Saturday, December 14, 2013

Merry Christmas.  :-)  WOW!  It's been a long time since I've posted something to the blog.  :-)  I'll do a "Catch up" post another time.   

I taught my Sunday School class last week on the book of Ruth.  The title of the lesson was " Ruth: Finding Love After Loss."

But, as I studied the lesson I took it from a different angle.  Ruth is really the illustration of "Jesus, our Kinsman-Redeemer".   As I said, it is Christmas time.  Also, I shared this video from The Skit Guys that someone else shared at our Wednesday night services.  At first, I just knew I loved the video and wanted to share it before class, even though it didn't really go with the lesson.  But, we were studying Ruth who is in the line of Jesus.  Then, after I seeing it a second time when I showed it to the class, I realized I was wrong.  The video fit right in!!  SO, I'm going to do something I've never done before.  :-)  The following is my notes from my Sunday School lesson. I musty warn you, I write out my notes as a "script" and I write like I talk. :-)  I pray it blesses you as much as it blessed me.  :-)  

Lesson 6
Ruth:  Finding Love After Loss

During today’s lesson, through the account of Ruth, we are going to see that God is faithful to us in our times of loss by bringing us hope, and we will learn how the idea of the Kinsman-Redeemer relates to Christ.
Any of us in here who have lost someone already knows this, I hope.

“There’s no place like home”;

Read Ruth 1:1-7; another read 8-19

OK, so here is the situation.  We are still in the time of the judges.  Israel does not have a king, yet.  They are being invaded by foreign enemies, and there was a widespread famine.  Because of the famine Naomi, her husband and two sons leave Bethlehem and go to Moab.  Naomi’s husband dies, leaving her and her two sons “strangers in a strange land.”  Her sons take wives of the Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.  Ten years later the two sons die.   This leaves Naomi in a scary situation, as well as the two daughters in law. Neither of whom have had children.

Back then there were only a few options open to a widow; 1) Sons could take care of her (her sons died leaving widows); she could sell herself into slavery, become a prostitute or die.  At Naomi’s age the last was probably her only option.  However, she had two young daughters in law, and who wants those options for them as well?
Naomi hears that the famine is over and there is food in Israel, so she and the DIL heads back home to Bethlehem.  She wants to be with friends and family, right? Shortly after they leave she tells them to go home to their families. 

She believed they did not have a future with her.  She’s old, has no more sons for them to marry, and could not promise another relative would marry them once they got to Bethlehem.  Remember, they are Moabite women; they would now be the strangers.
Naomi also had the attitude that the Lord had “cursed” her.  Look at verse 13 again; “It has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the LORD has turned against me.”  She is bitter; we’d say depressed.  Afterall, they didn’t have things like Griefshare at that time…

·       Have you ever felt that way? – Here is a woman who has literally lost everything, and just wants to get home to family she HOPES will take care of her.
Both Orpah and Ruth say no in the beginning, but eventually Orpah goes home.  Ruth, however stays.  Not only does she stay, but she makes a very powerful pledge to Naomi.

READ verses 16-17 on page again.

ASK:  What does this say about Ruth’s character, and her faithfulness to Naomi?
They get back to Bethlehem and all the women ask “Can this be Naomi?” – Have you ever known someone who’s been through the wringer emotionally and it changes them so much physically you don’t recognize them?  This is probably what is happening.
Verse 20 says “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

Naomi says to call her “Mara” (which means “bitter”) rather than Naomi, which means “pleasant”.

Let me summarize what happens next up to chapter 3.

They arrived in Bethlehem at the time of Shavout – the feast of Shavuot completes the counting of seven “weeks” from Passover to the time of the new grain offering to the Lord (Lev 23:15-16). This offering was a way to thank God for His abundant blessing during the completion of the wheat harvest. Even more, the people were to demonstrate their gratefulness by allowing the poor and foreign immigrants to glean from the outskirts of their fields (Lev 23:22-23). Ruth and Naomi arrive during the harvest.  ** The book of Ruth is read every year during The Feast of Weeks. For Christians it’s the time of Pentecost.  ( Same time)

They are 2 widows, with no money.   Ruth asks Naomi to let her go and collect grain behind the harvesters to get them some food. Again, It’s the custom during Shavout.
Leviticus 19:9-10

9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

So, that’s what Ruth is doing.

The field she chooses belongs to Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s late husband.  Boaz notices her and tells the men who work for him to “Let her gather among the sheaves and don't reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her" (Ruth 2:14).

Boaz then gives Ruth a gift of roasted grain which she eats and saves some for Naomi.  He not to work in any other fields but his, so she will be safe.  Also, to fill free to get water to drink and to rest whenever she needs to along with his servants, as if she were one of his servants.

Ruth is there from morning until evening and after she threshed the barley she had collected it weighed 30 lbs.  A real blessing for her and Naomi.

Ruth tells Naomi about the day and that she was in Boaz’s field and all he had said.  Naomi, of course, knows Boaz is a relative of her late husband and tells Ruth that Boaz is one their “guardian-redeemers”, or “kinsman-redeemer”.

A “kinsman-redeemer” is a legal term for one who has the obligation to redeem a relative in serious difficulty (see Lev. 25:25-55) when God tells them about the year of Jubilee.

Boaz is taking his role seriously.

“A match made in Heaven”

Naomi then advises her daughter-in-law to dress herself up and sleep at Boaz's feet while he and his workers are camping out in the fields for the harvest. Naomi hopes that by doing this Boaz will marry Ruth and they will have a home in Israel.

Ruth does just as Naomi tells her and Boaz awakes and finds her at his feet.
They converse and he says to her in Ruth 3: 10-11 “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.

He then goes on to say that while he is her Kinsman-Redeemer there is another relative closer than him, so he needs to first make sure that relative does not want to “do his duty” then Boaz will be happy to marry her, and even lets her stay until morning, which is against the custom.

She stays, but leaves long before she would be noticed, and Boaz gives her “6 measures of barley – were not sure how much a “measure” is – I looked on the internet and I got everywhere from 16 lbs – 330 lbs. 

She takes the barley to Naomi and tells her what transpired.  Also, she was to wait until she heard from Boaz regarding the other relative.

Boaz goes to the town gate to wait for the relative.  When he comes Boaz calls him over to talk, as well as 10 elders for witnesses.  Boaz tells him that Naomi is selling a piece of her late husband’s land, and that as the closest relative he has “first dibs” you might say, on buying it.  The man says he will until he finds out that Ruth comes with the land.  He then says “no” and tells Boaz to go on and buy it.  They complete the deal in front of the witnesses, and the “giving of the sandal”.  ( Their version of the handshake).

READ 4:13-17

“A Baby changes everything”

Now, the baby is Obed ( which means “servant”), Obed is the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David ( King David) and then on down the line until you get to Joseph – Jesus’ earthly father.

The lesson writer points out that Ruth was married to Naomi’s son for 10 years and never had a child. As we read last week, this was somewhat of a point of shame for a Jewish woman.   But, when she marries Boaz God causes her to conceive.  This shows it was most definitely designed by God.  And the women praised God for the child who would one day take care of Naomi and Ruth.

Romans 8:28 says “All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”

The book of Ruth is most definitely a wonderful illustration of Romans 8:28.

Look at all how it began; so much death, so much uncertainty for Naomi and Ruth’s future.  But, by God’s plan looked how it unfolded. The field she chose, Boaz’s field.  How he took favor with her; the other relative letting Boaz take the responsibility of Kinsman-Redeemer.  Ruth conceiving and having a SON… and Ruth becoming the grandmother of King David, the king who finally brought some stability to nation of Israel after everything that happened under Saul.  And, finally, Jesus The Messiah, coming from that bloodline.  Just as it was prophesied.

Do you see where God moved in all of that?

** What role does Christ play as our Kinsman-Redeemer?

** How does Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi demonstrate God’s faithfulness to us?

** How could you demonstrate God’s faithfulness to someone in their time of grief?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Quilt

Goodness, it has been awhile since the last update.   I've been rather busy, but the LORD placed this on my heart and I wanted to share it with you.  First, a little background information is required.

Last year my sister made her first quilt.  Then she started another.  "Little Angel" was still coming after school at that time and saw the quilts.  She asked a lot of questions about how to make one and commented she would love to have one.  She asked if I could make her one.  I answered "someday."

I thought it would make a wonderful Christmas gift, but there was not enough time to put one together.  Also, I've only made 3 quilts my entire life.  I pieced them together with a sewing machine and had a lot of help on them all.  They took a lot of work, and I learned a lot with each one.  Each time I learn to do something different on the next one; to make it better.  But, I'm still not completely comfortable with all of the steps.

But, I'm one that when I take up a challenge I just jump in with both feet.  Unfortunately, I can also be very hard on myself if something doesn't come out "right" the way I think it should.  It's taken me many years to lose the whole "it has to be perfect" concept.  And, I still struggle with it at times; especially if I am trying to do something special for someone else.

I really wanted this quilt to be special. I knew it had to be horses, because "Little Angel" loves horses.  Her dream is to have a brown horse with a white diamond on the forehead.  I found the perfect fabric with just such a horse.

My sewing machine bit the dust finally gave out a years or so ago.  I purchased one for $10 at a garage sale, but I still haven't tested it to see if it works.  No, to be special I wanted to do the whole thing by hand. 

So, I began buying up materials in January and cut the first of the fabric in April.  That began my 6 month journey.  During those 6 months I prayed as I sewed.  I prayed for guidance and wisdom it quilting it correctly, but mostly I prayed for "Little Angel".  That the quilt would not only bring her warmth and comfort, but would be a testament of God's love for her. I prayed for guidance and wisdom.  I prayed for her salvation.  I prayed for her future husband and children and prayed for blessings for her.

A letter began forming in my mind.  A letter that I would put on paper and give to her along with the quilt.  As the letter was being written on my heart a devotional from God to me was also being formed.  I was being ministered as well, and a desire to share that burned in my heart.

Here are the things God taught me, and reminded me of in the last 6 months:

1)      Although this quilt is not “perfect” it is beautiful, and still “serves a purpose”; to keep you warm and comfortable.  It is not beautiful because it is flawless; for it contains many flaws.  Some are well hidden, others you can see right away when you look at it.  But, there is beauty in the fabric, in the love that is sewn with each stitch, and in the way it is used.  The overall beauty is within.

  This reminds me of Mandisa's song "True Beauty".  True beauty is based on what is inside of you.  What's in your heart. If Christ is in our hearts then HIS beauty is what is portrayed.  That's the greatest beauty of all.  If we don't have Christ then it does not matter how much make up, hair care products, face lifts or "nips and tucks" we have; we still will not truly be beautiful.

2)      Like this quilt, we are never going to be perfect, but God can and still will use imperfect things and imperfect people for His will, and to His glory.  YOU are beautiful, and YOU have a purpose.  I am reminded of the lineage of Jesus.  David and Rahab immediately come to mind.  They were definitely not perfect, yet God used them both the save His people.  David slew Goliath and later became their great king. Still he was not perfect.  Through his life God has given us many examples of His mercy for us.   Rahab, a harlot, but also had a hand in saving His people and helping them in the battle of Jericho.  A harlot, yet she is in the line of Jesus!   God uses imperfect people.  Paul, perhaps the greatest Apostle for Christ began as one of His greatest enemies.  God uses imperfect people.

3)      Never back down from a challenge.  I have only made 3 other quilts in my life.  This is the first one I have ever done totally by hand, and totally by myself.  It was a challenge, and I prayed for God’s help through it all.  He will also help us.  Philipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

4)      Persevere!  J  For me, the hardest part of quilting is the binding.  Especially the corners!!   The binding kicked my booty, and I confess that I almost gave up and went to a friend with a sewing machine.  But, I stuck with it. After MANY viewing sessions on youtube of how to miter corners and ripping out and resewing the binding several times, I finally got it on.   Again, it is not perfect, but it is my best effort, and it  is from the heart.  The Bible says that perseverance builds character!  

5)      Never stop learning.  Over the last 8 months I have learned many things that I will do differently IF when I make another quilt.  There will be many opportunities in your life to learn and improve yourself.  Do not be afraid to make a mistake.  Don’t be upset when you lose, or something does not work the first time you try it.  Those are times we learn what NOT to do, so we can move on to try to do it a different way.  If you do your best, learn something, and have fun during the journey, that is all that matters. Give God the glory either way.  When Thomas Edison was trying to invent the light bulb he said, "  'I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work.'  Never give up.

I finished the quilt last night; the night before "Little Angel's" 10th birthday.  I will give her the quilt and the letter tonight, and I pray she loves it. While I have a "relief" the quilt is finished, I am also a little saddened.  God taught me so much throughout this process it is hard to put it all into words. I pray I never forget it.  But,most of all I pray God is glorified, that a seed is planted for Him in her heart, and that she truly understand and appreciate the love that has gone into over these last few months.

Wendy Darling