Category Archives: Ruth

2 Samuel 14-16

His loyal love – a servant’s heart

One of the most quoted passages of Scripture on loyal love is from the Book of Ruth: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your People shall be my people, And your God, my God,” (Ruth 1:16).

This profound declaration of loyalty is a beautiful illustration of the deepest friendship, most unselfish love, and abiding trust that one can express. Ruth demonstrated this to Naomi, her mother-in-law, by traveling with her out of Ruth’s familiar surroundings to the strangeness of Naomi’s home.

In today’s passage of Scripture, King David is the grateful recipient of steadfast loyalty. Ittai the Gittite and his men, foreigners who lived under David’s protection, pledged their lives and military strength to David as he fled Jerusalem, (2 Samuel 15:21-23). In glaring contrast to the loyal love demonstrated by Naomi and Ittai, we learn the historical account of David’s own son, Absalom, who was the epitome of disloyalty.

Loyalty is defined as allegiance, faithfulness, fidelity, devotion, steadfastness, commitment. What engenders loyalty? In today’s world of business, customer satisfaction is the gold standard for ensuring customer loyalty. There are case studies on the global market that prove good customer service is paramount to continued success of a business. Out of these studies came solid strategies for increasing the odds of customer satisfaction. One principal factor in building loyalty is to provide reliable service. That is, do what you say you will do every time. That may mean going the extra mile, suffering personal loss, and responding judiciously to the needs of customers. Another important strategy is providing relational service. This is accomplished by recognizing the importance of customer/business relationships in tangible ways such as rewarding repeated visits – think perks, redeemable stars given in a point system, specials meant just for those who keep coming back. Responsive service is another strategy in developing customer satisfaction. Communicating with customers is crucial for learning about their changing needs. This means being open to their honest opinions, encouraging feedback, and analyzing their points of interest or pain. And finally, commemorating service by ‘shouting out’ customer satisfaction is a strategy that validates the success of the business. This is accomplished by publishing reviews, testimonials, endorsements, etc.

Absalom would have made a fortune in today’s business. He must have been reading Forbes magazine in learning how to turn the people toward him and away from his father, King David. “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel,” (2 Samuel 15:5-6).

How had David lost the hearts of so many men? First, he, an aging king, was not as visible to his people as his handsome son. David may have been relying on his past laurels to garner loyalty from his people. However, “it was said that Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate,” (2 Samuel 15:2). Also, King David did not hear the changing opinions of his people who feared losing the heir to the throne, (2 Samuel 14:13-15). And though David eventually reconciled with Absalom, he had refused to see him for two years, thereby failing to endorse him, (2 Samuel 14:28). To be sure, King David was conflicted since Absalom had murdered his brother and sought to kill all the King’s sons. Yet, doing nothing for so long to restore the relationship and shunning Absalom no doubt sowed seeds of bitterness that eventually produced conspiracy and rebellion. Absolom was more business savvy which cost David many loyal subjects.

I can relate to King David, however. I, too, have wanted to turn away from negative situations, especially when relationships were involved. I would rather live and let be than consider my own shortcomings or confront others. Unfortunately, this posture has allowed situations to escalate to the point where I am either running from the consequences of inaction or having to do damage control. Yet, I know from experience why we should never let the sun go down on our anger. Why we should forgive – I mean really forgive. When to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’ to loved ones and to the stranger. Why we should pray, pray, pray to have the log removed out of our own eye and to have our buried head pulled out of the sand.

When on the run, I also neglect to nurture my spiritual relationship with God. No surprise that doing so is reflected in the loss of earthly relationships. Thankfully, we are made in the image of God, and God’s character is the very definition of loyal love. Therefore, I believe God can change my heart attitude, can give me the courage to address uncomfortable situations, can utter words I should speak in difficult conversations, and can work all things out for my good. And theirs. (Romans 8:28)

David’s journey back to the throne depended on God’s faithfulness to him. We, too, have been restored through the blessing of God’s loyal love. He heard our cries and sent His Son, Jesus Christ to us. Christ suffered, died, and was resurrected to bring us back to the Father. As if that were not enough to earn our loyalty, God is faithful to fulfil all His promises to us. And He does not hold back on celebrating our salvation. As is evidenced in Luke 15:10, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” And “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing,” (Zephania 3:17).

Father, God, thank You for your loyal love! Help me to be filled by Your Holy Spirit and have access to Your wisdom, counseling, and authority. Teach me, dear Lord, to develop behaviors that encourage, support, and benefit those whom You have given me at my place of work, in my marriage, in friendships, and in fellowship. I pray that as Your servant, Lord God, I will give my very best service to others in Your blessed name.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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Ruth 2:14-4:22; I Samuel 1

Women of the Bible: the stories of Ruth and Hannah

 When reading Scripture, I often visualize myself walking in the shoes of the principal characters of the narratives. I can imagine, for instance, being Ruth the Moabite woman living in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Rising early and walking to a field where she hoped to pick up the leftover grain to bring home sustenance for Naomi and herself. Listening to the wise council of the one woman she trusted with all her heart, the one who taught her to love and believe in the God of Israel. Risking her virtue and physical safety to join with strangers, she a foreigner in a small, but tightly woven community where everyone knew your story without knowing you. What could that have been like? The part of me that relates is the yearning I had as a young girl to know who to depend on for sustenance, guidance, and comfort. Grateful for those times when others showed concern and genuine caring. Yet, always longing for stability when, even as a young woman, I continued to need protection and provision. I’ve often testified that God answered the prayer of this unbeliever when He sent to me a husband who satisfied my need for security. How wonderful that even though I was not then aware of my future salvation, God knew. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8:29.

Like a Cinderella story, Ruth found her charming prince and Naomi held her precious grandson against her shoulder. And from that fortuitous pairing of Ruth and Boaz came the future King David and the messianic lineage of Jesus Christ. I, too, had my prince and then my own little darling to raise.

In Hannah’s story, my heart was torn reading that after God answered her prayer for a child, she could give up of that same child for another to raise. Hannah’s anguish over being barren, year after year, may be difficult to understand in America today. Young adults are waiting longer to marry and longer still to have children. We praise the family who limits conceiving their number of children to two or less. We value resources such as food, fuel, forests, and air as if these elements preserve our future. Yet, are we not, as C.S. Lewis once argued careening toward the “abolition of man?” Still, what is the first commitment made by most Christian parents who love the Lord God? We dedicate our children to God – to raise them in the “admonition of the Lord.” We stand publicly before our congregations to declare we will raise our children in a godly home, and we ask for their support in teaching and modeling for our children how to obey and love God. Yet, Hannah’s desire for her son to know God went so much deeper. She held the hand of little Samuel, a child of two or three years old, and took him to actually live in the sanctuary and be raised by the aging priest, Eli.

“And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord [Eli], I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord…For this child I prayed and the Lord granted me my petition…Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord,” I Samuel 1:26-28.

In dedicating my own daughter, did I truly give her over to the Lord? I thought I did. I still feel the joy and pride of her memorizing Scripture for the Bible Bowl, attending Vacation Bible School, singing in the Children’s Choir, coloring pictures of Jesus and the Cross, creating her own Christmas and Easter cards, and writing stories and poems for her Christian school English teachers. But did I hamper her learning to trust in God by my own need for validation as a mother? Why was it so hard to believe that God loved her more than I ever could?

These are questions that I ponder being a parent. There is no end to my negative self-talk, my mother-guilt, especially since my daughter passed away. Yet I am comforted knowing that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him,” (Biblegateway.com). As her mother, I can rejoice that God ‘lent’ her to me for a while like Hannah could rejoice despite knowing how short the time she would have to nurture her son.

Scripture is for our instruction in righteousness and for strengthening our faith, for courage, healing, and peace. God’s Word also reminds me that women in the Bible were important to His plan of redemption and the birth of the Church. I am comforted by the real stories of people who walked with God, obeyed, and worshiped Him, and were rewarded with renewed joy and greater faith. Ruth’s loyal love to Naomi, Hannah’s sacrificial gratitude for Samuel, and the many other heroines of the Old and New Testaments are the precious jewels of Proverbs 31 which declares, “For her worth is far above rubies…a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Precious Lord God, You alone fashioned me and every other child inside of mothers whom You loved. You know the first and last day we will walk this earth. Thank You, Lord, that You rejoice and sing over us from that first reunion with You and into eternity. May the Lord bless us and favor us, our family, our children, and their children while we wait for that day we are together again with Jesus, our Lord.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4

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Ruth 3-4; Psalm 37; Acts 4

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,  which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. (NIV)

20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” This is a statement of a changed life, a man who finally got what Jesus had been teaching his disciples. It had not been that long ago that Peter had denied he knew Jesus out of fear for his own life, yet here he was, standing in front of authorities, and not backing down. That was one of the things I remember learning when I first became a follower. Through all the years after his death and resurrection, not one of the men who had witnessed it ever changed their story. No matter how they were threatened with death, or beaten, or thrown into jail, their story of what they witnessed stayed the same.

We all have a story of how following Jesus changed our lives. One of my favorite Sundays at our church is Baptism Sunday. People share their testimony of lives completely turned around because they believed and let Jesus into their hearts. There is so much joy, and singing, and clapping “because all the people were praising God for what had happened.” I think it takes a changed life to recognize that change in someone else. The look of joy when they step out in faith and proclaim they want a new life just brings tears to my eyes. I get to relive my own excitement of that decision with them.

What I love even more are the people who spontaneously decide to be baptized because of the stories of restoration they have heard. Something in them stirs and they can’t contain themselves. The Holy Spirit is working in them–the same Holy Spirit that evoked Peter to boldly proclaim “12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

The bible gives us countless stories of God’s restoration. The Book of Ruth is one of those.

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”

16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. (NLT)

I never tire of reading that book of the bible. God’s plan of redemption for our lives is such a major theme. Through it he not only restored the lives of Naomi and Ruth, he also put into place the plan of redemption for all of humanity. Through David’s genealogy came Jesus, who is our Savior.

Heavenly Father, my life was changed the moment I believed. You have always had a plan for my life—that knowledge has brought healing to my troubled soul. May I continue to praise you and lift my voice with all the saints throughout eternity proclaiming the name of Jesus, the greatest name of all. In His name I pray. Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Ruth 1,2; Acts 3

Do you believe in coincidences? Many times in our lives what look like chance encounters end up being life-changing events. There’s an interesting movie entitled, “Sliding Doors”. It has to do with two alternative outcomes depending on whether a woman gets on a train or has to wait for the next one. This simple choice — and the movie plays out both options — shows what happens by just that one tiny choice.

Ruth 2 has an interesting “throw away” line, “3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” The author of this short book treats this chance encounter as a coincidence. Yet, it starts of a chain of events that results in the unbroken lineage in the ancestry of Jesus. What seemed like a chance decision or happenstance ended up being one of the most important events in human history.

Have you had something like this happen in your life? I can see in mine events that seemed unrelated being life-changing and subsequently life changing for millions of people. Not because of my choices, but because of what God has done in the circumstances of my life. Look back over the history of your life. Can you find at least one of these sliding door moments that has changed your path or those of others that has made an eternal difference in God’s kingdom?

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Ruth 3,4; Acts 28; Jeremiah 38; Psalms 11,12

I’m finishing up listening to an audio version of a book called 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz (not paid or otherwise compensated to mention this book). A friend recommended it at large, and I tucked it away for someday. While I’m not sure how the title came back into my sight line, I can say that several times this year, there have been things I wanted to quit (and things I didn’t want to quit but thought I might have to because this pace is wearing me too thin). I decided to give the book a listening to. In it, Koziarz discusses Ruth.

Today, in Ruth 3 and 4, I read the conclusion of (Ruth’s) story, where her kinsman redeemer marries her, joy is restored, and she is part of royal lineage–and all because she made the choice not to quit. She exhibits strength, loyalty, faith, perseverance, patience, and trust.

And what doesn’t Paul go through in Acts? In this chapter, he’s warming himself by a fire after a shipwreck. He’s bitten by a poisonous snake and survives. After months, he continues on his journey to Rome.

30 For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, 31 boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him. (Acts 28:30-31, NLT)

He persevered too, and not in a roll-with-the-punches sort of way: he boldly proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord. He was resilient and focused.

Jeremiah’s unpopular message made him a traitor to be lowered into a cistern and left for dead. But that wasn’t where his story stopped. Though he couldn’t climb out in his own strength, he was raised out of the cistern because of the petitions of an important court official. Jeremiah’s message didn’t change–surrender or else. A tough job.

15 Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” (Jeremiah 38:15, NLT)

He didn’t quit.

In the psalms, encouragement still (emphasis mine). Don’t quit.

I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
    “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;
    the Lord still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
    examining every person on earth.
The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. (Psalm 11:1, 4-5, NLT)

And

The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land. (Psalm 12:6-8, NLT)

Maybe one day the things I’m going through won’t seem so big-hairy-scary-heavy. Maybe one day I’ll look back and laugh at what I thought was difficult. In real time, the things are big and heavy and difficult. And yesterday, I was looking to quit.

Thank you, Lord, for all that you are teaching me about who you are and what you can do. Thank you for showing me that character is developed through trials, and perseverance is built one day at a time. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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