Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hope: Baby

Ruth 4:13-22

The book of Ruth seemingly ends with a baby.  With that baby came great hope.  Ruth's arms would no longer be empty; her heart had a fullness where there once was despair.  She had a man who loved her, who redeemed her and gave her security and hope.  He was related, he was able and he was willing, so he did it.

Notice I said seemingly. Ruth's story doesn't end in the book of Ruth.  Ruth's son had a son, who had a son whose name was David, who became king over all Israel.  David had a son, who had a son, and so on and so on, until we find ourselves back in Bethlehem in a stable, looking into a manger.  Yes, as many of you know, Ruth is in the messianic line of Jesus.  A Moabite. A hopeless woman who found hope through a kinsman redeemer. And this baby in the manger also brings great hope.

You see, because of our sin, our relationship with God is dead.  As dead as Ruth's husband.  Sin has eternally separated us from God.  It has left us not only hopeless, but helpless.  We can't bridge that gap.  Like Ruth, there is no way to improve our standing.  Just as she needed a kinsman redeemer, we need a Kinsman Redeemer and God's law provides for it.

I have often looked at the manger and thought, Why this? Why a baby?  Why become human?  Couldn't the wrath of God have been poured out on Jesus up in the throne room of heaven and He could have just gotten it over with up there?  Why suffer the humiliation and frustration of 33 years here on earth?

What I didn't understand is the Kinsman Redeemer's requirements.  In order for Jesus to be our Redeemer, He had to be related, He had to be able and He had to be willing.  Then and only then, would He qualify.

So He put on flesh. While still 100% God, He became 100% man. Trust me, I don't get it, but I believe it. He walked.  He talked.  He got hungry. He cried.  He slept. He lived.  He became human so that He was related.

Then He lived a perfect life.  Though tempted in all ways, He never succumbed to the temptation.  In His short 33 years, He made good decisions, spoke with kindness, was angered but didn't sin, humbled Himself over and over again - all because I failed miserably at all those things. His perfection was then exchanged for my imperfection to establish a pure record to prove He was able to redeem.

Then comes the hardest part of redemption. Jesus was related and He was able, but would He be willing? The nearest kinsman to Ruth's late husband was related and able to pay, but when it came to the willing part, he walked away.  Jesus had the option in eternity to reject the plan to redeem fallen humanity. He could have said, If that's what it costs, then forget about it. But He didn't.  His willingness is seen in the fact that before the foundations of the world were laid, Jesus chose for Himself a people that He would redeem. (Ephesians 1)  The wrestling we see in the garden the night of His arrest is a second proof. Jesus laid aside His anxiety about bearing His Father's wrath and chose to willing lay down His life (John 10:18).

The final proof of His willingness is the cross.  There's no arguing what was accomplished there. The Kinsman Redeemer stepped up and proved His humanity by suffering, proved His ability by bearing the wrath of God and proved His willingness by stretching out His arms to be nailed in place.  A true redemption - qualified and paid for.

Tomorrow morning Christmas is celebrated around the world.  Gifts are exchanged, meals are shared, laughter and family and music and memories will fill many homes.  Let us agree not to forget the central character of the Christmas story:  a baby.

A baby who brought hope at His arrival.

A baby who began the process to qualify Himself as our Redeemer in a manger.

May we never look at the manger again the same way.

Merry Christmas - you are loved.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Hope: Redeemer

Ruth 3:6 - 4:12

Boaz wasn't alone on the threshing floor, but thankfully he was off to one side by himself.  The men were sound asleep from a long day's work and Ruth quietly weaved her way through the sleeping men to Boaz.  She did exactly as Naomi had instructed.  She uncovered his feet and then laid down, waiting.

It was only a few minutes that Boaz stirred. He sat and threw the blanket back over his feet, then paused.  "Who is there?"

Ruth sat up, as her heart skipped a beat.  Actually, it skipped a few.  "It's me, Ruth.  I am in need of a covering, as well, and I am praying you would be willing to help in this manner."  She could feel her heart beating in her temples. "You are a relative after all. "

Please, please, Boaz, understand my request.

He was silent for a moment, but in the darkness Ruth could see his head drop.  He brought a hand to his forehead and sat.  She was tempted to explain further, but chose silence instead.  This man knew the law, he understood what she was offering.  She didn't want to make it awkward for him, but the longer it took him to respond, the more she was confident this plan was failing.

He finally spoke, but in hushed tones.  "Ruth, you have honored me by requesting this of me.  There are so many younger men who would be willing to redeem you."  He reached for her hand and she willingly gave it. It was rough and yet gentle at the same time.  "You are a woman of excellence and it would be an honor to have you as a wife.  But there is one complication.  There is a relative who is closer than I am to your late father-in-law.  The law requires that he be offered the redemption first.  I will go in the morning and make the offer.  If he accepts, then your future will be with him.  But if he declines, then you and I will be married."

Ruth processed his words.  She was beginning to feel like property, like an item at auction, but the law must be upheld.  Then she saw it.  Boaz wiped a tear from his cheek.  He really did want her.  Ruth's heart swelled with love for this man.  He now fulfilled the three requirements to be her kinsman redeemer - he was related, he was able and he was willing.  Now her conversation with the Lord changed from requesting a redeemer, to requesting a specific one.

She stayed until the break of dawn, when she slipped out and returned home.  

Later that day, she stood with a group of women, as they watched the business of the town being discussed in the gates of the city.  After some time, it was Boaz's turn.  He stepped up and addressed one of the men.  Ruth couldn't hear the conversation, but she was watching the body language.  Boaz was talking, using a lot of gestures.  The man's face lit up and a couple of other men stepped forward and patted him on the back.  This was not good.  It was as if they were congratulating him.  Then she saw Boaz shake his hand.  

Ruth could feel tears welling up in her eyes.  The lump in her throat was growing and she was forcing herself to stay composed.  The men were laughing and talking.  She saw Boaz glance over to her and their eyes met.  In that brief moment, Ruth knew it was going to be okay.  He turned his attention back to the men, rubbed his head and then gestured at her.  Ruth realized that Boaz had just informed this gentleman that she came with the deal.  The celebration died down, as the realization of the obligations that came with the land settled upon the man.  

Then he shook his head.  She could see him talking,  She didn't know if it was his wife, her color or the inheritance issue, but it worked.  There was an exchange of a sandal (another interesting Israeli custom) and another handshake, and it was done.  Boaz was then the one being congratulated and after the excitement died down, he walked towards her.

Hope.  The things Ruth didn't dare let her mind imagine started to flood her heart.  A husband.  A home.  Children.  Grandchildren.  Love.  Security.  Someone to care for and sleep next to.  Someone to cook for and cheer on.  A bright future, not a hopeless one.  

All these thoughts flooded her soul and she struggled to remain composed as Boaz approached.  The women standing around her quieted, not knowing the transaction that had just transpired.  "Ruth, would you walk with me?"  Boaz smiled as he led Ruth away from the crowd.  "There's only one thing I have left to do."

Ruth's eyes were wide with wonder, and yet the tears had already started to fall.  

"Let's go talk with Naomi..."

Friday, December 22, 2017

Hope: Offer

Ruth 3:2-5

Ruth went to wash up and put on her best dress.  Her head was spinning.  It had only been three months since she arrived in Bethlehem, two months since she had her first encounter with Boaz. But Naomi's plan was risky.  If she failed, her ability to glean in Boaz's fields was at jeopardy.  Was this really worth the risk?  Naomi's words rang in her ears...

"Our land must be redeemed.  It cannot sit as a wasteland.  So our laws lay out a process. Because we have relatives who are nearby, they get first option.  They can redeem it buy purchasing it from me, but when they purchase it, you and I are a part of the sale price.  They will be obligated through their purchase to let us stay in the house and to give you progeny."

With that, Ruth sat up straighter.

"What are you saying, Naomi?  They would have to marry me?"

"Yes, that is part of the redemption process.  They would be required to take you as a wife and give you a child. Then that child would inherit our family land.  His other children would not have access to it.  So that way the land would stay in our family with our family name."

Ruth felt herself scowl.  "What if he has a wife?  This is not a great process."

Naomi nodded.  "Most wives aren't happy about this but sometimes the men do it to acquire the land. It might come with a wife but it brings in an income, as well and an automatic inheritance."

"I still don't think this sounds like any fun.  To be a second wife for financial gain doesn't sound like a  love-filled marriage."

"It may not be romantic but it gives you offspring and a future.  You won't have to beg with the poor for droppings in the field and you won't have an empty house to come home to.  But I am not finished.  Boaz is a kinsman to my late husband.  He would be the perfect kinsman redeemer!  He's not married and has no children, and you yourself said he's kind and friendly with you!" Ruth felt her cheeks go flush.

Now she found herself standing in front of the mirror, dressed in her finest, and prepared to go to Boaz to ask him to redeem her.  Her cheeks were still warm.  It sounded so desperate. Then again, she was desperate.  He could offer a future that she thought was lost.  Naomi had said there were three requirements - he had to be related, he had to be able to pay the price and he had to be willing. She knew that the first two wouldn't be a problem, but would he want her?

Naomi had also said the day was today.  The end of the harvest was at hand and her access to Boaz would soon end until the next harvest.  Apparently she had been concocting this plan for a month now, but thought it was best to spring it on Ruth that day so she didn't have much time to think about it.

As Ruth walked to the threshing floor, she rehearsed what Naomi told her to do.  Boaz will be staying on site until the harvest is done. After he falls alseep, uncover his feet and then lay down at his feet.  With his feet uncovered, he will wake up and find you.  Then just do it - just say it.  And then pray.

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever done, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  He is a good man, fears the Lord, is kind to his servants.  Why wouldn't he make a good husband?  Then again, why isn't he a husband? Oh, dear...this is frightening...

Ruth quietly made her way through town and out towards the fields.  Instead of worrying about the thousands of reasons not to do this, she talked to her God and asked for His will to be done.  The thought of a real husband and children was too good to be true...hope was rising in her heart and she had to be careful not to let it overwhelm her...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hope: Provider

Ruth 2:4-3:1

Ruth could see the man talking with his reapers.  She assumed he was the owner of the field.  He was not dressed like the workers, but she could tell he was not a stranger to the land.  The men were attentive to his conversation - he was important.  She also noticed that he looked her way several times and then suddenly he was coming her way.  She averted her eyes and tried not to look frightened, but the kindness and warmth of the women may not be an indicator of how the men felt.

As he got nearer, all the women stood from where they were eating their lunch.  Ruth stood as well and remained quiet, head and eyes remained on the ground.  Then she saw his feet stop in front of her and she slowly looked up.  His face was worn with years of sun exposure, his hair - dark and wavy, gray accents at his temples.  She could see the family resemblence, as he had the kind eyes of her father-in-law and was the same frame and coloring as her husband.  There was not anger in his eyes, but she spied a definite curiosity.

"Good afternoon, ladies.  May the Lord be with all of you," he warmly greeted the women.  Then he turned to her. "Ruth?"

"Yes, sir." She lowered her eyes again, not out of fear but respect. 

"Welcome to Bethlehem.  I am pleased that you have chosen to come and glean in my fields.  I have instructed my men that I want you to stay and glean here."

She looked up at him again and there was smile on his face.  He continued, "When you are thirsty, I have water here for my servants.  You are welcome to it.  My men will not harm you - they will make sure you are safe in the fields."

Ruth was overwhelmed with his generosity.  She was expecting to be dismissed, but instead, this man was giving her a great gift - safety and provision.  She dropped to her knees and bowed her head and asked, "Why would you treat a foreigner with such kindness?"

He reached for her hand and helped her stand. "I have heard of the kindness you have shown to Naomi.  It takes a brave woman to leave her family and her home, and come to a strange land, all for the love and care of an old woman.  The kindness I extend to you is not of my doing - this is God's blessing upon a faithful woman.  You have sought shelter under His wings and I am just fortunate enough to be used by Him to help you."

"Thank you, kind sir.  Naomi will send her thanks, as well, when she hears of your goodness towards us."

"Boaz.  My name is Boaz."

Ruth smiled as he turned to leave.  Today was turning out to be a much better day than she had thought it would be.  By the afternoon break, Boaz was eating and laughing with the workers and he made a point of serving Ruth some of his lunch, as well as the other women.  Ruth thought to herself, No wonder this man is wealthy - his generosity makes his workers loyal to him.

As she was leaving, she overheard Boaz tell his men to let her into the fields tomorrow.  Rather than just gleaning the corners, he wanted them to pull wheat for her in the fields and leave them for her to gather.  She shook her head in disbelief.  Not only was he generous in letting her glean his leftovers, but now he was giving her some of the best of his crops.

When Ruth arrived at home, Naomi was waiting at the door.  She wanted to hear all about her day and at the mention of Boaz's name, Naomi nodded her head and said a prayer. 

"He is one of our closest relatives.  A good man - God is blessing us, Ruth!" 

Ruth continued to glean in Boaz's fields through the barley and wheat harvests.  She believed that Naomi's depression was lifting a bit, because every day, she could see that Naomi was doing things around the home that indicated her energy was returning.  Then one day she came home and saw that the table was set for dinner, a candle was lit and the smell of fresh bread and stew filled the house.  

"Well, this is a fine sight!  Naomi, you have outdone yourself!"

Naomi served the dinner and then sat beside Ruth. "I want to talk with you about something. I have been thinking about it for some time and because the harvest is nearly over, I think now is the time to discuss it.  I have been racking my brain to figure out how I can provide for you, and I think I have come up with an answer!"

Ruth smiled and squeezed Naomi's aging hands.  "Oh, Naomi - you don't have to provide.  The Lord has already provided beyond my imagination.  We have a home, we have food, I have a safe place to work.  Life is fine right now."

"I want more for you, Ruth. I want a future for you that is greater than watching me grow old and die. Now, listen closely as I tell you how we are going to change our lives for good."

And then, this little, aging Hebrew woman leaned in and laid out the strangest plan Ruth had ever heard...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hope: Faithful

Ruth 2:1-3

The journey to Bethlehem was long, hard and frustrating.  Naomi's ability to see the dark side of everything was truly impressive.  Ruth had hoped her decision to go with her would be a source of healing for Naomi, but it seemed to only stir up more fear and concern.  Apparently the race card which Ruth had ignored in her home town would now be a real issue in Israel.  Naomi worried about covering her arms, so as not to draw attention to Ruth's dark complexion.  She didn't want her to stand out.  Israel was not friendly, by any means, with the Moabites and bringing a woman from an enemy country into their hometown was not going to be easily accepted.

But Ruth chose not to set her mind on that.  She had too much to do.  They would initially stay in the family homestead, but Naomi would have to contact the nearest relative to offer the land purchase first to him.  It was important to keep the land within the family tree and Naomi said there were several options.  Since all the men had died in her family, the land would need to be worked, especially now that the famine was over.  

Ruth was in charge of food.  If they were going to survive, she would join the poor in the community, gleaning in the fields that had previously been harvested.  The jewish law made provisions for the poor, leaving corners unharvested so that they could feed the needy.  They weren't given handouts - they would have to work for the grain, but the generosity of the community was great provision for those who needed the help.  So when they got settled in, Ruth would roll up her sleeves and join the harvesters.

She could feel the stares and hear the whispers as she entered town.  But she chose to shut her ears and keep her focus on the task at hand.  These people didn't know her.  They didn't know she feared the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that she was committed to serving her mother-in-law until death parted them.  As time passed, Ruth was confident they would learn to trust her.  She may be a Moabite, but Ruth had placed trust and hope in God, and would prove to be faithful to her husband's faith and family.

The family home was just as Naomi had left it, with the addition of a few cobwebs.  A neighbor had kept an eye on it and upon hearing that she had returned, quickly spruced it up for them.  The news of Naomi's husband and sons deaths spread quickly through town and soon the old friends were stopping by with food and gifts for the grieving widow.  When they met Ruth, they were surprised that she would choose to stay with Naomi and leave her people, but they respected her choices. After all, she was in mourning, as well.

Though the generosity of the community had given them provision for many months, Ruth knew the harvest was at hand and she couldn't sit and wait until their supply was gone.  So she headed out to the fields to begin the task of harvesting.  

Naomi had told her of a wealthy cousin of her late husband, who owned a great estate.  "He is an older man with no wife or children, but his servants have been known to call him, 'Father.'  He is a kind man.  He will let you glean his fields."  As Ruth turned to head out, Naomi added, "And if he gives you a hard time, send him to me."  A twinge of fear squeezed Ruth's heart, but she pushed it away, knowing this was her life now.  Whispering a prayer, she made her way to the fields.

Gleaning was hard work.  There wasn't much time for talking, but the women in the field were curious about the years the family had been in Moab, so they were full of questions for Ruth.  Ruth was respectful and kind, speaking highly of her husband and mother-in-law, but her heart was set on finding out more about the God of Israel.  He was why she was here and she didn't want her education of Him to wane.  So the women told many stories, some her husband had shared but the details the women gave were much more colorful and dramatic.  Despite her color, Ruth was being accepted.

Then one day, things changed.  The owner of the land, Boaz, had come out to inspect the harvest and he noticed the dark skinned woman in the fields.  He was man of few words, but when he saw Ruth, his eyes narrowed and before she knew what hit her, Ruth's position in his field was quickly changed...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hope: Determination

Ruth 1:6-22

Naomi asked her to come have tea.  Ruth knew what was coming because the rumor mill was never silent in their town.  When she arrived at Naomi's house, her sister-in-law was already sitting at the table with a cup in hand.  She sat and Naomi set a cup in front of her but she wasn't interested in drinking.  She wanted to get to the issue at hand.

Naomi sat opposite the two younger women and cleared her throat.  For a moment, she thought that the dark circles under Naomi's eyes had lightened, but then, when her eyes adjusted to the dim light in the room, she realized that they were still there, accentuated by her blood shot eyes.

"You have been my joy these past ten years, " Naomi began.  "I had asked the Lord for a daughter and He gave me two with you.  But the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, and when He took my sons, He also took you from me."

Ruth leaned forward and grabbed Naomi's clasped hands.  "I'm not going anywhere."  She looked at Orpah, who sat expressionless.

Naomi pulled her hands away and shook her head.  "You have no future with me.  I have nothing to give you.  When I get back home, I will sell our land and live off the proceeds until they run out.  Then I will die."

Ruth smiled.  "Oh, come, on, mother!  It won't be that bad.  The people will be so happy to have you back and they will have compassion on you because the men are gone.  You'll see, we'll be fine!"

"There's no we, Ruth." Tears filled Naomi's eyes. "Please listen to my words.  I have nothing to offer you.  There is no future with me.  I have no more sons, no more money and I can't go back to Israel, find a husband, have two more sons, raise them and then give you to them as wives.  It's over.  Our family is finished.  I will go back to Israel and die."

Ruth leaned in, eyes darting between Naomi and Orpah.  "What are we to do?  Our people have rejected us.  When we married your sons, we made our choice.  We can't go back home."

Oprah finally spoke. "I can go home.  My family has already made plans for me to return." She looked at Ruth. "I need a husband.  I want children.  I don't want to be an outcast in a land I do not know."  She stood. "I'm staying here.  Thank you, Naomi, for understanding."  With that Orpah turned and left.

"You must go, too, Ruth.  You are too young. You are a good wife.  Any man would be blessed to have you."  Naomi stood and gestured towards the door. "Don't worry about me.  I will die in peace sooner than later."

Ruth jumped to her feet and instead of heading towards the door, she fell at Naomi's feet.  There were no tears, just determination.  She held onto Naomi's robe and lifted her head.

"You are my family, Naomi.  You are not alone.  I will go to my death, caring for you.  If you're going back to Israel, I am going with you.  They are my people now and your God is my God.  I cannot return to the false worship of my family.  I will help you sell the land and I will figure out how to provide for the two of us.  I am strong. I am young.  And I am going with you."

Naomi opened her mouth to protest but Ruth stood and said, "Pack your bags, mother.  We are going home."

She left the mourning mother standing in the middle of her kitchen, alone.  She didn't dare turn and look at her, for fear that Naomi would voice her objections.  She ran out the door, back to her home, and sat on her bed.  Looking around her room, the walls started to close in on her.  She didn't have any good options.  There wasn't man in Moab who would look at her because she was a widow of an Israelite.  And the same was true in Israel, because she was a Moabite.  She would never hold her baby in her arms, watch his first steps, sing him lullabies or feel his little arms around her neck.  It would be better to care for Naomi than have nothing.  To stay in Moab would mean to return to the idolatry of her people and that was the worst option of all.

Ruth took a deep breath and wiped the tears from her eyes.  Though her future seemed bleak, she would seek God's face and serve Him in Israel.  She had a lot of packing to do and though she had no idea what would happen when they returned to Bethlehem, she was confident of at least one thing:  the God of Israel did not abandon His people and He would not abandon her either...

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hope: Tragedy

Ruth 1:1-5

For him, it wasn't love at first sight.  As a matter of fact, he looked right through her the first time he saw her.  But it was different for her.  She was smitten the moment she saw him.  It didn't matter that he was a foreigner. She never thought much about racism.  She was too much of a romantic to worry about race.  His mother was wild about her - that was a big plus in her favor.  She won over both his parents before he ever really took a second look at her, but the death of his father lit a flame under him and before she knew it, she was betrothed.  Her friends weren't happy he was a Hebrew boy, but again, she didn't care.  She wanted out of her loser town in her loser country and he promised to take her to Israel as soon as the famine had passed.

But years passed and though her love for him grew, she wasn't able to give him a child.  But they were young - her mother told her worry would make it worse, so she threw herself into caring for her husband and learning about his people and his God. The more time she spent with his mother, the more excited she was go go to Israel.  She was learning the language, cooking the food and hearing the law from her mother-in-law and her husband was so proud of her.  She longed for the day she would return to his hometown, see the land he had spoken of so fondly, see the home he grew up in and watch as he would build their own home.  But most of all she wanted to meet his people.  They were her people as well now and she longed for the day when she would meet them all.

Then the unimaginable happened.  Death came to the family.  A double blow.  Her husband and his brother, gone.  When the news came from the field of the accident, she felt her knees give way and the next thing she remembered was waking up in her bed, two days later.  She floated through the funeral, as if watching a play.  It all seemed so unreal.  

What made it worse was the reality that not only was her husband gone, and her brother-in-law and of course, the father-in-law, but they never conceived the little ones that would be her future.   The men of the family were gone, and with no future progeny to care for, she was left trying to hold two other women together.  There was little time for her to grieve.  

But in the quietness of her bedroom, reality was starting to sink in.  In one afternoon, she had lost everything, and now she had overheard her mother-in-law saying that when the days of mourning were done, she was heading back to Israel. Alone.

Husband - gone.

Family - gone.

Future - gone.

Hopes and dreams - gone.

Her new God - well, some things were worth fighting for...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him;
 and you shall keep His commandments, 
listen to His voice, 
serve Him and CLING to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

What a great word:  cling.  This word defines relationship in this verse.  If we were only commanded to follow, fear, keep, listen and serve, we would conclude that our relationship to God was one of subservience, as with a slave status. But the fact that the Lord commands that we cling to Him, this reveals the heart of a father, doesn't it?

No one has to instruct a child to cling to their parent.  It is instinctual.  Safety is in the arms of the parent.  Try to pull a nine-month-old from their mother's arms at the nursery door at church.  What you get is instant clinging.

Clinging indicates safety and clinging indicates love.  In a crisis, the one you cling to is the one you love.  I heard an interview recently of one of the shooting victims from the Washington D.C. baseball practice this past June.  His name was Zach Barth and he was a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams.  When the shooting began, he was in the outfield shagging fly balls.  People were yelling, "Shooter! Run!", so he ran to a corner of the outfield but then the gunman started aiming at him. He was shot in the leg and decided he had to run back to the infield, so he limped his way back to the dugout, where he found Williams and they clung to each other until the shooting was done.  This man was not secret service - he wasn't trained to protect his boss.  But he loved his boss and found him, and they held on to each other for safety until the ordeal was over.

God wants us to cling to Him and in order to do that we have to have more than a Creator/created relationship with Him, more than a Master/slave, Employer/employee, Coach/player or King/citizen relationship with Him. We have to embrace that He is a good, good Father, our Heavenly Father, who loves us and wants what's best for us.  We have to trust Him and know that the safest place is in His arms.  We have to be close to Him, know Him, see Him and love Him, and then we'll cling to Him.

What do you cling to?  What do you hold tightly to in times of distress?  What do you hang on to as your greatest possession?  Your wealth? Your home? Your children? Your spouse? Your parents? Your education? Your job? What about your phone? Your free time? Your hobbies or your looks?  What is the greatest help in your life?  

Friend, Jesus wants you to cling to Him.  We've had a bat issue in our house lately and I've got to admit, trying to fall asleep while my ears are acutely hearing every crack or movement in the house is not much fun.  I want to cling to David at those times but there are a few problems with that - he really just wants to sleep and hanging on to him, buried under my covers, plus the occasional hot flash makes my body temp about 2,000 degrees. Not a great recipe for sleep and then both of us are cranky in the morning.  

Here's a plan:  How about I cling to the Lord?  Instead of lying in bed, waiting to hear the flutter of wings, I have gone into long conversations with the Lord each night until I fall asleep in His arms.  I have a lot to talk with Him about and knowing that He is there, that He loves me and that He isn't trying to fall asleep as well, makes the conversation much easier.  I did wake up to a bat in the room a few nights ago, but I didn't freak out and we caught the bat in the morning. Such is life - bats will come and go, but my Savior will be with me always.

By the way, we've just about got our bat problem solved, so please don't send me any bat videos or pictures.  I know what they look like and we're working with the Bat Man (seriously) and so we're just about done extracting the few hundred bats from my attic...true story.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017


You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him;
 and you shall keep His commandments, 
listen to His voice, 
SERVE Him and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

Is your service to the Lord obligatory or voluntary?

The answer to that question should be "yes."  We are obligated to serve the one who redeemed or purchased us because He is our master now.  But our service should be out of love and not out of compulsion.  That's why I love the picture above because it's volunteering hands, not hands in chains, being drug into service.

Let's review our progression:
  • Follow - upon salvation, we surrender our life, our will, to the Lord and He becomes the leader
  • Fear - a proper awe and respect due to the magnitude of God's power and might - we must never forget Who He is and who we are
  • Keep - now that He's in charge, we must obey His commands, knowing that they are in our best interest and that in the middle of His will is the safest place to be - plus, obedience shows the Lord we love Him
  • Listen - we must fine tune our ears to hear Him amongst the competing voices in our head and the only way to do that is to know His Word - then we have a standard to compare all voices to
And now, serve.  Follow, fear and listen are instructions for our heart. Keep is an instruction for our actions.  Serve is an instruction for our attitude.  If our attitude is in the right place, it means we have the proper understanding of why we were created and why we were saved.  

Too many of us want to be the star of our show.  We want the spotlight.  We want people to think highly of us, praise us, like us, need us.  But we are believing a lie when we put ourselves in the center of the stage.  Our purpose for being here is to glorify the One Who made us.  He is the star of the show because He is God.  Period.  When I walk in a room and God walks in a room, He gets the attention. Every time. 

Now here's the awesome thing:  God has set His affection upon me.  Through His Spirit, He got my attention and through His Son, He paid the price for my redemption.  Not only has He purchased me, but He's made me His child - I am a fellow heir with His Son, Jesus. I am no longer dead or a slave to sin, but I am alive.  My eternity is one without sorrow, pain, suffering, fear or sin.  I am never alone.  I don't have to make decisions in a vacuum.  I can have deep joy and peace in the midst of the brokenness of this life because God has set His affection on me.

So when He tells me to do something, what should my attitude be?  Reluctant obedience so that everyone knows I am unhappy? Resentment for being bossed around? Willful disobedience because I know what's better for my life? Or burdened sorrow because what God wants of me is so hard?  

I think not.

We need to stop acting like a teenager who was just told to take out the garbage and serve the Lord with gladness. Our response to His affections should be joyful, immediate, and humble service.  We serve a good King.  We serve a loving Father.  We serve a gracious Master.  Our service is a delight and a joy because everything we do is to make more of Him.  When the Lord says, "Who will go?", our hands shoot shoot up as we cry, "Lord, send me!"  What a privilege to serve the Almighty God of the universe.  The fact that He has set His affection upon us is completely undeserved and simply unbelievable.  

Let's have an attitude check today.  Do you view your obedience to the Lord as an obligation or as service to One who loves you beyond words?  Do you see how your attitude can make a world of difference?

Monday, July 17, 2017


You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him;
 and you shall keep His commandments, 
LISTEN to His voice, 
serve Him and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

There are a lot of voices in your head.  It sounds like just one, but the truth is there are a lot of competing influences that ring in your mind and it's hard to determine which ones are good and which ones are bad. The world is pretty loud and our flesh is pretty strong, so how do we know if the voice we are listening to is God's?

Let me start out by pointing out that God's initial command here is to FOLLOW, then FEAR and KEEP.  After these things, He says to LISTEN.  Unfortunately we tend to do these things in the wrong order.  We want to hear the voice of the Lord and then we'll decide whether or not we want to follow Him.  But it doesn't work that way.  The choice to follow must come first; a strong walk in surrender to His will, built on a healthy foundation of awe and respect for His character - these things must be in place in order for you to hear the voice of the Lord.

I had a woman once approach me after a Worship on the Waterfront concert I had been involved in.  I was directing a children's choir and our concert included a live band and adult praise team, plus 70 children.  This woman praised my efforts and told me that God had told her that because men were not stepping up and leading the way God had called them to, God was done with male leadership in the church and He was now going to raise up strong women to fill the void.  She had heard His voice and was His messenger.  The problem was that her message was contrary to God's Word.  If I didn't know the Word and understood God's design for church leadership, my flesh might have embraced this woman's message.  But I knew the Word and knew the voice she heard was not from God. As politely as I could I explained that to her and she didn't take it well.

We must know the Word, we must be actively walking closely to the Lord before we trust the voices in our head to be from God.  And even then, we must learn to listen and compare, before we act.

I know a gal who was very close to the Lord.  She walked with Him daily.  She relied on Him for her every need.  Her marriage was built on Him and I really don't know any other woman who lived in God's presence the way that she did.  Then one day she met someone...well, actually it was a talking snake...who told her that God was keeping something from her.  Then she assessed the information for herself and decided that he was right, and she broke her relationship with the Lord.  As a matter of fact, her actions along with her husband brought great destruction into the world.  

How did this happen to Eve?  She was in full fellowship with the Lord and didn't even have a sin nature to distort things!  The problem was that the voice in her head was not the Lord's and instead of comparing what God said to what the voice said, she acted on the voice.

When we listen to the voice of God, we must know His Word so that we know it is from Him.  All too often I hear people explain that they are hearing from the Lord and what they are hearing is contrary to His Word.  This is why FOLLOWING, FEARING and KEEPING must come first.  Then hearing will be a natural response to what we know about Him.

The flip side is this:  we just spent 8 months watching videos at church of people who listened to the voice of the Lord and had gospel moves all over the place!  The Lord would lay on their hearts to pray for hurting people around them, or to ask forgiveness when they were difficult at work, or to stand up for God's truth in a class, despite the negative response.  These are true examples of listening to the voice of God and acting on it.  By faith, they knew who God is and what His Word teaches, they knew the Gospel and what it means in life, and when the Lord nudged them to act, they obeyed.  What a wonderful example of LISTENING for all of us!  (to see the videos:  click here)

So what voice do you hear in your head and what is your process to determine if it is from the Lord or not?  We are commanded by God to listen to His voice, therefore we must commit to knowing His Word and surround ourselves with godly influences to determine if the nudging is from the Lord or from another source...

Monday, July 10, 2017


You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him;
 and you shall KEEP His commandments, 
listen to His voice, 
serve Him and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

As we work our way through this verse, we have already seen the call to willingly place ourselves under God's authority (surrender at salvation) and the healthy fear of the power of God.  Today we are going to talk about "keeping."  The full instruction is "you shall keep His commandments."  

We tend to cringe when we hear the word "commandment."  That's for a few reasons.  First of all, we like the concept that we are free in Christ but commands do not equate to freedom.  In our mind, freedom equals the ability to do whatever we please, so the instruction to live within boundaries seems stifling.  Another reason is that keeping commandments sounds like we are earning our salvation and deep down we know we cannot perfectly keep God's commandments, so why is He telling us to do so?

I want to address both of these concerns.  First of all, we must understand what freedom in Christ means.  It DOES NOT mean that we are free to do whatever we want.  That would be foolishness.  That's what got us in trouble in the first place.  Remember, at salvation we are choosing to place ourselves UNDER GOD'S AUTHORITY - which means He is the boss of you.  Freedom in Christ means that we are no longer in bondage to sin, but have the freedom to please the Lord in whatever we do.  And what pleases the Lord the most?  Obedience to His commands. (I"ll explain why in just a minute...)

Secondly, the concern that God is instructing us to earn our salvation when He says that we are to keep HIs commands is inaccurate because of timing.  Remember, we are first called to FOLLOW - that's our salvation.  So how can this instruction save us more than what we already are?  Keeping God's commands has several purposes, but salvation is NOT one of them.  As Hebrews 11:1 tells us that the Law can never make us perfect, so there must be another reason for it.

So, why should we obey God's commands?  Let me give you three reasons. First, God's commands are in our best interest.  Just as a parent lovingly puts boundaries around their child for their protection, God places boundaries around us.  Sexual purity is a great example.  Do you know how simple it is for two virgins to marry?  There's no concern for disease and illness.  There's no partner baggage that comes into the marriage bed.  There are no competing memories or guilt trips.  There aren't any unwanted pregnancies or emotional and physical residue from abortions.  I have heard it said that high school girls who break up with boys they've slept with experience similar emotional loss to a divorce.  Purity guarantees none of that.  And yet, this is a boundary that no one wants to keep.  It's outdated, old fashioned and unreasonable.  Really? 

God's commands are a protection for us.  He is the author of life; He knows what is best.  To keep the commands of the Lord shows that you trust His goodness and love for you.

Second, it's a way to receive blessing from the Lord. Psalm 1 tells us that the person who walks in the ways of the Lord has abundant fruit.  Psalm 119 (all 176 verses) tells us of the blessings and benefits of walking in the Word of God.  Galatians 5 tells us that the flesh produces immorality, impurity, idolatry, jealousy, anger, fighting, envying, drunkenness and things like these, but the fruit of walking in the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control.  I would call those blessings.  If we keep God's commandments, deny our flesh and walk in the Spirit, blessing follows.

Finally, it's a way to show our love for Him.  Jesus said in John 14 that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  It's really that simple.  If you have WILLINGLY placed your life in His hands, why wouldn't you obey Him?  It just doesn't make sense to buck against His instruction.  In light of the price paid for our eternity, keeping the commandments of God should flow from an obvious trust in His character.  Would He sacrifice His Son only to leave you with ridiculous instructions to follow?  Come on, friend, we've got to think bigger than that!

So the logical question is this:  what are the commands of God?  Oh, dear!  There are many.  So get in the Word and find them the Law of Moses, that's a good place to start!  In the Law you will see the heart of a holy and loving God.  Read the Epistles (the letters at the end of the New Testament) - there are tons of instructions there.  Or just read through a gospel - Jesus gave a lot of commands.  Oh - one more!  Why not just start with the BIG TEN?  You've got to start some place!

Follow.  Fear.  Keep.  

Halfway done.

Monday, July 3, 2017


You shall follow the Lord your God and FEAR Him;
 and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, 
serve Him and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

True or false:

God is scarier than this world.

Is He scarier than terrorists?  Is He scarier than public opinion? Is He scarier than your teachers or your nemesis or your neighbors or your boss? Is He scarier than the thugs that walk down the middle of the road? Is He scarier than your own father?  What do you think?

How you answer that will tell me if you understand what the fear of the Lord truly means. Most will tell you that to fear God is to have an awe and respect for Him, just as you would respect your earthly father.  Um...kinda but not really.  It goes much deeper than that.

When we relate our respect for God to our respect for another human, we're just not in the same ball park. We might do it as a reference point, but it's a pretty simple word picture, compared to reality.

So how do I explain what it means to fear the Lord?  It starts with recognizing Who He is.  I'm not talking about the God who destroyed the world with water, or the God who sent fiery serpents into Israel's camp, or the God who says He'll send hailstones mixed with blood and fire to the earth in the last days.  I'm talking about the God who said, Let there be light and suddenly reality was filled with bright, radiant whiteness.  The God who filled the seas with creatures beyond our wildest imaginations and the heavens with some of the most beautiful aerodynamic wonders.  The God who placed the earth on the exact orbit, in the exact position in our solar system, so that life could exist, who spoke the world into existence, who created humanity in His own image to live forever.  

When we realize that God is not in our category, that He's not a fallible man, with unreasonable outbursts and selfish ambitions, then we need to acknowledge our longing to know Him.  Like an orphan longs to know where he came from, God has set eternity in our hearts and created a longing that only the One whose image we bear can fill.  Not only can we see our Maker's handiwork in all that surrounds us, from the microscope to the stethoscope to the telescope, but we can see Him clearly in His Son.  The life He led, the path He took, the teachings He told, the miracles He performed all pointed to the heart of a loving God.

So, none of this is overly scary, is it?  Why do we call it "fear of the Lord" if it's not a little scary?  Truth be told, there is a scary aspect to it.  Because of our sin, we are born into eternal death.  Death is our destiny, eternally separated from our Creator, in torment, suffering for the rebellion in our hearts against Him.  The flooding, snake-infesting, hail-dropping God is still a reality, but we have to understand that His wrath is a consequence of our rebellion. 

Upon salvation, the wrath of God is appeased because Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient payment.  But we still live in a broken world, where sin and consequences abound.  Sometimes we bear the burden of other people's brokenness, but all too often we bear the consequences of our own sin.  As we walk in the Lord, growing and applying what we are learning about our God and His will for us, we become more vertical in our mindset, knowing that God blesses our obedience and He disciplines our disobedience.  

Knowing that God is loving and kind, gracious and merciful, patient and long-suffering, we can choose to live lives that bring Him glory because we also know He is completely present and involved with us on a daily basis.  Why would we choose to walk in rebellion when we know the goodness of the Lord?  Better yet, why would we choose to walk in rebellion when we know how God deals with sin? 

As believers, we must never forget the awesome power and magnitude of the Lord's strength.  We must not put ourselves even in the same category as Him.  We may bear His image but we are not made from the same materials.  He is God.  He is holy. He is awesome and He is to be feared.  Yes, it is awe and respect, but there is an aspect of understanding His power in His wrath, that although we will never experience it, we still are in fear of it.  This is why Christians are called "God-fearing" people.  We know that God will not sit idly by while sin rules and reigns, and because we fear the Lord, we choose to live lives that are honorable and God-glorifying. Because we fear the Lord, we don't cheat on our taxes or steal from our employers.  We don't cheat on our spouses and we don't lie to each other.  We know God is watching and we desire to live lives that bring glory to Him in all things.

So, is God scarier than terrorists, thugs or others?  He is scarier because He is more powerful and though incredibly, sacrificially loving, He is holy and will pour His wrath out upon sinful man.  Proverbs 9 tells us that fearing this God is the start of true wisdom.  Deut. 13 says that after choosing to follow God, we must fear Him - see Him as He truly is.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


You shall FOLLOW the Lord your God and fear Him; 
and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, 
serve Him and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

The first command is to FOLLOW the Lord your God.  This word defined means to go or come after; move or travel behind; strive after; aim at.  It implies that one is in front and one is behind, one is leading and one is following.  

I talk a lot about following when I counsel with women. Following is one of the hardest roles of the wife and it is perhaps the most important.  In Ephesians 5 Paul uses the military term "submit" when he instructs wives to follow their husbands.  This means to willingly place yourself under your husband's authority.  

In our context today, God is not instructing only women to follow Him, but men and women alike.  We are called to willingly place ourselves under God's authority, step aside and let Him lead.  In essence, this is what happens at salvation.

In our fleshly, sinful state, we were not following God but instead rebelling against Him and His lordship.  At salvation we recognize our need for a savior and we willingly place ourselves under God's authority.  When we accept His free gift of salvation, we are turning over the leadership to Him.  Our way is to failure, His way is to life.  We have a new Leader, a new Master and He is not only good, faithful and just, He is a worthy Master.  He proved His love for us when He took our punishment on Calvary.  

Following is an act of trust.  It says, I trust where you are taking me.  I trust what you are asking of me.  I trust that you will not hurt me, but that you love me.  When I was a young girl, my father took my older sister and I to a haunted house.  I thought I was tough enough for it but as I stood outside on that cold October evening, waiting to go in, my confidence started to get shaky.  By the time we entered the house, I knew I had made a big mistake.  So I put my full trust in my father and I followed him...literally.  I wrapped my arms around his waist from behind, dug my head into the back of his jacket and held on for dear life.  Occasionally I pulled away to see if it was as scary as it sounded, and the answer is, yes, it was.  In the end, I made it out of the house in one piece, much in part to my father's sheer strength of pulling me through that nightmare.

When following the Lord, sometimes it is that scary.  Sometimes we have to just hang on for dear life and let Him take us where He wants to. You see, the more you know your heavenly Father, the more you will understand that His heart is for you, not against you.  In Genesis, Joseph went on a journey that was miserable at times, being beaten and sold into slavery by his brothers, lied to and thrown in prison and forgotten for years.  But in the end, where that road took him was beyond anyone's imagination.  Only God could take this young Hebrew boy and place him second in command in Egypt.  What I admire about Joseph is that through it all, he willingly placed himself under God's authority, never doubting that God was good, faithful and that He loved him and had a plan for him.  It required a lot of patience and at times was even painful, but his choice to follow God brought great blessing in his life all along the way.

Colossians 3:1-3 says: 

Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When we set our minds on the things above, we are seeking His face, seeking His will, living our lives with an eternal perspective.  Jesus said it pretty simply:  Follow Me.  The command to follow Jesus is the starting point of your life with Christ.  Willingly placing yourself under His authority - this puts order back into your life and gets you headed in the right direction.

How about reading through Joseph's story today?  I trust you will be encouraged as you see God's love and care, and great provision for this man of faith.  

Genesis 37, 39-45.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

In Christ

You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; 
and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, 
serve Him, and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

I love a good "In Christ" series, but this is not going to be the typical one.  The typical one looks at who we are in Christ - adopted, beloved, justified, redeemed, enlightened, saved, righteous, holy, chosen, etc.  Instead of looking at what Jesus has done for us in changing our identity, I want to study what is on our side of the table - what is our responsibility.  Now before any of you cry, "Heresy!", I want to assure you that our ability to be in Christ is solely through His actions, however we do have a response to His gift of salvation.  His redemptive work gives us the ability to respond and transform, but we don't simply wake up one morning, look in the mirror and realize we have become perfect.  Nope, we have some work to do and technically, perfection isn't a "this life" reality anyways...

So, what has been your experience? I know many who have been drawn to the church, moved by the worship and teaching, came forward with a prayer of decision and possibly even a baptism, and then went home and said, "Now what?" It's that question that I want to address. Now that I am in Christ, what do I do?

I have been studying the book of Exodus for our women's group this fall and that study has taken me into the Law.  Oh. My. Goodness!  The Law is WONDERFUL!  Yes, I said wonderful.  As I have studied the Law, I have seen the heart of God for broken man more clearly than ever before.  He understands how sin has infected the mind of man, which has diminished his ability to reason and live sensibly and lovingly, so God has patiently laid out instructions that not only bring Him glory, but also provide stability and justice for His people.  

By the time you get to Deuteronomy 13, God is addressing false prophets, who were alive and well 4,000 years ago, just as they still are today.  These people did not just promote chasing after false gods, but their messages were backed up with signs and wonders.  Now, if a miracle accompanies a message, it has to be from God, right?  But what if that message contradicts the Law?  Then the message must be rejected and the prophet must be put to death!  

It is interesting.  Not just the prophet is to be killed, but even the person who chases after his false god and wants others to do so, as well.  Listen to what the Lord says in verses 6-9:

If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you or your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.  BUT YOU SHALL SURELY KILL HIM; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death and afterwards the hand of all the people." (emphasis mine)

Now, don't start planning the murder of the people in your life who worship false gods because we don't have a government that will allow that, but can you see the heart of God in this?  False prophets and even people interested in worshipping false gods are a threat to the purity of God's people.  God knows how easily our hearts are drawn away from Him and He wanted Israel on the alert, to keep their hearts completely set on Him and Him alone.  

It is in the midst of these verses that we get the answer to our question, "Now what?"  God clearly lays out our instructions for life, not just for Israel, but for believers who are IN CHRIST.  He says:

You shall FOLLOW the Lord your God and FEAR Him;  and you shall KEEP His commandments, LISTEN to His voice, SERVE Him and CLING to Him.  (Debt. 13:4, emphasis mine)

The child of God has clear instructions on how he is to live his life: follow, fear, keep, listen, serve and cling.  In doing these things the transformation process will enfold. Upon salvation, we are immediately transformed from dead to alive, but the sanctification or growth process happens as we follow, fear, keep, listen, serve and cling.  In one verse, we have the answer to "Now what?"

Over the next few blogs, I want to look at each one of these actions.  My hope is that as we work our way through this one verse, we will have greater understanding of the meaning of our lives and the purpose for which we were created, and that we will be inspired to roll up our sleeves and life the God-centered life He wants us to live.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


...and without the shedding of blood 
there is no remission of sins...
Hebrews 9:22

A heaviness comes over my heart every year at this time, as I am sure you feel the same.  It's almost a shameful heaviness because it seems that when I take a good look at the cross and see my sin, my guilt, my shame being punished, the sacrifice of Jesus becomes so much more personal.  I think I feel ashamed because it takes a holiday to remind me of my sin. But I am thankful that a "holiday" has been given, at least for now, to allow me to remember, just like all national holidays are intended to do:  
  • On Thanksgiving we remember the Pilgrim's, their struggle and their sacrifice to build a place where they could  freely worship God and raise their families
  • On Memorial Day we remember the soldiers who have given their lives so that our freedom could survive 
  • On Independence Day we remember the battle fought against Britain so that we could become a free nation 
  • On Veteran's Day we remember those who have served our nation, promoting freedom and democracy in the world and defending the rights of Americans to remain free 
On each of these days, we remember the sobering sacrifice made so that we can  Then we live however we want the rest of the year until we are reminded again.  But truth be known, I don't think our soldiers or our founders want us to live in a constant state of mourning, but instead, exercise and enjoy the freedom that is our because of their sacrifice.

I believe this is the heart of our heavenly Father, as well.  He wants us to understand that because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are free from the bondage and punishment that comes with sin.  He tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  He wants us to live life to the fullest, giving us His Spirit and His Word to teach us how to enjoy our new found freedom.

And yet, it is important to remember. Jesus wants us to remember.  That's why He established the communion table as a time to soberly remember His sacrifice.  And perhaps that's why all over the world this week people, who have no idea why, will pause to think about the cross.  But we know why.

Without the heaviness of Friday there is no joy on Sunday.

So let's remember this week.  Let's let the heaviness surround us. Let's read the accounts in scripture and slip our feet into the sandals of the characters.  Let's turn our heads away from the ghastly realities of the scourging and feel our chests heave when we see Jesus stumble on the Via Dolorosa.  Let's let the smells and the sounds of the cross hit us in waves.  Let's stay long enough to watch Joseph and Nicodemus take Jesus' body away and let's peer from behind a tree in the garden as the men struggle to push the rock over the grave opening.  Let's find time to feel the loss, the brokenness, the death of our Savior. Let's let the sights that confuse the world sink into our hearts, because we know that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission, no cancellation, no suspension, no forgiveness of sins.  

It's only for a few more days and when Sunday comes, I believe the heaviness of Friday enhances the glory of the sunrise on Sunday morning, the glory of the fact that the tomb is empty and that we are forgiven.  We serve a living God and He wants us to fully enjoy the fruits of His labors.  

It's Friday but Sunday is coming.