Posts Tagged ‘loving kindness’


RUTH

WHEN someone says, “Let me tell you about my mother-in-law,” we expect some kind of negative statement or funny anecdote. That’s because the mother-in-law caricature has often been used in humor and comedy. The book of Ruth, however, tells a different story. Ruth loved her mother-in-law, Naomi. Recently widowed, Ruth begged to stay with Naomi wherever she went, even though it would mean leaving her homeland. She ended her plea with, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (1:16). Naomi agreed, and Ruth traveled with her to Bethlehem.     Not much is said about Naomi except that she loved and cared for Ruth. Obviously, Naomi’s life was a

powerful witness to the reality of God. Ruth was drawn to her—and to the God she worshiped. In the succeeding months, God led this young Moabite widow to a man named Boaz, whom she eventually married. As a result, she became the great-grandmother of David and an ancestor in the line of the Messiah. What a profound impact Naomi’s life made!     The book of Ruth is also the story of God’s grace in the midst of difficult circumstances. Ruth’s story occurred during the time of the judges—a period of disobedience, idolatry, and violence. Even in times of crisis and deepest despair, there are those who follow God and through whom God works. No matter how discouraging or antagonistic the world may seem, there are always people who follow God. He will use anyone who is open to him to achieve his purposes. Ruth was a Moabite, and Boaz was a descendant of Rahab, a former prostitute from Jericho. Nevertheless, their offspring continued the family line through which the Messiah came into our world.     Read this book and be encouraged. God is at work in the world, and he wants to use you. God could use you, as he used Naomi, to bring family and friends to him.
KEY VERSE: “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God’” (1:16).
KEY PLACES: Moab, Bethlehem
When we first meet Ruth, she is a destitute widow. We follow her as she joins God’s people, gleans in the grain fields, and risks her honor at the threshing floor of Boaz. In the end, we see Ruth becoming the wife of Boaz. What a picture of how we come to faith in Christ. We begin with no hope and are rebellious foreigners with no part in the kingdom of God. Then as we risk everything by putting our faith in Christ, God saves us, forgives us, rebuilds our lives, and gives us blessings that will last through eternity. Boaz’s redeeming of Ruth is a picture of Christ redeeming us.

EXPLANATION: Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi as a daughter-in-law and friend is a great example of love and loyalty. Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz are also faithful to God and his laws. Throughout the story we see God’s faithfulness to his people.

IMPORTANCE: Ruth’s life was guided by faithfulness toward God and showed itself in loyalty toward the people she knew. To be loyal and loving in relationships, we must imitate God’s faithfulness in our relationships with others.

Kindness

EXPLANATION: Ruth showed great kindness to Naomi. In turn, Boaz showed kindness to Ruth—a despised Moabite woman with no money. God showed his kindness to Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz by bringing them together for his purposes.

IMPORTANCE: Just as Boaz showed his kindness by buying back land to guarantee Ruth and Naomi’s inheritance, so Christ showed his kindness by dying for us to guarantee our eternal life. God’s kindness should motivate us to love and honor him.

Integrity

EXPLANATION: Ruth showed high moral character by being loyal to Naomi, by her clean break from her former land and customs, and by her hard work in the fields

IMPORTANCE: When we have experienced God’s faithfulness and kindness, we should respond by showing integrity. Just as the values by which Ruth and Boaz lived were in sharp contrast to those of the culture portrayed in the book of Judges, so our lives should stand out from the world around us.

Protection

EXPLANATION: We see God’s care and protection over the lives of Naomi and Ruth. His supreme control over circumstances brings them safety and security. He guides the minds and activities of people to fulfill his purposes.

IMPORTANCE: No matter how devastating our present situation may be, our hope is in God. His resources are infinite. We must believe that he can work in the life of any person—whether that person is a king or a stranger in a foreign land. Trust his protection.

Prosperity/Blessing

EXPLANATION: Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem as poor widows, but they soon became prosperous through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz. Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David. Yet the greatest blessing was not the money, the marriage, or the child; it was the quality of love and respect between Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi.

IMPORTANCE: We tend to think of blessings in terms of prosperity rather than the high-quality relationships God makes possible for us. No matter what our economic situation, we can love and respect the people God has brought into our lives. In so doing, we give and receive blessings. Love is the greatest blessing.
 


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 16:1 To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.

Men think and speak freely; they are not forced. But God rules their thoughts and words for His glory and purposes. Man proposes; God disposes. No man can think and speak wisely without God’s grace. No man’s evil thoughts or speech surprise or frustrate God.

Men think and speak freely, without being forced. Some foolishly call this free will, forgetting that they think and speak according to their depraved hearts, which are corrupt, ignorant, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Rom 3:10-18; I Cor 2:14; Jer 17:9; Ps 10:4). Man’s thoughts and words are slaves to sin and the devil (Eph 2:1-3).

Humble yourself before this glorious and sovereign God. His unique and incredible name is Jehovah, meaning I AM THAT I AM (Ex 3:14; 6:3). Put your trust in Him, call upon Him, obey Him, and thank Him for any preparation in your heart toward Him. If He has convicted you to seek Him and serve Him, it is His loving kindness drawing you to Him.

No man has ever made a choice in his heart or uttered a word with his lips that was not directed and ruled altogether by the Most High. Man thinks and speaks freely, for he feels no pressure but his own desires and motives, but God nevertheless controls every part of the process and uses both the thoughts and the words to accomplish His own purposes. If there is any evil that will not praise Him, He restrains it; He uses all the rest to accomplish His own praise, regardless of what the person thinks (Ps 76:10; Is 10:5-15).

The LORD does not put evil in a man’s heart, for there is enough there already. Scripture is very plain that God does not tempt any man by putting evil in his heart (Jas 1:13-16). But Scripture is just as plain that God uses the evil that is there for His own designs. In fact, if He were not restraining the evil hearts of men, the world would be far worse.

Of course, this glorious doctrine of God’s sovereign government of the world is no longer taught, though it was well understood in prior generations. Most men have rejected a Creator God, and those allowing one do not want Him ruling in their good and evil actions and determining their purpose in life and eternity. They must have free will and free determination of their eternal destiny, or they will reject the doctrine and its God.

Consider the heart. Men think it is their sacred possession that God cannot touch, but the Bible declares otherwise. Solomon, a king himself, wrote, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Pr 21:1). See the comments on 21:1. God hardened Pharaoh’s and other kings’ hearts to do foolish things to their own destruction for His glory and praise over them (Ex 9:16; Rom 9:17).

God ruled the evil hearts of Joseph’s brothers (Gen 45:8; 50:20), Pharaoh (Ex 4:21; 14:4), Sihon (Deut 2:30), the Canaanites (Josh 11:19-20), Eli’s sons (I Sam 2:25), Hadad (I Kgs 11:14), Rehoboam (I Kgs 12:15), Ahab’s prophets (I Kgs 22:22), the kings of Assyria (I Chron 5:26), the Philistines and Arabians (II Chr 21:16), Amaziah (II Chr 25:20), Israel (Is 63:17), the Man of Sin’s dupes (II Thes 2:11-12), and the kings of Europe (Re 17:17).

God can and will judge men for evil thoughts and deeds He used for His own glory, as the Assyrians (Is 10:5-15) and the Jews that crucified His Son Jesus (Acts 2:23; 4:28; Matt 22:1-7). They chose their sinful deeds willingly, so He is righteous to judge them, even though He always uses man’s wrath for His own praise (Rom 9:18-20; Ps 76:10).

He can restrain any man’s heart from doing evil, when He chooses to do so. He withheld King Abimelech from touching Sarah, whom he had taken from Abraham to be his wife (Gen 20:6). And He similarly withheld the Canaanites from desiring the land of Israel, when all the men went up three times a year for the feasts (Ex 34:24). Why does He not restrain all sin like this? Because He is using man’s wrath to His own praise (Ps 76:10)!

God prepared good in the hearts of Israel (I Chron 29:18), Cyrus (Ezra 1:1), Darius (Ezra 6:22; 7:27), Nehemiah (Neh 2:12; 7:5), the psalmist (Ps 119:36), Zerubbabel and the remnant (Hag 1:14), Lydia (Acts 16:14), Titus (II Cor 8:16), and the elect (John 6:45; Heb 8:10; 10:16). If you desire to serve Him at all, He prepared that as well (I Cor 12:3)!

Consider the tongue. Men think their lips and tongues are their own, but that is not what the Lord declares (Ps 12:4). Even Balaam’s dumb ass answered from the LORD (Num 22:28-30; II Pet 2:16). Balaam himself tried to curse, but the Lord brought forth a blessing (Num 23:11-12). Shimei did curse, but it too was from the Lord (II Sam 16:10).

When Caiaphas thought he was conspiring, he was rather prophesying (John 11:49-51). And Peter’s blessed answer was straight from heaven (Matt 16:17). Our Lord’s apostles could speak gloriously without preparation (Luke 21:12-15; Acts 6:10), and they did by God’s power in numerous foreign languages they had never learned (Acts 1:8; 2:1-13).

There is no evil that should frighten or perplex you, for it is all under the governing control of the LORD. And every good and noble thought you have toward heaven, you should give thanks, for God has prepared your heart toward Him (I Chron 29:9,14,18). Run with such a blessing. He does not owe you another convicting thought. Any good thought or confession is proof of His love for you, for He drew it from you (Hos 11:1-4).

No man has ever called on Jesus Christ’s name for salvation, without God first recreating His heart by regeneration. For without the resurrecting power of His quickening grace, you would still hate Jesus Christ with your dying breath (Ps 14:1-3; Is 26:10; Luke 16:27-31; John 1:12-13; 3:3,8; 5:24-29; 6:44-45,65; 8:43,47; 10:26-29; Rom 3:9-18; I Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3; Phil 2:13; I John 4:15; 5:1). The idea of free will salvation is preposterous and blasphemous, for it magnifies the clay over the Potter (Rom 9:15-24). It is God’s will that is the determining, originating, moving, and instrumental cause of good (Eph 1:5,11).

Shall you slothfully wait for Him to work in you? God forbid! Such is the wicked excuse of the Fatalist. How do you know He has not already done His work? You are to work out the salvation He has worked in (Phil 2:12). You should keep your heart as firmly as you can and labor as diligently as you can (Jude 1:21; II Tim 2:1-4). But sanctified wisdom, taught by this proverb, gives all the credit and praise to His grace (I Cor 15:10).

Can you change another’s heart? No! Can you help them profess faith that pleases God? Impossible! Only God can change a heart and draw forth a sincere confession. Abraham knew Lazarus coming back from the dead could not help the rich man’s brothers (Luke 16:27-31). Jesus knew that only the prior work of God could cause any to believe Him (John 3:3-8; 6:44; 8:43-45; 10:26-28). Paul knew that his preaching never prepared any man – it only revealed what was there (I Cor 1:18,22-24; 2:14-15; II Cor 2:14-17; 4:1-7).

Bow before this glorious God today. Let Him be your fear and dread (Is 8:13-15). Beg Him for mercy. Trust Him completely. Obey Him unconditionally. Give eternal thanks for any knowledge or desire you have toward Him or heaven. He gave it to you, and He can take it away or increase it more and more. Pray for Him to do further preparations in your heart toward Him, as David prayed (Ps 51:10; 86:11; 119:32,36,80; 141:4).