“Hey Neighbor, Do You Still Love Jesus?” – Reprint from May 2011

Luke 10:25-29

 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.  “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength and with all you mind and, Love your neighbor as yourself.

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

 

Recently, our neighbor of thirty (30) years went home to be with the Lord. Due to illness and work schedule, neither Frank nor I was able to attend his funeral.  However, not a day has passed since his death that I’ve not thought of his family and pray for God to continue to provide them with comfort and strength during their bereavement.

 Our neighbor was a very special man who lived out his life as a witness and soul-winner for Jesus Christ.

 Before his illness, when our paths crossed, my neighbor talked about the goodness of God.  If he didn’t have the time, or sensed that I didn’t, he’d simply yell, “Hey neighbor, do you still love Jesus?”  This robust greeting has become a way for me to evaluate the status of my personal relationship with God.  As each day brings changes in our health, wealth, and personal situations it’s good to ask ourselves during these times, do we still love Jesus?

My neighbors’ family, church, and friends may never know the impact he had on my spiritual growth, but I wanted to pass on to you his way of evaluating your relationship with God by asking, “Hey neighbor, do you still love Jesus?”

 Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for those Christians who have remained faithful to you as they’ve invited others into a love relationship with you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

All Scripture from NIV Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, 1995

Summary of Ruth – “God Grants the Wishes of a Prostitute”

Rahab:

  • Joshua 2, 6:22-28, Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25, Matthew 1:5

As we conclude our study of the book of Ruth, we now realize that the wishes of the prostitute, Rahab were finally granted. What’s the connection, you might ask? Rahab, the prostitute, was the mother of Boaz (Matthew 1:5), who is the kinsman-redeemer in the book of Ruth.

If we travel back in time to after Moses’ death, we find, a newly commissioned Joshua (Joshua 1:1-5), and Moses’ army. God prepares this army to fight to conquer the city of Jericho (Joshua 1:6-11), which was their entrance to the Promised Land. Jericho is where Rahab and her family lived. We’d long ago forgotten about her, we certainly had no idea that she’d have any other significance in Bible history other than helping Joshua’s spies. However, God uses Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz to grant the wishes of Rahab, for the protection of her family. While it’s true that Rahab was a prostitute, did we discount the fact that she was a business woman. Though we may not agree with the product she was marketing, it helps to remind us that God can and does use anybody He sees fit to use. After all He’s using us to spread His message of His unconditional love and acceptance of all who believe in Him.

Rahab knew men, and she instantly knew the difference between the desires of the King of Jericho and his men, and this God she’d heard about and His men (Joshua’s spies). She was probably intrigued that the spies only wanted safe shelter, a place to sleep, and an escape route from her. They were not like most of the men who came to her house.

Being a business woman, she saw the opportunity to get something from these spies, after all she was risking her life to save them.

She’d heard that the spies’ God had caused the Israelites to escape Pharaoh by making a dry highway just for them through the Red Sea, and not one Israelite soul was lost by drowning. Yet, when Pharaoh’s army pursued them onto that dry seabed they and their horses drowned when God released the water (Exodus 14:26). She had encountered lots of men in her business dealings, becoming rich enough to support herself and her family. These men, however, were obedient to their God, who protected His people in a way that Rahab was unaccustomed to. She felt that she could help these men and trust their God to save her family in the destruction that would surely come. The spies enter into a contract with Rahab to save all who were in her house (Joshua 2:17-24).

We see God’s hand as He rescues Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz to make them into a family. We see Rahab honored in the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Ruth and Boaz are honored as the great-grandparents of David.

Let’s take a fresh look at how God has salvaged our families today. Encourage each member by your example, to love God with their heart, soul, and mind.

Reverend Glenda Brunson

Instructor’s Comment 3 – “The Erector Set of Hope”

Lesson Two – Naomi and Ruth Return (Ruth 1:1-22)

RUTH 1: 19-22
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem.
When they arrived in Bethlehem the town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth, the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

After Naomi either finally understood Ruth’s level of commitment to her (1:16-18), or was just too exhausted to argue/debate the fact that she (Ruth) would be better-off if she just “went home to her people, land, and customs.” Naomi and Ruth travel back to Bethlehem. The whole town was “stirred because of them.”(1:19). It is evident that Naomi’s mood had not improved by arriving safely back in her home-town.

Naomi’s assessment of her situation was that it was dismal. She assessed that she “left Bethlehem full”: she was young, vibrant, had a husband, and two sons. Her husband, Elimelech, was her everything— he filled her life, providing love, emotional support, companionship, and took care of her financial/household needs. Hers sons, Mahlon and Kilon, though frail, were prized heirs, who would continue to care for her, should anything happen to Elimelech. But God, had other plans for Naomi—and she was still so “grief-stricken” that she could only see emptiness with the deaths of her husband and both sons. Naomi had land in Bethlehem, but had no access to it as a female head-of-the-household because of the laws at that time.

What can we learn from this phase of Naomi’s life? Naomi saw “no hope” for her future. She thought the Lord had abandoned her. We sometimes interpret “hope” to mean “a wish.” That’s evident when we use terms like, “I hope so,” or “I hope this gets better.” As Believers, we should remember the “Erector Set of Hope.” We can’t build anything on a “wish,” but lives constructed on Jesus’ blood as the “Hope”, can withstand anything life hands us.

Some Scriptural references for “Hope”:

Jeremiah 29:11-12 –“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Job 13:15 –Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.

Psalm 42:5- Why downcast , O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,

Psalm 62:5 – Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Isaiah 40 :31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.

Prayer: Father, we thank you for your guidance through this study of Ruth. May we continue to listen to your instructions, and pass it on to those who join us for the study of your Word! Amen.

Reverend Glenda Brunson

Today in the Town of David

Luke 2:8-12 And there were shepherds living out in fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of he Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  

Today, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior, Homewords Ministry wishes all a blessed Christmas Day.

“Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room!” Luke 2:1-7

Joy to the world the Lord is come,

Let earth receive her King,,

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heaven and nature sing,

And heaven and nature sing,

And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

(From Psalm 98) Issac Watts

This familiar Christmas song really brings on the Spirit of Christmas.  It is the season when we wait expectantly for a renewed joy of the holiday.

Every year for as long as we can remember, we get more excited about Christmas.  Even when we are mandated to greet co-workers or people of other faiths with “Happy Holidays!” rather than “Merry Christmas!” to prove that we are sensitive— our hearts are shouting with a silent cheer—“Merry Christmas!”

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to his own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7

Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus gives us the reason Jesus was born in a stable where animals of that day were sheltered.  There was no room for them in the Inn.  We can understand that the stable was the only place that Jesus and His family had to occupy.  Do we still in 2013, over two-thousand years later have problems finding a space for Jesus to occupy?  Is there space for Him in the world He created?  Is there space for Him in the lives He’s created?  Is there space for Him in the homes He’s blessed us with?  Is there space for Him in our hearts that He regulates?

When we decorate our homes for Christmas, will we save a special memorial space for the “reason for the season?”

When we calculate what will be spent on Christmas, will we add on a contribution to a cause that Jesus would approve of?

As we plan for our Christmas vacation, will we allot time to focus on Jesus?

When we pledge to be filled with the kindness of the Christmas Spirit, will that include the people Jesus would be kind to?

When the family gathers to exchange gifts, will we remind them that the greatest gift that God, the father gave to His world, was Jesus?  Do we understand that, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)”, is more appropriate to consider at Christmas than our loyal participation in the football season?  It is at this time that we are better able to identify with sacrificial giving.  If we were to plot our time spent on a pie chart for 2010, how much time can we document as being spent on or on behalf of Jesus? Was it a fair amount of time based on the blessings He’s provided for us?

When we remember that Christmas is a Birthday Celebration; are we even aware that the birthday celebrity (Jesus) is often not invited and most times not acknowledged?  As our calendars begin to fill with the Christmas parties we have to attend, let’s remember and remind others whose party we’re actually attending.  This year invite the King of King, and Lord of Lords to sit in the seat of honor, He so richly deserves.

“Merry Christmas from Homewords!”

Note: Article reprinted from December 2009.

 

Homewords Ministry Tampa Bay, FL

“In Preparation for the Savior” (Reprint from December 2011)

Revelation 3:20-22

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

“Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)

“Laodicea was a commercial and administrative center, the richest city in its district.  In fact, when it was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, Laodicea refused imperial aid that its neighbors gladly accepted.  Laodicea “was known throughout the Roman world of its time for three things: its banks, which even Cicero recommended for exchanging money, its linen and wool industry, which produced cloth, and carpets, especially from the glossy black wool of sheep reared in the area; its medical school  and widely famed medicines, notable among which was an eye-ointment. (See Revelation 3:17-18).   Laodicea’s sister city were Hierapolis and Colosse. Because Laodicea was built to suit the trade routes rather than natural resources, the city had no local water supply.  Water had to be piped in through stone conduits. This made the city extremely vulnerable to attack, so its politicians specialized in appeasement.  Laodicea had a large Jewish population –at least 7,500 adult males.”Laodicea means, “rule of the people” or “judgment of the people.” “(2, pg. 43)

                 We, like the church at Laodicea have taken pride in our resources and accomplishments.  However, Jesus had to remind them that they were:  wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (3:17); although they accumulated money in their banks, produced an eye-ointment in their medical school, and linen and wool for cloth.  Especially glossy black wool of the sheep reared in that area—reminds me of the Nursery Rhyme, “Baa, Baa Black Sheep”.  In their self-pride in their accomplishments, they had forgotten their benefactor— the source of their supply—the Savior, Himself.

Jesus’ position with the church of Laodicea is the same position He takes with us today, outside the door (Revelation 3:20) of our hearts, homes, churches, and concerns. “God is standing outside the doors of our homes— the black doors, the green doors, the red doors, the white doors, the shabby doors, and the neat doors.  Shall we open those doors to Him and invite Him into our family circle?  He is waiting for us to do just that.”  (3. pg. 129)  God is ever-present, and accessible— yet waiting to be invited in to our hearts, homes, churches, and concerns.  We may sometimes wonder why God isn’t doing more in some of our situations; we may even get angry at God for not caring.  The problem is not with God; it’s that we’ve never had the courage to invite God into the problem, give it to Him completely to solve, and trust Him totally with the outcome. Have we prepared room for the Savior in our hearts, homes, churches, and concerns? Are there areas of our lives that we frankly feel that Jesus should have no involvement in? If He’s not Lord of all, is He Lord at all?   Are we so full of ourselves that we can only “top our glass-off” with the Savior through a few minutes when we have nothing else on our schedule?  Have we left the Savior standing outside the door, knocking and waiting, again?

Jesus, the Savior, “was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died a substitionary death, bodily rose from the dead, and is physically coming back again.”  (1. pg. 162) Have you made room for the Savior?

References

  1. Evans, Tony, Dry Bones Dancing, Multnomah, Publishers, Inc., Sister, OR,2005
  2. Revelation, Life Change Series, NavPress, Colorado Springs,Co.,1989.
  3. Shoemaker, Helen Smith, The Secret of Effective Prayer, Word Books, Waco TX, 1967

The Perfect Gift – James 1:16-18

A Promise from God – Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heal.”

The Promise Clarified – Isaiah 7:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The Promise Fulfilled – Matthew 1:1 – “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew 3:17 – A Voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

The Fulfillment Clarified – John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through, him.”

In this month of the celebration of the birth of Jesus our savior, let us not forget that in spite of our failures, God still  loves us and provides the gift of salvation. In spite of Adam’s failures or all the failures we make, God The Father gave us his Son Jesus as the perfect gift to reconcile us to Him with forgiveness for those failures. In this season, let us celebrate Jesus, God’s perfect gift.  James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Stewartship of God’s Gifts

Whatever God has put into your trust, be it, self, family, finances, relationships are your responsibilities. God’s appointed trust in His church (1 Corinthians 12:28) and gifts from the Holy Spirit (See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ), are required to administer those responsibilities according to God’s will and way. 1 Corinthians 4:2 “Now it required that those that have been given a trust must prove faithful.”