God’s Agenda

In our world we are bound by time and space, but God is not limited by either. However, if God had a daily “To Do List,” this is what it would look like.

1.   Every day God thinks of you.

Psalm 68:19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation.”

Psalm 139:17 says, How precious also are Your thoughts for me, God! How vast is the sum of them!”

2.   Every hour God looks after you.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

3.   Every minute God cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you.”

Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

4.   Every second He loves you.

Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord appeared to him long ago, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore, I have drawn you out with kindness.”

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

5.   God has a plan for you.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Unlike our “To Do Lists,” God completes His promises every day of our lives. 

About the Writer:

Debbie and her husband Larry have been members of First Baptist Dallas since May 2019. They lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for 9 years where they were both in the Media ministry in their local church and now reside in Dallas. Debbie received her MBA here in Dallas at TWU and is now pursuing a second Master’s degree in Library Science also at TWU. Debbie works full time with Medicare members at United Healthcare. Debbie and Larry have a yearly goal to read the Bible through, and they are now in their 7th year.

Special, Specific, Sanctified

In the children’s movie, The Incredibles, Dash and his mom (who are superheroes) are having a conversation in the car. When his mom says, “Everyone is special, Dash,” he responds, “which is another way of saying ‘no one is.’”

We teach children (and ourselves) that we are special. It’s a very encouraging term, but it is, at best, inaccurate and, at worst, harmful. “Special” implies a higher value, but our value was set at one price for every human–the price of the Son of God who gave His life on the cross to purchase us (Hebrews 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18.)

Many of us run into this issue of craving individual and elevated attention. It is a part of our human sin nature to be arrogant and self-serving, often comparing ourselves and our value to the value of others. A famous sibling trio ran into this problem in the Old Testament:

“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses…and they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the Lord heard it…So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed.” Numbers 12:1-2, 9

God was obviously irritated that Miriam and Aaron would try to achieve some type of higher position by comparing themselves and their God-given gifts to those of Moses. I doubt any of us would want to find ourselves on the receiving end of God’s anger over our arrogance. But what do we do with the natural instinct of desiring significance?

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  1 Corinthians 12:4-7

It is Biblically accurate that we are created in a wonderful way and each of us with individual purposes (Psalm 139:14; Jeremiah 1:5; Proverbs 22:6.) God does not want us to be a race of robots, but He does desire that we see our specific roles. We are each made with unique personalities, inclinations, skills, and gifts. We may not all be special, but we are all specific. We are all set apart, sanctified, for His Kingdom purposes. Let us be encouraged by Jesus’ prayer for us:

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”  John 17:16-19

About the Writer

Rachel, her beloved husband Allesandro, and their four homeschooled children have been members of First Baptist Dallas for almost a decade. The Lord allowed her to attain a K-12 Choral Music Education degree from Ouachita Baptist University while simultaneously delivering her from illness and certain death. Her profession as an educator spans almost 20 years, including 15 years as a private vocal coach. Having been raised in a ministry family in both the U.S. and Brazil, Rachel finds it practically instinctive to serve her community through education and worship ministries. She is daily dependent on the Lord’s supernatural intervention to fuel not only her passions to learn, educate, and serve but her personal faith to press onward.

The Dangers of Compromise

The word compromise often refers to the agreements and adjustments we must make in our daily lives in order to bring peace, to facilitate reconciliation, and to foster positive relationships.  The idea of compromise in this sense is that we bend a little in order to establish trust and create a mutually beneficial situation.  I read something once that said compromise is like cutting a cake to make everyone feel that they received the biggest piece.  Compromise is important in relationships because it makes both parties feel as if they have had a say.  

The word compromise can also have a very negative connotation.  Compromise can be used synonymously with the word “concession” or “surrender.”  Compromise in this sense means giving in to things that go against the principles and beliefs that define our lives.  When we compromise the moral standards by which we live and the spiritual convictions that define our faith, we risk experiencing detrimental, lasting consequences that pull us away from God and into the world.  

Martin Luther King, Jr.,  once said, “Christianity sets forth a system of absolute moral values and affirms that God has placed within the very structure of this universe certain moral principles that are fixed and immutable.”  When we make even the slightest compromises to the moral standards that have been established by God, we blur the lines between right and wrong and risk turning our hearts and the hearts of those whom we influence away from the Lord. 

Wise King Solomon is the perfect example of how small concessions over time can lead to even greater compromises and have devastating consequences.  

When Solomon became king as a young man, he walked closely with the Lord as his father David had done.  When asked by God what he would most want, he earnestly requested wisdom and discernment.  In his early years, he oversaw the construction of the temple in Jerusalem.  At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed a beautiful, humble prayer for the people of Israel and spoke of the Lord’s promises and perfect character.

“‘May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors.'” I Kings 8:57-58

God richly blessed Solomon, not only with great wisdom, but with great power and material wealth.  But as Solomon’s possessions and influence grew, he began to fall away from the Lord.  

Solomon’s fall began with disobedience.  Solomon failed to heed God’s warning about marrying foreign women from idol-worshipping nations (Deuteronomy 23).  Instead he acquired over 900 wives and concubines, many from the very nations that God spoke of in His warning. 

Solomon often used his marriages strategically to gain political power and expand his kingdom.  Solomon’s foreign wives had not only brought with them the power of their fathers, they also brought the gods of their fathers as well as the detestable practices involved in the worship of those gods including sexual acts, prostitution, and the murder of children as sacrifices.  

Just as God had warned, Solomon’s heart was turned away from the Lord.

“For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of his father David had been.“I Kings 11:4

Solomon, influenced by his pagan wives, began to compromise the moral standards that had defined his faith.  While allowing altars to be built to the gods of his wives, he continued worshipping the one true God.  He mistakenly believed that he could have it all.  Each concession that Solomon made pushed him further away from the Lord.    

When our hearts are turned, our path is turned.

“Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.” I Kings 11:6

It is dangerous to allow people who do not represent the love and commitment to the Lord into the four walls of our homes.  We are not strong enough that we will not be seduced, numbed, or perverted as Solomon, the wisest man who lived, was.  

Pam Brewer, director of women’s ministry at First Baptist Dallas, presented a concept called the Circles of Influence, a set of concentric circles which illustrates the power others have to influence the decisions we make and the life we live.  

In the nucleus, the center circle, are God and you.  For believers, God should have the most significant influence over who we are at the core of our being.  When believers marry, spouses are included in this center circle.  This means that their influence is a strong indication of who we are and how we live.  The next circle includes our immediate family, those who live within the walls of our homes.  These people still yield significant power over our decisions and behavior, but as we move further away from the nucleus, the people who comprise our circles should have less and less influence.  

The choices we make in regard to whom we marry and whom we invite into our homes are very important.  Solomon’s wives took their place in the core of his being and overshadowed the influence of God on his life.  

When we compromise the statutes, provisions, and protections of God, we are inviting all of the sin the world has to offer into our lives.  At some point, we will be asked to take a stand for the righteousness of God, and the more compromises we have made, the harder it will be to do so.   

Our moral standards begin to shift with each compromise.  We change our view of morality to suit what is right in our own eyes or the eyes of the world rather than basing it on the attributes of God and the statutes He has put in place.  

Solomon, in his position as king, also began to turn the hearts of the people.  He allowed altars to be built in view of the temple and high above the city.  Idol worship became commonplace and sin covered the city.  

The Lord was angry at Solomon.  God had warned him of what would happen, but Solomon had not listened.  Solomon allowed himself to succumb to his own pride and his own desires because of the compromises he had made.  

God placed judgment on Solomon but also demonstrated His mercy.  The kingdom that had been promised to the descendants of David, if they had remained faithful, would be divided with only one tribe left for Solomon’s son.  It is from that tribe, the tribe of Judah, that Christ would be born.  

From Solomon’s fall, we learn that sin is never static.  Once allowed, it grows, multiplies, deepens, and spreads, ultimately resulting in a separation from God.  Though we are not kings, we have influence over those around us.  Even one compromise can move the standard of morals that we follow and destroy our witness.  

When we cling to the Lord, walking in obedience, being mindful of the influences on our lives, and standing strong in our faith, we see God’s blessings poured out on our lives and experience the fulfillment of His promises.      

We must remember Solomon’s own words to his son. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

***This blog post is an adaptation of a Sunday School lesson taught by Pam Brewer in the writer’s Sunday School class.

About the Writer

Candice has been a member of First Baptist Dallas since 2018 and serves in the REAL Talk Sunday School class. She is a wife, mother, and high school English teacher at a campus for at-risk students. Candice is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and principal certification.

UP TO SOMETHING

Do you ever get bored with the day-to-day? You know, those days when you feel like you are just going through the motions? Some days you feel like David –- dancing for joy in the Lord’s presence as you marvel at His wonderful works, or reflective within your spirit as you feel overcome with a hunger and thirst for righteousness, or even desperate as you feel your total and utter need for His mercy and intervention in your life?

I often dream of what it was like to be one of the twelve disciples of Jesus–wishing that I could bear witness to the person of Christ as He lived in perfect holiness, justice, love, power, and wisdom. Instead, I find myself hoping for those “mountain top” experiences where I can truly say I see the presence of the Lord at work. Some days, I settle. Some days, I resign to thinking the events of the moment don’t amount to much in God’s grand plan. Maybe the mission trip meant something; maybe that meaningful conversation with a friend or family member might prove in some way beneficial; maybe that time I stood up for Jesus when others poked fun was worthwhile. . . . Maybe those count for something.

However, as I am continuing the read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, I have come to the book of Ruth–a book in the Bible that clearly demonstrates God’s presence, plan, and unexpected blessings in the mundane commonplace of life. I am encouraged by the knowledge that just because I don’t see God at work does not mean He is not at work. There is very little mention of the name of God in this book even though we see His hand in so much of the unfolding of this story. Naomi, who renamed herself, Mara, thinking the Lord had made her life bitter, was quite sure that God could do nothing good with her tragedies. She did live long enough to see God’s special care and provision for her family; yet she couldn’t have comprehended the full weight of God’s glorious intentions for her family. Two great Kings came as a result of the seemingly pointless happenings of her life: drought, relocation, deaths, despair, and a daughter-in-law who decided to stick by her side.

As I remember Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 20:9, I am convicted: “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you now believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Why should I wait to praise Him until I see what He is up to? Why don’t I just trust that He is up to some glorious “mountain-top” demonstration that involves every twist and turn of my life, even if I may not be the one to recognize it? Why don’t I just believe without seeing that He is with me in every aspect of my life?

When my spirit feels dry or discouraged, I will remind myself of these truths:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works…

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
   
and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
   
and faithful in all he does.”

Psalm 145:3-5, 13

About the Writer

Lyndsay is a former staff member of First Baptist Dallas. She and her family moved to Guatemala in 2021.  In addition to serving with the local believers in Guatemala, she continues to consider First Dallas her church home. At the moment, she teaches English classes as part of the ministry of Serve Hope, facilitates Bible Studies in partnership with the local church, educates the community on various health and nutrition topics, and homeschools her daughter (her favorite role).

People of God

Once when I was a little girl hiking in the mountains with my family, I suddenly discovered I was alone.  The family was only a few yards up the trail around a bend, but I panicked. In the deafening silence of those massive mountains, I ran screaming down the trail until I saw my mama.

 “I alone am left, and they seek to kill me,” cried Elijah to God (1Kings 19:14). In truth, only the last half was correct because King Ahab and his wicked Queen Jezebel wanted Elijah dead.

But Elijah wasn’t alone, for God never left him. He never does. As Jesus promises us, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

God also reassured Elijah that there were several thousand loyal believers, and there was a special friend he was soon to meet named Elisha.

Just to clarify, we are speaking of the God of the Bible: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The people of God are defined as, “all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2). People of God have placed their faith in Jesus and depend on His mercy and power for everything in this life and eternity.

In Hebrews 11, there is a list of several people of God who called on the Name of the Lord. Known as the cloud of witnesses, their lives testify of their faith for which they received God’s approval. In the centuries since then, more have joined them with their own stories of faith–hymn writers, great preachers, Christian authors, missionaries, and millions of others.

Today there are still many who walk by faith in Jesus–people living on your street, sitting in your pew at church, sharing Christ on radio and TV. Like giant redwood trees that can withstand the forces of nature simply by the intertwining of their root systems, so Christians can intertwine and support each other.

A wonderful example in the Bible is the dramatic story of Joshua leading the new little army of Israelites against the fierce Amalekites while Moses interceded on the hill, holding up the staff of God in prayer. When his arms grew heavy, Aaron and Hur came along and supported him (Exodus 17:8-13).

A recent true story is told by a missionary who was telling some Chinese home-church pastors about the Christians in Muslim countries who also face persecution. What a surprise and delight for the isolated Chinese pastors to learn of their Christian brothers–and they committed to pray an hour a day for them.

The New Testament calls God’s people the “one anothers,” a wonderful gift God has given us, and with instructions on how we should treat one another. Among the long list, we are to love, forgive, accept, and thank God for one another.

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:10)

About the Writer:
Ruthe Turner loves serving as the Director of Truett Library at First Baptist Church Dallas, a church where a person can be “firmly rooted and grounded in love” through the testimony, teaching and preaching of our pastor and leaders.  You are invited to visit the library where resources are made available for you to learn more of God and the People of God.

Pride Comes Before the Downfall

Have you heard the phrase, “Pride comes before a downfall”?  As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, I’ve seen situations where some of God’s people rely on themselves instead of God.  God has given each of us talents and gifts, and, when we rely on them instead of Him, it can lead to a downfall. 

Samson was a judge of Israel who had great strength and also an eye for women.  There was a prostitute named Delilah who asked him about his strength over and over again, and Samson kept giving different answers.  Finally in Judges 16, after Delilah kept pestering him,

he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, ‘A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.’ Then she summoned the Philistines again to come and try to seize Samson. She said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And he awoke from his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and restrained him with bronze chains, and he became a grinder in the prison. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.” (Judges 16:17-22)

It’s interesting to me that the Philistines had come three previous times and he hadn’t realized that Delilah really was trying to hand him over to the Philistines.  He had relied on the strength God had given him and had allowed his eyes to distract him from finding a true, loving companion to marry.  His eyes were gouged out, and his strength left him after this prideful fall. 

But, as his hair grew back his strength did as well.   According to Judges 16:30, Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed outwards powerfully, so that the house fell on the governors and all the people who were in it. And the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed during his lifetime.”  Even though Samson did not always seek the Lord in his decisions, God still used Samson throughout his life to bring about His own will. 

David is another man known “as the man after God’s own heart.”  We read his psalms in which he poured out his heart to God and sought Him.  David usually inquired of the Lord before he was to go to battle to see if that was what God wanted him to do. David was told in 1 Samuel 23, verses 1 and 2, “’Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are plundering the threshing floors,’ So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’  And the LORD said to David, ‘Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah.'” There were many other times when David sought God’s will in regards to whether to go to battle or not. 

But one day as the men were going into battle, David didn’t go as he was supposed to–he chose to stay behind.  He saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof.  He didn’t inquire of the Lord then or stop himself from looking.  In 2 Samuel 11:2-5, we read, 

Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from roof he sae a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittie?’ David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified hersef from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am pregnant.'”  

David got himself into a big mess with committing this sin because he did not seek God’s will.  He decided to commit adultery and then tried to hide it later by having her husband killed.  But God used their son Solomon to be the next king and be included in the lineage of Jesus Christ! 

Absalom was one of David’s sons who was known to be very handsome.   2 Samuel 14:25 describes, “Now in all Israel there was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him.”  He used his good looks to try to steal the kingdom away from David.  Later on, David and his men went to battle against Absalom and his men. According to 2 Samuel 18:9, Absalom was riding his mule under a huge tree when his head caught in the branches. The mule ran off and left Absalom hanging in midair. Some of David’s soldiers happened by, and one of them went to tell Joab that he had seen Absalom hanging in the tree. Joab then killed Absalom with three spears into his heart while he hung there. His hair and features that were once striking and handsome had left him hanging on a tree where he lost his life.  God restored the kingdom back to David after his son’s rebellion. 

In a world where people tend to rely on their strengths and gifts, let us rely on the God who gave them to us.  May we constantly inquire of the Lord daily and live to serve Him wholeheartedly.  Psalm 119:1-2 says, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the Law of the LORD.  How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.”  May we seek to glorify God in all we do, as expressed in Psalm 115:1:  “Not to us, LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory, Because of your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.”  May we continue to serve Him all our days and seek Him above all things, Psalm 147:11 “The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.”  Thank you, Lord, for your grace and mercy, and how you continue to use your children, even when we fail you.  Great is Your Faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

About the Writer

Alana faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  Alana is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.

Jesus Is the Only Name to Remember

My husband was diagnosed with frontotemporal lobe dementia, aka semantic dementia, in March, 2017. He is retired and living at home. As a personal trainer and former wellness director in a senior living facility, I understand the importance of keeping the brain and body active for good health. There is no cure for dementia, but brain games and physical activities are important for focus and memory boosting.

When a song comes on the radio that speaks of the cross, my husband will ask what the cross is. I tell him it’s the place where Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. Then he will say, “Yes, and one day we will go to be with Jesus, our Lord God and Savior.” Jesus is the name he will never forget, and, for that, I will continue to tell him what the cross means. Jesus is the only name to remember. ♪ ♫ ♪

In John 16:33, Jesus says, “These things have I spoken to you so that in Me, you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

We are in our seventh year of reading our Bible through, and the strength of the Lord we have absorbed is great. It has given us courage to face each day, and, no matter the circumstances, God is still in control; He is our peace. Isaiah 40:31 says, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

In this world of chaos and confusion, we can know God’s peace, provision, and protection through His promises. In Psalm 32:8, the Psalmist writes, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go, I will advise you with my eye upon you.” When I am afraid or wake up in the middle of the night, I quote Psalm 121:1-2, “I will raise my eyes to the mountains; From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The promises of God are like medicine to my soul.

About the Writer

Debbie and her husband Larry have been members of First Baptist Dallas since 2019. Debbie and Larry met on eharmony and married in 2005. Debbie is currently pursuing her master’s degree in cybersecurity.

THIRSTY

It’s summertime in Texas, and I can’t seem to get enough water. As a singer, I already tend to drink a lot of water, but when it gets hot I surprise myself at just how much I need. It’s also somewhat comical that when we are actually thirsty, we sometimes try to interpret it differently–we think we’re hungry, or we think we need medicine for a headache, or we think we need a throat lozenge. If we really stopped to think about it, simply drinking more water would likely solve any of those problems while trying another solution could actually provoke more problems.

Our spiritual thirst is very similar. We have a deep need for spiritual water. In the story of Jesus and the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus said:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water… whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:10,14

Jesus is obviously not speaking about physical water but something that quenches our spiritual thirst. He had more to say about this water:

“…’If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38

There’s something about being in a right relationship with Jesus that solves our problems and quenches our spiritual thirst. When we seem to be dragging or life is even dragging us down, it might be time to assess our spiritual water intake. It may be time for us to take a break, find a quiet place, and talk with Him, worship Him, read about Him (especially His words,) listen to Him, and even spend some time with His people for spiritual counsel and encouragement.

At the end of the book of Revelation, where we see how life will look when everything is said and done, we see an interesting connection to this thirsting and drinking:

“Then He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb…And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” Revelation 22:1,17

If we will be drinking from this living water forever, why wouldn’t we start now?

About the Writer

Rachel, her beloved husband Allesandro, and their four homeschooled children have been members of First Baptist Dallas for almost a decade. The Lord allowed her to attain a K-12 Choral Music Education degree from Ouachita Baptist University while simultaneously delivering her from illness and certain death. Her profession as an educator spans almost 20 years, including 15 years as a private vocal coach. Having been raised in a ministry family in both the U.S. and Brazil, Rachel finds it practically instinctive to serve her community through education and worship ministries. She is daily dependent on the Lord’s supernatural intervention to fuel not only her passions to learn, educate, and serve, but her personal faith to press onward.

Oh, To Be Known!

“. . . written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb

            who has been slain.” Rev. 13:8b

I began writing this post on Memorial Day, May 30, 2022. As I get older, I consider Memorial Day with more solemnity than I did when I was young. To think of those men and women whose lives were cut short fighting in wars around the world makes me feel very sad for their loved ones who were forced to continue their own lives without those husbands, sons, brothers, even wives, daughters, or sisters. I’m sure this is not a sacrifice anyone would actually choose. I expect it has been a rare occasion when a soldier knew for sure that he was going to lose his life within a few minutes or hours in a particular battle. One would expect that there was always a hope of being successful and able to return alive from the battlefield. But the fact that those soldiers were willing to take that risk, knowing that it was a definite possibility they would meet death on that day, overwhelms me with a sense of gratitude. The pages of history are stained with the blood of those who have laid down their lives in order to preserve our freedoms.

On this Memorial Day I watched on television as the President of the United States placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was a very moving ceremony. As I watched, I was reminded of a time when I stood at that very place, not on Memorial Day, and without the presence of the President, to watch the Changing of the Guard. Every movement, every uniform detail, every measurement of steps, the total silence, indeed, every single detail of that ritual was carried out with the utmost precision and respect by the guards.

Those who are entombed in that place are always treated with the same honor as a Head of State. And well they should be. They are resting there in anonymity, unknown to the world and even to their loved ones. They can make no claim to fame in their own identity. And they are not the only ones. They are mere representatives of the others who are lying in graves around the world unidentified. I am saddened to think of those who were true heroes being totally unknown, not receiving the accolades afforded to others who have performed great deeds. How tragic it is for parents, wives, and children not to be able to go to a cemetery and stand at a marked grave to honor their loved ones on Memorial Day, not knowing the true circumstances of their deaths, not knowing for sure where their bodies are buried, or if they were buried at all. How tragic it seems for those fallen ones not to receive the honor due to them for their sacrifices in their own names! I daresay most of us have a desire to be “known” in life and “remembered” after death, if only by a small circle of loved ones.

But here is the wonderful news! Our heavenly Father, the omnipotent, glorious, loving, gracious, and holy Creator of the universe KNOWS each one of these fallen soldiers! Indeed, He KNOWS, in intimate detail, everyone whom He has created. I appreciate what an honor it is to be individually known and loved by the eternal, sovereign God and supreme Ruler over all of heaven and earth! How marvelous it is to absorb the knowledge that God knew ME when I was just a tiny speck in my mother’s womb—and even before that! Consider God’s words spoken to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I

            consecrated you. . . .”

He knew me before the foundation of the world! He knew me when He came into this world in human flesh. He knew me when the nails were driven into His hands and feet and when He gave up His Spirit after He had finished atoning for my sins. He knew me when He rose victorious from the tomb and when He ascended to heaven. He fashioned me to be exactly as He wanted me to be. And, when I, as a child, turned to Jesus in faith and repentance with many tears, He knew me, heard me, forgave me, and gave me eternal life. He gave this promise to His disciples when He was speaking of all those throughout history who would come to Him in saving faith, including me!

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

             even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the

             sheep.” John 10:14-15

And He also knows YOU! If you are already a believer, He knows YOU as one of the sheep of His flock. If you have not ever put your faith in Jesus as your Savior, He knows and loves YOU and is drawing YOU to Himself. He desires for EVERYONE to be saved. He wants YOU to be able to spend eternity with Him in heaven. If you have ever felt lost or insignificant, please know that in the Lord’s eyes YOU are very significant! He gave the ultimate sacrifice, not in a war for earthly freedom against a flesh and blood enemy, but in a mighty spiritual battle for freedom from sin and eternal death and hell—for YOU! He purchased the “gift” of salvation with His own precious blood. He has already “bought the gift” and is offering it to YOU. What could possibly be gained by turning it down? Praise God! The tomb where Jesus lay is empty. Unlike the Tomb of the Unknowns, it could not contain Him or cancel His power to overcome death. It is the evidence of His knowledge of and love for YOU and for ME, offered unconditionally to ALL.

About the Writer

Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans who call her “Gigi.”

Invisible Chains

The word “redemption” or “redeemer” can be used to describe freeing someone from what enslaves them. If someone is in a tough spot, to redeem them would be to get them out of it. Since sin first entered the world, enslaving man at his conception, God has been working to free us all from that slavery, to redeem us.

The story of Ruth in the Bible is a beautiful picture of what redemption looks like. It tells of two main characters, Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi, who found themselves destitute because of the death of their husbands with no other male in their immediate families to provide for them.

Enter Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s family. In fact, he met the requirements of what was called a kinsman redeemer under the Mosaic Law found in the Old Testament of the Bible. There are several principles of redemption described in the book of Ruth. These redemption laws were provisions laid out in the Mosaic Law to help any Israelites through tough circumstances. Ruth and Naomi, being widows with no sons who could work to be able to provide food and shelter for them, certainly met that description.

Some of these provisions included a way for someone to buy a family member out of debt. Another was to buy back property that had passed out of the control of a family. Then there was the principle of levirate marriage which is outlined in Deuteronomy 25. Essentially it stated that if a woman became a widow, she could marry a single brother-in-law who would take over the duties of his deceased brother. This gave the widow a home and food to eat as well as assurance of the continuation of familial bloodlines.

In Ruth’s case, all these things were needed by her and Naomi. However, there were certain stipulations to be able to fulfill these provisions: the person had to be in their bloodline, he had to have the means to buy them back, and he had to be willing to do so.

Through a series of God ordained circumstances that read like a delicious love novel, Boaz met Ruth and married her, becoming her and Naomi’s kinsman redeemer. They had a son, Obed, who would be the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David. This line then continued all the way down to Jesus Christ, who is in fact our Kinsman Redeemer. The beautiful story of Ruth showcases how God provided for not only the needs of the characters in this book, Ruth and Naomi, but for our needs as well. This story is both a continuation of how our Savior came to be born and also a description of what He would be.

We are all infected with the sin gene, and it enslaves us. We all need to be redeemed because we are unable to redeem ourselves.  But, thankfully, through Jesus Christ we have the option to claim Him as our Kinsman Redeemer because He meets all the requirements: He is the right bloodline, He had the necessary means (because He was free of sin), and He was willing to pay off our sin debt which He did at the Cross of Calvary.

Each story in the Bible beautifully tells of God’s provision and His lovingkindness as He bestows grace and mercy to us all, not wanting any to perish, but all to be free from what enslaves us. But I would argue that no other story so closely describes what Jesus Christ is to us as the story of Ruth. He is our Kinsman Redeemer.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

About the Writer

Natalie is primarily a stay-at-home mom to three young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and has recently completed her degree for Nurse Practitioner. Natalie is on the teaching team for Women’s Bible Study at First Baptist Dallas and she and her husband, Paul, are members there. Natalie is also a member of the SEEN Collective which is a musical group that tells the stories of the women of the Bible through song and leads worship. Visit www.seen-collective.com to find out more.