Come & study God's Word with the ladies of Journey Christian Church of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Session 4: A Proposal

Wow!  This week our story takes an incredible turn!  We begin to see a softer side of Naomi and an even bolder & braver side of Ruth.

I can't wait to just jump into Chapter 3 of Ruth with you today!

If you haven't read Chapter 3 - please go and do so now.  Believe me... you're not going to want to miss one juicy detail of this part of the story!  It is truly drama-filled!

Here is the intro for this Session.

Here is the local group in session....

Ruth - Session 4 from Penny Franklin on Vimeo.

Day 1:  A Mother-in-Law's Request

Now before we get too deep into Chapter 3 of Ruth - I want to bring out a great point found in the last verse of Chapter 2.  Read Ruth 2:23.

Wow!  Ruth gleaned a very long time!!!  She continued to do a very menial task, to provide for herself and for Naomi, with no hopes of anything ever really changed through the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest.

She didn't just happened to find Boaz's field one day and then was getting married and rescued the very next day!  Often times God positions us in a place to be positioned for rescue - but we may have to wait for His delivery and provision.

Think about your life right now.  Could it be that you are in "Boaz's field" - but just waiting for the harvest season to come to an end?  Be patient.  Glean or work on His timing and not your own!

What if Ruth had given up and moved on.... what a blessing we all would have missed!

Now on to Chapter 3....
I just love how Naomi calls Ruth her daughter from the very beginning of this chapter.  You can tell she has a real "love and care tone" to her voice just by the words that we read there in verse 1.

By sticking it out together I believe that Ruth & Naomi experienced healing for their hurting hearts.

As a result of this love and care for Ruth, Naomi comes up with a very strange plan for Ruth.  She basically wants Ruth to get cleaned up and go to where she knows she will find Boaz and lay down beside him.

Now there are several evidences that - coming from Ruth - this was a wholesome act and not one to be questioned - regardless of how risky & risque it sounds:
1.  The clothing that she wore was not at all revealing - the Hebrew version of this part of the passage indicates she was well covered.
2.  The townspeople knew her to be a hard worker, a woman of noble character (we'll cover this more in a bit).
3.  The words that Ruth spoke to Boaz revealed her desire for Boaz to be a redeemer in her life!

Has God ever given you a strange plan to carry out?  One that you were a little scared to fulfill?  One that might have a few dangers along the way?

Remember these verses as you ponder this question:  Proverbs 16:1, Proverbs 21:30-31, Jeremiah 10:23

This one was my favorite!
Proverbs 20:24 - God ordains our steps and we may not ever fully understand them.

Day 2:  A New Day

I loved this day!  I absolutely LOVE new clothes!!  Do you?  Today we get to see the significance of a new set of clothes.  Let go!

Ruth set out to obey all that Naomi required of her to do with amazing amount of courage and bravery - don't you think?

As I think about Naomi's plan - Ruth could have so often turned around in the dark to just go back home.  I don't know about you... but I'm not sure I would be able to travel to the threshing floor, all by myself in the dark of night!  I don't even like to take something out to the trash or to the garage in the dark!  So... way to go Ruth!

I want to ask you something...
Do you make risky moves in your life?  Then.. do you carry out those risky moves with courage or trepidation?

If God has ordained my steps and asked this risky move directly of me - I can move forward with the courage of Ruth!

Now on to the clothes...
I would imagine that the clothes that Ruth wore every day reflected her state of mourning.  But in order to carry out Naomi's plan, she had to change her clothes.  I would imagine as well, that this was not just any "outfit" too - but rather something that signified she was moving forward with her life - that her time of mourning was over.

I love the question that Kelly asks of us on page 99...
"Do you sense that God is asking you to throw of some weighty garments?  Unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, discontentment jealousy, mourning, or anything else that might be keeping you in stagnant place?

Today focus on Isaiah 43:18-19.  Remember not the former things - get cleaned up and look to the future!  Make yourself available to the Lord in the same way that Ruth made herself available to Boaz - total surrender - at his feet! (which we're about to really talk about!)

Day 3:  Lay Down

Okay - just to be sure you've read... take another look at Ruth 3:5-9.

Oooooo.... it's getting good... don't you think?!

Did Ruth do exactly what Naomi told her to do?  NO!!!  She spoke - instead of waited for Boaz to speak!  She did far more than answer, "It's just me, Ruth."  She basically asks Boaz to marry her!!!

Can you say drama?!

I'm not sure that I could have laid still and quiet and actually RESTED - waiting for Boaz to wake up.  Verse 8, says that Boaz was startled and woke up.  I know this is just from my silly brain - but I wonder if Ruth coughed or sneezed or snored or something... in the hopes of him waking up sooner than later!  LOL!  I know, this has nothing to do with the study - but it just got me thinking!

Now before we move on to Day 4 - where we see Boaz's response - let's focus on the act of laying down that Ruth did.

I don't know about you... but love when there's something for me to do... especially when there's a problem to be "fixed".  I'm sure this has a little something to do with my issues of control - off point - sorry!

After Ruth had followed Naomi's instructions she had to lay down at the feet of Boaz and wait... and rest.

Wait and Rest.  Wow!  Is it really possible to do both?!  Yes!

Most of us are used to waiting - we understand that we must do that at times.  But do we rest in our waiting?  I love what Kelly says on page 103, "This place of surrender is the most freeing of places to be and the hardest to get to."

Total Surrender.  Are you there today?  What would it take for you to get there?  Yes, it's a costly & risky move - but so worth it in the end.  It was for Ruth and it will be for you too!

"I Lay Down" Song

Day 4: A Closer Relative

Okay - from the very first paragraph I read something that really hit a chord with me.  The very last sentence of the first paragraph on page 106 reads, "Yes, this is about Ruth, but so much more about our God."

Wow!  I want my life story to be more about my God than about me!  (okay - not really about Ruth chapter 3 - but very worth discussing!)

Noble character.  The people of Boaz knew Ruth to be a woman of noble character.  The Hebrew word here is chayil, meaning virtuous.  It also means valor and strength.  Well, we already know Ruth to be a strong and brave woman and now we see her as virtuous as well.

I'm reminded of another woman who was "chayil" - the woman King Lemuel's Mother describes in Proverbs 31.  I absolutely LOVE this connection!

Okay - just a little history lesson here...
Ruth is described as a woman of noble character - virtuous.  Ruth is the great great grandmother of Solomon.  Solomon is widely accepted to be the "King Lemuel" described in Proverbs 31.  Solomon is the author of most of Proverbs.  So.. I wonder as he was writing Proverbs 31 - if his mother was thinking about Ruth while she described a fitting & suitable wife for him?  Interesting isn't it!!

The main lesson here - is that Ruth's character far exceeded her history or her past sin!  We can take this and have hope for our life as well!!!  Forget the former - clean up your character and let it blaze a trail for your new life ahead!!!

Okay before moving on to the final day of study - I must mention Luke 16:10.  This has been the song of Ruth's life!

Read Luke 16:10.  Ladies... Be faithful in the little!  Keep doing what you're doing!  Don't wait for the big opportunities to come along before you decide to be faithful!

Day 5:  A Gift to Give

Today we see Ruth go to Boaz for herself - and end up taking home more blessings for Naomi!

But all that happens at the end... let's back up a bit!

Ruth finds herself having to wait.  I'm really beginning to believe that there are more stories in the Bible about "waiting" than "hurrying" - hmmm.... lesson here?  I think so!

Read Ruth 3:14-18.

Boaz informs her that he would love to redeem her - but there was a closer relative (we'll more in detail about this person next week).  So he would check with him and in the mean time - take some more barley to Naomi and wait for him to call her.  Somehow I don't think this was the typically guy saying, "I'll call ya!" and then never does - LOL!

So while Ruth is waiting to see if she's going to marry Boaz or some other guy she doesn't even know... she carries a heavy load of barley back to her Mother-in-Law.  Now that's service!

We just read about Waiting and Resting... and now we see Waiting and Serving.  In both, Ruth had to wait.  But she did in both cases - she acted appropriately.

I want to end today's study in the same manner that I did with the local groups.  On page 110, Kelly says this, "I can get so spent running around, pouring out of my own paltry resources, and trying to drum something up for the people around me, when all along God has called me to be a deliverer of His gifts, not the creator of them."

Deliverer of His Gifts.

I want you to write this down "Deliverer of His Gifts" in the margin of your book on page 110.  Draw a line under it and list His Gifts that He wants you to deliver to those around you.

These were mine:
1.  How to pray
2.  How to read the Bible - really!
3.  How to have contentment in really difficult situations
4.  How to have real joy

What were yours?  These are things that we can do - while we're waiting... and I can speak from experience - they help me to truly be at peace & rest!

I look forward to meeting you here for next week's study!  
In the mean time... lay at the Redeemer's Feet!

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Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us all! I look forward to praying with and for you as we study God's Word together.