Redeemed for a price

Last week my puppies got out of the yard and ran away.  When I learned about them being missing, I searched for them. Because I was away I did not hear that they were gone until the next day.  I immediately began a search.  However, I did not search for them by walking around, but I used the computer and the phone to do my search.  I found information from each of the three close animal shelters and called and sent emails.  Because it was Friday night, I wasn’t able to get in touch with anyone. On Saturday morning, I posted on Facebook.  One of my friends, Ronnie, let me know how to contact the local police for information about lost dogs.  Through this phone call, I was able to determine that the dogs were picked up by the local police and sent to a local dog shelter.  What a relief! Later Saturday morning, the animal shelter called and said that the dogs were in their care until Monday when I could pick them up.  Apparently they had wandered on Thursday night all the way to the local McDonalds.  The police were not able to locate them that night.  Friday morning after wandering around, the dogs followed a child home and the child’s grandmother called. The dogs were picked up and taken to the shelter.  On Monday morning, we picked up the dogs, but before we did, we had to pay for them.  The paperwork says that each dog was redeemed for a price. The dogs were assured that they were loved and forgiven.  We brought them home to live forever.

This reminds me of what God does for us.  Before I knew Christ as my Savior, I wandered around from one thing to the next not really knowing where I was going, following after others in search of my home.  But God was pursing me. God found me where I was.  Although the world changes, He never does. Before I was saved, He used others to care for me, just like He used my friend Ronnie and the local police.  God redeemed me; He paid for me with the blood of His Son on the cross.  Once I was redeemed, I was brought home to live with Him.  God forgives me and gives me eternal life.  He loves me!

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him has eternal life.

The God who sees

Yesterday morning I was reading Genesis 16 during devotions. This chapter tells the story of Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant, who had the child Ishmael with Abram.  When the child was conceived, Sarai became upset with Hagar. Sarai was jealous of the pregnancy because she was barren.  Hagar fled to the wilderness.  The angel of the LORD met her there and told her to go back to Sarai. The angel told Hagar that she would have a son.  In addition, the angel told her that her son would be troublesome, to say the least.  The ESV calls him “wild donkey of a man” (Gen 16:12).

What happens next is amazing to me.  Hagar calls God “a God of seeing” and one “who looks after me”(ESV Gen 16:13). In the midst of the trouble Hagar realizes God is with her.  She does obey and goes back to Sarai.  However, Hagar’s life after obedience is not one of continual happiness.  Think of what she must do when she goes back.  Sarai mistreats her and eventually when Isaac is born Hagar and Ishmael are sent away (Gen 21).  Ishmael in Hebrew is Yishma’e’l which means God will hear.  Also remember what God had said about her son.  What mother wants to hear that her son will be filled with anger?

What can we learn from this passage?  God is with us even in the midst of our troubles.  We can praise Him for looking after us in the wilderness like Hagar.  Also, we can see that our obedience and praise to God do no always lead to ideal circumstances.  Hagar obeyed but was sent out from Abraham’s household and had a troublesome son.  Ignore those preachers or people who say that loving God is a prescription for money, fame, and happiness on earth.  It is simply not biblical.  Instead we are promised that we will “suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).

Rose of Sharon

Each day last week on my way to Vacation Bible School, I passed a Rose of Sharon bush. When I was a girl, we had several of these bushes in our back yard. I always remember that they bloomed in the late summer when not much else was blooming.  Much later when I became a Christian, I learned that the bible includes a reference to the Rose of Sharon.  Song of Songs 2:1, “I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” (NIV) Most commentators consider this a reference to Jesus Christ.  He is the Rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys. I was excited to share my thoughts about how Jesus, like the Rose of Sharon flower, comes to us when we are in the parched land of the summer season.  He provides the beauty in our life during the times when we are struggling.

While that is true, the analogy didn’t hold when I looked up rose of Sharon in different commentaries. I found out that I was incorrect in my thinking.  The rose of sharon of today is not the same flower in biblical times.  The rose of Sharon during that time was probably a common flower with a bulb like a crocus or a daffodil. The NLT version of the bible even translates the passage as, ” I am the spring crocus blooming on the Sharon Plain, the lily of the valley.” Both the crocus and the daffodil bloom early in the Spring before many other flowers are out, at least in the NE US.  If we take this version of the flower, we can say that Jesus, the Rose of Sharon comes to us when we are in the midst of the cold, wet, early springtime.

Whether the Rose of Sharon blooms in summer or spring doesn’t matter.  Jesus meets us when and where we need Him.

Jesus meets us in the midst of all of our seasons of life.  He comes in the summer when we need nourishment, in the fall during the harvest of plenty, in the winter when we are resting, and in the spring when the rain brings renewal.  He is always there with us. Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (NIV)

Always . . . continually. . . in all circumstances

While I was reading the devotional today in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young I read 1 Thes. 5:16-18.  Have you read it recently?  This is the text in NIV: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Have you wondered why God did not just say be joyful and pray and give thanks all the time?  Each of the words are different. 

The word “always” or in the KJV “evermore” is the Greek word pantote (Strongs G3842) which means at all times.  So we are to rejoice in ALL things not just the things we like.  The book of Philippians outlines the gift of suffering.  One of the ways that we become joyful is through this suffering. 

The word “continually” or in the KJV “without ceasing” is the Greek word adialeiptos (Strongs G89) which means without omission.  So we are to pray about everything in our life.  The same word without ceasing is translated “yet again” in Genesis 18:29 (Strongs H3254)  This occurs in the story of Abraham pleading for his nephew Lot’s city of Sodom.  Each time Abraham asks the Lord to spare the city, he asks the Lord for more.  Will God destroy the city if He can find 50 righteous people? 45? 40? 30? 20? 10?  Therefore we are to pray continually for all things that are on our hearts even if we think that we are being bold in our prayer as Abraham thought.

The words “in all circumstances” equal the Greek word pante (Strongs G3839) which means wholly and always.  Therefore, we are to give thanks for everything that comes our way even if we don’t feel like it. 

Consider your day today.  Have you rejoiced even in the disappointments?  Have you prayed for each thing throughout the day? Have you thanked Him for all things that have crossed your path today?