God Can Use Anyone … or God’s Plan is Bigger Than Me!

Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.”  And they called his name Obed.  He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4:17

 

We just finished the Book of Ruth in our Friday morning study.  I love this book.  It is a story of suffering, good fortune, blessing, risk taking, resourcefulness and redemption and of course, love – there is a wedding and a baby after all.

In a nutshell, this man, Elimelech, takes his wife, Naomi, and two sons and leaves his home, Bethlehem, to go to another country, Moab, a country that doesn’t follow God. There is a famine in Bethlehem, so he thinks he can do better for himself, in Moab.  It doesn’t happen; he dies as does his two sons.  Naomi is heartbroken and left with two foreign daughter-in-laws.  She decides to go back home to Bethlehem, one of her daughter-in-laws, Ruth, decides to go with her.  She wants to take care of Naomi and follow God. Once there, Ruth goes to work, trying to earn a living for her and Naomi.  She happens to be working in the field of the wealthy, bachelor, Boaz, who just happens to be a close relative of Elimelech.  In that culture, relatives were responsible to redeem (buy back or purchase) the land of those who were struggling with debt or poverty.   The next of kin could step in and pay off the debt, marry the widow and carry on the family name.  And that is what happens, Boaz agrees to pay off the debt (or buy back the land) of Naomi, marry Ruth and carry on the family name.  They have a baby and Naomi goes from heartbroken to lovesick over her new grandson and life becomes rich and full again.  The End.

But the end is never the end with God.  There is always more to the story.  See, Ruth had grown up in a very sinful place.  Moab was sin city, a sexually perverse country, actually founded by a fellow conceived through incest by Lot and his daughter, not a good place to be from.   And low and behold, we find out down the road that Boaz was the son of Rahab, the harlot, who helped the spies that Joshua had sent out to the city of Jericho.  Remember they marched around it for seven days and on the seventh day, seven times, and then the walls fell down.  Now that is an interesting plan of attack.  See what I mean about always more to the story, with God?

So Ruth from Moab (sin city) marries Boaz (son of a prostitute) and they have a son who is the grandfather of King David, who is the great- great- great to the 28th time, (or thereabouts) grandfather of JESUS!  Whoa … how wild is that?  God used two women of ill repute, and I’m sure there were many more we don’t know about, to be part of the heritage of his son’s life here on earth.

Many times we find ourselves thinking that God can’t use us because of our past.  I want to encourage you today.  Don’t let your past dictate your future.  God has a plan for you.  Twenty years ago, I was Ruth and Rahab rolled into one.  I was not living a Godly life.  I was gutter girl.  Drugs, alcohol and men were pretty much my day to day life.  But God picked me up, cleaned me up and set me on his path.  He brought Bobby into my life and he gave me a home and a family, and then he drew me close to him and showed me such love and I’ve not been the same since.  God changed my heart and my life… and he wants to change yours too!

Food for Thought:  Which side of the suffering are you on, still living in the pain of the past or embracing the redemption of his future?

Father, thank you for this story of real life redemption – that you give us examples of people just like us and how we all fit into your perfect plan.   Thank you for never giving up on us, even when we are slow to recognize our redeemer. And Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us first.

I love you Jesus.
   In Your Name I Pray,
   Amen

God’s Blessings To You!

Love,
Joyce

My newest book is here!

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones
But Words Can Kill My Spirit.
The Lies That Get Stuck Inside.
Now Available!
http://www.sticksandstones.cc

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Pushing Through

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14

Carson had his first track meet of the season on Saturday.  He was running in two events, the 800 meter and the mile.  The 800 was first, two laps around the track, not really that difficult, considering last year he ran the 2 mile, which was 8 laps around the track.  But during the first event, something was in the air around the track and when he was finished running, he was having difficulty breathing.  Both he and his friend, who ran the race with him, were coughing and choking and they both looked a little green.  Carson told me he didn’t think he could run the mile.  I prayed for him to have strength and endurance and told him to take a walk to clear his head and whatever he decided to do, I trusted his judgment.  If he could run, run, if he felt he couldn’t, that was okay too. 

When it came time for the boys mile, I was wondering what decision Carson had made.  I knew how much easier it would be to just not run.  A mile, when you aren’t feeling well, is a long four laps.  But as the gun went off, I saw Carson in the pack, heading around the track.  No, Carson didn’t win the race.  He didn’t even place.  But he ran those four laps, never missing a step.  I was so proud of him, he was pushing through his discomfort, towards the goal, finishing the race.

Life can be difficult, bad things can happen.  Loved ones die.  Marriages end.  Jobs are gone.  Illness happens.  Sometimes we just want to quit it all.  We want to curl up in a ball in our beds and not get out.  Or even worse, we want to jump off bridges or put guns to our heads.  It seems like the only way out of the mess is to give up.

But our hope is in Jesus, in the eternal life he has promised us.  Paul tells us, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ( 2 Corinthians 4:18)

I want to encourage you today, as the old hymn says: 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Father, thank you for giving us hope.  The world is beating us up right and left but you are our anchor in the storms of life.  You bring peace to our battered minds, you restore our souls.  Thank you Jesus for giving us the strength to persevere, so that we can finish the race.

I love you Jesus.
   In your name I pray,
   Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You.

Love,
Joyce

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones
But Words Can Kill My Spirit
The Lies That Get Stuck Inside
Now Available!
http://www.sticksandstones.cc

February Living Stone – Jerry Stevens

Jerry Stevens – February 2011 – Tree of Life Living Stone

Jerry Stevens has a heart to serve.  His desire to serve God is so deep, that he actually left his home and his job in North Carolina, and moved to Naples to help us here at The Tree!  Jerry has been busy since he arrived, helping out with the video and the sound system, and anything else that needs his attention.   Jerry is an “anything I can do – use me” sort of guy and for that  we thank and honor him this month as our Tree of Life Living Stone!

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering  spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
   I Peter 2:4,5

Spring Into Action

 Volunteers Are The Life Blood of The Tree!

Spring is in the air and we want to encourage you to Spring Into Action.  According to a survey in Success Magazine (Sept. 2010), of people who volunteer:
      
 68% say it makes them feel physically healthier!
  73% say it lowers their stress level!
   92% say it enriches their sense of purpose in life!
 
Serving has it’s benefits.  It makes us feel better physically, lowers our stress level and gives purpose to our lives!  According to statistics, nearly 100% of people who serve feel better about themselves. 

My question, who doesn’t want to feel better about themselves?
 
We are here to help add purpose to your life – through connecting with Jesus and through connecting with others.  Serving helps strengthen that connection. 

You may walk through the church each week and think that the ministry areas are complete, but something is missing …YOU!

 
Yes, we need your gifts and talents.  We need your heart.  We want to connect with you!
 
Do you ever think “I can’t do anything for God. I have no special talent.”   Well, we want to show you differently. 

What do you love to do?  That is the first step to serving, working in an area that you love.

  • Do you love helping those less fortunate?  Twice a month we have opportunities to partner with Harry Chapin and give away food to those in need.
  • Do you love babies?  The nursery has opportunities for you to love on little ones.
  • Do you love little kids?  Children’s church has opportunities for you to feed into the life of young children.
  • Do you enjoy interacting with teens?  Our Straight Up Youth Group is an opportunity for you to make a difference in a young person’s life.
  • Do you enjoy talking to people?  Our greeters and information desk volunteers welcome people each and every week.
  • Do you have the gift of hospitality?  Join our coffee counter group or sign up to help with special events.
  • Do you love to have people in your home?  You can facillitate a small group. All the material is ready for you.  Just invite your friends over.
  • Do you love to make videos or graphics?  We are always looking for new ideas in this arena.
  • Do you love to work with sound?  Sound techs play such a vital part in our worship service.

We have the opportunities – what is missing is YOU!
 
Will you partner with us today?

We aren’t looking for a long term commitment.  You are free to evaluate the ministry you choose to be a part of, see if it’s a good fit.  If not, we’ll move you to one that is.  We want you to be happy and fulfilled in the area that you are serving in.

So … what are you waiting for? 

 Fill out the form belowwith your name, email, and  telephone number and I’ll give you a call and we’ll discuss what opportunities will fit you best! 


 
Thank you for your heart to serve!

Onward and forward!

Joyce