ruth

A Dark Fresh Start

I have read Ruth a few times and I know the majority are familiar with it, for you often hear women talk about meeting their Boaz and how like him, Christ is our kinsman-redeemer. My focus here though is in the beginning where we learn about the matriarch of the story, Naomi, who lost her husband first, then her two sons and back in those times, that meant that she pretty much lost her livelihood. What is your livelihood? Family? Career? Business? A talent? A dream? Times are different now, but there are things that make us who we are and like Naomi we get comfortable and believe nothing could go wrong. However, everything that could go wrong went wrong.

First, it is interesting that Naomi and her family went to Moab, because Israel and Moab did not have a friendly Image result for naomi and ruthrelationship and God had plenty to say about them throughout their history as well. Both Naomi and her husband were Israelites, but they left the people of God because of a famine and went and settled in unfamiliar territory for help where they probably should never have gone. Nevertheless, one can assume they didn’t trust God to keep His people in hard times, granted their story falls in the middle of when there was no king in Israel and people did whatever they wanted. Although, in the midst of all that happened, she was left with her two daughter-in-laws and was forced to go back home, learning that God was helping His people.

Naomi was a survivor and took whichever chance she had to keep her life in good standing, but it seems that she needed God to prove Himself to her that He could take care of her, and even after she returned home, she still wasn’t convinced. Not only had she changed her name from “pleasant” to “bitter,” but she made it known that God had let her down, and initially she wasn’t that fond of Ruth going back with her as if she wanted to sulk alone. Furthermore, she claimed that when she left home she was full, but it was the Lord who emptied her (and other lovely verbs), suggesting that she had no other expectations of God’s work in her situation than mere existence. But in fact, God had other plans.

By definition, you can’t blame Naomi or her family for the decisions they made and many of us have done the same thing. We make decisions in life, without ever really consulting or trusting God, even the “good” ones; we go with the flow without looking at things with spiritual eyes and we fill ourselves up and we lose focus on God’s plans, if we ever really knew what they were in the first place. This very thing happened to me. I never actually considered what God wanted for me vocationally, including my college studies, and it took a pouring out for me to get aligned; I had to be emptied. The Lord had to break me and take away my dream, my livelihood, of what I thought I was going to do with my life in order to open my eyes for His greater purpose, and by God’s grace, what I studied and experienced in school and other pieces of my life that seemed irrelevant fell in line with what He called me to do. Though, it was only His Spirit that could have revealed it to me, and I haven’t looked back.

For Naomi, she was bitter and had low-expectations, but little did she know that with all that had happened, the pieces of her past would bring her the greatest victory. Not only was Naomi apprehensive about Ruth, but it was the Lord who called Ruth, the Moabitess, into the lineage of the Lord Jesus. I can’t imagine that either of them knew God’s full plan, but Naomi was the first to notice things happening on their behalf when Ruth went to work, and hence, met Boaz. They were just trying to survive, but God chose them to change history.

Sometimes we have to start fresh when we get in dark places and go back to where we know God is, like when we have our “mountain top experiences” and we connect with God and lay our hearts out before Him, and ironically, Bethlehem, Naomi’s home, is in the mountains. So often we have to be broken and emptied in order for the Lord to build and fill us up again, which means whenever we get to the place where God is in our lives, we should live in high expectation that God will give us victory and conform our life to His best, which is always far greater than our own. In the same manner, we must ask for discernment and spiritual eyes so that we can recognize when God is moving in our lives in even the smallest ways, and if you are like me, I get so excited when I begin to see God working in the unnoticeable small ways, because I know that He is setting me up for something that is above I can hope for or imagine. So, as you be yourself for a purpose, if the Lord takes or is taking you through a breaking and pouring out season, let Him. By continually surrendering and letting the process happen, you are allowing God to pour back into you and fill you up with Heaven’s best.

 

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Good Love

One of the things that intrigue me most about God’s Word is how it reads incredibly like a story, with characters and their development, people with feelings and emotions, people who had serious problem and how they dealt with them or the lack thereof. Piggy backing off the blog “Simply Put,” the Bible has plenty of love stories and characters that I feel are remarkable and great examples as we seek to love and be loved. So out of the many, there are 2 women (Abigail (1 Samuel 25) and the Shulamite (Song of Solomon)) and 2 men (Boaz (Ruth 2-4) and Elkinah (1 Samuel 1:1-21) who executed this love thing in an amazing way.

good love

As before, ladies first.

Abigail’s life is very relevant to today’s culture for the fact she was the wife of a drunken jerk. Just read the story. She had to deal with a mean, rude, and prideful man who was usually drunk, so as you can imagine she had to deal with a lot. However, her faith was strong and she took up for her husband even when he was on his worst behavior, as in when he was crude toward King David. The Bible called her intelligent and beautiful, highlighting the inner beauty before the outer beauty. Consequently, when her husband had pretty much signed his death wish by disrespecting the king, she protected his name and took up for him so much in so that David did not destroy him. In actuality, God did it instead. From Abigail, we see her perseverance and faithfulness to her husband and to God, in spite of the unpleasant person he was, and God blessed her in a mighty way. She picked up his slack in more ways than one and her all around beauty radiated. Likewise, good love is when no matter how difficult he may become, hang in there, don’t give up on him, seek the Lord, be an example (1 Peter 3:1-2), and pray for him, and let God do what He needs to do and show you what you need to do if you stay hidden in Him, and He will surely bless you as He surely blessed Abigail if you read the rest of the story.

Then there is the Shumalite woman, the wife of Solomon, and there is a whole book dedicated to the love between them, Songs of Solomon. If you have ever read that book you see that she was very affectionate toward her man, spoke highly of him, and praised him. As a wife or future wife, nagging and complaining should not be a second language, which Proverbs compares to a dripping faucet (27:15). Furthermore, there are several women in Scripture that failed at this and their stories were cut short. For example, Michal, David’s wife, though she had a good start, was not mentioned again after she criticized David’s praise, instead of supporting him, or Job’s wife who instead of encouraging him at the worst of times, she added salt to the wound when she told him to curse God and die and that one verse was the last of her story. Words are so powerful and as a wife or future wife, we should not be so quick to criticize, complain, or fuss, because a man already has enough pressure and things on his plate. Don’t add to it, instead be his reason to smile. Good love. (And I just want to point out this was an interracial couple.)

Gentlemen.

Boaz is one of my favorites. There are so many things about him that I find so captivating and attractive. Even though he was well off and successful, he was kind and treated everyone with respect and dignity, even those that worked for him. In reference to the love of his life, Ruth, in addition to his kindness toward Ruth, he was a man with a plan and did what he had to do to show her he was interested. Gentlemen, if you have a woman in sight, take the initiative to illustrate your desire with class, tact, and finesse if you will. Boaz knew what he wanted and went after it. Furthermore, he was accepting. He didn’t judge Ruth on the superficial things like where she came from or who she came from, he accepted her as she was and made her feel significant and special, and she took notice. Likewise, men, good love is making your lady feel like she is the only woman in the world. A woman feels no more loved than that right there. Additionally, he was generous – a husband should be known as a giver – and a provider, a trait that is often mentioned as the primary role of the husband.

Lastly there is Elkinah, who along with his wife, Hannah, make-up my favorite love story. Long story short, Hannah was without child, but still he showed and spoke of his love for her by giving her a double portion over the wife with kids. Then he asked if he was worth more to her than ten sons, reaffirming their love one for another. In that culture, a statement like that meant so much, because of the value a male brought to the patriarchal family structure, so his love was very real and very evident. In the same way men, speak to your lady and let her know how much she is worth to you and how much you value her and what she means to you, especially in times she feels unpretty or less of a woman, as did Hannah when she was barren. Furthermore, he paid attention to her emotions and showed concern when she was upset (1 Samuel 1:8), he treated her well, loved her, was generous, and made her feel special, similar to Boaz. My favorite part of the story however, is found in chapter 1 verse 19. First off, we see that they worshiped together, which is still important today, to have a spiritual connection; then they came home after a high time in ministry and as someone put it before, they ministered to each other. Good love is being in a relationship and not only having the spiritual, but the emotional and physical intimacy as well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Love is a beautiful thing and if the Lord wills and you have the opportunity to be in a relationship with the person He created just for you, take advantage of it and love with all your might. If God has purposed that in your life, there is a purpose in that relationship that will coincide with the fulfillment of the ultimate purpose for your life and your love’s.

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, & Mary – Imperfect on Purpose

When you look back in Biblical times, it was a very patriarchal society. Women had very few rights and or privileges; they were seen and not heard. Even still, being Christmas, looking at the life of Christ, he gave purpose and value to women – woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, and so many others. Nonetheless, one of the things I found most interesting and intriguing is found in the very genealogy of Jesus.

Looking through Scripture, in nearly all of the genealogies listed in both the old and new testament, there are rarely women listed. It’s mostly “the son of…” However, in the very lineage of Christ given in the first chapter of Matthew, there are five women listed…Yes. Five. What’s even crazier is that these women, or families they represent, are everything but perfect. They got some serious issues.

First on the list is Tamar (Matt 1:3), found in Genesis 38. The story of Tamar is a story of tamarincest. Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah – Jesus was to come from the tribe of Judah. To sum it up, Judah had three sons and before it was over, none of them produced any offspring for the tribe to continue. Thus, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with Judah and got pregnant, inadvertently preserving the line of Judah.

Second on the list is Rahab (Matt 1:5) , found in Joshua 2. This is a story of a prostitute, not even a Jew, who protected the spies of Israel as they were preparing to demolish her city, Jericho. As a result of her sacrifice, she and her family were protected. rahabThird on the list is Ruth (Matt 1:5) who happens to have a whole book in the Bible dedicated to her, Ruth. Ruth is the story of family and companionship and selflessness. Ruth as well, was not a Jew. She was from Moab, a pagan society. Moabites were some ruthwicked polytheistic people, the total opposite of the Jewish culture. Nonetheless, Ruth set on a journey as a widow, alongside her mother-in-law, Naomi, a Jew, to go back to the land of her people, the Israelites. Long story short, with the guidance of her Naomi, she found herself a husband, the kinsman redeemer, and found a spot in the lineage of Christ.

Fourth on the list is Bathsheba (Matt1:6), found in 2 Samuel 11. Although she is presented as “Uriah’s wife,” her story is far from unknown. Her story is one of betrayal, adultery, sorrow and bathsheba1murder. While married she committed adultery with the very King David and got pregnant. As a result, David had her husband killed, and like clock work God took the life of their son.

Last on the list is Mary, the very mother of Jesus – a young girl minding her business, when an angel of the Lord came and interrupted her life, so much in so she was pregnant before she got married. Back then, that was a social no no.mary-and-gabriel

The point in sharing these stories is one, to see the significance and value of a woman. On the other side, I want to give a brief insight in to how messed up Jesus’ family was. Still, God chose the least of these, to bring forth His precious son. So when people think Jesus came from a generations of water walkers, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I love Jesus so much more because of this. He had issues in his family just like everyone else; it identified him, but it didn’t define him. Although Jesus came from all of a dysfunctional family, he didn’t let that take his focus off of his mission here on earth. He was born to die. So let that be an encouragement to you as it is to me, that whatever background or family we come from, it may identify who we are, but it doesn’t have to define who we are. We can rise above and become all that God would want us to be.

As we celebrate this season, remember Christ. He was real, so real he chose imperfect people, on purpose, to bring His only begotten into the world. God can choose and use anyone he wants. He chose me; He chose you. He can take all your mess and create a miracle that will change history, as he did in the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.