May 26 – Deliverance Through Bitterness – Ruth 4

Ruth 4:1-22

Who or what has stood out to you in the book of Ruth?

For me, the biggest principle that I pull from the entire book is that there is no pain without purpose. God will use every situation for us to grow closer to and more dependent on Him.

Here we sit, reading about Naomi, who lost everything when her sons and husband died. In these days, when you had a husband and bore sons, you had a future and were taken care of. So, when Naomi not only lost her husband, but also her sons, you can imagine how desolate she felt. To her, she saw no hope. However, through this pain, they found their way to Boaz.

Their story was still being written.

Now we come to Ruth 4. With Boaz being in the bloodline of Naomi’s husband, he was second in line to inherit land that Ruth’s late husband owned. With that land came Ruth as, unfortunately, women were considered property in those days. However, the Lord used this to protect Ruth and Naomi. 

Upon asking the next of kin if they want this inheritance and them passing on it, Boaz was happy to say “Yes!”

This meant Ruth would become his wife and Naomi had a home and a future again. 

Ruth bore a child and a future line was born. 

Through all of the pain that Naomi and Ruth had been through, the purpose was yet to be seen.

Here is where the principle stands out.

Sometimes, in our lifetime, we won’t get to see the purpose behind the pain. Naomi knew that she had a future now that Boaz married Ruth and Ruth bore a son. What she didn’t know is that Christ would come from the bloodline of her sons.

How huge is that?! We look at everything she went through and she didn’t even know that the promised Messiah was going to come from her family’s bloodline, from her story of loss.

Not only did God take care of her in these moments, but He brought through her pain our Savior. Naomi didn’t live to see that day, but I bet she was with the Lord praising God in all His Glory of what He did through her family’s line. 

As we ourselves walk through painful situations, we may never know the purpose behind it. Our faith is what we do in times of pain. There has been so much pain in my personal life that I could have given up…and I did. Jesus met me and saved me and I am now able to walk through the pain, knowing that He is for me and He cares about me. No matter the pain I may go through, He has a purpose and a plan and will use it for His Glory. And I am okay with not seeing it in my lifetime. 

What about you? 

Where is your heart and mind when walking through the pain of this life? Are you sitting there angry at God or do you recognize that, because we live in a fallen world and we have to face the consequences of even other’s sin, we can depend on Him to know best?

I challenge you to go before Him and evaluate your heart and actions in painful times.

Will you have the hope of Naomi?

Kelly Lawson

May 25 – Deliverance Through Bitterness – Ruth 3

Read Ruth 3:1-18

Working our way through the book of Ruth, we experience a story of romance, grief and redemption. But the most unique piece that holds it all together is the role of the mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth, upon the death of her husband, embraces a role of living with his mother and embracing the identity of belonging to his family. The temptation to let grief dwell in bitterness had to be real for Ruth. Ruth could not control the things that were happening in her life to her; when things like this occur on an extended basis, the tendency to become bitter festers. The thing about bitterness is that many people (Ruth being no exception) could choose to live in it because it is a feeling that makes us feel in control of our circumstances.

It becomes all to easy to take matters into our own hands, when we are bitter, and not fully trust in God’s plan and provision for us. How we respond to trials in our life says a lot about our faith. Consider this formula:

E+R=O

In the last decade, there has been an equation that has emerged in sports leadership culture at THE Ohio State University.

E (Event) + R (Response) = O (Outcome)

Events happen in our lives, whether brought on by an external or internal event. How we respond will dictate the outcome every time. In this case, Ruth’s event (the command to sleep her way into a secure marriage in light of her mourning) demanded a response. It could’ve been “no”, “you’re crazy”, or lashing out in anger. Instead, the response was obedience born from vulnerability in risk of reputation because her trust in God outweighed her desire to control her own life. Naomi had not counted on this. Naomi’s description that Boaz will “tell you what to do” once Ruth got under the covers was instead unpredictably met with him responding to Ruth by asking who she was. The subsequent events and conversation led to an example of godliness and a beautiful union that would one day pass down a lineage of Christ the King. 

Every day, we are faced with circumstances and events that are unfolding around us in which we have two ways to respond.  For many people, there are hurts that are more personal happening in their families daily which compound the issues of surviving in this outside world. The impact of family stress compounded with ailing finances, broken relationships, misbehaving children, unfulfillment at work, struggling marriages and loss of loved ones demands a response. 

What is your R to these events and the events happening in your life currently?

Ruth’s story shows us that when we take risks by faith and respond in servitude, the unexpected can happen. The long-term blessing provides an outcome that we could have never seen coming – one that reminds us every day of the beauty, grace and mercy of God being in control of our lives, saving us from bitterness and growing us in faith.

Joe Rubino

May 24 – Deliverance Through Bitterness – Ruth 2

Read Ruth 2:1-23

Broken, bitter, empty and alone with just each other, Naomi and Ruth followed the hope of God’s goodness to Bethlehem. That’s where they found deliverance. It’s where God used a man named Boaz to redeem them both from the bitter hand they had been dealt. And, although Naomi had exclaimed that she was all but done with hope, it had led them both to this place where they would see God’s hand provide beyond their craziest hopes for anything good to ever come again.

“As it turned out…”

God had a plan for redemption that included Ruth’s hard work, Boaz’s admiration and a field full of barley that needed picking. God led them straight to the man He would use to protect, provide for and love Ruth.  

Ruth had chosen to follow Naomi into a life in which all her hope literally lay in the truth that Yahweh God is good and He provides for His people. It’s how God got them to the place in their journey where they could leave the bitter empty for the beautiful safety of protection, love and full life. It’s the way God delivered Ruth and Naomi out of bitterness and into hope.

Ruth had come to take refuge under the wings of the God she chose to trust when she left everything she knew and moved to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law named bitter. And that very God brought redemption through Boaz. 

Have you come to take refuge in God too? He provided a Redeemer for you and me in the man called Jesus. His very life conquered death when He took our bitter shame, guilt, dark dark sin and left death behind in a Jerusalem grave. He provides safety and protection from the fear of living, of dying, and He gives deliverance from the darkness of shame.

It means trusting His way, believing with your whole life that He is good, like Ruth believed when she walked out of Moab into the way of the One True God. That very same God provides deliverance from our bitterness too. It means trusting Him enough to know Him, study His Word, follow His ways, even when life hits hard.

Especially when life gets hard.

Bria Wasson

March 2 – Transformation Testimonies – Ruth

Read Ruth 2:1-23Ruth 4:1-22

In order to fully appreciate the degree of transformation in anything, we must understand not only what it has become but also what it once was.  How about you?  How does the current version of you compare with you version 1.0?  Has transformation taken place?  Has any change you have undergone been a change in a positive, godly direction?

Although you didn’t specifically read about Ruth’s earlier days…what she once was…let me remind us of two important realities from her past.

  1. She was a Moabite woman (1:3, 4). In other words, she grew up outside of the Jewish heritage.  She probably did not have an upbringing that included regular instruction from the word of God.   As such, her values may have been very different from those that God desired.
  2. She was a widow (1:5). Although we aren’t told how, we do know that her husband died after they had been married only a few years.
  3. She was childless. In her day, to have been married without children was to be placed low on the totem pole of valued individuals.

Ruth could have easily become a bitter, godless woman who ran from God and dove headlong into sin.  But one of the key contributors to her transformation is found in a statement she made to her mother-in-law in Ruth 1:

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”  (1:16b)

Ruth made a commitment to the God of and the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that commitment changed the geography and the trajectory of her life.  It took her to Bethlehem, in the heart of the Promised Land.  Though she started by scavenging for food, she eventually had all of her needs met.  That commitment led her from a life of singleness to marriage.  That commitment led to her honor as the one once barren gave birth.  In fact, not only would she have sons, but she was to be the great-grandmother of King David…and an important part of the lineage of Jesus.

Let’s be clear here.  Your commitment to God will not guarantee a fairy-tale ending like Ruth seemed to experience.  But it will lay the foundation for transformation that God wants to bring!

Steve Kern

October 25: Ruth’s Story of Hope

Read Ruth 1:1-22

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or 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 1:16).

What had happened in a house wrought with death to lead Ruth to cling to her mother-in-law? Losing three men, three breadwinners. First, her father-in-law died. Then her brother-in-law and even her own husband.

Had Ruth seen the mystery of a God who comforts when comfort seemed impossible? Had she tasted the sweetness of food provided when provisions were exhausted due to famine? Had she felt a spark of hope in a hopeless home situation?

For Naomi, the return to Bethlehem was a return to her homeland. For Ruth, the decision must have loomed under a shadow of uncertainty. It involved a foreign land. The travel itself would be treacherous and exhausting. Bewildering questions must have gripped Ruth. Would she ever marry again or bear children? Would her family be distraught as if she was abandoning her people and the only land she’d known?

In one direction was the known, the lifestyle Ruth had been living, the comfort zone. Ruth could have, as we do, chosen that way even though pain, death and famine hallmarked the path. She could have gone back in misery to her birth family.

Ruth’s crossroad decision is like one we face from time-to-time. How often do we hold onto what’s stagnant simply because it’s familiar? We squeeze tight our fists around what is useless and burdensome just for fear of what we haven’t seen on another path.

Ruth chose the “other path.” Her story of hope sprung from her decision to branch out and trust what she had not yet seen or experienced. Before food provision (Ruth 2:3), before Boaz (Ruth 2:19-20), and before a royal-birth-line baby (Ruth 4:13-22), Ruth stepped out in hope.

Are you facing a crossroads in your own life? Is your comfortable path one that needs abandoning? In what areas are you clinging to what is fruitless? God’s big picture put the Messiah, Jesus, in the bloodline of Ruth (Matthew 1:5). That is the story of hope overcoming a destiny of death in Ruth’s life and in ours!

 

written by Sacha Kauffman

October 29: The Story of Ruth

Read Ruth 1:1-4:22

ruthA “chick flick” is a movie where women are wiping their eyes while men roll theirs!  Perhaps you were tempted to give one of those responses as you read the book of Ruth today.  The storyline includes a matchmaking widow mother and her efforts to connect her widowed daughter-in-law with the right man.  The curtain closes with grandma holding a baby boy!  On the surface, it seems to meet the classic criterion for categorization as a “chick flick.”  But, thankfully, it is so much more…it is a tale of hope for all.

The events of these four chapters took place “In the days when the judges ruled…”  Those were difficult days!  It was a time when the Jews had settled into their homeland.  These days included the leadership of familiar people like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson.  But, these were generally days in which the spiritual and moral climate of Israel was in decline.  This story of faith and love is like an oasis in a desert during this time of downward spiral!

To truly understand the book, you must grasp the idea of levirate marriage.  If a woman was widowed without children, the closest relative on the side of the deceased husband had a responsibility to marry the widow.  Their first child was to be raised in honor of the deceased husband/relative.  (See Deuteronomy 25:5, 6.)  According to this Old Testament principle, Boaz was, then, one of two possible husbands who could serve as Ruth’s “redeemer.”

On their journey towards marriage, both Ruth and Boaz demonstrate godliness, integrity, and purity.  What a contrast to Samson’s story from yesterday!  Their lives are worthy models for the unmarried today!

Meanwhile, the book of Ruth is much more than a “chick flick” on a number of levels.  First of all, Ruth helps us to connect the period of the judges (1:1) with that of the kings (4:22).  The “judges” are mentioned in the first verse of the book.  At the other end, the last verse closes with the mention of David, Israel’s greatest and most prominent king.

But that’s not all.  Ruth also demonstrates how sweet but seemingly otherwise insignificant people make great contributions to the eternal plan of God!  Ruth and Boaz are important people in Christ’s family tree.

As you pursue godliness and purity, your life is significant too!

sbk

September 14: Ruth

Read Ruth 2:1-23; Ruth 4:1-22

In order to fully appreciate the degree of transformation in anything, we must understand not only what it has become but also what it once was.  How about you?  How does the current version of you compare with you version 1.0?  Has transformation taken place?  Has any change you have undergone been a change in a positive, godly direction?

Although you didn’t specifically read about Ruth’s earlier days…what she once was…let me remind us of two important realities from her past.

  1. She was a Moabite woman (1:3, 4). In other words, she grew up outside of the Jewish heritage.  She probably did not have an upbringing that included regular instruction from the word of God.   As such, her values may have been very different from those that God desired.
  2. She was a widow (1:5). Although we aren’t told how, we do know that her husband died after they had been married only a few years.
  3. She was childless. In her day, to have been married without children was to be placed low on the totem pole of valued individuals.

Ruth could have easily become a bitter, godless woman who ran from God and dove headlong into sin.  But one of the key contributors to her transformation is found in a statement she made to her mother-in-law in Ruth 1:

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”  (1:16b)

Ruth made a commitment to the God of and the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that commitment changed the geography and the trajectory of her life.  It took her to Bethlehem, in the heart of the Promised Land.  Though she started by scavenging for food, she eventually had all of her needs met.  That commitment led her from a life of singleness to marriage.  That commitment led to her honor as the one once barren gave birth.  In fact, not only would she have sons, but she was to be the great-grandmother of King David…and an important part of the lineage of Jesus.

Let’s be clear here.  Your commitment to God will not guarantee a fairy-tale ending like Ruth seemed to experience.  But it will lay the foundation for transformation that God wants to bring!

sbk