Tag Archive: Blessing

post by carolnl | | Closed

Blessed to Bless Others

As promised last week, I began to keep a gratitude journal. It’s been a wonderful start to most days. Whether it’s gratitude for seeing a good movie (we watched “The Chosen”, first two episodes of Season 3, on the big screen with friends Friday evening), for my husband’s godly response and leadership in a situation, or for rich times together with family and friends, writing what I’m thankful for sets a tone for the day. And I’m grateful for that!

This morning Pastor Tim taught from Psalm 67.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us…” (v. 1)

God’s grace is the root of his favor toward us. When Moses asked to see God, God told him if he saw God’s face, Moses would die. God’s holiness was too overwhelming for man to look on. So as He passed by his servant, God turned His face so Moses would not see it and die. And yet, His face shines on us. He is FOR us!

A OnePoll survey conducted in 2022 found that two of three Americans don’t think they’ll ever see positive change in their lives. And 51% of young Americans feel hopelessness.

So how can we be a blessing in this discouraged and hurting world?

What if those of us who choose gratitude express that in how we greet others, in reaching out to help in whatever ways we can, whether with food, repairs, car rides, or a smile and a kind word?

What if we focus on praising God for His blessings rather than complaining about what we’re missing? My cousin just told me about a PBS show her husband taped of Dr. Daniel Amen, who does brain imaging. (https://www.amenclinics.com/)  She said “A friend of his said she was writing a book on gratitude and would he please image her mind while she thought about all the good things in her life. He did and said all the right places were lit up in her brain.

“Then he suggested they do it again while she meditated on all her hurts etc. All the bad places lit up. Our designer knows how to make us run well!

What we think, our focus, actually changes our brain!

How does that make you feel? I am deeply thankful that He is FOR me, that He forgives and cleanses and has a plan for my life. While that plan may not look the way I anticipated my life would look, it is a plan “for good, and not for evil; to give you hope, and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

So when life is painful because of divorce, conflict within the family, chronic or terminal illness, loss, or a stressful job, God is still FOR us. He desires a relationship with every one of us, made possible by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and by His resurrection life. We may also need the help of others to deal with specific issues–physicians, surgeons, therapists, pastors/priests–but those are using their gifts to bless us as well.

Victor Frankl was a highly respected psychiatrist in Vienna when, in 1942, he and his family were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where his father perished. The remaining Frankls were moved to Auschwitz in 1944, where his mother was exterminated. His wife died in Bergen-Belsen. Degrading brutality surrounded him, and Frankl theorized that those inmates who had some meaning, some purpose in their lives, were more likely to survive than those who did not. Frankl said this:

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Jim Hill was a new Christian when his mother-in-law became gravely ill. While Jim was driving home from work he asked God why this was happening to her. He then said words just flooded into his head. Arriving at home, he grabbed a piece of cardboard and started writing down the words in his mind. The first person he sang the song to was his mother-in-law.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.”

Lyrics and music by Jim Hill (https://namethathymn.com/christian-hymns/what-a-day-that-will-be-lyrics.html)

And one day all things will be made right, and those who trust in Christ will live forever, rejoicing and delighting in God’s presence with no more sorrow, sighing, pain, sickness, or death. Only righteousness and peace and love.

That truth gives me great hope.

Can you share any ways God has used you to bless others?

post by carolnl | | Closed

Ruth’s Choice

She came from a foreign country. She had married the son of a couple who left Israel during famine, hoping for a better life elsewhere. They traveled to Moab where, after a time, the father died. Ruth married one of their sons, Mahlon.

They lived in Moab, this Israelite mother, her sons and their wives, where mother and sons were refugees from Israel’s famine. Ten years after Ruth’s marriage, her husband died, as did her brother-in-law.

By this time Israel was producing food again. The famine was over. Naomi determined to return to her people and encouraged her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab, where they could meet and marry new husbands who would care for them. Orpah wept, said her goodbyes, and left Naomi and Ruth.

Ruth, however, made the astonishing choice to return to Israel with her mother-in-law. What fears must have flooded her heart? Would she be welcome in this new country? Would she be shunned? Scripture doesn’t tell us about her relationship with her own mother, or whether her mother was still alive. But Ruth must have grown to love Naomi dearly during their years together.

Her words, now famous, are still echoed in many marriage vows today:

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

Ruth 1:16–17 NIV

Ruth must have known Moabites were enemies of Israel. Naomi had been the refugee in Moab. Now Ruth would be the refugee. She was unlikely to be welcomed. How like many refugees today who leave their homelands for safety, security or provision, but are treated as outcasts, unwelcome in their new countries.

But Ruth made the choice anyway, her commitment to Naomi driving her choice.

Ruth and her mother-in-law were penniless. Naomi told her Israelite neighbors not to call her Naomi (which meant “pleasing”) but Mara (“bitter”), saying God had given her a bitter life. The two would likely have starved had Ruth not gone into the barley fields to gather up left-over stalks of grain, a provision for the poor, to bring home.

Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org

Coincidentally (or, God-incidentally), she began to glean in the field of an older, established man named Boaz. He noticed her and asked who she was. Stories of her kindness to Naomi had circulated around town, and he told his workers to drop extra grain for her to pick up. He also warned them to keep their hands off her.

When Ruth went home, arms filled with barley, Naomi was astonished.

“Where did you glean today?”

“I gleaned in the field of a man named Boaz.”

Naomi knew he was a relative and could be asked to provide marriage and protection to Ruth. According to Old Testament Levirite law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10), the brother or close relative of a man who died without children was not only permitted, but encouraged to marry the relative’s widow. Their children would carry on the name of the deceased father, and could claim the deceased brother’s share of the inheritance.

This law was a provision of God, not only for the ongoing name of the deceased, but for women’s protection. At the time the Torah was written, a childless widow had no one to provide for her. She would be disgraced, and likely to die of starvation. This law protected such widows from living on the streets and at the mercy of those around her.

Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing floor and watch ’til Boaz was asleep, then uncover his feet and lie down, probably crosswise at his feet rather than at his side, and wait for him to tell her what to do. Strange custom, that, for our day and age. This was not a seduction. Rather, she was symbolically proposing marriage to him in an honorable way, within the customs of that culture.

When Boaz asked what she wanted, she symbolically asked him to “spread his garment” over her, or to assume the responsibility for her, as her husband.

Boaz, an honorable man, said he was willing; however, there was one relative nearer to Naomi than himself. If that man wouldn’t marry Ruth, he would.

Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleImages.org

I like this Boaz. He had integrity, was kind, didn’t procrastinate. Early in the morning, before it was light, he sent Ruth home with an armful of barley, telling her he would resolve the issue that day. He went to the city gates and asked the other relative to stop and sit awhile. In front of witnesses, he said Naomi had returned and was ready to sell her husband’s land.

The man said “I’ll buy.”

“By the way,” Boaz added, “the day you take over the land, you also take Ruth as your wife.”

The man reversed his decision. Taking a Moabite woman as his wife would endanger his own children’s inheritance. So, in the custom of the day, he removed his sandal and handed it to Boaz as a statement that he relinquished his right of redemption, allowing Boaz to marry Ruth.

I’ve always loved this story. Ruth is both my mother’s and my middle name.

Ruth sacrificed what appeared to be her opportunity to find a new husband and home in Moab to care for her mother-in-law in a foreign land. She had no expectation of another marriage to an Israelite man. Her faithfulness to Naomi won over her Hebrew neighbors. And God provided a Kinsman-Redeemer, Boaz, to marry her. And from their descendants came the births of King David and, later, of Jesus Christ, who shared his human ancestry with Boaz’ ancestress, Rahab, a prostitute who turned to God; and from Ruth, a Moabitess. The sinless God-man, Jesus Christ, came from a line of prostitutes and foreigners–a picture of God’s grace to each of us.

Jesus Christ is our Kinsman-Redeemer. He comes to us, foreigners to His kingdom, and offers us redemption and salvation through His blood sacrifice on the cross. He gives us a new name, a new family, a new spirit, and a new hope.

Even Naomi got in on the new hope! When Ruth gave birth to her firstborn, Naomi cared for him and her neighbor women said Naomi now had a son. As Boaz’ mother-in-law, she was now also under his protection, and and her bitterness was gone.

What does this story tell us about Jesus?

He created us, and He breaks the stereotype–that Messiah can only be a purebred Israelite, or is available only to certain people. He welcomes all into His kingdom, from every nation, tribe, language, and people. He redeems us. He cares for us, protects, provides, comforts, and walks with us.

Sometimes the most radical choice brings the most joy, the choice to follow Christ, our Kinsman-Redeemer. Ruth had no idea what was in store for her in Israel. But she took a step of faith, loved and faithfully cared for her mother-in-law, and from that God brought great blessing.

What choice are you making that requires you to take a step of faith?