Soul Worthiness: Living Out Redemption

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IMG_8551 There’s this one line of O Holy Night that gets me every time:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining Til He appeared, and the soul felt its worth

It doesn’t matter who sings it: Kelly Clarkson, Josh Groban, NSYNC, or the local singing Christmas Tree (well maybe not this guy), I always stop and ponder the power of the simple phrasing.

Long long ago, the world was a sad bleak place. Sin and error dictated daily living. People were pining for redemption, for a redeemer. The world was longing for their Savior.

And then, Jesus appeared, and the story become complete with His life, death, and resurrection. Worth was found for the soul, offered to all, and cherished by those who claimed it.

I think those lines get to me because my soul feels its worth the more and more I understand My Redeemer. It makes me pause during this season in gratefulness because I’m not stuck in my sin and error wishing and hoping for someone to come save me. I can now rejoice in my completeness in Jesus.

Praise God for redemption! Right?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we are concluding our study of Ruth in this grand push towards Christmas. Even though the world is trying to usurp the power of the message of the Gospel with its holiday themed mass consumerism, the preeminent message for all humanity still rings true and is evident all around.

Christmas is about Jesus. And Jesus is about redemption.

So is the book of Ruth. Throughout our study we have seen redemption everywhere: God redeems Naomi and Ruth by taking care of them when they chose to go back to Judah, Ruth acts as a redeemer for Naomi by choosing to stay by her side and working to provide for their small family, and then Boaz comes and redeems Ruth and Naomi by marrying his woman of excellence and having a son, Obed, that would carry on their family line.

When I take a second look, it’s like this Biblical narrative is drenched in redemption. It’s our theme for Ruth, and it sings out sure and strong. But all this redemption was just shadow of what was to come. Those shadows of redemption were truly realized in Jesus:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:5-7

Jesus is about redemption. Ruth is about redemption. And, the more I open my eyes to God’s story, I think the whole Bible is about redemption:

  • Even after their sin, God provides for Adam and Eve so that they are not separated from Him.
  • God redeems the earth (and also preserves Noah and his family) through the Flood.
  • God made Abraham a Covenant promised to redeem both the Jews and Gentiles.
  • God used Joseph as a picture of a redeemer by saving all of Egypt and also his own family during a famine, protecting God’s people for the future.
  • Moses is used to dramatically rescue all of Israel from slavery while he constantly intercedes on their behalf to God.
  • God provides care for Israel as they wander in the wilderness and leads them to the promised land.
  • David is repeatedly saved and protected, and then he is made King of Israel, providing for the line of Jesus.
  • God used Esther to protect the nation of Israel from genocide from the Persians.
  • Job was restored and then blessed twofold after his trial.
  • God continually called the nation of Israel to repentance through the Prophets (think Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and all the other major and minor prophets), always offering full redemption.
  • God preserved Daniel to be a witness to the kings of Babylon and Persia and was saved from the jaws of lions.
  • Paul, a hater of Jesus and believers, was saved through faith to be a light to the Gentiles.

So much redemption. Every person, situation, and circumstance is a picture of what redemption looks like when it is lived out. And every bit is pointing to and exemplifying the ultimate redemption we receive through Jesus, our Savior, the author and perfecter of our faith. It’s the soul worthiness we are all desiring for, longing for, hoping for, and when we receive it, everything changes.

With His redemption, we are whole.

It’s enough to make me sing every line of every song about Jesus at the top of my lungs. To lift my hands in praise until my arms burn. Forever's not long enough to pour out my gratefulness for my own redemption.

But, I wonder, if I can take that gratefulness a step further.

As I’ve studied God’s Word and seen this theme of redemption, it seems as if God uses regular people to exemplify redemption in their everyday life. It’s like He allows His people to step into His story and practice redemption with their lives in order to point to Jesus and ultimate redemption. And if that was true for people like Moses and Abraham and Joseph and Esther and Ruth and the apostles, then could it also be true for me? Could I be a redeemer too?

Studying Ruth is helping me to believe that is so.

Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God, once wrote, “Right now, God is working all around you.” and We don't choose what we will do for God; He invites us to join Him where He wants to involve us.”

What if the invitation is about redemption? What if I could use my life as an example of His redemption? What if I chose to redeem all the mundane interactions and experiences of my every day to the glory of God? What if everything I did pointed to Jesus and ultimate redemption through Him?

It definitely would take that earlier gratefulness a step further. Not just hands lifted praise for my own redemption, but hands that turn outward to the world around me, where I become an agent of redemption for the benefit of the kingdom.

Because of this application from Ruth, the way I see my life has totally changed. Even last night I received some hard news from someone close to me. News that affected my immediate future and initially made me angry sending me into one of those tailspins of analyzation and self pity and listing of potential worst case scenarios.

But as I felt myself getting pulled into the flow of emotion that comes with negative circumstance, I then heard a new, stronger, louder voice speak and I felt my feet stand firm on my foundation in Christ.

It said, “Beloved, wait. What if you could speak truth and love into this negative circumstance? What if this is an opportunity for redemption?

So I stopped analyzing and pitying myself and focusing on that list of scenarios. And instead I began praying -- praying for God to use me however He wants in this situation, to help me to speak truth in love, to help me to trust He’s got me and my future secure in Him. I prayed that if God wants me to be an agent of redemption for Him, that I wouldn’t let myself get in the way.

As I prayed the Holy Spirit reminded me of some additional words from Galatians we studied this past week as we looked at redemption:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, lives in me. And my life is lived by faith in Him and what He’s done for me. No wonder a desire to redeem has grown in my heart and mind. Jesus gave Himself for me, why wouldn’t I want to give myself for others if it points to Him?

So as we conclude our study in Ruth and we plunge headfirst into the joy of Christmas, let’s take some time to ponder our redemption -- to praise Him for it. But won’t you join me in also asking God to point us to opportunities to exemplify redemption in our daily lives?

Let’s take our soul worthiness and pass it along.

O Holy Night

The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior's birth Long lay the world in sin and e'er pining

'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices. O night divine O night when Christ was born O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,

Here came the wise men from Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. O night divine, O night, O night divine


IMG_7959Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook

 

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