will you let me …?

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Ruth 2:1-7 (JDV)

will you let me …?

Ruth 2:1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech’s clan.1 His name was Boaz.

Ruth 2:2 Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone with whom I find favor?” Naomi answered her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”

Ruth 2:3 So Ruth left and entered the field to gather grain behind the harvesters. She happened to be in the section of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from Elimelech’s clan.

Ruth 2:4 Later, when Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, he said to the harvesters, “Yahveh be with you.” “Yahveh bless you,” they replied.

Ruth 2:5 Boaz asked his servant who was in charge of the harvesters, “Whose young woman is this?”

Ruth 2:6 The servant answered, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the territory of Moab.

Ruth 2:7 She asked, ‘Will you let me gather fallen grain among the bundles behind the harvesters? ‘ She came and has been on her feet since early morning, except that she rested a little in the shelter.”

will you let me …?

Did you notice the politeness and lack of presumption in Ruth’s voice here? She is a foreigner, with no claim that she has the right to go anywhere or do anything. She asks for permission — first from her mother-in-law Naomi, then from Boaz’s servant. Whatever God is going to do in this young woman’s life — she is not going to jump the gun and make it happen.

The Lord has some doors he plans to open for you and me, too. But when we first come to those doors, we should not be surprised if they appear to be sealed-up block walls. Living in triumph with Jesus will often require us to take up the cross of submitting to life as it is, and trusting in God’s deliverance. If Ruth had not submitted first, she would not have known the deliverance that would come later.

“Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether to a king as supreme or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good. For God wants you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves. Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

(1 Peter 2:13-17 NET)

LORD, give us the courage to submit — so that you can save.

1מִשְׁפָּחָה = clan. Ruth 2:1, 3.

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divine coincidence

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divine coincidence

Ruth 1:22 (JDV)

Ruth 1:22 So Naomi came back from the territory of Moab with her daughter-in-law Ruth the Moabitess. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

divine coincidence

Naomi and Ruth’s travel to Bethlehem coincided with the barley harvest. But this was no coincidence. Either Naomi timed their travel so that it would allow them a means to provide for their needs, or God planned their travel so that the story of Ruth would have his desired ending.

The more we meditate on our life’s story, the more occurrences we tend to see of this divine coincidence. He either gives us wisdom to make choices that turn out to be beneficial for us, or he orchestrates those choices from above. These things are not dumb luck, but visible signs of an invisible hand moving the pieces on the board.

LORD, thank you for your invisible hand, orchestrating the divine coincidences of our lives.

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Can this be Naomi?

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Can this be Naomi?

Ruth 1:19-21 (JDV)

Ruth 1:19 The two of them traveled until they came to Bethlehem. When they entered Bethlehem, the whole town was excited about their arrival and the local women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

Ruth 1:20 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “because the Almighty has made me very bitter.

Ruth 1:21 I went away full, but Yahveh has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

Can this be Naomi?

With all her losses in Moab, Naomi did pick up something there, and brought it back with her to Judah. She brought an attitude with her. She had grown pessimistic and disheartened. Given what she had experienced, it is understandable that she would become bitter.

Yet, if she had only known what was in store for her back in Bethlehem, it would have changed her demeaner.

The name “Naomi” is related to the Hebrew na’im (נעים) — meaning nice or pleasant. “Mara” means bitter. There was another woman who stayed in Bethlehem for a while whose name is related to “Mara.” Her name was Mary. She also had a lot of sorrow and pain in her life, but what a life that was!

Perhaps you are reading this today, and you relate more to “Mara” than to “Naomi.” I encourage you to focus your mind on the hope of what God can do, rather than fixating on past failures and losses.

LORD, make me a hopeful Naomi instead of a bitter Mara.

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would we welcome Ruth?

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would we welcome Ruth?

Ruth 1:15-18 (JDV)

Ruth 1:15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. Follow your sister-in-law.”

Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied: Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you, because 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.

Ruth 1:17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahveh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.

Ruth 1:18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped talking to her.

would we welcome Ruth?

Ruth had gotten to know her mother-in-law, Naomi, and Naomi’s God as well. She would not follow her sister back to the Moabite community with its pagan religion and culture. She was determined to attach herself to Naomi, her people, and her God. That is commitment, and all over the planet such people are doing the same thing Ruth did.

We Christians should be applauding that kind of courage and commitment, but often we let our own fears and prejudices get in the way. We should be welcoming foreigners to live as guests in our communities, but we often do everything but that.

Would we be at the borders of Israel welcoming Ruth, or trying to keep her out?

LORD, give us the courage to welcome foreigners into our communities, and the courage to share our faith with them.

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beyond ordinary wisdom

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beyond ordinary wisdom

Ruth 1:6-14 (JDV)

Ruth 1:6 She and her daughters-in-law set out to return from the country of Moab, because she had heard in Moab that Yahveh1 had paid attention to his people’s need by providing them food.

Ruth 1:7 She left the place where she had been living, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, and traveled along the road leading back to the land of Judah.

Ruth 1:8 Naomi said to them, “Each of you go back to your mother’s home. May Yahveh show kindness to you as you have shown to the dead and to me.

Ruth 1:9 May Yahveh grant each of you rest in the house of a new husband.” She kissed them, and they wept loudly.

Ruth 1:10 They said to her, “We plan on returning with you to your people.”

Ruth 1:11 But Naomi replied, “Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands?

Ruth 1:12 Return home, my daughters. Go on, because I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons,

Ruth 1:13 would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, it is much too bitter for you to share, because Yahveh’s hand has turned against me.”

Ruth 1:14 Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

beyond ordinary wisdom

Naomi was only thinking of the future and welfare of her daughters-in-law when she asked them to stop travelling with her and go back home to their own people. She knew they needed to get connected to new families so that they could live and flourish.

Orpah cared about Naomi, and respected her wishes. She didn’t make her decision out of selfishness or greed. She just wanted to do the right thing. We should not look down on that. She was demonstrating ordinary wisdom.

But Ruth was blessed with an insight that went beyond ordinary wisdom. She cared about Naomi too, and her love for that woman led her to risk her own future to go with her to the foreign land of Israel. Naomi was coming home, but Ruth was going to Israel as a foreign immigrant. Naomi was destitute, but Ruth was making the choice to become worse than that.

What leads a person to make such a choice? She was leaving everything she knew. She was stepping out in faith — and demonstrating faithful love.

LORD, give us the wisdom of Ruth — to see beyond ordinary wisdom.

1 יהוה = Yahveh. Ruth 1:6, 8-9, 13, 17, 21; 2:4, 12, 20; 3:10, 13; 4:11-14.

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lost everything?

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lost everything?

Ruth 1:1-5 (JDV)

Ruth 1:1 It happened in the days of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to stay in the territory of Moab for a while.

Ruth 1:2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They came to the fields of Moab and settled there.

Ruth 1:3 Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons.

Ruth 1:4 Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years,

Ruth 1:5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband.

lost everything?

Upon returning to Delco North Carolina from a vacation/ministry trip last year, I discovered that one of the families in our community had been ravaged by COVID-19, losing several family members in a short time. How dreadful it is to suddenly lose so many loved ones.

Naomi knew that pain. She had gone to Moab because of loss, and all she experienced there was more loss.

But back up the truck a minute. That’s not completely right. In her sorrow, Naomi might have felt like she had lost everything, but she still had Orpah and Ruth. Ruth would make the decision to travel with her “back” to Israel. Her loyalty to Naomi and love for her would be one of the major ways God reveals himself in this book.

LORD, thank you for the kindness and love you show to those who feel like they have lost everything.

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what is falsely called knowledge

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what is falsely called knowledge

1 Timothy 6:20-21 (JDV)

1 Timothy 6:20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent and empty speech and contradictions from what is falsely called knowledge.

1 Timothy 6:21 By professing it, some people have missed the faith. Favor be with you all.

what is falsely called knowledge

The knowledge Paul referred to here was probably philosophical Gnosticism — the word in Greek text being γνώσεως. However, there are many types of assumed knowledge today which will derail a person’s pursuit of faith in Christ. If one does not take pains to learn the truth of the Bible, what is falsely called knowledge will destroy any loose threads of belief or religious sentiment.

That knowledge may come from the classroom, but it also may come from the video screen, the radio, or books in all their various forms. Just about the only thing which ties modern media together is its ability to cause doubt and mistrust. That feeds into the devil’s purpose for knowledge. He wants us to know everything about everything — except the gospel.

That is why missions leader Paul instructs his missionary Timothy to guard what had been entrusted to him. Timothy had to censor his own education, staying away from “irreverent and empty speech and contradictions from what is falsely called knowledge.” If he did not do so, those words would no doubt leak into his own cistern, and pollute it. Then he would be leading others away from the faith.

LORD, give us the wisdom to learn everything we need to know, without losing the most important thing: faith in the gospel.

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a word to the “masters”

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a word to the “masters”

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (JDV)

1 Timothy 6:17 Direct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.

1 Timothy 6:18 They are to do good, to be rich in good achievements,1 to be generous and willing to share,

1 Timothy 6:19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.

a word to the “masters”

Paul had been instructing Timothy what to teach those on the lower end of the totem pole. The slaves should respect and care for their masters — particularly believing masters as brothers in Christ.

By switching to “those who are rich” he is turning to the masters — the ones higher on the socio-economic ladder. He warns them that they will be tempted to be arrogant and to set their hope on the uncertainty of their own wealth. Instead, they should use their wealth to help others. In so doing, they are storing up treasure for themselves.

Where have we heard that before? Oh, yes. Jesus said…

Matthew 6:19 “Do not waste your time setting aside valuables for yourselves here on the land, where moth and rust destroy them, and where thieves break in and steal them,

Matthew 6:20 but invest your valuables in the coming kingdom from the sky, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

The rich know the importance in investing in the future. What the rich masters in Ephesus needed to learn is that their investment needed to be in others, not themselves. Now, where were these needy others? Some of them were the servants in their own households.

LORD, teach us to store up treasures for ourselves by investing in the needy all around us.

1ἀγαθοποιέω

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take hold

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take hold

1 Timothy 6:11-16 (JDV)

1 Timothy 6:11 But you, human of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, care, endurance, and gentleness.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the permanent life to which you were invited1 and about which you have made a good declaration2 in the presence of many attestors.

1 Timothy 6:13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all, and of Christ Jesus, who gave a good declaration before Pontius Pilate, I direct you

1 Timothy 6:14 to keep this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 6:15 God will bring this about in his own season. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the kings King, and the lord’s Lord,

1 Timothy 6:16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has seen or can see, to him be honor and permanent power. Amen.

take hold

The point of mentioning God’s exclusive immortality (vs. 16) in this epistle is to show that the only thing of real value in this life is the promise that we, too, might someday share that attribute.  Presently, God is invisible, immortal, and dwells in unapproachable light.  But those who are being saved have his promise that someday we, too may share in his immortality.  Since that is the case, the last thing believers would want to do is get sidetracked by false teachings, and miss out on the only thing of eternal value this life offers – hope of the next life.

1καλέω.

2 ὁμολογέω = declaration. 1 Timothy 6:12-13.

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contentment or controversy

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contentment or controversy

1 Timothy 6:3-10 (JDV)

1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches differently and does not agree with the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness,

1 Timothy 6:4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions,

1 Timothy 6:5 and constant disagreement among humans whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.

1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:7 You see, we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out.

1 Timothy 6:8 If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

1 Timothy 6:9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, into a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge humans into ruin and destruction.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the affection for money is a root, producing all kinds of evil things, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

contentment or controversy

What Paul had just instructed Timothy is that he should teach Christian slaves not to revolt against their masters, but to respect them, love them as brothers and serve them well. By contrast, there must have been some in the congregations who were teaching Christian slaves to ignore or disrespect their masters. This was discrediting the name of God and Christian teaching (6:1).

We need to be suspicious anytime controversy emerges in our ranks. We should be careful not to be the cause of such controversy. How can we avoid this kind of activity, particularly since there are areas of legitimate disagreement among believers, and the need to deal with heresies and false teachings?

  1. This particular teaching was causing ungodly discontentment.
  2. It was motivated by personal greed.
  3. It distracted believers from the pursuit of personal godliness.

Before weighing in on any controversy of dispute, we should ask ourselves is this causing actual harm, or is it merely a disagreement. We should also ask whether a teaching actually contradicts the teaching of Jesus on the subject.

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