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For the last couple of days I have been considering what verse I should write about this week. Usually I come across a verse while reading, checking Facebook or listening to a sermon or television program, and I think, “That is the one.” This week there seemed to be a few, but on a similar theme. The book I just finished reading for book club focused on Psalm 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God.” One of the verses quoted on an archived episode of Full Circle that I watched this week was Isaiah 64:4. “God intervenes for those who wait for Him.” Then this morning I read today’s verse on YouVersion, Psalm 42:11 “Wait for God. For I will again give thanks to my God for His saving intervention.”

The writer of Psalm 42 is depressed and far from home, (Psalm 42:6) he is being taunted by his enemies, (Psalm 42:10) and he is feeling overwhelmed. (Psalm 42:7) He is longing for relief. (Psalm 42:1) We can’t be sure of the exact circumstances he was facing, but we do know that he felt that he was facing it alone. At that time, the temple was the place that was set apart for worship and to hear from God. The writer not only missed the fellowship of being in God’s house, (Psalm 42:2, Psalm 42:4) but he also had to endure the voice of his enemy suggesting that God had forsaken him. (Psalm 42:3) And I think he wondered if God had. (Psalm 42:9)

We might not find ourselves in the same situation as the Psalmist does here, but we have certainly felt the same emotions. We may be saddened by our circumstances, lonely, irritated by malicious co-workers or neighbours, or burdened by the number of things we have to do. The good news is that we don’t have to get to the temple to be close to God. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and because of the Holy Spirit, we can communicate with God wherever we are. A look through God’s Word assures us that we have not been forsaken. (Psalm 37:28, Romans 8:38-39, John 3:16) Whatever you are going through, don’t give up hope. Wait on God’s saving intervention.

Today's post was written by Tim Challies. Rather than focusing on one passage of scripture, it looks at the Bible as a whole.
The more I learn of God, the more I marvel at the complexity of his being and purpose—the sheer eternality of it, the otherness of it. He is knowable, but knowable only in the smallest part, he reveals himself to us; but does not reveal all of himself to us, not even close. He truly is transcendent, so far beyond us. His revelation of himself in such that a man may spend his entire life reading it, studying it, pondering it, and uncovering its treasures. He may earn postgraduate degrees and teach systematic theology and lead Bible studies and preach every Sunday for his entire life and still not come close to knowing all there is to know about this God.

And yet that is not the whole story. What God reveals about himself is such that a mere child may know it and believe it and grasp it with childlike hope and confidence. Even a child really can know this God and really can have genuine faith in him.

I find it a strange thing and even an alarming thing that the more I know of God, or the more I think I know of God, the more I am prone to forget the utter simplicity of this message. In the midst of my delight in his complexity, I can so easily forget the simple heart of it all. This matters. This ought to matter.

Sometimes I need to be reminded of the power of the Bible, the simple power of the Bible. I need to be reminded that there have been so many people who have come to faith simply by reading God’s Word. There has been no preacher but the Author, no sermon but the pages of the Bible, and yet many a person has read and seen and understood and trusted and been transformed. No wonder that organizations labor to translate the Bible—or at least parts of the Bible—into every known language and to send these pages into all the world. Every Bible or piece of the Bible goes into the world as a missionary, taking hope, taking life, taking that oh-so-simple message.

Too often I doubt the pure and simple power of the Word of God. How could anyone understand something so complicated as the Bible? Sometimes I doubt the valuing of giving a Bible to someone because I imagine him reading it and, in confusion and despair, throwing it away. “Read the book of John,” I suggest. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Could someone really read this and understand it? Can God really speak from his Word to a person with such little knowledge?

I sometimes wonder if I have these thoughts and grapple with these questions because, say, I have been trying to work toward a precise, measured, complete doctrine of the Trinity—a very good thing to do, I’m sure—and amidst all of the careful nuances and fine distinctions, I have forgotten that the heart of the Christian message is so very simple: Christ died for my sins and was raised. A person does not require a full-orbed, Nicene theology of the Trinity in order to be saved; he needs to know that he is a sinner and that Christ is his Savior. He will not want to stay there all his life, of course; once he knows this Savior he will want to know more of him, to explore the depths of this great God. That will come. But Newton’s dying confession is enough: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.

We who love theology, we who take joy in diving into the deep waters of the person and work of God, we need to be so careful, lest we make the message more difficult than it needs to be, lest we forget the simple word that we believed in. What a shame it would be if our learning hindered our witness, if the depth of our knowledge negated the beautiful simplicity that lies at its heart. Christ died for our sins and was raised. That is the heart of our message, and it is good. It is enough. By God’s grace and with God’s power, it can and it will save.


Do you watch reality TV shows? I have often wondered how they got the descriptor reality. Based on their advertising, none of them seem too much like the reality I’ve come across. I don’t watch most of them, but there is one I enjoy: The Amazing Race. I love that I can see so many parts of the world from the safety and comfort of my own home. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a brief overview of how it works. Eleven teams gather at their starting point, packed and ready to start a race that will take them to dozens of countries around the world. At the end of each leg of the race, one team is eliminated. The participants all seem friendly enough at first, but along the way their true colours will shine through. They are given clues to find their next destination, but before they can check in at their next pit stop for a 12 hour rest period, they will face some challenges: detours, road blocks, tasks to complete—some arduous, some messy, some frightening, some fun—and more mystery solving. Hmmm. Maybe that’s not so far off reality after all.

After just discussing the heroes of faith, (Hebrews 11) who are our cloud of witnesses, Hebrews 12:1-2 advises us to get rid of the things that are weighing us down—the extra baggage, the sin, the bad habits—and to fix our eyes on the goal, Jesus, so that we may run with endurance the race that lies before us. We are reminded of what Jesus endured to run the race that was set out for Him. And He finished that race, not because what He endured was enjoyable, but because He knew what joy was awaiting Him at the finish line.

As they do each season in The Amazing Race, and as Jesus did while He lived on earth, we will surely encounter some road blocks and detours along our course too. There will be mysteries that we may or may not be able to ever figure out. There will be fellow racers who may be willing to help us, but others may want to hinder us, looking out only for themselves. There will be some costs, but also some surprising gifts, but this I know for sure: it will not be easy. That is why we are told in Hebrews 12:3, to keep our eyes on Jesus. Remember what He endured. Most of us will never have to go through anything close to what He went through for us. And since He gives us the strength we need to get through everything we face, (Psalm 89:14-17, Philippians 4:13) let’s keep going! Let’s not grow weary! Unlike the game show contestants who win The Amazing Race, we aren’t likely to end ours with a million dollars, but we will walk on streets of gold, (Revelation 21:21) we will spend eternity in a place where there is no sorrow or pain, (Revelation 21:4) and we will spend it with the one who loved us so much that His race included the cross. (John 3:16) Don’t give up!

Last night as I was pondering all my problems--instead of sleeping--the old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness came to mind. It was inspired by Jeremiah's words in Lamentations 3:22-24 and the author's own circumstances. Thomas Obadiah Chisholm experienced God's faithfulness in the everyday provision of his needs during times when he was too ill to work. Interestingly, both the Bible passage and the hymn say that God's mercies are new every morning. That doesn't mean that our needs will be met weeks or months in advance. That wouldn't require a lot of trust, would it? I have concluded that I need to spend more time focusing on all the things I have to be thankful for, and trust God to meet my needs for everything else. Of course, I might need to be reminded of that now and then!

Please take a few minutes to listen to this hymn.


Today's post was written by Tim Challies.
I spent much of my day yesterday wrestling through a couple of biblical genealogies (and enjoying every minute of it). I found myself reflecting on the end of the book of Ruth where we encounter a short but powerful genealogy. But before I get there, I want to remind you of the final scene in Ruth.

As the book comes to a close, we are given a glimpse of a little scene that is fun to picture in your mind. Boaz has married Ruth and the Lord has blessed them with a child. It seems here like after the child is born, the women of Bethlehem gather the baby and bring him to Naomi’s home to announce the birth and to celebrate with her. The women carry the baby from Ruth and Boaz’s house and approach Naomi’s home dancing and celebrating, taking joy in her joy. They come to her praising God, fully aware that this child is proof of God’s covenant-keeping favor. They even declare that Ruth is more to Naomi than seven sons, that Ruth is more to Naomi than the perfect family with perfect sons. (Ruth 4:14-15) That’s quite a tribute!

In a legal sense this was Naomi’s child; he was born of Ruth, but it is the child of Naomi and Elimelech, the child who will carry on the family name. Naomi will now serve as a kind of foster-mother, helping to raise this child. (Ruth 4:16) You can picture Naomi weeping and worshipping as she takes the child from the women and pulls him to her chest. So many promises are fulfilled, so much love expressed, so many prayers answered. God has been faithful to his covenant. He has given an heir and he has restored the land.

And they lived happily ever after. The story of Ruth began with Naomi leaving the land with her husband and two sons. Naomi suffered almost unbearable tragedies, but here she is at the end, cradling that little baby to her chest—that little baby who is God’s declaration that he is a covenant-keeping God, that he loves Naomi, that she has not been forgotten or forsaken. Naomi has experienced the deepest kind of emptiness, but here she is full, restored, whole.

The end?

Kind of, but not really. The narrator has one little surprise left for us. He has held one thing back that he will include in a postscript.

Before we get there, it’s worth pausing and considering the story without its postscript. If there was not another word to Ruth, what would we learn from it? We would see God quietly ordering all things to fit his plan and to bring him glory. He has transformed Naomi, he has called Ruth out of darkness into light, he has faced Boaz with a challenge and allowed him to prove his godly character and to be a display, a reflection of the love of God. He has answered prayer and given hope and remained faithful to his own covenant promises. All of this and so much more has been displayed in just a short story.

We would also want to observe that even the most mundane of moments, the millions of little circumstances that make life what it is, each of these is a sacred moment, an opportunity for God to work and an opportunity for us to trust and serve him. There on the road to Bethlehem Orpah walked away from Naomi, she walked away from God and all his promises, while Ruth declared her allegiance to Naomi and Naomi’s God. It could have been a forgotten moment, but it was sacred, a moment of worship. Ruth went out into the field to work, the most mundane of tasks, but there she encountered Boaz. Boaz went into his fields to oversee the labor and spotted a foreign woman, doing the lowest job there was. And in that moment he extended favor to her; the most normal moment became the most significant.

In these ways and so many others God used the small circumstances to bring about his purposes, to contribute to the unfolding of his plan. When you believe that God is sovereign, you must also see that there are no mundane, insignificant moments in life. Boaz had no idea that helping Ruth gather barley would lead to him fulfilling Naomi’s need for an heir. Every moment, every circumstance, is an opportunity to serve God, to declare your allegiance to him, to proclaim your trust in his promises. This is true when we work and worship, when we fellowship and commute and check email and eat dinner and go shopping and give birth and everything else that makes life what it is. We can’t choose the moments and the circumstances that God will use to unfold his plan. All we can do is be faithful with every moment he gives us. God is always there in the background, at work, on the move, even or maybe especially when we do not see him.

That is Ruth without a postscript. There is a lot we can learn. But as it happens, there is a postscript that begins to show God’s fulfillment of even greater promises. And we see that the author has one final, parting shot. It comes in a strange form—the form of genealogy—a list of names of fathers and sons. Those verses essentially say, “Oh, by the way, this little baby, this little boy…it’s the grandfather of the great king, David.” This isn’t just any baby. Obed was the father of Jesse, the father of David, the king. (Ruth 4:17)

That must have been exciting to the people who first encountered this book. Ruth was probably written during the reign of David when people were contesting David’s kingship and the story declares that though David’s great grandmother was a Moabite, she was an Israelite in the truest sense. This is not just some abstract story, but a story about the king’s family. The king is worthy of his calling. He is worthy of the throne. He is a true Israelite. A true king.

The Lord kept his covenant, he continued to bless his people. He even provided them with a king, one who would take them past the era of the judges and rule over them as the Lord’s representative, as the king God declared “a man after my own heart.”

That is amazing. Let’s not lose the wonder of it. Naomi and Ruth and Boaz are all related to the king, they are all royal. That’s a great surprise at the end of a story, but it’s not enough. It answers Naomi’s need for an heir but it does not answer her deepest needs. Naomi was a sinner, a person who was in rebellion against God. As good as Ruth and Boaz were, they too were still sinners, still in rebellion against God. Naomi’s need for provision, her need for an heir to perpetuate the family name, her need for land and family—all of these things were simply emblems or pictures of her much deeper need. She needed more than an heir; she needed a Savior, someone who could make her right with God.

So why then are we left with a genealogy, a list of fathers and sons? (Ruth 4:18-22) We tend to skip over these genealogies, don’t we? But maybe we just don’t taken the time to really ponder them, to really understand them.

There is a genealogy in the New Testament, in the book of Matthew, that repeats this one from Ruth, it encompasses it. It’s much longer and this bit of it fits right into the middle. It begins with Abraham. It goes from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah to Perez and on through Ram and Amminadab and Nahshon and Salmon and Boaz. “Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth,” it says. And from Boaz and Ruth it goes to Obed and Jesse and David the king—the king of Israel. But it doesn’t stop there. It keeps going. David fathered Solomon who was the father of Rehoboam who was the father of Abijah, and on it goes, generation after generation, through Jehosaphat and Joram and Uzziah and Ahaz and Hezekiah and then on to Zerubbabel and Azor and to a man named Eleazar who fathered a man named Matthan who fathered a man named Jacob who fathered a man named Joseph who was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is called Christ, anointed one, Messiah, Savior, King eternal, King immortal, King invisible, King of the Jews, King of the nations, King of kings, Lord of lords, Lord of glory, Lord of all, Redeemer.

And there, there is the best surprise of all. Here is God’s better fulfillment of his better promises, God’s deepest answer to our deepest needs. This is where we have such an advantage over the people who first encountered the book of Ruth. To understand the book you have to put yourself in their world, to get into their minds, so you can see the story through their eyes. But now they long to see through our eyes, so they can learn how this story truly ends. They saw the big surprise that Ruth and Boaz were great grandparents of the king. But what they couldn’t see—though maybe they suspected it or hoped for it or longed for it—is that from this line, from these people, would come the Messiah, the full and ultimate and final redeemer.

And when you understand that, the story just explodes in meaning and significance. Now we see it—the true need, the true famine, the true fullness, the true Naomi, the true Boaz, the true heir, the true Son, the true redeemer. It is Jesus who is the great surprise at the end of this story, the great climax to the tale, the great hero, the greatest answer to all the prayers and longings, the deepest answer to the deepest need. It’s all about him.
You can visit Tim's website here.


In December 2009, a friend of mine, a 39 year old wife and mother of six, had a routine medical exam. Not long after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She died on this date two years ago. On that same day a teenage girl also died of a cancer that she had been battling much longer. Two days ago a dear friend’s mother also died of cancer. She was 66. Other friends and family members of various ages have also died of this savage disease, but for some reason, it hits home a little harder on February 10. And cancer is just one of the many trials we face in this world. It’s so frustrating! It seems so unfair!

There is no doubt that we should expect trouble in this world, (John 16:33) but we can also be assured that God still cares for us through the hard times. We do not face these hardships because God has stopped caring for us, but because we live in an imperfect world. God, however, is not imperfect, and He has compassion on those who humbly seek Him. Psalm 34:18 assures us that He is close to the brokenhearted and will deliver those who are discouraged. Sometimes the deliverance takes longer than we want it to, and it doesn’t necessarily come in the way we expect. Psalm 34 is David’s testimony of how the Lord delivered him, and his assurance that God will do the same for future generations as well.

The King James Version translates the last part of Psalm 34:18 as those who have a contrite spirit. It makes sense that being humble would be a requirement for God’s deliverance. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Psalm 51:17 tells us that the sacrifice that God desires is a humble spirit; a humble and repentant heart He will not reject. If we come to God humbly, and lay our burdens at His feet, (Psalm 34:15, Matthew 11:28) He will be gracious to us, bring us through the discouragement and heal our broken hearts.


Do you ever wonder if God really does have a plan for your life? Maybe you thought that God had a plan once, but it’s been so long that you are sure now that you were mistaken. Isaiah 44:24-28 tells us that God had a plan to release the people of Israel from exile in Babylon, and that it would be fulfilled by Cyrus, King of Persia, who would not be born until more than a hundred years later.

Isaiah 45:2-3 records God’s words to Cyrus. God assures Cyrus that He will make his path clear and remove all the obstacles that get in his way. God will provide Cyrus with treasures that are currently hidden away. In the context in which this passage was written, these words were meant literally. The Israelites would need someone to overcome all of these obstacles to rescue them from captivity, and there really were treasures that had been hidden away, typically in subterranean places. History books will tell you that Cyrus came away from his conquests with many thousands of pounds of gold and silver.

I think that we, however, can look at this passage figuratively. Although we will all face obstacles if we are following God’s plan for our lives, we can trust Him to clear the way for us. Look back at Isaiah 44:24; our God has the power to accomplish His plans. It doesn’t depend on our strength or ability. But that doesn’t mean that our days will always be easy. There will still be hurts, and things will probably take longer than we want them to. In many translations Isaiah 45:3 says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness…”. That has always symbolized for me that even in the darkest, hardest times of our lives, we will find blessing. That is the treasure. Through those hard times is when we will turn to God, and we will learn to rely on Him. We will learn that God is God, and that He calls us by name. No matter what we have to go through, God has the power to get us through it, and He loves us. What a source of hope that is!


At the beginning of this new year, I am thinking about hope. As I have said before, Biblical hope is not wishful thinking, but a confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises to us. If we look carefully enough, we can find stories of hope all around us. The television programs 100 Huntley Street and Full Circle specialize in sharing stories of hope. If you were to ask your friends, most of them could share personal stories of hope—stories of redemption, of gain from loss, of family members going down a path that would lead to destruction, one that they couldn’t see the way back from, but they did—somehow, miraculously—find their way back. No one, let me repeat that, NO ONE is without hope. What is impossible for humans is possible with God. (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, Luke 18:27)

In Romans 8:24-25, the Apostle Paul states that it is in hope that we were saved. Let’s be clear about this. We are saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) We must believe that what God has said, even though we do not completely see or understand it, is true, and we wait in hope until the fulfillment of all that He has promised. Matthew Henry has said, “Faith is the mother of hope.”

In the meantime, we live in an imperfect world. We are surrounded by pain, sadness, frustration, injustice and suffering, and it’s hard. Our hope is not yet complete. We do not see the end results yet; if we did, there would be nothing left to hope for. Earlier, (Romans 5:1-5) Paul states that our suffering produces endurance, which produces character, which in turn produces hope. All of the things we have gone through in the past have strengthened us, along with God’s grace, to go through the things we are now facing. And we can rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.

'Tis the season of cookie exchanges, and I'm listening to Christmas carols as I get ready for one. I have a lot of Christmas CDs, but this year I have a new one--The Heart of Christmas by Matthew West. There are some traditional Christmas songs on it, but also some that he has written. One of them is called "One Last Christmas" which is a sad story about the loss of a child. The parents however have turned it into a story of hope for others who are facing similar situations by raising money for the hospital that treated their son. We celebrate so many blessings at this time of year, whether consciously or unconsciously, that we really need to consider giving to those who are hurting or are less fortunate. Acts 20:35 reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Please listen to Matthew West's song and consider giving to St. Jude's or a hospital in your area or any other charity that helps people in need. You can purchase his CD at his website or, particularly if you are in Canada, by giving a donation to another worthy cause at

Fair Disclosure: I receive no payment of any kind for this recommendation.

Well here we are again December. Sometimes the days and months seem to fly right by, and sometimes they seem to move so slowly. The fact is the length of a minute, day or week doesn’t change; it is all about our perceptions and expectations. Do you remember when you were younger--or maybe not so much younger--waiting for Christmas? You had asked for something you really wanted, and you could hardly wait until Christmas morning to see if Santa / a parent / a sibling… had listened to your request.

The Israelites had been waiting for not weeks or months, but years, centuries even, for the Messiah who had been promised to them. As a matter of fact, God gave them a hint in Isaiah 7:14, and it was still about 700 years before the promise was fulfilled. As I said in my last post, waiting can make you doubt. Some of the Israelites may have even forgotten what they were waiting for. But a man named Simeon didn’t. (Luke 2:25-32) He was very devout, and he was waiting patiently for the Lord to reveal His gift, the Messiah. He had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. (Luke 2:26) Just as an aside: isn’t it a good thing that Simeon recognized when the Holy Spirit was speaking and then listened to Him? That is what brought Simeon to the temple the day that Mary and Joseph arrived with Jesus. The Bible doesn’t tell us how old Simeon was, but it does tell us that now that he had seen the Messiah, his life purpose had been fulfilled. He was ready to depart from this world. (Luke 2:29)

The people of Israel had been waiting an incomprehensibly long time for their Messiah to be revealed, and many of them, like Simeon, remained faithful to the task. The very same Messiah is here knocking at our door, and all we have to do is open it and let Him in--no waiting required. (Revelation 3:20) It can be Christmas morning for us at any time. All we have to do is accept the gift.