Reading the Bible in Three Years

Ruth 3 (August 23)

Real Joy                                                                                

            …and he was in a contented mood…”

            A Christian man was having a hard time at work. His problem was not with the boss or with his overall working conditions—it was with his coworkers. Every Monday through Thursday, these unbelieving co-laborers talked openly (and loudly) about their sexual encounters and drinking binges during the previous weekend. On Fridays, their conversations revolved around plans for the upcoming weekend.

            Their idea of “fun” included sexual promiscuity and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Some of these men were also addicted to gambling and other immoral and illegal activities.

            This world is full of fun-seeking individuals who, by the way, are never happy or satisfied. A human heart can only find joy and unadulterated gladness in Christ. Jesus is our joy in this life and will be our glory for all eternity. Pagans cannot find true happiness in their evil (and costly) vices, and Christians cannot find true joy in their multiple church activities. The problem with both approaches is that there is no substitute for Christ, not even church functions or God’s blessings.

            Joy if found only in loving and following Jesus. Pure joy comes as a result of our intimate communion with Christ and it is a fruit of being full of the Holy Spirit. The joyous believer does not need external pleasures or peaceful times to express this internal and eternal Joy.

            I pray that you can experience this joy again today. God has given this everlasting joy to us as a gift of his grace, to be enjoyed every day and in any situation.

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Ruth 2 (August 21)

 Good Words                                                                         

            “The Lord be with you.”

            Every time I go to church services, I can hear someone saying,

            “God bless you”

            This salutation is a common practice among Christians all across the world. I have received this greeting in churches that speak a different language and in congregations that are situated in other countries. It is important to use this expression often and sincerely, for God wants to bless us.

            Our words have the power to destroy or edify others. When we pronounce a blessing upon our brothers or sisters, it is necessary that we mean what we say. A pure heart does not produce mechanical phrases or hypocritical remarks.

            A follower of Christ must be sincere at all times. We need to speak the truth in love, and love others enough to tell them the whole truth. Next time you say, “God bless you!” to someone, think before you speak. You might even want to ask yourself the following questions:

            Do I love this person enough to wish God’s blessings upon him or her?

            Do I feel pressured to say something nice to this individual?

            Do I really mean what I’m saying?

            God will not bless hypocrisy, nor will He endorse an insincere or thoughtless “blessing.” When you are in this disposition, it would be better to remain silent than to say something you don’t mean to someone you don’t like, giving the impression that you actually care. We are called to love, to care and to speak with godly sincerity and tact.

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Judges 21 (August 20)

                                                                    Jesus is my King

            “In those days there was no king in Israel;...”

            Human beings need leaders and rulers.  Our sinful nature demands that men appointed by God must govern us.  Having been a teacher for many years, I understand the importance of discipline in the classrooms--without it, there is no learning, no fun, no creativity and no peace.

            Likewise, if God wouldn’t have established human governments; with its police, National Guard, army, and its judicial and legislative branches, then most countries would resemble the legendary and “Wild” West.

            Even a bad government is better than no government at all!  A country without rulers is like a ship without a captain--It is going nowhere!  Anarchy can be compared to a wild horse, in the sense that it has no purpose and direction and it is extremely dangerous.

            Israel had no human king during the days of the Judges.  What was infinitely worse, was the fact that as a nation they rejected the King of glory.  The result was chaotic, as everyone was “his or her own king.”

            Is Christ the King and Lord of your life? You may very well be a Christian; no one doubts that fact.  The key issue is submission to the Lord of every area of your life.  Israel, for the most part, failed to do so, but we still have the glorious opportunity to live for our King.

            When we received Christ as our Lord, we didn’t do it just to be saved from hell. We first and foremost, surrendered our lives and destinies into his hands forever.

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Ruth 1 (August 21)

                                                            Decisions, Decisions

            “...your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

            Life is made up of decisions.  Our present situation is the result, for the most part, of decisions we took in the past.  On the other hand, our future hangs in part on the choices that we make today.

            Therefore, it is vital for us to pray and investigate every possible option, before we make up our minds on any matter.  This procedure is applicable to any decision, including the determination to receive Christ and thus, eternal life.

            Ruth decided one day, to believe in the living God and to unite herself to Naomi’s people.  She had ample opportunity to ponder her decision, as she made a comparison between Moab’s idols and the God of Israel; whom she had began to know and love, through her ex-husband’s family.

            Ruth could have returned to Moab with Orpha after their husbands’ deaths. She could have gone back home, to her family and familiar surroundings. However, Ruth made the right choice (when she disobeyed Naomi), by following her to Bethlehem. Ruth decided to follow Naomi, but most importantly, she became a follower of the one true God of the universe.

            Christians need to apply the same divine wisdom to all their decisions that was so evident in Ruth.  We must learn to ignore foolish “advices” and avoid “too-good-to-be-true” choices.  Every decision bears fruit; let us learn to always make the best choices with God’s help.

            What will you decide about all this?

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Judges 20 (August 19)

                                                                   Slip and Fall

            “Shall we again draw near to battle...?”

            Abraham Lincoln is recognized as one of the most brilliant presidents this country has ever had.  During his term, he abolished slavery and won the Civil War. He fought to preserve the union. He also won the hearts of most Americans, with his wisdom and compassion.

            Before Lincoln became president, however, he suffered many defeats.  The future leader of the strongest nation on Earth, failed several times in business and as a political candidate and was even a victim of a nervous breakdown.  As a matter of fact, from 1832 to 1860---the year in which he was elected president, Abraham Lincoln, was in a constant state of  “failure.”

            Any other man would have given up, but not “Honest Abe.”  He learned from his mistakes, failures and short-comings; he stood up after every slip and fall and once again, went into the battle...until he won.

            Israel went to war against the evil tribe of Benjamin.  For two consecutive days, they were defeated and thousands died.  When the third day arrived, the Israelites asked God if they should go to the battle one more time.  These were very courageous warriors, who were wondering if God would ever grant them the victory.

            Perhaps you are asking yourself today:  Shall I continue fighting the battles of the Lord? One thing I’ve learned is to never give up, even when I want to surrender.  We may stumble and fall in the future, but the hand of Jesus is always there to lift us up once again.  Failures come and go, but faithful believers will never be defeated. 

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