Monthly Archives: November 2015

Christ the King and the New Vision

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home
for you, where you will be well provided for…” “I will do whatever you say,”
Ruth answered. (Ruth 3:1,5)

When you meet the Redeemer, you immediately get a new vision. Remember the
hopelessness of Naomi when she logically justified why Ruth must go back to her
Moabite people; at that time Naomi’s blindness was because she only looked to
herself, and exclaimed,

‘Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I
thought there was still hope for me – even if I had a husband tonight and then
gave birth to sons – would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain
unmarried For them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you,
because the LORD’s hand has turned against me!’ (Ruth 1:1-13)

Naomi was really bleak about the future, and that emotional speech broke the girls’
hearts and they wept, and Orpah turned and went back to Moab. Although Ruth
clung, Naomi’s vision was still blurred; she preferred to be called a bitter name and
her expectation was to eat left-overs gathered by her alien daughter-in-law.

Turning Point: But when Naomi heard about Boaz and his graciousness to Ruth at
their first encounter in the field, hope started rising; the future started taking shape
– both for her and for Ruth. Her new vision would finally crystallize in this redeemer, and then she gave Ruth the sustainable long-term plan for her future, settled in family. Naomi’s plan to find a home for Ruth was welcomed and it worked excellently. The new vision
pursued, delivered all its objectives and much more.

Boaz was the kinsman-redeemer or guardian-redeemer according to the Jewish
customs. Boaz is a shadow of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who has his arms open
wide to receive her bride the Church – the people of God. Like Naomi, some people
look to themselves for redemption, and find no hope. But when you lift your eyes and look to the Redeemer, hope is restored – for welfare today and a bright future.

When you behold him as Redeemer, Christ the King, what shall be your response? At the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, ‘people spread their cloaks on the road…
disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices’. You have not fully gained the
new vision until you respond by accepting, believing in and trusting yourself to the
Redeemer, as well as continually offering your worship to Him. In this Advent
season, remember: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” When he comes, it will be a perfect vision-we shall behold Him and live with Him forever.
God bless you.

Divine Providence – Provisions

At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine
vinegar.” … he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. (Ruth 2:14)

Ruth was an undeserving alien, but she was abundantly supplied with favour and grain, and she was invited to the meal as well. She received what she neither deserved
nor expected. A similar incident is in the parable where a young man came back home and was warmly received by his dad; a big party was made with a lot of eating and rejoicing to celebrate the return of the son. He had gone away with his share of the inheritance and squandered it all in wild living until he ran completely broke. Pushed against the wall, he decided to come back home with a rehearsed confession and proposal; but his father
received him like an honoured guest with much celebration fanfare. The boy received what he neither deserved nor expected.

Instances of such divine provisions are not uncommon in our own lives, and we owe God a lot of thanksgiving and invigorated praise. We have in the same way received the grace of God. Do you have a role to play? Some people argue that grace is freely given and the
recipient has not role to play whatsoever; the notion is extended to insinuate that once born again, it doesn’t matter how far you go astray and wallow in sin, you cannot lose your
salvation; ‘God still loves you and has already forgiven your sins – past, present and future’ – so they say, and grace sounds so easy and cheap! This belief has caused many Christians injuries and scars from the arena of complacency and sin. Where is the role of self-control and discipline? Where is the conflict with the enemy if salvation is that simplistic? With this kind of belief, does ‘fight the good fight of faith’ still make sense?

The example of the prodigal son tells us that he had a role to play. He had to realize how far he had fallen, and recognize the abundant provisions are in his father’s presence from where he had wandered. He had to get up and go back, and only on arrival did he have
access to the goodies that had been all along available while he was languishing in his self-inflicted estrangement and poverty. His future welfare was assured as long as he
remained in his father’s house. Ruth too; she had to leave the home of her mother-in-law to meet the abundant favours in the hands of Boaz. It took her courage and physical
movement, and her journey back was full of contagious joy and smiles – well supplied. Her future welfare depended on if she
remained in the company of Boaz.

The Lord God Almighty is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider. He will give blessings for this life on earth, and ultimately salvation and eternal life to all who come to Him to receive these gifts – what you neither deserved nor expected. Take the step and come. Take the step and abide.

God bless you all.

Are you safe? ABIDE

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls.” (Ruth 2:8)

Ruth would make such a start in a romantic movie. Her first speech floored Naomi never to rise again, and she was stuck with this Moabite all the way to Bethlehem. In Chapter 2 this mother-in-law permits her idea to go pick some leftover grain wherever she finds a little favour to work behind the harvesters, and she ends up ‘stealing’ the heart of Boaz who lavished her with six blessings, and the seventh would surely follow, though later. ‘Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here’ – these words of Boaz show clearly that Ruth had found a home, a place of safety and welfare.

There is somewhere for you a place of safety and welfare; out of that place you are restless, anxious, sick and suffering most of the time. You need to go to your place of safety and you will be healed. Although the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, you’ll soon discover that anywhere away from your safety place will only bring very short lived satisfaction that soon turns bitter – talk about a cheating man in the arms of his mistress, a grown boy run away from home to club with friends, a disappointed wife exiting her marital home, a student trading with or eating their tuition fees, an unmarried girl sharing deeper love with her boyfriend – it all feels good, almost sweet at the start, but soon turns bitter and they regret.

The six blessings that Ruth found in Boaz’s field were both real and symbolic. She found and received more favour, more grain, drinking water, a refreshing meal, warm friendship, and good protection. As an undeserving foreigner she needed favour; she was poor and needed some grain; at work when tired she needed some water and a meal; she was lonely and vulnerable and needed loving friendship and protection from molesters and bullies. All these were lavished on her and the gratitude welling up was uncontrollable. This is what happens when you find your good portion, your place of safety and welfare. There are blessings, peace, joy and more beyond expectations.

Some of us need to find that place. Others have in the past found the place and run away, but they need to come back. As Boaz told Ruth, ‘Stay here…’, we need to find that place and abide there. It could be your home, spouse, classroom, or the work project, or the integrity you abandoned; go back and find that place and abide there. Even more symbolically, that place of safety and welfare is Christ himself. On earth we are foreigners and face many threats that we can only run away from when we receive Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Abide in Him.

God bless you all.

Faithful to the End

When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging
her. So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. (Ruth 1:18-19)

Today in the church calendar is All Saints Day; it is a feast day celebrated in honor of all saints, known and unknown, including apostles, evangelists and martyrs – whose life of faithful devotion and witness remains a great encouragement for today’s believers. William’s old hymn captures well the important theme:

For all the saints, who from their labors rest?
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia!
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold. Alleluia, Alleluia!

These saints were faithful to the end and now form the Church triumphant where
‘There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain’, while believers on earth are the Church militant whereas Paul the Apostle encourages Timothy, they ought to ‘Fight the good fight of the faith.’ Faithful means manifesting a true spirit to a person to whom one is bound by a promise, a pledge, honor, or love. Ruth was bound by marriage and love, and as she clung to Naomi on the way from the land of Moab to Bethlehem, demonstrated deep faithfulness.

Naomi was led astray by her husband Elimelech who led his family from Bethlehem,
the house of bread, to the land of Moab, a place of waste and nothingness. God had
sent a famine in their homeland to incite the people to repentance. This man who ran away from death due to famine actually died in the ‘land of plenty’ – in Moab; and his two sons died there as well. A bitter Naomi on her way back prefers to cry alone, so she begs and presses her committed daughters-in-law to turn and go back to their people.
As Orpah succumbed to the appeal, Naomi who now thought she had more negotiating power to turn away even the other soon realized that Ruth had vowed to cling.

True, Ruth was a Moabitess with little prospects of getting a husband in Judah from
among Jews who had a clear law against marrying outside their tribe. But had she
known what Ruth would later become, Naomi would have been less insistent.
God respects faithfulness in following Him, no matter where you are coming from. Ruth kept herself so well that she married a respected elder Boaz and later gave birth to Obed. Because of her, the family Naomi thought she had seen perish has been restored to the
genealogies of Israel; baby Obed lives to become the father of Jesse, the father of great King David… and the grandfather of the Messiah himself. Like the saints we
commemorate, if you remain faithful to the end, God in His faithfulness has accepted you.

God bless you all.