“Just” Finished Judges, Ruth, and 1st Samuel

I’ve gotten super behind on my book posts! So today I am playing “catch up”and going to go back through my devotional journals and try and explain what I’ve learned from reading Judges, Ruth, and 1st Samuel. It was actually SUPER encouraging to read the journaled observations I made from the text and it was a great reminder to myself that GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS WORD–but WE have to be IN IT to hear it. I’ve heard him both sweetly and sternly teach me through these pages, and it motivates me to read more!

Bible

This is a a little different from my other posts, but I’m just going to share one “take away” from each book that I journaled about.

Judges: It’s interesting how people dislike the Old Testament portion of the Bible because it is so gruesome and filled with wars. Conquests, slaughterings, a fat king knifed to death, and a woman taking a tent peg through the temple of her foe are all found even just in this one book. But me, I LOVE that this kind of stuff is in our Bible! It makes it such an interesting read, and helps me understand (and root for!) the Main Character all the more!

Can you imagine LOTR without the battle scenes, the bitten off finger, or the son nearly burnt alive? There’s heroism, true love, perseverance, friendship, and goodness. You need both elements of discomfort and beauty to make a captivating story.  We the audience get to experience SUCH JOY in the triumph precisely because of the gruesomeness the characters had to endure.

LOTR

This is what I think of as I reflect on Judges. Yes, there are scenes that make me grimace, my heart race, or my stomach churn. There are villains that are pure evil, that could give me nightmares. But that is reality, and it is what makes our Hero SO great and his victory SO EXCITING. Reading through the OT is painful and confusing at times. But I know that the New Testament is coming, and the battle will FINALLY be won, the enemy defeated, and the last boat out of Rivendell has a spot on it for me. 🙂

Ruth-My big take away from Ruth was the idea that GOD GRACIOUSLY REDEEMS SO MUCH; He is sovereign over even our hardest pains. Here’s a list of hard things in the book that he HAD A PERFECT PURPOSE FOR.

  • There is a famine in Naomi’s hometown, and they have to leave 😦 (So hard to say goodbye to everything and everyone you’ve ever known)
  • Naomi’s sons marry Moabite women 😦 (Iwonder if this BROKE Na’s heart?)
  • Naomi’s husband dies 😦
  • Ruth is childless 😦 (maybe she struggled with infertility? Who knows?)
  • Naomi’s oldest son dies 😦
  • Naomi’s youngest son dies 😦
  • Ruth and Na are seperated from Ruth’s sister in law
  • Boaz is single (I wonder if he ever struggled with that?)
  • Ruth can only get a job gleaming
  • The “other redeemer” had children and therefore could not buy the field from Naomi

We serve a redeemer my friends. A good God who is in control of ALL things.

1 Samuel-In this book God, through Samuel, establishes a monarchy in Israel–first with Saul, then with David. God’s obvious sovereign hand is beautifully all over these pages. 🙂 Though many are very familiar to those of us who have grown up in a church, the stories in this book are were surprisingly captivating to me during this read through! One of my takeaways (it was hard to pick just one!) was the grace of God in giving beautiful friendships. I love the story of Jonathan and David and it caused me to think about my friendships and praise God for the ways he has brought us together and sustained our love for each other.

I hope this post encourages you to be in the Word as much as it did for me! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

 

With love,

Betty

Just Finished A Book of Numbers

My honest first thought: With a title like “The Book of Numbers”- you know this chapter in the story of God is going to be a real nail biter 😉 But I know that every book in the Bible serves a great purpose in the metanarrative of who God is and what his purposes are. So it is with the book of Numbers.

In Numbers, we continue to see the gradual fulfillment of the promises that God gave to Abraham those many years ago. Let’s review those promises. According to my blog on Genesis, God promised little ol’ Abe 4 things:

  1. A land to live in
  2. A whole lot of descendants
  3. Success/blessings
  4. That the whole world would be blessed because of someone in his family.

In Numbers we see (finally in the very last chapter) each tribe has an inheritance of land as they are poised to enter the Promise Land! We see that though at one time Abraham’s descendants were just a blip on the world wide census (only 70 persons where they entered Egypt (Gen. 46:27)) they are now tallying over 600,000 men-that’s not including women and children. Woah. That’s awesome! Thirdly, God has not forsaken them and even has a real presence via the cloud of fire over the tabernacle. As far as how they are a blessing to the nations…I am not sure how I see that being fulfilled in the Book of Numbers…maybe it’ll come along later. Hopefully it’ll be super obvious (I don’t know-like maybe somehow salvation will be offered to all nations through this nation or something like that! ;))

While reading, I had a couple of thoughts. One,as I aim to read God’s word through with fresh eyes, I was surprised that Moses doesn’t get to enter the Promised Land! He plays such a huge role thus far! He is a friend of God, talks to him face to face, is the most humble man, and is a unique mediator. Yet because of oooone little incident-he can’t enter. I wondered a lot what that day was like. Was Moses mad? Dissapointed? Did he figure that would be the consequences for his actions and do it anyway? Did he ask God for mercy? I also wondered if God would maybe change His mind? Maybe Deuteronomy will come and God will say that Moe CAN enter the land! That would be make sense to me. Right? Moses isn’t really going to come ALL this way and do ALL those things and be SO close with God-to not enter the Land God promised…right? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see ;).

Secondly, even though God was VISIBLY PRESENT to the people of Israel, there is still so much unbelief and subsequently, so much disobedience! What should be seen as gloriously miraculously became oh-so mundane. The lackluster view of God’s presence and his glory led to doubt and sin. I’d say we do the very same thing with the Bible. What should be seen as an incredible gift to mankind–GOD HIMSELF breathe into people words to record so that we could know Him! We, at ANY time, can pick up this book and hear the Words of God, read of the goodness of God, be impressed/enthralled/enamored at the love, justice, and faithfulness of God-yet for so many it collects dust. It’s unimpressive, unimportant, and underused. This very same situation of the miraculous becoming the mundane is what leads US into disbelief and disobedience. We need to pray that God, in this grace, helps us to see the Bible for what it really is. The living, powerful, penetrating Word of God is a most precious gift not to be trivialized nor ignored.

So that’s my take on Numbers. I’m on to Deuteronomy tomorrow. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below with any questions, comments, or concerns! 😀

"A casual relationship with the Word of God reflects a casual relationship with the Son of God." (Anonymous):

~ J. C. Ryle on reading the Bible:

Truth.:

Just Finished Exodus

As I explain in a previous post about Genesis– as I read through the Bible I am going to stop and reflect at the end of each book, and write about what that book tells me about God. A couple of days ago I (finally!) finished Exodus and here are my thoughts:

In Genesis the main character, God made a promise that he would make a “great nation” out of this small group of Hebrew nobodies. Unfortunately, this next story opens up with those people (the Israelites) being in slavery for 400 years to the greatest super power of the world at that time-Egypt. 

Yikes!

They need a HERO! They need a fearless and strong rescuer to swoop in and save the oppressed people. GOD is the HERO of this story! There is also a trusty sidekick-Moses! He was definitely a very unlikely sidekick, but ended up becoming a good friend of our Hero:) 

At the perfect time, the Superhero and His sidekick, with wit and agility, even when it seems absolutely IMPOSSIBLE-set the people free! And it’s amazing! And you, as the reader, are SO PUMPED for what just happened. But just like in many other superhero movies (spider-man/batman) the people rescued don’t always trust or even like the hero-but are instead hostile/opposed to Him! 

During the second half of Exodus, it’s kind of crazy, God “reveals” more that he is not merely a superhero and a rescuer…he is actually so much more than that…he is a HOLY GOD.And that holiness is MINDBOGGLING. Holy means “set apart” and He is sooooo incredibly different and perfect and awesome. He is JUST and punishes sin, but He also is LOVING and forgiving and delights in restoration. God makes it clear in this book that he REMEMBERS and FULFILLS all of His promises. And get this, despite his HOLINESS and their MISTRUST AND STUPIDITY, he want to reside with them. 

(insert jaw drop)

He is the incredible creator of the universe! He is the rescuer, sustainer, provider, epitome of perfection, goodness, grace, justice, mercy, and knowledge! And he wants to LIVE with the Israelites? The people who so quickly turned their backs on him? The ones who doubted his faithfulness? Who doubted his power? Who denied his uniqueness? Who ignored his rules? Who forgot his grace? THAT’s who he chooses to reside with? 

Yep.

A sinful, evil people will live with a perfect, holy God. And the book ends with this cliff hanger of a question: How on earth is THAT going to work out?

Imagining God’s Presence

The other morning, after I had read the Word, I was feeling especially convicted about my lack of time with God recently. I felt like I hadn’t given him my undivided attention lately, and that I was being lazy in our relationship. So I decided to kneel by my bed and take some time to speak intimately to him.

Well, as soon as I closed my eyes to talk with him, I was distracted. Words were fumbling out of my mouth-as I thought about all I wanted him to do for me. I felt uncomfortable in my position and kept shifting and moving around, and my mind was wandering about the morning plans and how I should probably make my bed before I leave.

So to help myself focus, I decided to imagine what it would be like to enter God’s presence to speak with him. This was my train of thought:

castle

I enter the most glorious building I’ve ever seen. I imagine it’s the Sistine Chapel meets the Disney Castle times 100. Not gaudy, but perfectly ornate. Not sterile, but perfectly orderly. Being escorted by angels I walk the halls and am delighted by the beauty of each room I pass through. We reach the throne room, God’s dwelling place, and 2 angels each grab door handles and pull open the doors. They glide effortless across the reflective floor and I step into the huge room. The moment my feet land I am enormously overwhelmed. In that moment I saw down the corridor to the throne. There sits the Triune God. He is one-but He is three. The power of being in the presence of God takes my breath away, and I begin to sob. I am consumed by feelings of love, joy, peace, power, and perfection. It is more precious and beautiful than any feeling I have ever experienced. He is magnificent and I am deeply experiencing love. His gloriousness causes my body to tremble. The other simultaneous feeling that engulfs me is one of guilt. I can feel his holiness in the air that I’m gasping for through my sobs. My shaking body is painfully aware of its choice to please itself over this beautiful, joyful Being that I now see. I am repulsed by my lack of desire to be here, and my unworthiness to be here simply devastates me.

In that very moment, the Holy Spirit, like a rushing wind, leaves the throne and envelopes me. I breathe fully for the first time as I feel him comfort me and hold me. He brushes my tears away and I hear him whisper the truth of my forgiveness through Christ, and now my standing before God. All at once these verses come to mind:

“[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  –2 Corinthians 5:21

“But by His [God’s] doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”-1 Corinthians 1:30

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe.” –Romans 3:21-22

Peace floods my heart as look to Christ for my righteousness, and find it lacking nothing. The Holy Spirit picks me up and carries me all the way to the nail pierced feet of God the Son, seated at the right hand of God the Father. Looking at Christ’s wounds causes my tears to flow again. Overwhelmed by what he went through so that I could come to this room, I feel the holes in his hands and the only words I can muster are “thank you, thank you, thank you”. Every request I had, seems to vanish as I behold His splendor. My appeals for comfort and aid seem like such a ridiculous request considering what I have already been given. How could I ask for anything more? As tears gently flow, my heart is bursting with worship. Though no words are being formed, I simply bask in the enormity of His joy and perfection. The peace that floods my spirit is inexplicable as my smile matches the one on the face of the one True God. Who am I to experience such serenity? I’m holding Christ’s hands and am overwhelmed by the opportunity to worship and love him-this source of love, goodness, and satisfaction seems somehow grateful that I am here. Though snotty, selfish, and often sporadic-He is glad that I am here worshipping Him!

The Holy Spirit, still comforting me, looks at me, over to Christ, and begins speaking to the Father.  He tells the Father of my deepest longings, concerns, aches, and desires. He presents them more beautifully than I have ever been able to understand or articulate. All the requests are for the glory of God and in accordance with His will, and yet are still able to interweave my heart and mind’s innermost workings.

The Father nods knowingly, and all of a sudden I realize that it is time for me to leave for work! No! I don’t want to leave! I just got here! Through the Spirit, I am reminded of these verses:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” -Psalm 139” 7-10

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” -John 14:16-17

With the reminder that God is with me always, and that at any time I can choose to enter the presence of God, I gather enough strength to rise to my feet. The truth seems too good to be true, but in faith, I thank Yahweh for making me his daughter. I will be back soon! I love you!”

And with that, with my heart filled, I left for work.

I tell this story to communicate 2 things: 1.) a sliver of the awesomeness of being able to know and have a relationship with the God of the Bible, and 2.) our need to take time to turn our eyes to God every chance we get!

I easily get distracted. Though as I imagined this a few days ago, I wept by the side of my bed, I have already many times forgotten about the incredibleness of His gift of himself. Though that morning I was filled with adoration for God, I too soon forgot the overwhelming peace and satisfaction that his presence brings. I amaze myself with how quickly I am sidetracked by other things of this world.

I need this reminder-to get out of bed early tomorrow morning and seek God.

It’s a privilege to go into His glorious presence.

It is an incalculable blessing to have the Holy Spirit.

We all need to think deeply about the gift of salvation. We need to everyday look to the cross. EVERYDAY experience His presence. EVERYDAY praise Him with all we have. If you are anything like me, you are an incredibly forgetful person who needs a whole lot of reminders. Fortunately, our just God is also patience, and steadfast, and has an endless supply of lovingkindess for his children.

So tomorrow, make sure you take the time to spend a few moments (or hours if you have them!) in the presence of God. Adore, confess, praise, petition, thank, and seek Him! It is a beautiful opportunity, and one we (I!) should do much more often!

5:55 a.m... try a one-week challenge to rise early and see how it changes your mornings...I'm definitely in!

“but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God. -Oswald Chambers

"We are never nearer Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at His unspeakable love." (John Owen)

Just Finished Genesis

I’m reading through the Bible (not in a year, that stresses me out!) and I just finished the book of Genesis. Before moving on to Exodus, I wanted to take a little bit of time and reflect on what I had just read. Sometimes I forget that the Bible is a book, one big story, and not just a collage of randomness. So I took a little time one evening and imagined someone asking me, over a cup of delicious coffee, about the book I was reading. I just finished the first “chapter” and they ask-What is it about? Who is/are the main characters? What do you think is going to happen next?

I journaled a (messy) response to that question.

Well, the main character is God. He made everything, and has a special place in his heart for humanity (and if we are honest-the humanity we see in this first chapter is pretty unpleasant at times). I’ve learned that he is benevolent and caring and incredibly brilliant. He provides and protects, and somehow even uses evil things that happen miraculously for good. He is merciful and righteous and promises HUGE gifts to some ordinary people. Buuuuut…he is also very serious about right behavior. It’s confusing…sometimes I expect him to respond to evil in a drastic way and he doesn’t. They lie or kill and he doesn’t punish them.  Yet other times I expect he’ll let that evil slide (it was just one bite!), and he does not. I haven’t quite got him figured out yet-but hey, it’s only the first chapter, and I’m guessing he is going to be complicated.

When they blatantly disrespect God, and ungratefully ignore his rules by listening to and obeying the Serpent, he responds with punishments for each party involved. Part of the serpents punishment is that one day, one of the woman’s descendants is going to fatally wound him by “striking his head”. So I think that might be a huge plot line in this book-figuring out which descendant is going to defeat the serpent. How is He going to do that? What will it look like? At this point-it could be anything! 

Also, God is all-powerful and in control of absolutely everything that happens. But it often times doesn’t feel like it. But then you keep seeing how he is always up to something!

So the other big thing so far is that God makes a deal with this (seemingly nobody) guy named Abraham. Oh that’s another thing-I know God is the main character, but normally you have a few other main characters as well! I often think while reading that some of these different people that are introduced into the story could be a major player-but then they die. And it’s no big deal! Ha! Even Adam-the very first character introduced after God…it’s just like “then he died” and moves on! It’s very different than the other stories I’ve read. Don’t know quite what that means. Anyway, sorry about the tangent. God promises Abraham 4 things:

  1. A land to live in
  2. A whole lot of descendants
  3. Success/blessings
  4. That the whole world would be blessed because of someone in his family.

He repeats these promises to him over and over again, and also to his descendants. It’s Abraham, Isaac, and then Jacob (aka: Israel). They, as a whole, end up being known as the “sons of Israel”. At the end of the first chapter (Genesis) it seems to me that all the promises have been fulfilled. Abraham had land, descendants, blessing, and I think the whole world was blessed by his descendant, Joseph-who, after a pretty crummy life, ended up saving all the nations of the world from a famine due to a dream interpretation given to him by God. But it didn’t say that that was the fulfillment of the promise. I feel like it was such a big deal-like they should have/would have said something about it…so maybe that’ wasn’t the fulfillment? Maybe there’s something more? I’m not sure-after all, I’m only at the beginning of the story. We’ll see what the next part of the story holds!