Ruth Week #4

Dear Ladies,

     It's so interesting to me that we're studying Ruth during a time when our own sweet Ruth is so heavy on our hearts. It's funny how life works. She was the whole focus of our closing prayers on Monday. 

     I just love when our lessons give us a glimpse into God's heart. Gleaning law's do more than simply providing for the poor. They show God's willingness to rescue the powerless. And Ruth was the picture of powerlessness. She was a foreigner, a widow, with no possible brothers in law to marry. Her only friend was another widow broken by life's circumstances. Neither of these women had hopes of rescue from their situation but God doesn't let them stay hopeless for long. 

     Ruth could have wandered into any field in Bethlehem, but somehow she wanders into Boaz's. He not only  allowed her to stay, he blessed her. He positioned her among the other women who worked for him. He not only warned his men not to lay a hand on her, he also instructed them to pull and drop extra stalks for her to gather. He shared his food and wine and then pack up all his leftovers for her to take home. 

    What I love so much is that he noticed her. It would have been easy to overlook this stranger. She's a nobody. She couldn't have been more vulnerable. Ruth's life was hard and there was no reason to hope it would improve. She certainly didn't think it would. Look at her question to Boaz in verse 10. "Why have I found such favor in your eyes?"  She must have been blown away when Boaz had a ready response. "I've been told all about what you've done for your mother in law....May you be richly rewarded". He knew her story. He knew her needs. What a picture of God's lavish love and care for us. 

We each have our own story and our own needs. Like Ruth some of us try to hide behind our sorrows but God notices us. He notices our heartbreak and our vulnerability. He alone knows the best way to meet our needs and He has a plan to do that for us. 

     Perhaps right now you're a lot like Ruth or maybe God's calling you to be someone's Boaz. Will you ask God to help you notice the poor, welcome the outsider, protect the meek and speak kindness where it's needed most? Let's strive to be God's hands and feet to those he places in our "fields"

     Love, as always, Renée 


Now on to this week's lesson:

Read Ruth 3

Memory verse Ruth 3:5 " I will do whatever you say Ruth answered"


1. From our study last week we learned that Ruth gleans after two separate harvests -wheat and barley. What do you imagine Boaz learned about her during all that time together? 

2. How willing are you to allow others to learn who you are?

3. What is Naomi's greatest concern for Ruth and why do you think she pushed Ruth on Boaz?

4. Has anyone ever tried to set you up with a man? How did that end up?

5. How did their motivation differ from Naomi's for Ruth?

6. How does Naomi's plan for Ruth nearly backfire?

7. How do we see Boaz protecting Ruth?

8. Who might God have placed in your life to bless and protect?


For personal growth:

This encounter between Ruth and Boaz seems so strange  to me. I wonder if it seemed strange to Ruth as well. How do we see humility in Ruth's approached to Boaz? Where might God be calling you to a position of humility? She approached Boaz bolstered by Naomi's trust. Who has God placed in your life to push you in the right direction?  How willing are you to follow their prompting? How easily do you place your trust in someone else? Where might your hesitation to trust others rob you of potential blessings?


For the good of the group: whose advice are you most likely to follow and what is it about them that has caused you to trust them? 

Ruth Week #3

As you well know I am expecting grand baby #3 in July. Emily just started her second trimester, things are going well and she feels like she can relax and enjoy dreaming of this little one. And with those dreams comes the naming of the baby. So much time and thought goes into choosing the perfect name. Why??? Seriously I'll never know because when you need to quickly catch their attention you can never recall that perfect name without listing two or three other kids first.

In our culture we choose names because we like them. We like the way they roll off our tongues. Maybe they're family names. We name kids after movie stars, or cities or flowers even. In biblical days names had deeper significance. Your name identified who and what you are. This is why it saddens me to hear our sweet Naomi tell her friends and neighbors that her new name is Mara. Naomi means pleasant, beautiful, delightful. I can easily imagine her as all 3 of these. I believe that was part of what drew her daughters-in-law to her. True delight is attractive and I believe that her pleasant nature shone in the way that she cared for her husband, her sons and the women they chose for themselves.

The name Naomi fit well until life wasn't so pleasant anymore. Then she wrapped herself so tightly in bitterness that she couldn't imagine life without it. Ladies, I ask you the same question I ask myself. When life tries to beat you down, what do you wrap yourself with? Are you bitter too? Do you turn into a big black cloud that rains on everyone's parade?

I'm telling you now that this is not what God chooses for you. He no doubt allows painful circumstance in each of our lives. Those trials are a way He calls out to us. "In this world you will have trouble". The first half of John 16:33 doesn't sound too comforting until you finish Christ's sentence "... but take heart, I have overcome the world". Note that he says HAVE overcome , not will. It’s a done deal, past tense. That's a promise we can wrap ourselves in.

Love, as always, Renée ( which means reborn by the way. What a great name for a Christian to have)


Now on to this week's lesson:

Read Ruth 2

Memory verse: 2:5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters "who does that you woman belong to?"


1. Who was Boaz and why was it important that he was part of Ehimilek's family?

2. How is he described in this passage?

3. What does his greeting to and from his workers reveal about him?

4. What do you recall from past studies or sermons about the practice of gleaning?

5. What do these gleaning laws reveal about God's heart?

6. When have you had to rely on the kindness of others and how can you now see God's hand in that?

7. Unconquerable kindness seems to be Boaz's greatest trait. What do others see in you?

8. What do you want them to see?


For personal growth: Gleaning was a way of protecting widows and children and those who would otherwise have been unable to provide for themselves. Call it God's own welfare system. How does this mirror our own welfare system? What is your attitude like when you find out that someone's is receiving some type of government assistance? Do you look down on them? Do you doubt the legitimacy of their claim? Is there a part of you that gets angry when you see what they do and buy with your taxpayer dollars? What do you think is the right response and how far away from right are you? How is God speaking to you about this and what do you plan to do about to about it?


For the good of the group:

How can we pray for you to be more cognizant of the needs of those around you?


Ruth Week #2

Study #2

Read Ruth 1 with Judges 21:25

Memory verse Ruth 1:16b "Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God"

 

1. The verse from Judges reflects the time period that leads into Ruth. What do you imagine life was like then?

2. Describe the circumstances that bring Naomi to Moab.

3. What was life like for her there?

4. What brought her back to Bethlehem?

5. Why didn't Naomi want her daughters-in-law to travel with her?

6. Why do you think Orpah stayed in Moab while Ruth chose to continue on to Bethlehem?

7. Ruth vows to remain with Naomi forever. What was it about Naomi and/or her faith that was so attractive?

8. In verses 20-21 Naomi pours out her bitterness with her old friends. Who has God placed in your life that can share both your blessings and your sorrows?

 

For personal growth: 

Naomi's faith was attractive enough to Ruth that she was willing to leave everything familiar and safe to stay with Naomi. How well do you walk out your faith? Do your words and actions enhance Christ's image or detract from it? Imagine you are the only believer in your family or circle of friends (for some of us this is a reality). How might others see God through the way that you face adversity? Where do you usually turn when life turns on you? How might things be better if you were to accept Christ's challenge in Matthew11:28 "Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest". Which burden might God be asking you right now to turn over to Him?

 

For the good of the group:

What is your relationship like with those who are married to or dating your children?

 

Walking Strong in 2019/Ruth Week #1

Study #1

Read Genesis 19 with Deuteronomy 23:3-6

Memory verse 19:37. The older daughter had a son and she names him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today

 

1. Who was Lot and what do you recall from past studies or sermons was the reason he ended up in Sodom?

2. What do you know about the culture of this town?

3. How deeply do you think Lot became entrenched in that culture?

4.  What goes through your mind as you see the lengths he'll go to in order to protect his visitors while simultaneously throwing his daughters under the bus?

5. Why do you think Lot was hesitant when it came to running for the hills?

6. Why did God spare Lot?

7. Describe Moab's conception and birth?

8. How does this series of events help clarify why Moses may have forbidden contact with Moabites or Ammonites in Deuteronomy 23:3-6?

 

For personal growth: 

We sometimes struggle with the idea that a just God would wipe a whole region off the face of the earth.  How horrible do you think a place would have to be before it should be wiped out? How much sin do you think God should tolerate? Are there particular sins or categories of sins that you wish God would overlook? What makes you want to excuse them? How likely is it that you will accept sin simply because it has widespread acceptance in today's culture? Where do you think God is asking you to draw the line?

 

For the good of the group:

How do you think today's reading will give you deeper understanding o the book of Ruth?

Jonah Week 2

Dear ladies,

     In this first chapter in Jonah we see two completely different mindsets. On the one hand there's Jonah. He clearly knows who God is, clearly heard what God asked of him, and just as clearly chose to go his own way. On the other hand we have a whole crew of sailors. They knew only enough about God to be afraid, but not enough to be obedient. They knew His power but not the power of His love. In the end they were all literally in the same sinking ship. 

     Just as there's two different views of God in this passage, there are two different responses to Him. The sailors only had fear. They didn't know God. They didn't know that God doesn't wipe people off the face of the earth for personal gain or entertainment. Their response to God was to beg for mercy and hope for the best. Perhaps if they begged and bribed their way into His favor things might still work out. Their fears were confirmed as they contemplated Jonah. If God was this angry at one of His own people what hope would there ever be for them?

     And then there's Jonah. He trusted God's loving nature enough to sleep through a raging storm. That trust shows in the way he accepted the penalty for his disobedience. He understood that sin comes with a cost and he was willing to accept the price, even if it meant death. He allowed himself to be sacrificed to save the others on board that ship. He knew God and trusted in His fairness. 

       Ladies,  sometimes God calms the storm, but only sometimes. More often He lets the storm rage and calms the child.  Clearly the better choice would have been obedience right from the start, but it took the storm to bring Jonah to the place that we meet him in this week's lesson. So this is where we move forward. 

      Love, as always, Renée 

Now on to this week's lesson

Read Jonah 1:17-2:10

Memory verse 2:2 He said " in my distress I cried out to the Lord and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called out and you listened to my cry"

1. Why do you think God provided the fish for Jonah?

2. What was Jonah's response to his new accommodations?

3. Jonah is quick to acknowledge that God is responsible for his trip overboard, because he deserved it. How likely is it that you rightly identify the cause of your misery?

4. When has God used someone else or some circumstance to change your heart to make it align with His will? 

5. How long do you think it took Jonah to pray as he did in this chapter? How long would it have taken to bring you to a place of humble acceptance?

6. Which verse or verses in Jonah's prayer mean the most to you personally? Explain your choice.

7. Where do you find hope and encouragement?

8. In verse 8 Jonah says that those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. Do you think this was a judgement of the sailors? Why or why not?

For personal growth: what worthless idols do you cling to? What is it that takes up the greater part of your time and energy? What occupies your first waking thoughts and/or your last before going to sleep? What might God be asking you to let go? What needs to change in your life in order for Him to occupy His rightful place in your heart? 

For the good of the group: it's not clear how long it took Jonah to come to repentance but God's response was restoration. Can you tell of a time when He restored you? 

Jonah Week 1

Dear Ladies,

     What a journey this has been as we've spent the last 12 weeks delving into the Sermon on the Mount. Who could have imagined where this would take us? This past week was no exception. 

      I really love this lesson because Jesus makes it so simple. He once again explains what holy living looks like and then leaves His audience with a choice- take it or leave it. This is still our choice today. We can either continue on the broad smooth path that leads to destruction or we can accept Christ's invitation to join Him in Heaven. 

     It's not easy. Jesus promises that few find their way. So I ask you this question that I often ask myself. How confident are you, how confident am I, that that you and I are heading the right way? If you are in doubt I encourage you to speak with one of the pastors, with one of the elders or with me about how you can be certain that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. I want all doubt to be erased. I can promise you that I've walked down quite a few wrong roads, and made choices that didn't honor God and yet Jesus( aren't those the sweetest words my friends- and yet Jesus) in full love, set me back on the right path. Sing it with me "I once was lost but now I'm found". Ladies, let Him find you too. 

     I love how our next study so perfectly illustrates God at work, loving His wayward child Jonah back onto the right path. He did it for Jonah like He continues to do it for each of us. I can't wait to explore this new book with each of you. 

             Love, as always, Renée 

Now on to this week's lesson

Read Jonah 1:1-16

Memory verse 1:9 He answered " I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and dry land"

1. A little history here. What does this passage tell you about who Jonah is? List as many facts or conclusions you came to after reading this chapter. 

2. It's easy to point out Jonah's failures. What are his admirable traits and which of these do you share with him?

3. And now a little geography. We aren't told where Jonah is from, but we do know  where God asked him to go and where he chose to go.  Find the following 3 places on a map - Joppa, Nineveh and Tarshish. About how far is Nineveh from Tarshish?

4. How do we know that Jonah knew exactly from whom he was running ? 

5. What's the farthest you ever ran from God and what was the outcome?

6. What was the sailor's response to the storm and how does that compare with your response to life's storms?

7. Jonah told the sailors exactly what they needed to do to calm the storm. Why were they hesitant?

8. How likely is it that's any of these men grew to follow the one true God? Would that experience have been enough to convince you?

For personal growth: when chaos was breaking loose on board the ship Jonah was sound asleep below deck. So not only did he deliberately disobey God, it seems that he was at complete peace doing so. When you choose to disobey, how does that sit with you ?

Are you able to sleep at night? How drastic are the measures that God used to bring you back into obedience?  As we look at the potential risk to a full crew of sailors- how big would the fallout have been from your disobedience. Have you thanked God for protecting you and those who may have been affected by your poor choices?

For the good of the group: Jonah allowed himself to be thrown overboard not knowing the outcome. How well do you accept God's discipline?