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‘Watching Over Our Fellow Believers’  

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For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world… (2 Timothy 4:10)

Little is known about Demas. According to Philemon 1:24, he was a faithful follower of Jesus at one point and was even referred to by Paul as a “fellow worker.” But somehow Demas strayed away from the faith. In the passage above, Paul tells us that Demas became caught up in the pleasures of the world and strayed away in his commitment to Christ. His failure should serve as a warning to all of us.  Read the rest of this entry

‘Prone to Wander’  

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In the 1700s, a twenty-two-year-old Methodist pastor named Robert Robinson wrote a hymn called “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Perhaps you have sung it sometime in church. It begins as, “Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.” I never gave too much thought to this hymn, until I heard the fourth verse. “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, o take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” What did Robinson mean when he spoke of his heart that was prone to wander away from God?

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‘For God So Loved the World’

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John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. On the night that I accepted Jesus as my Savior, a man took this verse and shared it with me. He told me, “The Bible says that God loves the world. That includes you. You can take your name and insert it in this verse: ‘For God so loved Terry that God gave His only begotten Son, that if Terry would believe in Him, Terry would not perish but have everlasting life.’” That simple act of inserting my name helped me realize that God loved me, and that Jesus died for my sins. Since that day, I have often used this same verse to help others receive Christ as their personal Savior.

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‘God Used Ruth to Bring a Blessing to the World’

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So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. 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 4:13-17)

During our study of the book of Ruth, we have seen the providential hand of God at work. It was God who orchestrated Ruth and Naomi’s return to Bethlehem at the time of the harvest. Furthermore, God guided Ruth to the field belonging to Boaz, who would ultimately become her husband. Through the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, God blessed them with a child who brought joy and hope to Naomi and helped to restore her faith. None of these events were coincidences. They were all the product of God’s providential care and wisdom, transforming tragedy into blessings.

God also used the story of Ruth to bring a blessing to the world.

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‘God is Gracious’   

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So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. 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 4:13-17)

The story of Ruth begins with a woman named Naomi and her husband Elimelech who lived in Bethlehem with their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. When a famine struck the land, Elimelech took his family and move to a country called Moab. While living in Moab, Elimelech and his two sons died, leaving Naomi all alone. Naomi’s grief caused her to become angry with God. “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20)

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‘Finding Refuge Under God’s Protective Wings’ 

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“The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” (Ruth 2:12) Does God have wings? This is metaphorical expression used in the Bible to describe God’s protection and care. Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore, the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” By saying what he said, Boaz recognized that Ruth was putting her life and future in God’s hands.

Yesterday we saw how Ruth humbly went to Boaz and asked him to act as their kinsman redeemer. “And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” (Ruth 3:9) Boaz replied to her, “…do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.” (Ruth 3:11)

The next morning, Ruth rose early and returned to Naomi. “When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, ‘Is that you, my daughter?’ Then she told her all that the man had done for her. And she said, “These six ephahs of barley he gave me; for he said to me, ‘Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’ Then she said, ‘Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.’ ” (Ruth 3:16-18) I love Naomi’s reply to Ruth. My translation of this would be- “Honey, just sit tight; this man has the tingles!” 

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‘Resting in God’s Love and Care’ 

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Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore, wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.” And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” (Ruth 3:1-9)

Boaz was a near kinsman of Elimelech’s family, and Ruth requested him to redeem the land that had been sold by Elimelech before he and his family left for Moab. Ruth also asked Boaz to marry her. According to the Law of Moses, Boaz had the option to buy the land and return it to Ruth and Naomi. However, if he chose to marry Ruth, he would be responsible for producing children with her, and their offspring would ultimately inherit the land. This would guarantee that Elimelech’s lineage would continue to own the property.

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‘God Gives Grace to the Humble’

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I enjoy exploring the characters in the Bible, and one of my favorites is Ruth. There are many words that could be used to describe her, but I think that “humility” is one of her leading qualities. The Bible says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5) Ruth was humble and therefore God blessed her greatly.

And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a [close relative.” Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. (Ruth 3:7-11)  Read the rest of this entry

‘God Works in Mysterious Ways’ 

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Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore, wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.” (Ruth 3:1-4)

Whenever I read the book of Ruth, I get the impression that Naomi was a quite a matchmaker. She noticed that Boaz’s kind treatment of Ruth could indicate romantic interest, and as a near kinsman, he was an ideal choice to become Ruth’s husband and their kinsman redeemer.

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‘God is Always With Us’ 

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And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? Blessed be the one who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.” (Ruth 2:19-20)

Ruth’s father-in-law, Elimelech, was from Bethlehem. The Bible tells us that he and his family left Bethlehem during a time of famine. Therefore, it is likely that Elimelech had mortgaged his property. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, she knew of such property, but she had no way to redeem it herself. She needed someone to act as her kinsman redeemer.

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