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G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

O God, be present with us always; dwell within our hearts. With thy light and thy Spirit guide our souls, our thoughts, and all our actions, that we may teach thy Word, that thy healing power may be in us and in thy church universal.
Amen.


Psalm 98:1-4 (NASB)

O sing to the Lord a new song,
For He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained victory for Him.

The Lord has made known His salvation;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.


Ruth 1:1-7 (NKJV)
The Story of Ruth (part 1)

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem (in Judah) went to live in the country of Moab: he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi . . . . And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

Naomi’s husband died; and she was left with her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. Then her sons died, both of them; and only the woman was left, out of the original family.

She arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for it was told in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in Judah, giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.


Notes on the Scripture

I thought it would be interesting to read the book of Ruth. Her name is famous, but her story is not often told. At least the first chapter (today and Thursday) will be presented in the modified King James version, because the language is lovely and seems to suit such an ancient tale.

It occurs in the era of the judges, that is, when the tribes of Israel and Judah were loosely united in a confederacy ruled by “judges,” after the Hebrews (led by Gideon) had conquered the various tribes and villages of Palestine, but before Saul became the first king. This would place the time very roughly around 1300-1100 B.C.

Naomi, a Hebrew woman, was driven by famine to leave Israel and live in a foreign country. She and her family stopped in an independent kingdom founded by Lot’s son, Moab, on the southeastern shore of the Dead Sea. While she was there, her sons married Moabite women, but then her husband and both sons died, leaving her alone with only two Moabite daughters-in-law who were widows themselves. In the ancient middle east, like many places, being a widow without sons was a precarious position.

She learns that the famine in Judah has ended and determines to return to her own tribe. This makes good sense, despite the perils of the journey, because the Hebrews had at least a rough support system for widowed women. Naomi would have been considered still a part of her husband’s family and could reasonably expect that they would feel some obligation towards her.

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; Make me perfect in every good work to do your will, working in me that which is well pleasing in your sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Amen.


1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


Notes on the Scripture

What good does boasting do for us? We do it to make other people regard us more highly, but it doesn’t really have that effect. It mostly just makes other people like us less. It makes us appear conceited. It is a self-inflicted wound for our image. Even worse, it makes other people hope that we fail.
Illuminated Letter S|Illuminated Bible

o, why do it? Mostly because it makes us feel better about ourselves. If we have feelings of inferiority, we boast to assuage that awful feeling. Psychologically injured people are most likely to brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Or perhaps we feel like we really are better than everyone else, and want more respect and obeisance from them — but this attitude is even more likely to make enemies.

If you are a Christian and feel an urge to boast — which we all do, at least sometimes, in some places — dig down into yourself and talk to God about it. Find the source of your urge. It is possible, with enough work, to heal even terrible mental wounds we have carried from childhood. Christ has offered to take our anxieties on Himself; He has actually requested that we give our pain to Him, for his capacity is infinite.

We should not be afraid to take advantage of the benefits of our faith, for that is what God wants! So go ahead and dump your problems in God’s lap. Ask Him to take them.

Boasting, for a Christian, is nonsensical. Christianity is the ultimate non-hierarchical religion, for we all receive one great gift, and the pride and possessions of this life become nothing more than vanity to us. Still, life is so much better when we stop playing one-upsmanship games. Instead of swinging through a range of self-image, we have a steady, fulfilled knowledge of our place in the universe. It is possible for us to almost completely stop thinking about ourselves, in the sense of ranking ourselves.

Unleavened bread, which Jews eat at Passover, is simply bread that is not inflated with hot air. Leavened bread is full of hot air. This is perfectly good for bread, but for people, it is counterproductive. (If you are not sure you want to become “a new lump” — well, the translation is admittedly unfortunate.)

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

Heavenly God, you are the King eternal, immortal and invisible. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God; the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In times long past did you lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands: Yet they will perish, but you will endure; yes, all of them will grow old like a garment, as a coat you will change them, and they will be changed; but you are the same, and your years will have no end.

You alone are God, and do not change; and because of this, we may hope to be preserved. Are you not from eternity, O Lord our God, our Holy One? The everlasting God, even the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who does not faint nor grow weary? There is no searching out your understanding, mighty Lord, but by our praise we may glorify your Holy Name, now and all our lives.
Amen.


Psalm 37:7-8 (GW)
Let go of anger, and leave rage behind; Do not fret — it only causes harm. Psalm 37:7-8


James 2:1-5 (ESV)
Gold Rings and Fine Clothes

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?


Notes on the Scripture

Often you hear (or say) “cleanliness is next to godliness”, but there is little support for the saying in the Bible. If anything, it is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament. Early Christians, especially the very fervent, often took to the countryside and refused some form of personal hygiene or adornment. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, who was due to inherit considerable worldly goods, renounced all of it, including the clothing; he went barefoot. John the Baptist would have been kicked out of any restaurant in New York. On the other hand, nothing in the Bible forbids bathing, or (in the New Testament) shaving, or any basic hygiene. It is just that such matters are matters of the world and have nothing to do with godliness.

Obsession with personal adornment, on the other hand, is one of the great areas of overlooked sinfulness in modern society. Vanity is a powerful urge, the servant of mighty Pride, king of the deadly sins. The fashion industry is a testament to the power of vanity; even worse, its adherents are ludicrously convinced of its importance. Cosmetic surgery has become a flourishing business.

It is hard to resist. Even if you personally don’t have a great problem with appearances, living in a culture where the importance of fashion and appearance goes unquestioned presents a powerful force to comply. The Amish will tell a woman, “you look very plain today”; they take a lack of personal vanity as a sign of devotion, and the culture supports minimalizing pride in appearance in favor of pursuing rewards of the Spirit.

It is often hard to grasp how very non-Christian society is, even in “Christian” countries. In the matter of dress and appearance, even very sincere Christians will make compromises and rationalize conduct and beliefs that damage their faith. It is a good area of meditation and prayer, when you feel called to examine your sins, to examine your conduct and attitudes about personal appearance.

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