You are intimately concerned for all of Your creation.  Help me to love and have a burden for them as You stir my heart.  Amen.