Ruth: A Study of Redemption, Week 5 – 03/26/13

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By , March 27, 2013 7:07 pm
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We again focused on Chapter 2 of Ruth and how we can apply some of its principles to our own lives today. 1) Ruth was Grateful to Glean – She had humility rather than a victim mindset 2) Ruth went from Foreigner to Family – Though Ruth felt like an outsider, Boaz reminded Ruth who she was; We need to remember to base our feelings on “Thus sayeth the Lord”. 3) Our God is Generous and Good

Over the Top

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By , March 24, 2013 9:57 pm
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But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 NLT

 
How did I drift so far from the central message of Easter? God goes over the top to express His love, by allowing His Son to be nailed to a cross and die in order to rescue me from death. His mind-boggling love makes me want to love like that.

 

However, my deep desire to express love to my family can sometimes turn into something bordering on ugly, a grotesque distortion. This is especially true when a holiday or birthday comes along. For example, I somehow came to believe that I love them best at Easter by putting on a celebration in which very elaborate Easter baskets take center stage. Though I’m not sure exactly how I got there, I found myself producing the most outlandish super-sized baskets full of consumer goods you’ve ever seen!

easterleft easterright

 

My quiet, but wise husband told me early on, “Once you start this, Kathy, you’re going to be expected to keep it up.” No truer words have ever been spoken. So, last year about this time, I set out to meet and exceed my own lofty standards for the Easter holiday. After gathering and assembling mass quantities of themed items (fitness for my son, kitchen for my mom, spring duds for my daughter), I wrapped them in cellophane, put a bow on top, and hefted them onto the dining table.

 

My creations were met with the usual oohs and aahs. My mother declared, “You’ve done it again!” I’m not sure she realized the depth of the truth of her statement. My insides sensed it, though. Accepting her compliment, I felt as hollow as the chocolate bunny in her basket.

 

My sinking feeling was confirmed later that afternoon as my son headed for the door. All he had in his hand was a large jar of jumbo cashews and a tee shirt. “Don’t you want to take your Easter basket things with you, Buddy?” In the sweetest way possible he said, “No thanks, Mom. I don’t need all that stuff.” He hugged me and was gone.

 

Although his words rang true at the time, it wasn’t until the following Saturday that the Lord helped me get in touch with the tension I’d been feeling over those baskets. He led me to this Scripture:

 

Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised. (Song 8:7)

 

I hadn’t specifically been seeking wisdom about the way I’d approached holidays at my house. But as I sought to understand the meaning of this passage, those Easter baskets sprang immediately to mind. I now saw the problem clearly. I had slipped into doing the very thing this passage described. I had offered up swag in place of the imperishable gift of love.

 

It sickened my heart to realize my mistake. “Lord, forgive me for losing sight of love, the only thing that never fails. Thank You for showing me that my little offerings are so much less than the real thing, the thing we all long to find and would trade all else to have. Purge away every pitiful excuse for love and remind me next time I begin to go overboard. And please, if it is Your will, give me a chance to tell Jackson what I’ve learned.”

 

About 30 minutes later, the back door swung open announcing the unexpected arrival of my son. He was taking a break from the tiny apartment where he studies, here to get his laundry done and eat some home cooking. As he ate, I was able to share with him what the Lord had just revealed. “So, Jackson, I get it now. Thank you for being a part of my breakthrough.” I couldn’t help but notice a hint of a smile as he replied, “It only took you ten years!”

 

We went on to talk about all the excuses and excesses that people use to connect with other people. We give cheap substitutes, thinking we are giving our best. It was a good conversation and, at one point I said, “I just love you guys so much, I’m always trying to find a way to let you know that.” What I heard next refreshed my heart, springing up pure and sweet and lasting: “Mom, I don’t think that was ever in doubt.”

 

Even much water cannot put out the flame of love; floods cannot drown love.

Song of Solomon 8:7a NCV

Trumpet Call – 03/12/13

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By , March 13, 2013 4:12 pm
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Today Dana shared two stories from her own life where God called her to a painful place she had not known. She walked us through how she chose to stay in relationship with God and others and how it resulted in stronger faith and knowing God in a new way. She then presented some exercises and questions to help us look at our own challenging circumstances to identify the work God might be doing in our lives.

Fresh Hope

By , March 11, 2013 6:38 pm
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With Christians and non-Christians alike, challenging circumstances tend to turn us inward. We grit our teeth and hope the challenges end sooner rather than later. Not my dear friend Mary White—read how her prayers took her from grim resignation to a place of fresh hope:

 

My dad is 83 years old, and just last October shortly after my mom passed away, he made the choice to sell their home and move into a retirement community. This was an easy move for him considering the circumstances. My older brother (who also lives in Greenville) and I spent a long weekend moving him in and getting him all settled.

 

Now my dad has never been one to display lots of emotion or share his feelings. We are not very close because we have not really shared our hearts with each other. We can talk about the weather or food or a football game but that’s about as deep as it goes. Over the years, the Lord has helped me to hope for more in the way of relationship with my dad but at the same time love and accept him where he is.

 

So after just a few short weeks in his new home, my dad got sick and was hospitalized. After 3 weeks in intensive care, the decision was made that he needed more care than the retirement community could provide and he would have to move to a nursing home.

 

This move was tough on my dad. In 6 short months he had lost his wife, his home, his health and his independence. Once again I headed to Greenville for a visit and an opportunity to love and encourage him.

 

That morning as I prayed, I asked the Lord what I could do to comfort and help a man who struggled even on a good day to share his emotions and feelings with the people closest to him. The Lord led me to the story in John 12 where Mary comes in and pours a jar of oil on Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair. And I thought, “Jesus, this is a very close, intimate picture. I could never do something like that with my dad. We would both be so uncomfortable.” The truth of that statement made me sad. But at the same time I was also hopeful, hopeful for what could be.

 

So as I sat outside the nursing home that morning, praying before I went in, I was nervous and uncomfortable as I remembered the picture of Mary and Jesus. I called out for help and told the Lord I was weak in the area of connecting with my dad and didn’t know what to do. I was thankful when He reminded me that I am never alone and when I am weak He is strong. He always comes to my rescue when I am honest with him and ask for help.

 

Unsure and shaky, weak and uncomfortable, I walked into my dad’s room. To my surprise I met a wonderful man named Dave from my parent’s church who “just so happened” to stop by for a visit that morning! What my dad lacked in emotion, Dave made up for. As he prayed for dad I could sense God’s comfort and encouragement in the room. I silently prayed “Thank you God for showing up!” Then Dave turned to me and asked if he could pray for me. God knew exactly what I needed. Dave prayed and said his goodbyes and had not been out the door 1 minute when another person from the church came in! (You have to understand that my dad doesn’t have many visitors) The Lord knew I needed some help and he sent it.

 

After our visitors had left, dad and I were going through some mail together and he came upon a card from an old friend. Tears filled his eyes as he read the card and he looked at me and said, “The years go by so fast.” I took his hand and sat in the moment and cried with him. We didn’t have to say a word. It was an intimate, connected moment with my dad that I will never forget.

 

Just before leaving that afternoon, I remembered that I had some comfy socks in my bag that I had bought for dad and asked if he would like to put them on. As he said yes, I realized he was unable to do this for himself. Before I knew it or could really think about it, there I was—kneeling at my dad’s feet in his wheelchair, taking off his slippers and placing those new socks on his feet. The picture that God had given me of Mary and Jesus that morning quickly came to mind. Amazing, God… another intimate moment.

 

What I had allowed myself to hope for, God made happen. God is showing me, through a long challenging relationship, that it is never too late for Him to soften hearts. He is a redeeming God that can make anything new! Don’t ever give up on love because if we will allow it, love wins every time!

 

 

He rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives.

 1 Samuel 2:8 MSG

Verse reference corrections for 03/05/13

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By , March 6, 2013 2:28 pm
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If you were in class and taking notes this week, there are 2 verse reference corrections that need to be made.

1) Under the section “Spirit of God” the verse referenced as Prov. 3:17 should be:

Prov. 3:13 Amp – Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is the man who finds skillful and godly Wisdom, and the man who gets understanding [drawing it forth from God’s Word and life’s experiences] (Note: The first reference made to Prov. 3:17 in the audio is correct.)

2) Here is a snipit from Kathy’s notes on the section regarding the Favor of the Lord with the corrected verse reference.

The Favor of the Lord is something we can pray:

o   He favors those who respond favorably to Him, honoring what He has revealed about Himself and His will for us:

Ps 35:27 (corrected reference)–Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”

Is 64:5 NIV– You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.

o   It comes to the one who aligns with His redemptive timing:

Ps 147:11– The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

 

Ruth: A Study of Redemption, Week 4 – 03/05/13

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By , March 6, 2013 2:23 pm
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This week we moved into Chapter 2 of the book of Ruth as Kathy taught about the Spirit of the world, the Spirit of God, a spirit of humility, and the favor of God. There are 2 verse reference corrections that need to be made from the audio.

1) Under the section “Spirit of God” the verse referenced as Prov. 3:17 should be:

Prov. 3:13 Amp – Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is the man who finds skillful and godly Wisdom, and the man who gets understanding [drawing it forth from God’s Word and life’s experiences] (Note: The first reference made to Prov. 3:17 in the audio is correct.)

2) Here is a snipit from Kathy’s notes on the section regarding the Favor of the Lord with the corrected verse reference.

The Favor of the Lord is something we can pray:

o   He favors those who respond favorably to Him, honoring what He has revealed about Himself and His will for us:

Ps 35:27 (corrected reference)–Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”

Is 64:5 NIV– You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.

o   It comes to the one who aligns with His redemptive timing:

Ps 147:11– The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

 

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