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Monthly Archives: August 2017

Ruth 3

Ruth 3:1-18 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.” “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.” He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?” Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.” 

Dear God, first, we don’t spend enough time reading the stories of the Old Testament. These are just some great reads. Yes, they are dated and tell us about customs that seem weird to us, but they are still instructive and they are also fun to read. 

That being said, everyone’s responses to their situation are very similar to what we would do now. Naomi is trying to solve some big problems for her and for Ruth and she is strategizing. Ruth is being obedient to Naomi as well as being loyal to her. As Boaz says, “All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” Her reputation precedes her. 

And then there is Boaz. He has a good idea he is being used here, but he legitimately sees it as an opportunity to help a good person. He knows Ruth doesn’t mean anything negative by it. It’s the way of their world. But Naomi and Ruth trusted Naomi’s plan because they knew what kind of man Boaz was. 

All the while, unbeknownst to them but knownst to us, this is all paving the way for David and Jesus’s earthly lineage. How cool is that? You took the time to share David’s back story and tell us about. Some good people in a hard time. 

Father, help me to be a good person. Help me to be wise. Help me to be generous. Help me to simply let go of myself and love you. 

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2017 in Ruth

 

Ruth 2:14-17

Ruth 2:14-17 14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her.16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.

 

Dear God, I have a friend right now in financial need, and it is hard to know how to help them. Where do I draw the line between helping and not helping? How do I keep from taking on too much of this friend’s burden? How do I keep from becoming codependent with them? I like to be a hero. How do I keep from falling into that trap, but instead listen for your still small voice as to what I am supposed to do?

Frankly, to help this friend would stretch us financially, and I have mixed feelings about that. One the one hand, I do have the money there and you have been very good to us. On the other hand, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to be foolish with the money in case we need it for something else.

I guess what is really bothering me is to hear how powerless this friend feels in their situation and how someone else in their life is using money to control them and put them in fear. I know people like that. I’ve seen the power they try to exercise over people and there is a part of me that wants to go in and neuter that power and keep them from being a bully.

I think of all of this because Boaz had some decisions to make about Ruth. She wasn’t the only woman gleaning in the field. But he knew her story of not only tragedy but honor. He appreciated it, respected it, and decided to do his best to honor it in a way that Ruth could still have her dignity.

Father, show my wife and me the way forward on this and the other issues that are before us. There are people for us to love. There are people on whom we need to use tough love. There are also situations in which we need to step back and let go. We need to trust you to be a provider for these people in your way. Perhaps that is through us. Perhaps it is through someone else. I think the thing I am hearing in this, however, is that, whatever we do, we need to do it in a way that gives our friend dignity.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Ruth

 

Ruth 2:1-13

Ruth 2:1-13

Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.

“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied.

Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”

And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

 

Dear God, there is something to be said for just being a nice guy. There is something to be said for empathy. Boaz didn’t realize it, but his actions in this moment were being recorded for all time. History was watching, and we found him faithful. He is now an example to us on how to treat someone who is less fortunate than us.

Ruth, of course, is an example as well. She didn’t realize history was watching her too. She didn’t know that, 5,000 years later, I would be sitting here on a Sunday morning before church thinking about her faithfulness to Naomi and her perseverance in the face of hardship.

So what will I do today? What kind of an example will I be to anyone who might take note of my life. What kind of servant will I be for you?

Father, give me the strength to remember that every moment of my day counts. That doesn’t mean that I have to be in action every moment of the day to be found faithful, but it does mean that I need to be about worshiping you in my thoughts, words, and deeds. Thank you for the people in the Bible who were found to be faithful to you in their daily lives. I always think of the widow that Jesus saw putting the two coins in the offering. Help me to do all of this, and to do it in the humility that comes from the recognition that I am your grateful servant.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in Ruth, Uncategorized

 

Ruth 1:19-22

Ruth 1:19-22 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. 

Dear God, this story is great evidence that there can be reasons for our suffering other than sin in our lives. In the moment–in the fog of war–we can interpret tragedies in our lives as you abandoning us. But, as outsiders looking in on this story in retrospect, we know that Ruth has a destiny that required this path Israel’s destiny requires Naomi’s suffering. 

I confess that I hate to suffer. I want to be happy. I want to feel secure and safe. And I often choose the safe option instead of the bold option because I want to play it safe. And I also confess that there have been times (and continue to be times) when I don’t understand the suffering I’m experiencing. I’ve been upset with you about my suffering. I’ve gone full-fledged Naomi and complained to others about my suffering. 

Father, Naomi could have used the Serenity Prayer from AA, and I can always use it. Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2017 in Ruth

 

Ruth 1:1-18

Ruth 1:1-18

In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.

Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.

Naomi and Ruth Return

Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.

But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.

10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”

14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.

 

Dear God, this story reminds me of Nicodemus and the crucifixion. Ruth had seemingly hitched her wagon to the wrong train. Naomi misinterpreted the loss of her husband and sons as your raised fist against her (verse 13). But in this case, you had a plan for Ruth down the road. You had a plan for Israel. You had a plan for David and his lineage that needed Ruth and Boza to come together.

Ruth, for her part, simply showed devotion and persevered ahead, even in the midst of tragedy. She eschewed the logical path for one that was seemingly foolish. Love and devotion—doing the right thing—won out over selfishness and conventional wisdom.

Nicodemus was the same way. He was a closet Jesus follower, and yet, when he had the most to lose in front of his fellow Pharisees—when the person in whom he had put his faith had died—it was at that moment that he stepped out and let his heart override his mind.

Father, help me to do what is right at any given time regardless of the consequences. Help me to know when to reject conventional wisdom and simply press on towards your goal and rest in your voice leading me. Help me to glorify you in every way so that, when others might think I am being foolish, I will be at peace in knowing that, even if I made the wrong decision, I did it for the right reason.

And to close, here is a little Rich Mullins:

Lord, you’re leading me
With a cloud by day
And then in the night
The glow of a burning flame
And everywhere I go I see you
And everywhere I go I see you

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Ruth, Uncategorized

 

Matthew 7:7-8

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Dear God, there’s a call to action here that you require. I’ve always known that, I guess, but still, I have responsibilities if I am going to live in your victory. If I am going to live within your peace. 

I have to ask. If I am going to realize that you are the giver of my good gifts, then I have to first bring my needs to you. I have to treat you like you are my God and not just some guiding philosophy by which I try to live my life. 

I have to seek. I have to actively look for your truth and your knowledge. I don’t know everything. I need to learn from reliable sources and people who are also seekers. 

I have to knock. If I’m not trying then nothing will happen. If my life is not moving then you can’t steer it. If I knock on something and you don’t open the door (and I don’t force it open) then I can eliminate it as an option. If I knock in your Spirit and it opens then I can know it is of you. But if I just sit and think great thoughts with no action then I will never accomplish what you have for me. 

Father, help me to ask, seek, and knock today. I have a couple of life situations that are dilemmas for me. I am seeking your wisdom. I am asking for your help. And I am knocking to see which door opens. Please guide me through the path you have laid out for me. 

In Jesus’ name I pray,  

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Matthew

 

Psalm 94:18-19

Psalm 94:18-19 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. 

Dear God, I really like these two verses. The anxiety part especially. But you can only console us if we let you. You can only support us if we ask. I take that back. At any given time, you can support us without us realizing it or asking for it. But we will only realize it was you if we are tuned in enough to think about it. 

I probably need to be better about pointing people to you when they are anxious or their foot is slipping. I see clients at work every day who are in crisis. I need to purposefully point them to you more often. I have relatives who are struggling. I need to point them to you. 

Father, help me to both lead others to you in their distress and to remember to go to you myself from moment to moment. Please bring me the peace and joy that comes from turning my will over and submitting to your will. Please give me the lighter yoke for the one I try to carry on my own. And please show me how to lead others into your presence. 

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen 

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2017 in Psalms