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Resting on God

Slowly and deliberately pray this prayer. Find your rest in God who longs for your to rest in Him. And invite someone to worship tomorrow.

O God Most High, Most Glorious

The thought of your infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but you are forever at perfect peace.

Your designs cause you no fear or care or unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills.

Your power knows no bond, your goodness no stint.

You bring order out of confusion, and my defeats are your victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigns.

I come to you as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to you, every sin calling for Christ’s precious blood.

Revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear his voice, know its tones, follow its calls.

Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.

Give me intenser faith in the eternal truths, burning into me by experience the things I know; let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget you.

Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to you, that all else is trifling.

Your presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy.

Abide in me, gracious God.

The Story Continues

Here’s the second installment in the video series on Ruth. Take 3 minutes and watch God’s plan unfold.  We’ll see Chapter 3 Sunday morning!

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/embed/product/40236

Under His Wings

He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9 ESV)

At the very heart of God is His desire to cover you. God’s wings protect you from life-threatening enemies.

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. (Psalm 17:8-9 ESV)

God’s wings protect you from the destructive storm.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. (Psalm 57:1 ESV)

God’s wings give you rest.

Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah (Psalm 61:4 ESV)

God’s wings form a canopy of praise when your life is good.

for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. (Psalm 63:7 ESV)

God’s wings shield you from nightmarish nights and difficult days.

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. (Psalm 91:4-6 ESV)

Jesus’s wings gather you from your wandering ways into the family of God.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:34 ESV)

Run to God. Hide under his wings.

Your People Will Be My People

Turn up the volume on your computer or other device and take 3 minutes to remind yourself of how the timeless story of Ruth unfolds.

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/embed/product/40235

Ordinary Obedience

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.” (Ruth 3:1-5 ESV)

Most books on following God are written about the crossroads in life–the major decisions we make that determine the direction of our lives. Few books deal with everyday decisions–ordinary responsibilities that accumulate to result in extraordinary outcomes. Yet almost always it is the accumulation of ordinary obedient acts that results in the moments of “extraordinary” glory. We see that in Ruth’s story.

Naomi’s instructions to her appear to be trite: bathe, put on perfume and put on your coat. This is what we tell our 7-year-olds. “Take a bath!” “Use soap!” “Don’t go out in the cold without your coat!” Why such apparently unnecessary details? Who cares about cleanings and coats? Why make such a big deal about perfume? They are an example of ordinary obedience. Ruth isn’t the only one who exercised ordinary obedience. Joseph did too.

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. (Genesis 41:14 ESV)

I find it surprising that the same Scripture that unfolds the glorious truths of the salvation of sinners also recounts Ruth bathing and Joseph shaving! Joseph had supernatural wisdom to interpret dreams–and he still shaved. Ruth exhibited unbelievable fidelity to Naomi–and she still bathed. Joseph and Ruth practiced ordinary obedience.

For the stay at home mom, changing another diaper seems trite. The school teacher grades yet another paper and wonders if they are really getting it. The manager walks out of his office after a day of paperwork and asks: did I do anything today that made a difference? How can you know?

Here’s the simple test:

…rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. (Ephesians 6:7-8 ESV)

Here Paul addressed bondservants and freedmen and he instructed both to do what they do “as to the Lord.”

Ordinary obedience with an “as to the Lord” attitude gets God’s attention.

Refuge

He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9 ESV)

Ruth’s request required one attitude: humility. Humility is the admission that you can’t make it alone, that you need someone else. Humility sees the storm on the horizon and calls out to God for help to weather the storm. Humility admits weakness and invites another’s strength. Ruth’s request to Boaz recognized her weakness and Boaz’s strength.

For some reading this, your beginning point isn’t your request to God…it is your attitude before God. Will you humble yourself before Him admitting your desperate need of Him? Ruth identified herself as a servant and asked for Boaz’s help.

David wrote this desperate plea to God when he was running for his life from Saul and hid in the cave. He was a hunted man desperate for God’s help:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Psalm 57:1-3 ESV)

David was the anointed King of Israel. Saul was the sitting King. David was the favored son of Israel, Saul was the feared leader of Israel. David found himself running from a paranoid, tyrannical leader. He was at a clear disadvantage. He pictured himself as a helpless bird needing the protection of its mother.

birds under wings

What do you need from God today? Cry out to Him.

The restless redeemer will not rest until he has given you refuge.

A Prayer for Mundane Devotion

O Lord,
Whose power is infinite and wisdom infallible,
Order things that they may neither hinder, nor discourage me,
nor prove obstacles to the progress of thy cause;
Stand between me and all strife, that no evil befall,
no sin corrupt my gifts, zeal, attainments.

May I follow duty and not any foolish device of my own;
Permit me not to labour at work which thou wilt not bless,
that I may serve thee without disgrace or debt;
Let me dwell in thy most secret place under thy shadow,
where is safe impenetrable protection from
the arrow that flieth by day,
the pestilence that walketh in darkness,
the strife of tongues,
the malice of ill-will,
the hurt of unkind talk,
the snares of company,
the perils of youth,
the temptations of middle life,
the mournings of old age,
the fear of death.

I am entirely depended upon thee for support, counsel, consolation.
Uphold me by thy free Spirit,
and may I not think it enough to be preserved from falling,
but may I always go forward, always abounding in the work which thou gives me to do.
Strengthen me by thy Spirit in my inner self
for every purpose of my Christian life.

All my jewels I give to the shadow of the safety that is in thee–
my name anew in Christ,
my body, soul, talents, character,
my success, wife, children friends, work,
my present, my future, my end.
Take them, they are thine, and I am thine, now and forever.

From The Valley of Vision (page 244)

Mundane Devotion

Mundane means common or ordinary. Devotion is defined as profound dedication. The high drama of Ruth’s story often causes us to lose sight of her mundane devotion. Listen to these summary words at the end of Chapter 2:

So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:23 ESV)

After Ruth’s first encounter with Boaz, she reaped throughout the barley and wheat harvests. Barley is ready first. The wheat is harvested about fifty days later. For at least (probably more) fifty days, Ruth got up early and got home late. She walked the distance from the town of Bethlehem to the fields of Boaz to harvest wheat. A foreigner in a strange land, she stood out among the other poor women of Bethlehem. She had become a scavenger for bread in the House of Bread.

Ruth practiced mundane devotion. It’s really an oxymoron. Mundane devotion. Ordinary but profound dedication. Ruth worked through long hot days in the field. She gleaned behind the other reapers. For almost two months Ruth lived off of Boaz’s leftovers. She was content with crumbs from the table. And she carried those crumbs to the woman who had nicknamed herself Bitter. Bitter had come home to Bethlehem and was resigned to a diet of bread crumbs–leftovers.

You must remember that we are privy to the rest of the story. Ruth had no idea how this would turn out. God did. Ruth had no idea that chapter 3 was following chapter 2 and that her story would unfold the way it did. She did not know her story would be written down and that millions would read about it!

She practiced mundane devotion.

Mundane devotion is the wife who cares for her suddenly ill husband.

Mundane devotion is the parent of a special needs child.

Mundane devotion is working in the shadows while someone else basks in the sunshine.

Mundane devotion is giving with no strings attached.

Mundane devotion is praying privately for God to work publicly.

Ruth practiced mundane devotion.

Do you?

Your Failure Is Not Your Identity

“Ruth the Moabite.” This is a common phrase in the book of Ruth. In chapter 2 alone she is referred to as ‘Ruth the Moabite’ three times.  Had she been known as  ‘Ruth the great’ or ‘Ruth the wonderful’ that would have been one thing, but Moabite? This was not only her ancestry, but also a stigma. The Moabite lineage stems all the way back to Lot, Abraham’s nephew.  Lot lived in the sinful city of Sodom with his daughters, and was taken out of there only because God had to send his angels to take them out before he destroyed the city! After Lot and his daughters left Sodom and were living in Zoar, there was absolutely no man to be found to give Lot’s daughters a son to carry on his line.  Lot’s daughters then decided to deceive their father by getting him drunk and sleeping with him, and the oldest daughter had a son and named him Moab…  WOW! (The full story is in Genesis 19)  What an unbelievably terrible story about your ancestors. This would be comparable to discovering your great grandfather was the absolute worst Nazi general, who was responsible for killing most of the Jews during the Holocaust; nobody wants that to be their identity, but this was Ruth’s. She was “the Moabite.”

Her failure had become her identity. The writer of Ruth intentionally and divinely placed her identity in the text, but according to our story it didn’t matter to Boaz that Ruth was a Moabite. Boaz was able to look beyond Ruth’s stigma to meet a need that only he could meet. This is such a beautiful picture of Christ!

How many of you reading this blog have allowed your failure in this life to become your identity? You have let your major failures define who you are! God is speaking through this passage to a generation of failures saying, I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t care what others say about you, it doesn’t matter how you feel about yesterday, you may not can forgive yourself but I will… I will accept you; I am willing to lower my status and risk losing everything for the sake of taking care of you & giving you the value you’ve been looking for your entire life.

Boaz gave Ruth value and did not discount her because of her failure. Praise The Lord Jesus that He’s done the same for us by way of the cross! As followers of Christ our past sin and failure has been nailed to the cross, therefore canceling our record of debt to God, which was our sin (Col. 2:14-15). Your new identity is therefore now a child of God, a son or daughter of the king, someone who’s gone from spiritual death to eternal and abundant life!

Paul said: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Embrace your new identity.

Who’s Your Boss?

And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” (Ruth 2:4-7 ESV)

We infer from the opening lines that the field was outside Bethlehem. Boaz, a wealthy landowner, came to check on his reapers. He happened to come the very day that Ruth arrived. Immediately we see Boaz’s character. His first words to the reapers have nothing to do with how much grain they have harvested. Rather He blesses them. The LORD be with you.

Second, his workers weren’t surprised by his greeting. They knew exactly how to answer him: The LORD bless you. Not often in Boaz’s day (nor today) do bosses interact with their employees like Boaz does with his field workers. The socioeconomic distance between Boaz and his field workers was normally insurmountable!

Then Boaz saw Ruth. He didn’t hire her so he naturally inquired about her. Whose young woman is this? Don’t miss how the servant described her: She is the young Moabite woman. Ruth must have been shaking in her sandals. She knew she would never rid herself of this title. Who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. Her plight isn’t getting any better. She’s a foreigner who came with the bitter woman back–to the bitter woman’s home turf.

How could this turn out for Ruth’s good? One way: end up in Boaz’s field. And work hard. She did both. So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest. Yesterday we defined faithfulness as doing what you know to do–and doing it now. Ruth did what she knew to do. She worked hard and when Boaz came to the field he recognized her diligence.

Long before Paul penned these words to the Colossians, Ruth practiced them:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV)

Who are you working for? Who’s your boss?