Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
In this one verse, we’re told so many things. First off, we’re told we know something – really, what do we know? We know that in all things, not just some things, but in all things, God, not us, works for the good, not bad, not so-so, but the good of those who love him. That means us, who have been called, not ones who stumbled onto this, or came here by chance, but who have been called, according to his purpose, according to his will, to his intent, to his desire. So, today as you pray, let’s read this again together and this time, let’s emphasize the underlined words. Today as you read, pray declaring that this is what God does in our lives! And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Ruth 1:19 – So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
So we pick up in verse 19, where the two women arrive in Bethlehem and the women there ask, “can this be Naomi?” And instead of a touching reunion scene, we get Naomi’s bitter complaint. However, this should of, could have been a sweet time for Naomi, to fall into the arms of her people, to rejoice that she’s back where she belongs, to repent and say “I should have never left but am so thankful to God he has brought me back.” But instead, Naomi’s response is “Don’t call me Naomi” she says, “call me Mara.”
What causes complaint and bitterness in our hearts? Perhaps we thought our lives would turn out one way, but it’s turned out another or we never thought we’d experience this type of difficulty? All the fullness she was referring to was about a marriage, children, hopes for grandchildren and food to eat – that’s all she had in Moab. Isn’t this what it boils down to, our grand dreams are actually so small, so mundane, so common, so basic, it’s actually not fullness at all, but can be pretty empty. The fullness that God wants to give is of Himself. To be in the midst of God’s plans and purposes among His people. In many ways, our emptiness allows there to be God’s fullness.
Today, may there be a fresh surrender of our old plans, and receive the fullness of His plans. Worship with the song “Fullness” (Click here).
Ruth 1:20-21 – “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
While there is some truth in what Naomi is saying, there is also a lot of clouded thinking. In her hopelessness, she wrongly accuses God of turning against her. Naomi is lost in her self-focused misery, “woe is me” mindset. Perhaps we have found ourselves in those moments, where instead of letting God’s sovereignty bring peace, comfort, hope; we let troublesome circumstances dictate—we grumble, we lose faith, we accuse God of wrongdoing. And the more we look at ourselves, our lives, our troubles, the less we see of God, the less we care about others. We may not intentionally mean to come to wrong conclusions, but we often do. We think or say things like, “stay away from me, I’m cursed”, feelings like “it’s better for people to not be around me b/c of my problems”, or “God is punishing me,” or “I’m a lost cause.”
In those moments, may we be quick to be humble, quick to turn, quick to repent, quick to follow Him.
Psalm 139:7-12 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
As Naomi returns to Israel, she returns empty, broken and bitter. However, the Lord does not leave them (us) in that place. In this situation, by giving Naomi (and Ruth) no other option but to return, the Lord is the one who brings them back into the depths of His grace and redemption. Indeed, though Naomi and her family had left God’s covenant, it is clear that the Lord’s hand was still upon them.
The more the story seems to hide the hand of God, the more it actually affirms, even more firmly, His total sovereignty. For the great theological insight revealed here is that God does not act intermittently, but continuously. Though He may appear to step into the scene at given key moments, He is actually and actively there every moment, albeit hidden. [David Jackman, The Preachers Commentary-Judges/Ruth, p. 309]
Today be encouraged that His covenant of love—His care for us never leaves us! Worship with the song “Singing Over Us” (Click here).
Ruth 1:11-13 – But Naomi said…”Return home, my daughters…It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
Here we find Naomi and her daughter’s in law, instead of having things work out for them, they are left having experienced death, sickness, destruction and emptiness. With this background we are presented with the question, what is to happen to someone like Naomi and Ruth? What is the hope for their lives when everything has fallen apart? How does the Lord respond and act towards them?
Naomi expected a meager existence and a life of bitterness, but as we will see the Lord has in store abundance and fuller redemption. This is the gospel. However, it all begins for Naomi when she sets her foot onto the road of returning to the Lord. This is the road where one leaves the old life of sin, and also having settled in the wrong places. The road that leads us back to the Lord is never closed. Grace and mercy of God means that this road is always open.
The heart of this message is one of redemption and where the Lord redeems them to a place that was way greater and beyond what Naomi and Ruth could have ever dreamed or imagined.
Today consider the depths from which we have been rescued, and the depths of mercy to which we have been taken to. Worship with the song “Your Grace Amazes Me” (Click Here).