More than likely, you’ve read the account of Ruth and Naomi in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. In the days of the judges, there was a famine in the land of Israel. A man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, natives of Bethlehem, went to Moab to find food. While there, Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. In the course of time, Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion all died, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth as widows.
After some time, Naomi heard there was food once again in Israel, and she made plans to return. Naomi’s daughters-in-law intended to accompany her, but she told them to go back to their mothers’ homes and prayed that the Lord would grant them rest in the house of a husband. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and remained in her own land. Ruth clung to Naomi and said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1: 16 MEV).
Orpah made a common-sense decision to remain in her own land. Ruth made a faith decision to leave. She told Naomi she embraced Naomi’s God as her own and promised not to leave her. Ruth’s declaration of faith depended on God’s everlasting, covenantal love, His hesed. Translators have difficulty defining hesed in English. “Everlasting love,” “faithful love,” “eternal love,” “mercy,” “kindness,” and “everlasting kindness” fail to adequately describe the depths of God’s hesed.
Hesed is a pledge to act for the good of another person, often at great personal cost. When God passed by Moses on the mountain, He declared His hesed for His people. “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (hesed), maintaining love (hesed) to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…” (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV). “Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors, and the hills quiver and shake, I will not desert you. You can rely on My enduring love (hesed); My covenant of peace will stand forever. So says the Eternal One, whose love won’t give up on you” (Isaiah 54:10 VOICE).
The greatest display of God’s hesed was when He sent His only Son to die a terrible death on a cruel cross to pay the penalty for the sins of humankind - for your sin and for mine. God erased the "charges that were brought against us...He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross" (Colossians 2:14 NOG). The death of Jesus made the way for us to be reunited with our Heavenly Father and become part of His family once again, just like it was in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. And because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can come “boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16 TLB).
God honoured Ruth’s trust in His hesed. In a wonderful way, He led her to Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, who protected her and married her. Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David, a descendent of our Lord Jesus. Ruth’s name is part of the ancestry of Jesus, the Son of the living God.
So my friend, whatever trials you are facing, whatever is happening in your life, never forget God’s hesed, His faithful love that does not quit. His eternal love is working on your behalf and will be with you always, “until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20 NOG).
There is a verse in Isaiah 62:6-7 (AMPC) I love. It says the following, “I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence, And give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth.”
The reason I am keen on these verses is that they tell us to put the Lord in remembrance of His promises. Another passage says, “Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right” (Isaiah 43:26 ESV). It’s not that God has forgotten His promises. It’s when we remind God of His promises, we’re telling Him we believe them and expect Him to bring them to pass. For those of you who have children, I’m sure there are many times you’ve made promises to them, such as going to the store for an ice cream cone or a trip to the park. If you didn’t follow through on your promise, they were right there to remind you. God wants us to do the same thing.
Our God is a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping God. “I will not violate My covenant, nor will I alter even one word of what My lips have spoken (Psalm 89:34 VOICE.). “Remember Your word to Your servant, upon which You have given me hope (Psalm 119:49 BSB). Moses told the Israelites to remember how God had led them through the wilderness. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIVUK). At the Last Supper, when Jesus took the bread and the cup, He told His disciples they were doing it in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NIV).
Nehemiah received word the walls of Jerusalem were lying in ruins. He reminded God of His promises. “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9 NIV).
When you are standing on a promise of God for a situation in your life, whether it be physical, social, financial, relational, or the salvation of your children, and waiting for the answer, remind God of His great and precious promises. “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” (2 Peter 1:4 NLT). Remind God of His promises - not because He forgets them, but because it will bring you into a closer relationship with Him.
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT).
When we believe God’s promise in our heart, we have the “Yes”. Now we need to find someone who will give a resounding “Amen” to our “Yes”, someone who will agree with us in prayer. Matthew 18:19 (NLT) says, ““I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” What a powerful promise. We want to find a person who believes the Word of God and who will agree our healing is coming, we will live and not die, our children will be taught of the Lord, no weapon formed against us will prosper.
We need to find an “Amen”, not an “oh no” because God’s promises are not yes and oh no. Be careful who you let speak into your life. Don’t forget Jesus threw out all the unbelieving mourners when He went to heal Jairus’ daughter. When our problems seem insurmountable, it’s so easy to get into agreement with the negative. But DON’T DO IT. Don’t agree with those who say, “Oh no.”
Even if you have to bypass dozens of naysayers, friends, coworkers, and relatives who think you’re too far out, keep looking until you find those who believe God is on His throne, He fights our battles, He keeps His promises, and HE has the final word. Find a power partner who will release his/her faith for you, speak light into darkness, healing into sickness, and abundance into lack.
In Nehemiah 6, when Nehemiah was building the walls of Jerusalem, he had two critics trying to talk him out of it. They invited Nehemiah to the plain of Ono to convince him not to proceed (Nehemiah 6:1-2). It’s significant they invited him to a place called Ono. It is no different today. There will be those in your life trying to get you to come to Oh No. Will you let them speak into your life? Or will you tell them politely and lovingly that you will not come into agreement with their doubt and unbelief? You will not come into Oh No. You don’t belong there. You belong in the land of “Yes” and “Amen”.
As you find those who will look beyond the natural, believe for the supernatural, and give a resounding “Amen” to your “Yes”, the promises of God will come to pass in your life.
I recently learned some interesting facts about the sea squirt. An odd little fellow, it is often found attached to rocks and shells. Its appearance is like a soft plastic tube, waving with the current. It draws its nutrients from the passing water. Generally, they don’t move or exhibit any behaviour, apart from opening and closing their siphons. One could say the sea squirt lives a passive life.
But passivity has not always been its way of existence. As a tadpole, it has a primitive spinal chord and brain to help it find food and evade harm. It swims well to explore its environment. However, when it reaches adulthood, it settles on its rock and stops growing and exploring. In a rapid, drastic, and complex metamorphosis, the epidermal cells covering the surface of the animal contract and within ten to fifteen seconds, crush the tail, muscles, brain, nerve cord and other sensory structures into tissue debris, turning the sea squirt into the passive adult.
The information I learned about the sea squirt made me realize how important it is that we continue to grow in life, whether we’re seven or seventy. This is especially important in our walk with Jesus. If we aren’t growing in Him, we’re stagnating. I especially like The Passion Translation of Romans 12:2, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.” Only God’s Word can reform the way we think. Only God’s Word can rework us from thinking like the world does to thinking like God.
God’s Word keeps us growing in our faith. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17 KJ21). When Satan and his devils attack, we need to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12) and stand firmly on God’s Word, no matter what the evil one tries to tell us.
In order to continue growing, we need to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV). When we listen and don’t do, we deceive ourselves. The apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18 TLB, to “grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be all glory and splendid honor, both now and forevermore.”
So let’s not be like the sea squirt and stop growing. Each day, let’s become better acquainted with Jesus as we grow in Him.
In Numbers 13, Moses sent out twelve spies, one from each of the tribes of Israel, to spy out the Promised Land. Ten came back with a bad report – the cities are fortified and very large, the people are powerful, and there are giants in the land. We’re like grasshoppers compared to them.
In contrast, Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report. They told Moses the land was big but God was bigger and He was with them. They were well able to posses the land.
The interesting thing is that the bad report spread through the people like wildfire. The people were so distressed by the negative report, they complained against Moses and Aaron and said they would die in the wilderness, and their children and wives would be taken as plunder. No one paid attention to Caleb and Joshua’s message of faith. Why? Because a negative report always spreads faster than a positive one. As human beings, we default to the negative.
Notice what God says in Numbers 14. “…just as you have spoken in My ears, so I will do to you. In this wilderness your corpses will fall, and all…who have murmured against Me, you will not go into the land which I swore by My hand to cause you to dwell in it, except Caleb…and Joshua…” (verses 28-30). The ten spies got what they said.
Our words are SO important. “The tongue has power over life and death; those who indulge it must eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21 CJB). In one translation, the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:37 read like this: “Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation” (MSG).
What do you do when you receive a bad report from your doctor, banker, spouse? What they say may be fact, but don’t forget, God’s Word is truth. Do you listen to the bad report or do you cling to and speak the promises of God? As believers, when we get a bad report and don’t receive it, we are like salmon, swimming against the current to reach their birthplace so they can lay their eggs. If we'll allow Him, the Holy Spirit living in us will give us the strength to STAND on God's Word, despite circumstances and reports.
Joshua and Caleb got what they said. Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Caleb was forty years old when he was sent out with the eleven other spies. Because of their unbelief, he and Joshua had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. When Caleb was eight-five years old, he told Joshua he was just as strong as the day the Lord sent him to spy out the land. Joshua gave him Hebron as his inheritance.
You may be wondering about my title. Who were Lieber and Uri? I don’t know, but they may have been the names of two of the ten spies who brought the negative report. They never made it into the promised land because of their unbelief and disobedience. Like Joshua and Caleb, they were called to be history makers, but instead, ended up in obscurity. Their confession didn’t line up with the Word of God.
Today, may we be like Joshua and Caleb, believing, acting on, and saying the Word of God, doing exploits for our God.
“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more” (Mark 4:24 NIV).
How do you measure God’s Word? According to Mark 4:24, God will measure to us how we hear and measure His Word.
For example, when we read 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed” (NIV), do we stand in faith and keep on believing until we receive our healing, or do we measure the verse with skepticism?
When our bank account says zero and the rent is due, how do we hear and measure Philippians 4:19, “Moreover, my God will fill every need of yours according to his glorious wealth, in union with the Messiah Yeshua” (CJB)? Do we keep looking at our bank account or standing on the promise of God?
Measuring God’s Word with faith can be challenging. Recently, I read about a woman who was believing God for a new house. She lived in a beat-up little house and wanted a new one more than anything. When she came across Romans 13:8, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law” (NLT), she wondered how she could ever purchase a new home without borrowing money. She was tempted to measure the verse as a curse. But she refused to measure it that way. Instead, she resisted the lies of Satan telling her she would never have a new home, and started believing God to provide her one debt free. And what she believed God for, He did.
We get what we expect from God, how we hear and measure His Word. So, if you want to receive blessings by the bushel load, go to His Word with a bushel basket. Give God something to work with. If you put a big measure of faith in His hand, He’ll fill it until it overflows.
Are you facing adversity right now? Do you feel as if God has abandoned you? Take heart. The enemy isn’t fighting you because of where you are. He’s fighting you for where you are going. The devil is threatened by what God has in store for you and is doing his level best to hold you back. Don’t let him.
Consider David, the second king of Israel. Samuel anointed David to be king when he was a young man tending sheep. Yet many years passed before he became king. And during that time, he was pursued by Saul, the first king of Israel, trying to take his life. But Satan couldn’t stop God’s plan for David, and he became king. “So David reigned over all Israel; and he administered justice and equity to all his people” (1 Chronicles 18:14).
And what about Joseph? In his youth, God gave him dreams about his future. In his first dream, his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. In the second dream, the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. Yet between those dreams and their fulfillment, Joseph faced a great deal of adversity. His brothers sold him as a slave. He was wrongly accused and ended up in prison for something he didn’t do. Those who could have spoken up for him forgot all about him. Satan tried to derail God’s plans for Joseph’s life but he didn’t succeed. Joseph said to his brothers, “As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this—to preserve the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20 Berean Study Bible).
Then there’s Moses. He was born under a death threat. “…the king of Egypt told the Hebrew midwives… “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth, look at the child when you deliver it. If it’s a boy, kill it, but if it’s a girl, let it live” (Exodus 1:15-16 GW). Satan is always out to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But God had the final say regarding Moses. Moses lived and God used him to deliver the children of Israel out of the land of slavery. “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering…So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7,10 NIV).
So don’t be discouraged when you face adversity and opposition. Do like James tells us. “Consider it pure joy…when you encounter trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2, BSB). God has something great in store for your future. When Jesus rose from the dead, Satan and all his demons were defeated. “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15, BSB). Stay in faith and trust God for your future. The best is yet to come.
In Deuteronomy 1:8, Berean Study Bible, God told the children of Israel, “See, I have placed the land before you. Enter and possess the land that the LORD swore He would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their descendants after them.” “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses” (Joshua 11:23 ESV). However, Scriptures like Joshua 13:1, 13:13, 15:63: 16:10, and 17:12 show that the Israelites did not drive out all the people living in the land. While they took the land and lived in it, they did not fully dispossess the people who lived there.
This caused problems for them. Constantly, they imitated the religious practices and lifestyle of the nations surrounding them, instead of obeying God’s command to keep themselves holy, devoted to God, and separated from these practices.
As born-again believers, God has given us a promised land – not just in Heaven, but here and now. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive an abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17, Berean Study Bible). Our promised land is to reign in life through the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness Jesus has provided for us.
Our promised land is a place where, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you…” (Isaiah 54:17, Berean Study Bible). It is where “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7 BSB). Notice that the verbs raised and seated are in the past tense. It’s already been done.
"And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15 BSB).
Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Satan has been defeated and disarmed. The only power he has in our lives as believers is the power we give him by listening to his lies and empty threats. Kick him out. Jesus has given us the power to do so. “I’ve given you true authority. You can smash vipers and scorpions under your feet. You can walk all over the power of the enemy. You can’t be harmed” (Luke 10:19 VOICE).
God doesn’t want us to be like the Israelites and let the enemy live in our promised land. He wants us to drive him out with the Word of God and the Name of Jesus. Force the evil one to pack up and go home. “Fight the good fight of the faith…” (1 Timothy 6:12 BSB). Possess your promised land
I recently read about a woman who received a plant from the funeral of her husband’s grandfather. Not very knowledgeable about plants, it looked like a peace lily to her, and that’s how she treated it. She moved it around her house to better accommodate the sunshine it did or didn’t like, and she watered it as if it was a peace lily. However, no matter what action she took, she couldn’t get the plant to bloom. She was under the impression peace lilies bloomed well and she couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong. Then she thought maybe it was root bound, so she untangled its thick roots and separated it, hoping to spark some growth. It still didn’t bloom. Then one day, scrolling through social media, a picture of a plant popped up, and it looked exactly like hers.
For the past five years, her plant had been a bird of paradise and not a peace lily. She did some further research and learned that a bird of paradise plant takes ages to bloom, they love lots of sun, and they like to be root bound. Every time their roots are disturbed, the plant is set back three to five years.
When I read this, I started thinking about roots. The Bible speaks a lot about roots. Proverbs 12:3 (NLT) says, “Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots.” Proverbs 12:12 (Berean Study Bible) says, “The wicked desire the plunder of evil men, but the root of the righteous flourishes.” And Jeremiah writes about the one who trusts in the Lord like this: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV).
Jesus spoke about roots. In the parable of the sower, He said the seed that fell on rocky soil sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. However, when the sun came up, the plants were scorched because they had no roots (Matthew 13:5-6 NIV). When Jesus explained the parable, He said of those characterized as having rocky ground hearts, “But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Matthew 13:21 NIV). Their roots did not go down deep into God’s Word, so when persecution arose, they fell away.
Today, more than ever, we need to be rooted in God’s Word, so when persecution comes because of the Word, we will stand. In Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV), Paul tells us, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1) and to build ourselves up in Him, we must be in His Word. Satan will try anything he can to keep us from reading God’s Word because he knows it is our life. “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life…” (John 6:63 CJB). In these last days, as Christ’s followers, let’s be rooted and grounded in His Word, so we are bearing fruit for Him when He returns.
In Matthew 13, Jesus talks about four types of soil where seed is sown. Some of the seeds fall on the wayside (hard, packed soil) and Satan comes to devour them (verses 4,19). Some seeds fall on stony ground. They get scorched and wither under the fire of tribulation because they have no roots (verses 5-6, 21). Some fall on thorny soil and are choked by the cares of this world (verses 7,22). And lastly, some fall on good ground, receptive to the seed. The good ground represents someone who hears the Word of God, understands it, and yields a crop, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred times what was sown (verses 8, 23).
What is surprising in this parable is that three out of four times, the Word did nothing, because one way or another, Satan stole it. It’s obvious from this parable that whenever God’s Word is sown into our hearts, Satan goes to work to steal it. And I believe one of the major ways he steals the Word from us today is through distraction.
Isaiah 26:3, NKJV says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You…”. Peace depends on our ability to keep our mind focused, focused on Jesus. Lack of peace is the result of a wandering mind.
This principle is demonstrated when Jesus went to visit Mary and Martha. “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’s feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving…And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things…Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42 NKJV).
When Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha, what a wonderful time it must have been. Jesus wasn’t preaching to the crowds. He was meeting with a select group of people, teaching them God’s Word. Initially, according to verse 39, both Mary and Martha were sitting at Jesus’ feet. But the passage goes on to say, “Martha was distracted” (verse 40).
What was Martha distracted about? I’m sure she was thinking about what she was going to feed all the guests in her house, all the work it was going to be, and that she better get moving to prepare and serve it. And this line of thinking drew her away. Her thinking pulled her away from Jesus, and pretty soon she was running around. Weust translates verse 40 this way: “But Martha was going around in circles, overoccupied…”. Does this sound like you and me sometimes?
Jesus addressed the issue and said to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things” (verse 41). Martha had lost her peace. It left the minute she took her mind off the Word. Then Jesus added something important. He said, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken from her” (verse 42). Jesus spoke the Word. Satan came to steal it. Martha allowed him to steal it by becoming distracted. Mary, on the other hand, chose differently. She chose the “good part” – to keep her mind on God’s Word. Jesus Himself guaranteed that God’s Word in Mary’s heart would take root and produce fruit.
If we want the “good part”, we need to be determined to value God’s Word, honour His Word, and not let ourselves be distracted from the Word.
Let’s not be too hard on Martha. Her motivation for getting up was to serve Jesus. But ministry is not a good substitute for intimacy with the Lord. There were two meals being served that day. One was the Word of God. The other was the one Martha was serving. What should Martha have done? Remembered Who she was listening to – the One Who fed five thousand people with five fish and two loaves. Feeding a group of people was no problem for Jesus.
Today, as believers in Jesus, let us make the quality decision to keep our minds on God’s Word and to be like the 25% who receive, and not like the 75% who let it be stolen. If we keep our minds focused on God’s Word, we will find ourselves in perfect peace, no matter what the situation.
In this Blog, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned from many years of following Jesus.