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Ruth meets Boaz

Just then Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you.” They answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “To whom does this young woman belong?” The servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the Moabite who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please, let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the reapers.’ So she came, and she has been on her feet from early this morning until now, without resting even for a moment.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” Then she said, “May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:4-13, NRSV)

Boaz found favor with Ruth because Ruth had given up everything to help take care of Naomi, who was Boaz’s relative. He saw hope in Ruth where others would have seen a foreigner, a stranger, an outsider. Boaz saw what God sees and knew that Ruth was a woman of integrity.

Do we seek men and women of integrity?

Are we women and men of integrity?

How can we see with the eyes of God?

 

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Naomi and Ruth

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. (Ruth 1:15-18, NRSV)

Have you ever met a person determined to do something and no matter what you would say to them they would not change their mind?

That is what Naomi encountered with Ruth. Ruth saw the hope in staying with Naomi, where Naomi only saw darkness. Naomi was so transfixed on the gloom and darkness that she could not see the light. When you see the light it displaces the darkness, but when you focus on the darkness the light seems to dissipate. See what I said there, the light seems to dissipate, not that the darkness overtakes the light because it can not do that. The light will always displace the darkness, but if you are focused on the gloom and darkness, the light will seem to go away. Hope is always there. Naomi sees the darkness, Ruth sees the light.

Where is your focus?

 

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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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Testing the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6, NRSV)

Fake News is rampant. But here is the real issue. There is no such thing as fake news. There is false news and incorrect news. But to say news is fake is like calling a human being illegal.

You can not believe everything you hear or read. And as followers of Christ, we should discern any information we get regardless of the source to make sure it is the truth that will help us be better followers of Jesus.

All news is not true and will not edify the body of Christ, so discern everything you hear and test if it is from God.

Test the things you hear and read so that you might continue to grow as a disciple of Jesus.

 

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The Conquest of Canaan Promised

I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices, but you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces. You shall worship the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from among you. No one shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror in front of you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send the pestilence in front of you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will hand over to you the inhabitants of the land, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not live in your land, or they will make you sin against me; for if you worship their gods, it will surely be a snare to you. (Exodus 23:20-33, NRSV)

Here God told the Israelites that is they listened to God’s Angel that the land God promised them would be conquered by them.

Do we listen to God?

Do we do what we think He would want us to do, or actually what He is telling us to do?

Sometimes we get hung up in our own ways and our own insecurities and fall back on our understanding and our fears, but God is leading us to places we have never been and taking by means we can not understand. If we do not listen and follow His direction we will be lost and floundering.

So do you listen to God?

 

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Commandments to Honor God

you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. (Exodus 20:3-11, NRSV)

How many commandments did you count here?

And is it really about keeping rules?

Don’t do this, don’t do that…

Don’t, don’t don’t.

I heard another pastor recently talk about the 10 Commandments as Godly Play does, as a better way.

You see life is happening all around us and sometimes the crap of life gets in the way and we want a better way to live and to do things.

And here, after God brought the people out of slavery, God gives them a better way. A better way to think about how they should live.

These 3 commandments in our Lutheran understanding are all about the vertical relationship with God.

And what they really say is focus on God and let nothing get in the way of that. God needs to be first and we need to love God. And if money gets in the way that is bad.

If possessions get in the way that is bad.

If religion gets in the way that is bad.

if anything gets in the way of loving God, then that is bad.

So do you love God above all else? and put God first?

 

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I am the Lord your God

On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.” Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; (Exodus 19:1-6; 20:1-2, NRSV)

How are the 10 commandments supposed to be utilized by us?

Are they a list of rules we must follow to earn God’s favor?

A way that we earn our way into heaven?

Is that why God gave us the commandments?

God says in 19:4 “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” God brought His people out of Egypt and brought them to Himself. Notice that this comes before any of the commandments. God called His people to Himself before he gave them rules to follow. God established the relationship and then offered a model for how His treasured people should live. Notice God didn’t say if you don’t obey my voice and keep my covenant you will no longer be my people. He said, “if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples.” We do not lose the relationship by not obeying but we are also not His treasured possession…

God established a relationship with us and then gave us an understanding of how to help others see the love He has given to us. It isn’t about doing it right, it is about loving as God did.

 

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