This week, as we journey with Naomi & Ruth, we finally arrive in Bethlehem. Our text for this week's worth of study comes from Ruth 1:19-21. I can hardly wait to share with you some of the wonderful truths that I personally took home from this portion of our study!!
(In this video - there is a small 2 minute intro. Please feel free to stop the video after this intro. Otherwise feel free to watch our entire local bible study session).
Day 1: Coming Home
Did you notice that the town was stirring about Naomi "coming home"? I wonder if she was well known and well like. I wonder if the women were noticing Ruth and talking about who she was and why she was with Naomi. The scripture doesn't share these details with us, but as women, who love to talk - you can only imagine what was being whispered behind the tents of Bethlehem.
Also take note that Naomi changes her name. Naomi means "lovely" and in verse 20 she says to the women of the city to no longer call her by her given name, but rather to call her Mara - which means bitter.
Did you notice who she blames for all her hardships? the Almighty!
Look at verse 21 - "I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
I want to ask you two things here...
1.) Can you be "lovely" and afflicted by the Lord at the same time? Naomi didn't think so. Was she on target or did she miss an opportunity to rise above her circumstances?
2.) Is it okay to be honest with God about your feelings about what He has allowed or caused to happen in your life?
I believe that it is okay to be honest with God. The fact is, He already knows your thoughts. If we would take the time to be honest with Him, about how we feel about Him, we would more than likely come to a place of dependance upon Him. And in dependance we find power! Power to rise above the junk that we're living through.
I hope you took the time to go through the verses where Job & David got honest with God. Seeing how our heroes of the faith dealt with affliction helps to guide us through our painful experiences - yet with their wisdom!
Day 2: A Hopeful Glimmer
In this day's homework we begin to see a light far in the distance. The tide changes in these verses. But before we look at that glimmering light - I want you to see a wonderful summary of Ruth Chapter 1.
Look back on page 42 - first paragraph...
"I say quickly because we can read the first chapter in a couple of minutes, potentially hindering us from giving proper weight to the famine, the move, the marriage of two sons, the death of a husband, the death of two sons, the beginning of a return journey, the turning back of one woman, and now the arrival in Bethlehem."
Wow! Now that is a lot to cover in one small chapter. Recently I wrote a "Decade in Review" on my Living Above blog. It was quite amazing to see all that happened in a 10 year period. Chapter 1 of Ruth is in essence the same thing. Remember they stayed in Moab for 10 years. So in just 10 years - Naomi went from complete joy to complete devastation.
What about you? What have you experienced in the past 10 years? What would your "chapter 1" look like?
Now on to the sowing & reaping...
I love this quote from Hubbard told by Kelly on page 43 - "When God is at work, bitter hopelessness can be the beginning of some surprising good."
Look at Ruth 1:22 - "So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest."
I want to focus on the "barley harvest". This was were it all starts turning good for these two ladies! I'm sure they knew or understood the extent of the "good" that was to come... but a harvest is almost always a sign of hope! Seed has been sown and now produce is to be harvested or reaped!
I want to ask you today - When was your barley harvest? Have you experienced a time in your life when everything was all bad - all the time - and then something happened that made it all good?
Today - look for and identify your barley harvest! Thank God for sowing those seeds and reaping them for your benefit & good.
One quick thing... if you think for a moment that it's just not your season for sowing or reaping... THINK AGAIN!!!
Read Genesis 8:22. While the earth remains, shall not cease - these are pretty good indicators that it's always a time of sowing and reaping - for everyone!
At this time in the workbook, Kelly inserts a song for us to enjoy that goes along with our study. As you listen to the song, follow along on page 46 of your book. I want you to imagine Ruth & Naomi - arriving in Bethlehem, tired, weary and emotional, and yet understanding that it was time to reap the barley harvest!
(If you want to watch our local Bible Study in session - feel free to click here. If not, skip over this video to continue reading our homework summaries!)
Ruth Study - 9-15-10 - Part 2 from Penny Franklin on Vimeo.
Day 3: A Mysterious Relative
I just love history. You really can have a better understand of what's happening today - when you understand what's come before you!
We get to see a little of the history behind Ruth's story in this day's homework. We learn that Boaz was from Elimilech's family. Remember that Elimilech was Naomi's husband. We also learn that Boaz was a wealthy man.
Read Ruth 2:1-3
I want to focus on verses 2-3 for just a bit. Did you notice that in verse 2 and also in Ruth 1:22 - the author of Ruth refers to Ruth as the Moabitess! As if we had forgotten that she was from that sinful place!!! Why do you think they refered to Ruth in this manner?
I love what Kelly has to say about this on page 48 - at the bottom - "it's a tarnished heritage she is powerless to change."
I want to ask you today - do you have a "tarnished heritage" that you too are powerless to change? Perhaps it's a life style, or a life status? Or maybe it's more about your current living location or conditions? Or maybe it's more about the results of a sin in your life?
I want to give you some hope today! Keep reading Ruth! Ruth overcomes her "Moabitess" status and you can overcome your sinful status as well. Don't let it linger and identify you! Ruth finds a redeemer in Boaz (sorry, I know I'm getting ahead here - but I want to sow some seeds of hope for you!) and you have a Redeemer as well that accepts you in your sinful status and makes you clean!
Again just a few more things... before we move on to Day 4. (I'm really trying to keep it short - but it's just stuffed with too much good stuff to learn!)
In Ruth 2:2 - look at how respectful Ruth is to Naomi. She basically asks permission to go out and find a way to provide for the two of them. Don't miss this! Notice that there is always room for us to be polite - no matter how desperate our circumstances are! There is no need for us to transfer our heartache onto someone else by being rude!
Glean. What a word. Ruth asks if she could go out and glean and basically find someone to be gracious to her. Do you know what the word glean means? It means to gather or to pick up. Basically Ruth was asking Naomi if it was okay if she joined the other poor people and gather and pick up what was left behind by the servants or hired hands in someone else's field.
What a lowly job! In today's standards, it might be getting in line at a soup kitchen. Or standing in line to apply for unemployment. I don't know this for sure... but I would imagine that coming from Moab, Ruth didn't do too much "gleaning." And in doing so - she was hoping to find someone that would show her some favor.
Where are you today? Are you hoping & praying someone will show you some favor? If so, don't give up! Ruth didn't and as a result... she just so "happened" to come to Boaz's field. Has God ever provided for you in a "just so happened" kind of way? Praise Him for His provision right now if He has!
Day 4: A Day's Work
Here we see Ruth get to work! I loved this day's homework. Ruth, yes was a Moabite - but she was also a very hard worker. Look at what Kelly says about Ruth and the foreman on the bottom of page 53. "The foreman reminds us that where we come from and what kind of blood runs though our veins is not nearly as impactful as our character and reputation.
Ruth saw no task beneath her (gleaning) and she arrived early (she had been there since early morning!).
I want to ask you today - Is there work, or an assignment that you have not embraced because you think it is too beneath you? If so... you might just be missing not only a HUGE blessing - but God's rescue for you!
By Ruth humbling herself to be a gleaner - she put herself in just the right location to meet Boaz! And from the union of Ruth and Boaz we get King David and eventually Jesus! Think about this for a moment. What amazing event are you missing out on in the future - all because you will not bow low to what God wants you to do today!
Don't wait sit around and wait for things to "just happen to and for you" - be like Ruth & get to work!
On page 56, Kelly asks us what was meaningful to us in the lesson. My answer was this:
"No task is too small! You (God) provided even in the what seemed like the mundane!"
(I did have a small little aside question for God... Ruth 2:7 - the foreman takes note that she had been sitting in the house only for a little while. I asked God would I ever get to sit in the house - if just for a few minutes of rest - :) LOL!)
Day 5: A First Encounter
We finally get to see the romance get started! Don't you wish you could watch this story unfold on the big screen?!
Read Ruth 2:8-9. Wow! He talks to her! Let's listen in...
"Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servant draw."
Wow! I think he likes her - what do you think? LOL!
He wants to stay with him. He wants to provide for her. He wants to protect her. He wants to bring some ease to her life.
Boaz did not condemn Ruth for her Moabite status. It's as if he completely overlooks this about her moves right into taking care of the innocent! My sweet sisters... this is EXACTLY what Jesus wants to do for us. I want you to read Ruth 2:8-9 again. But this time, imagine Christ saying this to you!
Jesus wants you to stay with Him. He wants to provide for you! He wants to protect you from harm and evil. He want to give you living water that will quench your dry spirit! Please let Him! He doesn't condemn you - He loves you so! Drink from His well of kindness.
Close your Bible study time listening to Kelly's song - Arriving. It's an upbeat song that will put a spring in your step today!
See you all later! Session 3 is going to be GREAT!!!
Your sis in the faith,