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Ruth Part 6:

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Got your cup ready?  A cup for some grace and one for some coffee?  (I love coffee…have I mentioned that?)  So how does the story end? Happily. Boaz falls in love with Ruth, Ruth falls in love with Boaz and proposes to him by taking a nap by his feet…you know, a typical romance…it’s a long story. And at some point we’ll get there. But for now, we’ll just be happy that they do indeed get hitched.

And want to know something cool? Check out the genealogy in Matthew 1 and it’ll reveal that Rahab (check out her story here!) was Boaz’s mom, which means that she was Ruth’s mother-in-law. Who cares, you ask? Well, I just think it’s neat that in God’s wisdom, He gave Ruth not only Naomi to love and guide her in her newly adopted land, but also a mother-in-law who also once been a foreigner going through the same thing, having adopted Israel and trusted God as her own personal God.  Whether Rahab was around to meet Ruth is a mystery, but her unique perspective and experience definitely influenced Boaz’s integrity, honor, and perspective.

“Ruth, like Rahab reached out to God in hope and faith and were identified with Jesus in his ancestral line, even though they came from Gentile heathen nations.” (Chosen Women of the Bible, p.41)

Come on, that’s so cool!

When we reach out to God in hope and faith, He will always be there for us, arms open wide to welcome us in love.

Ruth’s story is one of love, devotion, hard work, romance, sorrow, second chances, determination, family, respect, and even ordinary choices. But it’s first and foremost a story of a woman’s faith in God. A woman not unlike any of us today. “Woman’s faith is the vehicle to bring her to God, when she trusts in His goodness rather than her own worthiness” (Chosen Women of the Bible, p42.)

Are you ready to hop in that vehicle and drive closer to God? Are you ready to trust in His goodness?  If you need help getting the car started, I’d be happy to chat with you! Send me an email or comment below.

And while you’re driving towards God, stop for a coffee and be happily caffeinated on your way.

(Ruth)

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Ruth Part 5: Let’s Talk Faith

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Let’s stop for a moment and talk about faith. We keep mentioning Ruth’s faith in God. But what is Faith?

“Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)

Ruth was confident that God would provide in her new life, she trusted in God’s promise of never leaving her.  That’s faith.  She didn’t know and she couldn’t see and yet she trusted and hoped.

How do we get faith?

“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17.)

Ruth heard about the one true God through her husband’s family. Sometimes faith comes from being encouraged through fellowship with believers, sometimes it comes by digging deeper into God’s Word, and sometimes it comes through prayer and communion with our Lord.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6)

When things get rough, and we bring those worries and struggles to God, he is so pleased that we have put our faith in Him by asking for help. We believe He loves us, cares for us, and will be there to help us along the way. And just like He brought Ruth through her struggle and sorrow, He will never leave us.

Do you need an extra dose of grace this morning? There’s no secret formula, cast your cares on him and trust that He’s got it under control.  That mustard seed of faith will be nurtured, you’ll feel strengthened and renewed.  I can promise this because I’ve experienced it.  And so did Ruth.

(Ruth)

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Ruth Part 4: Wait, Work is a…Blessing?

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Grab your cup, the grace is flowing!

Ruth faced the unknown but knew who was going before her…wow.

I think we’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve been walking down the road but not knowing why or knowing how we’ll manage. I know I have. And I know that the Lord was leading the way, going before me preparing things, my job was to walk by faith, to trust and step out of my comfort zone.  God is a God who cares, loves, goes before, prepares the way, walks beside, comforts, provides, and no matter what, is always faithful.

Back in Bethlehem, Ruth begins her new life. Out of respect for her Naomi, she goes out in search of work, looking to find favor with someone and gather grain. She didn’t wait for Naomi to come up with a plan, she took the initiative to create a better life for not only herself but also her mother-in-law.

Deuteronomy 24:19 explains God’s instructions for providing for the poor. “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless in you in all the work of your hands.” The culture of the day didn’t have jobs that women could apply for, they were completely dependent. But, God provided for them, a plan allowing them to work and have enough.

So, Ruth heads out to a field and arrives at a one belonging to Boaz.  She begins to glean, working hard and steadily, finding favor with Boaz.  In fact, Boaz tells her not to glean in any other field, and assures her of her safety.  What a blessing!   After all, she’s a foreign woman out in a field full of men so the promise of safety would be an answer to prayer!  Not to mention she was allowed to work steadily, to follow along after the girls that worked the field and glean after them.  And as a bonus – he invited her to drink from the water jars as well.  Jackpot!  A safe, secure, and prosperous work environment!

You see, he’d heard of Ruth.  Heard how she wouldn’t leave her mother-in-law, heard about all of her hard work, and her courage in living with an unknown people.

He was impressed with this young woman.  So much so that he even invited her to eat with the harvesters, offering her what everyone else was eating and inviting her to eat until she was satisfied.  And after she ate and returned to gleaning the fields, he gave orders to his workers, “Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don’t embarrass her. Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15,16.)  Not only was Boaz impressed by all that he had heard of her actions, he was also impressed with her in person.

She didn’t whine about how hard she had to work, and how demeaning it was to be the lowliest person there.  She stayed humble and did what needed to be done.  She wasn’t brash or mouthy, she honored her host in her speech.  She was grateful for the opportunity to work and to provide for herself and Naomi.

Alistair Begg puts it this way, ““Everything that God gives us and every opportunity of obtaining what we need is an undeserved expression of God’s favor.”

Work is a blessing. (Even though it doesn’t always feel like it!)

God was honoring her choice to put her faith in Him by supplying for her needs.  How awesome is that!

(Ruth)

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Ruth Part 3: No Turning Back, No Turning Back

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When Ruth made her declaration to stay with Naomi, adopt her people’s ways, and put her faith in God, she knew that the future was uncertain, that her problems wouldn’t be solved immediately, and there would be tough times ahead. Yet she was determined.

It reminds me of the old song, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” by S. Sundar Singh.

“I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.”

I imagine her singing this on that long road to Bethlehem. As doubt crept in, wondering what life would be like, she sang, determined to follow her God.

On the road to Bethlehem, Ruth knew that life was going to be hard. Probably much harder than she could imagine. She’d just left her homeland, the friends and family she’d grown up with and acceptance in exchange for a life with nothing but question marks.

  • Would the Israelites accept her? Could they see past her nationality and see her faith in God?
  • How would they survive? Where would they get food? Where would they find protection?
  • Would she ever have another husband? Children? Hope of a future?
  • What would her new life be like? She had to learn the ways, ideas, culture of the Hebrews without the guarantee of being accepted among them.

She was adopting a new home nation but there was no promise of security.

One thing is for certain: her faith in God was resolute. She trusted Him to provide, protect, and guide. She hadn’t grown up hearing about Jehovah, but she had met Him and made a decision to follow Him. God wasn’t just her husband’s family’s God. He was now hers, it was personal.

Even if you don’t grow up hearing about Christ, or going to church, the choice is still yours to make. Will you follow Christ? Do you follow Christ? Do you have a personal relationship with the Savior?

Ruth decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back.  That’s some faith.

(Ruth)

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Ruth Part 2: The Choice

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After Elimelek and his sons died, Naomi and her daughters-in-law had to come up with a plan of survival. They were left with nothing; Naomi was in a foreign land with no family or income, and certainly no prospects. And custom said her two daughters-in-law were under her care until they remarried. So Naomi came up with a plan.

Naomi decided it was time for her to return home to her family. So she and her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, start on the road to Bethlehem. But before they’d gone too far, Naomi tells Orpah and Ruth to “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home” (Ruth 1:8.) Naomi knew that it would be hard for them to be accepted as foreigners in Bethlehem, they were Moabite women, after all, and Israelites were not supposed to be friends with them. And while it pained her to part ways, she thought that their best bet was to stay in their homeland and go back to their own families. Clearly, these women loved each other very much. They were family.

Eventually Orpah says goodbye and heads back. But Ruth…she’s not going anywhere.

And here’s where I get caught up. Why not go home? Why stay on the course to becoming a social outcast living a destitute life? Why wouldn’t she want to see her mom and dad, and start fresh with their help? Why not go back?

Was it because their custom had married her off very young and Naomi was more like a mother to her than her own? She had grown up with Naomi, and she dearly loved her. Maybe there are circumstances we don’t know that influenced her decision. But it doesn’t matter, not really because her answer to Naomi says it all. It’s a very familiar passage of Scripture…but I had to look closely to understand.

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:6)

Basically, “Don’t make me go. You are my home now and your people will be mine. And most importantly, your God is MY GOD.”

Do you see it? It’s not about Ruth’s family and it’s not even about Naomi. It’s about God. In the time that Ruth lived as Naomi’s daughter-in-law, she saw the way Naomi lived, the way her family worshiped God, the way God loved them. They introduced her to a loving and faithful God. She saw the faith of her husband’s family and saw that the God in whom they put their faith was the one true God. And nothing…nothing…was going to keep her from her God.

Moab was a land of idols and false gods. And she wanted no part of that lifestyle. She was a changed woman, God touched her heart and her life and she knew He would take care of her. There was no going back. And she knew that by staying with Naomi and joining God’s people, her faith would grow and be nurtured.

Ruth wasn’t choosing her husband’s family over her own. Ruth chose her husband’s God, the great I AM, the King of Kings, the Almighty God over the false gods and idols of her country, her past.

Ruth chose God.

(Ruth)

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Ruth Part 1: A Tragic Beginning

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I’m back and caffeinated and ready to dig deep into the book of Ruth, one of the two books of the Bible named for a woman.  So, grab your cup and get ready to enjoy God’s grace.

Ruth is a wonderful story of love and commitment, but honestly, something has always puzzled me…I’ve never understood how a girl could choose another family over her own.  Of course, I realize there are many things that play into her choice.  Maybe she didn’t come from a loving family.  Maybe she had been married off so young, as was often the case, that her husband’s family had become closer to her than her own.  Maybe my own experiences growing up in a wonderful family full of God’s love make it hard for me to imagine saying goodbye forever.  But, there’s something I’ve never really considered until now…her faith in God.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  In fact, let’s take a cue from The Sound of Music and start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)  There was international strife and upheaval, and not surprisingly, there was famine in the land.  Elimelek was in a tight spot, there was no food to feed his wife and sons, so they went off to Moab in search of a better life.  However, his decision to go to Moab was in direct violation with God’s instructions (don’t associate with anyone from Moab and don’t seek friendship with them. Deuteronomy 23:3-6)

While there, Elimelek died leaving behind his wife, Naomi and two sons. Those sons married Moabite women and ten years later, the young husbands died.  Remember, women depended on men to provide for them, without them, they were left with nothing, destitute.  And custom expected daughters-in-law to live with their mother-in-law until they remarried.

Naomi and her daughters-in-law are in quite the jam: what now?

(Ruth)