Tag Archives: Ruth

Finding Ruth…

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Why not read the book of Ruth as part of your personal meditations this year? Ruth

It speaks about the transition from “bitterness” to “blessedness” in Bethlehem. It looks beyond the times of barrenness towards a new “Kingdom” generation.

Let’s look at Naomi. Fleeing from famine and in a place of great loss, she can be a potent symbol of our present crisis. She might also be an allegory of the tired Western Church. Tragedy strikes and she finds herself under death, bereaved of sons and husband. How many sons have we lost through cruel, intolerant religious wars and how many more were cut down in the prime of life on the killing fields of Flanders during the 1st World War?

Countless others drift into spiritual death without a shot being fired, seduced by the perverted paradigms of living with neither a divine dream nor a sacrificial heart. In a nutshell Naomi has lost all hope of fecundity. She is hopelessly, tragically barren!

Was this her sad destiny?

Her original name means “tenderness”, “charming”, “pleasant”. Love, grace and joy – holy attributes of Christ’s Body the Church, called to fill a world with light and life, but tragically wounded, and old before her time. It seems that Naomi has changed her name!

“Don’t call me Naomi” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 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. ”   Ruth 1: 20-21

Mara means bitter. It is sobering to think of Naomi journeying back to that sacred place to be bitter in Bethlehem.

Is there hope for her? Is there hope for my own weary heart? Can the Western Church know a new beginning? The answer for Naomi, and for us, came in two things.

Redemption in RuthA fresh revelation of Christ as Redeemer…….Redeem your dreams!

Naomi had a friend in Boaz and, as the old song puts it, we have a friend in Jesus.

 “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.”     Ruth 2: 20

Jesus our redeemer: the one who can heal history and hearts. May we know a fresh hunger and passion for His presence.

There was also a more strategic answer for Naomi which was the second requirement for healing.

She Found Ruth….And Ruth Clung to Her.youth_group

Ruth, from the foreign race of the Moabites, was the answer for Naomi. Ruth represents at least two things for us.

1) Youth:  

 We must be investing in, and praying for the next generation. I’m convinced that, even in the face of Satan’s destructive onslaught on the youth of nations, God so wants to bring a powerful missionary revival amongst a new generation of Joshuas. Just as the Jews may have been shocked by Ruth’s culture and background our religious and missionary structures will need to adapt to the adolescent energy and fun of young people. We need to find our Elishas.

emerging nations2) New Nations:  Emerging Mission Movements

 The strategic centre for missions has changed over the last few years from the West to what is collectively known as the “Global South”. Nations such as South Korea, Brazil, Nigeria, Ethiopia, China and Indonesia will be leading the way over the next few years.

As Naomi received Ruth we will find our future in creating discipleship environments for such as these. We will be learners as much as teachers, receivers as much as givers. Again, structures and personal comfort zones will need to change to stand alongside the colourful, potent, raw energy of God expressing himself in many cultures and skins.

sandleOne of the redeemers in the story had an eye on the material blessing of the land but he had no motivation for a relation with Ruth. He feared that this “foreign influence” might endanger his own property. This is often the fear of many of us today. Boaz however was more than willing to take on the covenant relation which came with the land. The first gave only his shoe whilst Boaz was willing to give his heart!

In the light of this, my own prayer is very much to find Ruth. Practically this may express itself in looking for more opportunities to mobilize and mentor emerging mission movements.

And there in Bethlehem, where Mary was to hold Jesus to her breast, old Naomi finds new life, nurses a son of promise in David’s line – “she took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him”, rediscovers her name and is “blessed in Bethlehem.” May you too be blessed in Bethlehem, may you be “better” rather than “bitter” and may the opportunity Ruth offers be accepted as a true gift to a waiting Church.

 “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter- in-law,(Ruth) who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons , has given him birth.”  Ruth 4 : 14-15

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At Jesus’ feet…

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“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”

“Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.  In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.”

 

These beautiful verses from Luke 10:39 and Ruth 3:8 (we will look at this chapter together) give us insight into the “priority position” to take this summer. Whether you are in the breach or on the beach, or both, you need to find “what is better” and what lasts forever – our intimate relation with Jesus, the ultimate kinsman redeemer.

 “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?

 We find identity and a home with Jesus.  Relation with him is where all true provision begins.

 “Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes.”

 Confess and repent of your sins, washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus. May the incense of prayer and worship arise from our contrite hearts and may we clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit and with power from on high. Colossians 3:12-14 gives us a whole wardrobe of “best clothes”. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…and the “overalls” of love!

 “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.”

 How we need the garment of grace to approach our Lord. This is not our own garment but it is given to us freely. As Christ spread out his loving arms on the cross to embrace fallen humanity, so he extends his individual grace to each of us and clothes us in his righteousness.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.”   2 Corinthians 5:21

“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.”                                                                                               

“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:14

Move from fear to faith in his presence. Hear and believe his uncompromising promise to those who pray. Let your request rise to the generous level of giving expressed in the faithful words of our master. It is not time to be silent in unbelief or hedonistic passivity. It is time to ASK. Time to formulate a clear heart inspired request to a greater redeemer than Boaz.  Find a prayer from your intimacy, from your dreams, from the discernment of the lover’s longings.

“David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 1 Chronicles 11:17

Our Lord is still longing to drink from the occupied territories of this world. Who are the mighty men and women who will break through?

“Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and put it on her.

Ruth went from gleaning to extravagant provision. She was used to working all day for one “epah”- and that was on a good day. Now, from an encounter of intimate prayer she perhaps received about 6 times that amount, more than she could comfortably carry.

What these measures were is not expressed; the Targum is six seahs or bushels, as the Vulgate Latin version, but that is too much, and more than a woman could carry; unless we suppose, with the Targum, that she had strength from the Lord to carry it, and was extraordinarily assisted by him in it”  Gill’s commentary.

Ruth’s shawl may be an image of our lives and ministries. Perhaps the Lord is asking you to hold out your work, prayers and dreams before him once again so he can pour in the long awaited blessing. Ruth went from a great time of trial and famine to a place of wonderful provision because of her intimate prayer with the redeemer.

 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.

 There is much talk of new paradigms for Church and mission. Some of the more traditional bastions of our faith, doctrine and practice are being assailed by a genuine quest for the new. This is not however the time to throw out the baby with the bathwater! We need the tension of the old and new treasures together. The place of prayer transcends human methods. A fresh encounter with the living Lord will bring renewal and keep us all on track. Ruth was able to give new hope to the “barren and bitter” Naomi and make her “pleasant” again in her old age. She brought Israel into its promised purpose by stepping into destiny and the genealogy of the Messiah. Prayer locks us back into our chosen destiny.

So, choose the place of prayer this summer.

 “May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.”