Love Beyond Imagining!

God has always been revealing Himself. Sometimes it’s in His Creation, or the conscience He placed inside every human, or the prophets who remind us of God’s ways. But ultimately God revealed His fullness in the Person of Jesus.

Nancy Guthrie wrote

“God has always wanted His people to know Him—not in a generic or shallow way, but personally, as He truly is. So He revealed Himself in a progressive way, not only through His name, but also through His glorious presence that dwelt in the Temple, through the Law, and through His mighty deeds on behalf of His people. But these revelations all led up to a definitive revelation in the Person of Jesus.

One of the ways the love of Jesus was revealed to us is in the story of Ruth and Boaz. This is one of my favorite Bible stories. It’s a short story, so please check it out when you have 10 minutes to read it.

Here’s the part of the story I want to share today. Ruth is…

  • a foreigner in Israel (she has no citizenship)
  • a widowed woman (she has no legal standing)
  • without money and no way to earn money, which means she is merely in survival mode
  • so far in debt that creditors are about to foreclose on the one remaining asset she and her mother-in-law have.

Ruth meets a man named Boaz, who is…

  • a rich land owner;
  • a “man of standing,” which can mean hero
  • well respected by the city leaders
  • a popular and successful employer
  • God-fearing and above-and-beyond obedient to God’s laws

Ruth, in an unexpected twist, asks Boaz to marry her!

Boaz has nothing to gain and everything to lose by agreeing to this marriage proposal, but he does it anyway!

In the language of the day, Ruth asks Boaz to “cover me with the corner of your robe.” This becomes the picture that Jesus will ultimately fulfill.

Not only does the corner of Christ’s robe heal people physically (Matthew 9:20-22; 14:34-36), but it also signifies His willingness to take in marriage anyone who is as utterly helpless as Ruth was.

Ruth had nothing but debts; we have nothing but debts. Ruth was barely surviving unless help came; we are headed for death without Jesus.

Boaz took Ruth as she was and gave her citizenship, legal standing, and riches. He covered her shame and allowed her to stand boldly in the city square.

Jesus takes us as we are and gives us citizenship in Heaven, a legal standing before Almighty God, all of His riches, and then…

All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before My Father and His angels that THEY ARE MINE! (Revelation 3:5)

Oh, how Jesus loves us!!

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10 Quotes From “Light & Truth—Revelation”

light-and-truth-revelationHoratius Bonar gives excellent insights into the themes in Scripture. Having him as a guide through a challenging text like the Book of Revelation is a precious resource. Check out my review of his commentary Light & Truth—Revelation by clicking here.

“The tendency of the present age is to set aside prophecy as specially belonging to the supernatural, and therefore the incredible and impossible. Let us stand aloof from this incredulity, and welcome the prophetic word as all the more precious because supernatural and specially divine. … Prophecy is a sure word, and it is as blessed as it is sure. Woe to him who slights it! Blessed are all they who meditate on it, seek to know it, and take it for guidance and counsel in the evil day!” 

“Have we realized our own dignity? Do we feel the honour, the privilege, the responsibility of being kings and priests? Do we act, live, speak, feel accordingly? Do our glorious prospects tell upon us now? Are we walking daily in the anticipation of what shall be? Are we working, praying, praising, giving, suffering, denying self, under the influence of that honour which shall so soon be ours?”

“The world scoffs at the message, and believes in no advent save the advent of gold and silver, of commerce and science, of luxury and pleasure. The Church has lost sight of it, and says, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming.’” 

“Is the Church ready for this glorious day? Has she put on her apparel? Has she trimmed and lighted her lamp? Has she filled her vessel with oil? Is she sitting loose from the world? Is she remembering her coming Lord, and seeking to be faithful to Him in His absence? He has entrusted to her His cause, His truth, His honour. Is she alive to her responsibility, and acting accordingly? Is she realizing His nearness and His glory? Is she daily influenced by His sure world of promise, ‘Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with Me?’ Is she labouring and suffering for Him? Or is she self-indulgent, worldly, indolent?”

“Be patient under wrong, and suffering, and weariness, and hope deferred! Fret not! He that believeth doth not make haste; the Lord is at hand; the kingdom is about to come; the tribulation will soon cease; the joy will soon begin; and once begun, it will never end.”

“Live, and act, and walk as sons of morning. Let the world recognize you as such. Let there be streaks of dawn seen upon you.”

“Pity a dark world, and its dark children, that have no hope and no morning before them. Point out the Morning-star to them; bid them look at it; tell them what its anticipated brightness has done for you. Win souls to Christ. Draw many into the kingdom by your words and by your walk. There is little time to lose; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

“It is not lukewarmness occasioned by the cold passing gradually into heat, but that produced by the heat passing into the cold. … Church of the living God, beware of letting your temperature sink even one single degree.”

“Be separate from the world. Abstain from fleshly lusts. Lay aside all filthiness. Walk soberly. Beware of earth’s folly and idle laughter. Set your affection on things above. Be prepared for suffering. Endure hardness. Take up your cross daily and bear it aloft, and be not ashamed of it. The footsteps of the old saints are still visible on the sands of time. Follow them. Their voice is still heard, and their hand still waves, beckoning you to follow. Believe what they believed.”

“Watch, for satan tries to lull you asleep. Watch, for the world, with it riches, and vanities, and pleasures, is trying to throw you off your guard. Watch upon your knees. Watch with your Bibles before you. Watch with wide-open eye. Watch for Him Whom not having seen you love.”

I will be sharing more quotes from this powerful book in the near future. You can enter your email address by the box that says “Sign me up!” to be notified immediately when these quotes are posted. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter for a daily dose of notable quotes.

A Whole New Revelation

The Word and the SpiritHow would you like to have better insight than prophets like David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel or Daniel? How would you like to have a greater revelation of who Jesus is than even in the angels in Heaven? You can!

Peter tells us aliens and strangers how we should live on Earth as citizens of Heaven (1 Peter 1:13-16):

  • Our minds prepared for action
  • Self-controlled (another translation says sober)
  • Fully hopeful of God’s promises
  • Obedient children
  • Not conformed to the world’s standards
  • As holy as God is

If that sounds like a challenging list, it’s because it is a challenging list! But notice an important word that starts verse 13: Therefore. This tells us we must look at what came before the therefore to know how to respond to what comes after the therefore.

In the verses preceding (vv. 10-12) we read about Old Testament prophets and New Testament preachers. But notice the similarities between these two—They both spoke about grace and salvation, and they both spoke with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Word of God was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it is the same Holy Spirit that wants to give you a full revelation of what is in the Word.

The prophets searched carefully, but they never got to see Jesus come to Earth and fulfill the prophesies. The angels in Heaven have seen the story played out, but they don’t know what it is to have received a complete pardon for their sins that would have damned their souls to Hell.

That’s why Spirit-filled Christians who regularly study the Word of God have better insight than the prophets, and greater revelation than the angels!

What about you?

  1. Have you invited Jesus into your heart?
  2. If you have, are you regularly reading your Bible?
  3. If you are, have you allowed God to baptize you in His Holy Spirit?

This combination not only makes you peculiar to Earthlings, it makes you peculiar to prophets and angels too!

If you are in the Cedar Springs area and don’t have a home church, please join us at 10:30am Sunday morning. If you cannot join us in person, you can tune-in to our live broadcast on Periscope (search for @craigtowens).

To view the slides from this message, click here.

3 Lessons From Obadiah

Obadiah

Photo (c) Laura Kranz at The Overview Bible Project (click on the photo for more info)

The prophet Obadiah wrote just 21 verses around 840 B.C. I know that the last 12 books of the Old Testament are referred to as “minor prophets” (not because of quality or validity, but because of length), but this prophet packs a major punch. Here are three lessons I learned from Obadiah―

[1] Pride is a killer.

The pride of your heart has deceived you (v. 3). Pride makes me believe the best about myself and the worst about everyone else; it’s unbalanced scales. Pride allows me to excuse my sins, even calling them “virtues,” while at the same time hypocritically judging the “sins” of others.

[2] It is God’s place to judge, not mine.

You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune (v. 12). My place is to love God and love others—to help and not condemn—to extend mercy, not judgment. Even if my enemy stumbles I shouldn’t rejoice or gloat (Proverbs 24:17-18), how much less when it’s my brother who has stumbled!

[3] Live as if Judgment Day were tomorrow.

The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head (v. 15). Boom! The measure I use will be the measure I receive. The One Who neither sleeps nor slumbers sees all I do, and He will judge perfectly.

Don’t miss the major messages in the “minor” prophets!

Israel’s Kings & Prophets

click for larger view

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I posted earlier that I am reading through my Archeological Study Bible in chronological order. In other words, I’m reading the books of the Bible not in the order they appear, but in order of the historic events they cover.

One challenging point in history is the divided kingdoms of Israel (the 10 northern tribes) and Judah (the 2 southern tribes). What makes it challenging when reading straight through the Bible is the history is covered in 1 and 2 Kings and then again in 1 and 2 Chronicles. In the midst of these kingdoms, several prophets are sent by God. Some of these prophets only have their words recorded in Kings or Chronicles, while others have their words recorded elsewhere in the Bible (usually the book name is the prophet’s name).

In trying to keep all of these people and messages clear in my mind, I have put together a list of all the kings and prophets during the period of the divided kingdom (roughly 931-586 BC).

You can click the picture above to get a larger view, or you can download a PDF copy by clicking here → Kings of Israel & Judah ←  **UPDATE: several people pointed out some tweaks I needed to make to this chart, and I am grateful for the input! This is the revised copy as of August 28, 2017.**  

**UPDATE #2: a few more tweaks … this is the revised version as of July 31, 2014.**

**UPDATE #3: I have posted a chart zooming in on the chronology of the Old Testament prophets which I recreated from the Archeological Study Bible. You can read it and download it by clicking here.**

A couple of notes:

  • Prophets who also have their words recorded in a book that bears their name are listed in bold italics.
  • The “start / finish” designation for each of the kings is clearly my subjective opinion.
  • Sometimes you will see dates for two kings’ reigns that overlap. These are where there was a co-regency (that is a father and son ruling simultaneously).
  • The prophets that are listed under the Israel side after Israel had gone into captivity are the prophets that God was using to speak to the Israelites in exile.
  • As always, I am grateful for the biblical resources at BibleGateway.com, which is also a great place to do your daily Bible reading.

**UPDATE #4: I continue to do more research and get feedback from people far wiser than me … the latest version is dated August 28, 2017.

I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I have a history degree. This is just a chart I put together to help me in my Bible reading, and I thought it might help someone else too. I would welcome any corrections or clarifications that anyone would offer on this humble work.

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