No waste


Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.” “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
Ruth 2:10-12 NLT

Everything I do has an effect, some good, some bad. Being kind and loving to someone may or may not have the greatest effect, but it certainly has the best effect. For a start, it has the intended effect of helping or pleasing that person, but it also has the added effect upon me. Just as in Ruth’s case, there will come a time when I will benefit, not from my actions, but because of them, either from man or from God. Being kind is never wasted! 

Promises, promises


But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”
Ruth 1:16-17 NLT

How many promises have I broken in my life? Big ones, small ones – hundreds, thousands? I’m sure I wouldn’t really like to know the answer. I’ve broken promises to friends, family, loved ones, workmates, pastors, neighbours – all of them and others besides. Even worse, I have broken promises I made to God. All because promises can be just words, and what I’m promising doesn’t have the importance of the moment.

Ruth didn’t just make a promise here, though. She made an oath, because it was accompanied by a dire threat to herself – that God would punish her severely if she reneged on it. How would I behave with promises if every one came with such a threat? I probably would not make very many! And yet, how much do I lose when I break a promise? How many relationships have been harmed? How many benefits have I lost? How many prayers have gone unanswered?

Jesus tells us not to make oaths, but to let our yes mean yes and our no mean no. That’s how simple it should be. When I say I’m going to do something, I should just do it. People should be able to rely on me, and so should God. 

I only asked


But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death.  Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

2 Timothy 4:17-18 NLT

I don’t pray enough and when I do pray, I don’t pray for enough.

On Christmas Eve I felt the early symptoms of the cold and, because I was doing the cooking on Christmas Day, I prayed that it wouldn’t come to anything. The prayer worked. Yesterday my nose was still clear, but I had a strange cough, one of the chesty kind that I get with the cold. Last night, because I was very tired, I prayed that my chest would be clear so that I got a good night’s sleep. The prayer worked.

Why do I miss these opportunities? Normally when something as minor as the cold comes along I just muddle on without even thinking of praying against it. The thing is that prayer doesn’t create the answer to prayer: the answer to prayer is already there, waiting for the prayer to release it. How many answers have I missed because I haven’t asked? The Lots will deliver me from every attack,  big or small. I have to remember to that he will answer my prayer, not just for my benefit, but so that I can show others his power. So, when I am not praying, I am not just cheating myself, I am also denying others the chance of hearing the Good News.

I am not I AM


“I know the Lord will bless me now,” Micah said, “because I have a Levite serving as my priest.”
Judges 17:13 NLT

There was a song by Gloria Gaynor which had a really bad attitude in the words. The title was “I am what I am” and it was a statement of total selfishness, self-interest and arrogance. It is, however, a fairly good descriptor of general attitudes today, and a clear statement of what I once was.

Micah sounds as if he was like that. What he said in this verse isn’t so much a statement of faith, but more a statement of his rights: because he had done something then he will get something else.

A line in the song says ‘Your life is a sham till you can shout out loud, I am what I am.’

Our lives are a sham until we realise just what we are – not the sanitised, looking in the mirror, not as bad as the guy over there version of what we are, though, the real version, the truth. The truth is that I’m not a very nice person deep down and I never was before I became a follower of Christ. Even now, the nasty me comes out, the sinner, the angry man. And the thing is that just going to church on a Sunday doesn’t change it – that’s just the same as Micah getting a priest to come and live with him. My life would be a sham if I thought that.

I am what I am, but I can be different, because Jesus, the I AM, can make the difference, not by living with me, but by living in me and through me. 

Hold on tight!


Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:12 NLT

I take a lot of things for granted. I do it every night – I go to sleep and take it for granted that I will waken up in the morning. I take it for granted that Libby will also waken up. Because of that, I think I do not live each day to the full, because I’m thinking that what I don’t do today can be done tomorrow. I don’t treat Libby well enough, thinking that I can always say I’m sorry later, or make it up tomorrow. I really have to change that attitude, because one day tomorrow will not be there – sooner or later!

It came as a shock when I read this verse. Why should I have to hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called me? Surely it will always be there? But if that’s the case, why would Paul have to write these words? Do I therefore wrongly take my eternal life for granted? Perhaps Paul is saying that by holding tightly to it I shall be stronger when I’m fighting the good fight, but perhaps he really is saying that if I don’t hold tightly to it then I might lose it!

Whatever the meaning, it makes me realise that I do take it for granted, and that’s not because of a strong faith. I should not take it for granted, because that is the same as devaluing it. It was bought for me at a huge cost, and I should remember that every single day. I should hold tightly to it for that reason, if for no other. 

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