Category Archives: Psalms

Ruth 2:14-4:22; I Samuel 1

Women of the Bible: the stories of Ruth and Hannah

 When reading Scripture, I often visualize myself walking in the shoes of the principal characters of the narratives. I can imagine, for instance, being Ruth the Moabite woman living in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Rising early and walking to a field where she hoped to pick up the leftover grain to bring home sustenance for Naomi and herself. Listening to the wise council of the one woman she trusted with all her heart, the one who taught her to love and believe in the God of Israel. Risking her virtue and physical safety to join with strangers, she a foreigner in a small, but tightly woven community where everyone knew your story without knowing you. What could that have been like? The part of me that relates is the yearning I had as a young girl to know who to depend on for sustenance, guidance, and comfort. Grateful for those times when others showed concern and genuine caring. Yet, always longing for stability when, even as a young woman, I continued to need protection and provision. I’ve often testified that God answered the prayer of this unbeliever when He sent to me a husband who satisfied my need for security. How wonderful that even though I was not then aware of my future salvation, God knew. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8:29.

Like a Cinderella story, Ruth found her charming prince and Naomi held her precious grandson against her shoulder. And from that fortuitous pairing of Ruth and Boaz came the future King David and the messianic lineage of Jesus Christ. I, too, had my prince and then my own little darling to raise.

In Hannah’s story, my heart was torn reading that after God answered her prayer for a child, she could give up of that same child for another to raise. Hannah’s anguish over being barren, year after year, may be difficult to understand in America today. Young adults are waiting longer to marry and longer still to have children. We praise the family who limits conceiving their number of children to two or less. We value resources such as food, fuel, forests, and air as if these elements preserve our future. Yet, are we not, as C.S. Lewis once argued careening toward the “abolition of man?” Still, what is the first commitment made by most Christian parents who love the Lord God? We dedicate our children to God – to raise them in the “admonition of the Lord.” We stand publicly before our congregations to declare we will raise our children in a godly home, and we ask for their support in teaching and modeling for our children how to obey and love God. Yet, Hannah’s desire for her son to know God went so much deeper. She held the hand of little Samuel, a child of two or three years old, and took him to actually live in the sanctuary and be raised by the aging priest, Eli.

“And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord [Eli], I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord…For this child I prayed and the Lord granted me my petition…Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord,” I Samuel 1:26-28.

In dedicating my own daughter, did I truly give her over to the Lord? I thought I did. I still feel the joy and pride of her memorizing Scripture for the Bible Bowl, attending Vacation Bible School, singing in the Children’s Choir, coloring pictures of Jesus and the Cross, creating her own Christmas and Easter cards, and writing stories and poems for her Christian school English teachers. But did I hamper her learning to trust in God by my own need for validation as a mother? Why was it so hard to believe that God loved her more than I ever could?

These are questions that I ponder being a parent. There is no end to my negative self-talk, my mother-guilt, especially since my daughter passed away. Yet I am comforted knowing that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him,” (Biblegateway.com). As her mother, I can rejoice that God ‘lent’ her to me for a while like Hannah could rejoice despite knowing how short the time she would have to nurture her son.

Scripture is for our instruction in righteousness and for strengthening our faith, for courage, healing, and peace. God’s Word also reminds me that women in the Bible were important to His plan of redemption and the birth of the Church. I am comforted by the real stories of people who walked with God, obeyed, and worshiped Him, and were rewarded with renewed joy and greater faith. Ruth’s loyal love to Naomi, Hannah’s sacrificial gratitude for Samuel, and the many other heroines of the Old and New Testaments are the precious jewels of Proverbs 31 which declares, “For her worth is far above rubies…a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Precious Lord God, You alone fashioned me and every other child inside of mothers whom You loved. You know the first and last day we will walk this earth. Thank You, Lord, that You rejoice and sing over us from that first reunion with You and into eternity. May the Lord bless us and favor us, our family, our children, and their children while we wait for that day we are together again with Jesus, our Lord.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, Ruth, Uncategorized

Job 18-20; Psalm 141; Revelation 15

Growing up in a dysfunctional home does not make me an expert as to what love looks like. Through trial and error, and many more errors, I began my journey to being relatively healthy except when it comes to conflict with those I would call my superiors in the workplace. They have not modelled love very well and to this day I still struggle with what that looks like. For those I lead, I try to be the one who loves through conflict. From the testimonies I have collected, I would say I am doing a fairly good job. In marriage I have not had that much success when it comes to speaking the truth in love. In my relationship with God, I have excelled. We have loved each other with a major intensity. He has called me out on many issues and has demanded a more closer walk with Him.

Let the righteous one strike me—
it is an act of faithful love;
let him rebuke me—
it is oil for my head;
let me[a] not refuse it.
Even now my prayer is against
the evil acts of the wicked. – Psalm 141:5 HCSB

King David learned to love rebuke too. Somehow, when God rebukes, He does not shame, He causes me to sing.

They sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the song of the Lamb:

Great and awe-inspiring are Your works,
Lord God, the Almighty;
righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the Nations. – Revelation 15:2-3 HCSB

The principle I learn is this – there is a perfect harmony in the retributive acts of God in dealing with this world and the highest conception of His love and mercy which the gospel brings. God’s dealings with me are meant to manifest His character that I may know and love Him. The motive is His own love, the end is the glory of His Name, in the love and knowledge of those like me whose life and blessedness depend on my knowing and loving Him.

God’s demand for my supreme love – is it just? That would depend on two things:

  • Whether I have the power of loving any one supremely
  • Whether God has attributes adapted to awaken this love within me

I think it is found in everyone to love some object supremely. My choice is quite easily understood then – I make a choice to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

Father, thank you for calling my name in the darkest moments of my life. I am so thankful that You allowed me to hear Your voice. Every time You spoke You imparted Your love in an incredibly meaningful way. Your love mattered more than life itself. Thank You.

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Job 12-14; Psalm 100; Revelation 13

“But the falling mountain crumbles away,
And the rock moves from its place;
19 Water wears away stones,
Its torrents wash away the dust of the earth;
So You destroy a man’s hope.
20 You forever overpower him and he departs;
You change his appearance and send him away.
21 His sons achieve honor, but he does not know it;
Or they become insignificant, and he does not perceive it.
22 However, his body pains him,
And his soul mourns for himself.”

Job 14:18-22 NASB

Grief. Consuming, overpowering, wearying, mournful grief. Job knew it well. He had lost literally everything. And, his friends eventually opened their mouths and pretty much said all the wrong things.

Over the course of this past year, three of my friends have lost their husbands. Suddenly. I have seen their grief and have seen them worship in the midst of it. I have seen the beautiful work that God is doing with the tool of these hard, incomprehensible losses. I have also seen them worn down and heard their cries to God for comfort and strength. They continue to learn the need to rely on God for every day.

Though He slay me,
I will hope in Him.
Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.

Job 13:15 NASB

While we cannot always see a reason for the events in this world or in our personal lives, we can constantly bring our worry, our fears, and even our doubts to His throne. He adores His children and wants to comfort us through these seasons. I can bring my arguments to Him, bring my questions, bring my heartbreaks. Trying to use human logic to mesh His goodness, sovereignty, and love with the trauma and grief I visibly see never has a satisfactory outcome. I am definitely still learning to reply as Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”

Times of questions and wrestling have their place, and prayerfully they will culminate in more complete surrender as I take the time to honestly meditate on God’s character, asking Him to give me a more vivid glimpse of who He is.

“Wisdom and might are with Him;
Advice and understanding belong to Him.

Job 12:13 NASB

After all he had been through, Job had a clearer picture of God as a result (especially after what took place in the chapters yet to come). He had confidence in God’s might and wisdom regardless of his current status. The psalmist also shares appropriate ways to approach and speak of God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with jubilation;
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courtyards with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Psalm 100:1-4 (NASB, excerpts)

These exhortations are not based on how we feel or how rosy our life seems.

Shout for joy

Serve the Lord

Give thanks

Praise Him

Bless His name

All these things we can do every day, by choice. I have seen my friends fall on God’s strength to get them through another day and at the end of each day, they know God more intimately and have found another piece of themselves to lay at His feet. They know even better than I the truth of the final verse of this psalm of praise:

For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting
And His faithfulness is to all generations.

Psalm 100:5 NASB

Lord God, You are Good. You are merciful. Give me the strength and boldness to shout it loud and live it for all to plainly see. Your faithfulness is unmistakable, and so I praise, bless, and serve you. Thank you for walking with me on the beautiful days that life brings and for sheltering my heart and mind on the hard, confusing days. In Jesus name, amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Zechariah 2-5; Psalm 93; 1 John 3

I love the idea of moving forward in my journey of faith with a balanced spiritual growth. Unity is one of those crucial success milestones that is expressed when I have love for others.

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered[j] his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?

Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. – 1 John 3:11-18 HCSB

If loving others were only as easy as giving a hug then I would excel in love. Love is a bit more difficult than that, there is continual effort and hard work because it is about putting the other person ahead of myself – that is where the battle lies. My default is not to love. This is why John is exhorting me to love the family of God.

John must have gone through this transformation – from one of the Sons of Thunder to the Apostle of Love. Love characterized his life and love was his prevailing message.

In fact, the church father, Jerome, said that when the apostle John was in his extreme old age, he was so weak that he had to be carried into church meetings. At the end of the meeting he would be helped to his feet to give a word of exhortation to the church. Invariably, he would repeat, “Little children, let us love one another.” The disciples began to grow weary of the same words every time, and they finally asked him why he always said the same thing over and over. He replied, “Because it is the Lord’s commandment, and if this only is done, it is enough.”

John did not originate the idea of loving others – love originated with God and it was uttered through the lips of Jesus.

Father, this gets really messy in real life. It requires an incredible amount of spiritual maturity. It requires me to have the wisdom of God, the mind of Christ, in all matters. I want that, I want to be the man you need me to be and I ask the Holy Spirit to do the work I need done. I choose to grow in my walk with You. Thank you.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ezekiel 10-12; Psalm 83; John 4

The chapter of Ezekiel 12 leaves me with a relevant message for my life today. Sometimes I think that God allows me to continue in a certain direction that I know does not glorify Him. Yet, I have to remember while He is merciful and patient, He always hates evil. And therefore, He will not allow me, one of His children, to sin and sin forever. His hand will move in my life and encourage me to stop sinning. God wants a relationship with me, a holy one centred in love.

It is why I try to encourage those who read Psalm 83 to keep it as a prayer. It is so easy to judge and much harder to love. I have begun to pray that God’s enemies will start to love Him. I am constantly reminded to do so every time they do something contrary to who God is.

I also pray that I might bring a message of hope even when there might not be one. The woman at the well inspires me on so many fronts. I realize that I must bring so much of Jesus to the table when I engage with those who do not know Him.

 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?” – John 4:29 HCSB

I know that love was in His eyes, I know that He outed sin and yet left no shame in His manner of speech, and I know that this woman did not want to run away but knew that He had what she was looking for her whole life – love, security and safety. How do I relate to others? Can they see love in my voice and the words I choose to use? Is there a sense of security or are they looking for the trap door to escape? Am I a safe place for them to share their guilt and shame while their sin is exposed? I need to make that a priority today – give people a safe place to confess their sin, repent and put their trust in Jesus.

Father, may my voice become Your voice in the ears of those I talk to today. May it be filled with words and expressions of Your love, grace and mercy. May I remember to apply those same thoughts into my own life as I remember that You want to walk with me in Your holiness – may I receive Your love today too. I know that You know me better than anyone else. Even so, Your love for me calls me right into Your arms. I know what it means to be loved, to have a place where I run to for security and I know what it means to be in a safe place. May I be put into situations where I can share these precious moments with others so that that they too may know You. Thank You.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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