When Tragedy Strikes

Unexpected tragedy will impact all of us at some time in life. Those challenges could be the health of loved ones, our own health, a loss of our job and the death of those we care about. Whatever it is, it is only a matter of time until we experience it.

As I was reading the book of Ruth, I was impressed with how she handled the loss of her husband. In that culture, she was very vulnerable as a widow. People could take advantage of her, and her future did not look promising after being married for around 10 years and now without a protector.

How would you respond in similar circumstances? How would I respond? Would we be incapacitated in grief and withdraw from others hoping God would somehow help us?

I think Ruth models a proper response to a tragedy. I am sure she had a season of intense grief at the loss of her husband, but then she got up and did something about her situation.

If you remember, she went and worked the fields of a distant relative. She worked hard, and all day to meet her needs and the needs of Naomi, her mother-in-law. Then, when the closest Redeemer did not come forward to provide for her and take her as his wife,, she did something about it. She engaged and took the initiative by going to Boaz, the owner of the field she was working because he was the next in line if the closest redeemer refused to do his duty before God and redeem Ruth.

Notice the results of her efforts,

“And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are ta worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, was the LORD lives, I will redeem you.” (Ru 3:11-13)

God worked through and honored her effort. She trusted in God, but then she took action. This is a great challenge to all of us. We need to be praying and believing in God, but we also need to be doing our part. The result is God will work to accomplish his will through our efforts.

Father, thank you again for this great reminder of the need for effort in our lives. I need to be completely dependent upon you, but I also have to step out in a direction so that you can lead me. May your will be done in me and through me as I seek to live for you.

Following Jesus with you,

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The Surprising Model

As parents, we are regularly encouraging our children to follow our example. We are the ones instructing and showing them how to live life. From walking and talking, to sports, and especially, in developing their relationship with God. Parents are always seeking to train their kids for all of life.

Have you ever had your children tell you that you were wrong or that they knew a better way to do something? These statements mean more as our kids mature, but I remember one time when our children were young they taught me something. We lived out in the country, and our dog was outside. When it was time to let him in the house, the smell on him was overwhelming! It turns out that he was sprayed by a skunk! Now, what do I do? How do I get that smell out? It was then that the kids told me they were watching a T.V show and it said to bathe the dog in tomato juice! I was desperate, so I tried it. To my surprise, it worked!

As I was reading Luke 18 today, I was pleasantly reminded that we can learn something vital from little children. Yes, adults can learn critical spiritual truth from little ones. In fact, Jesus says that very thing. In verse 17 he says,

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

I like what Lenski says about this statement. He notes,

“This statement is astonishing in every way. We should think as, alas, so many did and do think that a babe must receive the kingdom as an adult receives it, but absolutely the reverse is true. The child is the model, not the man.”

What a great picture Jesus gives us through children. Just like children are trusting, humble and dependent, so must we be when we respond to the offer of the gift of forgiveness and life!

Father, thank you for the great reminder of the need for humility, trust, and dependence in my relationship with you. That is necessary not just in my acceptance of forgiveness but in my daily relationship with you. Help me to walk today as a little child in complete trust in you and experience the security that brings me.

Following Jesus with you,

Be Strong and Courageous!

As I was reading through Deuteronomy 31, I was impressed when Moses spoke to the nation on his 120th birthday! He knew that he would be unable to enter the Promised Land and was giving his farewell address to the nation and to his successor, Joshua.

If I were Moses, what would I want to make sure Joshua and the nation knew I was about to die and Joshua was to take my leadership role?

First Moses tells the people as a whole to “be strong and courageous, ” and then he tells Joshua the same thing (Deut. 31:6-7). As I thought about those words which were meant to encourage, I tried to place myself in the shoes of the listeners. This sounds like a “rah rah” pregame speech of a football coach as they were getting ready to play a superior opponent. The excitement and adrenalin from such a speech can only last so long. If I were the listeners and thought about this charge from Moses, I think I would eventually get overwhelmed and possibly, even discouraged. Why?

The task at hand for the nation was to conquer all the people already residing in the promised land! That meant months and years of warfare, struggle and extreme challenge. Then, if I were Joshua, thinking I need to now lead these rebellious people to accomplish this task, I would have doubted my ability to complete the job.

That is why Moses said more than just “be strong and courageous.” Second, notice he also explains why they should be strong and courageous. He said, “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

What so encouraged me this morning was the reminder that if God calls us to accomplish great things for him, he will also be with us to enable us to achieve those things. In fact, this reminded me of what Jesus said at the end of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), where he gave the charge to make disciples of all nations. He concludes with, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” An alternate translation would be, “I am with you every minute of the day until the job is done.”

Jesus has called us to follow him and live a life of faithfulness to him while becoming like him so we can help others do the same. This task is too big for me to accomplish, but knowing that he is with me to enable me to do these things, gives me hope and the courage to press on.

Father, thank you that you are always with your followers. Thank you that you want to give me the ability to become the person you designed me to be. Forgive me for forgetting this truth.  You are with me and will enable me to accomplish what you call me to do.  Victory is not based on my ability.  I just need to trust you to help me and then take the initiative.  I yield to your leadership and ask for your enabling to make that happen in my life.

Following Jesus with you,