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Naomi and Ruth

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:8-14, NRSV)

Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland so they might be provided for. Naomi was headed back to her homeland where her daughters-in-law would be outsiders and may not be accepted and may make it harder on Naomi to find a family member that will take her with an extra mouth or two to care for. She tells them that she will not provide them sons, and Orpah listens to her and goes back to her family, but Ruth, Ruth sees the hope that lies ahead with Naomi. She clings to Naomi and knows that by clinging to Naomi she is clinging to God.

Have you ever felt the hope that Ruth did here?

Knew that you had to hold on to something for dear life because God was working in and through this situation?

Remember there is always hope.

 

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Elimelech’s Family Goes to Moab

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:1-5, NRSV)

It seems like life for Naomi has gone from bad to worse. She was moved from her homeland because of famine and then after her husband died, her two sons marry, but then they died also. Now she has daughters-in-law to care for and no one to provide for her. Remember in this time, the men were the providers, so without a husband or sons, Naomi had no one to care for her. Add to that she is in a place where she has lived for many years but is still considered an outsider.

What will she do?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like Naomi’s where it seems you have come to the end of hope?

What can we do?

Remember that God is always with us, there is never an end to hope…

 

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Ruth and Naomi

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” So Naomi returned together with Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who came back with her from the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. (Ruth 1:1-22, NRSV)

Here is the first chapter of the book of Ruth a wonderful little story of an outsider who becomes an insider and saves her family.

The story starts, “In the days when the judges ruled…” The story of Ruth comes right after the book of Judges in the Hebrew Scriptures, at least the way we Christians have them ordered, and Judges ends with, “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” So whatever a person did was ok because it looked good to them…

But Ruth had different ideas.

There is so much pain and anguish in our lives and we sometimes struggle to see the hope. That is where this chapter takes us, you see Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, from their home in Bethlehem because there was a famine and he had to do something to take care of his family. So he packed them up and moved them to Moab where there was obviously more provision than in Bethlehem. Here in Moab, Elimelech’s sons found women they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with and got married, or Elimelech arranged the marriages, but either way, the sons took wives, and then all of the men died. It is as if it went from bad to worse. They moved away from home and then the providers for the family all die. Then Naomi tries to send the daughters-in-law back to their kinsmen so they can be cared for. Naomi is returning to Bethlehem and the Moabite women will not be accepted or at least Naomi thinks that. Plus she will have to find family to take her in and she is not sure if they will take her daughters-in-law also. Naomi urges them to care for themselves and return to their family. And Orpah does. But Ruth does not. She has found love in a mother-in-law and a hope that God will protect them.

You see in all of the darkness, famine, and death, there is hope. Ruth says to Naomi, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” I will not leave you. You are my kin and I will be with you. And Naomi returned to Bethlehem with Ruth.

And then the last glimmer of hope, it was the beginning of the barley harvest. It was the beginning of the gathering of the food. The famine was over and the harvest has begun! Even in the darkness, there is always hope!

 

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Epilogue

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal. (1 John 5:14-17, NRSV)

Sin is any wrongdoing that separates us from God. There are sins that lead to death, mortal sins, and sins that do not lead to death. And if a sin is not mortal you can pray to God for help for those you see committing these sins. And that will give life to others.

So request that God give life to those you see that are separated from Him.

By praying for others you are also bringing life to yourself.

 

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Resurrection

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:1-18, NRSV)

Have you ever heard your name called out by Jesus?

You just lost everything. Your world has completely crumbled around you.

The man you have followed for three years, the man you thought was the Messiah was hung on a cross and killed like a common thief. You at least were able to put Him in a tomb. But now after the Sabbath, you come to mourn at Hid grave and the stone is rolled away and He is not there. Seriously! Isn’t it enough that you killed him but now you have to move His body!

And then you see who you think is the gardener in this garden and you ask Him where He has taken the body to. You don’t recognize your master and lord for fear and grief fave rocked your world. You ask through tear stained eyes that can’t really see anymore. And then the gardener says your name. He called you by name and I know that voice! That’s Jesus!

He’s alive! My lord and savior is alive and now I get it! Death has no victory for God has made away and He has called me by name!

Let Him call you by name!

 

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Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed such dreams that his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. So the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had such a dream that my spirit is troubled by the desire to understand it.” The Chaldeans said to the king (in Aramaic), “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will reveal the interpretation.” The king answered the Chaldeans, “This is a public decree: if you do not tell me both the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you do tell me the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time, “Let the king first tell his servants the dream, then we can give its interpretation.” The king answered, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see I have firmly decreed: if you do not tell me the dream, there is but one verdict for you. You have agreed to speak lying and misleading words to me until things take a turn. Therefore, tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.” The Chaldeans answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can reveal what the king demands! In fact no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king is asking is too difficult, and no one can reveal it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.” Because of this the king flew into a violent rage and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. The decree was issued, and the wise men were about to be executed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions, to execute them. Then Daniel responded with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the king’s chief executioner, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon; he asked Arioch, the royal official, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. So Daniel went in and requested that the king give him time and he would tell the king the interpretation. (Daniel 2:1-16, NRSV)

How many people are able to tell someone what they dreamed last night?

King Nebuchadnezzar asked for the impossible to be done. He wanted those he had summoned to tell him what he had dreamed and then what it meant.

They asked the king to tell them the dream, but he would not.

When the enforcers went out to kill all those that the king ordered killed, Daniel asked the king for a little more time.

Would you be brave enough to ask for more time from the person who ordered you killed?

What do we await this Advent?

A Prince of Peace that will reign in our hearts. So does He reign in your heart?

 

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Elijah Revives the Widow’s Son

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. She then said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!” But he said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” So the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” (1 Kings 17:17-24, NRSV)

Elijah went to the widow as God told him to, and while he was staying with her and her son, her son died.

But Elijah knew God would not allow this. He prayed to God and asked Him to restore the life of this child.

And it wasn’t enough for the widow that the grain and oil in her jar that she was going to make her last meal didn’t run out, but now with the bringing back to life of her son she knows that Elijah is a man of God.

What will it take for us to believe God?

 

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