Be a bold voice for Him!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Isaiah 52:7-8 How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, With their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye When the Lord brings back Zion.

In the 4th century lived a Christian named Telemachus, in a remote village, tending his garden, and spending much time in prayer. One day, he believed he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome, so he obeyed, setting out on foot. Some weeks later, weary from his journey, he arrived in Rome about the time of a great festival.The little man followed the crowd surging through the streets into the Colosseum. He saw the gladiators standing before the Emperor and proclaiming, "We who are about to die salute you." Then Telemachus realized that these men were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the cheering crowd. So he cried out in a loud voice, "In the name of Christ, Stop!" Yet the games began, so he pushed his way through the crowd, climbed over the wall and dropped onto the floor of the arena. The entire Colosseum watched this tiny figure rushing toward the gladiators, crying, "In the name of Christ, STOP !!!" The gladiators thought it was part of the show and began laughing. But in a few moments, they realized it was not part of the show, and then the crowd became angry. Telemachus stood his ground, insistently pleading with the gladiators to stop their bloody show, when one of them plunged a sword into the saint's body. He fell to the sand. As he was dying, his last words were, "In the name of Christ, STOP!!!"

Then a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood there looking at the tiny Christian lying there dead. A hush fell over the Colosseum. Way up in the upper rows, a man stood and made his way to the exit. Others followed. In dead silence, one by one, everyone left the Colosseum. The year was 404; and that day saw the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Telemachus' martyrdom initiated an historic ban on gladiator fights by the Roman Emperor Honorius. Never again in the great stadium did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd. One tiny man's bold voice — one voice — reshaped Roman history, and saved thousands of lives, by fearlessly proclaiming the truth in God's name!

You may be a little man, or woman, spending time alone with Yeshua (Jesus). And He may be preparing you in the quiet place, for a moment when you will be called to raise your voice in some public square or stadium, to fearlessly stand for His truth, even if it might cost your life. Remember Telemachus, whose voice changed the world because God's word was behind it. Boldness is not bravado, but is rooted in deep conviction based on deep relationship and unswerving obedience. And it's effects resound through history. So cultivate that intimate relationship with Him, and be ready to be launched into the arena of death-dealing humanity. Your lack of fear and your love for others will reveal the Yeshua whom you love, to many souls.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

Your Reward is Before You!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm (z’roah in Hebrew) shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.

Revelation 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."

Isaiah tells us that the LORD'S Arm shall rule for Him and that He is coming with reward — and a similar passage in Revelation declares that the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) is coming to reward His saints.

We live this earthly life recognizing that we are “strangers and pilgrims” [Hebrews 11:13] in this world — but are working now in full expectation of a heavenly future. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world!"

We know we were made for another world, where the treasure we have stored while working here will neither rust nor corrode, nor be stolen. If you're looking for a pat on the back now [not that praises shouldn't be given or received], you've missed the point of ministry.

This reminds me of a story. There was a husband and wife who served many years in the ministry as missionaries in a far away land. As they returned to the States, the arriving ship was greeted by a brass band. Their initial thought was that this was an arranged greeting to honor them — but soon discovered that a dignitary was also on the ship. They collected their luggage and booked a cheap motel room. While sitting on the bed, the husband started to cry and said, "We've served God for many years. We've got no money, no house, and when we've returned home, there's not even anyone to meet us!" His wife looked at him and said, "Hon, we're not home yet!"

We're not home yet! Don't believe for a minute that your work in this world is going unseen in Heaven. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward his name, in that ye ministered unto the saints, and still do minister." [Hebrews 6:10] Let's be earnestly seeking His praise that when we see Him face to face, He may say to all of us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" A true homecoming…and a true reward!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

Your God Shall Be My God!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

As we continue our study in Ruth, this Shavuot season, I want to suggest a prophetic mystery hidden in this book.

We have seen that names have significant meanings, and as discussed earlier, Elimelech, whose name means "My God is King", left Bethlehem with Naomi his wife and their two sons. The birth of these two boys must have brought joy and happiness, yet, having perished in Moab actually caused their very names to lose their original meanings. The firstborn, Mahlon, which meant "ornament", over the years came to mean "sickly". Their second son, Chilion, derived his name from the Hebrew root for "joy", but his name came to mean, "pining" and "whining". Naomi, whose name means "pleasant", changed her name to Mara, which means "bitterness", saying, "the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me."

Now Ruth, whose name means "friend", remained persistent, despite Naomi's exhorting her to separate and return to Moab. Instead, true to her name and character, Ruth invokes one of the strongest, most beautiful expressions of faith and faithfulness in all of scripture: "For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me." Thus Ruth forsakes her native land and joins herself irrevocably to the nation, people and God of Israel…a truly faithful friend, even to the point of death.

I would like to draw out from the story of Ruth, a possible contemporary meaning and application for us to ponder. I would suggest that Naomi and her two sons can be viewed as a type or picture of the people of Israel, and that Elimilech's decision to leave the Land of Promise with them became a picture of Israel in the diaspora. This present exile of the Jewish people since 70 AD culminating in the holocaust, has often rendered them both "sickly" and "pining" for home, and Naomi's experience outside the land of Israel brought death and desolation upon her.

The modern nation of Israel, birthed after centuries from the ashes of the Holocaust, and a long painful exile, has been suddenly restored to her ancient homeland, yet, in much bitterness, just as Naomi had returned to her homeland from Moab. Yet Ruth's love and faithfulness must have been a profound comfort to her mother-in-law. So, Ruth can be seen as a picture or type of Gentile (Christian) believers, whose faithful love, friendship and comfort bring deep solace to the people of Israel, who are still experiencing the bitterness of the exile and even now, the misunderstanding and opposition of the nations of the world. Many Israelis already know that their truest and most faithful friends in the world today are Bible believing Christians whose love for them is unconditional, and beautifully reflects the devotion of Ruth to Naomi.

Finally, it seems significant that Ruth's loving and faithful character became inspiration for drawing out the redemptive grace of Boaz toward Elimelech's widow, Naomi, so that her family line and inheritance were restored and preserved. As their Kinsman Redeemer, Boaz was deeply moved by the humility and faithfulness of Ruth to her mother-in-law, and as such, she can be seen as a type of intercessor between Boaz and Naomi. For if Boaz is pictured as a type of Yeshua (Jesus) our "Kinsman-Redeemer", then Ruth, lying down "at his feet" can be a picture of believers' humble prayers and intercession for the Jewish people entreating the Lamb of God for the mercy which restores us all to the inheritance which belongs to Him.

If in fact, Ruth can be seen as a "type" for Gentile believers, and Naomi, a picture of Israel, restored to her land, but still in bitterness, then Ruth can be an inspiration and a pattern for Christians who love Israel and who recognize her irrevocable calling as a nation. If the faithfulness of Ruth through love and intercession helped to restore Naomi to her true Kinsman-Redeemer, can it also be that the faithfulness and intercession of Gentile believers will be a powerful influence for the restoration of the Jewish people to their "Kinsman-Redeemer, the Messiah Yeshua Himself? Our friendship with Israel in word and in deed, and our prayers, in the midst of global opposition [Zechariah 14:2] will be a powerful testimony for Yeshua, and will help to remove the veil from Jewish eyes concerning His true identity. As we support the restoration of their Land (a Biblical promise), we also help to open the way for the far greater blessing of eternal life. Doing so, we also will be blessed according to these timeless words; "I will bless them that bless thee, and I will curse them that curse thee!"

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

Stay in Faith, No Matter What!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

During the Biblical festival of Shavuot, the book of Ruth is read. It's a powerful story of faith, restoration and redemption. The book opens with a famine in all the land surrounding Bethlehem, forcing a difficult decision upon Naomi's husband, Elimelech. Now, Bethlehem (beth: "house", lechem: "bread") literally means “house of bread”, so the irony of Elimelech's departure from his home, "house of bread", during a famine, is lost on English speaking readers, but reveals that every detail in the word of God can be meaningful, especially the meanings of names.

Now the name "Elimelech" literally means, “My God is King” — so immediately, another irony appears: a man whose name expresses the personal testimony of God's authority over every circumstance and His complete trustworthiness, decides to leave the Promised Land, and settle in Moab, across the Jordan — a land that had become alien territory for the Israelites because of the Moabites' inhospitable treatment of Israel during the sojourn from Egypt. Elimelech either forgot or ignored the example of the patriarch, Isaac and failed to apply the same faith as his forefather had, and to remain true to his own name!

Genesis 26 recounts how that Issac had thought of leaving Gerar (modern day Gaza) to go to Egypt in hope of finding food in the midst of a famine, but instead, he stood firm in faith and remained in the Promised Land. The Lord's response was to bless Issac a hundred fold that same year! [Genesis 26:12] However, we also read in Genesis 12 how Abraham had left the land during a famine and had encountered problems in Egypt that were as frightening or worse than the famine. So Elimelech had these two illustrations, one positive, one negative, both of which might have moved him to choose to persevere through this difficult time, and remain in the place of his inheritance.

Whatever the immediate cause, it seems that Elimelech's departure from the Promised Land was not to be reversed. He died in Moab, leaving a discouraged widow, and eventually, two widowed daughters-in-law. We might ask, what would have been Elimelech's legacy had he stayed and prayed through this extremely difficult and frightening trial in Caanan? What might have been his "hundred-fold" blessing?

Our world today is experiencing famine in various places, and there are recent predictions of the increase of food shortages even in the prosperous West. Yet famine has many faces, and the various trials and afflictions in our lives can have the same frightening effect to test the metal of our faith. Many of us are being severely tested these days with trials that are shaking us to the core. There are examples of the faithful who have persevered through to victory and received tremendous blessings from the Lord for their stand of unswerving faith. Yet there are also examples of those who somehow did not live up to their own testimony, for failure to stick it out through tough situations. We have these two paths before us.

Yeshua (Jesus) asked this question; "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"? And in another place He spoke directly to Satan these timeless words; "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God." If there was ever a time to believe these words, it is now, even as the world stands on the brink, and the earth groans in the travail of childbirth. Some of us have the opportunity of a lifetime to get through our particular trial, in faith. The Lord Yeshua will be faithful to us, and He will abundantly reward our faith in Him. Let's stay the course.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

Don't get too comfortable!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Exodus 5:18-23 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks." The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, "You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day." When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, "May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us." Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O LORD, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all."

The story of the Exodus is a story of miracles – yet in the beginning when Moses first appeared before Pharaoh to deliver the children of Israel from 400 years of slavery, the Israelites were severely tempted and became angry because of the initial hardships that were laid upon them.

They leveled their anger at Moses because suddenly they were told that they would have to gather their own straw for making bricks. They were concerned about offending their slave-masters, fearing that they would slay them.

The Israelites were so accustomed to their slavery that they didn’t want their lives disrupted despite the fact that freedom was at hand. Resigned to this miserable life, they utterly failed to apprehend or appreciate the freedom that was soon approaching. Yes, there was a temporary price: increased hardship and great pressure would set the stage for their final deliverance.

The same can happen to us. It has often been said "The darkest night is just before the dawn"…

Perhaps the enemy senses his impending defeat and pulls out all the stops to prevent it. Perhaps the Lord loves a good story with a really dramatic and climactic ending and great glory for His Name…in any case —

Don't let yourself remain accustomed to any form of bondage – seek and believe for the freedom that God has given us through His Son. Expect a life of great victory over sin and demonic oppression – Why? Because that is His promise to us!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Commitment