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Bible Study

This past year has been a wonderful time of growth as we’ve read through the Bible each day. Thank you so much to all our writers and moderators who have helped make this past year such a success! Even though we’ve finished our Bible Reading plan, we are going to keep growing and pursuing God in this upcoming year! Subscribe to the blog to get devotions about Bible Study, gaining Wisdom, how to live in the Spirit, and more!

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Provision, Patience and Perseverance

ruth 3 18

Ruth 3:14-23

In the first half of Ruth 3 we find that Boaz responds favorably to Ruth’s advances and proposition. However there was an obstacle keeping them from moving forward in their relationship. Boaz explained to Ruth in verse 12 that even though he is her kinsman there was another relative closer in line that would have a stronger claim to her hand.  When Ruth is leaving Boaz after sleeping at his feet, under his cloak on the threshing floor Boaz tells to bring him the shawl she was wearing. When she holds it out to him Boaz takes 6 measures of the barley that he had been sleeping on the threshing floor protecting and gives them to her. He remarks that he doesn’t want Ruth to go back to Naomi empty handed, most likely as a sign of his acceptance of Ruth’s advances and to continue providing for them. I love how Boaz consistently takes up this role and responsibility as a provider in the way he takes care of both Ruth and Naomi. In many ways love relationships really do mirror Christ and the church — especially in the way God loves and cares for His people.
When Ruth returns to Naomi and tells her everything that happened — her first response is that they must wait. Naomi is sure of Boaz’s intentions and that he will move forward in settling the issue of another kinsman closer in relation to marry Ruth. We can see Ruth, Naomi and Boaz acting faithfully with patience and perseverance in this passage.  Ruth was patient — not making her requests known to Boaz until the time was right as was Naomi. Boaz too made sure to go through the right channels to pursue Ruth and who knows how long he had patiently been waiting for a woman to be available that had her character.
Is there an area in your life or situation where you aren’t trusting God’s leading and patiently waiting for his provision?
Shelby Upton

 

Strategic Righteousness

Ruth 3 11

Ruth 3: 1-13

The third chapter of Ruth has always been a little strange to me. Culturally I didn’t understand what Ruth was doing when she went to Boaz. Furthermore, I wondered was this action a little scandalous or was it appropriate for Ruth to go to Boaz in the night and lay at his feet?
In Ruth’s interactions with Boaz we can see Naomi’s hope is being restored. She is no longer focusing on the sadness of their past but making plans for the future.  We can boldly act on our hope with strategic righteousness because we know God fights for us and He does not withhold good from us.
After doing some research on Naomi’s instruction and Ruth’s following actions it became clear to me that all she did was with meaning and appropriate. When Ruth went to Boaz and lay at his feet this was an acknowledgement of his duty as their Kinsman, which also means he is a likely option for her as a husband.  In a commentary on Ruth 3 it explains, “She has gone willingly and now she takes the initiative to make clear to Boaz why she is there. “You are next of kin.” Or literally, “You are the redeemer: the one who can redeem our inheritance and our family name from being lost. I want you to fill that role for me. I want to be your wife.'”
As Ruth went boldly to Boaz he also responded to her with boldness saying in verses 10-11, “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.”
Ruth, Naomi and Boaz all act righteously but are bold in their actions toward one another and their requests to God. What we can institute in our own lives is to truly run after God and not have a spirit of fear or timidity. God has given us a commission to pursue holiness with a bold spirit.
2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
-Shelby Upton

Thankfulness and Greater Blessing

Ruth 2 13

Ruth 2:13-23

Ruth exemplified a beautiful thankful heart in the beginning of this passage. She recognizes that she is being blessed by the customs of a culture where she really has no right to reap (pun intended) the benefits. Ruth thanks Boaz for treating her with such kindness, tells him that he has put her heart at ease and hopes that she will continue to find favor in his eyes. He immediately responds to her humble heart with greater blessings that are above and beyond the custom. He invites her to eat with him — a prominent and wealthy man — as well as indicating to his servants in verse 15, As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up and don’t rebuke her.”
When Ruth returns to Naomi with the fruit of her labor, Naomi can tell that she had been truly blessed in her work and that someone had shown her great kindness. Here we see that Boaz is actually a close relative and Naomi and she determines that he is being kind and gracious due to the familial ties.  Naomi blesses Boaz for taking notice of Ruth and encourages her to stay with Boaz’ female servants as she knows no harm will come to her while she works in his fields. I believe the most important aspect of this passage that we can take away is thankfulness and humility.  Ruth is a hard worker who also shows great thankfulness in how she speaks to Boaz.  Not in every situation are we returned greater blessing when we have a thankful heart but we are called to be thankful to God. Ruth is really living out her faith by being grateful. Take a moment to search verses in the Bible on thankfulness. The Psalms especially are riddled with praising God and being thankful to him! One way to love God more deeply is cultivating this spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. In prayer today really thank God for who HE is and what HE has done — especially through Jesus to provide a way for salvation and our hope in the coming Kingdom of God.
Praise the Lord, all nations!

    Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord! (117:1-2)

-Shelby Upton

God’s Blessings

ruth 2 12

Ruth 2:1-14

Ruth saw an abundance of God’s blessings as she followed him. In the Jewish law it was custom to let the poor and widows glean from the edges of the field in Israel. Ruth, abiding by this custom went into fields where Boaz had authority. When he saw her he asked who she was in Ruth 2:5. When the other workers commented on Ruth’s heritage and her work Boaz was impressed. He could see by her actions, the dedication and devotion she held to God and her family to protect and care for Naomi.
In response to this realization Boaz heaped a blessing on Ruth. He encouraged her to stay in his fields under his protection and gave her drink although she was a foreigner. By her loyalty Ruth was blessed by Boaz in very tangible ways.
Ruth 2:8-13 says,
“Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go and gather grain in another field, and don’t leave this one, but stay here close to my female servants. See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven’t I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.” She bowed with her face to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind to notice me, although I am a foreigner? ” Boaz answered her, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
Ruth’s dedication to her family and God was seen very clearly by Boaz. In response to her actions he was moved to protect her and care for her. In these ways today our dedication to God can invoke such respect and provision. As we pursue God it is not beyond the realm of expectation to see God working in our lives especially as we make sacrifices to love and serve him. Have you seen God or others bless you as you have made sacrifices and commitments to serve him?
-Shelby Upton

Loyalty in the Family of God – Ruth 1

Ruth 1 16
In the first chapter of Ruth we see a beautiful example of Ruth choosing her allegiance wisely. Some may think at the surface level, Ruth stayed with her married family for provision and protection. However, Naomi was a widow—poor, needy and vulnerable in the culture. Especially during the time of a famine in a foreign land. The most advantageous move Ruth could have made would have been to weather the famine, stay in Moab and remarry therein ensuring her safety and security. Naomi even encouraged her to do so in Ruth 1:8-9. However, Ruth remained steadfast in her loyalty to Naomi and the God she had come to know when she became one with her husband and family so many years before. Ruth makes a bold declaration after her sister in law Orpah leaves saying to Naomi,
“But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
‭‭Ruth‬ ‭1:16-17‬ ‭HCSB‬‬
Ruth returned to Bethlehem as a Moabitess. She faced the possibility of being rejected and ostracized in a culture where she is not of the same heritage in Israel. Ruth takes this risk to lay hold to her loyalty to her family and God no matter the outcome as she goes alongside Naomi—who has lost all provision and security. What we can take away from Ruth’s example in this first chapter is the willingness to forsake all else as we follow God. Today it is common that we may have to renounce titles, friendships, status, position etc as we pursue a dynamic relationship with God. We are called to live differently and that is not without sacrifice. What may God be calling you to renounce as we die to self and commit our lives to knowing Him more deeply and allowing Him to love us fully?

Are you Blind?

john 8 34 35

Are you blind!?!  This is one of our favorite questions to ask when those around us are missing something that is so obvious.  It is extremely frustrating to us when they just don’t get it or they just don’t believe us when the truth is right in front of their eyes to see.  This is how Jesus felt when he was dealing with the Pharisees.  His frustration with them oozed all the way through John 8 and 9 because they just “didn’t get it”.  They didn’t believe he was who he was even though it should have been very obvious to them.  They were closed-minded and not willing to listen to witnesses like the blind man who had been healed.
In John 8:34-35, Jesus says that anyone who commits sin is the slave of sin, and the slave does not remain in the house forever.  If you have a sin in your life that you deliberately keep doing, you’re going to get kicked out of the house because you are a slave to that sin.  When you keep choosing to sin, God is getting very frustrated with you, just like Jesus was frustrated with the Pharisees.  He’s probably thinking, “They know I don’t want them to do that, but they keep doing it anyways.  I have given them my Word to read, but they don’t see how they are supposed to act.  Are they blind!?!  They just don’t get it.”  Don’t be that guy.

-Rick McClain

Notes from Paul

Romans 13 12

In Romans, Paul is describing the sorrow he feels that the Jews he has been trying to teach have not accepted the good news of Jesus Christ.  Even though he recognizes it is in God’s plan, he is mourning their stubbornness and their hardened hearts.

It is important to God why we follow Him…what motivates us.  He wants us to pursue Him because our faith compels us to do so, not as a result of our obligation to the law.

Paul begins to bring his message around again to the idea that Christ came for all people.  Paul continues to hope that the Israelites will listen and allow their hearts to be opened to God’s message of love and mercy. (Romans 11:11-16)

I believe Paul is saying to the early believers who are not of Jewish descent that they are the branches which come from the foundation of the Israelites.  If the root is holy, then so are the branches. As a result they need to continue to live and work together in the hope that the Jews’ eyes and hearts will be opened to a new understanding of God and Jesus Christ as Savior.  Paul points to this idea more clearly by instructing them in Romans 12:9-17…

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

As we do our best to live at peace with everyone, Paul gets into more controversial subjects next…it could be controversial yet today too.  In Chapter 13, Paul includes the authorities which govern the members of the early church in his statements about how to treat one another if we are followers of Christ.

Romans 13:6 & 7

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

I am guilty of not appreciating those who are in authority over me.  I speak out against the actions, decisions and judgements those in civil service make sometimes.  There are many times that I don’t agree and wish the government didn’t appear so corrupt and hypocritical, but rather than allowing my anger to rise and my resentment to grow, I should be praying for those in power.  I should be blessing them…tough pill to swallow Paul, tough pill to swallow…sometimes it is bitter too.  Nevertheless, if I am to be obedient to God’s call on my life, this is one area I can improve…I think Paul was speaking the early believers about this subject because he knew they could do better too.

The next part is a little easier to accept, though not necessarily easier to accomplish:

Romans 13:8-10

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Why do we do this? Why do we live this way?  Because the day is near…

Romans 13:11& 12

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already comefor you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light

Let us also join that high calling, that of putting aside the deeds of darkness and putting on the armor of light…let us love one another in spirit and in truth, in action as well as in word…the day is near

Come, Lord Jesus, Come…

Joyanne Swanson