Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

MLK

posted by Ruth Graham

Today would have been Martin Luther King’s 85th birthday!

I wonder…I wonder… If he were alive today what he would think and say of our racial divide. What would he have to say about God being eliminated from our national conversation?

Martin Luther King left this great nation with a legacy. Have we followed in his footsteps? Have we perverted his intent? He did not want us to look at the color of a person’s skin but at the content of their character. We have reversed that. It seems character no longer matters…

I never met him. I was aware of his friendship with my father and my father’s deep respect for him. I don’t want to presume or assume…but I believe he would be grieved if he looked around today at the anger, the bitterness…

Certainly things have changed, in many ways for the better. There are fairer laws. There is a measure of equality on the books. But do the races understand each other better today? Is there more unity and love? Is there more grace?

If not then we have failed Dr. King and so many who went before us with conviction and character. Where are such leaders today? Will you and I step up to the plate?

Rescue

posted by Ruth Graham

This season we have heard stories of daring rescues, heroism and with the frigid temperatures we will hear of  more acts of rescuers risking their lives to help the helpless who are in peril.

As you read through the Bible one thing that comes up over and over again is God’s rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt. It is one of the themes of the Bible. The Old Testament uses that as a touch stone. As does the New Testament. It is a big deal to God.

It’s a long story as to how they came to be slaves in Egypt. But a great story – read through Genesis – you’ll find mystery, deception, political intrigue, dysfunctional families by the bucket-load. Sin. Sex. Murder. Jealousy. Romance. Judgement. But you find a God Who is very active in the affairs of man.

He is a God Who hears, sees, communicates, loves, creates, initiates, rescues, redeems, promises, cares….

He saw the plight of His people in Egypt and sent a leader to bring them out to the Promised Land. (That’s another fantastic story you can read in Exodus!) Miracle after miracle…The 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, providing water out of rocks, battles fought and won against all odds, territory gained…you really can’t make this stuff up! God is a mighty God who delivered His people by any means possible.

Why? Why did He bother with this small Middle Eastern tribe of nomads? Deuteronomy 7:7-9 tells us: “The Lord did not set his affection you you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

Notice, He is a faithful God…He keeps His promises. When He makes a covenant, it is a big deal. He does what He says. He never fails to keep His end of the bargain. However, we do. We fail over and over. He doesn’t abandon us. He doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t get mad, stomp His feet, pick up His marbles and go  home! He hangs in there with us…because He has redeemed us with the blood of His own Son. He loves us. We belong to Him.

But back to my original thought. Over and over in scripture we are reminded to remember the mighty hand of God who delivered His people out of Egypt. Why? It reveals God’s faithfulness and power. If He can do that for the Hebrew people He can do the same today for you and me.

Do you need a mighty God as you begin a the New Year? A faithful God to carry you through? Call on the Mighty God of the Hebrew people. He is able. Will. Ready…

 

Happy New Year!

posted by Ruth Graham

2014 is here!

I trust you ushered it in with grace and peace welcomed you.

In the South it is traditional to have black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years Day. The black-eyed peas represent coin money; the collard greens represent green money. So…if you have those on New Years you will have them during the year! Makes for a good story – I have no idea if it is true but, since I like both black-eyed peas and collard greens I have a pot of both on the stove! Hedging my bets!!

Did you make a resolution? Or two. Everyone seems to  make a couple. After the holidays in any group of folks you might be asked, “What is your New Year’s resolution?” It is assumed. We make them but too soon are defeated. I don’t make them… I make commitments.

Last year I commited to read through the Bible in a year with a group of folks from my church. It was a challenging task – especailly since I was on the road so much. But I did it!! I heartily recommend you do it.  Get a Daily Walk Bible in the New Living Translation. It makes it so much easier to read. But even so some of it was tough going. Like Leviticus! And then we rushed through the Gospels and Epistles. I want to go back more slowly this year; dig deeper.

This year I want to memorize more scripture. As I get older, I find memory work so much harder to do. I can recall the scripture I memorized when I was younger far easier than that which I do now. And I was bad about learning the “addresses” – I may know the verse but not exactly where it is found. I feel that that makes me illiterate! I bought the Topical Memory System which is the Navigator’s scripture memory course. They are the leaders in scripture memory so hopefully I will find that  helpful as a launch out more intentionaly.

It is a discipline…I must cultivate. For my spiritual growth but also to exercise my brain. So that is my commitment for 2014…Not a resolution.

What is yours?

Let’s Get Real about Bethlehem!

posted by Ruth Graham

Last July the world seemed to wait with bated breath for the arrival of the little Prince of England. No detail was left unnoticed.

 

Hallmark and others have given us a very unrealistic picture of Bethlehem. Our Christmas cards are gilded  pictures of  glorious Heavenly hosts filling the sky, gentle shepherds stand sweetly gazing at the new family, three kings can been seen in the distance traveling toward them laden with gifts while a brilliant star guides them.

Let’s imagine Bethlehem as it might have been.

The young couple were exhausted from the long journey. The crowds were noisy and unbearable. They jostled the woman who was beginning to feel labor pains.  The baby was imminent. Where was her mother… the women would would normally attend a woman in labor? There was no one…just her husband and a bunch of smelly animals. Where was the basket trimmed in soft cloth awaiting her newborn? There was just a manger. Where was the soft bed with clean linens for her to lie upon as she gave birth? There were none – just cold, stiff hay. The world did not care or notice. The inn keeper turned them away. Many passed  by ignoring them or giving sympathetic glances in their direction. No one showed compassion. No one offered help.

It was all so unfamiliar, rough, noisy, smelly…the young mother must have longed for familiarity, the comfort of home. Did she ask, “Why did this stupid census have to take place now? Why do I have to travel all this way? Couldn’t God have fulfilled the prophecies another way? On another day?” Had she expected, “Since this is God’s Son, He will make it safe, comfortable, easy. I can trust Him for that.” When her expectations were not met…then what? Did she feel sorry for herself? Did all sorts of doubts and questions raise their ugly heads?  “If I am such a special handmaiden of the Lord why does He treat me this way? I didn’t sign up for all of this. I had expectations of a palace – at least a nice tent – not this. I am in a stable full of smelly animals and now a bunch of strangers are staring at me!”

Yes, there were angels but they were not singing Christmas carols. They were announcing Good News for the world to a small band of ignorant shepherds in the field outside of town while they  tended sheep intended for Temple sacrifices.This had never happened before! Did they questions themselves? “Were those really angels? Did we hear what we thought we heard? ” When they did arrive at the stable no doubt they peered at the new family with curiosity – shoving each other for a better view.

 

That changed their lives. They were not just staring at a family – their hearts were drawn to God’s Word Incarnate. Their tongues were set on fire as they spread the news of what they had seen and heard.

The 3 kings would be along – but not for two years!

But this was just the beginning for Mary…the Scripture says, “Mary treasured up all these things in her heart.” This indicates that God gave her an eternal perspective. She remembered what the angel told her about Jesus’ name and purpose. She remembered  the visit with her cousin, Elizabeth. She remembered all they had talked about – the special time being together as they talked of God’s fulfillment of prophecy in their own bodies!  She remembered how Joseph decided not to “put her away” , which he had every right to do – but committed to marry her because of what God told him. Mary had a sweet, humble spirit and saw  fulfilled  promises in every circumstance. She didn’t understand it all but she knew deep in her heart everything was going to be OK.  She felt humbled  to be on the front row of God’s glorious plan.

Cosmic changes happened that night. The world has never been the same.

We, too, can participate in God’s fulfilled promises. He promised a Savior. Is He yours? He can be – right now – as you tell Him you are sorry for your sins and want Him take over your life. He promises you eternal life, peace that passes all understanding even in this chaotic world and His presence always with you – no matter what! He loves you totally. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you less and nothing you can do to make Him love you more. His love for you is complete.

 

 

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