Day 18: May I {share} what I have with you?

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.  All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.  The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.  There were no needy people among them because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.  Acts 4:31-35share

To {share} is truly God’s idea.  With a focus on sharing we can see from the creation of the world in which we live, God chose to share His creation with us.  And truly this morning I’m struck with a fresh awareness should God choose not to share with me, I would have nothing – not even air in my lungs.

So, as much as I think on any given day I’ve come up with a great idea to share something of what I have with someone else, I have to stop and give thanks to God for sharing that idea with me.  Pondering on the word share for today, my mind first landed in the book of Acts, the early church gathered together in community sharing what they had with each other so that the needs of everyone were met.

I’m wondering if God’s definition of community is sharing.  If we were to look in Father’s dictionary would we find community and sharing as synonyms.  I myself am fairly convinced this is so.  Again gleaning truth from the book of Ruth, I see a similar community of sharing and taking care of one another portrayed.

Certainly, Naomi shared her home with Orpah and Ruth.  Later, Ruth shared Naomi’s home and God and people in Bethlehem of Judah.  The women of Bethlehem welcomed Naomi home and took Ruth in as one of their own.

Boaz shared his field with Ruth and certainly many other women who would glean in his fields throughout the harvest.  Significant here though is that Boaz showed a special kindness to Ruth, a foreigner, by allowing her to share in the harvest.  By sharing with Ruth, Boaz was also sharing with Naomi as was right for a near kinsman.

Naomi shared with Ruth the ways of God Almighty and the Laws of Moses.  As was discussed yesterday regarding discipleship, Naomi prepared Ruth for becoming the wife of their near kinsman and taught her the way of being redeemed.

And then Boaz stepped in.  Boaz had something more than grain he could share with the women to help sustain them.  He had a voice, a good reputation and standing in the community.  Boaz took up their cause at the gate, publicly sharing Naomi’s desire to sell her husband’s property.31 days gleaning bushel of wheat

Boaz was the first to speak up for the widows, Naomi and Ruth, however, respectfully he shared the opportunity to redeem Naomi’s property with the man who was to have the first option – the nearest kinsman.

I hope you’ll read these beautifully insightful scriptures for yourself…the whole book of Ruth, particularly here Ruth 4, with a focus on what it means to live in community and share – not just with those who are of the Church, but strangers in our communities as well.

Certainly, I have gleaned much from these passages, and I’m asking…

Lord Jesus, teach me again today through Your word and by the counsel of Holy Spirit what You want me to know about community – where I live and work and shop and exercise.  Reveal to me Lord moment by moment what I have in my hands that I might share with someone I meet today.  And more than what I have in my hand, help me to always remember I have You to share with everyone I meet.  For Your Glory, Jesus… amen.

Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together.  Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses.  And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.  I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”  Ruth 4:1-4

Ponders:

What do you think?

  • Are the ideas of community and sharing synonymous?
  • What scriptures come to mind when you think of God sharing and people sharing?
  • Will you ask Holy Spirit to enlighten your heart about sharing?
    • what you have to share?
    • who you are able to share with?
    • do you agree you always have Jesus to share with anyone you meet?
      • what might it look like to share Jesus today?
      • what has sharing Jesus looked like in the past?

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining

~ Lisa

 

Day 17: Women, to {grow} and bear good fruit, don’t you see we need each other?

“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered.  So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.  Ruth 3:5-6 niv

Afterwards, Naomi said to Ruth:  “How did it go, my daughter?”  Then (Ruth) told (Naomi) everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”  Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”  Ruth 3:16-18 niv

Women, don’t you see?  To grow and bear good fruit, we need each other.

As I peek into the window of Naomi’s house, I see two women who have chosen to intentionally follow provisions set forth in the Law of Moses to {grow} a family.  Naomi, firmly rooted, knew the way for Ruth to be redeemed by a near kinsman.  Boaz, was Naomi’s choice because of the kindness and honor he had shown to both Ruth and her entire family.  Over a longer period of time, I think Naomi had been lovingly teaching her daughter the way to set the redemption process in motion.grow tomatoes.png

Ruth listened.  She obeyed her mother’s instruction exactly.  After Ruth had done all she was told to do, Boaz gave further instructions, and she obeyed him as well.

The seeds of a new family had been sewn.  The soil was rich and the family name would continue with firm roots, grow and in time bear fruit.  Boaz promised, one way or another Ruth would be grafted into a new family.  Though to grow means to wait.

Well, I’m thinking specifically of the time I decided I wanted to grow tomatoes.  Visiting with my parents and checking out their new garden, my dad offered me three of his leftover tomato plants.  Though I had been unsuccessful at growing tomatoes in the past,  I decided to be more intentional and give it another go.

I mean, if I followed the directions, how hard could it be?  The easy part was following the directions.  I was purposeful this time.  I did my research, and I followed every detailed instruction.

The tomato plants were carefully planted in the sunshine, staked for potential growth support, and I watered them only once a week per the directions.  I couldn’t wait to walk out my door, pick and eat juicy red homegrown tomatoes.

So, what’s the hard part?  Waiting.pablo (87)

Every morning, for weeks,  I walked outside, inspected my little plants for any obvious growth, measured their growth, observed new leaves and inspected the plants for any signs of buds.  I watered the plants once weekly and pulled weeds from around the roots.  And I waited… waited…  waited some more…

Do you know how long it takes to grow tomatoes?  Yes, but it’s worth the wait because there’s not much better than stepping outside the door to pick juicy red tomatoes, wash and eat right off the vine!

I see a similar {grow}ing process in Ruth and Naomi.  They are family, closer than blood relatives, daughter and mother.  They are a beautiful example of discipleship.  Truly, I think if I could be invited into their home I would see iron sharpening iron.  Naomi diligently taking time to teach her daughter.  In the waiting, Naomi was preparing Ruth for her new home.  Yet, in the process of preparing, caring for and waiting for the right time to be fulfilled, Ruth was breathing encouragement, renewed vision, and purpose into her mother, Naomi.

Ponders:

As you read through Ruth chapter 3, what truth regarding growth stands out to you?

  • I remember the day I boldly proclaimed to the Lord, “I want you to {grow} me up!”  I think I wanted all the benefits of growing into His likeness, but I had no idea the difficult training course of becoming like Him.  I also didn’t factor in the “waiting” time involved.
    • Jesus said we would encounter trouble in this world, but not to worry because He has overcome death and defeated satan already.
    • Jesus also said that if we are going to follow Him we will have to deny ourselves, take up a cross and go where He leads.
    • Considering the cost, do you want to ask Jesus to {grow} you up into His image?
  • Is there a woman in your life who is mentoring you on the journey with Jesus?  And just as important have you extended your hand back to a woman coming along behind to mentor her?
    • It’s a beautiful picture of women – each extending a hand – one in front of another and alongside, linked up arm in arm, persevering, caring, loving and pointing toward Jesus as we run the race marked out for us.
  • If to {grow} means to wait, what do we need Holy Spirit to teach us about cultivating relationships, walking the Jesus journey together and anticipating the coming fruit?

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

 

 

Day 7: To what do I {hold} when my hands feel empty?

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.  2 Thessalonians  2:15

{Hold} – my first thought – not very spiritual I know, but anyway…

A Seinfeld episode in which Jerry arrives at a rental car agency to pick up the car he previously reserved.  At the counter, Jerry is told the rental agency does not have the mid-size car he reserved.

Much annoyed over the continuous exchange, Jerry finally says to the rental employee, “You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation.  And that’s really the most important part of the reservation – the holding.  Anyone can just take ’em”

Funnier when Jerry Seinfeld says it (or my husband imitates the scene) for sure, but the exchange makes a good point I think.  Especially as concerns spiritual matters.  It’s easy to take the word of God – to read it, to hear it, and to know it intellectually.  However, the most important aspect is {hold}ing to the Word of God.  poppies and wheat 31 days

At times when my circumstances seem impossible to bring about the good for which I hope, it’s most important for me to make a conscious choice to go back to what I know is true.

When hands seem empty and all is dark, dry and despair threatens, I must {hold} fast to the teachings of God.

A quick and easy way to reset my mind and my heart to the truth I know is to say my ABC’s.  Beginning with the letter A, I remind myself of the true attributes of God – my true Redeemer.  Perhaps you will enjoy it too.

  • A – Almighty
  • B – Beautiful & Bountiful
  • C – Cares for me
  • D – Deliverer & Delights in me
  • E – Emmanuel (God with us) & Eternal
  • F – Forever Friend, Faithful
  • G – God, Giver, Gracious
  • H – Holy, Helper
  • and all the way through Z

Gleaning again, as I read through the book of Ruth.  Naomi was familiar with the Mosaic Law and the provision God made to care for widows and to provide a redeemer of name and property through a near kinsman.

Reading the Scripture below in Ruth chapter 2, we catch a glimpse of Naomi {hold}ing to the truth she knew of God’s Word, His Law, and His character.  Not only did Naomi hold to the truth as a light of hope for herself, she held it out for her beloved daughter in law, Ruth.  Glean and {hold} the truth of God’s Word for yourself…

Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.  One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”  Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.”  So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.  She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.  

“Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”  So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

Ruth 2:1-3, 17-20 nlt

Saturday Share coffeeToday is day 7 of the 31-day writing challenge for sure, but it is also Saturday.  Probably the aspect of Eyes on Jesus and Shine I am most fond of is Saturday Share.  It was God’s idea (so it’s the best idea) to offer a space for people I know to guest post their own testimony of truth God is teaching them right now in their current circumstances.

In this week’s edition of Saturday Share, my nephew, Brad Milford, has given me permission to share his recent blog post from Dear Elias.brad-and-elias.jpg

This (the picture) is the hope Brad has been {hold}ing to for months.  Even when his daddy-hands were empty and he had no human way of thinking he would get to {hold} his son like this, he prayed and begged God and he chose forgiveness and asked others to pray for him and asked Elias’ mom to relent.  He didn’t give up.

When all was dark and empty Brad was {hold}ing onto what he knew was true.  Love is right and God is good.  Period.

Thanks, Brad for teaching me to {hold} to God with the hope of His good for me as well!

Read Dear Elias: Dry Bones Come Alive by clicking here.

Disclaimer:  Brad wrote this post I think because I asked him to do it.  He wrote it quickly and posted it without revisions.  This is truly a 5-minute post (probably typed out on his phone).  I purposely have not asked to clean it up or edit or change it in any way because his daddy- heart scribbled out quickly with all the text-style spelling and grammatical imperfections is absolutely precious!

Ponders:

  1.  Is there something you’re hoping for, but the circumstances right now could tempt you to choose hopeless instead?
  2.  Will you speak your circumstances out loud to Jesus?  Regardless of your circumstances, will you ask a trusted loved one to pray with you for victory?
  3.  Circumstances can be very deceptive.  It can appear in our finite world of the 5 senses that nothing good is happening which will lead to a breakthrough.  What do you know to be true about God?  Will you write out His attributes/ His character in a journal?  (Maybe try the ABC’s)
  4. How about conducting a search for Scripture which teaches us about the character of God?  blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com for starters
  5. Will you choose to HOLD to the truth you know until the breakthrough comes your way?

Will you share about your experience currently (or from your past) of how you’ve experienced God’s faithfulness in your life by the simplest action of {hold}ing on to the truth of God’s Word and His character?

Eyes on Jesus… you will Shine!   ~Lisa

Day 5 – Who will help me {trust} when my cup is empty?

I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.  In all my ways I will acknowledge You, Lord, and You will make my path straight.   Proverbs 3:5 & 6

As a young career woman, God placed many believers in my path – mostly in my workplace.  A manager bought me a Bible and invited me to a weekly Bible study before work.  A young woman, my peer, much more mature in her faith, prayed with me.  And a young man challenged me to memorize Scripture.{trust}.png

I look back on those days and see myself much like Ruth.  A foreigner in a strange land.  I eagerly followed others who looked like they were following God.  I {trust}ed their leading and as they spoke the word of God, prayed and left truth on the ground behind them… I gathered all that I could possibly hold.  {5 minutes}

The young man who challenged me to memorize Scripture handed me Proverbs 3:5 & 6 and told me I would need this truth.  I received it as if he had given me the key to a secret door.

I memorized the popular proverbs passage as a commitment prayer to God, making it a personal vow to Him.

In turn, I have offered this same scripture to many who have come alongside me on the journey of faith seeking to follow Jesus.  I believe these words or else I wouldn’t offer them as an anchor to another.

I do {trust} You God.  With all my heart.  I lean not on my own understanding.  I acknowledge You.  In all my ways (I’m looking for Your way).  And I know You will make my path straight.

But then sometimes when all around me is extremely disorienting and unfamiliar, the pathway tangled with briars, and the scenery all brown, white and grey with no clear landmarks…  I wonder if I really {trust} God.proverbs 3.5.png

And then suddenly in the driest place, a cup of cold water encouragement is lavished on me from someone I’ve had the pleasure to encourage in the past.

This is the amazingly beautiful picture of discipleship I am gleaning from Ruth 2:11-12 today.  We are given in this passage an onlooker’s view of God’s work in Ruth and Naomi.  Boaz speaking to Ruth…

“But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers.  May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

Ponders:

In Naomi’s driest place of her faith journey, Ruth was offering the cup of cold water to her mother in law.  Ruth was trusting in the Lord as she had been taught by Naomi.  Ruth was acknowledging God and holding Naomi’s hand while God was making their path straight.

Ruth would {trust} God until Naomi would be restored to {trust} the Lord’s goodness again on her own.

  • Do you have a relationship like the one portrayed between Ruth and Naomi?
  • Are you in the Ruth role currently or the Naomi role?
  • How have you seen the Lord bring a discipleship relationship around full circle?
  • If you haven’t been encouraged by this type of mentoring relationship and would like to pursue discipleship, will you ask the Lord to place someone in your life to live the journey with you?  God is faithful.  He doesn’t want us to walk alone.
  • As you ponder {trust} in God’s word, what is Holy Spirit teaching you?  Do you trust the Lord with all your heart?  Will you make Proverbs 3:5 & 6 your personal prayer?