Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shophet, Melek and Ish – Not Just Any Old Names


I just finished my previous blog and confessing the sin of which the Holy Spirit was convicting me and disciplining me when I turned my attentions to study for Sunday's lesson. Apparently, I'm spiritually challenged because there He was again confronting me – Don't you just love it when He does that?!
We are studying the different names of God. (After this week, we'll be taking a short hiatus because the pastor has asked that we study an awesome book that the women's ministry team reviewed a few months ago. It is going to be phenomenal and challenging. I can't wait!)
 There was a name that drew my attention Shophet – Judge. Ann Spangler said when we pray to Shophet, we acknowledge "he is the only one competent to measure the motivations of our heart." "When we pray to God our Shophet (sho-PHAIT), we are praying to the one whose righteousness demands perfect justice but who has also provided a way for us to be acquitted of our guilt" (101).

"As all knowledge is from God, no doubt he knows all the thoughts of the children of men, and knows that the imaginations of the thoughts of men's hearts are only evil, and that continually. Even in good thoughts there is a want of being fixed, which may be called vanity. It concerns us to keep a strict watch over our thoughts, because God takes particular notice of them. Thoughts are words to God." Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on www.mystudybible.com
Yes, that walked all over my toes and then kicked me in the shin! My mind is a battlefield.

If you think you don't have an issue with vanity, just ask God, if you dare.
Psalm 94…"The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile." Our thoughts of self-importance, our thought-life in general are futile. Why? Because He is God, and he is in control. "Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked." It may not feel like a blessing when He disciplines you, but it's better than Him allowing us to go astray and fall into the pit dug for the wicket. Wouldn't you agree?
Then I went to the name Melek – King. We are promised that one day He will come again in all His majesty and glory, and He will rule. As a daughter of the King of Kings, even though I am flawed, I can boldly go before my Father's throne (Hebrews :16) knowing my sin, my past is covered by a trail of blood. I can stand forgiven.
 To stand in front of God as being forgiven is HUGE! Another name for God is Ish – husband. Ann Spangler said when we pray calling on the name of Ish, we are praying to "the one who provides and protects his people and who refuses to divorce us no matter how unfaithful we may be"(87). I don't know of any Christian who hasn't been unfaithful to God at some point in time in their lives. God saw the children of Israel in Hosea as being adulterous. I have been adulterous to God in my faith. We, as the church, are His bride, and ladies, we have soiled our wedding dress.

We should be ashamed at the condition the body of Christ is in. We should be embarrassed by the behavior of God's bride. Whether it is our thoughts, our words or our actions that take us away from God, it is still separation. It is time that the body of Christ acts like Christ, get off of our behinds, and be the hands and feet He designed us to be serving Him, serving others.
I encourage you to repent. There's another Great Awakening coming to the body of Christ. It's coming. The bride is going to get ready to meet her groom. The body of Christ is going to behave and do the things we should – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, serving the homeless. Don't miss it because it's going to be quite a ride.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Living Life in Limbo – Transitional Thursdays

Okay, so we know that life is always changing, but isn't it nice to have some things that are consistently reliable like cell service, internet connection…you know, just the mundane things in life. I have to confess I've been in a gripey kind of mood lately. I haven't wanted to read my books for seminary for which there are five – thank you very much. I haven't wanted to be at work – almost like, what's the point? I didn't even want to go to church last night – so not like me. Do you ever get that way where griping flows out of your mouth like a fountain instead of words of life? That's where I've been.

I didn't want to go to church last night, but I did, and it was wonderful. God is bringing a movement to the leadership in my church that has been on my heart for a good year and a half. It is so exciting to see it coming to fruition. During the time set aside for praying for these new ministering-outside-the-wall experiences, the Holy Spirit began convicting me. I was expecting to be encouraged, but NO! He was convicting me of my pride, my vanity, my self-centeredness. How can someone like me ever possible do ministry full time? I'm a mess! I confessed my sin and apologized for making things about myself instead of making it about God and His will and His timing. I apologized for my hurt feelings because hurt feelings in this instance meant that I had tried to put myself somewhere where I obviously didn't belong. Then I began praying for the ministry opportunities.

God's ways are higher than our ways. When I was expecting encouragement, He gave me discipline. God's thoughts and plans are much better than my own. While He has called me to ministry and to seminary, He has yet to show me where and when He's going to open that position up for me…Do you hear my foot tapping? Yeah, like that impresses God or gets Him to move more quickly – NOT! The bottom line is that I have to trust that He will open the doors to where He wants me to serve when He's good and ready. I have to continue on even when I don't feel like it. I have to commit to the course set before me and do all as unto the Lord – I have to admit, I haven't been doing that lately either using plenty of excuses to try to cover my deficiencies. And here's another thing, while it may feel like my life is in limbo – career being moved to another location, husband working out of town for an extended period of time, unsure of where God is going to put me to serve, etc., etc – my life is not and has never been in limbo. He holds my future in His hands. He ordains my footsteps. He has already made a way, and I just have to obey and wait (gross).

Fortunately, He knows me well enough to know that I will fail, that I will need discipline and direction. He knows I will require redemption and forgiveness on more than one occasion. But thankfully, when He sees me, He sees His precious daughter. And when He looks at my imperfection, He only sees a trail of blood, Christ's blood, covering all my iniquities and short comings and bad attitudes.

I love the words to a song, "My chains are gone. I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood, His mercy rains. Unending love. Amazing Grace." So, I will continue to shirk off this funk, these feelings and negativity until I have realized the freedom there is in waiting on Him, and I will continue to put one foot in front of the other towards the goal He has set before me. AND, I will trust Him because I know above all else that my life is in His hands.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

TRANSITIONAL THURSDAY – They Took Our Sign!

For the past few months I've been blogging off and on about how you know your office is closing – here's your sign. Well, today, they took the company name off of our building, AND they fixed the disposal that's been broken for a year. Some said it was writing on the wall, but maybe we should the writing ISN'T on the wall. The maintenance guy said this was all regular maintenance that should have been taken care of a long time ago and not related to the facility review. I don't think he really understood to whom he was speaking. He was trying to convince a group of Special Investigative claim reps – meaning, the most skeptical employees who question everything unless there are two independent sources to verify. Timing is everything.

Being the warped group that we are, we thought it was funny. We sent e-mails to our different bosses to let them know that we were confident that our office was closing because of what was going on. It spread like wildfire! We got calls from people from Arkansas, New Orleans, Oklahoma and Missouri within an hour wanting to know what was going on and what we had heard. Of course, we hadn't, but it's never far from our minds. I think most of us have gotten to the point that we are tired of being put off. At first it was the end of the first quarter, then the end of April, then the end of May, and they still don't have it together. It can be nerve-wracking. We all just want to know, so we can know how to plan for our future. I already know that I'll be looking for a job because even if I were to survive this round, I know we wouldn't survive the next round of cuts.

Not every transition is fraught with tension and stress though. My kids are transitioning into summer. They are looking forward to sleeping in, going to camp, spending time with their baby sitter, and going on trips, but most of all, they are thankful there is no homework during the summer. I too am grateful.

Life is about change. Some we anticipate with excitement, but some may cause anxiety. Either way, it's all in how you choose to look at it – can you find humor or are you going to focus on the sour? This is something in which you do have control.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can Act Like a Two Year Old Throwing a Tempertantrum…Unfortunately

I believe in being authentic. I want to be authentic, and for me being authentic means being transparent. How effective of a teacher of the Word of God can I be, if I'm not willing to show how God uses His grace and His mercy in my weaknesses. This means I have to be willing to expose my weaknesses and become vulnerable. It is not for my glory, but His that I lay before you my confession of a meltdown.

It's been at least three weeks since Patrick left, and this past weekend, the kids and I went to see him in W Memphis, Arkansas. We had a great trip up there. Erin had us rolling and had the truck drivers honking. Pearce counted eight in all, and his memory can be relied upon more than my own. I use him frequently to find my keys. He remembers EVERYTHING – that's the GOOD and the BAD. We had a great visit with Patrick and enjoyed some great family time. We drove the 5 ½ hours home without complaint.

My meltdown didn't happen until Monday morning. Looking at the dirty house that I didn't get to clean during the weekend, all the laundry left undone, and nothing laid out or prepared for the week – it just overwhelmed me. The kids couldn't find some of their things for school, and I just lost my ever-lovin' mind.

On the way to school in the mornings, we each take time to pray, and I begin. Well, this morning, God and my children got an earful. God, I am so tired. My house is dirty. I need to take the garbage to the dump. There are field trips and programs and graduation this week, and I am so exhausted. I can't do this anymore. I need help, and a little less attitude from my kids and obedience and respect. Blah, blah, blah, blah. I was a blithering mess. Then it was the kids turn to pray – How do you top that?

Even in my temper tantrum, God was listening. When I was whining and griping about conditions that are temporal, He heard me. He cared. I don't know when it happened, but I know who made it happen, but by the time we got home Monday afternoon, I had energy. We conquered some areas of the house and laundry. Is it completely clean? NO. The point is even when I'm acting like a worn-out, spoiled daughter of the King who is focusing solely on her own feelings and emotions that my Heavenly Father is working it out. He's providing generously. And after I apologized to my kids for my meltdown, I realized one good thing that did come of it is they got to hear their momma praying to her Father about the big things in life and the small things in life, and they were able to see the energy He provided. They know they can take anything to our Creator, the Lover of our Souls.

So, there it is. Meltdown recorded. God's grace once again to cover my sins, and His mercy is abundant to show me how He can provide and work it all out.

School is coming to an end, and there will be less stress in my household. Rest is surely on the horizon.


 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Calgon and the Good Shepherd

"Parenting isn't for sissies," Dr. Dobson has said, and if you've ever had to single-parent for any amount of time, you'd also add that it's not for the "low in energy." This is the second time since becoming a parent of two children that I have had to single-parent. Patrick left in September of 2005 after Katrina and worked storm for about six month. We got to see him off and on throughout that time period. This time he is much closer, and the kids are older and into more things. The end of school year can be a brutal time being pulled to recitals, concerts, end of school year parties, field days, and field trips. Plus, we still have homework to contend with along with baseball and other duties. It is so easy to get overwhelmed. Shoot! It's easy to get overwhelmed when Patrick is home to share the load! I can't imagine being outnumbered (more kids than parents).

Isaiah 43:2, "I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you." I have a fear of drowning, and when I feel overwhelmed, it can be so suffocating. But we have a promise here that He does not leave us, and life will not overcome us. Do you know why? Because we are PRECIOUS! I tell my husband all the time that I'm too precious to sweat, and now I have biblical basis for my preciousness – check out Isaiah 43:4!

I don't know about you, but there are just times when I don't feel like I can handle one more thing. You know the saying, "The straw that broke the camel's back." I seek God for wisdom and guidance to know what to say "no" to and what to accept, and because He is my Shepherd, Yahweh Roi, He leads me. He is also the Good Shepherd, Poimen Kalos. Ann Spangler writes when you are praying to Yahweh Roi, "You are praying to the One who watches over you day and night, feeding you and leading you safely on the path of righteousness" (73). "When you pray to the Good Shepherd, you are admitting your need for his care and your confidence in his ability to watch over you and protect you" (235).

Have you ever just wanted a quiet, padded cell somewhere? Psalms 23, the Shepherd leads his sheep beside the still waters and makes them to lie down in green pastures. Sounds peaceful, doesn't? He gives us respite when we need it if we will accept it.

If you are feeling the pressures that come at the end of the school year, I encourage you to read and meditate on Psalm 23.

I apologize if this entry is a little disjointed, but it's hard to meditate in a travel trailer with two kids who would much rather be outside, but it's too cold. I'm looking for the green pastures! Calgon take me away!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

He Knows Your Need -- Do you know His name?

After going through three years of infertility, a failed adoption, and months of heart ache, we were blessed with a baby girl. Her birth was a miracle, and her story is for her to tell, but we know without a shadow of a doubt that God had a plan for her life starting the week she was conceived. The week after we brought her home from the hospital my mom would do the night feedings, so I could sleep. After she left, I hardly slept at all. My greatest fear was that God was going to take Erin from me, so every time she turned in her bassinette, every time she sniffed in the night, and any time she stretched, my eyes would pop wide open. When Erin started sleeping six hours right off the bat, I was awake watching her breathe, listening for her to stir. When you have waited so long for something, for someone so precious, you hold onto it with all your might, but there was no amount of my strength that could keep my daughter here if God chose to take her home. My heart was full of anxiety until I confessed my fear and my sin to my mom. I brought it out into the light, and I had to give my daughter to God and trust He knew what was best.


Abraham knew EXACTLY what I was feeling, and he prayed to Yahweh Yireh. In Genesis 22 God told Abraham he had to sacrifice Isaac, the son God had promised Abraham from whom his descendants would be too numerous to count. After receiving this word from God, Abraham had to travel THREE days with this knowledge. If you knew your child had three days to live, how would you carry that around? If you have ever had a child in the hospital, if you have ever feared for the life of your child – how does it feel to fear the death of your child? I’ll tell you I was anxious-ridden, stressed, tearful, and heavy-hearted. Then Isaac asks his father where the sacrifice was…God will provide, he says. God will provide – Yahweh Yireh. If a loved-one has been delivered from certain death, if God has spared the life of someone you hold dear, you know the elation Abraham must have felt when God provided the ram in the thicket and told Abraham to use it.

God tested Abraham. God does not tempt because tempting means He’s using evil means to lure you to Satan and that isn’t God. God tests His children to see where their loyalties lie, to see how deep their faith and trust are in Him, to see if you believe He is God and bigger than any problem you might have. When God asked you to make a sacrifice, how did you respond? He doesn’t ask you to do any more than He has done for you.

When God tested you and your faith? How did you do?

Ann Spangler writes, “When you pray to Yahweh Yireh, you are praying to the God who sees the situation beforehand and is able to provide for your needs” (28). Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says, “Faith had taught him not to argue, but to obey. He is sure that what God commands is good; that what he promises cannot be broken.” What has your faith taught you? Where do you stand in your faith? Are you arguing with God when He tells you to make the sacrifice? OR do you trust Him with it all? Some people see putting their all in the hands of one person as a gamble, but when you put them in the hands of Yahweh Yireh, it is a guarantee that He can and will handle it all without dropping one thing.

We can have confidence that whatever trial we are going through, whatever difficulty is in our way that Yahweh Yireh already knows what we are going to need before we need it, and He is ready to supply our needs. What do you need Yahweh Yireh for today? What are you relying on Him to provide that only He can provide?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Somebody Is Watching

She was running. What was she running from? What was she running to?


I don’t know about you, but in the month of May I feel like a chicken running around with my head cut off especially since I’m single parenting. Field trips, musicals, ball games, and end of the year parties fill my calendar. Graduations, summer planning, and visits to see daddy are being put on the calendar as well. Do you ever feel like you are living out of your car and that your children feel like fast food is a staple instead of an exception?

Some people are choosing to run from their past – past relationships, past mistakes, past choices…just the past in general. Some people are running to something they think is better or someone who is going to be more wonderful than who they have now. Some people are running and don’t have a clue where they are going.

The first name of God I want to study is a name given to Him by a woman on the run. She was running from a past she hadn’t chosen, but rather it had been inflicted upon her. She was running from her past mistake and choices of behavior – her sin. We aren’t sure exactly where she was running because she never gets there, but many assume she was running to a life of sin. She was also an expectant mom under stress. Her name – Hagar.

Just a little background on Hagar. In Genesis 15 God promised Abram he would be the father of a great nation, and with Abram and Sarai (his only wife) being quite old and getting older by the minute, Sarai took matters into her own hands. As if God didn’t have it under control! (And who hasn’t done that before?) Sarai told Abram to take her slave Hagar and have children. In that time, Sarai could have assumed the role of mother, but as we see instead of Hagar staying a slave, she was made his wife. When Hagar who through no choice of her own became pregnant with Abram’s son, she began to despise Sarai. What was Hagar’s choice was her behavior. She made Sarai’s life miserable rubbing the pregnancy in her face. Sarai ran to Abram and told him it was all his fault. Ain’t that just like us – poor Abram couldn’t win for losing! Abram returned Hagar to her servant status, and Sarai began to abuse her. This is the point in which Hagar ran.

For a moment put yourself in Hagar’s shoes. Humbly serving her mistress only to be taken by her husband and made a wife. Most likely Hagar would be considerably younger than Sarai…maybe even young enough to be her granddaughter. From servant to a place in her owner’s house – like an unexpected promotion with benefits. Once in her new position, she became proud and rubbed it in the face of the one who promoted her – not wise in any circumstance. Then Hagar was demoted to servant again where she was abused. Possibly in fear, resentment, or anger, she ran, and an angel found her near a pool in the dessert. In the middle of her stress, of her emotional roller coaster, of her storm-tossed life, God sends an angel. If God sent an angel to you right now in your life, what in the world would you be thinking and feeling!? Me? I’d probably be thinking, “I don’t have time for this,” or “I didn’t realize I was this close to a nervous breakdown.” When I get so busy running it’s easy for me to overlook things like my time with God. Sometimes He has to make His presence known in such a real way that we are set back on our haunches.

The angel says, “Hagar.” (He KNOWS her name like He KNOWS your name.) He says, “Hagar, slave of Sarai.” (He’s reminding her of her place in this life – OUCH!) “Where have you come from and where are you going?” Genesis 16:8 HCSB. He knows full good and well where she’s been and where she’s going, so why ask?

When we are running around willy-nilly, we lose sight of where we’ve been and where we’re going. The angel of the Lord sends Hagar back to Abram and Sarai with a blessing. Her son will be Ishamael (the founder of the Islamic faith), and her descendents will be too many to count. Sound like the promise God made to Abram, doesn’t it? But it’s not the same.

After receiving a blessing and having a conversation with the angel of the Lord, Hagar agrees to return, but before she does, she called God the name El Roi – the God Who Sees Me.

In all of your running last week and the weeks to come, in all the stressors of your life whether it is from decisions you’ve made or not, GOD SEES YOU. Ann Spangler writes, “When you pray to El Roi, you are praying to the one who knows EVERYTHING about you” (16). She found grace and mercy in the presence of the Lord. Some other verses you may want to look up and meditate on are Psalms 33:13-22, Psalms 121:3, 5-8, and Proverbs 15:3.

I hope you find comfort like I do in the fact that no matter how crazy and chaotic, stressful and nerve-wracking my life may become my God sees me for who I am, where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going. AND He meets me where I am looking past my defenses and barriers. PLUS He loves me enough to return me back to the path to which He has called me.

Can you imagine the joy Hagar felt knowing that El Roi saw her for who she was, where she was and how she was? Maybe even relief.

When you pray to El Roi, thank Him for seeing you because in seeing you, you realize you are important to Him.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Does Your Name Mean

Mackenzie. Hailey. Madeleine. Baby names. It is a daunting task to name a baby, but my girlfriends would find out the gender of their babies and have them named in no time flat. As soon as a name was determined, my girlfriend would start calling the baby by his or her name, so when the baby arrived, the baby was that name. There was no doubt in the identity of that baby coming out of the shoot because he or she had been called that name for about four months. This is not true about people who adopt. My husband and I had boys names picked out for years because we were restricted to using the initials “W.P.M.” However, when we found out our first baby was going to be a girl, we had just a matter of a few weeks to negotiate. I had never known an “Erin” before, but I liked the name because it was common but not used. When I was in the fifth or sixth grade I had at least five Christy/Kristy/Christies in my class. Within the first year of her life, I told my mom I didn’t think I had named her the right name because it didn’t seem to stick…at all. I cried. But at 18 months, she started speaking in full sentences and hasn’t stopped. About that same time Pastor Rick was preaching on Moses and how Aaron was his mouth piece, and I thought, “Thank you, GOD! I did name her the right thing.” I tell her that her name means “gift of gab.” In all truth it’s an Irish name meaning “island” or “peace.” The male biblical name “Aaron” means teacher; mountain of strength according to http://christianity.about.com/od/christainbabyboynames/a/boynamesab.htm.


Names matter to a person. It distinguishes who they are in your life – “Momma, Daddy, Honey, Poppar, Sweet Pea, Boo.” Did you know that God has different names? He has titles. He has descriptions as to what He does. His names are important, and He wants you to know them. He wants you to know Him in that intimate, personal way in which you call on Him by His name. After all do you walk up to President Barak Obama and say, “Hey, Barak! What’s going on?” Trust me, if you got that close you’re about to be pounced on by the Secret Service, and they don’t play. But the point is you don’t know President Obama on such an intimate level that you would call him by his first name. But God, the Creator of the Universe, wants you to have the option of calling Him one of those sweet names.

I’m going through the book by Ann Spangler called The Names of God, and I’ll be pulling out several names over the next several weeks to teach to my small group. That means, this is what I’ll be posting on Sundays…after Sunday school, Deanna. (She likes to read it on the way to church, so when I would open up the discussion she was prepared to give my answers instead of what God was putting on her heart. Hahaha!)

I hope this peaks your interest like it has mine, and I can’t wait to get into it and dig.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Is Highlighting Several Moms – Are You One of These?

Birth moms, surrogate moms, spiritual moms – You might think these are uncommon, rare or even odd to celebrate this weekend of Mother's Day, but I think they deserve recognition too. Both of my children are adopted. I keep in touch with one of these sweet women. Unfortunately, the other chose a closed adoption. I also have a sweet friend who has been a birth mom twice. These are women with immeasurable courage, sacrificial and self-less love, and a desire to truly see the best for their babies. No one has the right to judge them because you have not walked in their shoes, and most likely you couldn't handle the sacrifice these ladies have had to endure. While they may not raise these babies, they are responsible for allowing them to breathe their first breaths. They allowed a baby the opportunity to have a future when so many other women take what they think will be the easy-way out. Saturday is Birth-Mom Day, so thank you, and Happy Mother's Day.

Surrogate Moms – I am not so na├»ve to think that everyone on the face of the planet had a great mom like mine. I've had friends whose moms missed the mark, but I saw where God was faithful and brought women into their lives to serve as their Surrogate Moms. Some women have grown up with their mom for one reason or another, and yet God provided that special lady at just the right time to give guidance, love and wisdom only a mom can give. Surrogate moms might also be those women who have taught us how to be better moms ourselves. Surrogate moms step in where the heart leads. Surrogate moms know that this person needs to be loved on and that he/she may hurt her, but she's willing to risk it. Happy Mother's Day, Surrogate moms.

Spiritual Moms – These are the women who are brought into our lives to help grow us up in our faith. They teach us to put our big girl panties on and focus on the things that will last. They show us how to work through the hard things in life that a godly woman can. They teach us how to exercise grace, mercy and class. I've been blessed with many – Mrs. Powell (my 6th grade Sunday school teacher), Phyllis Copp, Teri Cupples (Can't remember her married name right now to save my life!), Linda Chapman, Julie Choate. These women invested time in me from sixth grade on up. They challenged me, corrected me and gave me examples of what a godly woman looks like, acts like and sounds like. Thank you.

I challenge you to look back in your life and see what godly woman God put in your life just when you needed her. Have you thanked her? This weekend is a great time to do it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Has Been Blessed with Healing & Restoration by the God of Ruth. FINAL DIGGING DEEPER BLOG SERIES

Have you ever had a relationship that drained you, that burned you out and that caused such damage to your heart that it would take years to work through and even longer from which to heal? Have you ever gone through such devastating events in your life that you felt spent, empty and wasted? You couldn’t possibly trust another person. Have you ever felt like you have been beaten up by the world, and you are just at the end of yourself…you can’t go on any further? Been there, done that. What I want to tell you as I sit here with tears running down my face is that our God is the Restorer, Iatros –Physician, Yahweh Rophe – the God who Heals. He is El Roi, the God who sees you. Our God is Ga-al, Lytron – THE REDEEMER! He is constantly at work restoring, rebuilding and healing, and sometimes it comes when we least expect it and in the most unexpected ways. We have hope because He is in control, and as we dig into the last chapter of Ruth, we will see how Naomi is restored and healed. We will find how God fills her up. We will see how God blesses Ruth for her humility, submission and obedience. We read how an honorable man makes it into the lineage of the most honorable of all. What a great way to end this book.


We are winding up our “Digging Deeper” lessons this week. Utilizing the skills we learned in order to dig deeper into God’s Word to get the meat, we have been going through the book of Ruth. Now, we are coming to the conclusion of Ruth 4. I hope you’ve enjoyed “Digging Deeper” with me. I have learned so much. Let’s see what we can get out of Ruth 4.

First of all at the end of Ruth 3, Boaz has a task at hand. He is a man on a mission. A young woman who is someone he can redeem wants him to marry her. Now what man in his right mind wouldn’t be struttin’ around like a proud rooster! Naomi told Ruth that Boaz will be so determined to settle the matter that it would be handled THAT day, and she was right.

Boaz goes to the gate where business is conducted and sees the first family redeemer. He calls him aside and then pulls in 10 elders to witness the conversation. This way the first family redeemer cannot come back on Boaz saying, “He stole my rights to buy this land and take Ruth as a wife.” Boaz lays out the most desirable information first…Elimelech’s land. Well of course he wants it! Boaz then says there is more. Their version of the Price Is Right – “By buying the land from Naomi, you’ve also won a nnnneeeewwwww wife!” Except in this instance, for the first redeemer it wasn’t like winning a new car. The first redeemer in front of the 10 elders says, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.” (vs 6) There could be any number of reasons why family redeemer number one didn’t take Ruth and the land:

1. He was selfish. He knew the baby and the land really wouldn’t belong to him or his children. He knew the baby she would have would be considered Elimelech’s heir and entitled to the land.

2. He may have already been married and didn’t want to have to deal with the fall-out with his other wives and children.

3. He may have seen the financial burden associated with redeeming the land and name

Regardless of his reasoning, HE MISSED OUT. He was willing to tarnish his name, become known as the “Family of the Unsandaled” (Dt 25:10), than take on a new wife and land. Not Boaz. He announced in front of the ten elders and the rest of the town that he would marry Ruth and buy the land. Boaz was a man of integrity – Oh that we would have more men like Boaz today! Then the elders gave blessing to Boaz – “May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel” (vs 11). What do you remember about Rachel and Leah? This would be a great time to chase a rabbit to see exactly what these men were talking about…look in Genesis 29:25-30 and Genesis 35:16-18. The blessing continues and another comparison is made, “May your house become like the house of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah because of the offspring the Lord will give you by this woman.” Once again, here is another opportunity to dig deeper. Check out Genesis 38.

Then what happens? What happens is Boaz and Ruth have a baby shortly after becoming married. They were able to conceive right after their wedding…something Ruth wasn’t able to do with her first husband to whom she was married for several years.

So, what did we learn about Ruth? For me, I learned the following:

1. God can change anyone if they are willing. Ruth seized and embraced the Naomi’s God.

2. God will discipline those He loves. He will allow us to run to the end our rope where we are empty, and there is nothing left of ourselves. Then the harvest begins (End of chapter 1). When we are empty and can do nothing more, God says, “Good. Let’s get started.”

3. Our reputations go before us, and our character and reputation stand for us in our absence. Boaz and his field hand talked about Ruth before he had even met her. What does your reputation and character say about you? Do they say you are a gossip or are a critical person, back biter? Do they say you are a hard worker, a provider?

4. God places godly women in our lives to give us instruction, wisdom and guidance. Are you willing to humble yourself and accept their instruction, or does your pride stand in the way? Pride is not a sign of intelligence by the way.

5. God is in control and is our provider. He led Ruth to Boaz’s field knowing Boaz was generous.

6. God is a restorer – what God takes away, He replaces with something much better. The women told Naomi that Ruth was better than SEVEN sons. He gave Ruth a godly husband in Boaz.

7. God chose a woman who initially came from a people of unbelievers who were wicked to father a child in the lineage of David and His only Son. God can truly use anyone.

8. God restored Naomi from being bitter and empty at the end of chapter 1 to being fulfilled and blessed by the end of chapter 4.

There are more things that I learned, but I’m interested in knowing what you learned.