John 12: 24,25 “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
May 25, 2011
May 16, 2011
Jesus died for me while I was yet a sinner (Romans 5:8)! He knows me far better than my accuser(s) (Psalm 139:1,2,3)! My way out is the same as the woman’s. “At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’ (John 8:9-11)
May 9, 2011
Ruth 1:15 – 17 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” But Ruth replied, “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. …”
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law was in a tough spot. Her husband had died. And her sons had died leaving her daughter-in-laws widowed. Naomi had decided to return to Judah as there was no help or hope for her in Moab. She urged her daughter-in-laws to return to their families because their prospects were poor if they stayed with her. One did leave but Ruth wasn’t having any part of that plan. She would stick with Naomi through thick and thin. Ruth loved Naomi and stood by her even though they were headed to a place where Moabites were not all that welcome.
The book of Ruth portrays life during the time of the Judges which as we have seen was a time of unfaithfulness and crisis after crisis. Within that turmoil, the story of Ruth is a story about faithfulness in the midst of tragedy, in the face of hardship and redemption against all odds. What would I have done, had I been faced with a choice similar to Ruth’s. What would you have done?
Popular psychology tells us that you have to know when to cut your losses and run; “Sometimes, you don’t know when to throw in the towel. As time passes, it becomes clear that things aren’t working out as you planned. You realize that pursuing whatever it is that you’re pursuing – whether it’s being successful in your current career, mending a troubled relationship, or renovating your house from top to bottom – will cost you too much financially or emotionally, or take too long. But instead of moving on to new opportunities, all too often you simply stay the course and sacrifice your own wellbeing in the process.” ( from “The Science of Success: How we can all achieve our goals.” by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.)
Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law, knew when to throw in the towel. We don’t know what happened to her other than she chose to ‘move on to new opportunities’. Granted, Naomi urged her to go back to her people and her gods. Orpah was free to choose and so was Ruth. We always have a choice! Not to be too hard on Orpah, at some point in time we are all faced hard choices. But how do we come to the right decision? Do we follow the ‘science of success’?
A relationship is not an economic transaction. The Bible described the deep friendship of David and Jonathan as a ‘knitting together of souls’. Ruth and Naomi’s relationship went far deeper than any cost-benefit analysis can describe. Perhaps the application of a ‘science of success’ is appropriate for shallow relationships. The Bible helps us to understand what far deeper relationships are about. Love is an essential ingredient for relationship. Love is the highest expression of selflessness available to a human being. Ruth loved Naomi.
Ruth didn’t throw in the towel and she became the great grandmother of King David. God blessed Ruth’s faithfulness down many many generations to the birth of Jesus. Jesus clearly set the standard for relationships; “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12,13)
May 4, 2011
Judges 17:6 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
The book of Judges depicts life in Israel around 1000 B.C. Yet the last six words of the scripture are as true today as they were then – everyone does as they see fit. The credo of this day is based on the idea that everyone is free to do as they please provided no one is hurt. No one can impose their own standard of behaviour on others nor will anyone accept any absolute standard of behaviour. Generally, the path of least resistance through whatever situation a person finds himself in determines his behaviour.
How does this happen to a society? My Bible’s introduction to the book of Judges describes this time in Israel as a time of ‘unfaithfulness’ and surrender to the ‘allurements’ of the surrounding paganism. As a result, ‘the story of redemption stood still’. Israel was mired in scandal after scandal, crisis after crisis and couldn’t make any headway. Does this sound familiar?
The people of Israel had abandoned their covenant relationship with God, worshipped idols and adopted the lifestyle of their pagan neighbours. If you read Judges 17: 1 to 18:31 you will see that Micah decided to have his own religion, he found a priest that would be only too happy to trade in his religious convictions for ‘job security’ and everyone gave in to what was expedient. Does this sound familiar?
Few people read the Bible today. Even fewer people try to make the Bible’s teachings a daily reality in their lives. When people throw aside their heritage and abandon their relationship with God they lose their moral compass. Indeed, even with worldly kings, Israel lost one of its sacred books – a vital part of its heritage only to discover it years later when the temple was being repaired under King Josiah: “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. … Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. ” (2 Kings 22:11,13)
Today, we are loosing our heritage because few care about the Bible and many are outright hostile to the idea of it. The idea that an absolute moral standard exists in any book is contrary to the ‘postmodern’ mindset. Today’s ‘moral compass’ swings towards the expedient, the politically correct and the path of least resistance. The same book that many ignore predicted this sad state of affairs!
2 Timothy 3: 1 – 5 describes our times perfectly: “But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power … ”
Does this sound familiar?