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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

The Tootsie Pop Chronicles – Pt. Quatro

Romans 12:1 – 2 represent the sweet spot God has in mind for you. Take a look…

“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies to God a living and holy sacrifice which is your spiritual act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1 – 2

You’re living in your sweet spot when yours is a LIFE TRANSFORMED. The verse says, “Do not be conformed, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word CONFORMED there in the original Greek is ‘suschematizo’ – it’s where we get the English Word SCHEMATICS. When a builder builds a house he has to follow the architect’s schematics. If he doesn’t then the house gets built all wrong. Did you catch that?

Build the house according to plan or the house gets built all wrong.

The same is true for your life and mine. God has a plan for you. He’s given you a set of schematics in His Word. Build your life according to His plan or your life will be built all wrong. This verse says something else I think we forget.

It says, “Do not be conformed to this world.” Not only does God have a plan for your life, but Satan does too. I wonder whose plan you’ll follow. We try to trick ourselves into thinking we can make our own plan, but that’s really just vanity. If we’re not following God’s plan for our lives we’re following Satan’s. It’s that simple. We can call it our plan, we can think it came from us, but it’s really just rebellion against God. And that fits right in with the plan Satan has for you and me.

So here’s your truth for today. God’s plan is easy to find. It’s written in His Word. Know God’s Word you’ll know God’s thoughts. Know His thought’s you’ll begin to develop His attitudes. Develop his attitude in your life and it won’t be long till you’re living His actions. You’ll be following His plans! That’s what it means to have a life transformed, to follow the plan of the Father. Whose plan do you follow today?

God Bless,
Chad