Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Psalm 1:5-6

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
When we read Psalm 1, the psalmist makes it very clear that the ungodly and the righteous walk two extremely different paths. He goes on in verse 5 to describe how that those paths conclude in two completely different destinations. They are not interchangeable. They do not coincide. They are starkly different endings.
The path of the ungodly (the lifestyle that is consumed with self-gratification) ends with a crushing judgment. The path of the righteous (the lifestyle infused with the self-sacrifice of Jesus) ends in a joyful celebration.
So what is the “path”? The “path” could simply be described as people’s actions and interactions. It has to do with life choices and pursuits, and would include motivations and desires.
The “path” of the ungodly is filled with self-serving actions that are always tainted with the self-centered sense of personal accomplishment. Life goals include the accolades of those around them, the accumulation of stuff, and the acquisition of overstuffed coffers.
The “path” of the righteous is completely opposite. Instead of serving self, the righteous see their goal as accomplishing the magnification of God in the hearts and minds of those around them. The life goals of accolades, and accumulation, and acquisition are replaced with an insatiable desire to see God’s Kingdom grow and be established.
Knowing that these two different paths conclude in two different destinations, which would you choose? Any reasoning, capable human being would choose the one that ended in the joyful celebration. Why then do people choose the one that ends in destruction? Because they are too distracted by the glitz and glimmer of their lifestyle. Like a mouse attracted to the devastating cheese on the mousetrap, or a beetle to the glowing bug light, they cannot resist the overwhelming, enslaving power of their life choices and pursuits. Vice after vice binds their minds until they are convinced that their self-destruction is normal, and that their future-mutilation is commonplace and unpreventable.
We can offer them hope in Jesus, but we must guard our minds from the “deceitfulness” of the things that so easily bind them. We must constantly suspect our own motives and desires. We must search our hearts and souls for any captivating thing that is slowly drifting us away from the right “path” lest we end up in the destination of the ungodly.

Food For Thought: What determines the destination that people will arrive at eventually?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Psalm 1:4

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Worthless. Useless. Helpless. These are the ones without God. They have value in that Jesus died for them, but without faith in His saving work, even that value is lost on them. They have a use, but sadly it is only to show that the end of sin is destruction and the ways of death. They could receive help if they would simply trust in Jesus. But they don’t. Scornfully, they turn away.
The Psalmist tells us that the ungodly are like the chaff from wheat when it is being winnowed (this is a process not too familiar with our modern non-agrarian culture). Picture instead the fluffy seed plumes on an expired dandelion. A strong wind comes and away they float. There is no market for fluffy seed plumes. They hold no intrinsic value. They aren’t desirable, rather, culture has literally spent millions of dollars on killing them. These plumes do not have hands. Instead, they have a big puffy, fluffy top that seems to catch the wind and drag them wherever it wants to. They don’t determine which direction they will go, rather, the unseen wind around them drags them from one point to the next. They are helpless.
This is a pretty dire but accurate picture of the unrighteous. It doesn’t flatter. It doesn’t sugar-coat it. It is just the painful truth. They are worthless, useless, and helpless without God. As the chaff that is driven by the wind, they move blindly after their own lusts, heaping on their own heads the destructive fruit of ungodliness.
But we cannot end there. The gospel compels us to press on past the despair. Where there is a lack of worth, or a lack of purpose, or a lack of hope in the ungodly, we should not finish our interaction with them. Certainly we would not take their advice. We wouldn’t become like them, but we should bring the liberating truth of Christ to them. We are called to be harbingers of hope, declaring the wonderful truth that Jesus came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. In Christ, their helplessness can be met with grace, their uselessness can be vanquished with purpose, and their worthlessness can disintegrate at the value of His sacrificial love.

Food For Thought: What is the Psalmist comparing the ungodly to when he says, "The ungodly are not so"?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Psalm 1:3

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

I just finished landscaping the front of my house. In all, I planted about fifty plants in the plant beds, including a couple of trees. At the end of the job, I began the task of watering the plants. This is not a glamorous job, but it is one of the most important jobs of landscaping. You see, without water a plant’s leaves dry up and fall off. The blooms on the flowers get sickly and all of my hard work (and money) become worthless. Watering is so basic, but vitally necessary.
According to the Psalmist, meditating in God’s Word is very similar. Just as the plants need the nourishment of the garden hose, we need the nourishment of God’s Truth. At times it may seem like a laborious task to pause and read it, but the value far outweighs the effort. You see, the Psalmist relates a constant immersion in God’s Word with three things: fruitfulness, perseverance, and purpose.
1) We can be fruitful. We can have a life that actually produces good things. We can’t do it in our own power, but in due season, the good fruit of our lives will bear out if we are constantly watering our hearts with the Truth of God’s Word. His Spirit will minister His Truth to our souls, and all that we must do is place ourselves under the garden hose of His Word.
2) We can persevere. The constant nourishment for the plants helps prepare them for the hot summer days. Through consistent watering their roots become established, and they become drought resistant. Similarly, a regular dose of God’s Word prepares our hearts for seasons of trial. Refreshed by His comforting Word, we can withstand the scorching days of our souls.
3) We can live a life of purpose. We were not created without a purpose. We are not animals that root about aimlessly. Rather, as we dig into Scripture, we find that we were created and that we have a very important purpose that we can accomplish. “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” We can get plugged in to that truth, and take on a life of purpose. We were made for this. Eternal prosperity is within our grasp.

Food For Thought: What is the benefit of being daily immersed in the garden hose of God’s Word?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Psalm 1:2

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
God’s Word is delightful. By it we know the most important truths of life.
First: We can know God through His Word.
The Shaper of man, the Creator of all things, the Sovereign of time and eternity, the Omnipotent and Omniscient, God has revealed Himself to us. Who are we that He should do that? The most wealthy, and the most powerful men on the earth tend to hide their personal information as they gain prestige, but God chooses rather to reveal Himself through His word. He wants us to be able to see Him. He gave us an entire library called “The Bible” to show us His character and His nature, His joys and His dislikes.
Second: We can know of our helplessness.
The stories of Scripture teach us again and again, that no matter who we are, we always fall short. Whether it was a king like David, or a wealthy land-owner like Abraham, or a strong man like Sampson, or a wise man like Solomon, all men have shortcomings. Consistently, we see them make mistakes. The hollowness of their power, wealth, strength, and wisdom reveals itself in the self-destructive human tendencies that we also see in ourselves. So from God’s Word, we can see that we too are helpless.
Third: We can know of the hope offered through Jesus.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” truly describes us. But we read that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “For God hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Although we blow it continually, we can find hope and solace in the peace brought through the sacrifice of Jesus. As the song writer put it, “Hallellujah, all I have is Christ!” And we find our hope in God’s Word.
Truly His Word can be a delight to those who read it. The irony is that some people misread Psalm 1:2 as a command, “You must delight in the law of God!” as if it is not already delightful. God’s Word when read, brings hope; when understood, brings life; when obeyed, brings joy. Now, read it and enjoy.

Food For Thought: What three truths does the Bible tell us?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Psalm 1:1

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

Imagine that as I drive my new (to me) F-150 down the highway, suddenly a puff of smoke comes out of the tail pipe, the engine sputters for a second and then dies. I then let my truck coast down the highway until I can pull off into a parking lot.
At the entrance of the parking lot is a pretty shabby looking guy sitting on a park bench. After coming to a stop, I get out and pop the hood. Soon the homeless guy makes his way over to my truck and speaks, “you know I sit here every day and watch all types of cars and trucks drive by.” I respond with, “Oh, so you know how to fix them?” He shrugs, “You could say that.”
After relinquishing the engine compartment to him, I watch as he pulls out a couple of important looking hoses and wires. Under his breath he grunts, “This doesn’t look too important…” and “why would a car need one of these?” He finishes his “work” and steps away from the truck, slamming the hood closed. “Go ahead and fire her up, I think she’s ready,” he says confidently, as he stands in the pile of my truck’s removed hoses and wires. I hop in the cab and turn the key…and…nothing, absolutely nothing. Why? Because I just let a hobo rip stuff out from under my hood.
Now imagine that I never let the hobo touch my truck. Imagine rather that the parking lot that I pulled off the road into is the headquarters of the Ford company. As my truck rolls to a stop, a couple of guys come out the front door and with a look of concern one of them says, “Everything all right?” I explain to the guys about the smoke and the sputtering, and ask if they know of anything that could help me get my truck started. The older of the two replies, “Let me take a look. I am actually the lead mechanical engineer for Ford, and I designed and developed all the major engine components on the F-150.” In an instant, he is digging around under the hood using words that are so technical they sound almost made up. Moments later, he says, “Oh, here’s the problem,” and twists a part of the engine that I didn’t even know existed. Confidently he steps back and tells me to fire up the truck. After hopping in the cab, I turn the key, and the engine roars back to life.
What was the difference between the advice of the hobo and the mechanical engineer? One was a truck watcher and one was a truck maker. This is the point that the Psalmist is making when he starts out Psalm 1. Our lives are like the F-150. At times they sputter and smoke with problems. The foolish thing to do is to take advice from anyone other than the Maker. Even though at times others will offer advice with confidence, if it doesn’t come from the Maker then it will be absolutely worthless if not ultimately destructive.

Food For Thought: What phrase from Psalm 1:1 do you think today's devo highlighted?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Psalm 100:5

“For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
If God is good then why do bad things happen? According to Genesis 1:31, God declared that all of His creation was “very good.” He had not flawed, and He had not created evil. However, in Genesis 3 Adam and Eve believed the deceptive lies of Satan and disobeyed God, introducing sin and ultimately death to all mankind. Sin was the corruption of God’s perfect, holy design. It was a lack of holiness, a lack of faith, a lack of obedience that had led to the corruption of what God had created.
But does that mean that it was without His control? No, certainly not. He could have stopped it at any point, but He did not. Was He surprised by the sin? Also, no. Nothing takes Him by surprise. As a matter of fact, Revelation 13:8 points to the fact that God in His prescience (foreknowledge) had already planned for the fall, and that He desired to extend redemption to the descendants of Adam before He even created Adam.
God is not the author of sin, but He is sovereign over it. In Isaiah 45:7 God says “I form the light, and create the darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the LORD do all these things.” Some might point to this verse and say that God does that which is evil. The only problem is that the Hebrew word translated “evil” here is not the word that is used for sin or lack of holiness, rather it is the word that deals with calamity and tragedy. He certainly does not create disobedience to His holy character, but He does create the calamity and affliction that accompany the disobedience of His holy nature.
He is only good. In Isaiah 46:10, He says, “I will do all my pleasure” (I will do whatever pleases me). Romans 8:28 goes further to explain that He will “work all things together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose.” It pleases God to do good to us. So God allows “bad” things to happen, so that He may redeem them to His holy purposes for His glory. For the LORD is good, and His mercy is everlasting.

Food For Thought: If God is good, then why do bad things happen?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Psalm 100:4

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” 

A field sits under the sun. The rows have been dug. The seed has been sown. Now it patiently waits. All that it is missing is rain. Day after day, it stares at the cloudless sky, and wonders, “When will it rain?” But it has confidence that it will rain. It never has doubted the rain. Every year rain comes. The field receives it, and the crops grow. But for now, the field waits.
After a long night’s sleep, the field awakens to an overcast morning. The fiery sun peeks past the golden edges of the heavy, swirling clouds. “Today is the day,” the field thinks to itself. As the hours wear on, the clouds move in, ominous and dark. The wind begins to blow, and the trees along the edges of the field bow with every fierce gust. And then the rain comes. The cool, refreshing, rinsing, life-giving rain pours over every square inch of the field. Some unsettled seeds bob in the pools of rain that have gathered in the low spots. The field finally received its rain.
What did the field do to get the rain? Nothing. Was the rain a blessing? Absolutely. So what does the field owe the sky? Everything. But what can the field repay to the sky? Nothing. So how does the field “repay” the sky? It uses every ounce of rain to its utmost. It produces crops that are healthy and strong. It exists always looking to the sky as its source of rain.
We are the field. God is the sky. He pours His blessings and grace on us. Our flourishing and our life come from Him. What do we owe Him? Everything. What can we pay Him? Nothing. You see, the benefit of grace is that it is ‘gratis’ – “free.” If it was payable it would be a business deal, not grace. We owe God everything, but can repay Him nothing. This is the true nature of our position under His grace. So what can we do? Exactly what the field does. We can use every ounce of His blessing to produce in our lives things that would bring praise and glory to Him. We can look longingly to His hand of Provision and trust that every good and perfect gift that we need comes from His hand. We can be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

Food for Thought: Why should we be thankful to God? What do we owe God? What can we “pay” Him?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Psalm 100:3

“we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

A few months ago, Graham reached that age where his new favorite word is “MINE!” He doesn’t ever say it in compassion, or even in a question form. Rather, he spits it out like he and I are about to fight…and fight we do. (I always win) I sometimes find it ironic that he lives in the house I pay the mortgage for, under the roof I got a loan on, eats the food that Amber makes on plates that I bought, and sleeps in a bed that I carried up the stairs to his bedroom, yet finds the nerve to tell me that from his perspective most everything around him is in his own words, “MINE!”
Nope. It’s not. It never has been. And no matter how convincing he tries to be, or how much like the seagulls on Finding Nemo he sounds, I am still completely unconvinced that the hammer I am trying to work with is actually Graham’s. So, I then have the hard parenting task of focus shifting. Day in and day out, Amber and I train and hone his little mind to understand the truth – He is not the master of the world, just one of it’s mere inhabitants. And whenever he hollers a “MINE!” and tries in vain to yank something out of my gorilla hands, I lovingly remind him that in fact it is not his.
The Psalmist does the focus shifting here in Psalm 100:3. For those of us who would revel in all of our accomplishments, he reminds us that there is actually an ownership structure beyond us. At times we feel like we own everything around us, but let’s just get down to the facts. He created everything. He is in charge of everything. He is Provider of all things good, and ultimately He is the owner of all things. We are HIS people, and we exist in HIS pasture. Perhaps today you need to shift your focus from the stuff-grabbing, “MINE” lifestyle. Perhaps today you need to see the true Owner of all things. With the proper focus of Who owns all things, maybe you will strive to hold His stuff a little better. Maybe you will use it to accomplish more of His desires and less of your own.

Food For Thought: Who owns all things? Do you live like this is a reality?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Psalm 100:3

“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;”
There is only one GOD. All others are posers. They are fakes. They aren’t real. They have been created by the limited imagination of men. Stone masons and sculptors have shaped god after god. The evidence of their ineptness is in the design.
Without fail, the carvers and etchers reveal the lack of creativity in their concept when their god takes on the form of something else in existence. Whether it is “Hanuman” the Hindu monkey-god, or “Ra” the Egyptian sun-god, or the god that Aaron built at the foot of Mount Sinai that looked like a cow, or all the other gods that look like men or were supposedly at one point men, all of these gods have the same thing in common, they come from the minds of men with very limited imaginative resources. The lack of creativity is evident when they pick the objects around them to define their latest self-chosen deity. They fashion the idol to look like the thing that they can think of, but never do they create a new object. Never do they fashion a new concept. Their god must have hands(changing the number of these doesn’t add creativity) and eyes and ears and a mouth and a nose…and, well, everything that they are used to seeing on the beings around them.
Our God is different. It was from His imagination that we were created, not the other way around. The ideas that came from His mind shaped our reality. The limits of our imaginative resources were defined by His limitless creativity. The evidence of this limitless creativity is on exhibition every time scientists uncover yet again another new species of plant or animal that has never before been seen by human eyes, but instead was fashioned eons ago in the mind of God.
He is the fashioner, not us. We just make photocopies and duplicates. As a matter of fact, the Psalmist takes it one step further and declares “it is He that made us, and not we ourselves.” Literally, he is saying, “we didn’t fashion ourselves.” God is the maker of men. God is the shaper of men, and God is the one in control of men. Be amazed at His wonder-filled, imagination-stretching, creative power.

Food For Thought: How is our God different from all other gods?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Psalm 100:2

“Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”
Have you ever seen that guy who whistles while he is working? (no, I’m not talking about Snow White’s seven short friends) He just grins, or maybe he hums a song. And it’s not really that he is not working hard, he may actually be dripping with sweat or in the middle of doing back-breaking work. He is just a chipper guy. It’s like he actually enjoys working hard. When he is asked to do a task he does it without any compensation and treats it like it is fun. No matter the job, he has a smile. You could give him a broom and tell him to sweep the gym, or a toilet brush and tell him to clean all the commodes in the building, you could give him a vacuum and tell him to clean the classroom, or to move some tables and chairs and he hops into action with a bit of a smile on his face.
He does not see the task at hand as a task, but rather as an opportunity. He doesn’t focus on the action that is required, but rather sees it as another occasion to have the right attitude. Ironically, the work looks like it is more fun when this guy is doing it. It seems to get done a bit faster and when he is done nobody is depressed or feels awkward. Instead, because of his great spirit, everyone feels a bit more encouraged.
The Psalmist calls all the followers of God to be the same way. It is not good enough to simply call yourself a Christian. If you are called “Christian” you were created by God, according to Ephesians 2:10, to do “good works,” and to do these good works “without murmurings or disputings.”(Philippians 2:14) It is literally a call of God on our lives to work as the Psalmist says “with gladness.”
So how are you doing? When evangelism is mentioned does your heart get excited? When the call to serve others comes up do you grin or grimace? When the challenge to give comes does your heart form a happy song or a funeral dirge? Let the posture of your heart match the desire of God’s, serve the Lord with gladness.

Food For Thought: List three tasks that you could do for the LORD with gladness.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Psalm 100:1

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”

Have you ever gotten excited? You know, like when something unbelievably awesome happened. You were sitting on pins and needles next to the phone trying to wish it into ringing, or you were waiting to see the results on a test and you knew it would be good but your anticipation was about to make you pop! Then the ring! Or the test came back and you were floored by the results! Jitters and nerves had worked up in your system to the point that you could no longer contain the excitement, and you let out a “WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!” or whatever your magic happiness word is: “EUREKA,” or “YEAH!,” or maybe you are a “WWHHHAAAAATTTTTT!?!!”-er. Whatever your magical happiness word (or even the silly little jig that you do), I know that you have had that moment of inexplicable, inarticulate excitement. It is human to have those moments of absolute excitement wound-up in high octane, shout-declaring jubilation.
This is because God designed us to be impressed. We were literally created with this built in desire to express our elation. We were meant to get excited, and we were designed with voices that could declare that joyousness. Hebrews 13:15 tells us that the object of our verbal euphoria should be the One that created us. It says that just like the Old Testament people brought sacrifices to God, we should bring a type of offering: “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually…[and] thanks to his name.” The wonder of His working in our lives should result in audible “WOW!!!” sacrifices.
The psalmist draws us into this idea into Psalm 100:1. The word translated as “a joyful noise” literally is speaking of the triumphant shouting that took place at the end of a victorious battle. We are on the winning side. The accomplishment of Jesus over death on the cross has brought us hope. He lived perfectly so that we could approach God in righteousness. He died so that we would not have to. He rose again to break the chains of death and the power of the grave. He left us here with His comforting Spirit to help us daily.
Let out a shout for Jesus today! Exalt His great name! Praise Him for what He has done for us and offers to us! Make a joyful noise!

Food For Thought: What is the psalmist talking about when he says “Make a joyful noise”? What are a couple of ways that you can do that today?

Ruth 4:13-22

There are so many lessons I believe God would have us to learn from the book of Ruth. Lessons like seeing ourselves as “Ruth’s” who undeservedly are welcomed into the family of God by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Or perhaps a lesson such as the providential hand of God is always working things behind the scenes for our best good. It may not seem like it is for our good at the time, but rest assured that God always knows what is best and that he is worthy of our trust. Just ask Naomi and Ruth. I imagine that there is even a lesson to be learned about sexual purity. After all, we see the moral purity and righteousness of both Ruth and Boaz throughout the book and we see it on display in HD in 3:1-18. And there is a great lesson to be learned about racial harmony. It is in this short story that we see a pagan gentile woman is welcomed into the family and redeemed by Boaz. This happens in order to prove that God is not a racist. Although he chose to work primarily through a certain group of people in the Old Testament, stories like Ruth’s reveal that God cares for all peoples of the world. Especially since it will be all peoples worshipping him at the end of time in Revelation 5:9.
There really are too many lessons to speak of in our short time together this week. But this is what I pray for you as we finish the book of Ruth together today. I pray that you might grasp that God is sovereign and that he is working even when you don’t see him doing so in your life. I pray that you will learn to trust him and obey him. And I pray that you might walk in the integrity of your heart as you do. There’s a lot to learn in this short book. It would do you well to read through it once a day for a month. I think you would be amazed at all you learn during that time. Go ahead, take the challenge, I dare you!

-Matthew Anders
senior pastor at

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ruth 4:1-12

The road of the righteous is not the easiest road, but they eventually make it home. It’s not always the way they would choose for themselves but God is gracious to lead them the way He knows to be best. Boaz does what is right by asking the man who is a closer kin to Naomi if he will buy Naomi’s property so it stays in the family and the man says “yes”. Everything in us screams “no” at this moment! We all want Ruth and Boaz to get together and live happily ever after. If the man buys the land he must also take Ruth to be his wife. When the man finds out this piece of information he flatly refused to fulfill his call as a kinsman redeemer. But don’t lose sight that Boaz was more committed to right than what he wanted for himself. He was willing to walk away from Ruth though he wanted her badly as his wife. Is that type of righteousness and integrity characteristic of your life? Interestingly, all of the friends of Ruth and Boaz are very excited for them and pray for them as a newlywed couple. Their prayer that Ruth would be like Rachel and Leah was two fold. They were asking that she might take a prominent place in the history of the Israel and in the line of the Messiah like these women but also that she might be able to bear children. We know from 1:4 she appeared to be unable to have children but God graciously opened her womb and gave her a son (4:13). Do you know the lineage of Ruth’s son? If not, you might want to Google it—it’s pretty fascinating what God does with a used-to-be pagan woman from Moab.

-Matthew Anders
senior pastor at

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ruth 3:1-18

The story of the book of Ruth began with sadness and difficulty, but now things are beginning to change for the better. Chapter three gives us hope and it is manifested in each of the three main characters of the book: Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. Naomi begins to express her hope through the development of a plan for Ruth. Now, I must admit that the plan is pretty odd, ok very odd, but it is a plan. We don’t know the reason for Naomi’s odd plan because the Bible doesn’t tell us it, but we do know that Ruth trusted her mother in law and did as she commanded. Ruth took the risk and went to the threshingfloor that night. She laid down by Boaz and when he stirred she asked him to “spread his wings over her because he is her redeemer”. Ruth was NOT asking for anything impure or immoral, she was asking for Boaz to fulfill his obligation as the kinsman redeemer and look after her and take her to be his wife.
Boaz responds in a very powerful and unique way. it would have been easy for Boaz to take the words of this younger, beautiful woman as something much different than what they were — but Boaz doesn’t even assume this for a second because of the virtuous character of Ruth. What a godly testimony she had! Rather, he responds by saying that there is another man in front of him who has the first shot but he will seek to take her as his own. What integrity! He could have simply fulfilled her request, and he probably desired to, but his character was more important than anything and so was hers.
Praise the Lord for a picture in the Bible of integrity and purity when the world portrays such filth and immorality. God honored their self control and their purity and He will honor yours as well. Commit yourself to trusting that God’s way is the best in all situations, especially these types of matters.

-Matthew Anders
senior pastor at

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ruth 2:8-22

Ladies, here’s where the good part of the story begins. Here comes the love story. But, it isn’t a love story like modern Hollywood often portrays love…this one is real. Boaz takes great care to make sure that Ruth and Naomi’s needs are met . He provides for them and even tells Ruth not to go anywhere else for food, he will continue to take care of her. This kind of undeserved favor, this clear display of mercy leaves Ruth in humble astonishment. She falls on her face (v.10) and thanks Boaz for his kindness. I wonder if we have the same sense of gratitude for God knowing that he has saved us from eternal damnation. We, like Ruth, were outcasts but God desires to receive us as His children (John 1:12). How humbling!
In verse fourteen, Boaz gives Ruth a feast to remember. An all you can eat buffet (better than Golden Corral, I can assure you of that!). Verse seventeen makes clear that Boaz has given Ruth enough barley to last her and Naomi for weeks. But what is most fascinating to me is that Naomi praises and blesses God as opposed to Boaz in verse twenty. This woman had been bitter, but now she is beginning to see the graciousness of God: He has stopped the famine, He has given her a daughter in law who loves and cares for her, He has preserved Boaz for Ruth, He has sovereignly directed Ruth to Boaz’s field, and He has given Boaz a special desire to favor Ruth.
There is no doubt that things have been difficult for Naomi, but even in the midst of the sorrow God has still shown himself faithful. He has taken care of her and Ruth’s hunger, he has begun to give them hope, and his goodness has begun to make them optimistic. I wonder, does God’s goodness to you make you feel more entitled or humbly overwhelmed?

-Matthew Anders
senior pastor at

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ruth 2:1-7

There are no coincidences with God.
In the beginning of this chapter we are introduced to Boaz, Naomi’s kinsman redeemer. Boaz just sounds like a Disney prince doesn’t he? Well, he’s something much greater than that. He is a mighty man of wealth the Bible says. The fact that he was a mighty man means that he was a ‘worthy man’ or ‘a man of valor’. It’s nice to know at a time when men were doing what was right in their own eyes there was still at least one man with some integrity. Notice in verse four the way that Boaz greets his employees. Can you imagine if the manager of McDonald’s walked into work tomorrow morning and said “the Lord be with you”. You would choke on your Sweet Tea! But the way that Boaz greeted his employees revealed his heart of love and compassion. It revealed a genuine man of character who had influence over the lives of others. Don’t ever fall for the lie that loving God with all your heart will make you odd or unable to connect with people. Boaz’s employee’s respected his love for God because they discerned that it was genuine.
You know, it’s interesting that God’s name is not mentioned so far in the book of Ruth. In fact, His name won’t be mentioned at all. And yet you can clearly see that God is working behind the scenes. Remember that “a coincidence is simply when God chooses to remain anonymous”. God works through miracles and God works through providence. A miracle is when he stops the normal course of human events and radically alters something (like the parting of the Red Sea). But providence is when God orchestrates all the normal happenings of daily life to bring about His purposes.
God is providentially bringing Ruth and Boaz together. Notice that Ruth is a woman of compassion and initiative (v. 2) who goes out to help provide for Naomi and herself. And it “just so happens” that of all the fields she goes to, she begins to glean grain from Boaz’s. It is obvious that Ruth is humble and that she is hardworking (v.7), but it is also clear that God has a special plan for Ruth. While Ruth is gleaning Boaz arrives and gives her more than she could ask for- God is beginning to provide in ways that Naomi and Ruth could never have dreamed!

-Matthew Anders
senior pastor at

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ruth 1:1-22

"God at Work"
The Book of Ruth opens by declaring that this was the period of the judges, the time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. One of the proofs that men were doing what they wanted without seeking God’s will was that Elimelech left the land of Israel during a time of famine without consulting the Lord on the matter. To make things worse, he left Bethlehem and went to the land of Moab, a land associated with pagans. This was a place and a people that God had strictly forbidden them to intermingle with. Have you ever done something without consulting God on the matter?
Well, things got worse for Elimelech and his family. Soon, Elimelech and his two sons died leaving his wife, Naomi, by herself in the world. The only companions Naomi had were two daughters that would have been an embarrassment to her native people of Israel because they were from the land of Canaan.
But even in the midst of Naomi’s sorrow, verse six says that God “visited” Naomi. That word means ‘to remember and come to deliver’. How gracious is God even in the midst of our mistakes! But the story gets even better – Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, decided that she would not leave her mother-in-law’s side. Ruth made up her mind and the Bible says that she “clave” to Naomi. That word means "to be joined together". Ruth made a covenant to remain by Naomi’s side and to accept Naomi’s God as her own and to stay be her side until death. Wow, that’s powerful! I wonder how Naomi responded? Verse eighteen says that when Ruth made her declaration, Naomi just stopped talking to her for the rest of the trip…can you imagine that walk….AWKWARD!
The first chapter ends with Naomi coming back to Bethlehem as a bitter woman. A woman who understood that God exists, that God is sovereign, and who believes that God has done her wrong. Who do you most look like at the end of chapter one? Elimelech, who tries to handle difficulties on your own without trusting God? Naomi, who becomes bitter towards God when difficulties arise? Or Ruth, the one who has no promise of things ever getting better, but has permanently decided to serve God no matter what?

-Matthew Anders
senior pastor at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jonah 4:1-11

Everyone in the story received God's mercy and everyone (including God) was happy – except Jonah. Jonah and God had a conversation, punctuated by God's three questions which reveal the purpose of Jonah's story.
"Are you right to be angry?" God had not destroyed Nineveh. Jonah had done what God wanted, but God had not done what Jonah wanted, and so Jonah blamed God for doing wrong and being soft on sin.
Don't forget, the Assyrians raped, impaled, and beheaded women and children. In Jonah's mind, "If God is just and right, why doesn't he crush them for sin?" The nasty Ninevites pled for mercy and God withheld judgment. What is up with God? What about all those widows and children they shattered? "God, if this is how you're going to run the world where you let rapists, murderers, and pedophiles go free, then I'm done serving you. I can't believe in a God like that."
Our world is messed up with school shootings, child trafficking, sexual abuse, and genocide. We too can angrily accuse God for doing nothing to stop it. "God, if you're powerful and loving, why don't you protect the victims and punish these sinners?" We want a God who will run the world as we know it should be run.
But hear God's question. "Are you right to be angry?" We are not in a different category of sinner than "those" sinners. God was saying, "Jonah, you're just as evil a sinner as the Ninevite, and I showed you mercy. Are you right to be angry at me? You must trust me." You will either trust God or you will trust your understanding.
Jonah waited to watch if God would judge, but God mercifully caused a plant to grow, providing shade for his prophet. Jonah was glad for the plant. His anger was cooled because his life was comfortable. But the next day, God took the plant away, and Jonah exploded with the same anger he had toward God, but it was masked as anger toward the plant. "Jonah, are you right to be angry at the plant?"
We take our anger with God out on knotted shoelaces, dried pens, flat tires, slow computers, and squeaky chairs. Those things are not your problem. YOU ARE YOUR PROBLEM. There is a selfish arrogance that says you deserve better than what God has given. When you are angry at an object, you are ultimately angry at God for not doing you right – and you have forgotten the gospel. Before the cross, you were doomed to wrath. Then Jesus came and gave you the mercy you didn't deserve!
"Should I not have pity on the city?" Nineveh never deserved God's mercy – and neither did Jonah. We too do not deserve God's mercy. We can wish swift destruction on evil people, but if God had not been longsuffering, he would have destroyed us long ago.
Let us remember the gospel the next time someone hurts people close to us. Should not God have pity on them as he has had on us? Will not the Judge of all the world do right? By the way, Nineveh eventually was severely punished for their sins. God does triumph over evil.

Food for thought: Let us rest in the gospel of God's judgment and mercy.

-Andy Gleiser
student pastor at, founder of

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jonah 3:1-10

We've never seen anything quite like what happened in Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah. Here was a city of more than 120,000 getting right with God in the span of 40 days. This center of paganism became a hotbed of revival. How did this happen? And can we experience such powerful revival in our lives?
Remarkably, the revival was begun by a runaway preacher who was given a second chance. Jonah was awakened to see he needed the same grace he had withheld from Nineveh. God doesn't hold a grudge against you when you humble yourself and repent of sin. Before Nineveh experienced revival, Jonah experienced revival in the fish.
God had a message for the people of Nineveh. "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" Five Hebrew words that brought a city to its knees! A message of judgment and discipline on sin, but also a message of God's mercy and grace. Jonah could point to himself and say, "Look at me! Forgiveness and grace are available even to those who disobey and run away from God." He was the living sermon that God delivers sinners from destruction.
The awakened messenger announced God's message – and people were saved. Are you declaring the gospel to others? Who needs to hear of God's judgment and mercy? God has given you a great calling. Are you fulfilling it? Your own life is a powerful testimony of how God changes sinners. Tell your friends how Jesus has made a difference in your life.
The Ninevites provide us with a perfect example of how to get right with God. First of all, they respected God's warning. When they heard Jonah's sermon, they believed God would do what he said. They took what God had to say about sin seriously. Do you respect God’s warning about your sin? Do you secretly feel you'll be the exception to sin's consequences? Have you become so accustomed to the warnings that you don't hear them?
The Ninevites also repented of wickedness. They took the warning seriously enough to stop playing with their sin. Being revolted by their sin and violence, they cried out for God's mercy. Revival comes when we remove the objects and pursuits of sin from our lives and refuse to pick them back up. And God's grace enables us to repent.
Finally, they realigned their worship. Their thoughts, motives, and passions were centered on God. Though they had 40 days, they did not wait to get serious with God. We will not know personal revival until we give our minds to things above and bow in submission to Jesus. God was pleased to withhold judgment on Nineveh because he is good. He wants to pour out his reviving blessing on you too.

Food for thought: When was the last time you had a season of revival in your life?

--Andy Gleiser
student pastor at, founder of

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jonah 1:4-2:10

Because God loves his children, he will not let us win with sin, but we also discover in the midst of God's discipline there is shocking grace. Jonah experienced divine discipline for his determined disobedience.
God is often like a laser-guided missile with a homing device. If you go left, God goes left after you. If you go right, he goes right. If you go off his road of blessing, he'll pursue you. He's locked in on you. Why wouldn't he? He went to hell for you. He went to the cross and was smashed so sinners like you could be rescued. God is a relentless pursuer of you when you disobey – to bring you back. You cannot outrun God’s love!
Like a major-league pitcher hurling a 95 mph fastball, God wound up and threw a mighty wind into the Mediterranean. God is willing to do the necessary to bring us to where we are glorifying him again, and he has all of creation at his disposal! God is jealous of you and always corrects your straying heart. Often he does it by overwhelming you with something you can't handle in order to remind you that you can't fight against him and win.
These terrified mariners threw dice to determine who had sinned to anger the God of storm. Jonah was found out! He was exposed for the sinner he was. One of the most gracious things God can do for you in sin is to unmask you. He shows you who you really are. He gets it out in the open. But what a gracious pain! God longs to short-circuit your path of sin. If he didn't intervene, sin would destroy our lives! Learn from God's grace of being caught.
Even though he had been exposed as the guilty sinner, Jonah was not broken for his sin. He would choose death on the high seas rather than obey God. But God will not let his disobedient prophet win. And so the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Notice God was acting again. Long before Jonah was tossed, God had a fish ready.
There Jonah sat in the soggy darkness with limited oxygen and in an average temperature somewhere between 104-108 degrees Fahrenheit. But if we focus on what happened inside the fish, we'll miss what was going on inside Jonah. JONAH WAS FINALLY AT THE END OF HIMSELF. He had made a mess of his life, and God had allowed his sin to take him to places he never imagined.
God will not be denied your heart. If you stubbornly determine to disobey, one day you'll wake up in a place you'll hate. But there is grace for you even in the belly of your own sea monster for God is there waiting for your prayer of confession.
There is hope as long as there is God. From the fish, Jonah prayed, and God heard. He acknowledged his sin had taken him away from God, but now he was turning his heart back to God. As far as Jonah knew, he would die inside the fish, but in his mind, he would die happy because he was finally right and clean again. A clean heart before God will produce joy and release! Why live in misery?

Food for thought: Jonah ran, but God pursued. This is grace. How would God respond if you ran from Him?

-Andy Gleiser
student pastor at, founder of

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Jonah 1:3

We established a couple of days ago that God's call to go to Nineveh was dangerous for Jonah, but there was another reason Jonah disobeyed God. In chapter 4, he said he knew God would be merciful on the Assyrians. In Jonah's mind, "How could God allow them to be spared after their unspeakable acts of gross and violent sin?" God's call was just too difficult to be obeyed.
God's call is not always easy. It is not always glamorous. It is not without challenges. Jesus endured attacks, slander, hatred, and even murder for my crimes. Why would I expect anything less as his follower? This world is not done killing Jesus. According to him, "The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). There will be battle fatigue and harassment in serving Jesus, but don't quit when you grow weary. Look to Jesus. Cry out to him. Don't forget God wants you and has custom built you for this moment.
But sadly, when God said GO, Jonah said NO. He didn't misunderstand; he just didn't like it. And so he went to Joppa (a seaport) and found a ship going to Tarshish (opposite way). By the way, Satan always has a ship available and he'll make sure you find it. But his luxurious ships always sail in the opposite direction from God's best. In Jonah's mind, Tarshish was an easier way and more convenient. He could distance himself from God's call on his life. But nobody can get away from the presence of the Lord…not even you.
"Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD" (Jeremiah 23:24). Where are you going to go that God is not there? You can skip church or stop reading Scripture, but God will graciously not leave you alone. He has created you to glorify him in gospel ministry. Don't run from his call.
There is always a cost to obey God, but there is always a cost to disobey God. Unfortunately, we are too eager to pay that price. You will either pay for sin or you will pay for the Savior. But if you pay for sin, you'll never get to where you want to be. Have you ever noticed that Jonah never got what he paid for? He never got to the destination he wanted on the ship. You too will pay to disobey but you will never get what you paid for.
Once you know you're supposed to serve God but decide not to, you'll not be happy doing anything else. You will get by. Life will happen. You'll have a family and make money. But nothing else the rest of your life will make you totally happy. There is a consequence to disobeying God's call. Don't live your life your way. Don't be a selfish believer. Don't leave God.

Food for thought: Every decision has a price. What are you spending your life on?

-Andy Gleiser

Friday, May 3, 2013

Jonah 1:1-2

There came a day when God made it clear he had plans for Jonah. What a dramatic thought! God wanted Jonah. Out of all the Israelites God could've chosen, he decided to pick Jonah. Like a master composer of music who determines not only the notes to be played but also the instrument that will play those notes, so God is the Master Composer of the symphony of the ages. When he determined that Nineveh needed to hear from him, he decided on the perfect instrument to play that note – JONAH.
But wait…God has a call on your life as well. You may not know fully what it is, but rest assured he's calling your name. And it has something to do with the gospel. Jesus has commissioned you to go and make disciples of all the nations. Regardless of your present or future job occupation, he is calling you to be involved in gospel ministry.
Why did God choose Jonah for this exact call to go to Nineveh? The answer is simple: God made him a preacher. God custom built him as a preacher and then said, "Now go preach to Nineveh." When God wants a sermon to be given, he creates/calls preacher like Jonah. When God wants his people led, he creates/calls a shepherd like David. When God wants the New Testament written, he creates/calls an intellect like Paul. When God wants to save humanity, he sends himself to die on our behalf.
All through the Bible, God has used every conceivable type of person for the gospel. He has utilized shipbuilders, farmers, carpenters, preachers, shepherds, princes, kings, queens, poets, lawyers, tentmakers, fishers, mothers, children, tax collectors, islanders, doctors, scholars, soldiers, slaves, and even donkeys! Make no mistake…you are custom designed for gospel ministry!
Have you ever considered why you're good at math, science, art, public speaking, music, writing, computers, graphic design, words, cars, or carpentry? God wants to use it for the gospel! You did not build yourself. God built you for the sake of the gospel. So take how he created you and develop those skills and hone those strengths to be prepared for the call of God. He has made no mistake with you.

Food for thought: How are you custom built by God?

-Andy Gleiser

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jonah 1:1-3

This is the story of Jonah, the prophet of God who reluctantly preached God's message to the city of Nineveh. Let's begin our study of Jonah with an introduction to the book, seeking to discover what God actually called his prophet to do.
God's call to Jonah was not easy. Nineveh was the large capital city of the war-crazed Assyrian Empire. In ancient times, the Assyrians were known for their aggressive, barbaric, cruel, and despicable atrocities. The unfortunate captives of Assyria would be subjected to extreme humiliation, mutilation, and execution. History records they impaled live victims, skinned others alive, and even beheaded thousands, leaving their skulls in a pile at the conquered city's gates.
So God called Jonah to pronounce disaster on them unless they would repent! Jonah would be alone in a city of more than 120,000 people to preach a negative message to those who did not believe in his God. This was a suicide mission. But let's make this personal.
The population of Afghanistan is almost entirely Muslim (99.85%). There is currently limited freedom to practice another religion, but there is no freedom to propagate another faith. In other words, it is against Afghan law to convert from Islam. Anyone suspected of evangelizing Afghan Muslims is harmed, arrested, kidnapped, or killed. It is my understanding that every month, an average of one Christian is arrested or murdered. At the very least, there is a kidnapping, physical assault, or property attack on Christians every week. Militant Afghan Muslims are even protesting Christianity by burning crosses.
Now imagine for a moment God made it abundantly clear to you to go to Kabul, Afghanistan as an American Christian and tell them unless they repent of their sin and unbelief in Jesus, they will be eternally punished in the lake of fire. You are to tell the Afghan people, "You've been lied to your whole life. Following Islam will condemn you to hell. Jesus will deliver you from your sin and reconcile you to the true God." WHAT WOULD BE YOUR REACTION?
Perhaps now you're beginning to catch a glimpse of what God called Jonah to do. He was to preach a message of judgment to the city of Nineveh, located in today's northern Iraq. Here was a Jewish man, drafted by God, to go to Iraq to say, "Unless you believe in my God, he will bring disaster on you for your sins."
You know the story. God's prophet dodged God's draft.
But before we crank on Jonah, let us take a serious look at our own lives. Are we any different from Jonah? Are we not slow to obey our Commander in Chief? Jesus said to his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). The true follower of Jesus says, "I will follow you regardless of what it costs me." If you belong to Jesus, God is drafting you into his service.

Food for thought: God has a call on your life. Write out two things that God has called you to.

-Andy Gleiser

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nehemiah 13:14-30

Standards are a touchy topic, but standards are absolutely necessary in life. There are many ways to define standards, but I will over-simplify them into two groups: 1) Godliness-driven standards, and  2) Uniformity-driven standards.
1) Godliness-driven standards would include boundaries on the type of places I would go (stores, restaurants, etc.) and the entertainment I would participate in (movies, music, sports, etc.). These are external barriers that help me fight for godliness in my life. Lounges, derogatory perverse music, and blatant immodesty are all environments that will impede my heart’s pursuit of purity. I separate from these things because they are causing me to draw away from holiness. Separation then is the pipe by which the water of holiness can flow. It is a conduit for holy living, not the substance of holiness.
2) Uniformity-driven standards are often misrepresented and misunderstood. These standards are simply a set of barriers that establish uniformity. This standard would be best illustrated by the types of clothes we wear(in school – khakis and polo; on the basketball court – jersey and shorts; at McDonald’s – that black shirt with the red armpits) and the type of haircuts we get (most typically by everyone in culture, believer or unbeliever: for guys - a neat, short hair cut, for ladies – longer flowing hair). Uniformity-driven standards generally only pertain to godliness in that your personal growth in holiness and Christlikeness will be impeded if you do not submit to the uniformity standard laid out by your authority (boss, principal, parent, etc.).
At the end of the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah cleanses the city of Jerusalem and especially the temple. His desire was to establish the standards that God desired for holy living in Jerusalem. His standards were strict, but they were designed to help the people live in godliness.
Four hundred years later, Jesus shows up to save the people of this city. Many are living in sin, but many more are living in self-righteousness.
You see, standards are absolutely necessary, but standards must be explained. Somewhere along the line, the Pharisees received the rule, but did not get the deeper truths. They saw themselves as holy and righteous based upon their keeping of personal standards, but Christ told them that their holiness must go deeper than the standards. Their actions were necessary, but they were also pointless without inward holiness.
Question your standards. Know why you do what you do. Define what the standard is. Then try to categorize it into godliness-driven or uniformity-driven. Then fight for godliness in your life. Remember standards are the conduit to holiness, they are not the end of it. Don’t let the ritualistic take the place of inward holiness.

Food For Thought: Write out five standards that you have in your family. Categorize them as “godliness-driven” or “uniformity-driven.” Ask dad and mom if you get hung up.