Categories
Bible Study fight Psalm

Psalm 91: No Harm Will Overtake You

Has your family struggled recently? What trials or difficulties have come your way? What pains have you experienced so far this year? These next verses in Psalms have a lot to say about these trials and how we should think and feel about them in relationship to the great God we serve and worship.

Psalm 91:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.

God is called the refuge for those who have made Him their dwelling place both in verse 2 and 9. A refuge is a place of protection and rest from dangers and troubles. We live in a wretched sinful world, one that is full pain and suffering. Because of that, all people will experience problems or as we read earlier in Psalm 91, “Terrors in the night” or “deadly pestilence.”

But, even in the middle of such difficulties, for those who make God their dwelling place, He will be their refuge. Look at this for a minute. To dwell means to live. a dwelling is a house, a place where you have all your stuff, where you rest, where you eat, and where you feel safe. Where you dwell is where you live. So “If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,” you are living in the Lord. You are going everyday and spending time. You return often and feel safe. And, ultimately and finally, God will keep evil from befalling those who are His. This is all because of the power and grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, who took the punishment due to those who are His.

The key, though, is that for people to experience this comfort and reassurance they must make God their dwelling place. This comfort and peace don’t come simply from thinking ‘happy thoughts’ or putting forth ‘positive energy.’ It is rooted and grounded in an objective being, God, or as the psalmist refers to Him, the Most High.

No harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent is the next section this does not mean everything is sunshine and roses. Look closely! No harm will overtake you. How can it? God is all powerful. Trails may come, but they can’t overtake you if you are living in the Most High. I have seen people go through tremendous tragedies and cancer and never lose their joy. It can not overtake them. They have the hope of eternity in Jesus and no earthly troubles are going to change that.

Are you clinging to God? Are you calling out to Him when the difficulties and trials of living in a sinful world come at you? Do you know and are you trusting in the Most High to be your refuge? If not, please turn to Him, the Creator of all things and experience the comfort and blessing of knowing Him and living under His comforting shelter.

Categories
Bible Study Psalm

Psalm 91: Promise of Protection

     The next two verses in Psalm 91 are sometimes difficult to comprehend.  Is it literal, or is it figurative, or is it symbolic?  But the more important question is, “Do you have the courage to believe that God means this literally in His promise of protection?”  Is it possible that this could mean exactly what it says? Can you see that this paints a picture of spiritual warfare, as well as physical attacks? I think it is safe to say that not everyone will benefit from this promise. Like all the other promises in Psalm 91, this one is available to all; but only those who believes in God and holds onto the promises within, will receive the benefits.  But we need to choose to believe and trust His Word!  

Psalm 91:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

   Notice that this verse follows on the heels of verse 6, which tells us that we will not be afraid of the destruction…. God knows that there will be times when we will be overwhelmed with all the negative reports in life. Current events come to my mind; how about yours? That is why He is warning us in this verse that thousands will fall around us; they will not only cave into the doubts and worries of spiritual warfare, but could be consumed by the actual real-life events that are happening all around us(wars and mass murders; viruses and diseases).

At this point, we have to choose whether we will believe and trust; running to that shelter of the Most High, where He promised we would rest in His shadow. Remember Psalm 91: 1 and the first promise? He offers the promises of protection, but we must choose to claim them!  Otherwise, we find ourselves, along with the rest of the world, passively accepting the consequences of “the destruction” that is happening to the thousands at our side, and the ten thousands at our right.  

Now let’s take a look at the rest of our selection today. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked . Here God is telling us that we will see His judgment at times. Sooner or later, every unconfessed sin of unbelievers will be exposed and paid for.  We have seen that happen.  An evil dictator falls; an aggressive tyrant faces his crimes against humanity.  I think this verse is telling us that if we seek His protection from the evil that is causing those around us to fall, we will see it and not let it become part of us. Our protection keeps us from letting the Enemy’s hate become a part of us. By believing and trusting in His protection promises, we are putting ourselves in a separate category from the wicked mentioned in the verse. I want to caution you that Psalm 91 does not promise protection from persecution. There is a difference in the destruction of the enemy and persecution for the gospel’s sake.

 In truth, Jesus, himself, told us that if we follow Him, we can expect to be persecuted.  Jesus suffered persecution, but He did not face calamity, disaster, disease, or catastrophes.  This verse lets us know to expect that spiritual warfare will be a part of our Christian walk, as well as physical attacks.  The words of this verse are not written just to inspire or comfort us, but to provide protection and deliverance from the attacks of the Enemy.

What I hope you have seen, and will see in the coming verses is that Psalm 91 is a complete covenant package of protection.  It covers all the evils known to mankind, and God tells us how to claim His protection over them all!

Categories
Bible Study Fear Psalm

Psalm 91: Fear Not!

Just because we all experience fear doesn’t mean we have to live with it. Perhaps the most famous fear quote of all time came from Franklin D. Roosevelt at his first Inaugural Address, which occurred in 1933, in the middle of the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

The Bible says about fear. The word afraid is found over 200 times in the Bible, and the word fear is found 53 times in the Psalms alone. Knowing this we can understand when you are afraid you are not alone. It is something the majority of people deal with.

Psalm 91:5-6

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
   nor the plague that destroys at midday

The “You will not fear” phrase here is not a polite suggestion, but a command. It is spoken emphatically and often by God to His servants. God wants us to fear Him, but not the world. God doesn’t tell us, “fear isn’t good for you,” “fear isn’t helpful,” “try not to fear.” No. We hear this exact Hebrew command meaning “do not fear” or “you will not fear” 51 times in the Bible.

God said to Abraham (Abram) after he rescued his nephew Lot: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield, your reward will be very great” (Genesis 15:1).  God said it again to Abraham’s son Isaac, “Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring” (Genesis 26:24).

For me, the most memorable is in 2 Kings when Elisha’s servant is terrified as he awakes to find the city surrounded by horses and chariots from the King of Syria. “… And the servant said [to Elisha], ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ He said, ‘Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17).

We know that God can protect us and keep us safe, so why fear. Especially the world and Satan? God is bigger that our fears. In these verses we read, “the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. ” Notice What we are not to fear. Things during the day and night. When I was young I rarely got scared in the day time. But it was a whole different story at night. Our mind wanders in the night and every sound becomes a terror until we turn on the light. Jesus said He is the light. If we have him there is nothing to fear.

So we are to be fearless no matter the time of day: we should not fear the terrors “of the night,” the arrows “by day,” the pestilence “in darkness,” or the destruction “at noonday.” We are to be fearless no matter how big the problem is, whether the unknown “terror” or dread in our minds, the slim “arrow,” the microscopic “pestilence,” or the monstrous “destruction.”

How can God require this of us? Because He is the answer to all of our fears. He is our shield and rampart. Stop being parallelized by fear and start facing your fears with God.

Categories
Bible Study Psalm

Psalm 91: Covered with God’s Feathers

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that Psalm 91 is my families go to scripture when we are “fraidy cats”. When we are feeling afraid of anything in our lives we can rely on God. Frequently; however, we need reminding of how awesome the safe places of God are.

Psalm 91:3-4

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

I know what your thinking. When I first read this I thought, “Those words are English, right? But, I still don’t know what that means.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare. What is that! Well it’s really easy, a fowler is a person who hunts or traps wild birds(fowl) and a snare is the traps they use. The Fowler’s Snare – Satan is the fowler setting traps and snares to sabotage the Christians. God has saved the believer from satan’s traps. For God the Most High, the Almighty has secured everyone who is in Christ Jesus. No amount of trickery, luring, deceit, or bribery can undermine the work that God has done in those who are saved. Our enemy is fierce and he is smarter than we are, but he is not smarter than our Deliverer. If you find yourself caught in the trap of sin today, cry out to God, our refuge and fortress. Hide in Him and let Him work on your heart to free you from the snare of sin to once again walk in the light. He will do it if you will turn to Him.

The next tricky bit is deadly pestilences. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that I picture giant, human sized wasps or locusts. The Deadly Pestilence – There is no deadly pestilence that can eternally kill the Christian. However, as a christian you will face things that make you suffer. When these come we need to say like Job “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” Jesus our Redeemer has risen from the dead and secured our resurrection from the dead. One day we will rise with glorified bodies and will live forever. God has given us real and tangible hope when we suffer. Even though our strength and our heart may fail, the Lord will not leave us, but He himself will be the strength of our heart and our portion forever. He is our God who raises the dead, who has delivered us, is now delivering us, and will deliver us. It is He on whom we have set our hope (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. Birds often put their young under their wings for protection. Did you know that the softest portion of the bird is the down under their wings? The Lord has the softest down under His wings; a pocket of security right next to His heart reserved for His children. The Lord, who is our fortress, is mighty, but He is not cold stone. Have you known the protection and warm comfort of His wings? Why do you wait? Come to Him and be enfolded in the feathers of His love. He will hide you there in the secret place away from danger and fear.

His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Hear we go again, Rampart? It’s okay. Rampart is a defensive wall around a castle or a city. God’s faithfulness is our shield and wall. He is our defense. When we engage in the war against evil, it is not in our own strength, but in the power of God. He has proven His faithfulness to every promise and this knowledge equips us with the boldness and courage we will need for life. We belong to the Lord. It is almost too wonderful to comprehend, but He set His love on us, and has given us all we need to walk in a manner worthy of Him. Lift high your shield of faith and stand safely under the wings of the Most High God.

Categories
Bible Study

Ruth: Hard Work Under Sheltered Wings

At this point in the Book of Ruth, we have witnessed the hesed of God and Ruth, seen tragedy, and seen Boaz showing Ruth kindness. Today we are going to see more of the characters of both Ruth and Boaz. As you read the scripture look closely at nature of these people and look for the hand of God.

Ruth 2:10-19 New International Version (NIV)

10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.

19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”

Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.

Did you see it. Ruth was loyal, hardworking, humble and grateful. Boaz was gracious, kind, generous and giving praise to God. He pointed out to her that God was giving her refuge. We know from before that Ruth had already renounced her moabite ways and swore to Naomi that Naomi’s God was her God. She was now looked to Jehovah God for her sustenance. Her resilient faith did not sway as she worked in the hot sun while every person in town watched her sweating out her new-found faith.

Because of her hard work, faith and loyalty, Boaz noticed her and she found favor in the eyes of the wealthy landowner. Can that be said for you? Are you noticed for hard work, faith and loyalty? I hope I am, but I am afraid I have failed. I will always have this as my goal.

Are you in a place were you feel like your drowning in your circumstances. Take a moment and take refuge in the Lord. Allow him to work in your life. You might be surprised to find out he is already working. Remember sometimes it is not the circumstances that need to change, sometimes it is the people in the circumstances that need to change. Be willing to let God change you if that’s what needs to happen.

You are never alone and unprotected, . Like David in the Psalms, we can cry out to God: Psalm 57:1 “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by” 

During desperate times, we must remember that we have a Hesed God.

Plug into His power through prayer and Bible study.

Trust in His timing, rather than try to take control.

Resolve to stay close by His side and not stray.

Rest in hope because He is faithful and true.

Categories
Bible Study

Ruth: God’s Hand in Our Lives

The book of Ruth is often seen as a love story. And Yes, it is that. But, it goes so much deeper that just the story of a man and a woman. As we begin chapter two, Ruth and Naomi have moved to Bethlehem and are looking for ways that they can get food.

Ruth 2:1-9 New International Version (NIV)

Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.

And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”

Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.

Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”

“The Lord bless you!” they answered.

Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”

The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

I hope that reading the book of Ruth will touch your hearts and make you fall in love with the beautiful, provisional exchange between Ruth and the beyond merciful man of God named Boaz. I have always prayed that God would help me raise Jackson to become a man like Boaz. I was blessed and given my own Boaz, in my husband Daniel. The way this wealthy man treats his workers and then Ruth demonstrates a genuine life lived for God and others. Boaz is the God initiated positive shift in this story that born out of the deepest suffering.

As I was blessed with a Boaz and desire my son to be like him. I also aspire to have the character of Ruth. She is a model of grace, humility, tremendous work ethic, resourcefulness, and selflessness. I am motivated by her strength and inspired by her undaunted attitude. She Reminds me of the woman described in Proverbs 31. You might even want to put your hands to work for God with renewed commitment and fervor after reflecting on her life.

Or God might be telling you, you have been more of a Naomi. Who ended chapter 1 in hopeless and bitterness, but who now is beginning to see the mercy of God break through in her life after a long period of darkness. Her return to Bethlehem not only signified a return to her people, but also a return to her God. If you’ve been in a season of darkness that has left you far from God, I pray that your heart will be softened as you watch Naomi’s transformation this week.

But oh, more than anything, please don’t miss our great God in the details.

It’s not a coincidence that Naomi returned Bethlehem.

It’s God that lead them there.

It’s not a coincidence that Ruth “happened to come”to a certain field.

It’s God who placed Ruth in Boaz’s field

It’s not a coincidence that Boaz had leftover harvest to glean in his fields.

It’s God who has a heart for the poor and the widow – Leviticus 19:9-10; James 1:27

God’s intention isn’t for us to simply focus on the love story of Ruth and Boaz, or admirable human strength, resilience, or effort. Throughout Scripture, God longs for us to see Him as the loving God whose hands direct our lives.

Now it’s your turn. Where have you seen God go before YOU?

Seek Him in your suffering, don’t miss His whisperings in the waiting, and look for His provision as you unpack His faithfulness in each new day.

And then don’t forget to speak of His glory and goodness to those He has put in your path! .

Categories
Bible Study Uncategorized

Ruth: Get Bitter or Get Better

Many people find it almost impossible to have hope when you are filled with pain and loss. Naomi has lost her husband and both her sons and her dreams of having a large family had been shattered. In most of our lives we have felt pain and loss. It may not be on Naomi’s scale, but the struggle is still real for us. At one point in my life I was bitter and angry at how I thought God was treating. It turns out i was bringing this destruction on myself, but I was young and naive and very selfish. During this time, I spoke with a very god- centered preacher, Bobby Tucker. He said to me, “Missy, You have one choice. You can be bitter or get better.” Those words have often come back at me many times since that conversation. Although it is difficult to believe that God is near, His sovereignty never sleeps. When our pain is the deepest and our doubt the greatest, God remains with us.

Ruth 1:19-22 New International Version (NIV)

19 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?”20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[a]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[ because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 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.

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

In this passage, Naomi is facing a crisis of faith. Returning to her homeland, Bethlehem, the home of her God, her faith, and her people should bring feelings of hope. However, Naomi is left empty and in despair. Naomi, in Hebrew means pleasant. After all that has happened, now wishes to be called Mara, which means Bitter

Naomi believes that God is punishing her. When everything seems to be tossed upside, do you get like Naomi or do you choose to cry out to God and get better. My Mother and father -in- law have have a rough 5 years. My father- in-law has battled prostate and bone cancer. My mother-in-law has battled stomach, uterine and brain cancer. Yet, they refuse to be bitter. Going into her brain surgery my mother-in-law looked at me and said, “It’s okay. Either way I win. I beat this and get to spend more time here with you or I don’t and I get to spend eternity with Jesus. Either way I win.”

God does not just extend the fullness of His grace and overflowing love during the good times in our lives. That Grace and Love are present in the bad as well, you just have to stop wallowing in you grief long enough to see God. We get so focused on me, me, me that we forget this story your starring in is all about God. God will use our doubts, our fears, and our pain for His glory. Nothing is wasted or without purpose. We can be assured that all of our struggles and our pain are in the loving hands of a loving Father.

Naomi, in her pain, called herself Mara, because she failed to recognize God’s grace. However, God, in His grace, blessed Naomi with a loving husband for many years. In His grace, Naomi and her husband birthed two strong sons who were then able to support and care for her after her husband’s death. In His grace, her sons were married, her daughters-in-law, who honored and respected her despite their Moabite upbringing. In His grace, Naomi was able to return to her home and her faith, in Bethlehem, after God had delivered the land from a severe famine.

In God’s grace, Naomi was never alone. She possessed the love and devotion of her daughter-in-law Ruth who shared her same struggles with pain and loss. In His grace, Naomi would become grandmother to Ruth’s first-born, Obed, and share in the majestic ancestry of the lineage of her Messiah, Jesus Christ. God’s grace is exceedingly more abundant than our circumstances, our past, or our pain.

God’s grace pours out love, kindness, favor, and forgiveness all over the place, to those who trust in Him. His grace changes everything. Our plan for our life is often drastically different from God’s purpose for our life. The challenge for believers is to filter our every experience through the love of Jesus Christ and trust His perspective, not our own. Grounding our lives in God’s promises in His Word gives us the confidence to trust His will and His plan for our lives.

But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:5-6 

Naomi thought she had lost everything. She thought God had afflicted her. Naomi was wrong. Everything she believed had been lost and perished was restored as a part of God’s plan because of His great love. There are no insignificant people or circumstances in God’s story. Even when we doubt it, God’s love for His people is eternally perfect, unconditional, and inexhaustible until the end of ends.

Have your circumstances derailed your faith in God? How might your emotions be limiting your ability to recognize God’s grace in your life? How might God be using your trials to strengthen your faith and reveal His glory?  How can we pray for you as you seek out God’s grace in your life?

Categories
Bible Study

Ruth: Loyalty in Relationships

Having spent many years working with teenagers, I been evolved in some lively conversations. We have talked about Everything from games and memes, I have no idea about, to food, to shoes, but when you hang in there long enough, the topic of relationships almost always rises. One thing I have noticed through the years is that the kids bring up the seeming lack of loyalty in relationships around them. It’s no secret that changes throughout the teenage years can often result in self-focus, fickle feelings, shifts in friendship groups, and short-lived romantic interests. Unfortunately, the absence of loyalty isn’t just exclusive to the teenage years.

The world we live in has distorted views on loyalty. The more and more people I talk to the more convinced I am that most peoples loyalty lies in their own needs not the others in the relationship. I am not only speaking of marriage, but also friendships, jobs, churches and ministries. With staggering divorce rates, decreasing job longevity, and even a trending lack of commitment to the local church, the priority the world places on personal convenience and fulfillment the evidence of out lack of loyalty is staggering. Ruth chose to be loyal to a mother- in -law and shows us how we can put others needs above our own desires.

Ruth 1:8-18 New International Version (NIV)

Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

That’s why the story of Ruth is so captivating.

In the first chapter, right smack dab in the middle of personal tragedy, Ruth introduces us to a kind of loyal love that can be a rare find in human relationships. The Hebrew word for Ruth here is hesed, and it’s become one of my most precious words in the Bible. Hesed is difficult to translate to English because there is no single word in English that encapsulates all its meanings. to define hesed we us words such “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” “sacrificial love”, “loyalty,” and “steadfast.” Hesed is one of the richest, most powerful words in the Old Testament. It reflects the loyal love that people committed to the God of the Bible should have for one another. It is not a “mood.”Hesed is not something people “feel.”  It is something people DO for other people. The word hesed is displayed throughout the story of Ruth where it is usually translated “kindness.”  Love is something we do, not primarily something we feel.

On the way, when Naomi was returning to her homeland, her daughters-in-law must make the difficult decision to stay or to go with the old woman they have grown to love deeply. It would make more sense for Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab – their family ties were in the place they had called home their entire lives, and their chances for remarriage were greater there. In Israel it was doubtful that the young widows would find husbands, and to be a childless widow during this time was considered to be among the lowest of social classes.

Orpah ultimately makes the heart-wrenching decision to stay in Moab, but Ruth clung to Naomi as she promised that Naomi’s people would be her people and Naomi’s God would be her God. From the world’s perspective, Ruth had nothing to gain and everything to lose, but bold faith and loyal love often require a walk down a unfamiliar road.

As we study the book of Ruth together, be on the constant lookout for the depth of God’s loyal love as He orchestrates events and details in lives as only He can. Chapter by chapter look for His overwhelming, grace-filled, consistent, fully-redeeming, unconditional love to those who had initially strayed from Him.

My prayer is that we would be open to let God’s hesed toward us change us from within, like Ruth, and cause us to pass onto others what our loving Father has given to us.

Strive everyday to be loyal and more hesed to those that God has given us the pleasure to be involved in their lives.

Categories
Bible Study

Ruth: Wanting God’s blessings, but not His Discipline

Welcome to the first day of our Ruth Bible study! We’ve all been there wanting God’s blessings but not His discipline. When life gets hard and things don’t seem to get better, we tend to look around. Is the “grass greener” over there? Foreign lands and new opportunities tempt us when we are looking to escape the “famine” in our lives. Naomi and Elimelek waiting on God’s blessing in a famine was much better than living in a bountiful land of unbelievers.

Ruth 1:4

1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth.

The book of Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges, a time when Israel had no king and everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes (Judges 21:25).

As the book of Ruth begins, the Israelites were living in unbelief, disobedience, and simply for themselves. Because of their choices, they were not enjoying the benefits of God’s blessings. Knowing this information is important as we begin reading the book of Ruth. It is in this setting that we see Elimelek make the choice to move his family from Bethlehem to Moab.

We also need to understand that the Moabites descended from Lot. They are the result of an incestuous affair between Lot and his oldest daughter. Genesis 19:30-38. When the nation of Israel was wondering in the wilderness, Moab was frequently causing them harm. Deuteronomy 23: 3-6 says:

“No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam, son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the fuse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them as long as you live.

Knowing a little of the history between the two nations makes the move seem more significant. Elimelek was literally moving his family into enemy territory.

He was not placing his faith in God and God’s provision but instead decided to move from God’s land of protection and out of His will.

We see from this story that it is still better to be in the land of God’s will – even when you are experiencing discipline and “famine” – than it is to seek relief outside of His will while trying to escape discipline. I spent years trying to run from God and trying to find greener pastures. The greatest thing I learned from that is that it is better to feel discipline from a loving God that to feel acceptance from an uncaring world. And we get it, don’t we? When we feel like another land can provide better opportunities, a better future for our families, or wanted relief from the “famine” in our lives, we are tempted to leave God’s promised land and His provision.

We are tempted to live like Elimelek, focused on what we see rather than Whom we trust.The land of easy and abundance is always tempting when we are weary, hungry, and seeking relief.

I’d love to encourage you if you’ve been tempted like Elimelek lately and the “land” you are in seems to be experiencing a famine. Trust God. Stay where He has you right now and trust Him to provide for your needs. We will see later in Ruth Chapter 1 that God does come through for His treasured children. He does come to their aid.

Have you ever chased green lands? What have you learned about God when you chose to stay in the “famine” and wait for God’s provision?

Categories
Bible Study Freedom

Freedom: Live Free

Today we are finishing up our study in Galatians and I wanted to review a little of what I learned. Here are the major lessons we’ve learned:

Trust Christ’s death on the cross and grace. Our works will never get us anywhere.

It’s not about what we do, but who God is and what He will do through us.

Don’t seek rules. Walk in the Spirit by seeking God, and He will lead you to where you need to be. As long as God is directing you, you never have to worry if you’re doing too much or not enough.

Galatians 6:15

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.”

The Galatians didn’t need to do anything to be saved. They already were. They were already made new by their faith in Christ. From their example, we learn we don’t need to work for what we already have.

When Jackson was a baby, I fed him with a bottle every morning when he woke up or during the day we he was hungry, he would cry for me to feed him because he was unable to get food on his own. Now that he is a teenager, he can get up and get food on his own. He still asks me for breakfast, snacks and supper. I still have to remind him that he is free to get food when he likes. Sometimes as Christians we need reminding that we are free. We get bogged down with traditions as the Jews were and we forget we are free to worship and serve God. We are free from the wages of sin. We are free to live our life for God to the fullest.

That’s the reminder I hope this series gave you. You have freedom with God’s grace. If you are saved by faith, you are free. My hope is that now you are empowered to go out and live free.

It doesn’t matter what church you go to, if you feel the spirit move and you wanna raise that hand do it. If you wanna thank God for his presence in your life, testify. We are free from traditions and rules people put on salvation. God says if you call on his name and believe with your heart your will be saved. You don’t need a class or a special service. You need one on one time with God.