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Loving the Unlovable

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The Lord has afflicted me: the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me. So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law.

Ruth 1:21-22

Naomi, her husband, and her two sons left Bethlehem because of a famine and moved to Moab, hoping to thrive. While there, Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Afterward, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem and tried to persuade her two daughters-in-law to not follow her but to return to their own people. Perhaps you have heard Ruth’s plea to her mother-in-law, Naomi: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth and Naomi had grown close over the years, but the deaths of her husband and sons had turned Naomi into a bitter woman. When Ruth and Naomi returned to their home in Bethlehem, Naomi gave voice to her bitterness. By her own admission, she asked to be no longer called Naomi but Mara (meaning bitter). Her bitterness did not make her lovable.

Ruth had been at Naomi’s side through the same depressing turns their lives had taken. As Naomi repeated her stories to anyone who would listen, Ruth was forced to relive her own painful loss. No one would have faulted Ruth if she had fled Naomi’s company. Perhaps she would not have even been faulted if she had complained. Instead, Ruth loved Naomi, and it was shown by her actions. She traveled with Naomi, provided for their needs, listened to her, and heeded her advice. By the time Ruth handed her newborn son to Naomi, her mother-in-law had experienced a heart change.

If God’s providence puts us in close quarters with unpleasant people, may we love them by listening, respecting, and taking care of their needs. Leave it in God’s hands to heal their pain ~ through us. We are blessed to be a blessing.

Pray for your own heart. Ask God to soften your heart towards the difficult person, to put off anger and irritability, to put on meekness and kindness, to understand the person’s struggles and meet them with compassion (Colossians 3:12–14). Pray for them. Move toward them, not away from them.

If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.  “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.  “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

Luke 6:32-38

Lord, help me to honor the difficult people in my life so that Your love is made known. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

A Wise Woman Builds

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The wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds, and the foolish woman tears down…with her own hands. Here we have before us a forewarning and an urging that the wise woman should take very seriously.

Friends, we have more influence over our households than we have possibly ever imagined. We must begin seeing, even mundane interactions, from a spiritual perspective and the eternal value they have and not just what our natural eyes reveal to us in the moment. More critical than decorating our home with furnishings, we will determine the tone with which our home is furnished. Are we building a home with a mood that is calm and peaceful? Are we constructing our house where the Word of God is taught? Are we establishing a home where people leave feeling encouraged after spending time there? We must be intentional if we desire specific results.

If the tone of our home is one of discord or if it has an atmosphere of agitation where our family feels uptight, and no one feels welcome, don’t lose heart – desire to change and begin asking the Lord for help. The change will always start with you, the builder, and it is never too late to remodel. The tone we set will either keep the walls sturdy or causes them to crack and eventually crash down around us. According to Solomon, we play an enormous role in whether our house stands or falls. Even though others have a part to play, we must be vigilant in the areas of our responsibility and stand firmly and confidently in the Lord.

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Make an honest examination of your home. Are you filling it with love, instruction, peace, forgiveness, compassion, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and friendliness? Are you determined not to allow anything in your home that isn’t beneficial to those living there? A godly home will not always be stress-free, but if it’s built upon the firm foundation of Christ, you can be assured it will stand.

Our building blueprint will not profit us if it is worldly. We are not building by the world’s standards of perfection. Our pattern must be what God has set as the standard, and in Christ, it is absolutely achievable. Let’s be the kind of woman who builds and not the kind that tears down – starting now. You can do it. Prepare your hands for work, your mouth for prayer, and your heart for love. Let’s build some godly homes. Amen.

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series

Do You Believe This Martha?

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Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe this, Martha?”

John 11:25-26

Martha’s brother, Lazarus, lay dying, so she sent for Jesus. Martha’s heart counted on Jesus to heal the brother she loved, but Jesus arrived too late to help in the dire time of need ~ so it seemed. By the time Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Was Martha disappointed in Jesus when she thought if he had been there, her brother would not have died?

When Martha learned her awaited Jesus was finally within arms reach, she left her guests who had come to comfort her and went out to meet him. When her eyes beheld him, and she stood in his presence, He offered her the opportunity to confirm her faith. Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she responded, “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (John 11:27). Despite any sorrow, disappointment, and uncertainty that might have been lingering in her heart, Martha boldly declared her faith in Jesus. At times God will grant our fleshly eyes the astonishment to behold spiritual wonders. Martha was given such an opportunity when Jesus gave new life to her deceased brother, and he walked out of the tomb!

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Martha learned well from a previous lesson Jesus taught her regarding the important things (Luke 10:42). When she discovered Jesus was coming, she did not remain in the house with her visitors who had come from Jerusalem to comfort her, but quickly got up and ran out to greet Him. Her ability to learn and change from her natural inclination to turn inward and focus only on what is seen is an inspiration to us all. When we experience disappointment or suffering in our lives, how quickly do we leave our natural inclinations and run to ‘greet’ the Master in order to receive more than what our natural eyes can provide?

Her statement (John 11:24) revealed a courageous faith in the order of Abraham’s faith when he reckoned that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Martha’s answer to Jesus should be wowing to us to follow her example when disappointment and disbelief present themselves to us as viable options to cling to. Friend, the only sure and trustworthy thing we should instruct ourselves to clutch tightly to is the comfort found in Jesus Christ.

Lord, You are the resurrection and the life! I resolve to flee from clinging to my fears, disappointments, sufferings, and grief and ask You to minister to me through them. My trials are only a tool used to allow me to see your glory and not as weapons used against me. Your word says all things work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28), so I, like Martha, speak my faith and say yes, Lord, I believe this!

In His grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith series