“Embracing the Promises of God!”

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Are you just saying, “AMEN!” to the preacher and the message or are you really getting into an agreement with the words coming forth from the mouthpiece of God?  Do you think the songs that are sung, which carry His good word and lifts your soul, do you think they are just to make you feel good for a moment, or are they truths binding themselves on your heart because you can see with eyes of faith what God really wants to do in your life?  Do you think the words written in that Holy Bible are just a collection of tales to temporarily inspire you or are they moments in the lives of others God is using to show you that He can do the same thing for you?

It’s one thing to hear messages, read the Word, and listen to the songs about the promises of God, and it’s another thing to grab hold of them for yourself and believe with a fervent grip that they are for you, too.  Embracing God’s promises is saying, “I may not have it now, but my faith is tied to what God already spoke over my life.  With my physical eyes, it may not currently be before me, but with my spirituals eyes, I am persuaded that God will do what He said He would do, and I embrace that truth!  I choose to hold on to what God said over all else!”

Embracing is active participation in claiming the promises of God for your life.  God gave mankind a will and He won’t force you to believe His promises, but oh how sweet it is if you do.  He puts it out there, and many times He gives evidence that it will happen (and sometimes He doesn’t), but it is up to each individual heart to not only accept it but to hold on to what He spoke for dear life.  That’s why Hebrews declares, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:23; emphasis mine).   The word “us” in that verse lets us know that it is our personal responsibility to lay hold of everything concerning our faith God speaks, including His promises.  If you believe that God is faithful, then believe that He will faithfully follow through with all that He spoke concerning you!

God will do His part without fail.  Our job, when the unwelcomed interruptions of life come, is to keep on embracing that truth when facing whatever is before us.  Today, get a hold of the promises of God for your life and refuse to let them go.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13

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“Speak Blessings!”

Text Free Image by Helga Kattinger from Pixabay

Whipping about, lashing and hateful
This small member’s language is often fateful.
For it strips and works to tear people down
Dropping their countenance to the ground.

How often have we participated in the mess,
When instead we could have used it to bless.
To encourage, to lift, to exalt another;
To enrich the lives of our Christian brother.

To hold, to love, to show what’s right,
Instead, we often use it to fight.
Wouldn’t it have been just as easy still
To bless according to God’s holy will?

To show favor over mocking disdain,
And love over inflicting pain.
To build and nurture a life within,
Instead of participating in this deadly sin.

Whose pride causes a boast of self,
Instead of nurturing to spiritual health.
Speak blessings and help a life to grow,
And you’ll reap the rewards from that life you did sow.

“Let your speech always be with grace. . .”  Colossians 4:6

 

“Shut the mouth…”

“YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING!”

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“It is not for you to know times or season which the Father has put in His own authority,” Acts 1:7, NKJV

 . . . . But we try to, don’t we?  We feel a pull of God on our lives; a tugging to go here, or do this, or start that – and, we begin to question Jesus like the disciples did.

We want to know is it going to happen like this.  We want the unfolding of the story now so that we will know how to proceed.  We want to know the ins and outs of His plan for our lives.  But, we don’t need to know the everything of everythings that we want to know!  Yep, I said that on purpose 🙂 !

This is opposite of the faith walk that we are called to.  Think about it.  Abraham was called to leave the familiar to step into the unknown which brought about a name and a legacy that would endure through generations.  Hebrews 11:8 tells us, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

He didn’t know!  He didn’t know the plan of God!  He didn’t have all the details.  He just went!  By faith, he stepped out where God told him to go and he “obeyed.”  He didn’t question God and he didn’t try to figure the path out ahead of him.  He just went!

There are certain parts of the plan that God will reveal, and the rest, as Jesus puts it, “the Father has put in His own authority.”

In other words, we have to trust Him to see to His part while we obey, step out, and see to our part even if we don’t know everything.

Sunday School Lesson – “Ruth and Naomi” Ruth 1:1-18

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VERSE DISCOVERY: Ruth 1:1-18 (KJV, Public Domain)

Few relationships in life are stronger than a mother and her child.  A mother would rarely have to think twice before making a sacrifice that would better the life of a child.  So, too, would a child be more than willing to go out on a limb to care for and love on their mother.

Their relationship has been bound together from the womb to the point that love and sacrifice spoken between the two is not a foreign language.

But what is this familial attachment didn’t come from womb binding?  People, every day and all over the world, make the heart decision to love another as their own.  They willingly step into that vacant position of another’s life to fill it with the love and support the other so desperately needs. 

The story of Ruth and Naomi is such a relationship.  When she has nothing to gain and everything to lose, Ruth turned her back on everything comfortable and familiar and walked into a life unknown because she had connected herself and committed herself to love and care for a mother who was not her own. 

All decisions have an end result and little did she know it at the time, but the decision that Ruth made on that day would bless her life greatly.

 Elimelech’s Decision

Ruth 1:1-5 “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.  And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.  And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.  And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.  And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.”

The time of the “judges” start when Joshua, Moses’ successor, passes off the scene and continues to the time of Samuel who became the last judge of the people.  This time period is filled with a lot of ups and downs involving Israel’s history.  The downs came by way of the heart of a people that constantly strayed from the will of God (Judges 2:10-12).  People refused to be governed by what was holy and right and decided they would all live according to their own ways and what they thought was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

The ups they experienced as a people came when, despite their sinfulness, God raised judges to deliver them out of their circumstances (Judges 2:16).

Storylines like these show mankind’s pull away from the will of God.  But with God being the Author of all, the hardest storylines can have the sweetest of endings, as the story of Ruth will prove.

One hard part of the storyline is dealing with life-changing circumstances.  A “famine” was in the land and caused one man, one family, to make the hard choice to leave everything behind and go where there is the possibility of something better.  One must believe that’s what drove “Elimelech” to uproot his family and to plant them in a strange land such as “Moab.”

The desperation they were facing must have been strong because the children of Israel and the people of Moab don’t exactly have a cordial background toward one another.  Earlier in their history, when the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness from their exodus out of Egypt, they were not well-received by the Moabites.  At one point, there was even an attempt at cursing them (Deuteronomy 23:3-6; compare Numbers 22-24).

Leaving their home, Elimelech and his family settled in this new place “about ten years.”  During that time, Elimelech died (vs.3), leaving Naomi alone with her two sons “Mahlon and Chilion.”

How Elimelech died is not recorded, but what is noted that the two sons of Naomi married women of Moab by the names of “Orpah and Ruth,” which was also a direct violation of the Law (Deuteronomy 23:3).  Time passed, and the sons of “Naomi” also died (vs. 5) and now this family has dwindled down to three lowly widows.

What’s a girl to do?  A question we may flippantly toss about in our day during times of frustration, but it was a real question, following real circumstances, that must be answered if there were any hope of a brighter future coming from this dismal past.

Naomi’s Decision

Ruth 1:6-13 “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.  Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.  And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.  The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.  And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.  And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?  Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;  Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.”

So, what’s a girl to do?  Naomi, taking inventory of all that transpired and where she is in life, made the decision that now it was time to return to her own homeland “from the country of Moab” where they have been dwelling these past ten years.  They came to this land during the desperation of a famine, but while in this land she lost even more.  It was time to pick up the pieces and move on.

How she heard it, we don’t know, but Naomi got wind “that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.”  Although famine was often used as judgment from God, we are not sure if that’s the reasoning behind the famine that drove Elimelech to leave.  But, one thing is for sure, it was God who is credited with giving the people bread again.  God “visited” His people.  God ended the famine.  God provided their now plentiful supply.

Therefore, Naomi “arose with her daughters in law” to head back home.  Perhaps there she can find solace among her own people.  Perhaps there help for the hopelessness she faced can be found.  Perhaps there this worst-case scenario can have a happy ending.

Please Note: Let God in on your story.  Let God in your decisions.  Elimelech left his homeland because he thought Moab could answer his woes and provide more.  Naomi left Moab to go back home for the same reasons.  How much could this story have been impacted further if they looked to God first before making any moves?  Thankfully, God is Sovereign, and through His providence, He redeems this story to bring about the most beautiful and timely end that glorifies Him alone.

Rising with her daughters in law to begin her journey, Naomi, thinking about not only her future but the future of these two women she has come to love as her own, suddenly realizes it’s not best for them to follow her into a future unknown.  What positive reception would she receive, if any, after being gone so long, let alone, how would these Moabite women be received?  What of the perilous journey?  Surely, it’s not best to have three unguarded women traveling alone.  Even after considering all of that, what kind of future would they really have if they followed Naomi?

“Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house.”  She gave them a lifeline.  She gave them free course to go back home.  She released them from any obligation they may have felt tied them to this dear woman.  “Each” one had a choice.  “Each” one had the option to move on.  “Each” one, I’m sure she felt a motherly concern for and was seeking their best outcome with this announcement.  They were still young and had many years ahead that could be filled with so much more than what Naomi could offer.  Therefore, she spoke, “The LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.”

Through all of the loss and uncertainty, they have stood by Naomi’s side.  In the camaraderie of widowhood, they have shared in the pain and concern for one another, but now it is time to move on.  Staying as things are now will help none of them, so Naomi spoke again, “The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband.”  A future with her remains in the unknown, but if these daughters would go back to their own land and find “husbands” there they could have “rest” and the security they so needed in those days.  For this reason, she urges them away because she genuinely loves them.

So much so, at the announcement of her decision, “she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.”  This expression shows that their love for one another is as real as if they had come from her own womb.  Although Naomi’s suggestion of this separation was for their good, it was still heart-wrenching and they “wept” because that’s what you do when something is hurting you like it was hurting these women.  To lose so much in such a short amount of time, and now this.  Their sorrow was overwhelming.

Overwhelming or not, the women couldn’t fathom doing anything but staying with Naomi until the end.  They said, “Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.”  They just were not ready to let of this dear woman so easily.  Originally, they both claimed they would give up everything to follow her.  Originally, they were both unwavering in each of their personal commitments to their mother-in-law, but Naomi stepped in and explained in further detail how that decision could affect their future happiness and well-being.

She, herself, is well-advanced in years.  She has no husband of her own any longer.  She has no more “sons”.  She has nothing to offer these women.  No one to step in place for her.  No one to fill the void her sons left in these widowed women (see Deuteronomy 25:5).  As far as she could see, the only way for them to have a happy ending to this sad story was to go back home.

Even if she were to marry tonight and have sons, would it seem reasonable or fair to ask these women to wait until they are of age?  “Would ye tarry for them till they were grown?” she asked.  Would you refrain yourselves from having the love and security of a husband now, and for all those years?

That was a heavy burden to bear, especially for women in that day.  Without a husband or older children to care for them, times were very hard.  For these women, with so much possibility ahead, Naomi couldn’t ask them to stay as they are just for her.  Naomi grieved over her situation and for her daughters’ sake.  She felt as if the “hand of the LORD” was against her.  Little did she know, God’s hand was working something wonderful out for her in this time of despair.

Ruth’s Decision

Ruth 1:14-18 “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.  And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.  And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.  When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.”

Weeping, and saying her good-bye’s, “Orpah” headed back to her people and her mother’s house.  She reluctantly agreed with Naomi’s take on their dire circumstance and sought something more for herself by returning to her home.

But Ruth, not seeking to make life easier for herself, could not bear to leave Naomi.  The Bible says, “Ruth clave unto her.”  She would not let her go without her.  She would not detach herself from her.  She loved this woman and refused to walk away from her.

One must ask, what of Ruth’s own mother?  What of her family and the chance to see them all again and to live with them again?  Surely, she could have had a comfortable life by staying in the comfort zone of the familiar.  But, she feels the pull to walk away from it all, declaring, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” 

She stood her ground on her original commitment.  She committed herself to Naomi, her people, and her God for life!  “Nothing,” she declared, “but death part thee and me.”  That, my friend, is genuine love.  Due to her husband’s death, she could have been cleared from all of this, but genuine love and commitment caused her to hold on and go all the way with Naomi and God, wherever that future may lead.

The Bible tells us, “Happy are the people, whose God is the LORD,” (Psalm 144:15b).  The one who willingly attaches themselves to God attaches themselves to the best.  They are truly blessed regardless of everything they have left behind.  Ruth, a faithful woman, refused to have it any other way.

Naomi no longer tried to stop her.  “When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.”  Ruth’s heart and mind were made up and she would not be dissuaded from her choice.  Seeing her commitment and love, not just in words, but in action, moved Naomi’s heart also to allow this beautiful daughter in law to follow her home into the new life that was waiting for them both.

Ruth’s story will continue beyond the verses covered in this lesson.  In the end, her faithfulness to Naomi and God brings about a blessing she could have never possibly foreseen.

Stay faithful, dear friends, for every decision, just like those in this lesson, brings about a certain end result.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes):  Sunday School Lesson – Ruth and Naomi

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Ruth and Naomi

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Ruth and Naomi

Blank Journal Page: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Ruth and Naomi Draw the Scene

Word Search: Ruth and Naomi Word Search  Answers: Ruth and Naomi Word Search Answers

Crossword: Ruth and Naomi Crossword  Answers: Ruth and Naomi Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Ruth and Naomi Word Scramble  Answers: Ruth and Naomi Word Scramble Answers

Game Ideas for Ruth 1 from Jesus Without Language

Lesson ideas to support your class can be found at Ministry-To-Children