Read: Ruth 3:1-11
Widows in biblical times often faced a life of poverty. That’s the situation Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, were in after each woman lost her husband. But God had a plan to provide security for them while involving Ruth as an integral part of a much bigger plan.
Boaz, a wealthy landowner, knew of and admired Ruth (Ruth 2:5-12), but he was surprised when he awoke one night to see her lying at his feet (3:8). She asked him to “spread the corner” of his garment over her to indicate that as a close relative he was willing to be her “kinsman-redeemer” (v.9 NIV). This was more than a request for protection; she was requesting marriage. Boaz agreed to marry her (vv.11-13; 4:13).
Not exactly your typical romantic tale. But Ruth’s choice to follow Naomi’s instructions (3:3-6) set up a series of events that placed her in God’s plan of redemption! From Ruth’s marriage to Boaz came a son (Obed), the eventual grandfather of King David (4:17). Generations later, Joseph was born to the family, and he became the “legal father” of Mary’s child (Matt. 1:16-17; Luke 2:4-5)—ourKinsman-Redeemer, Jesus.
Ruth trusted God and followed Naomi’s instructions even though the ending was uncertain. We too can count on God to provide for us when life is unsure.
to advice from loved ones who know You well.
Show us the right thing to do in our uncertain
times and to trust You for the results. Amen.
Read: 1 Peter 5:1-9
One early autumn morning as I drove to work in the dark, I was startled by a flash of brown in my headlights followed by the sound of something hitting the front of my car. I had clipped a deer at 70 miles per hour! It was only a glancing blow, and no damage was done to my car (or the deer, as far as I could tell), but it really shook me up. I had been in my usual “autopilot mode” for the familiar drive to the office, but the shock of the incident certainly got my attention. I was now fully alert and trying to calm a racing heartbeat. It was a most unpleasant wake-up call.
The apostle Peter offers us a different kind of wake-up call—one that while unpleasant is necessary. He alerts us to a spiritual battle we are engaged in with a powerful enemy. Peter warns, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This is a call to wake up, see the danger, and be ready for his attack!
Only when we are aware of the danger that faces us every day will we consciously seek the help we need. And only if we are on the alert will we lean on the strength of our Lord, who is greater than our spiritual enemy.
We need not fear defeat;
For when God fights the battle,
Our enemies retreat. —Sper
Read: Psalm 22:1-8,19-26
Do you know which psalm is quoted most often in the New Testament? You may have guessed the familiar and beloved 23rd Psalm, but actually it is Psalm 22. This psalm begins with David’s poignant, heart- breaking words that were quoted by Jesus on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34).
Imagine the situation David must have found himself in that caused him to cry out to God in this way. Notice that he felt forsaken and abandoned: “Why are You so far from helping me?” (Ps. 22:1). He also felt ignored: “O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear” (v.2).
Ever been there? Have you ever looked up into the heavens and wondered why it seemed that God had abandoned you, or was ignoring you? Welcome to David’s world. But for every plaintive cry David expresses, there is a characteristic of God mentioned that rescues him from despondency. Through it all, David discovers that God is holy (v.3), trustworthy (vv.4-5), a deliverer and rescuer (vv.8,20-21), and his strength (v.19).
Do you feel forsaken? Seek the Lord. Rehearse His character. And “let your heart rejoice with everlasting joy” (v.26 nlt).
my life. When those times come, please remind me
of Your character as You did David. Help me to
lean on You again and know that You are there.
His loving care is all around us.
Read: Psalm 145:1-13
Every summer, thousands of Good Morning America viewers cast their votes to select “The Most Beautiful Place in America.” I was delighted when the winner for 2011 was announced—Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in my home state of Michigan. Admittedly, I didn’t expect the winning location to be in my own backyard. It reminded me of the time my wife, Martie, and I visited Niagara Falls. A man nearby watched our tourist behavior and quipped, “Ain’t nothin’ to it. I see it every day.”
How easily we grow accustomed to our surroundings and dulled to things that are familiar—even places and experiences that once brought great delight. Although God’s glory is clearly displayed all around us, sometimes the busyness of everyday life blocks our view. We take for granted His amazing work in our lives. We lose the wonder of the cross. We forget the privilege of being His child. We neglect the pleasure of His presence and miss the beauty of His creation.
I love the psalmist’s declaration: “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works” (Ps. 145:5). Let’s take time today to meditate on God’s “wondrous works” and get a fresh glimpse of His glory!
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise. —Pierpoint
Read: Acts 18:24-28
I admire people who can articulate their beliefs and persuade others with their rhetoric. Some call it “the gift of gab” or “having a way with words.” Others call it “eloquence.”
Apollos had that gift. We are told that he was “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). But although he taught accurately about Christ, he preached only of the baptism of John which was a baptism of repentance from sin (v.25; 19:4).
Apollos knew about Jesus’ teachings but may not have known about His death and resurrection and that the Spirit had now come (Acts 2). His teaching was incomplete because he didn’t know about being filled with the Spirit for daily empowerment.
So Priscilla and Aquila, a wife and husband who were friends of Paul, invited Apollos into their home to correct his teaching. Although he was highly educated and knew the Scriptures well, Apollos humbly accepted their instruction. As a result, Apollos was able to continue his ministry, but with newfound understanding.
Psalm 25:9 reminds us that God “guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way” (NIV). If we have a spirit of humility, we can be taught by God and be used to touch the lives of others.
More of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do. —Gabriel
Read: Lamentations 3:13-26
Perhaps the most painful statement a person can hear is, “I don’t love you anymore.” Those words end relationships, break hearts, and shatter dreams. Often, people who have been betrayed guard themselves against future pain by deciding not to trust anyone’s love again. That settled conviction may even include the love of God.
The remarkable thing about God’s love for us is His promise that it will never end. The prophet Jeremiah experienced devastating circumstances that left him emotionally depleted (Lam. 3:13-20). His own people rejected his repeated calls to respond to God’s love and follow Him. At a low point, Jeremiah said, “My strength and my hope have perished from the Lord” (v.18).
Yet, in his darkest hour Jeremiah considered God’s unfailing love and wrote, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lam. 3:22-24). A person may vow to love us forever yet fail to keep that promise, but God’s love remains steadfast and sure. “He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). That’s a love we can trust.
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be. —Matheson
Read: Genesis 1
When he was a teenager, my son asked me one of those questions that make you earn your pay as a parent. “Dad,” Steve inquired, “if God has existed for eternity, what was He doing before He created the universe?”
So, what was happening in the eons before “God created the heavens and the earth”? (Gen. 1:1). For one thing, we know that there was “wisdom” before creation itself, which came from God’s character. Wisdom, personified in Proverbs 8:23, said, “I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”
Also, we know that God’s salvation plan of grace was in the works before the world was hung in its place. In 2 Timothy 1:9, we read that grace “was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” Likewise, Titus 1:2 says that eternal life was promised “before time began.” We also know that Jesus was glorified and loved in God’s presence “before the world was” (John 17:5; see also v.24).
These tiny glimpses of God before He created the earth help us see a little of the essence and magnitude of our awesome, eternal God. We see His majesty and greatness. Amazing, isn’t it? We worship a God who existed from the beginning . . . and beyond.
You are the Alpha and Omega—the Beginning
and the End—and so much more. Thank You
that we can worship and magnify You.
—Sir Thomas Browne
Read: 2 Timothy 2:14-26
Recently I was reading about how easy it is to mishandle the message of the Bible. We may try to make it support what we already believe is true instead of allowing it to speak to us with God’s intended message. Some people use the Bible to defend one side of an issue, while others use the Bible to attack that same issue. Both quote Scripture to support their views, but both can’t be right.
It is important as we use God’s Word that we are committed to saying no more and no less than the Scriptures actually say. If we mishandle the Word, we misrepresent it, which ultimately misrepresents God’s character. This is why Paul challenged Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). A key priority for unashamed, approved workers for Christ is to accurately interpret (“rightly divide”) God’s Word. As we study, we can depend on the Spirit, who inspired it, to give us understanding and wisdom.
Through our words and actions, we have opportunity to represent God’s Word in ways that genuinely reflect God’s heart. That is one of the greatest privileges of the Christian life.
our lives. May we give it the serious care and
handling it so richly deserves, and may we live it
out daily through our actions and attitudes. Amen.
Read: Psalm 23
I’ve heard people say, “I’m not afraid of death because I’m confident that I’m going to heaven; it’s the dying process that scares me!” Yes, as Christians, we look forward to heaven but may be afraid of dying. We need not be ashamed to admit that. It is natural to be afraid of the pain that comes with dying, of being separated from our loved ones, of possibly impoverishing our families, and of regret over missed earthly opportunities.
Why don’t Christians need to be afraid of death? Because Jesus was raised from the grave, and we who are in Christ will also be raised. That is why in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, Paul proclaimed: “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The dying process itself is but an escort that ushers us into eternity with God. As we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” we can have this confidence from God’s Word: “You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). The picture here is of the Lord coming alongside us, giving comfort and direction as He escorts us through the dark valley to the “house of the Lord.” There we will dwell with Him forever (v.6).
Stepping out safe on that shore,
Sadness and suffering over,
Dwelling with Christ evermore! — Anon.
Read: 2 Chronicles 14:1-11
An 85-year-old woman, all alone in a convent, got trapped inside an elevator for 4 nights and 3 days. Fortunately, she had a jar of water, some celery sticks, and a few cough drops. After she tried unsuccessfully to open the elevator doors and get a cell phone signal, she decided to turn to God in prayer. “It was either panic or pray,” she later told CNN. In her distress, she relied on God and waited till she was rescued.
Asa was also faced with the options of panic or pray (2 Chron. 14). He was attacked by an Ethiopian army of a million men. But as he faced this huge fighting force, instead of relying on military strategy or cowering in dread, he turned to the Lord in urgent prayer. In a powerful and humble prayer, Asa confessed his total dependence on Him, asked for help, and appealed to the Lord to protect His own name: “Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude” (v.11). The Lord responded to Asa’s prayer, and he won the victory over the Ethiopian army.
When we are faced with tight spots, meager resources, a vast army of problems, or seemingly dead-end solutions, let’s not panic but instead turn to God who fights for His people and gives them victory.
me to rely on You and draw close to You. Then I
know I’ll be able to stand strong in Your power
and won’t be dependent on my own strength.