God Can Use Anyone … or God’s Plan is Bigger Than Me!

Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.”  And they called his name Obed.  He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4:17

 We just finished the Book of Ruth in our Friday morning study.  I love this book.  It is a story of suffering, good fortune, blessing, risk taking, resourcefulness and redemption and of course, love – there is a wedding and a baby after all.

In a nutshell, this man, Elimelech, takes his wife, Naomi, and two sons and leaves his home, Bethlehem, to go to another country, Moab, a country that doesn’t follow God. There is a famine in Bethlehem, so he thinks he can do better for himself, in Moab.  It doesn’t happen; he dies as does his two sons.  Naomi is heartbroken and left with two foreign daughter-in-laws.  She decides to go back home to Bethlehem, one of her daughter-in-laws, Ruth, decides to go with her.  She wants to take care of Naomi and follow God. Once there, Ruth goes to work, trying to earn a living for her and Naomi.  She happens to be working in the field of the wealthy, bachelor, Boaz, who just happens to be a close relative of Elimelech.  In that culture, relatives were responsible to redeem (buy back or purchase) the land of those who were struggling with debt or poverty.   The next of kin could step in and pay off the debt, marry the widow and carry on the family name.  And that is what happens, Boaz agrees to pay off the debt (or buy back the land) of Naomi, marry Ruth and carry on the family name.  They have a baby and Naomi goes from heartbroken to lovesick over her new grandson and life becomes rich and full again.  The End.

But the end is never the end with God.  There is always more to the story.  See, Ruth had grown up in a very sinful place.  Moab was sin city, a sexually perverse country, actually founded by a fellow conceived through incest by Lot and his daughter, not a good place to be from.   And low and behold, we find out down the road that Boaz was the son of Rahab, the harlot, who helped the spies that Joshua had sent out to the city of Jericho.  Remember they marched around it for seven days and on the seventh day, seven times, and then the walls fell down.  Now that is an interesting plan of attack.  See what I mean about always more to the story, with God?

So Ruth from Moab (sin city) marries Boaz (son of a prostitute) and they have a son who is the grandfather of King David, who is the great- great- great to the 28th time, (or thereabouts) grandfather of JESUS!  Whoa … how wild is that?  God used two women of ill repute, and I’m sure there were many more we don’t know about, to be part of the heritage of his son’s life here on earth.

Many times we find ourselves thinking that God can’t use us because of our past.  I want to encourage you today.  Don’t let your past dictate your future.  God has a plan for you.  Twenty years ago, I was Ruth and Rahab rolled into one.  I was not living a Godly life.  I was gutter girl.  Drugs, alcohol and men were pretty much my day to day life.  But God picked me up, cleaned me up and set me on his path.  He brought Bobby into my life and he gave me a home and a family, and then he drew me close to him and showed me such love and I’ve not been the same since.  God changed my heart and my life… and he wants to change yours too!

Food for Thought:  Which side of the suffering are you on, still living in the pain of the past or embracing the redemption of his future?

Father, thank you for this story of real life redemption – that you give us examples of people just like us and how we all fit into your perfect plan.   Thank you for never giving up on us, even when we are slow to recognize our redeemer. And Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us first.

I love you Jesus.
   In Your Name I Pray,
   Amen

God’s Blessings To You!

Love,
Joyce

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Thoughts on Ruth

In Sin

She was a Moabite. She lived her own way apart from God and oblivious to Him.  She thought lifewas fine.

A Different Life

She meets this guy from Judah, a man of God. Something is different about him and his family. She marries him.
Conflict and Decision

Her father-in-law dies. Then her husband dies too. Now her mother-in-law is trying to making her goback to her own family and her old way of life.She decides to go where ever Naomi goes.

Servanthood Begins

She accepts Naomi’s God as her own.  She serves Naomi. She is a companion, friend, daughter and servant to Naomi.

God’s Providence

The two travel back to Jerusalem, where Naomi is well known. It’s harvest time, so Ruth goes to glean grain for food.  She happens across Boaz’field. He is a close relative of Naomi.

Redemption

Naomi is excited to hear about Boaz.  He can be their redeemer to buy back their land and providefor them.  But there is another relative even closer than Boaz.

Inheritance

The closer relative declines the offer to be the redeemer for fear of losing his own inheritance.

Saved

Boaz steps up, redeems the land and marries Ruth. Ruth and Naomi are cared for again.

Father, thank you for calling us out of sin, showing us a different life, giving us opportunity to turn, andallowing us to serve others.  Thank you for your provision, redemption in Jesus, our inheritance in you. Thank you for saving us from a life apart from you. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

© Elizabeth Marks, founder ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc, a 501(c) (3) Public Charity, has a heart to encourage and equip you with God’s Word.


All That You Say To Me I Will Do

Read Ruth 3

And she said to her “All that you say to me I will do.”

If ever there was a statement of faith and obedience this is it.  Ruth, a Moabite, had left her land, and her relatives to go with Naomi, her mother-in-law, to the land of Judah.  She puts complete trust in her mother-in-law and her mother-in-law’s God.

What does it take for you to follow through with anything? Some need to know everything will work out as planned. Others may do a certain thing, if they know they will receive something in the end.  Precious few follow through because it is what God wants.

Can you say to God, “All that you say to me I will do?” For God has told us His desire, that we love Him, walk humbly before Him and follow His ways.  As the story of Ruth shows, blessings follow obedience.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  With faith, obedience will follow.  With obedience blessings follow.

Whether you are seeking love, forgiveness, protection, or provision it is found through faith in God.  When we are obedient to His ways, He blesses us with what we need.

Father the One of infinite abundance, you love us. Thank you for wanting to bless us.  Help us trust you more with each passing day.  May obedience to your ways become nature to us.  Give us desire for you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

© Elizabeth Marks, founder ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc, a 501(c) (3) Public Charity, has a heart to encourage and equip you with God’s Word.

A Picture of Love, Mercy, and Grace

Read Ruth 2
It’s barley harvest time when Naomi and Ruth arrived in Judah.  Ruth asks to go glean in the fields.  Naomi allows her to go.

While gleaning, Boaz takes notices of Ruthand asks who she is.  He finds out how she cares for Naomi.  Boaz tells Ruth not to gointo any other field, but to stay in his field.   Boaz and Ruth share a meal together. Boaz instructs his men to let Ruth glean and to purposefully drop grain for her.

Ruth returns to Naomi, who asks where did you glean today?  Ruth answers in Boaz’ field. Naomi praises God for His kindness.

Did you notice how obedient Ruth was to Naomi and Boaz?  Can you see God’s care, protection, and provision to Ruth through Boaz? Do you see Naomi’s guidance, instructions towards Ruth? Notice how blessings seem to follow obedience?

Ruth had love, mercy, grace, compassion for Naomi. Ruth leaves her own relatives to stay with Naomi,her mother-in-law. Ruth moves to a new country with Naomi. Ruth provides for Naomi. Ruth’s life is not her own by choice. She purposefully sacrificed her life for Naomi’s sake.

Is that not a beautiful picture of what Jesus hasdone for us? Jesus had mercy on us. He left heaven to live on earth. He chose to live with humans rather than with God.  He sacrificed His life for our sake.

Father you are so wonderful.  There are no accurate words to describe your worth.  You are amazing in your love, mercy, and grace.  Thank you for filling us with your spirit that we may extend your love, mercy, and grace to others as you have given to us. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen.

© Elizabeth Marks, founder ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc, a 501(c) (3) Public Charity, has a heart to encourage and equip you with God’s Word.

Even When Its Dreary God Is With Us

Read Ruth 1
There was a famine in the land, so Elimelech and Naomi moved to Moab to provide and protect his family. We don’t know whether this was hisown will or God’s will.

While in the foreign land, Elimelech dies leaving Naomi in a worse state than before the move.  Now she’s on her own with her two sons who both married women from Moab. But then both her sons die also.
Naomi heard the Lord visited His people by giving them bread, so she decides to return to land of Judah.  She tells her daughter-and-lawsto return to their own family.  Oprah leaves. But Ruth stays with Naomi.

Ruth declares “your God will be my God, your landwill be my land” and the two head back to Judah. Ruth committed her life to Naomi’s God and to Naomi herself.  Ruth sacrifices her own comfort, support,and family so she would be able to comfort, supportand encourage Naomi along the way.

When they arrive, the whole city was excited to see Naomi. Naomi says call me Mara for the Almighty dealt bitterly with me.  I went out full and came back empty.  But it happened to be the beginning of barleyharvest when they got there, which shows you how God provides.

Father God above, how great you are.  Even if we take a wrong turn you graciously receive us back. Thank you for bringing others into lives to encourage us when we go off course.  Thank you for providing for us every step of the way. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

© Elizabeth Marks, founder ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries Inc, a 501(c) (3) Public Charity, has a heart to encourage and equip you with God’s Word.

Words of Wisdom

How much influence do you have on following generations? We know the children and youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Will they benefit from our encouragement, advice and example, or are we leading them astray?

We hope our lives make a positive difference in those we touch. God, in His grace, can remove our blunders. Those of us in the golden years’ category look back to the influence of role models who spoke into our lives. Their contributions helped to shape us into the people we are today.         

The Bible describes King Solomon as a man of great wisdom and understanding. He received those spiritual gifts as answers to prayer. (2 Chronicles 1:7-12) God blessed him with much more, because his request for wisdom showed a loving heart; he desired to lead others fairly. Solomon could not boast of his high IQ as his source of discernment; God is the giver of all good gifts. (James 1:17)

Solomon did not reign with arrogance or pride; he looked back over his shoulder. “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old (Proverbs 23:22 NAS).” Yes, King David and Bathsheba left their loving marks on their son, Solomon.

“Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you (Proverbs 23:25 NAS).” King Solomon honored his parents and instructed us to heed his words. He urged us to listen to our fathers. He listened to his father, King David.

 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, he will reject you forever (1Chronicles 28:9 NAS).”  

I believe David imbedded words of wisdom into the mind of his son, Solomon. When God asked him what He should give, the obvious choice of wisdom outweighed selfish desires. Are we that quick to choose God’s best gifts, or do we waste time with penny candy?

A Piece of Me

I have a cupboard full of old Bible Study workbooks, conference notes, etc. I keep these not because I think I will use them again or go back and reread my notes (although I might).  No, I keep them because each one of those workbooks has become a part of me in some way. I learned something through each study. I gained ground. I grew in my faith, in my walk with the Lord, and I grew internally as a person.
 
Today, when I opened up that cupboard to put something away, I saw my small stack and I smiled. To some people those workbooks might be taking up valuable storage space. But to me, they are a piece of who I have become. They represent who God is molding me into and they hold many special memories. I shed tears over valuable lessons that God taught me, I stretched my mind to let God open it up to deeper things He wanted to show me, and I prayed over many, many things that I held closely to my heart.  Those workbooks are a piece of me. They are a piece of who I have become.
 
Each time I start a new Bible study or go to a new conference – I don’t sit there and think about how I will be changed. I just know that in some way (small or great) that I will be. And it excites me. Because I’m always up for bettering myself. I love diminishing the effect that the flaws and weaknesses in my life have on me. I love growing new strengths and feeling God’s strength flourish inside of me.  And for whatever it’s worth, I will hold on to those moments so that I don’t forget that HE doesn’t forget. He doesn’t forget me. He talks to me in a personal way each time I reach out to communicate and grow in Him.
 
So I will hold onto those Bible study books. No matter how worn, how sloppy my writing, or how much space they take up. They have made me who I am and for that I will be eternally grateful.
 
 

~ Dionna Sanchez is the Founder of the Emphasis On Moms Ministry. Visit the website at http://www.EmphasisOnMoms.com or email her at madetomom@yahoo.com

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