Day 10: My daughter, will you {listen} to me?

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.  Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls.  I have told the men not to touch you.  And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”  Ruth 2:8-9 niv

Then Ruth the Moabitess said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.'”  …So Ruth stayed close to the servant girls of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished.  And she lived with her mother-in-law.  Ruth 2:21 & 23 niv

31 days gleaning bushel of wheatRuth listened.  She listened with her heart and she listened with a desire to glean wisdom.

Ruth listened to Naomi and learned the ways of God’s people.  Better yet, she put into action all she had gleaned from Naomi.  Ruth’s behavior is evidence of her listening.

When Ruth found herself in the private audience of Boaz with whom she found favor, she listened.  His instructions (as were Naomi’s) were for her welfare.  Ruth couldn’t afford to be arrogant or dismissive or distracted from Boaz’s instructions.  Listening to him and obeying his directions could mean her safe dwelling – even her life.

{Listen}  Do I listen?

Maybe the better question is this:  Do I listen to instruction?  Do I take heed?

I am reminded of many memories of my childhood.  I could give you a number of examples of the ‘young me’ choosing not to listen to instructions.  However, I am inclined to relate a time I chose to really listen.  The stakes were high, and I knew it.

I was 6 years old when we moved to the house on 93rd Court in Perrine, Florida.  In those days children walked or rode their bikes to school, and I wanted to walk to Whispering Pines Elementary like the others.

My Dad, wise, was not going to send his little girl off walking to school without knowing the correct path.  I thought I could just follow the other kids and get there, but that was not a wise plan according to my Dad.  I needed to know the path for myself.  I needed landmarks, and I needed the assurance and confidence of knowing I was on the right path in case someone might try to lead me elsewhere.

So, we walked from our house toward the school, me and my Dad.  At each turn, we stopped…we looked around.  He asked me questions.  What do you see at this corner so you know to turn right?  What do you see here so you will know to turn left?  The one I remember best is the yellow house with the black shutters.  Turn left. Go up to the crosswalk and there it is – Whispering Pines Elementary School.

We practiced.  I listened.  I walked out all the steps I practiced with my Dad.  And on that first day when I arrived safely at school – all by myself – I was so proud and excited!  I didn’t get lost.  I was safe.  I had walked with all the other kids, but not following.  I walked confidently knowing the way.

me and dad

I was completely unaware my Dad was following a distance behind me in our VW bug… just to make sure his little girl made it safely on the way he taught her.

 

Blessed is the one who listens to me,
    watching daily at my gates,
    waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
    and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 8:34-35 esv

Ponders:

Here I am this morning, finding myself wanting to glean with Ruth under the direction of my trustworthy Redeemer.

I need to listen, Lord Jesus.  I need to really stop and listen to Your instructions for my life.  Walk with me today in this uncharted territory.  Help me to stop with You and look around.  Show me the landmarks of Your Word and teach me Your way – Everlasting.  Thank You Holy Spirit, I never walk alone!

  • How about you, friend?  Would you like to glean with me in this field today?
  • As you ponder the two Scriptures below, what is Holy Spirit highlighting for you?  What does the Lord want you to know about your life journey?  Finding His way?  Following His directions?
  • Will you share your gleanings with the rest of us in the comments?

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.  Deuteronomy 13:4 nlt

(As Jesus was transfigured before his 3 disciples they experienced this)  And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”  And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.  Mark 9:6-8 esv

 

 

Day 9: So, what’s the {plan}?

As it turned out, she (Ruth) found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.  Ruth 2:3 niv

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.  Watch the field where the men are harvesting and follow along after the girls.  I have told the men not to touch you.  And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.   Ruth 2:8 & 9 niv

So, what’s the {plan}?

That is the {plan}.  Naomi (teaching Ruth the ways of her people) and Boaz – they were each working the {plan}, which God set in place through the Mosaic Law* to care for the poor and widows.

That’s the {plan}.

field of wheat 31 days

I always want to know – what’s the {plan}?  Not because administration is my spiritual gift.  It’s not.  However, I am a first-born, responsible, feel-more-secure when I have structure and an outline kind of lady.  I often break the plan because there are not enough hours in a day to do everything I need and want to do.

Nevertheless, I like to know…  what’s the {plan}?

I love the multi-layered {plans} of God.  He has a good plan for us – His children.  He sets up a parameter within which we are able to participate in His plan for us.  While at the same time He, Sovereign God, is fulfilling His bigger plan set forth from before the foundation of the world.lamb grateful

The picture in my mind is a shepherd and his sheep.  The shepherd makes sure the sheep have a safe pasture in which to dwell, food to eat and clean water to drink.  The sheep have the responsibilities they are able to handle.  And the sheep do what they do – day in and day out.  Meanwhile, the Shepherd has a greater overarching plan with

Meanwhile, the Shepherd has a greater overarching plan with the far greater responsibility to ensure his sheep are safe from predators, remain healthy – free bugs, eating nutritious foliage, and drinking safe water, and on and on and on… The shepherd cares for his sheep and he is fulfilling his good plan to maintain a healthy and productive flock. (5 minutes)

Naomi and Ruth were both widows who were living in community and care for under the plan God set in place for them and many in similar circumstances.  Meanwhile, as each one – Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz – did the next thing they knew to do day by day, God was fulfilling His greater plan to send His Son, our true Redeemer.

Sometimes I want to know the bigger {plan}.  I can get distracted wondering what will happen to us?  Will there be another job for my husband?  Will he get well?  Should we sell our home?  Will I be alone?  Should I seek a higher paying job?

I can work myself into quite a teasy because I don’t have any of the answers to any of those bigger plan questions right now.  Each and every time as I fret and sob my way back to Jesus’ feet, He gently cups my chin and lifts my head to meet His eyes.  He reminds me – I am His sheep and He is my Shepherd.

 

Ponders:

All I need to do is my sheep stuff.  He’ll take care of the rest.  And this is where He leads me…  Psalm 37:1-7  There’s plenty here for me to take care of on a daily basis.  This is His plan for me today.  So, Lord, my Shepherd, remind me to do this sheep stuff today…and leave all the rest of the big plan to You… for You are able and I am not.  Thank You, Jesus-Shepherd, for loving me.  Amen.

Don’t worry about the wicked
    or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
    Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
    and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
    or fret about their wicked schemes.

 

  • Does Psalm 37:1-7 help you to focus on what you can do today?  Do you see this as a {plan} you can fulfill?
  • What other Scripture do you find yourself going back to when you can’t figure out the bigger {plan}?
  • Would you share your own story of wanting to know the {plan}?  How did God meet your needs in the middle while He was fulfilling His bigger {plan} for your life and for His Kingdom?

 

* Leviticus 19:9, 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:19

 

 

Saturday Share: True Gold Magazine with Chloe

Thank you for joining me for Saturday Share.  Today I want to feature my friend, Chloe, creator of True Gold Magazine.

First, I want to tell you how I met Chloe and why I think she is a gem of a woman.  And then I want you to go to her website and read her story of birthing True Gold Magazine in her own words.

Chloe True Gold Mag

Though True Gold is taking a summer break from submissions, I feel sure they will be looking for more creative investments soon.   So for all of you creative people of God I hope you will become inspired to submit something to Chloe at True Gold Magazine – something creative you have birthed – for inclusion in her publication.

(By the way, if you are a vessel for Holy Spirit, you ARE creative.  Just ponder that for a moment…)

I met Chloe on a Friday night at Grace Midtown in Atlanta when we both providentially showed up for an evening of prayer and ministry to sexually exploited people of our city. I was familiar with this regular ministry event, and as prepared as one can possibly be for what and who we might encounter.  However, this was Chloe’s first opportunity to serve.

As I was the first time I walked into an establishment of sexual exploitation, Chloe had the deer in the headlight look of, “I had no idea!”  I wasn’t completely sure, as we had just met in prayer a couple of hours previous, but I felt fairly sure Chloe was not much older than my oldest son.  It seemed natural to me to feel a motherly protection for her.

I remember walking up alongside this precious young woman and putting my arm around her shoulder as we walked inside the darkness and smoke.  It’s unsettling to say the least, and nearly impossible to comprehend the lack of respect for human dignity in this environment.  Even though we, neither one, consider ourselves naive to the depravity of the flesh; eyes must avert and it is difficult to find a cheerful voice with which to minister God’s love to the women and men under these circumstances.

My most vivid memory of sharing ministry time with Chloe is that she carried a pocket-sized artist pad of paper and an artist’s pencil.  She sat quietly on a stool in the dressing room crowded with more flesh than clothing and sketched a picture of God’s love.  There was a specific woman she felt Holy Spirit was guiding her to bless with her picture.

With the amazing tenderness of Jesus in her eyes, Chloe asked me if it was appropriate to give her sketch to the woman.  I encouraged her to be bold and brave with her message of God’s bountiful grace and unfailing love.  She did.  Chloe reached out with the gift, and was met with tearful thanksgiving from the unsuspecting woman.

Life

We spent the rest of the night sitting way in the back seat sharing our life stories and traveling to various establishments chosen for ministry that evening.  I knew as we finished with prayer in the wee hours of the morning just before daylight I had met one of Father’s anointed daughters.  We’ve stayed in touch since then.  I’ve been watching and waiting.  I’m standing on tiptoes of anticipation as Chloe’s God-infused creativity takes deep root and produces a harvest of huge and beautiful fruit beyond her wildest imagination! (Mark 4:20 msg)

Please bless Chloe, as you peruse her work at True Gold Magazine, with a comment of encouragement to persevere in following the path Jesus is cutting for her – the path which will lead to the exact ministry He created her to accomplish.

(Click here to read Chloe’s story about the creation of True Gold Magazine – the inspiration, her passion and her intent for this publication.)

Chloe is on her way!  Bravo, young friend… do it scared!!

…What I have I give you

I wonder, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the needs of the people in your circle of influence?

I do.

And I have good news!

We, who are adopted children of God, have received the gift of God in the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, we have ALL we need to enable us to minister to every person in every situation of life.  This is good news!  We don’t ever have to feel overwhelmed by the brokenness of our world.  Nor do we ever have to feel at a loss for resources by which to offer assistance.

Why shouldn’t we feel overwhelmed?

And why should we not feel lacking in resources?

Living within the believer is the full power and unlimited resources of Creator God.  We are supplied with a garden of fruit trees capable of producing a harvest of God’s character – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Fruits of the spirit equip us for ministry.

fruits of the spirit

Because we belong to Jesus (we are His and He is ours) we are able to meet overwhelming circumstances face to face with confidence and bold JOY.  Jesus is our example.  He encountered crowds of physically, emotionally and mentally broken and hurting people who pressed in on Him everywhere He traveled.  We carry God’s compassion, just as Jesus did; so we don’t have to duck from any person in distress.

Jesus Himself said that His disciples would do even greater acts of ministry than He accomplished because Father would send His Spirit to help, equip and empower disciples of Christ.  The word of God assures us through the resurrection of Christ we are recipients of an unfathomable inheritance and the fullness of power for this present life by which we are able to accomplish the work prepared for us before the foundation of the world.

This is good news!

How do I know this is for regular people like me?

Peter and John give us an excellent portrayal of bold ministry in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances.  Let’s catch up with these 1st century preachers of the gospel as they headed for the Temple in Jerusalem one day…

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold,

but what I do have I give to you.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,

rise up and walk!”

Acts 3:6

Will you go with me in your Bible to Acts 3?  As you read along, let your imagination paint a picture of the scene.  Allow yourself to use the fullness of your senses to interact with the text of God’s word.

As we ponder this scene together, let’s keep in mind Peter and John have recently experienced the resurrection of Jesus, Messiah, and they have already watched Him ascend to heaven with the promise they will not be abandoned.  Holy Spirit will come to them.

Jesus Himself told them to wait in Jerusalem.  They waited.

They received the filling of Holy Spirit.

Every promise Jesus made was being fulfilled and people of The Way were growing in number daily.

And yet…there were still problems…in Jerusalem.  And on this particular day, on the way to the Temple, Peter and John saw a crippled man being placed at the Beautiful Gate to beg for money from those entering the Temple.  Their eyes met, these three men, each going about the usual of their lives and business of the day, and then something amazing happened!empty change purse

Perhaps the crippled man thought he found a couple of sympathetic donors in Peter and John.  Certainly he believed he would receive from them the money for which he begged.  Or did he suddenly fear he was about to be rebuked and silenced?

Peter, however, emboldened by the Spirit of God, not rich with gold or silver, addressed the deeper need of the crippled man.

He needed an encounter with the Living God.  So, Peter spoke directly into the man’s circumstances with the “all” he had to offer.

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.  He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.  (Acts 3:6-8 nlt)

More and more, day by day, I realize (like Peter and John) Jesus Christ of Nazareth is Who (rather than what) I have to offer.  Jesus is the solution for every need.  He’s not just enough.  Our Triune Creator is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)  He is God of unlimited resources.  In fact, God created every resource in existence. (Genesis 1-2)

This is indeed good news!

I might not know what to do, but God does.  I might not have the ability to heal a person help up 2017or improve their circumstances significantly, but God does.  I might not be able to set a person free from bondage, but God is able.

Better yet, God wants hurting people to know Him, and He wants regular disciples like you and me to make the introduction.  God desires to impact people for their good, and His desire is for them to be uplifted through simple people like you and me.  Again, there is no need to feel disqualified, discouraged, incapable or overwhelmed.  We are not alone.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

2 Corinthians 4:7-8

Fortunately, I live in a neighborhood of diverse generations.  Right next door, behind and across the street there are homes filled with people who are hurting on various levels. People are ill, out of work, have broken relationships, or have recently buried a loved one.  You see it too, don’t you, in your neighborhood?

I am encouraged to look my neighbor in the eye and say,

“What I have I give to you.”

My office is located in a middle school.  A few thousand people surround me daily with seemingly impossible situations – some details known, but what of all the stuff of life buried within their shattered hearts.  Don’t you feel it too in your work place?

I am emboldened to stretch out a hand to a person in my work place and say,

“What I have I give to you.”

I attend a radiant church full of desire for mission – people wanting to make a difference in our 5 mile circle of influence.  And yet the prayer list of our own sick and wounded seems insurmountable on any given day.  You recognize it too, don’t you?  Wounded warriors on the battlefield?

I am energized to speak up in my church congregation,

“What I have I give to you.”

 

My apologies to anyone who might feel I’ve oversimplified suffering and compassionate Greater is HEassistance, please forgive me.  My intent is not to over-simplify or gloss over pain and suffering.  Rather to take the focus off of my lack, which sidelines me from service, and place the focus squarely on God for He is all-sufficient.

My intent is to:

  1. embolden you to make eye contact with people God has purposely placed in your path.
  2. encourage you to engage hurting people with confidence knowing Christ is in you as you are in Him.
  3. energize and equip you to offer the very best (Jesus) of all the resources you have to every wounded person you meet.
  4. empower you to use the fullness of the gifts of the Spirit given to you for the purpose of ministry.

What I do have I give to you.  His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth…

Ponders:

  • Will you seek to remember Acts 3:6 the next time your tempted to avert your gaze from a “crippled” person on your path?
  • Do you feel emboldened to minister as you reflect on the unlimited resources of God available to us as His Spirit indwells us? (Ephesians 3:20, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • What most often causes you to feel overwhelmed in the presence of hurting and wounded people?
  • Do you believe as a spirit filled follower of Jesus you have received power to be a witness and a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world, especially in your local community?  (Acts 1:8)
  • Are you able to say like Peter?  I have no silver or gold for you, but what I have I give to you.  His name is Jesus…

 

 

 

Saturday Share: Brad Milford – the miracle of a captive set free

So, who is Brad?  Brad is my nephew – third son of my brother, Jeff.  Brad is coming into his middle twenties and writing with the wisdom of a forty year old.

By way of various detours along his short journey through life, Brad is father to precious son, Elias!

Brad's Bible

Brad and Elias do not currently live in the same household much to the sadness and frustration of his father.  However, it may be that God has most precisely used these circumstances for Brad’s ultimate good and God’s glory.

 

For this nephew, as well as his three brothers and my own two sons, I have prayed. Specifically for these young men a prayer found in Psalm 103:1-5 has been a prayer on my lips and settled in my heart.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  Psalm 103:1-5

I am delighted to read these precious words written by Brad – a testament to God’s grace and great LOVE and Brad’s surrender.  My faith soars with these direct answers to my  prayers for Brad. (I know many other people have been praying too)

I want you to be encouraged to trust God in a new way, and emboldened in your prayers. This is why I have chosen Brad’s blog post in Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way as this week’s Saturday Share.  I pray you will be set free as well as you read Brad’s unpolished words – just straight from his gut through fingers on a keyboard – raw honesty!

Welcome Brad… I love you and continue to cheer you on in Christ.  Keep picking up your cross and following right on Jesus’ heels…wait on the Lord and trust Him more.

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

Brad and EliasDear Elias,

Your dads a control freak in recovery. I say this because the first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem right? All jokes aside, God has really opened my eyes to this problem.

For such a long time I thought the opposite, I thought that everyone else had this problem. That everyone else were the ones trying to control everything. I pointed fingers, I tried “helping” others by telling them to let God handle it, and to trust him. But I was telling them what they needed to do without removing the big ol plank out of my own eye.

Many recognized a cycle I was in. It goes like this, I want something from God, I pray for it, I tell God I trust him, I believe he’s going to give me what I’m asking for, then I get upset when it doesn’t happen. I shake my fist at him as if he doesn’t care because I haven’t seen instant change, and I try to make things happen on my own. I take ahold of the wheel after a period of time as if…  click here to continue with Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way