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Habits: Nothing to Say About God


Tomorrow we begin 2 Timothy! Four chapters, four days, incredible principles for living.


Ruth 4

SCRIPTURE

Ruth 4:7, “Now in those days it was the custom in Israel…” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

What’s your habit? What’s the custom in your household? What’s the practice in your place of business? What words come to mind that would describe your community? What is your school really known for? What are you known for?

One of the most interesting facts about the book of Ruth is that you won’t find one verse that tells you anything significant about God. There are no commandments. No principles or precepts. There’s no correction or instruction in righteousness. The book isn’t really about God at all. The book of Ruth is a simple story about a family and how that family comes together to build a legacy that would one day give birth to kings.

Certainly God can be found in the book. The family prays for one another. They invoke the name of God in their dealings with one another. The custom of the Kinsman Redeemer was a common practice for the children of Israel. One member of the family would redeem another to insure the family was provided for and the family named carried on. It’s a beautiful picture of what God has done for you and me through the work of Jesus on the cross. But there’s nothing in the book to indicate that this was the author’s purpose.

Imagine you read the book of Ruth apart from the rest of Scripture. You would read a tragic story of loss, a hopeful story of love and kindness and discover the customs and habits of a culture whose foundation is God.

It tells me something about being a God-follower.

APPLICATION

The habits of my life reflect the authenticity of my beliefs. Ruth found her kinsman redeemer and became great-grandmother to a king because she and her family practiced habits and customs that reflected their faith in God. They didn’t have to quote rules and regulations to one another. They didn’t focus on commands. They didn’t beat one another over the head with spiritual language, talk of God or their great big family Bible with the actual picture of Jesus on the front. Instead, they lived what they believed. Their faith was practiced. It was so much a part of their culture, so much a part of who they were, that it simply came out in the choices they made.

There’s much to learn from this. It affects the way I talk. More importantly, it affects the way I live.

The story of my life will be read my most people apart from the context of Scripture. What story will they read?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being my kinsman redeemer. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Let the choices I make and the habits of my life reflect my trust in you. Let the story of my life and my family bring glory to you. Let our family be less about rules and regulations and more about each of us simply living in a way that honors you, serves one another and sets an example to others of what love really is.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

You Should Not…

Today you read and finished Obadiah – let’s go to Haggai next. It’s only two chapters so you can finish the entire book in two days!


choices-signObadiah 1

SCRIPTURE

Obadiah 1:12-14, “You should not have gloated when they exiled your relatives to distant lands. You should not have rejoiced when the people of Judah suffered such misfortune. You should not have spoken arrogantly in that terrible time of trouble. You should not have plundered the land of Israel when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have gloated over their destruction when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have seized their wealth when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads, killing those who tried to escape. You should not have captured the survivors and handed them over in their terrible time of trouble..” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Obadiah is considered one of the minor prophets in Scripture. That doesn’t mean he had a minor message. It simply means his message was short. One chapter. That’s it. One chapter of warning to the people of Edom. Over the past few days I’ve read all the one chapter books of the Bible. I’m reminded that quantity of words has nothing to do with quality of message. What little you say today could become words of eternal life for someone tomorrow. Choose your words wisely.

Obadiah’s message was simple. Edom stood against Israel and the penalty for their stance would soon come to pass. Interestingly enough the consequences of their actions would not be accomplished by the work of Israel, but by the nations with whom Edom had allied themselves. It’s ironic on many levels. Like Israel was the nation that came from Abraham, Edom was the nation that came from Esau. This made Israel and Edom cousins. Yet when the time came Edom chose to stand against Israel and soon their punishment would fall. They would be consumed by the very nations they called ‘friend’.

On a side note – At the end of this chapter are two prophecies. First, that Israel would rise again as a nation. Second, that Edom would never be heard from again as a nation. I meet people everyday who doubt the Bible. They don’t believe it’s true. They look for ways to deny, discredit and disbelieve the things written in it. If they would read this passage I would ask them two questions.

  1. When was the last time the nation of Edom was in the news?
  2. When was the last time the nation of Israel was in the new?

These two prophecies have clearly come true. What else about the Bible may also be true? What are the odds that an obscure ancient author would write only one chapter and in that chapter get such detail correct? It’s not my only reason, but it’s certainly one more reason to believe what the Bible says is accurate and applicable to my life today.

APPLICATION

There’s a series of verses that keep repeating a phrase, “You should not have…” I imagine the people of Edom weren’t much different from you and me. Certainly the culture were different, but when it came time to do business, provide for their future, protect their family or secure their interests they made those decisions exactly the same way you and I do.

They made the best decision they could based on the information available at the time.

You do this every day. You make the best decision you can based on the information available at the time. Sometimes it leads to tremendous success. Someone advised you to save a little money every month when you were younger. Now you can afford to ‘retire’ and live off the interest. Years ago you learned to live a healthier lifestyle. Now, while all your friends are struggling with bad backs and weak knees, you’re wrestling on the floor with grandkids. You made the best decision you could based on the information available at the time.

You’ve gotten it wrong too. “I just want to be happy.” So you abandon a marriage. “I just want to be rich.” So you invest in a fly-by-night get-rich-quick scheme that cost you more than you could afford. Again, you made the best decision you could based on the information available at the time and now you’re living with the consequences of those choices.

Edom did the same thing. It led to their destruction. Edom’s problem was the same as ours. There was better information out there, but they ignored it. They had been told to support Israel. History had shown God’s favor for His people. Other prophets had explained why Israel was going through such a difficult time. The right information was easily accessible, but the people of Edom ignored it.

We do the same thing. Right here in God’s Word are principles for a healthy life, precepts for right choices. Yet we often ignore the Word of God to do our own thing. We make the best decision we can based on the information available at the time.

You should not have…what decisions will you one day look back on and think, “You should not have…”?

God has given us a path to walk and the principles we need to follow that path successfully. Get to know his word so you’ll have the right information. Follow his heart so you’ll make the right decision and build a life based less on what you think and more on what he thinks.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the gift of your word. Help me to read it, understand it, remember it, and live by it. Give me the information I need to make right choices. Give me the strength I need to follow through. Give me the courage I need to choose what’s right even when everyone around me chooses what’s wrong. Help me live a life without regrets, not because my conscience is cold, but because my choices are right. I pray for Israel. May we support them. May they support you.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Getting It Right

I heard a story about a little girl. Her dad was reading the newspaper. She was coloring a picture. She asked, “Dad, do you think we could be perfect like Jesus is perfect?”

Her dad responded, “No, honey. We’ll never be perfect like Jesus is perfect.” Discouraged, but not deterred she goes back to her drawing. She switches crayons and looks back at her father. “Hey Dad, what about for one year? Could we be perfect like Jesus is perfect for a year?”

“A year’s a long time, sweetheart. I don’t think we could do it.” He says.

This time you can tell she has an idea. “What about for one month?” she presses. Again, dad says no. “What about for one week, or one day, one hour, or even one minute!?” Excited now, she continues, “Dad, do you think we could be perfect like Jesus is perfect for just one minute?”

Thoughtfully, her dad puts down the paper. “Yeah. I think we could be perfect like Jesus is perfect for one minute.”

Without hesitation the girl looks at her dad, “Then dad, why don’t we try to live like Jesus – one minute at a time?”

Getting it right isn’t about one giant right decision. It’s about a million small ones. You can get it right today. It happens one minute, one decision at a time.

Words

The words we know are like a programming language. We may feel. We may imagine. But words give clarity, definition and direction to our thoughts, attitudes and actions. Political candidates and marketing experts look for just the right words to persuade your purchase. Preachers craft their message to inspire, convict and convince. The words we dwell on set a course for our future. The words we speak affect relationships and determine the depths of our influence.

Consider the following:

  • The words we know determine the thoughts we think.
  • The thoughts we think determine the attitudes of our heart.
  • The attitudes of our heart determine the choices we make.
  • The choices we make define the quality of our character.
  • The quality of our character becomes the legacy of our lives.

It sounds like a ‘successories’ poster, but just because it’s cliche’ doesn’t mean it’s not true. It begs a question.

What kind of words do you know?

Imagine what might happen if you took the time to get to know better words. I’m not talking about increasing your vocabulary – the world already has too many pompously loquacious voices rambling their insubstantial verbosity without end. I mean better words. Words that bring life. Words full of wisdom. Words that cause us to see the world more clearly. Words that help us understand people and circumstances in ways like we’ve never before imagined.

The Bible is often called ‘God’s Word’. What if the words we knew were God’s Words? Would our thinking become more godly? Would attitudes become more grateful? Would we make better choices? I believe so.

Peter said to Jesus, “Where else would we go? You have the words of life.” (John 6:68) Open up the Bible. Learn some new words and put them to good use.