“Where there is faith: Always faithful” A Conclusion Hebrews 11: 1 – 40

There will come a time in life when we will go it alone. No one to stand for us, bear us up, rise us up or raise us up. Though we may lean the post will soon give way. Leaving us to once again, go it alone. Each one for himself. Each one with himself, only. Certainly, in the end.

We all have chosen how we live our lives. Many for self only, and a few for many others.
When the posts are finally removed, and they will eventually be removed one day, what else is there for us to lean upon? What do you lean upon now?

The culmination of life in the strength of its vortex catapults us to the next moment in our lives and meant to shift us beyond what could ever be imagined. I try to imagine the possibility of the impossible and yet the impossible is more than what I can imagine. Life goes on.

My father was orphaned as an eleven year old boy. Posts were temporary as they could hardly stand the pressure and tension of a young boy growing against the grain. Life was realized on June 15, 1942.

“The scene before my eyes was like a horrible nightmare. An eleven-year-old boy
at the time, I stood petrified and unable to comprehend the terrifying sight. It must
have been true, though, for the seven caskets arranged in a semicircle contained the remains of my father, Guillermo Rubio; my mother, Estefanita Lopez Garcia; three sisters, Sofia, Elena, and Teresita; and two of my brothers, Rosendo and two-year-old Ramon, whose little coffin lay between those of my father and mother.”
(quote from author Abel G. Rubio, Stolen Heritage, revised edition (Austin: Eakin Press, 1986), p.1.

The posts no longer remained. Gone instantly. The strength of the vortex shifted beyond what my father could imagine. Despite an insurmountable tragedy, my father had faith.
My father’s faith drove him in a direction that became something better than the former things in life. His service in the Marine Corps became the foundation which gave his family and him a life of blessing. He lived for others. He wasn’t a man for himself. He was a man for others. As the Marine Corps motto goes, “Semper Fidelis.” Through his faith I have faith. Not because his faith was mine, but because through his faith I was given life to come to faith on my own. He was faithful to his family and to His God. I never knew my father to be anything else but faithful. His faith in God. My faith in God. My father’s life embodied that of the most faithful. Together we share our faith in our God. The legacy of faith has been passed on to the coming generations.

In Hebrews 11: 1 – 40 we are given a summarization of the Old Testament and New Testament saints whose faith girded their lives to live according to what they believed about God and to achieve the very thing they knew was God’s intended purpose for them and for others. Crossing deserts, childbirth beyond the age of conception, an unconditional promise to be realized beyond life ever after, building an ark for the salvation remnant, leading stubborn thousands across the sea as though dry land, quenching the power of fire, escaping the edge of the sword, imprisonment, stonings, mockings, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, wandering in mountains, caves, and holes in the ground. So many more beyond what was written. In each mention these saints experienced the strength of the vortex that shifted their lives in ways beyond what could be imagined. The posts they had known that once securely held their lives to the ground had been shaken and removed. The time in life came to go it alone. There was no one to stand up for them, rise them up or raise them up…but God.

God brought them through their insurmountable circumstances for His glory and beyond what they could have imagined. Their journey, though for God, was for all of us. We bear the reward for their faithfulness in God. The legacy of their faith was passed down to all believers. The reward is the something better that we can look to as having happened, that is, the words and works of our Lord Jesus Christ. We live in the era of the fulfillment of Christ. We have that something better in Him.

Our faithfulness are personal demonstrations of our belief in the faithfulness of our Lord God. For what reason would we give our lives over but for God in Christ? What else could explain the martyr-ship of the faithful but the One who is faithful? Why else be faithful to the end yet not having received the promises of God except to follow Him? Faith. It is a gift from God. Through it all, faith is about God. It says most of Him than it can mean about us. We can be faithful and faithless. Yet God is the one who overcomes our faith no matter where the strength of the vortex takes our lives. He perfects our faith. Where there is faith, there is something better, “semper fidelis,” always faithful, Christ our Lord and Savior forever and ever.

—————————————————
Photo credit by the author. Location: Lake Geneva (“Lac Leman”) in Geneva, Switzerland

Copypright 2013 The Word in Motion

“Where there is faith: Something better” Hebrews 11: 39 – 40

Oh, how I long for something better. Something better than my circumstance, my day, my life, this world. I have one good day and I’m unsatisfied. Each day takes from the other. That time would stand still. My thirst has yet to be fully quenched. I’m almost there, and yet, not yet. I want more. Another try. Another place. Another time. Born not of this world yet coming through it and longing out of it. Born for more yet born with so little, of so little, to not much at all.

I desire greater, higher, and deeper. I crave fulfillment beyond my heart’s own bounds. I don’t know what it will be, except that when it be. That which will subdue and settle my uneasiness and restlessness. I have no words for it. But I can feel it. I will know it when it finally comes.

The fire within resounds and soars beyond the shell that encapsulates my being. My soul can hardly stand it. This place that imprisons me, barricades me, holds me back from that something better.

When I am disappointed time and again I long for something better.
When my flesh burns of being human I long for something better.
When my heart stings of broken heartedness how I long for something better.
When I am reminded of memories past I long for something better.
When I am in the present tense I long for something better.

I can’t see it but I know that when I do, whether shunned vision or wetted eye, I will see that which beholds my being and it will be something better.

That I would be at rest, when finally at rest. Something better than this. For I know, I just know, there is something better.

“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11: 39 – 40)

When one has that something better it is beyond imagination. It is fully intoxicating. Other worldly. Another emotion. So irreplaceable it cannot be found anywhere else. If you have had the privilege to have someone in your life that is something better you know without that person life will never be the same. Without it you are lost, empty, always looking to find anything to be that something better. You will fail each time. You will be void. You will be hurriedly behind. Your future longing for that something better will be reflected in the past as having lost it. That something better has affected you so deeply you are not the same. You see life differently, you feel differently, you think differently and admittedly, you are different because of it.

In the letter to the Hebrews the author culminates the hall of faith passage by a spiritual testament to these heroes of the faith, the followers of Yahweh, and who they meant to the New Testament believers then and now. Moreover, it is a profound eschatological view from a lens of the Old Testament prophets regarding the sovereign plan of God. The men of old had a parcel of the revelation of God in the sense they only had the promise of the Messiah to come through the words of the prophets. The New Testament believers, however, have received Him through the testimony of His words and works thus receiving the promise of Himself, thereby being in a position more privileged than the Old Testament saints. Our faith can look back at the accomplished work of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament believers, those who believed in Christ at the time of His ministry on earth through those who believe after His death and resurrection have the full revelation of Him and thus the era of fulfillment of Christ. Though the men of old received divine approval for their faith they did not obtain that which would result in the ultimate promise, Christ the Messiah. Absolutely they died in faith and entered heaven before the presence of the Lord. However, they died before seeing Christ’s appearance on earth.

Through the atoning work of Christ we are able to share in His perfection. We cannot become perfect on our own. Christ alone does so. He perfect’s our faith. Thus, we share in the same faith in God. The Old Testament saints and the New Testament believers unite in faith through Christ. Together we have received that something better. Our something better in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I have found my something better. In Him. Not because He wasn’t there but because I had not shown. He was always there. I accepted His invitation. He gave. I received. He has set me free. There is no wall, prison, barricade, or chains that hold me back from that something better. In Him I am free. I know no bounds. My soul is safe with the soul-maker.

I close my eyes and know You my God are there. I never have to doubt, I never have to wonder about it. You are so assuredly mine and I am forever yours. You, my Lord and my God are unmistakably who You say You are. I don’t have to see to believe. I am there and getting close each surpassing day with each honored breath You bestow. I am close because You are closer, my something better.

I no longer long for what I have been longing for. But for more of You on that one treasured day I be enraptured out of this world and before your resplendent holy presence. Oh heavenly! My something better.

When I am disappointed You are something better.
When my flesh burns of being human You are something better.
When my heart stings of broken heartedness You are something better.
When I am reminded of memories past You are that something better.
When I am in the present tense You are that something better.

I don’t have to see it because I know I have from within me. You behold my being and it is good, my something better.

He is something better. In Him is life and faith. There could never be something better than He. Today, yesterday, eternally. In Him is to be known. Satisfied. Together. Finally. At rest.

In Him are all things and that ever was and will to come. Something better than all of this. For He is something better.

—————————————————
Photo credit by the author. Location: Lake Geneva (“Lac Leman”) in Geneva, Switzerland

Copyright 2013 The Word in Motion

“God, Houston has a problem.”

During the weekend of August 25th Hurricane Harvey landed ashore the Gulf Coast. With it’s category 4 strength it pummeled into Corpus Christi, Victoria, and Rockport Texas. In painfully slow speed it dragged up and down south Texas as though to ensure all would feel it’s raging effects. As if that wasn’t enough, the outlying feeder bands stretched upward to southeast Texas, from Galveston to the 4th largest city in the country, Houston.

Harvey was different. It rained without ceasing. The whole city and outlying communities felt the same effects of the rain. Tremendous flooding of epic proportions reaped havoc on the citizens of this beautiful coastal city. There has been loss of precious life during this time. The damage has been catastrophic.

My heart was broken as I watched the local news and thought of all my loved ones and dearest friends. I prayed for them and the citizens of our city and surrounding counties. Throughout the deluge I was in constant communication with my loved ones making sure they were safe, offering support, words of hope.

The images of people being rescued was devastating. Men, women, the elderly, children, and babies in their mother’s arms were fleeing the floods and rising waters.  It flooded in places that have never flooded before. It was inconceivable. Everyone was affected. Memories of the past filled my mind.

God, Houston has a problem.

I have lived in Houston for several decades and have experienced hurricanes and tropical storms. When I lived with my parents our home flooded three times and we experienced evacuation. It was very humbling. For my parents it was difficult having to rebuild and recover.

However, the storm brought out the best in us. The first responders and rescuers were amazing. It was unbelievable to witness. From the Coast Guard and city crisis responders they were there in the midst. What was even more amazing was when the city asked that people with boats and water craft to engage in rescue operations. How they came out in droves. Even the Cajun Navy from Louisiana came to Houston to assist. We are a city of tremendous diversity, concern for others, and love for our great state of Texas. In our darkest time the city came together for each other. We have been stronger because we have banded together. Neighbor helping neighbor. God working through humanity.

In the depths I do not have words. You have given us Your word, You my God and my Father. However I don’t have a verse to offer that would seem appropriate. Instead I offer my prayer to You for all of those affected by the storm:

“God, you and you alone, are above all things. Nothing is impossible to you. You have always known. I ask that you would heal the broken-hearted. That you would comfort the afflicted. That you would watch over the needs of your people and offer rest. That you would make a way where there seems no way. That in your providence there would be many that will know your presence, your care, and your peace, now and in our time of recovery.”

Amen.

————————————————————

Photo credit by the author. Location: overlooking Buffalo Bayou on Allen Parkway with downtown Houston in the background. August 30, 2017.

Copyright 2017 by The Word in Motion

“Where there is faith: The men of old” Hebrews 11: 1 – 37

Faith is forward. It always projects itself beyond the point at which we are this present moment in time. Faith is actively seeking, pursuing, driving, pushing, and progressing. Yet faith has a time-traveled aspect as well, in the sense that the faith we have now is confidence in a hoped-for outcome in the future.

I am having faith. My faith swells at times and pulls back many others. It rides high and it rides low. Faith seems to follow. It follows my thoughts, my dreams, my joy, and my pain. My faith leads my internality, too. It nevertheless is there. Wherever there is, there is faith.

Where there is faith I have seen immeasurable joy and suffering. Not everything my faith hoped for resulted in what I had hoped for. In my faith, I have experienced disappointment and have yet to see what I am hoping to see. Whether my faith rises or falls my faith is subsequent to what I believe. I believe in the One True God and in Him my faith rests, comfortably, contentedly, and completely.

So we come to the Epistle of Hebrews chapter 11 which is commonly referred to as the “hall of faith” in all of scripture. It is a beautiful recapitulation of Old Testament believers (“the men of old”) most notably recognized for their faith in Yahweh.

Verse 1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”1 In the New Testament the word “faith” has several aspects to it such as, it can refer to belief in Jesus Christ, it can be confessional where it refers to the Christianly beliefs we hold to, it can refer to Jesus Christ as the object of one’s faith, and it is also salvific in the sense that faith in Christ leads to salvation. However, within the context of chapter 11 the word “faith” takes on another meaning. Here, faith means the utmost confidence in Yahweh.

Faith is assurance. In the Greek, assurance is hypostasis, meaning “substance, essence, actual being, reality.”2  It has the sense of a title-deed which is a legal document to affect a transfer of property to show the legal right to possess it.3  Therefore, it can be said that faith is the certainty or title-deed of things hoped-for, such as being sure. Faith is conviction. In the Greek, conviction is elenchos (try pronouncing as “el-in-koss”), meaning “proof”.4  In the sense of convicting evidence.5  So it can be said that faith is also the evidence of things not seen, or being convinced. On the basis of the above, faith is being certain/sure of things hoped for, and being convinced or having evidence of things not seen. The faith of the Old Testament believers was such that they had absolute certainty in their hope and though the evidence was lacking they were convinced the hoped-for things would come to pass.

Verse 2 says, “For by it the men of old gained approval.” This verse is speaking of the Old Testament believers and in the Greek it means presbyteroi, which is the plural of elder, meaning “elders.”6  These elders, or men of old, mentioned in chapter 11 have won the approval or favor of God because of their faith in Him. In addition, they were also recognized by God’s people, throughout history and today as well.

Verse 3 continues with a recitation of the creation account and how we, in whole, relate to it and not just for the men of old. It is a faith-truth.7  Here the author of Hebrews makes inclusive all believers (including himself), from the Old Testament saints to believers today by stating, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”8 No one has witnessed the things out of which God created the worlds or universe. Not one. Unlike unbelievers, believers accept by faith that God prepared the universe by His word, His command. Yet, the world holds all, and all benefit from the hand of God.

 ___________________________________________________
1 New American Standard Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1977).                                                                                              2 Frederick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edition (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 1041.
3 Randall Tan, The English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament New American Standard Bible (NASB95 NT RI).
4 William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edition (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 315.
5 Randall Tan, The English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament New American Standard Bible (NASB95 NT RI).
6 Frederick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd edition (BDAG) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 862.
7 Apollolina, author. Personal Definition of “faith-truth”: faith in the Triune God (God the Father, the Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit) means His having created the heavens and the earth is truth foundational in one’s faith in Him, thus, a “faith-truth.”
8 New American Standard Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1977).                                               ______________________________________________________

The author of Hebrews continues throughout chapter 11 with a recapitulation of “the men of old” and the hoped-for thing associated with each.

A summary is as follows:
Verse 4, by faith, Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain,…
Verse 5, by faith, Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death;…
Verse 7, by faith, Noah,… in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household,…Verse 8, by faith, Abraham obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; Verse 9, by faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;…Verse 11, by faith, even Sarah herself received ability to conceive even beyond the proper time of life,…Verse 13 states, “All these died in faith without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance…”

These recipients were namely Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, who God had spoken of His promise of the land and innumerous offspring. They witnessed God’s leading hand in their lives. They died with their faith in God but did not receive the promises of Him. Such promises would be fulfilled in the distant future.

The summary continues as follows:
Verse 17, by faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac;…
Verse 20, by faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
Verse 21, by faith, Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph,…
Verse 22, by faith Joseph, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones. Verse 23, by faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; Verse 24, by faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter;   Verse 27, by faith he left Egypt; Verse 28, by faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood; Verse 29, by faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; Verse 30, by faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. Verse 31, by faith, Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

The author of Hebrews writes in verses 32 – 34 Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets….who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, and put foreign armies to flight. It doesn’t end there! Verses 35 – 38 continue and states that women received back their dead from the resurrection, others tortured, experienced mockings and scouragings, chains and imprisonment, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death by the sword, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, men of whom the world was not worthy. The above faithful believers were not the only ones ever to persevere in their faith in God, no. The author of Hebrews makes this known in verse 36 by saying “and others” because they cannot be entirely enumerated.

The men of old were profound in their faith in God. They had a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges to overcome. None of which were short-term, but long-term journeys, heavy, frustrating, and full of immense periods of waiting. They were in God for the long-haul. Though many did not see the end result of the promises of God, the promises would come much later, from afar. They were the catalysts, hand-picked if you will, chosen by Yahweh to accomplish His ultimate plan for Israel then and the future time they would receive Messiah and make Him possible for the Gentile nations, past, present, and future. Without God the journey would not have been possible. Without their being faithful to God we would not have the legacy of their faith that has culminated in the common faith in the One whom we believe that has given us the ultimate promise, His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

In my words, faith is “confident-hope.” Do you have confident-hope in the journey you are on with God, difficulty and all? When life gets tough do you return to the comfortable and familiar place you had before you were called by God? Is your faith future-past or future-forward? You may be facing due north but your mind and heart are due south. You really haven’t given yourself to God if your life still reflects the former things. Rather, are you facing due north, heart and mind as well? We live in a culture where impatience and human rationalization leads to unnecessary change, burden, and regretful decisions for us and others as well. Sometimes what we consider faith is nothing more than calculated risks, or back-fitting outcomes as having come from the Lord God.

We believers who persevere in God pass the baton of faith to one another so that we each hold it on our own. When we live out our faith we magnify God, we bring glory to Him as the object of our faith and as a witness of Him to the world.

—————————————————

Photo credit by the author. Location: Lake Geneva (“Lac Leman”) in Geneva, Switzerland

Copyright 2013 The Word in Motion

 

“Where there is faith” An Introduction – Hebrews 11: 1-40

Faith. It takes faith to have faith. It is a gift from God. You may have faith. Or you may have a kind of faith. Only you know what you mean when you say “faith.” There must be an object of your faith in order to say “faith.”

I have faith. I also have a faith. But there have been times when I have lost faith and no longer had faith in faith. I had placed my faith in people and things which resulted in utter disappointment, faithfully. I no longer have faith in people or things. The tough lessons in life have prevailed.

To have faith, whether in someone or something, belief must proceed it. So to believe is to have faith. You can believe in unbelief too, so it takes faith to not believe as well. Whatever it is you believe, your faith will surely lead.

I believe in God. Therefore, I have faith in God. My faith in God is because I believe in Him.

I only have faith in God our Father. He only and He alone is the object of my faith. And so, my faith will take me where He leads. To have faith in Him means I will follow Him. I have faith in Him until my journey ends. We follow what we believe because we have faith in it.

My father was a young, orphaned boy, growing up in the small town of Bloomington, Texas. He told me that he was wild, undisciplined, and had no structure in his life. During his teen years he was told he would amount to nothing and wind up in prison. At the age of sixteen he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. All the wrong he seemingly was meant for was thwarted by the Marine Corps. After twenty years of service my father retired from the Marine Corps as a Gunnery Sergeant. He was faithful to his country, faithful to the Corps, and faithful to the core. He believed. He had faith in what he believed. Once a Marine, always a Marine. My father exemplified faithfulness. He was faithful to the end.

My father followed what he believed. Belief proceeded faith. Because of his faithfulness I am here today with faith and in faith. So that:

By his faith, I can know the security of the unshaken ground I stand upon.
By his faith, I can know freedom.
By his faith, I cannot know freedom not.
By his faith, I can have life.
By his faith, I can believe.
By his faith, I can have faith.

By his faith I can have faith but not because his faith was imposed upon me. No. But rather as his heir I received the legacy of his faith in service which extended life and freedom to me in order that I can have faith, faith in God the Father. We don’t share each other’s faith in the sense that your faith becomes my faith, and mine becomes yours. No. We come to faith in God individually. By my father’s faithfulness, by my faithfulness, God continues to be faithfully extended throughout the world. We believers in God share God by our faith in Him.

We can’t begin without faith. We can’t remain without faith. We can’t end without faith. In all things, faith, or in some things faith. We are either faithful or unfaithful to whatever we have placed as the object thereof. We can exert faith just as much as we can exert unfaithfulness. So to be partially faithful is to be unfaithful. So to be fully faithful is to be faithful. We are either faithful or unfaithful. To the good and to the bad. To the right and to the wrong. For today, for tomorrow, for never, forever. But, where there is faith, there is faith.

The Word in Motion: Interactive

Who or what is the object of your faith?
How does faith look in the life of a believer?
Are you faithful?
Can you breach faith?
What is the purpose of faith?

Next devotional: 
 Part I
“Where there is faith: The men of old”
Hebrews 11: 1 – 40

___________________________________

Photo credit by the author. Location: Lake Geneva (“Lac Leman”) in Geneva, Switzerland

Copyright 2013 The Word in Motion

 

“A New Year – The line of demarcation”

The new year always seems to mark the beginning of something, starting over, new promises, renewed hope, new plans, goals, and well-intentioned intentions. For many the new year marks the end of things, broken promises or commitments,  relationships, career, and loss. As I have reflected on this certain line of demarcation it has become clear to me that this calendar date is a milestone that helps plan life and all that life encompasses. So to me, the new year is about reflections on the past and reflections toward the future.

However, I cannot reflect without God. In Him is everything. Therefore, I can only write with you in mind with God only, nothing else.

The world is ever changing and doesn’t wait for the line of demarcation. Life spills into the next hour of the next day, never seemingly waiting but rolling on through. To life, there isn’t a line of demarcation. But to us, there is.

It is impossible for me to know how your year has been. I cannot imagine. Only you know and the One True God that has been with you along the way. Many of you have experienced happiness, newness and good change. On the other side, many of you have experienced trauma, loss, and insurmountable change. I have experienced both sides.

Being a writer, and having inherited the writing skill from my father, writing comes easy to me. Whether it’s a research paper, devotional, a letter, a card or a to-do list, I love to write. So for me writing is therapy to my mind and soul. I use writing as a way of coping, reflecting, planning, imagining, and healing. In this sense, I am able to reflect on the past and reflect toward the future. Perhaps you have your own way of doing so, and so I encourage you to do your own way of reflecting. If it’s looking out your window, taking long walks, talking with yourself, driving long distances, laying on your bed, or sitting in your special chair. Do it your own way.

Take time to reflect on this past year and reflect toward the future. What did you learn, how did you grow, what went well and not so well? What actions worked for you and others?  How were others blessed by you? How were you blessed by others? What do you need to change about yourself? It truly is never too late. How are you hurting yourself and others? What habits and thoughts keep you from moving forward and why? Do you need to move? Who do you need to move from? What are you living for and why? Is it living for you?

For me my reflections are categorized: God and my spirituality, health, fitness, finance, career, ministry. Within these categories are subcategories. I journalize my life in each of these categories in terms of incidents, actions, and outcomes. I focus on the next plan of action and leading of the Spirit of God. I ask myself the above questions and use questions to find answers. In every circumstance I have always found that God is providing the answer. Even seemingly silence from God is a well needed answer too.

Through all of this, I realize that many are hurting. The holiday time seems to exacerbate the pain of what you’re feeling. It can never come to an end too quickly. My father died shortly before Christmas and I miss him dearly. The holiday remains forever changed after the loss of both my parents. Even now, I have to adjust my thinking so that my heart follows just long enough until the holidays are over. In addition, I do not put any expectations on the holidays, except to focus on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Things seem better as a result.

Only you, through the help of God, can resolve the past year and the year forward. God the Father is with you waiting to carry you through the journey of life. He cares for you, loves you, and wants to be in relationship with you through His Son Jesus Christ. The only line of demarcation is the line you draw between you and God. In Him there is no line of demarcation. He is ever present, ever knowing, ever all to you.

As you pursue and follow God, I hope you will grow in your relationship with Him and witness the wonder He can do in your life. As you make changes, as you start over, as you move forward, you will notice Him in small ways, but ever increasing as the days go by. He will build you up by growing you deep. In time, your reflections of the past will not be so hard, but lighter and smoother, as well as your reflections toward the future.

It is in this I whole-heartedly resolve to encourage you by writing Christ-centered devotionals that edify your life. The Word in Motion was launched in 2016 and is subscribed by only a few. You are in my reflections toward the future! Therefore, I purpose that through this devotional ministry your faith will be enriched so to put The Word in Motion in your life!

“Wishing all of you

Peace

(of my mind, heart, soul, spirit)

Joy

(chosen, certain, seeking)

and most of all

Love

(God, others, you)

this New Year 2017″

In His service,

Apollolina

______________________

Copyright by The Word in Motion

January 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Waiting Wrongly, Waiting Well” – A Conclusion

We can set about our way and therefore get what we want. We think we know better and can go about life dictating our relationships, situations, and thus circumstances. We rush because we are afraid. We have the insatiable appetite to control and get our reward before the time it is due. We fill our spaces with people and things to such an extent we are unable to see clearly. Our vision is cluttered and we lose sight of how to discern that which is in front of us. Waiting becomes confusing and doesn’t make sense to us. It’s like the still of silence. We can’t stand it so we have to break the quietness and fill it with empty chatter.

Example of waiting wrongly:

  • Abraham and Sarah: they waited wrongly initially for the Lord’s timing to fill Sarah’s womb, because they rushed ahead by other means.

Example of waiting well:

  • Ruth: she waited well with Naomi then received Boaz as her husband which led to her being grafted into the lineage of Christ.

Characteristics of waiting-well:

  • God opens the doors so nothing is forced. Don’t force or make things happen. Respond as the situation necessitates so that the door will open easily and smoothly, and not forced or rushed. The difference will more likely indicate whether God’s will is at work or not.
  • Don’t push the moments but wait appropriately for the right moment. Do not try to control or push situations with words or actions. Rather, allow the situation to unfold as it is meant to be. It surely will in time.
  • Keep the situation loosely held until such time God reveals the situation more.  Trust God in His providence and sovereignty. If you are waiting for a relationship to lead to marriage then have the long-term in mind. Such an important decision means you can afford to wait. Wait for each other, and take time to get to know each other. Enjoy each other’s company and grow together. In time all things will reveal the truth if you remain steadfast and prayerfully before the Lord.

Questions to ask yourself in a season of waiting:

  • Are you “ready-ed” and in a situation where you are as prepared as you can be?
  • Is your life in order so that you can welcome what you are waiting for rather than delay it?
  • Is your history cleaned up? Are there things in your life that will deter what you’re waiting for? In other words, is your life currently free from the past and open to the future?
  • Have you allowed your character to be changed by God?
  • Have you worked on improving yourself rather than looking for something or someone else to improve you?
  • Do you have “old pics and old ways?” What are your surroundings saying to others about you? These are clues to your past and present, and your future. So if you’re serious with someone you are considering a relationship with should they believe you? The risk is that you may lose the one you’ve been waiting for. Waiting the second time around is harder and usually longer than the first time around.

Have you chosen to do what is right in your own eyes, figuring out life the way you see it? Or do you wait for the Father by being obedient to the small daily tasks in life, following His Word rather than your own emotions and temptations?

Beloved ones, what is it you’re waiting for? Waiting comes with a price. Not all who wait are willing to pay. While waiting may mean different things to different people, waiting is a measure of time. Time takes waiting and waiting takes time.

_________________________
Photo credit by the author. Location: overlooking the bay from the Mondrian South Beach Hotel, Miami, FL

Copyright 2013 by The Word in Motion

 

 

 

“Waiting well: God’s Unmistakable Traces” Ruth 1 – 4

I am waiting. Waiting for short-term things and long-term things. Either way, the waiting seems forever. I grow tired of waiting. It is heavy at times. Yet, I try. I have lived long enough to know that if I invoked my own will and accord my future would suffer the consequences. Time goes by so quickly it seems to steal the moments. We cannot get time back. Time itself cannot be returned to us. I often tell others “your thirties are to make up for your twenties, but your forties are forever.” I don’t have time for wrong turns or U-turns. It is frivolity. However, I do have time to wait for the good things that God will provide. In this sense, I know the waiting is for God and He is leading the journey I am on. Often, I feel unsure and full of doubt. So I purpose that it is best to wonder rather than to wander.

Waiting well. If you have waited for God in your life I am sure you can recount all the moments He manifested Himself to assure you that your waiting was well. These are “God’s unmistakable traces.”

The Book of Ruth begins with the story of a family that left Bethlehem to Moab during a time of great famine. While the decision to move may have seemed right and subsequently promising, life in Moab eventually dealt a heavy blow. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were left widowed and in desperate need of care. Shattered lives and shattered dreams could not have been at the forefront of their minds. To have suffered such a loss in those times meant no chance for a life worth living much less a life at all. For women, life from a human sense could only be found through a husband. But for Naomi to have lost her sons, too, meant absolute desolation. She had nothing. Her two daughters-in-law were what was left of the family she had known and reminders of her sons. Orpah and Ruth were it. They too had to deal with the loss of their own husbands and never having had children. We don’t know why. Orpah chose to stay in Moab and leave Naomi, while the other, Ruth the Moabitess, chose to cling to her mother-in-law Naomi on the long journey home to Bethlehem.  We don’t know why Orpah chose to stay. I think she has been criticized far too much. She must have felt the urge to remain and find a new life over again in Moab. Perhaps the urge was from God? It was good for her. Often we think we know what is best for others. But as has been stated before, we don’t know everything. Life is in the hands of God the Father. God’s intended purpose in this story could not have included both women, nor could it have been split between the two. He only had one in mind. It’s not necessary to be too concerned. God’s plan for Orpah was already written and I believe she was well taken care of as she remained in Moab. Why would God not have taken care of Orpah when He knew what was already predestined in their lives and had set out for there to be only one perfect kinsman-redeemer?

And so it was, Naomi and Ruth. Here were two women, side by side, committed to walk out the journey together not fully knowing or realizing what would await them in Bethlehem. How devastating to know that what was possible was seemingly impossible now. All hope was lost. Thoughts of what could be were overcome by what was. Alone they walked, together many, many miles to Bethlehem. They could have easily been in harm’s way, but they seemingly traveled unnoticed. Surprised? It was providence at work and yet another trace of God in their lives.

It was the beginning of the barley harvest and times in Bethlehem had turned for the better. Ruth, supportive of Naomi, suggested that she glean in the field hoping to gain favor so that she may return with a portion. Unbeknown to Ruth, Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, in the field where she would glean and his name was Boaz.

In Ruth chapter 2 verse 3, it states “…and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.” The words “and she happened” is interpreted in the Hebrew to mean “chance upon chance.” It was chanced. In other words, what may seem by accident was the providential, unseen hidden hand of God at work.

As only God would orchestrate, Boaz noticed Ruth in the field and she found favor in his sight. He protected her and ensured that she would glean a hefty amount of barley to take home. Interestingly, Boaz had heard of Ruth and all that she had done for her mother-in-law after the death of her husband. He knew she had left her homeland of Moab to follow Naomi to a place she didn’t know. This was an example of tremendous character on the part of Ruth. Her reputation preceded her. She didn’t have to prove herself to others or to Boaz. She didn’t even have to flaunt in front of him to get noticed. We live in a time where women will throw themselves to men as an act of desperation rather than throw themselves to the feet of the Lord God. I believe when our character has been drenched in the model of Christ that we exude Him in our countenance. Character begets character and it will get noticed by someone with character. The qualities will proceed from us toward others and it will draw those whom have it as well. Therefore, Ruth drew Boaz without trying.

Ruth was so overwhelmed by such kindness that she fell on her face before him.  She knew her place and called herself a foreigner. She quite possibly knew the culture at the time and where foreigners fit, if any, into the Israelite environment, society, and community. Here Ruth was following the script. God’s script. He was opening doors for her. She was led by God. Boaz was doing God’s work too. He had the character of God, and he had godly boundaries. He could have easily taken advantage of Ruth but he did not. Rare is the man who can resist and think more of a woman than himself, his needs and desires.

“Go-el” is Hebrew for kinsman-redeemer, which was Boaz. He was one of their closest relatives. But was he the absolute closest?

In chapter 3 verse 12 Boaz admits that he is a close relative but that there is one closer than him. An admission that would take the best of men. A man that was looking after himself would try to manipulate the situation for his good. However, Boaz was a man of integrity and godliness. He offered full disclosure. Boaz was a man of strength. He was willing to let it go for the right reasons. I believe He had to show God his faithfulness. In either case, he was prepared for the consequences and knew one way or the other that he would be involved.  He trusted God.

Later in chapter 4 verses 4 –6 Boaz confronts the situation and declared to the closest relative what was involved in the situation. The relative wished to redeem the land but changed his mind when it came to Ruth. He was unable to redeem because it would jeopardize his inheritance and that which he had obviously planned with heirs already. More unmistakable traces of God. Therefore, Boaz was free to pursue Ruth. Everything was right. There were no conflicts and the door was wide open for Boaz and Ruth to be together. The waiting was over. All they waited for came to pass. As God had planned Ruth became Boaz’s wife and bore him a son. Furthermore, the child would be a restorer of life to Naomi who had lost her sons and a sustainer of her old age. More importantly, it was amazing that the young woman Ruth never birthed children with her first husband Mahlon but did with Boaz. Another unmistakable trace of God. He had a greater plan for Ruth. It had to be in order to have the lineage through King David, via Ruth and Boaz. Had there been prior children, from either Boaz or Ruth, this lineage would not have been possible and far more complicated.

Ruth waited well and followed her God through and through. She trusted in the Lord and exhibited patience throughout despite the overwhelming odds of surviving desolate times. Especially when the temptation to take matters into her hands would have overcome the best of us. Throughout the story of Ruth were God’s unmistakable traces, leading, guiding, and directing providentially in such a way that enabled her to wait well.  Life could not have been better planned but by the hand of God. Only by His providence could these events have been orchestrated so perfectly and in time.

 

The Word in Motion: An Interactive

Is there such thing as “waiting well?”

What does “waiting well” mean to you?

Have you ever waited well?

What do you do when you grow weary of waiting well?

Can you mistake waiting well for being misguided?

_________________________
Photo credit by the author. Location: overlooking the bay from the Mondrian South Beach Hotel, Miami, FL

Copyright 2013 by The Word in Motion

“Waiting wrongly: The promised son Isaac” Genesis 15 – 21

Someone once told me, “I don’t wait. I’m good at making things happen.” There comes a time in life, when God sits back and allows us to weave and coerce our lives and those around us for as long as we choose. So as a result, what may appear to be good that comes in our lives, really isn’t the good that comes from God. If you’ve experienced this you know what I mean. All who serve God can attest to these words, both the good and the bad.

Waiting wrongly. When we are determined to set out on our own and “makes things happen” we surely do. We humans do extremely well at making things happen. So much, that we can make a terrible mess. Sadly, we not only wreak havoc for ourselves but the lives of those we include in our self-made happenings. If you haven’t learned this lesson then the pain hasn’t been great enough. Greater pain awaits you still.

It is a delicate thing concerning waiting. We have to be able to discern what is waiting wrongly and waiting well. Do we remain lifeless and idle, or living and active?  How does it look in the life of a believer following Christ?

Genesis 15 – 21 is the story of the promised son Isaac. God had promised Abram and his wife Sarai a child. However, unbeknown to them the child would come in their older age. In Genesis chapter 15 we see the story unfold where God promised Abram an heir from his own body. However, in chapter 16 something happened that set things on a different course. Abram’s wife Sarai took matters into her own hands and decided to use Hagar, her Egyptian maidservant, as the surrogate to conceive the child with her husband Abram. Things got worse when Hagar became pregnant and then mistreated her mistress Sarai, mocking her. No doubt Hagar must have felt elevated in status to Sarai, after all, she bore Abram the son Sarai could not. How devastating to Sarai to witness the consequences of her hand, along with Abram’s consent. In what appears to be an effort by Abram to restore to Sarai her status and thus putting Hagar in her place as a servant, he stated (Gen 16: 5) “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in our sight.” Sarai feeling the tension of the consequences by her own hand retaliated against Hagar who fled, but the Lord God had her return to submit to Sarai’s authority. More importantly, Hagar bore Abram a son named Ishmael which is a Semetic name meaning “God hears.”  The boy’s name an attestation of God hearing Hagar’s lamenting her affliction. God had a reason for Hagar to remain in the household. In verses 7 – 13 we see God’s divine intervention in Hagar’s life. She was sent back with instruction from God and an obvious faith experience  she needed in order to remain and live as a servant.

Meanwhile, between chapters 17 – 18 God renamed Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and reminded Abraham of the covenantal blessings, as well as his future son Isaac to be born the following year. Thirteen years passed when the time came that Ishmael, Abraham and the men of his household were circumcised. Here, the progression of time has taken place and the details were much clearer with a timeframe given for the birth of Isaac.  Thirteen years is a long time to face the consequence of human impulses and persuasions rather than the faithful provision of God. Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael had to learn to live together. Abraham was Ishmael’s father too. The years had to weigh on Sarah of her decision to arrange her life without waiting for God. The daily reminders had to set in at some point. It must have been painful for all involved. Finally, in chapter 21 the birth of the promised son Isaac takes place. Verse 2 states “So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”

However, the consequences of waiting wrongly still lingered when Sarah once again turned against her maidservant Hagar, as well as the boy Ishmael for mocking, and had driven them out of the household for good. Interesting how it was Ishmael mocking. We don’t know whether he was mocking the baby Isaac or Sarah. Nonetheless, the threat, whether real or perceived was too much for Sarah, that she had Abraham send them out to the wilderness. The relationship was still in discord. We don’t know fully whether all lessons were learned in the thirteen years that passed. Hagar was caught up in the tangled web of Abraham and Sarah and so was Ishmael. Though Isaac was the promised child of God, Ishmael and his mother Hagar received blessings along the way.

Divine intervention came for Abraham and Sarah despite their waiting wrongly and impatiently taking matters into their own hands. It is not always the case for the rest of us. We cannot always expect to be rescued, especially without consequences. The length of waiting often represents the change required in us to guarantee the ultimate result. This time there could be no turning back to old thoughts or old ways. The renewal had to result in behavior aligned to God’s will to ultimately manifest in His will for the world. Did Abraham and Sarah understand the promise?  Could they have understood the magnitude of it to this day in time? Sometimes the heavy length of waiting is for the deeper purposes of God that is beyond our comprehension.

It is not our business to know everything concerning the matters of God in our lives or the lives of others. When left up to us we get it wrong most of the time. We read our human thoughts, experiences, and influences into such matters that we end up being led falsely by ourselves rather than by the One True God. We are not omniscient like God. It is the prerogative of the Father to keep things to Himself. Our focus should be obedience and faithfulness to Him.

Throughout the narrative of Abraham and Sarah age did not matter to God. In fact, it was of little concern. It was all about God’s timing, and Abraham and Sarah’s waiting.

Here are a few characteristics that cause us to wait wrongly:

  • Impatience: we choose too quickly too soon. We lose our perspective of time. We may think that we are being proactive. We resolve to take matters into our hands and set out on a course that is not intended for us. Impatience leads to hurtful results and we end up starting over in the waiting process.
  • Rebellion/disobedience: we choose not to follow scripture and make compromises and rationalize our thoughts and behavior. This often reflects on how deeply we believe in our Savior Jesus Christ. We often follow what we believe and have faith in. If we choose disobedience then we no longer hold to our faith in Him. We make Him “less than.” Your behavior reflects your faith in Christ.
  • Loneliness: our choices are often wrong because we don’t want to be alone. We are intimidated by isolation or seasonal, periodic aloneness and feel we have to have people in our lives to fill the void. We settle for those we might not otherwise give our attention to, or settle for behavior we might not otherwise accept. We lose our spiritual perspective.

In the end, Abraham and Sarah waited for their promised son Isaac. Through this they waited for God’s word to come to pass. However, in the course of God’s plan they waited wrongly because of Sarah’s self-made happenings in which she coerced the situation and brought Hagar into the equation. Sarah never took to Ishmael during the first thirteen years of his life.  So the good she had sought after wasn’t very good at all. We can wait for good things and in this case we can wait for bad things. When we have been bridled by waiting the rush to take matters into our hands is not so appealing. We consider the consequences in every step of our journey with God. The Lord is waiting for us to wait on Him and to do what only He does best to move in our lives.

 The Word in Motion: An Interactive

Is there such thing as “waiting wrongly?”

What does “waiting wrongly” mean to you?

Have you ever waited wrongly?

What are your personal risks in waiting wrongly?

Is redemption possible in a season of waiting wrongly?

_________________________
Photo credit by the author. Location: overlooking the bay from the Mondrian South Beach Hotel, Miami, FL

 Copyrght 2013 by The Word in Motion

 

“Waiting Wrongly, Waiting Well” An Introduction

Waiting. We wait for many things. We wait for things we want. The things we want come in time. On the other hand, we wait for things we do not want. The things that we do not want come in time too. So we wait for what we want and do not want, the good as well as the bad. So what does it mean to wait? How does it look in the life of a follower of Christ?

Waiting is counter to our human nature. Waiting takes patience as so few of us have it. For those who possess patience, waiting requires even more patience, most of the time. For the Christian, waiting can take on the extreme. I don’t mean the common cliché “I’m waiting for God.” I mean plain old waiting. We can wait for God to come through on a number of things such as, a re-location, acceptance into a college, university, or educational institution, a way-ward spouse to return, a spouse-to-be, healing, salvation of a loved one, a promotion, and the list goes on.  So, we wait for good things.    Waiting is a process measured by time. In God there is no time. He governs all things in their time and has created time itself. His time is not our time and cannot be compared nor contrasted in the time that humankind lives within. In waiting, there is a natural time, such as the birth of a child, healing of an illness or broken bones. It cannot be hurried as waiting is built into the process. In waiting, there is also a supernatural time, such as those things that cannot be reasonably explained because faith is involved. You cannot rush what is meant to be because all that is meant and purposed is bordered by time established by God. Therefore, time takes waiting, and waiting takes time.

The Word in Motion: An Interactive

What are you waiting for? 

How long have you been in a season of waiting?

What has the Holy Spirit taught you in the midst of waiting?

Why not wait?

What challenges have you faced during your season of waiting?   

_________________________

Photo credit by the author. Location: overlooking the bay from the Mondrian South Beach Hotel, Miami, FL

Copyright 2013 The Word in Motion