Category: Joshua

Confidence

This is the last post in this short series from Ruth chapter 4. This final article covers Ruth 4:13-22.

I believe our gracious God wants you to live in 2021 with great confidence that he is faithfully at work in your circumstances to redeem every part of your life. That’s the whole reason these last verses of Ruth were written. This is our God at work here. This is the Lord moving Naomi from three tragic deaths and three terrible funerals to a beautiful wedding and the birth of a precious baby. Naomi’s emptiness and bitterness and hopelessness is resolved by God and we know he’s been moving the pieces and working out the details the whole time.

Naomi suffers untold tragedy and loss. She has no husband to provide for her, no sons to protect her, no grandchildren to cheer her spirits, and no land to call her own. She is miserably sad and alone. When she gives her approval for Ruth to go glean in the field, she’s just looking to survive. But God is redeeming her story. God moves Naomi from death and emptiness to life and fullness, almost like a resurrection because the name of her husband and their family line will now live on forever. Praise be to the Lord who this day has not left you!

And look at Ruth. I’m calculating she’s a young woman in her late 20s. She’s married and suffers through ten years of infertility and then is widowed. She moves with her mother-in-law to a foreign country where she’s an outsider in a dozen different ways and where the law makes it illegal for anyone to ask her out on a date. But the Lord blesses her with a redeemer of a husband and the Lord causes her to conceive and give birth to a son. When Ruth goes to the field on that first day, she’s just looking to survive. She had no earthly idea that she would marry the landowner and their great-grandson would be David, the greatest king in the history of Israel, through whom God would bring the promised savior of the world. But that’s what our God does. That’s what he is always doing.

By God’s great love and faithfulness, he is always at work in our lives to do what’s best for us. We know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. But our God is also working so the things that happen in your life fit into what he’s doing with the whole world, with all of time and space and salvation history. That’s what our gracious and powerful God is still doing right now today, and that should fill you with confidence.

In his final words to God’s people, Joshua reminded of the great confidence we have in our Lord:

“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” ~Joshua 23:14

You’ve got to know that and believe it and own it if you’re going to live in all the unknowns that are facing us in 2021.

I don’t know when Amarillo is going to move from Code Red to Code Orange or how much longer we’re going to have to wear these masks. I don’t know how many more people are going to get sick and suffer and die. I don’t know what our church is going to look like at the end of 2021. I don’t know what choices we’re going to make or what decisions we’re going to be forced into. I don’t know how you are going to deal with the loss you’ve suffered in the past year. I don’t know about your pain and how that impacts you in 2021. But I stand today with the apostle Paul who wrote , “I  do know this! I am confident of this! That he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus! The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it!”

As we move into this new year together, allow me to remind you that the Lord’s eye is still on the birds of the air and his hand is still with the flowers of the field. How much more with you, the precious child of his heart?

Peace,

Allan

Daylight from the Lord

When Joshua defeated the Amorites, he prayed to God in the middle of the battle. He was running out of daylight, they were needing more time, and he prayed to God to make the sun stand still.

Joshua didn’t know the sun doesn’t move. If you’re going to get more daylight, you need to ask God to make the earth stand still, not the sun. Joshua didn’t know. He prayed for the wrong thing. He prayed with mistaken assumptions. He didn’t have all the information.

But God still gave him more daylight.

Today, we pray with mistaken assumptions. We don’t have all the information. We ask for the wrong things. But God still gives us daylight.

We engage our neighbors with the Good News, we talk to our friends at work about Christ, and we don’t have all the information. We don’t know the half of everything that’s really happening around us and inside that conversation. We speak with mistaken assumptions. But God still gives us daylight.

Peace,

Allan

Revelation

EscapeValerie bought her first car yesterday: a 2008 Ford Escape with just 46,000 miles and one previous owner. Leather seats. Moon roof. Power everything. And clean. A far cry from the ’74 Monte Carlo I bought with roofing money when I was sixteen. This is a pretty sweet ride. Her mom and I matched the money she had saved and now Val’s cruising around campus and Canyon in her own set of wheels. Her “whip,” she calls it. I have no idea what that means.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GloryGod gives us his covenant and he works through his covenant to reveal himself. He tells us who he is, he shows the world who he is, by his covenant actions with his people. In Exodus 34, God does not destroy his people after the golden calf incident, although he wants to. Moses talks him out of it. Instead, God reveals his glory to Moses. He tells Moses his full name, he discloses to his people exactly who he is:

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.” ~Exodus 34:6-7

It’s such an important revelation of God that it’s quoted nine times in the Old Testament. This is who God is. These are his eternal characteristics, his eternal nature. And you find these character traits on display as God keeps his covenant Word to his people. It’s a very helpful exercise in reading and interpreting the Bible, I think, to look for these characteristics in every passage. Is revealing his compassion here? Is God demonstrating his patience here? Is this where God shows me that he’s forgiving? It’s important to God that we know him; we should look for it in his Scriptures.

There’s a well known Assyrian prayer that’s titled “A Prayer to Every God.” And in this pagan prayer, the worshiper is trying to appease a god from his anger over some offense the worshiper has committed. There are only two problems: One, he doesn’t know which god is angry and, two, he doesn’t know what he did wrong. So he makes a bunch of confessions to sins he doesn’t know if he’s committed or not. And each confession is addressed to “the god I do know or the god I do not know.” Maybe he’s eaten a forbidden fruit he knows nothing about. Maybe he accidentally wandered into a sacred space nobody told him about. The prayer is so frustrating and hopeless. You can hear the desperation at the end:

“Although I am constantly looking for help, no one takes me by the hand;
when I weep, they do not come to my side.
I utter laments, but no one hears me;
I am troubled; I am overwhelmed; I cannot see…
Man is dumb; he knows nothing;
mankind, everyone that exists — what does he know?
Whether he is committing sin or doing good, he does not ever know.”

This is how we would be without revelation. That’s why the covenant is so important, that’s why God’s law was such a treasure to Israel: because God had spoken to them. In an act of divine grace, God communicates to his people what pleases him and what angers him. We don’t have to guess.

Today, we look back at some of the Old Testament laws and we criticize the strictness and we question the seeming arbitrariness of some of it. But you don’t get that reaction from the Hebrews themselves. They seemed rather relieved that their God had agreed to define a relationship with them.

The covenant is about revelation.

When God’s planning and raining down the ten plagues on Egypt, he states over and over again it’s so “you will know that I am the Lord” and so “all of Egypt will know that I am the Lord.” When the Israelites were getting close to Jericho, Rahab told the two spies they were all afraid because they had heard about what God did to Egypt. She claimed their hearts had all melted at the news “for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” When the Israelites cross the Jordan River, the people are told that God divided the waters “so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

When you have a covenant with God, you no longer have a remote, unapproachable God. You have a God you can know. A God you can count on. It’s important to God that we know who he is. And he reveals himself in clear terms though his covenant actions in Act Three.

Peace,

Allan