Gods Army Ministries

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually–regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” MATTHEW 28:19‭-‬20 AMP

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Are You Opening The Door To The Enemy?

– by Lisa Great

Did you know that you are the sole guardian of the gates of your life, no one can force themselves into your life? Did you know that as a gatekeeper of your own life, you have a responsibility to protect your life from things that would seek to destroy it? Many of us have been conditioned to blame others or the devil for things we have allowed through our gates. But today, is a great day to guard the gates and let the process of garden maintenance begin.

A gate is a movable barrier, usually on hinges, closing an opening in a fence, wall, or other enclosure; an opening permitting passage through an enclosure (dictionary.com). We have three gates through which access is granted to our life, which Scripture calls our garden. We have an eye gate, an ear gate and a mouth gate.

The eye gate and the ear gate are entry-only gates, the mouth gate is an entry and exit gate. With the mouth gate, food can go in and we need to watch what we eat, but words can come out and that is really what we need to guard. The Bible says in Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. But things do not get in our heart through our mouths, for what goes in the mouth enters the stomach and then exits as refuse. So, how do things get into our hearts that come out of our mouth?

The ear gate and the eye gate are the only two entry points into our lives. What we see with our eyes and hear with our ears are what goes into our heart and then eventually comes out of our mouth. The Lord is calling us to guard our ear gate and eye gate, for in doing so we guard our heart and then we can guard our mouth gate.

What we allow our eyes to see and our ears to hear either builds beauty in our garden or it brings destruction. The increase of evil we are seeing in the world, is predominantly due to the fact that we have not guarded the gates of our lives or the lives of our children. What comes through the television is destructive to our gardens. What we read in newspapers plants fear in us; music we listen to can “feel our pain” but does not help our situation.

We have not guarded our gates and now we have gardens that are neglected, destroyed or diseased. Many people’s lives are evidence of gates that have been left unguarded. But the truth is, the Lord is calling us to guard the gates again.

We may have left them unguarded and our gardens may be in disarray, but today is a new day and His mercies are new every morning. We can heed the call to guard the gate today, by making godly choices about what we allow into our eye gate and ear gate and what comes out of our mouth gate. We are the most powerful agent on earth, but we render ourselves powerless when we don’t heed the call to guard the gates.

Article source: www.charismamag.com.

Lisa Great is an author, speaker and blogger with Mouthpiece Ministries International. She can be reached at mouthpieceministries.net; mouthpieceministries.wordpress.com; or on her Facebook page Lisa Great.

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Paulus se gebed – Effesiers 1:15-23

1. Waarvan het Paulus gehoor van die gemeente in Effese?
Hy het gehoor van die gemeente se geloof. Hulle geloof in Jesus en die liefde vie mede gelowiges.
a. Daarom, vandat ek gehoor het van julle geloof in die Here Jesus en van julle liefde vir al die gelowiges, – EFESIËRS 1:15 AFR83
i. omdat ons gehoor het van julle geloof in Christus Jesus en van julle liefde vir al die gelowiges. – KOLOSSENSE 1:4 AFR83

2. Waneer dink Paulus (spesefiek) aan die gemeente?
Hy dink spesefiek aan die geneemte in sy gebede.
a. hou ek ook nie op om God vir julle te dank nie. Wanneer ek in my gebede aan julle dink, – EFESIËRS 1:16 AFR83
i. God, wat ek met hart en siel dien deur die evangelie van sy Seun te verkondig, is my getuie dat ek gedurig in my gebede aan julle dink. – ROMEINE 1:9 AFR83

3. Waarvoor bid Paulus vir die gemeente?
Hy bid vi wysheid vir die gemeente. Hy bid dat God Homself aan die gemeente openbaar. Dat die gemeente God werklik sal leer ken. Dat die gemeente God se wil sal leer ken.
a. bid ek dat die God van ons Here Jesus Christus, die Vader aan wie die heerlikheid behoort, deur sy Gees aan julle wysheid gee en Hom so aan julle openbaar dat julle Hom werklik kan ken. – EFESIËRS 1:17 AFR83
i. Daarom, van die dag af dat ons van julle gehoor het, hou ons ook nie op om vir julle te bid nie. Ons vra God dat Hy deur al die wysheid en insig wat die Gees gee, julle sy wil duidelik sal laat ken, – KOLOSSENSE 1:9 AFR83

4. Wat bid Paulus nog vir die gemeente?
Dat hulle geestesoe sal vehelder, met ander woorde dat dit sal oopgaan. Verder ook dat hulle sal weet watter hoop sy roeping inhou. Dat die gemeente van die duiternis na die lig sal beweeg. Dat hulle hulle van die Satan na God bekeer. Dt hulled eel van God se volk sal word.

5. Volgens Eff 2:12 (v), in watter toestand was ons voor ons verlig is en ons Christus gered is?
Ons was ver van God af. Ons was nie deel van die volk van God of die verbond wat Hy met sy volk gehad het. Ons was sonder hoop, maar die ergste van alles, ons was sonder God self!

6. Volgend Mark 12:30 (vi), Hoe moet ons die Here nou lief hê?
Ons moet God lief hê me ons hele hart, hele siel en met ons hele verstand. En met al jou krag. Dit will sê ons moet God lief hê met alles wat ons het. Totaal en al. volledig en sonder voorbehoud.
a. Ek bid dat Hy julle geestesoë so verhelder dat julle kan weet watter hoop sy roeping inhou, en watter rykdom daar is in die heerlike erfenis wat Hy vir die gelowiges bestem het, – EFESIËRS 1:18 AFR83
i. Jy moet hulle oë oopmaak sodat hulle hulle van die duisternis tot die lig en van die mag van die Satan tot God kan bekeer. Deur in My te glo, sal hulle sondes vergewe word en sal hulle deel word van die volk van God.’ – HANDELINGE 26:18 AFR83
ii. God wat gesê het: “Laat daar lig skyn uit die duisternis,” het ook in ons harte ‘n lig laat skyn om ons te verlig met die kennis van die heerlikheid van God, wat van Jesus Christus uitstraal. – 2 KORINTIËRS 4:6 AFR83
iii. Wanneer mense een keer deur God verlig is, die hemelse gawe ontvang en deel gekry het aan die Heilige Gees, die goeie woord van God leer ken het en die kragte van die toekomstige wêreld ondervind het en dan nogtans afvallig geword het, is dit onmoontlik om hulle weer tot bekering te bring. In hulleself kruisig hulle immers weer die Seun van God en maak hulle Hom in die openbaar tot ‘n bespotting. – HEBREËRS 6:4-6 AFR83
iv. In dié tyd was julle sonder Christus, uitgesluit uit die burgerskap van Israel, ver van God af sonder deel aan die verbonde en die beloftes wat daarmee saamhang, sonder hoop en sonder God in die wêreld. – EFESIËRS 2:12 AFR83
v. Jy moet die Here jou God liefhê met jou hele hart en met jou hele siel en met jou hele verstand en met al jou krag.’ – MARKUS 12:30 AFR83

7. Van watter “krag” word gepraat in die vers?
Daar word gepraat van die krag van God self. Dit is die krag wat ook ons verlosser Here Jesus uit die dood opgewek het.

8. Wat is die gevolg van die “krag” volgens 1 Tim 6:16?
Die krag bring onsterflikheid vir ons!

9. In wie werk die krag volgens Kol 1:29? In wie werk die krag nog?
Die krag werk in Paulis, maar nie net in Paulus nie, maar in elke gelowige. Die krag werk vandag nog in ons. Die krag werk in jou en in my!
a. en hoe geweldig groot sy krag is wat Hy uitoefen in ons wat glo. Dit is dieselfde kragtige werking van sy mag – EFESIËRS 1:19 AFR83
i. Dit het by die doop gebeur deurdat julle toe saam met Hom begrawe is. Deur julle verbondenheid met Hom is julle ook saam met Hom opgewek, omdat julle geglo het in die krag van God wat Hom uit die dood opgewek het. – KOLOSSENSE 2:12 AFR83
ii. Hy alleen besit onsterflikheid; Hy woon in ontoeganklike lig. Geen mens het Hom gesien of kan Hom sien nie. Aan Hom kom toe eer en ewige mag! Amen. – 1 TIMOTEUS 6:16 AFR83
iii. Daarvoor span ek my ook in en beywer ek my met die krag wat Hy gee en wat kragtig in my werk. – KOLOSSENSE 1:29 AFR83

10. Jesus is uit die dood opgewek! Waar is Hy nou en waarom is Hy daar?
Na sy dood is Jesus uit die dood opgewek. Soo sons beleidenis skrifte sê het Hy opgevaar na die hemel waar Hy sit aan die regterhand van God. Hy is daar sodat sy vyande aan Hom onderwerp kan word.
a. wat Hy uitgeoefen het toe Hy Christus uit die dood opgewek en Hom in die hemel aan sy regterhand laat sit het: – EFESIËRS 1:20 AFR83
i. Maar God het Hom van die smarte van die dood verlos en Hom uit die dood laat opstaan. Dit was immers vir die dood onmoontlik om Hom gevange te hou. – HANDELINGE 2:24 AFR83
ii. Van Dawid. ‘n Psalm. Die Here het vir my heer die koning gesê: “Kom sit aan my regterhand, en Ek sal jou vyande aan jou onderwerp.” – PSALMS 110:1 AFR83

11. Wie is die heerser waarvan gepraat word?
Die Heerser waarvan hier gepraat word is Jesus Christus, ons Enigste Verlosser en Saligmaker. Ons Here!

12. Volgend Rom 8:38-39, wat kan ons van die liefde van God, naamlik Jesus, skei?
In die verse word verskeie moonlikhede genome van dinge wat ons moontlik van God sal kan skei, maar die feit is dat absoluut niks ons kan skei van God nie! Net mooi niks!
a. hoog bo elke mag en gesag, elke krag en heerskappy, en wat daar ook al sprake van mag wees, nie net in hierdie bedeling nie, maar ook in die bedeling wat kom. – EFESIËRS 1:21 AFR83
i. Vir ons is ‘n Seun gebore, aan ons is ‘n Seun gegee; Hy sal heers, en Hy sal genoem word: Wonderbare Raadsman, Magtige God, Ewige Vader, Vredevors. Sy heerskappy sal uitbrei, en Hy sal vir altyd vrede en voorspoed bring. Hy sal op die troon van Dawid sit en oor sy koninkryk regeer. Hy sal dié koninkryk vestig en in stand hou deur reg en geregtigheid, van nou af en vir altyd. Daarvoor sal die onverdeelde trou van die Here die Almagtige sorg. – JESAJA 9:5-6 AFR83
ii. Hy sal groot wees en die Seun van die Allerhoogste genoem word. Die Here God sal Hom die troon van sy voorvader Dawid gee, en Hy sal as koning oor die nageslag van Jakob heers tot in ewigheid. Aan sy koningskap sal daar geen einde wees nie.” – LUKAS 1:32-33 AFR83
iii. Daarom het God Hom ook tot die hoogste eer verhef en Hom die Naam gegee wat bo elke naam is, sodat in die Naam van Jesus elkeen wat in die hemel en op die aarde en onder die aarde is, die knie sou buig, en elke tong sou erken: “Jesus Christus is Here!” tot eer van God die Vader. – FILIPPENSE 2:9-11 AFR83
iv. Hiervan is ek oortuig: geen dood of lewe of engele of magte of teenswoordige of toekomstige dinge of kragte of hoogte of diepte of enigiets anders in die skepping kan ons van die liefde van God skei nie, die liefde wat daar is in Christus Jesus ons Here. – ROMEINE 8:38-39 AFR83

13. Wat word alles aan Jesus onderwerp?
Alles word aan Jesus onderwerp. In die eerste plek word die kerk, alle Christine, aan Hom onderwerp. Maar nog meer as dit, al sy vyande word ook aan Hom onderwerp.

14. Op aarde is die mens God se verteenwoordiger. Volgens Heb 2:6-8 is “alles aan hom (die mens/mensdom) onderwer”. Wat beteken dit? (Verwys na die Koninkryk van God)
In Mattues 6:10 staan daar dat God se koninkry moet kom. Wat is die koninkry dan? Dit is om die wil van God op aarde te laat geskied. Dit moet op aarde geskeid net soos wat dit in die hemel gebeur. In Matteus 6:33 word ons bevel om eers die koninkryk, die wil van God te soek. Met ander woorde, ons moet die koningkryk van God op aarde soek en vestig deur die wil van God te soek en te doen.
a. Ja, aan Hom het God alles onderwerp, Hom bo alles verhef en Hom aangestel as hoof van die kerk. – EFESIËRS 1:22 AFR83
i. Van Dawid. ‘n Psalm. Die Here het vir my heer die koning gesê: “Kom sit aan my regterhand, en Ek sal jou vyande aan jou onderwerp.” – PSALMS 110:1 AFR83
ii. Jesus kom toe nader en sê vir hulle: “Aan My is alle mag gegee in die hemel en op die aarde. – MATTEUS 28:18 AFR83
iii. Daar staan immers geskrywe: “Alles het Hy aan Hom onderwerp.” Maar as die Skrif sê dat alles aan Christus onderwerp is, is dit duidelik dat die Vader wat alles aan Hom onderwerp het, uitgesonder is. – 1 KORINTIËRS 15:27 AFR83
iv. U het hom net ‘n bietjie minder as ‘n hemelse wese gemaak en hom met aansien en eer gekroon, – PSALMS 8:6 AFR83
v. Inteendeel, iemand het êrens getuig en gesê: “Wat is ‘n mens dat U aan hom dink, ‘n mensekind dat U na hom omsien? U het hom ‘n kort tydjie minder as die engele gemaak; U het hom met heerlikheid en eer gekroon; U het alles aan hom onderwerp.” By die onderwerping van alle dinge aan die mens is niks uitgesluit nie. Alles is aan hom onderwerp. Nou sien ons nog nie dat alle dinge reeds aan die mens onderwerp is nie. – HEBREËRS 2:6-8 AFR83

15. Wie is die liggam van God?
Die kerk is die liggam van God. Maar hier praat ons nie van die gebou nie, maar die ligaam van Jesus Christus. Met ander woorde dit sluit elke lidmaat, elke Christen in.
a. Die kerk is sy liggaam, die volheid van Hom wat alles in almal vervul. – EFESIËRS 1:23 AFR83
i. Net so is ons, al is ons baie, in Christus een liggaam, en almal afsonderlik lede van mekaar. – ROMEINE 12:5 AFR83
ii. In Hom is die volle wese van God beliggaam, – KOLOSSENSE 2:9 AFR83

Om op te som. Die krag van God is vandag nog aan die werk in die ligaam van Jesus Christus. Dis die selfde krag wat Jesus uit die dood opgewek het. Die krag is vir ons gegee om die koninkryk van God hier op die aarde te vestig. Die manier hoe ons die koninkryk hier op aarde moet vestig is om die wil van God te soek end it dan hier op aarde uit te leef. Ons moet ons hele lewe wy aan God e naan die uitleef van sy wil. Ons moet onsself totaal en al oorgee aan God en sy perfekte wil.

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NG Kerk, Orajneville

Ek hou van nuwe ding doen. Ek hou van ander dinge doen. Ek hou van verandering. En, natuurlik, hou ek van kerk toe gaan…

So dan en wan gebeur dit dat ons op ander plekke opeindig oor naweke.

Soos, waneer ons vir ons ouers gaan kuier, waneer ons vir `n naweek weggaan en so voorts. Dan hou ek daarvan om bietjie die nuwe, ander, verskillende ding wat die dorp, of omgewing, offer te ervaar. Dit was onlangs weer die geval gewees toe ons vir die naweek na Orjanjeville toe was…

Die eerste ding wat ek wou sien was natuurlik die dorp! Nou, die wat Oranjeville ken sal weet, dit het nie baie lank gevat nie! Dis maar `n baie kelin dorpie met bie beperkte winkels en geriewe, maar daar is genoeg van die basise ding, en natuurlik visgoed, om die besoeker tevrede te kan stel.

Die tweede ding wat ek net moes doen was om die Parkrun in Vaal Marina te gaan doen. Dit het ek toe die Saterdagoggend ook gaan doen. Wat toe sommer so saam met die besoek aan Vaal Marina geloop het is dat daar net drie dorpe op die oewer van die Vaal Dam gevestig is. En die Saterdag het ek draai gemaak in al drie van hulle! Check!

Terwyl ek so op die kerkterein rond geloop het, het ek die pragtige indrukwekkende kruis gesien. Dit het `n groot indruk op my gemak…

En die laaste ding, waaroor die artiekel eintlik gaan, my besoek aan die plaaslike NG Kerk Sonadag oggend. Nou, soos ek reeds gesê het, Oranjeville is nie `n groot dorp nie. Nou, ondervinding het al geleer dat in sulke plekkies is die “indringer” of “buitesaander” nie altyd so welkom nie… Sit nou nog `n “motorbike” en `n “cut” by….wel, jy kry die prentjie!

Maar hier was dit glad nie die geval nie! Van die oomblik wat ek daar gestop het is ek met ope arms, leterlik, onvang. Ek is soos `n langverlore broer gegroet! Ek neem aan die person by die deur was ook die koster. Hy het my aan elke lidmaat wat op die dag daar was voorgestel! Soos net regte boere-mense kan doen… Dit was ongelooflik gewees.

Toe die diens. Die dominee het, soos in die NG tradiesie, die preekstoel bestuig…en van dat hy sy mond oopgemaak het en die eerste word gespreek het, het ek geweet, hierdie is nog `n kerk waar die Woord van die Here verkondig word, en geleef word! Lekker man! Dis mos hoe dit hoort!

Die boodsap was treffend en op die punt af. Geen “fancy” stories of suikerklontjies nie, net die waarheid soos wat dit in die Woord staan. 

Na die tyd het die gemeente `n vergadering gehad oor besluite was die Sinode geneem het. Dit het die “kuier tyd” bietjie beperk.

Na die diens het ek daar weg gery terug na die kampterein toe…

So het my besoek aan die NG Gemeete, Oranjeville tot `n einde gekom. Ek was aangenaam verras oor die ontvangs en die gasvreiheid. Ek was beindruk met die manier waarop die Woord verkondig en gevolg word. Die manier waarop mede gelowiges soos `n broer onvang en verwelkom word… As ek weer die geleentheid kry, sal ek beslis weer daar draai maak!

Artiekel deur:
Christo “Wolf” Pelser
President of the Board: Gods Army Ministries / Wolf Clan MCC: Club President 

 

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Die slotte en sleutels van doeltreffende gebed

Die gebed van iemand wie se saak met God reg is, is kragtig en effektief. Jakobus 5:16

Die Slotte: 10 Dinge wat gebed verhoed

1. Om te bid sonder om God deur Jesus te ken. Johannes 14:6 – “Jesus het vir hom gesê:”Ek is die we gen die waarheid en die lewe. Niemand kom na die Vader toe behalwe deur My nie.”

2. Om vanuit ‘n onboetvaardige hart te bid. Psalm 66:18-19 – “As daar sonde in my hart was, sou die Here nie geluister het mie. Maar God hét geluister, Hy hét my gebed verhoor!”

3. Om net vir die skyn te bid. Matteus 6:5-“As julle bid, moet julle nie soos die skynheiliges wees nie. Hulle hou daarvan om in die sinagoges en op die straathoeke te staan en en bid sodat die mense hulle kan sien. Dit verseker Ek julle: Hulle het hulle beloning klaar weg.”

4. Om herhaaodeloik met leë woorde te bid. Matteus 6:7-8 “Wanneer julle bid, moet julle nie soos die heidene ‘n stortvloed van woorde gebruik nie. Hulle verbeel hulle hulle gebede sal verhoor word omdat hulle baie woorde gebruik. Moet dan nie soos hulle maak nie, want julle Vader weet wat julle nodig het, nog voordat julle dit van Hom vra.”

5. Wanneer jy versuim om te bid. Jakobus 4:2 – “Julle kry nie, omdat julle nie bid nie.”

6. Jakobus 4:2 – “As julle bid, ontvang julle nie, omdat julle verkeerd bid: julle wil net julle selfsugtige begeertes bevredig.”

7. Om te bid terwyl jy jou huweliksmaat sleg behandel. – 1 Petrus 3:7 – “Mans, julle moet verstandig met julle vrouens saamleef. Bewys eer aan hulle wat saam met julle deel in die lewe as genadegawe. Dan sal julle kan bid sonder dat iets julle hinder.”

8. Om te bid terwyl jy die armes ignoreer. Spreuke 21:13 – “As jy jou ore sluit vir die hulpgeroep van ‘n arm mens, sal jy ook nie antwoord kry as jy roep nie.”

9. Om te bid terwyl jy in jou hart bitterheid teenoor iemand koester. Markus 11:25-
26 – “Wanneer julle staan en bid, vergeef as julle iets teen iemand het, sodat julle Vader wat in die hemele is, ook julle jul oortredinge mag vergewe. Maar as julle nie vergewe nie, sal julle Vader wat in die hemele is, ook julle oortredinge nie vergewe nie.”

10. Om sonder geloof te bid. Jakobus 1:6-8 “ ‘n Mens moet gelowig bid en nie twyfel nie, want iemand wat twyfel, is soos ‘n brander in die see wat deur die wind aangejaag en heen en weer gedryf word. So ‘n mens wat altyd aan die twyfel is en onbestendig is in al sy doen en late, moet nie dink dat hy iets van die Here sal ontvang nie.”

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Oor gebede…

Goeie more almal,

My rekenaar was bietjie op die koffie vir ‘n paar weke agv ‘updates’ wat ek nie gedoen het nie, wat ek nagelaat het om te doen. Natuurlik was my eerste gedagtes vir wie ek kan beskuldig, of vir wie kan ek kwaad wees! Maar toe ek sien dat dit eintlik my eie skuld was omdat my rekenaar nie kon funksioneer nie, toe was ek maar bly ek het nie my mond gespoel nie!

In elke geval, hiermee iets vanaf oom Johan wat ek graag met julle wil deel…

Vir weke al vra ek die Here hoekom so baie gebede onbeantwoord bly. Hoekom is daar steeds so baie wat sukkel of ly, ten spytte daarvan dat ons oor en oor vir hul bid? In antwoord hierop het die Here aan my gewys dat die probleem nie by Hom is nie, maar eerder by diegene wat nie bereid is om in ‘n verhouding met Hom te kom nie.

Terwyl ek bid sien ek hoe ons grense aan die Here stel; hoe ons sekere areas afbaken waar Hy mag werk. Soms gaan ons so ver as omdie Here toestemming te gee om in sekere areas te werk terwyl ons geen-toegang tekens oprig in ander areas. So sal ons die Here toestemming gee om ons finansies te seën of ons te genees van siekte terwyl Hy nie sonde of ongeregtigheid mag aanspreek nie. Ons wil Sy beskerming hê maar wil nie hê dat Hy ons lei na heiligheid nie.

‘n Paar jaar gelede het ek ‘n jong bedelaar teëgekom en hom werk aangebied. Hy het die aanbod van die hand gewys want hy kan op sommigge dae meer buit as wat ek hom aangebied het. Ongelukkig is daar Christene wat soos die bedelaar, eerder wil sien dat die Here kontant na hul gooi as om in ‘n verhouding met God te leef.

Oor en oor wys die Here my dat wanneer ons nie kry wat ons vra, ons eerder na ons verhouding met Hom moet kyk as om Hom te bevraagteken. Ons moet die Here toegang gee sodat Hy in ons en deur ons kan werk. Ons moet in die wingerdstok bly soos gesien kan word in Johannes 15: 4-7 wat lui: “Julle moet in My bly en Ek in julle. ‘n Loot kan nie uit sy eie vrugte dra as hy nie aan die wingerdstok bly nie; en so julle ook nie as julle nie in My bly nie. “Ek is die wingerdstok, julle die lote. Wie in My bly en Ek in hom, dra baie vrugte, want sonder My kan julle niks doen nie. As iemand nie in My bly nie, word hy weggegooi soos ‘n loot en hy verdroog. Die mense maak sulke lote bymekaar en gooi dit in die vuur, en dit verbrand. As julle in My bly en my woorde in julle, vra dan net wat julle wil hê, en julle s al dit kry.”

Om in Hom te bly spreek daarvan om ‘n hegte, intieme verhouding met die Here te hê. Dikwels hoor ons uitsprake of preke waar gesê word dat ons alles kan kry waarvoor ons vra. Maar die Woord is duidelik: As ons in Hom bly en Sy woorde in ons, dan sal ons kry wat ons vra.

Dit is egter belangrik dat ons wil in lyn met God se wil moet wees. Die enigste manier om dit te vermag is om die eienaarskap of titelakte van ons lewens aan God te gee. Dan, wanneer God se wil vir ons belangriker is as ons eie wil sal ons sonder aarseling, twyfel, vrees of ongeloof kan bid “U wil geskied!” die oomblik wat ons in ‘n verhouding met die Here kom sal ons ook God se voorsiening en God se seën in ons lewens beleef.

Baie blessings! Wees lief vir mekaar! Dra mekaar se laste en deel mekaar se vreugdes!

Johan.

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When Trouble Comes: Ruth 1:1-5

“When hard times come, be a student, not a victim.” My friend Jim Warren told me that many years ago. A moment’s thought will show the wisdom of those words:

–A victim says, “Why did this happen to me?”
–A student says, “What can I learn from this?”

–A victim complains he is being treated unfairly.
–A student thanks God he is not being treated as he deserves.

–A victim tries to get even with those who have hurt him.
–A student seeks to serve others in the midst of his difficulty.

–A victim believes the game of life is stacked against him.
–A student believes God is at work even in the worst situations.

The perceptive reader can think of a hundred other comparisons, but the point is clear. We rarely control what happens to us, but we can always choose how we will respond. Sometimes we will make the wrong choice and pay a heavy price for our mistake. Often we won’t learn the right lessons until we can look back and see how God was at work in our trials.

Something like that happened to a woman named Naomi. You can find her story in the Old Testament book of Ruth. It is a love story that starts with misery and ends with joy. Brian Bill sets the scene this way: “It’s an account of anxiety, fear, love, and commitment that inflames the imagination and soothes the soul. It begins with despair and ends with delight.”

This tiny book (four chapters–only 85 verses) covers a vast range of human emotions, starting with heartache, then moving to intrigue, then romance, then happiness. Along the way we discover “God behind the seen,” which means the real star of the book is the Lord who works in, through, and sometimes in spite of the decisions we make.

The opening verses set the scene for us:

During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to stay in the territory of Moab for a while. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the fields of Moab and settled there. 3 Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband (Ruth 1:1-5).

From this story we can discern three contemporary lessons that will help us navigate the hard times of life.

I. Hard Times May Happen at Any Time

The book of Ruth opens with a note that anchors this story to a particular time and place: “During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land” (v. 1). This means the story took place after Joshua’s death and before Saul became king. When we read the book of Judges, we may be tempted to think it was a godless time, but that would not be entirely correct. We should think of it as a time when every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). As long as the judges ruled, the people served the Lord. But when a judge died, the Jews turned to idolatry. It was a recurring cycle of obedience, disobedience, judgment, suffering, desperation, and returning to the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 28:24 Moses warned the people that if they refused to obey the Lord, God would curse the land: “The Lord will turn the rain of your land into falling dust; it will descend on you from the sky until you are destroyed.” That means the famine in the Promised Land didn’t just happen. It was more than a natural disaster. God used the famine to send a message to his people.

When people ask me, “Do you think God can speak to us today?” I tell them, “You don’t have to worry about that. God has your number on speed dial. He can ring your phone any time of the day or night. And when he calls, you won’t be able to put him on call waiting.” God knows how to get through to any of us at any time.

II. Hard Times Force Us to Make Hard Choices

If you are Elimelech, what do you do when a famine impacts your family? The land around Bethlehem was some of the most fertile ground in the Promised Land. A man who worked hard could harvest enough each year to take care of his family. So what do you do when a famine hits? For Elimelech the answer was simple. He took his family and moved to Moab because it was a land of good soil and adequate rainfall. If the famine had not hit that region, perhaps he could stay for a few months or a year or two.

The fact he was an “Ephrathite” may throw more light on the matter. Ephrathah was the old name for Bethlehem. It may imply that he came from a distinguished background, from a family with a long history in the region. It would be like saying, “Here is a man from Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.” That wouldn’t guarantee he had money, but it does suggest something about his background.

It appears from the text that things worked out for a while. Evidently they settled in the “fields of Moab” and found plenty to eat. The famine of Bethlehem was now a distant memory. But soon Elimelech dies. We aren’t told why or how, only that he died in Moab, leaving Naomi without a husband and the two boys without a father. Eventually they married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other named Ruth. Then the two sons die and are buried in Moab. Suddenly ten years have passed. I read about a woman who, knowing she was about to die, wrote her own obituary, which summed up her 69 years this way: “I was born, I blinked, and it was over.” We could all say the same thing because the days are long, but the years are short.

Verse 1 notes that Elimelech intended to emigrate to Moab for “a while,” meaning he never intended to leave Judah forever. This was a temporary move into foreign territory, made under great duress. But God was very clear that the Israelites were to have nothing to do with the Moabites:
No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the Lord’s assembly; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, may ever enter the Lord’s assembly . . . Never pursue their welfare or prosperity as long as you live (Deuteronomy 23:3, 6).

I suspect Elimelech didn’t intend to leave the Lord by migrating to Moab, but it was a reckless move at best. An ancient foe of Israel, Moab originated with Lot’s incestuous relationship with his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). He was leaving the land of blessing to live among the pagans on the east side of the Dead Sea. He and his family would be exposed to the Moabite religion with its degrading idol worship and its gross sexual perversion. I think Elimelech understood the risk but considered this move a temporary expedient for the sake of his family.

Geoff Thomas sketches the problem in three sentences:

The problem in Israel was not the lack of bread. The problem was the lack of obedience to Jehovah. This was not the first famine in the land flowing with milk and honey, and it would not be the last.

But good motives can’t cancel the impact of bad decisions. Recently I spoke to a group of students at a Christian school about the importance of obedience. To make my point, I mentioned the institutional rules they must obey, such as rules about what to wear and what not to wear, designated curfew times, and things like that. When I asked if they needed to agree with the rules, quite a few of the students said yes, but that’s not necessarily the right answer. What matters is not whether you like the rules or agree with them; the only question is, will you obey them? You are free to have your own opinion, but you are not free to disobey without consequences.

Motives matter, but in real life obedience matters more.

You can’t run from your problems because your problems will follow you wherever you go. A change of scenery doesn’t produce a change of heart. Whatever you were before is what you will be wherever you go next. We all feel the urge to change things when we encounter problems. We want a new spouse or new children or a new job or a new career. We may dream of moving to a new house or into a new neighborhood. If our church doesn’t go the way we like, we want a new pastor. We think if only we could make a fresh start, things would improve. And sometimes that’s true. It’s not that change is always bad. After all, we live in a changing world. But change can be an excuse not to face the problems of life head on. Running away from our trouble rarely makes things better.

Elimelech thought he would go to Moab, stay until the famine passed, and then come back home. But check out those three graves in Moab. That’s where he’s buried along with his two sons. His wrong decision meant he never made it back home. In the words of Samuel Cox, “Elimelech lost his life while seeking a livelihood, and found a grave where he had sought a home.”

III. Hard Times Prepare Us for a Great Work of Grace

Oswald Chambers wrote about the “dance of circumstance,” by which he meant the hand of God working through seemingly random events. Who raised up the judges? God did. Who sent the famine? God did. Who gave safe passage to Moab? God did. Who decreed the three men of the family should die there? God did. As far as we know, God never speaks directly to Elimelech, yet he is the Unseen Hand moving behind the events. Whatever else you may say about your life, don’t ever forget that God oversees the tiniest details. Nothing escapes his notice, and even the most unlikely events are part of his plan for you.

When the family left Bethlehem, there were four of them, three men and one woman: Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon and Chilion. But now Naomi has buried the three men in the mountains of Moab. When she discusses her situation with Orpah and Ruth, Naomi declares that God has turned his hand against her (Ruth 1:13).

So in what sense is Naomi prepared for a great work of grace? As our text ends, Naomi is still in Moab, far from home (figuratively and spiritually), coping with the loss of her husband and her sons. She is where she shouldn’t be (in a pagan land), separated from God’s people, facing the consequences of her husband’s unwise decision. She is an older widow, in the company of two younger widows. It was not an ideal place to be in any sense.

Write over this story in big letters the word HOPELESS. Naomi is stuck in Moab, a widow with no hope of ever having another child, with two younger widows by her side, and those two younger women are not Jews but Moabites. As far as Naomi is concerned, not only does she have no future, but neither do they if they stay with her.

Part of our challenge in reading the book of Ruth is that we know how the story ends. We face the same issue when we read about Joseph in the book of Genesis. How much did Joseph know about the end of the story when his brothers cast him into the pit in Genesis 37? The answer is nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Ask the same question when he is carted off by the Midianites and then sold as a slave to Potiphar. How much did he know about the future when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape? Or when Potiphar had him thrown into jail? Or when the cup-bearer promised to remember him but instead forgot about him while he languished in an Egyptian prison? The answer is the same. We like to repeat, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20), as if it explains Joseph’s endurance during the hard times. But Joseph had no advance knowledge that he (a Hebrew slave!) would eventually be second in command in Egypt.

When I’m asked, “Does God have a blueprint for my life?” I like to reply, “Yes, but there’s only one copy, and it’s locked up on the second floor of the administration building in heaven, and I don’t know any way you can get a copy.” We aren’t given advance notice of what tomorrow will bring. That’s true for all of us–rich and poor, young and old, new Christian or mature believer. We all must take life as it comes to us, one day at a time.

Naomi still believes in God, even in a foreign land, cut off from her own people. If she is bitter at the Lord, at least she has not turned from him. She is a bruised believer, brokenhearted at what she has lost. If we callously say, “She got what was coming to her,” we only reveal how little we understand about God’s heart. He is rich in grace, and his pockets are deep and full of mercy.

God has not given up on Naomi, no matter what she may think about him. He has big plans that are about to unfold. Little does she know that one day she will hold a baby in her lap who will be the grandfather of King David. Still less could she imagine that her daughter-in-law Ruth (a Moabite maiden!) will end up in the line of the Messiah.

Her sadness will be turned to joy, and she will discover that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. But all that is yet to come.

Let’s leave the story right here, and content ourselves with the thought that we serve a God who can take the worst and turn it into the best because that’s the kind of God he is.

Give God time to work.

He knows what he is doing even when we don’t have a clue.