Women of the Bible – Sarah

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Sarah – her name means”Princess”

You can read about Sarai in Genesis 11, 12, 16, 17, and you can read about Sarah in: Genesis 18, 20, 21, 23, 24. 25 and 49:31; Isaiah 51:2, Romans 4:19, 9:9; Galatians 4:19-31; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:6

Beautiful, wealthy woman spoiled by her doting husband, manipulates him into getting what she’s been promised. After she achieves her goal, her way, she finds out she doesn’t really like the result – so she blames her husband, abuses a woman who just went along with the plan and causes a permanent rift in her family.

Today’s headline?  Nope.  The story comes from the 7th century BC.

Frankly, Sarah is not one of my favorite Bible characters. I find her scheming when she should be trusting, silent when she should speak up about her husband’s harebrained schemes, and pretty doggone mean to the help. Her name means Princess and I’m not in to the whole “princess” thing. You’re more likely to find me fishing on a river in cutoffs smeared with salmon eggs than dressing up in some frothy confection like a Grace Kelly – wannabe. (Although I did love Princess Di.)

And to stump me even more, in spite of the fact that Sarah does so many un-faith-full things, she is still listed in the Bible’s Hall of Faith. This means I have to set feelings aside and pay attention to her story. Hebrews 11 says Sarah “received power” and “considered God faithful.” These are two things I would like to have: power and faith. So, I gave myself the task of sifting through the considerable amount written about Sarah in order to share three things I learned/liked about her.

#1 – “Listen to your wife!”

Eve plunges the whole world into sin when her husband follows her lead. Sarah creates two nations that are at war to this very day when Abraham gives in to her suggestion. After reading about the first two women of the Bible, you might begin to think that women can’t make good decisions and men should never take their advice. Then I read this verse:

“But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed…whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you,
for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you.” Genesis 21:12

God tells Abraham to listen to his wife. I think I need to repeat that.  God tells Abraham to listen to his wife.

As you read their story, it is obvious that Abraham and Sarah loved each other. She leaves her home country and heads out on an adventure with him – not knowing where she is going.  She leaves a city to live in tents the rest of her life. Author Gien Karssen describes Sarah as not only beautiful but faithful; Abraham’s friend as well as his lover. Together they discuss matters of mutual, daily concern. Abraham listened to Sarah. Her words had influence on her husband.

Herbert Lockyer shared a portion of The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the Sarah section of his book “All The Women of the Bible.” I thought it perfectly described the relationship between Abraham and Sarah.

“As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman,
Though she bends him,
she obeys him,
Though she draws him,
yet she follows,
Useless each without the other!”

 

Hiawatha ends up marrying Laughing Water – which brings me to my next favorite thing about Sarah…

#2 – Sarah Laughs

I love to laugh. Growing up in the Lutheran church I remember looking at all those somber faces around me and resolving that when I got old my lips wouldn’t turn down into a frown but would go up into a smile. (I don’t think I quite grasped the concept of gravity at the time:) I wanted my joy at knowing Jesus to radiate out to those around me. Even at that young age I understood people wouldn’t be attracted to Jesus by an unhappy Christian.

Laughter is all throughout Sarah’s story. Abraham laughs when God tells him he and Sarah will have a child. When Sarah overhears some of Abraham’s guests reiterating that she will have a child “Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Will I have this joy after my husband and I have grown old?”” And finally when the child of promise is born Sarah says: “Laugh with me. God has made me laugh with joy.” She even names her son Isaac – which means “to laugh.”

Jesus said:
Your father Abraham was pleased to see that my day was coming. He saw it and was happy.
The Jews said to Jesus “You’re not even fifty years old. How could you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus told them, “I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am.”
John 8:56-58

#3 Sarah’s Encouragement

Sarah’s was a flawed, imperfect pursuit of God. This gives me a shot of hope. Ann Spangler says, “God accomplishes His purposes despite our frailties, our little faith, our entrenched self-reliance.” Isaiah 30:18 says: “Blessed are all who wait for Him.”

God’s promises are on His timetable. Scripture says Sarah had Isaac at the “appointed time.”  She had to wait 25 years after she got the promise. She had to wait until it was impossible for her to conceive. But faith and patience go together. In Genesis 18:14 God says about Sarah: “Is anything impossible for the Lord? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.” So, sister, do not fear!

“…like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters
if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:6 NIV

How does Sarah’s Story point to Jesus?

Matthew 1:1 starts with “The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Jesus is called the Son of Abraham. Eve was on the lookout for The Seed, the coming of a Savior. God had a plan. Sarah was part of His plan. He used Abraham’s family line to accomplish the plan of salvation.

Satan saw God’s plan and did everything he could to stop it.  Throughout the Old Testament we can see that wily devil trying to corrupt the line of Christ. He used the sinful actions of Abraham (letting Sarah be taken into foreign king’s harems – twice!) to try and accomplish his goal of preventing Christ’s birth but God intervened personally on both occasions to protect Sarah’s purity and the line of Christ.

I’m so grateful. That same power and protection is available to those who follow Christ.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Sarah had a name change at the age of 99. Do you know what your name means?  If you could change your name, what name would you choose?
  2. Sarah dealt very harshly with Hagar. But Isaac was the child of promise. Was Sarah justified in her behavior to protect her son?  Why or why not? What brings out your inner mama-bear?
  3. Is your child being called to step out in faith, leave home, go on a path that seems unsafe? Are you trusting that the Lord is in control of their lives or are you trying to manipulate the circumstances to keep them “safe”?

Prayer:

Let’s pray Ann Spangler prayer from the book “Women of the Bible:”

Father, thank you for loving me despite the fact that my soul still contains shadows that sometimes block the light of your Spirit. As I grow older, may I trust you more completely for the dreams you’ve implanted in my soul (and my children’s souls), the promises you’ve made to me (and to my children). Like Sarah, may I be surrounded by laughter at the wonderful way you accomplish your purpose (in Your time) despite my weakness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Sarah: My words have power. I need to use them wisely when speaking with my husband.

First published January 23, 2016.


Women of the Bible – Eve

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Eve Slide (2)

Eve – “Mother of All the Living”

Please Read: Genesis 2 and 3, 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:13

“Beloved, these dear women (of the Bible) are God’s gift to you and me. Whether or not you have a mother or a friend or a mentor who is available, you have the remarkable women of the Bible. And God has given us their lives in His Word so we can learn from their life-changing messages!”  Elizabeth George

Adam and Eve. The apple. Sin entering Paradise.  I was looking beyond the Sunday School version when I re-read Eve’s story during the first week of 2016. I tried to read it like I was reading it for the first time – searching for what I could apply to my life right here, right now.

There was a lot to consider. It was a good reminder to hear that my top priority in life is being a helper and complement to my husband. A husband will often follow his wife’s lead. Where am I leading my man? Good question.

“A woman has the power for bane or blessing over a man’s life. If she falls, man falls with her.” Herbert Lockyer

But the thing I found myself meditating on was…

Eve talks to the Serpent

Satan is called the Serpent in Genesis and Revelation. I always wondered why a talking snake didn’t clue Eve in to the fact that something was wrong with this scenario. But, who knows, maybe all the animals talked before the Fall? Scripture says the snake was more crafty than any other of the wild animals so they obviously had distinctions in personality.

I used to pray with women who would, right in the middle of our prayer to God, start addressing Satan – rebuking him and the like. It always made me extremely uncomfortable – this talking to the devil. Then the movie War Room came out. Zoom in on its climactic scene. The main character moves from praying scripture in her closet to standing on her front porch telling Satan he can’t have her family.  It makes for high drama but is it scriptural? I decided to do some homework.

Who else talks to Satan?

Here’s what I found in the Bible about conversations with the Serpent/Satan/Lucifer/the Devil:

  1. God talks to Satan in the book of Job. Result: God wins the cosmic bet He places with Satan.
  2. Jesus converses with the devil when He’s tempted in the wilderness. Result: He withstands the wiles of the devil by quoting the Word of God accurately. Eve misquotes God – adding and subtracting from what He originally said – emphasizing what she was forbidden to do instead of emphasizing her freedom to eat from all the other trees of the garden.
  3. The archangel Michael had a dispute with the devil (Jude 9) about the body of Moses – but he didn’t rely on himself instead saying “The Lord rebuke you.”  There was also an episode in Zechariah 3 – in a vision Zechariah sees Satan accusing the high priest, Joshua, and the LORD says, ” The LORD rebuke you, Satan!” Result: It appears from these verses that only the LORD is allowed to rebuke Satan.
  4. The only human being I could find in the Bible who actually talks with Satan himself (this is not including encounters with demons) is Eve. Result: Eve falls for a lie and passes on a death sentence to every person ever born after her. Gien Karssen says: “Each person born would sin not only by choice, but also because of an inner urging.  Everyone would face an unending battle between good and evil.”

As I read these encounters with Satan, I couldn’t find of a single place in the Bible that directed me to talk to him. Yes, I’m ordered to resist the devil and he will flee, but I’m never directed to engage in conversation with him, to hang out with evil and answer it back. I’m supposed to flee. I’m supposed to pray. If I’m talking to God without ceasing, I’ll have no spare time to talk with the Serpent.

Disobedience began with Eve being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why was she even near this tempting tree? She came. She saw. She conversed. She desired. She ate. Eve listened as the devil twisted God’s Word – tempting her towards independence. Her talk with the devil caused her to question God and to doubt His love.

Satan’s Lie:  

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:5 (NIV)

I always thought Eve had nothing to gain but evil. Why eat the fruit? Ann Spangler suggests a reason why Eve may have taken that bite: “To know what is good in every situation, to see the end from the beginning and everything in between. To be able to achieve a goal with flawless precision and absolute certainty…” Ah, this I understand. This IS a temptation. To make no mistakes. To be like God.

How does Eve’s Story point us to Jesus?

When Eve sins, God doles out both punishment and a promise. The punishment for the woman is pain in childbirth but the promise is The Seed. One day a woman would give birth to a Savior who would crush the Serpent’s head. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He provides the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the lies of Satan that still live on today. We may never have a face to face conversation with the devil like Eve did, but we’re all still in a daily battle with our own set of temptations. We can have victory the same way Jesus did; by knowing, living out and trusting the Word of God.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Did I miss a story from the Old Testament or New Testament where someone else talks face to face with the devil himself?
  • If you come from a religious tradition where you rebuke the devil out loud, can you show me in the Bible where we are directed to speak to the devil?
  • Eve had a choice to sin or not to sin. So do you.  Eve’s sin brought death for every future person who would ever live.  Who does your sin effect?

Prayer:

Lord, I confess my own tendency to make You in my own image by preferring my will over Yours. I confess that sometimes I don’t believe you have my best interest in mind, so I doubt you and take matters into my own hands. Lord, help me not to listen to Satan’s lies but saturate myself in the truth of your Word so I know a lie when I hear one.  Help me to be obedient even when it doesn’t seem “logical.”  Thanks for seeking me out as you sought out Adam and Eve in the garden. Thank you for asking me the same question you asked them, “Where are you?” I pray that I would always be found in You. Amen.

The Bottom Line:

Things I learned from Eve: to be my husband’s helper and to talk to God, not to the devil.

First published January 14, 2016


Women of the Bible – Hannah

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Hannah – her name means “gracious or favor”

Her story is found in 1 Samuel 1 & 2

Ideal Motherhood

Talk about irony. The Old Testament woman who most personifies ideal motherhood – Hannah – almost didn’t become a mother at all. Infertility tested her to the very core of her being. But when she was pressed to the breaking point, she got down on her knees and prayed. Nothing evil came out of her mouth. No complaints. No whining. No entitlement. Instead, we see a grateful worshipper of God who changes her own life (and her nation) with one heartfelt prayer.

Motherhood. A pretty thankless job. No little girl grows up thinking I can’t wait to change diapers, wipe snotty noses, constantly correct and teach and referee disagreements. But mothers are makers of men. – architects of the next generation. Hannah only had Samuel for three years but those three years set him on God’s path. Research says it is in the first three years that 90% of the the personality is formed – so mothers matter. Really.

A mother’s character (or lack thereof) shows up in the man she raises. It’s interesting to note that in the Old Testament many of those evil kings mentioned had ungodly, unbelieving moms; some of them even mentioned by name. But Hannah, a woman of prayer, raised a man of prayer who later said to his people,

“As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.
I will teach you the good and right way”.

Barren Women

“The Lord had closed her womb.” Hard words to read. Why would God deny a woman her heartfelt desire for children? Hannah was only one of several women in the Old Testament narrative who had to wait on God’s perfect timing to conceive. Her womb was empty at a time when her country was empty – gone was faithfulness, holiness had departed and godliness was a rare find. Even in the priesthood. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phineas, were evil men who stole God’s offerings and slept with women who came to worship.

Hannah was LIKE some of these barren women of the Bible who came before her and yet she was also distinctly UNLIKE those other women who also bore famous sons. Let’s look at the differences.

Hannah v. Sarah

1 Samuel doesn’t say. We don’t know if Hannah encouraged Elkanah to take a second wife because of her own barrenness (like Sarah did) or if that was Elkanah’s idea? Either way, it doesn’t matter. Hannah handled the whole second wife problem way better than Sarah. She patiently endured her rival’s constant harping; demonstrating great self control. Sarah beat her rival and set her packing.

Interestingly, both second wives handled things about the same way. Penninah, like Hagar was not the beloved wife even though she was the one bearing children. Both Penninah and Hagar flaunted their children before the barren first wife instead of treating her with kindness. Both were haughty and proud instead of grateful for the gift of their children. Instead of seeking to become a godly woman – like Hannah – Penninah seemed to enjoy using her “gift of sarcasm” taunting her rival with unkind words meant to wound.

Hannah v. Rebekah

Like Rebekah, prayer was involved in Hannah’s conception. Scripture says that Isaac prayed for Rebekah’s barrenness to be removed. Unlike Rebekah, scripture records that Hannah went directly to the Lord and prayed for herself pouring out her heart to God. All her anguish. All her fear. All her pain. She openly and transparently talked to the One who truly understood her.

We learn some things about prayer from Hannah.  First, she went to the temple to kneel in prayer. She wanted to be close to God and in her day, that’s where He was said to reside. Second, she shows us that silent prayer (not the norm in her day) is just as effective as prayer spoken out loud. Even though Eli criticized her because her mouth was moving but no words were coming out, he ended up blessing her in the end.

Third, Hannah prays a radical prayer. She understands the sovereignty of God. She doesn’t insult Him by asking for a small favor. Her God is a rewarder of those who believe! He owns it all and she is asking for a real miracle. She doesn’t pray vaguely. She prays for a very specific request and her prayer ends up being a turning point in history. Samuel, born in answer to prayer, was destined to replace the corrupt leadership of his day.

What moved her to such a prayer? Suffering. Hannah’s wretchedness from Penninah’s goading was the catalyst for desperate, faith-filled prayer. After Eli’s benediction Hannah’s countenance changed. She was at peace. She believed even though she didn’t have what she desired yet. She had placed it all in God’s hands.

Hannah v Rachel

Hannah and Rachel were both loved by their husbands. Penninah and Leah, not so much. Of both Hannah and Rachel scripture says that God “remembered” them. God isn’t some old, doddering man in heaven who forgets He has children. When scripture says He remembered Hannah and Rachel it means that their problem of barrenness moved to the top of his To Do list, to the forefront of His mind. It was time for Him to act.

Unlike Rachel who railed at Jacob, “Give me children, or I die!” Hannah leaned against her husband’s chest and accepted his comfort as she wept. I always thought that his words “Why are you so sad? After all, you’ve got me.” were a tad insensitive, the words of a macho man. But maybe his words gently prodded Hannah’s spirit, turning her obsessive focus off what she didn’t have back to what she did have. Maybe her husband’s loving words were the wakeup call that sent her to the temple to pray.

Unlike Rachel, who demanded a child, Hannah was much more humble. She considered her child on loan from the Lord; a gift from God. She asked for a child selflessly – not to win a competition as Rachel did. Hannah determined to give this child back to the Lord. In the book of Numbers we learn that women could only make vows if their husbands approved of the vow. Elkanah obviously approved of Hannah’s vow since he allowed her to keep it. What a loving relationship they had – making life and family decisions together.

Hannah raised Samuel to let him go.  Technically, all moms have to do that.  She just had to do it earlier than most women. She gets what she asks for – a son – but is not afraid to keep her promise and surrender him. Like Jochebed placing her baby in the basket in a river full of crocodiles, Hannah releases her three year old to passive Eli and his evil sons. But God rewards such faith.  It is only after she gives up Samuel that she is able to conceive more children.

God is waiting for someone to truly believe Him. To take Him at His Word. Hannah did. Her faith freed God to abundantly bless her more than she could ever ask or think. From the verse where it says she made Samuel a little coat every year, most commentaries assume Hannah just got to see her son once a year. But Elkanah was a devout man. The devout had to report three times a year to the temple (plus his annual levitical service time) and they only lived some 15-20 miles away. It is quite probable that she got to see her son more than once a year. But more importantly, from the text we see that Samuel returns home when he is grown. His government seat is in Ramah. Hannah’s hometown. What she gave up willingly, returned to her.

How is Jesus Involved in the Story of Hannah?

Unlike most of the Bible Women who came before her, Hannah’s boy is not in the line of Christ. Yet Hannah’s life foreshadows the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Hannah gives birth to the last judge: a deliverer, a kingmaker. Mary gives birth to The Deliverer, The King, The Judge.

Scripture says very similar things about both Jesus and Samuel like: they both “grew up before the Lord.”Both women had to give up their sons. Both were women of prayer who knew God intimately. Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 and Mary’s magnificat are very similar.  John MacArthur calls Hannah’s prayer “a masterpiece of theological understanding.” not mere academic knowledge but intimate knowledge of God a combination of love and wonder.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Where are you barren or experiencing barrenness in your life?
  2. Do you have someone who constantly taunts you as Penninah did Hannah? How do you react?
  3. Would you be willing to give up your three year old as Hannah did? If not, what is holding you back from total surrender to God?

Prayer:

There is no rock like our God! Lord of Hosts, help us to be like Hannah and turn to you first in prayer, not as a last resort. Thank you that you hear us and we can tell you everything that is in our hearts. You have made us strong. We rejoice because you delight to rescue us. No one is holy like you, O Lord. You will protect your faithful ones. Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Hannah: Graciousness in suffering.


Women of the Bible – Ruth

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Ruth – her name means “beautiful friend”

Her story is found in the Book of Ruth in the Bible

Ruth is standing at a crossroads. Literally. Will she turn back, play it safe and stay in her homeland? Or will she risk all, step out in faith, and travel with Naomi to Bethlehem? The logical decision is to head back home to Moab – back to her family, friends and all that is familiar. There’s not much chance of remarrying and having children in a country where she will be a poor widow, despised and rejected because of her race. Her sister-in-law, Orpah, gives in to Naomi’s persuasive arguments and turns back to her people and to her god. But Ruth takes the risk. She clings to empty, bitter Naomi and says:

Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.
May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me.

I love that Ruth’s famous words – oft quoted at wedding ceremonies everywhere – were actually spoken by a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law; one of the most maligned and trickiest relationships to negotiate ever. In our culture mother-in-laws are the punchline for a joke.

“Two men were in a pub. One says to his friend, “My mother-in-law is an angel.” His friend replies, “You’re lucky. Mine is still alive.”  OR  God said, “I can’t be everywhere so I created Mother.”  The devil said, “I can’t be everywhere, so I created Mother-in-Law.”

On Moabites and Mother-in-laws…

I’m married but I’ve never had a mother-in-law (MIL). Not really. My husband was 10 when his mom died. His dad didn’t remarry until my man was heading out to college, so his step-mom never got chance to “mother” him. When we got married, she was pregnant with my hubbie’s youngest sister and I had our first child a year later. (Aunt Sarah was only 1 year older than her niece, Naomi. Yes, I confess, I named my daughter Naomi Ruth. I’m a bit fond of this whole story).

Instead of enemies, my MIL and I became friends, raising daughters together. She never got into that whole “you’re not good enough for my son” thing. She was loving and supportive; an incredible role model. She loved and trusted God and encouraged that belief in her children and grandkids. She was a one of a kind of woman whose sudden death grieved me deeply. She inspired the same kind of love the biblical Ruth had for Naomi. I think if she and I had been standing at those crossroads I could’ve said Ruth’s words…

Wherever…

“Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live I will live.” Ruth’s wherever was Bethlehem. A place where she would always be known as “Ruth the Moabitess.”

What does it mean to be a Moabitess? (If you’re interested, check out this artifact that confirms the biblical text regarding the Moabites – The Moabite Stone)

  • Your People/My People – Remember Lot’s Wife?  Her daughters were just as unbelieving as their mom. Fearing they’d never have children, they got their dad drunk and slept with him. Moab was the son of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his eldest daughter. (Genesis 19) Not a great beginning for Ruth’s people.
  • Your God/My God – Moabites were called “the people of Chemosh” – their angry, bloody god who demanded human sacrifice to gain his favor. God called Chemosh the abomination of Moab. It’s easy to understand why Ruth may have been interested in the God of Naomi who is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy.
  • Enemies – When the Israelites were in their midst of their wilderness wanderings, Moab would not let them pass through their country. God had said to the Israelites: “Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.” But Moab and Midian, both relatives of Israel, had no such injunction against attacking Israel. They joined forces to try and harm Israel by hiring Balaam to curse them. But God would not allow Balaam to curse. Balaam helped anyway by encouraging the Moabites to send treacherous women into the Israelite’s camp to seduce the men away from God.
  • Unwelcome – Moabites were not welcome “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever.”

Ruth the Risk-taker

They say with great risk comes great reward. Ruth is proof.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6

Your God will be My God – Ruth made a statement of faith. She believed in Naomi’s God. Actually she showed more faith that Naomi and her husband had. Instead of running away when things got tough, she risked taking the long and perilous journey with Naomi.  Then she risked going to glean in the fields in order to provide for her mother-in-law. It was dangerous to be around the men gathering the grain but God sent her to the right field and to the right man, Boaz. She risked following Naomi’s crazy advice. It was pretty “bold and unconventional” going to the threshing floor and laying at the feet of Boaz – essentially proposing to him. She risked marrying an older man.

What did Ruth get for all this risk?  Great reward. A husband. A future. A baby. A blessing for Naomi. And she ends up in the line of Christ.

How is Jesus Involved in the Story of Ruth?

Ruth is one of several Gentile women in the line of Christ. In her story we get an Old Testament glimpse of what Jesus would accomplish in the New Testament: salvation for all who would believe on His name, whether Jew or Gentile. Ruth is a preview of Ephesians 3:6 which says: ” …the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

The book of Ruth is read aloud at the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Pentecost or Shavuot (aka the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest, and the Latter Firstfruits) is celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover. Shavuot is traditionally a joyous time of giving thanks and presenting offerings for the new grain of the summer wheat harvest in Israel. To Christians it is the festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held on the seventh Sunday after Easter.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Ruth left all that was familiar to follow God. What risks have you taken for Him?
  2. Have you ever continued to gently love a friend who was as cranky and bitter as Naomi was or did you just stay away from her?
  3. Scripture says Ruth happened to go to the right field at just the right time. Have you seen God’s hand working in your life in similar ways?

Prayer:

Let’s pray Ann Spangler’s prayer: Lord, thank you for the blessing of friends who, by sharing their lives with us, double our joy and halve our sorrows. Help me to cherish the friends you’ve given me and to become the kind of friend others will cherish; a woman who listens, encourages, and keeps confidences; a woman who knows how to laugh and how to cry who is loyal, forgiving, and loving. Amen.

The Bottom Line

Things I learned from Ruth: God rewards those who believe.