Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
Ruth 1: 22
“It’s Harvest-Time in The ‘House of Bread’”
“Within The Will of God”
“The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
Have I had a specific event or situation in my life when I knew I was outside the will of God, “living in Moab?”
Have I returned to “Bethlehem – the House of Bread,” where God’s blessings await my arrival?
“In His will is my peace.”
“Inside the will of God there is no failure. Outside the will of God there is no success.”
If there is a story in the Old Testament that brings heaven’s illuminating light on the gift of Jesus Christ to this earth, it is found in the book of Ruth. At Easter time, we are now frequently bombarded with a commercialism that can divert us from the gracious and merciful gift of our Redeemer Jesus Christ. It would do us well to be reminded that Ruth, the Moabite outsider, was brought within the arms of her Father’s love. An outsider became an insider – even a relative of the Son of God.
Sometimes, at Easter, people most acutely feel like an outsider. Maybe you feel this way right now. Possibly it is because you are separated from family members. Or other times, even when with family, the stress level can rise and a person feels lonely.
Today, as we look at the way God wrapped His love around an outsider and drew her into the circle of His love, I encourage us to remember that the celebration of heaven’s gift is about ALL of us “outsiders” becoming part of our Father’s family through the gift of Jesus.
And so this is where our story today begins with Ruth…an outsider from Moab who arrived in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and through God’s grace, became an insider in the family of God.
Naomi ended up in Moab, not because the Bible states God called her family there, but because Elimelech, her husband, felt he could escape the famine in Bethlehem by moving to Moab. This familiar scenario was played out in the life of Abraham who came to the conclusion that a trip to Egypt would serve the purpose of protecting his family from famine, too. In both cases, the result of these ill-conceived jaunts into “enemy” territory proved to have unintended consequences. While it appears the financial motive of self-survival was met, the destruction of the family unit in both cases was severe and long-lasting.
Yet, and here’s the crucial point of today’s lesson, even when surrounded by darkness and sorrow, God was still at work! Let us never forget this wonderful fact! God does not have to be seen by you and me, to be doing what’s best for you and me. Just because I don’t have a clear vision of all God is doing right now, doesn’t mean He’s doing nothing. I hope and pray this is a lesson you will take away from our studies in the coming days.
For years, you may have been suffering. I understand this, for there will never be a day until Jesus comes again and makes “all things new,” that Jim and I won’t put our feet on the floor and take even one step while at the same time, we will be reminded of another human’s inhumane action against us. For many of you, I know the same holds true. You are suffering under the destructive pain of health issues, home and family issues, and personal issues. These tragedies, which plague your life, may seem to be as continuous as a long, dark, unending tunnel.
This is how Naomi felt living in Moab. How do I know? Because her own words betrayed the feelings in her heart, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1: 20). This is how Naomi felt inside and it’s how she visualized things from the outside. I have done the same, and you probably have, as well. In her time of bitterness, even when Naomi had arrived back in Bethlehem, she still couldn’t see the light! As one of my spiritual heroes, C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “Before any great achievement, some measure of depression is very usual.” I think this phenomenal statement should bring courage to every heart and strength to every hand. It is likely that as it was in the life of Naomi, so it is and will be for you and me. At the moment you feel the lowest and most forgotten, God is busy sowing the barley; fertilizing the fields; and planning the celebration for a life renewed, refreshed and redeemed – and that life is yours!
When Naomi got back to Bethlehem, not only was it the beginning of “Harvest-Time,” but God also had many other surprises waiting for Naomi and, Ruth. He’s working on the same surprises for you and me, too! He wants to assure us that His watchful eye never leaves us, even when we think we have to go outside His house in Bethlehem for protection and sustenance in Moab.
Over the next few weeks, as we study together, we will be repeatedly reminded of the truth in the words of Betsie ten Boom, “The center of God’s will is our only safety.” This is the lesson of Naomi and Ruth’s lives, and it is our lesson, as well!
“The end of life is not to deny self, nor to be true, nor to keep the Ten Commandments – it is simply to do God’s will.”
“O God, grant us in all our doubts and uncertainties the grace to ask what You would have us do; that the spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in Your light we may see light, and in Your straight path may not stumble, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“My Father, I abandon myself to You. Do with me as You will. Whatever You may do with me I thank You. I am prepared for anything. I accept everything, provided Your will is fulfilled in me…I ask for nothing more, my God. I place my soul in Your hands. I give it to You, my God, with all the love of my heart, because I love You. And for me it is a necessity of love, this gift of myself, this placing of myself in Your hands without reserve in boundless confidence, because You are my Father.”
Charles de Foucauld
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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