The word redeem had legal meaning in the Hebrew days of the Old Testament:
The term meant to buy back a person, property or right to which one had a previous claim through family relation or possession. The term is found 18 times in the Old Testament. Someone who had to sell himself into slavery because of poverty, for instance, could have his freedom bought back by someone called a redeemer, usually his next of kin.
In the Book of Ruth, we read that Boaz redeemed the widow Ruth in this manner when he bought back the land that belonged to Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, now also a widow. As the “redeemer” in this case Boaz said, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day” (Ruth 4:9-10).
This is a beautiful foreshadowing of how Christ redeemed the Church and bought it back as his Bride. He saw us in our lost state and made sure we had a family, a home and a relationship with him.
This is why the word redeem is so powerful in Scripture. It means reconnection to the family of God that was lost because of our sin. And the payment for this redemption? The body and blood of Jesus. He gave completely of himself that he might give us an inheritance with him forevermore. What a glorious transaction!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5
One part of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he wants to make sure that this congregation’s gentleness is evident to all. Why? Because the Lord is near. Our gentle ways should be what people are seeing at work in us when the Lord returns.
In a world that is often hostile, angry and at odds with one another, our gentleness as Christian people can stand out. What do we mean by being gentle? We only need to look to our Lord Jesus when he was on this earth for guidance. He said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). He took little children into his arms and blessed them (Mark 10:16). He spoke gently even of those who were crucifying him, saying, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
In the same way, we can be people of gentleness by being humble in our approach to people, by embracing children and caring for those around us in a loving way, by blessing those around us with the peace of God and encouraging them in their endeavors. We can be gentle in our forgiving of those who have hurt us, recognizing that we are all sinful and in need of the grace and mercy found only in the cross.
Even when we witness to others of the hope we have in Christ, we are to do so “with gentleness and respect,” St. Peter says (1 Peter 3:15). We need to be comforting in how we share our faith, not overbearing. Our goal should always be to be kind and helpful and reassuring. That is what gentleness is all about. Be gentle in your ways today, with the help of God.
The Minute in the Word on Joy FM in St. Louis on Nov. 12, 2018, highlighted Number 11:23 when God reminded Moses:
Is the Lord’s arm too short?
You see, the Children of Israel were desperately in need of food, and Moses could not see how they could find enough food for them all. Moses could only see what was at arm’s length around him.
But the Lord’s arm extends far beyond our imagination.
God sent a great wind that drove quail to the camp to feed the people for a month.
God’s arm is never too short to help us. He can reach out as far as he needs to in order to bring us help. Why? Because as we all know, on this Valentine’s Day, he loves us dearly.
Let us never forget that.
Nov. 23, 2018’s Minute in the Word on Joy 99.1 FM in St. Louis highlighted Joshua 3:8, in which the Lord says, “When you reach the edge of the waters, go and stand in the river.”
The Children of Israel were steps away from entering the Promised Land the Lord had promised, but they still had to cross the Jordan River to get there. Joshua must have wondered how they were going to do that. But God simply said to step foot in the river, which Joshua and all the nation of Israel did:
The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. Joshua 3:17
God parted the waters as he had done at the Red Sea forty years before when they had escaped Egypt. The two crossings of water bookend the incredible story of God saving his people.
But the people had to trust that God would do it. They could not cross the Jordan without God’s help, yet they had to take the first step into the water and let God do his work.
That is what we need to do in our lives today. When challenges stand in our way of God’s goal for our lives, we need to take the step forward and come to God and let God do the rest.
As Joshua told the Israelites in Joshua 3:5: “The Lord will do amazing things among you.” And he will do amazing things among us as well. Step right up and see what God has planned.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2
When I lead Bible class in my church, there are times when the only answer I have to a difficult question someone has is: “We will have to ask Jesus that one when he returns in glory.”
We as humans are an inquisitive bunch. We want to know and understand everything right away. But there are simply some things that we will never know this side of heaven.
What we need to remember is not so much what we do not know, but what we do know:
• We are children of God.
• Christ will appear to take us home to heaven.
• We are dearly loved by our Savior.
• We are forgiven and saved from all our sins through the suffering and death of Christ.
In the end, no questions about what we don’t know really matter, because what we do know is all that matters.