Your God Shall Be My God!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

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 » Complaining

Whatever and Where Ever!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

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."

When Ruth pledged her alligence to Naomi and to the God of Israel, it wasn't based on, "What ifs?" or circumstances. It was a faith rooted in her devotion to Naomi and God even to the point of death!

So often, I've received emails from people wondering why? "Why this?" or "Why that?" But honestly, "His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts" — and I don't have easy answers for much of the horrendous stuff that happens to us! But what I do know is our faith is not based on "if this" circumstance was changed then I could serve — or "if this" problem didn't exist then my life would be so much easier!

We tend to look at our circumstances, our problems, our status, our situations — however the faith we're called to have is a "whatever and where ever" faith!

Let's stop looking at the "what ifs" and "why that" and start looking to the "Who" of your life! The "who" of your life should be Yeshua (Jesus) — and when He is the "Who" of your life — then the rest of your life is "whatever and where ever" for your good and His glory!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

Beware of the Silent Killer!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Exodus 15:23-26 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Murmuring or complaining is one of those sins that are overlooked.  Sometimes we get so focused on the "big sins" such as murder and adultery that we overlook this sin — but the Lord doesn't give this sin a free pass — quite the opposite.  It's a hidden killer!  This sin unleashed a plague that killed thousands of Israelites! [Numbers 16]

In this passage, we read how the Israelites, who were desperately thirsty, looked only at the fact that the water they had come to was bitter and undrinkable. How quickly they forgot their God who had led them out of Egypt with signs and wonders. They had just witnessed His dividing of the Red Sea and destruction of those who had enslaved them. And yet, so quickly they returned to looking only with their natural eyes at the problem in front of them, completely forgetting the miracle working power of their God! And so they murmured against Moses. But honestly, weren't they really murmuring against God? Once again, Moses interceded for them, revealing the faithfulness of His God to answer every impossible dilemma and provide for every need; and again, setting them the example: they simply needed to go the Lord!

So often, just like the Israelites, we focus on our desperate situation with our physical eyes, and not with eyes of faith, and then fall into the trap of complaining. And if you're like me, once I start, it can be really hard to stop…until the Lord stops me, right in my tracks, and He reminds me –- aren't you really complaining against me?  I have to remember to see that I actually hinder the Lord's answers to my problems by unbelief…which leads to the sin of murmuring!

Let's not allow this sin to gain a foothold — because it can easily become a stronghold! The same wonder working God that led the children of Israel out of Egypt, is still at work today — but are we hindering Him? If we are grumbling and complaining, the answer is, "YES"! And in so doing, until we stop, we are missing out on His answers and blessings which are waiting in the wings to meet our faith in Him!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

Call Upon Your God!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Jonah 1:6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, "What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish."

At this point the captain (who probably worshiped Baal and Yamm, god of the sea) has more faith than Jonah.

Frantic in the midst of impending catastrophe, he jolts Jonah back to life and intercession. They say there are no "foxhole atheists"; when great danger comes God somehow bursts into existence. But these sailors were polytheists, and desperation led them to implore the local god of every man in the boat for mercy and salvation. Even these idol worshipers knew that prayer is the only recourse in the hour of desperation.

It's something to remember and apply in our day to day encounters with people. So many these days are dealing with serious and even desperate situations, while they're waiting there at the checkout counter…and while they don't much care to hear a sermon, they might really appreciate our prayers.

We've been in situations, with hardly a clue whom we were speaking with, and simply said, "Do you mind if I pray for you?" Suddenly eyes light up, "Yes, please do!" Prayer brings people back into direct relationship with God and reminds them of their dependance on Him, and whether we're on a ship in a storm, or facing some other potential catastrophe, we all desperately need His grace and favor. And connecting with people this way is actually easier than you might think.

The times are coming, and are already here, when more and more people facing desperation may turn and cry to us, "Call on Your God to save us!" They may even wake us up from our spiritual slumber to do it. Rather than rubbing our eyes and groaning, "Duh, what?" we ought to be already awake, looking for them now.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

Which Report Will We Give?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

When the twelve spies were sent into Canaan to spy out the land, ten returned with a bad report. Their assessment was that it was impossible to conquer the land that God had promised them. Forgetting how God had led them with a pillar of fire by night, and fed them manna from heaven during the day, brought forth water out of a rock, and parted the Red Sea, they saw the situation with only their natural eyes, failed to walk by faith, and succumbed to fear.

Joshua and Caleb however, returned with a good report. Refusing to be discouraged by what they saw, they fully trusted that their supernatural God was not going to break His promise to His people, Israel.

We are living in days where the world looks bleak, and the evils seem to grow more threatening and dangerous. How will we react? Will we be devastated and terrorized like the 10 spies with a bad report? Or will we do something extraordinary — will we walk by faith like Joshua and Caleb, trust in the love and power of our God, and seize the opportunities that are at hand?

Let's walk by faith and stand firm in it, facing every challenge, and laying hold of every opportunity that awaits us. May Joshua and Caleb be our examples of faith and courage in these days. With our God going before us, we also, can take the land, glorifying Him in every battle.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Complaining