Habits: Nothing to Say About God


Tomorrow we begin 2 Timothy! Four chapters, four days, incredible principles for living.


Ruth 4

SCRIPTURE

Ruth 4:7, “Now in those days it was the custom in Israel…” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

What’s your habit? What’s the custom in your household? What’s the practice in your place of business? What words come to mind that would describe your community? What is your school really known for? What are you known for?

One of the most interesting facts about the book of Ruth is that you won’t find one verse that tells you anything significant about God. There are no commandments. No principles or precepts. There’s no correction or instruction in righteousness. The book isn’t really about God at all. The book of Ruth is a simple story about a family and how that family comes together to build a legacy that would one day give birth to kings.

Certainly God can be found in the book. The family prays for one another. They invoke the name of God in their dealings with one another. The custom of the Kinsman Redeemer was a common practice for the children of Israel. One member of the family would redeem another to insure the family was provided for and the family named carried on. It’s a beautiful picture of what God has done for you and me through the work of Jesus on the cross. But there’s nothing in the book to indicate that this was the author’s purpose.

Imagine you read the book of Ruth apart from the rest of Scripture. You would read a tragic story of loss, a hopeful story of love and kindness and discover the customs and habits of a culture whose foundation is God.

It tells me something about being a God-follower.

APPLICATION

The habits of my life reflect the authenticity of my beliefs. Ruth found her kinsman redeemer and became great-grandmother to a king because she and her family practiced habits and customs that reflected their faith in God. They didn’t have to quote rules and regulations to one another. They didn’t focus on commands. They didn’t beat one another over the head with spiritual language, talk of God or their great big family Bible with the actual picture of Jesus on the front. Instead, they lived what they believed. Their faith was practiced. It was so much a part of their culture, so much a part of who they were, that it simply came out in the choices they made.

There’s much to learn from this. It affects the way I talk. More importantly, it affects the way I live.

The story of my life will be read my most people apart from the context of Scripture. What story will they read?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being my kinsman redeemer. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Let the choices I make and the habits of my life reflect my trust in you. Let the story of my life and my family bring glory to you. Let our family be less about rules and regulations and more about each of us simply living in a way that honors you, serves one another and sets an example to others of what love really is.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Kindness: Growing Goodwill

Ruth 2

SCRIPTURE

Ruth 2:13, “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Ruth shows a kindness to Naomi. She stays leaves her homeland and comes to live with her in Judah. Boaz shows a kindness to Ruth. He instructs his people to treat her well, allows her to take grain from his fields that will feed her in a time of famine. He gives her water, protection and rest. When asked why Boaz would do this he responds, “Because you showed kindness to Naomi.”

There’s something about kindness and goodwill that builds momentum. It builds over time. It spills out into the lives of others. It’s an investment that returns more than you put into it. It creates in others a willingness to do good for you. Said another way, kindness builds into people a goodwill for you. For Ruth, it was the beginning of a love story.

APPLICATION

What kindness have you received? What have you given? Whose life could you influence today with a little kindness? For Ruth, Boaz’s kindness prompted a simply reaction, “I hope I continue to please you, sir.” Because of the kindness of someone else who will you attempt to please today? Who will attempt to please you? It’s such a basic principle we almost laugh it off as something for a kindergartener to learn, but it works regardless of your age. Kindness changes people. Look for ways to be kind to others today.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your kindness to me. Your word says that your kindness led me to repentance. Like Ruth, I pray I will continue to please you. Help me to show kindness to others today. I don’t always know how to be kind. I don’t always want to be kind. Help me see the need and give me the desire to show your kindness to people today.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Bitter: Amplify the Sweetness

SweeTarts - Bitter SweetRuth 1

SCRIPTURE

Ruth 1:16-18, “…wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Bitter. Why do love stories always seem to start with something so bitter? The Book of Ruth is a love story. It’s a story about family. It’s the story of a Mother-in-Law who suffered great loss and a Daughter-in-Law blessed by and a blessing to her entire family.

SPOILER ALERT. It’s great to know the end of the story. Ruth returns to Judah with Naomi. Ruth meets and marries a son of Israel. The coolest part of all? Through the bloodline of Ruth is born David, King of Israel. Through his bloodline would come Jesus, redeemer and Savior of all. That sounds big. It sounds significant. It sounds important. It sounds blessed.

But that’s not how Naomi felt. She was Ruth’s Mother-in-Law. She is part of this bloodline and a significant part of the story too. But in chapter one she doesn’t feel blessed. She feels bitter. Rightfully so, I think.

She met and married the love of her life. Moved from her homeland. Gave birth to two sons. What  happens next is tragic. Her husband dies. Both sons die. She’s left living in a land of foreigners where the economy has crashed, food is hard to come by and she’s the one responsible for her household, two morning Daughters-in-Law.

Mara, bitter, numb – it’s all Naomi has left to feel. Desperate, she returns to her homeland. Her Daughters-in-law follow. Naomi knows what it’s like to live far from home. She graciously releases her Daughters-in-law to return to their family. One goes. Ruth stays. My wife and I borrowed her words for our wedding vows.

“Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

Through the tragic and bitter beginning to the story of Naomi and Ruth is a glimmer of hope, a brief glimpse of love that cuts through bitterness and out lives tragedy. Naomi had won the heart of Ruth.

There was much to morn. Bitterness seems like the appropriate response. But just beneath the surface of bitterness was the sweet center of genuine love that will eventually write the story of salvation for you and me.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had a Sweetart? People deliberately put these bitter pills in their mouth for the sweetness that will later come if only they hold on. This is the pain of bitterness Naomi experienced. Certainly she suffered tragedy. Bitterness was an appropriate response. But she held on. Ruth encouraged her. Her family helped her. And in the end she became great-grandmother to kings. The bitterness of this moment amplified the sweetness of the next.

Life will have bitter moments. The relationships you build before the bitterness can sustain you. Don’t take them for granted. The end of the thing is better than its beginning. Hold on. God is working out the divine story of his relentless affection for you.

Are you living through a bitter season now? Hold on. There’s sweetness ahead.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Help. In moments of tragedy, when things don’t go my way, when the odds are stacked against me, when everything falls apart – help. I love and trust you. I believe you have my best interest at heart. I believe you know what’s best for me. I know that you are able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I ask or think. In my bitter moments give me the presence of mind to remember that the bitterness of this moment amplifies the sweetness of the next. Give me the strength to hold on. Help me trust and follow you in difficult times and celebrate and honor you when things are good. Thank you for my marriage and my family. I am blessed through them. Bless them with your favor today.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad