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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Session 1: Two Journeys

Welcome to our first real week of studying Ruth!  I'm not sure if you've already done your "homework" or if you're checking in with the blog first... but I would like to encourage you to go and read & work through the first 5 days of assignments in Session 1.

You're going to read about 2 very different journeys.  Come on back and let's talk about them when you're done!

If you've already completed the daily work - then let's dive right in!

I'm having a journey of my own through this study... it's one of a technical nature.  We do have video this week!  Yeah!  However the video for the entire study somehow (operational error) did not record.  I promise for week 2 - you'll get to see and watch and hear the entire local study!

But for now - please listen to this introduction and summary of Session 1.  In this video - I point out a few things that I saw that are not necessarily in your book.  They're just a few things that seemed to just jump off the pages of my Bible and I want to share them with you!

Okay, let's get started.  I've outlined just a few things (day by day) that I hope you picked up while doing your own study.  Please feel free to leave your comments here.  I would love to build a community of new friends and sisters in the faith - right here on this Bible study blog!

Day 1 - Fleeing Home

I loved learning about how Naomi & Elimelech "found" themselves in Moab.  It's interesting to me that they choose to go to such a place.  Based on the other verses that we read in this chapter, I'm guessing that every good Israelite knew that the people of Moab were not God-fearing folks.

They left Bethlehem because there was a famine and decided to go to Moab - where there was food.  I wonder if there was another more pleasing option for them to choose - some place other than Moab.

I hope you did your homework and discovered how the nation of Moab came to be!  It all goes back to Lot in Genesis.  Take to to dig this out if you haven't had a chance.

I love this from Kelly, "Perhaps the Lord has you in difficult circumstances and the attractive land of Moab is an alluring decision away.  Escaping to easier terrain is all too tempting when we're weary in hardship."

Are you weary today?  Do you just want to escape and you're willing to throw caution to the wind just for a "piece of bread?"  As we read more about Ruth's story I hope that you can learn from their mistakes and cling to your God no matter how hard the times get!

Don't lose heart!  Galatians 6:9 - for a wonderful harvest is waiting for you if you don't give up!

Day 2 - Returning Home

Naomi made the first journey - from Bethlehem to Moab with her husband and 2 sons.  Then she returned to Bethlehem with a completely different group of people.  Naomi was the only one who made both trips!

Upon arriving in Moab, Naomi's 2 sons took for themselves Moabite wives.  Makes sense, it's where they are living.  Does this make it okay or even right?  No way!  And very quickly in our reading of Ruth, we find all the men gone!  First Naomi's husband and then later both of her sons die.

Think about this for a moment.  You lose both your husband and your 2 sons within a very short period of time!  I was amazed this week to see how Naomi handles this!  What would be your reaction?  How would you handle this extremely tragic loss?

Let's look and see what Naomi did.  Read Ruth 1:5-6.

What did Naomi do right after reading that her sons died?  You can answer this within the first 2 words of the verse!

She arose.  She got up!  I found this to be amazing!  I would probably be in the bed not answering my phone or talking to anyone!!!  And we see Naomi get up!

I want to ask you today - do you need to arise?  Do you need to get up from where you are - a place you should have never come to in the first place?

Let's look and see what she did next... (same verses)
She packed her bags to head back to Judah, for she had heard that the Lord had visited His people!

She got up and decided to go be where she knew she could find God!!!  The Lord has visited Judah and had released the famine.  Naomi made a decision to return to her people, her God, at a place where she knew she could find His provisions.

Today, I want to ask you a similar question... do you need to get up and go back to where you know you can find not only His provisions for your life - but God Himself?!  If so... pack your bags and do not delay!!!

Day 3 - Weeping Forward

Don't you just love chick-flicks?!  They allow us women to cry without guilt!  I love a good tear-jerker movie!  And we get to see the waterworks here in Ruth 1:7-14.  (go read it again if you want!)

Naomi just wants to get home - to her people and she tried four different times to urge her daughters-in-law to go back to Moab.  It's interesting that she doesn't urge them to stay in Moab - rather they immediately go with her and later Naomi wants to send them back!

And eventually Orpah decides to go back home to Moab while Ruth decides to travel on with Naomi.  I learned a new phrase in this day of study - weeping forward.  Orpah wept and went back to her old life.  Ruth wept and moved forward to a new life.

I'm sure we've all wept over our past life and probably even continued in that very life that made us cry... but have you ever wept forward?  Discuss this with us!  This is usually a positive thing!!

I love the very last sentence on this day, "It's possible to cry and walk."  Don't let your tears keep you from moving forward!

Day 4 - A Long Obedience

I have to admit something personal here... the study from this day has helped me in my morning exercise program.  Kelly talked about a "sustained obedience."  Four times Naomi tried to persuade her daughters-in-law to go home, to turn around and go back where they came from!  And finally... Orpah gave in and Ruth pushed forward.  Ruth dodged every bullet coming from Naomi and was persistent!  You can almost here the determination in her voice in Ruth 1:16, "Don't urge me to leave you or turn back from following you."

To put this in modern day language it might sound something like this..."Enough already with the "returning"  I'm going with you and that's that!"

Oh to have that kind of persistent determination about doing what God has told us to do!  I want to ask you today - do you have sustained obedience or spotty obedience?

I realized this morning that I have spotty obedience when it comes to running every morning.  So today, even though my iPod needed to be charged up - I went and ran.  I thought about running in a sustained manner as well!  And I love the freedom I felt as I got on the scales upon my return.

Kelly says this on page 26 of your workbook, "when we grasp His love and the truth that obedience is for our freedom, we will change our circumstances to protect our environment to obey."

Do you need to change your circumstances so you can find freedom in your obedience?

Day 5 - Wherever you go

AH!  Ruth's voice... finally!  Read Ruth 1:16-17
This is the first time we really get to hear from Ruth.  I love hearing her strength - right from the get go!

Ruth was honest and yet kind, persistent and loyal all at the same time.  What we say outloud has amazing power.  Our words can bring both life and death to someone's spirit.

Kelly took us on a journey of our own on this day regarding what we say, how we say it and when we say it!

Just for review - here were the verses: Proverbs 16:23-24, Proverbs 18:13, Proverbs 25:11, Proverbs 27:5-6

Which one spoke to you the most and why?

Mine was Proverbs 25:11.  "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances".  Wow!  I need to mindful of the timing of what comes out of my mouth!!!

Kelly says this on page 29, "Lack of honest communication has to be one of the ultimate destroyers of relationships, while learning the quality of gracious but bold speech can be a balm in bitter and complicated situations."

Do you need to have an honest conversation with someone today?  If so, be bold, like Ruth - and yet gracious and healing in the words that you choose.

My charge for you today is this - Love God's people!  Ruth did.  She loved His people so much that she wanted to stay with Naomi and make her home with her mother-in-law wherever that took her!  Make your home with God's people and love them!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this first Session!

To end our local time together we listened to Kelly's song "Wherever You Go".  Follow along in your book on page 31 and let God speak to your heart with this modern day version of Ruth 1:16.  Keep in mind that the context of this verse was pain and sadness and yet filled with determination & loyalty!