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. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates me and you.” (Ruth 1: 16-17)
Ruth, a small book in the Bible, consists of only four chapters, but the message it delivers speaks volumes. We can learn a lot from Ruth’s example of faithfulness.
In the opening chapter of the book of Ruth, we see that Ruth was a woman who had been thrust into a harsh season of life. Her husband had died. Ruth makes the decision to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, rather than returning to her own people. Instead of choosing the easy way, she chose the hard road.
Naomi probably wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around. Having experienced the great loss of her sons and her husband, she referred to herself as being bitter. Have you ever dealt with someone who was bitter and angry? It would have made more sense if Ruth ran the other way, but out of love and devotion, she followed Naomi.
Not once do we see Ruth complaining about her mother-in-law. She was committed to being there for Naomi in her time of need. We don’t see a bit of selfishness in Ruth. Instead, we see a woman who was selfless and loved unconditionally.
Ruth was also a hard worker. She gleaned in the fields to gather food for Naomi and herself. Ruth could have chosen to live her life as a victim of bitter circumstances but she didn’t. Rather than complaining and worrying about how they were going to make it in a time when it was extremely hard for women to provide for themselves, Ruth worked diligently.
Ruth was faithful and trusted in God’s provision and protection. She never complained about how rough her life was, and we don’t see her throwing any pity parties either.
Ruth also listened to Naomi’s advice. She knew wisdom came with age, and she did not ignore the counsel of someone older and wiser. She wasn’t quick to do things her way. She willingly accepted Naomi’s guidance.
Ruth lived out her faith and others took notice as we see in the following passage of scripture:
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband- how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2: 11-12)
Because of her faithfulness, Ruth’s story has a happy ending. Boaz married Ruth, providing her with financial security and a future inheritance. Naomi’s sorrow was lifted as she received the blessing of a grandson to fill her aching arms.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi, “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman redeemer. May he became famous throughout Israel! He will sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you, and is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. (Ruth 4: 13-15)
And that’s not the end of the story. Ruth, a foreigner from Moab, became the great-grandmother of the most celebrated king in Israel, King David, an heir to the very throne of God. God can bring astounding conclusions to stories of heartache and suffering.
What can we learn from the book of Ruth? We should choose to serve others rather than follow our own selfish desires. We should commit to being faithful, even when it’s not the popular choice. We should be obedient to God and trust him when life gets rough. We don’t know what amazing work he might be doing in the midst of our heartache and suffering.
Ruth is a wonderful example of how God loves to redeem ordinary woman for His extraordinary purposes. We can rejoice today, because we have a redeemer, Jesus Christ, who will rescue us from every bitter and dismal circumstance we encounter.
What dismal circumstances are you facing today? What choice will you make today to walk by faith and trust God for the outcome?
The Bible is full of scriptural references to the natural world. I find it fascinating when the everyday things in nature, which we often take for granted, provide us with a visual reminder of God’s promises.
It’s not uncommon for me to wake up in the early morning and find a thick mist has settled over the mountain. The mist can linger for hours making it difficult to see beyond the smokey haze. When walking outdoors or driving down the mountainside, it causes me to feel a little disoriented at times. I feel like I’m in a prison, unable to escape the suffocating effects of the fog.
I’m always relieved to see the mist fade away and the lovely mountain scenery reappear. It’s a perfect reminder of Isaiah 44: 22. What a comforting thought to know God can sweep away our sins like the clouds and scatter our offenses like the morning mist.
Sin is disorienting. When trapped by sinful habits, we feel suffocated, unable to see beyond the sinful life we are living. Sin that is not confessed separates us from God. It prevents us from growing in our faith and being the women God wants us to be.
No sin is too big for God to sweep away. In a world where nothing seems easy, knowing we simply need to acknowledge our sin, confess it to God, and ask him to forgive us, is a wonderful thought. God’s grace truly is amazing, and it’s a gift we should never take for granted.
As the morning mist dissipates, revealing the beauty of the mountains, I’m reminded that a life cleansed from sin is a beautiful life.
Isaiah 40:31 says if we hope in the Lord our strength will be renewed. We will soar on wings like eagles. We will run and walk without growing weary or faint.
What is the significance of soaring on wings like an eagle? Why the eagle imagery?
The eagle has superior aerial skills. Since ancient times, the majestic bird has been a symbol of strength and courage. An eagle’s wingspan can reach up to eight feet across. Its feathers are designed to reduce turbulence. When its wings catch a thermal wind, it can soar for significant distances with minimal movement, which in turn helps conserve energy.
Eagles don’t flap their wings frantically to stay aloft. They fly high above the lowlands making use of the wind currents to gain height almost effortlessly.
I don’t know about you, but many days I don’t feel like I’m soaring. I feel more like a helpless bird, desperately flapping its wings in a frantic attempt to keep flying. This is usually the result of focusing on my problems or worrying.
Biblical truth is so simple and straightforward, but it’s easy to forget the simple words in scripture that can change our lives for the better. What do we need to do to soar effortlessly like the eagle? One thing. Hope in the Lord.
If we are hoping in the Lord, our focus is on him and eternity, not on our daily struggles. When we dwell on our earthly troubles, we lose the wind beneath our wings, start to fall, and end up flailing about in desperation to stay aloft.
I find great comfort in Isaiah 40: 31. It’s always been one of my favorite verses of scripture, but what does it really mean to hope in the Lord?
To hope means to look forward to something with an expectant attitude and assurance that things will work out. When we hope in the Lord, we can rise above the turbulence of everyday life. We see things in light of eternity rather than the here and now. We know the best is yet to come.
A Bible study teacher once said we should always keep our eternity glasses on. When we only look at the things going on around us, it’s easy to feel discouraged and hopeless.
We turn on the news and see only the growing immorality across the world. As Christians, it’s hard to stay positive in a society that endorses ungodliness and filth. We look at problems within our own families or work environments. Our hearts break when we see others suffering. Instead of feeling hopeful, we often feel hopeless.
Now, more than ever, we must hope in the Lord. We must look to the future with an expectant attitude and trust in the Lord and his promises in scripture.
If we are Christians, we know we will spend eternity in heaven where there is no pain or suffering. We will experience the greatest love of all when we go to be with the Lord.
When we fail to trust God’s truth and choose to worry and fret about all the things going on in the world and our personal lives, we become like a helpless bird. We flap our wings furiously to keep from falling. This zaps our strength and results in weariness and exhaustion.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching an eagle glide across the sky, it’s amazing to see how effortlessly they fly. The eagle’s flight is peaceful and serene. It appears confident and powerful.
What a great reminder of the confidence we can have when we trust in the Lord. It doesn’t require great effort to soar like an eagle. We only need to hope in the Lord.
Are you soaring today or flapping your wings in a desperate attempt to stay aloft?
A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms -Sensei Ogui
Do you often feel inadequate when you look around and see the accomplishments of others? As a writer, I feel that way every time I read a great book or an article. I feel like I will never be able to write the riveting drama and captivating stories like some of the best known authors have written.
It was those very thoughts that held me captive for years. I spent a lot of time writing in my journals but was always fearful of writing for the public. I felt I wasn’t good enough. I worried about grammar and punctuation errors. I wondered if anyone even cared about what I had to say.
I hesitated to start a blog for the same reasons, but I always felt God nudging me to write for him. To be completely honest, I don’t desire to be famous or have thousands of followers on Facebook or Twitter. However, I do feel passionate about writing the things God places on my heart as I read his word and study the scriptures.
My journal entries usually consist of insights gleaned from my daily scripture readings. As much as I enjoy structured Bible study and learning, I feel most content when I’m recording things in my journal that God reveals to me through the scriptures.
At times I still struggle with feeling inadequate and fearful about writing for the public, but I feel I must move forward and write the things God places on my heart. I believe if God calls us to do something, we must step out in faith and obedience to our calling. The rest is up to God. He has a purpose for our talents.
There are several examples in scripture of people who God called to specific tasks who felt very afraid and inadequate. Two that come to mind are Moses and Jeremiah.
Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4: 10-12)
“O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. (Jeremiah 1: 6-7)
I find it comforting to know I’m not alone in my fears. There are no perfect people on earth. You probably know a few people in your personal life that God is using in remarkable ways. These people may seem like the most unlikely ones God would call to a certain task, but he is using them to present his message to others.
We were not created to be like anyone else. How dull and boring the world would be if we were all the same.
There’s so much pressure to be perfect today. Social media doesn’t help. People are quick to find fault and tear others down over the most trivial things. Constructive criticism is helpful, but hateful criticism can be crippling if we allow it to be.
More than ever, we must look to God and let him show us the best way to use the gifts and talents he equipped us with. It’s okay to listen to our critics and learn from our mistakes, but we should never allow destructive criticism to keep us from doing what God is calling us to do.
Like the flowers, we must bloom where God plants us. There’s no pressure to be like the other flowers in the garden. Every flower is unique and has a beauty of its own.
When we focus on our unique calling, instead of another person’s calling, we are free to be the person God created us to be. We can use our talents without the pressure of comparing ourselves to others.
What is God calling you to do? What unique talents has he given you to use for his glory? What is stopping you from blooming?
Give her the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates – Proverbs 31:31
The concluding words of Proverbs 31 gives women something to ponder. What does the fruit of our hands look like? Will it bring praise when our time here on this earth is over? Will the legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren, and family be a beautiful legacy of a faithful and fruitful life?
I often think about the legacy my own dear mother left behind. Her example is still teaching me things 23 years after she left this world. We’ve all heard that “actions speak louder than words.” My mom’s life was a perfect example of this. She never preached to us but her example spoke volumes.
Mom never had a job outside the home, never pursued a career or went back to school. She didn’t belong to any clubs or Bible study groups. She didn’t even attend church on Sunday. She often said she would like to go to church, but dad would not go to church and mom didn’t want to go without him.
I found it rather ironic after mom’s death when a neighbor commented that my mother was more of a Christian than anyone else she had ever known. Several other people in our small town made the same statement in the months following mom’s death – all part of mom’s legacy of faith she left behind.
Mom’s entire life revolved around her home and family. According to today’s standards, mom would have been thought of as unsuccessful, wasting her time, not making anything of herself, or perhaps thought of as someone without a life.
The opposite was true. Mom had something few women today will ever experience – real joy and true contentment. Mom didn’t desire to pursue activities outside her home. She was happy and content and accepted her calling as wife, mother, and homemaker. Her family and home were enough.
We never wondered what place we held in mom’s life when we were growing up. We never had to compete with a career or outside activities for mom’s affection and attention.
We didn’t have structured family devotions either. Mom taught us about God and faith as we walked beside her and picked flowers on warm summer days, while we worked beside her in the garden and kitchen, and when we fed newborn calves and helped with farm chores.
We learned how to have compassion on other people and how to love our enemies at mom’s side – all by the example she set. She taught us to find joy in the simple things in life. She always found good in every person, even those who were difficult and unloving at times.
The journals and diaries she kept faithfully during her years as a young farm wife and mother are another reminder of how much she loved her family and home. Beautifully handwritten in dime-store notebooks, they are filled with the wisdom of a Godly and contented woman.
I’ve heard other women share similar stories about their mothers and grandmothers who left behind priceless legacies of faithful and fruitful lives. It makes me wonder what legacy our generation will leave behind.
The amount of discontentment among women today is astounding. It seems many women are constantly searching for more things to become involved with, rushing from one place to another, never satisfied, never content. Feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out have taken up residence where peace and contentment were meant to live.
As we celebrate Mother’s day today, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the example we are setting for our children and grandchildren. Are we diligently working on our legacy of faith for future generations? What will our children and grandchildren remember about us one day?
Life is short and we only have a limited amount of time to build our legacy. The choices we make each day will become part of our legacy, whether good or bad.
When our time on this earth is over, will the fruit of our hands bring us praise, or will our legacy be marred with discontentment and selfishness?
I spent a lot of time envying the other woman when my husband left me. All I could think about was how she had what was rightfully mine and how much fun they were probably having while I was sitting home alone every night.
My husband is a long distance truck driver, and he always came home on weekends. He never told me or our four kids that he was leaving. He just left one Sunday night to go on his normal weekly trucking run, changed his cell phone number, and never came back. I found out his cell phone was disconnected when he never made his daily call home the next evening. I was concerned and tried to call him. I got a message saying his cell number was no longer in service.
I soon found out he was involved with another woman and that he had moved in with her, which started my destructive pattern of envying the other woman.
After he abandoned me, I dreaded the arrival of the weekend. Every Friday night I would start my weekend of envy. I imagined the other woman greeting him at the door on Friday nights. I wondered if they would go out to dinner or just stay home. Were they snuggling together on the couch or being intimate? The endless scenarios raced through my mind. It was like a bad movie that I kept watching over and over every weekend.
The envy wasn’t limited to weekends either. During the week, I thought about them talking on the phone. I thought about the other woman hearing him say ” I love you” each time they hung up. The same words I used to hear each time we hung up the phone. The words I long to hear again. The words that are rightfully mine to hear, not hers.
I wondered if her children and grandchildren were celebrating birthdays and if she would be attending parties and family events with my husband.
Seeing photos of my husband with the other woman’s grandchildren and in wedding photos with her children didn’t help. The hurt cut deep considering he has no communication with his own children and grandchildren. I imagined him having the time of his life with his new family while his own children wondered why he cut off all ties with them.
As I was reading my Bible one morning, I came across a familiar passage in Proverbs 23: 17-18.
Do not let your heart envy sinners but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.
It was one of those light bulb moments when everything started making sense. Why was I envying adultery? Why was I envying sin?
My husband and the other woman are caught up in a sinful lifestyle, and there’s nothing glamorous about being a sinner. Unrepentant sin has dire consequences.
It may appear that those involved in sinful lifestyles are having the time of their life, but things are not always as great as they seem. We don’t know what is actually taking place behind the scenes.
I once heard a pastor say that sinful living is always fun in the beginning. Satan makes it that way to lure in his victims. He entices you with the good stuff right up front.
As time progresses, sin isn’t much fun after all and usually ends in disaster. I’ve watched this take place multiple times in the lives of friends and family members who fell away from the faith and into sinful patterns. They openly stated how much fun they were having in the beginning, but after some time passed they were left devastated.
Envying the sinful lifestyles of others is like wishing we weren’t walking with God. When I think of it like that I see things in a different light. Walking with God and obeying his word is not always easy, but it’s always better than being caught up in a sinful lifestyle and separated from God.
We need to pray for those involved in sinful lifestyles instead of envying them or assuming they are living it up and having a wonderful time. God takes sin very seriously and we should too.
When I find myself falling back into the old habit of envying my husband and the other woman, I reflect on God’s truth about envy. Instead of having a weekend pity party for myself, I need to trust God’s word and remember that I have a future hope in him.
“No other success can compensate for failure in the home”
The quote above adorns a tiny sampler I stitched 30 years ago while my small children napped. A cozy, cottage-style home accompanies the slogan. It reminds me of the quaint little house my grandmother lived in. It hung in my kitchen for years as a much-needed reminder of the value of my work as a stay-at-home mother.
Unfortunately, success in the home seems to be the last thing on the minds of many women today. The importance of the home is often overlooked. I’ve always believed the greatest mission field exists within the walls of our own homes. Whether you live in a small apartment or a large house, you have a mission field.
God brings people to our homes through family members, friends, or friends of our children. We have a unique opportunity to touch the lives of each person who passes through our doorway. We have a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with others as they see our faith lived out in our homes. If we are only focused on things away from home, vital ministry opportunities will be lost.
In our modern world, home has gotten a bad rap, but we see in scripture that God placed a huge importance on a woman’s work at home. God entrusted us with the care of our homes and loved ones.
The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things…that they may admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God not be blasphemed. (Titus 2: 3-5)
In Titus 2: 4-5, the older women are instructed to teach the younger women several things, and one of those things is to be homemakers, so that the word of God may not be blasphemed. That’s a pretty strong verse of scripture.
God’s word is blasphemed when we profess to be Christians, but fail to walk in obedience to what His word tells us to do. In other words, we talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
Many unbelievers want nothing to do with the church and the Christian faith because of the hypocrisy of those who profess to be believers, but fail to live out their faith. In the Bible we learn that caring for the home is one way for a woman to live out her faith.
This certainly does not mean women should only do things inside the home or not have jobs outside the home. However, it does bring to light the importance and priority of women caring for their homes and loved ones before being involved with things outside the home.
Homemaking is not a popular topic today. From elementary school through high school, young girls are encouraged to focus on career and education. This is so embedded in our culture today that the young girl who desires to be a wife, mother, and homemaker without a career would be looked down upon.
We don’t teach our daughters that it is okay to pursue homemaking. There is nothing wrong with girls pursuing careers, but we also must teach them the importance of homemaking and the value of work inside the home.
Some young women lack homemaking skills and have no idea how to manage a home. Many have never seen it modeled in their mothers, and sometimes what they have seen modeled is discontentment with homemaking tasks and a focus on things outside the home.
Unfortunately, we are often so busy and caught up in our own lives that we don’t have time to teach the younger women anything. Worse yet, some of the things the older women are teaching the younger women are not biblical truth.
This is something we all need to be careful about. It’s easy to get caught up in the way things are done today and view biblical values as outdated. We must be careful to offer up guidance that is solid biblical advice and not something we heard on the latest daytime talk show.
I wonder how often we fall into the world’s way of thinking rather than listening to what God’s word says about our roles as women. How often do we live selfishly in pursuit of what we desire rather than what God desires for us? Are we content in our homes, seeing them as our primary area of ministry? What are we teaching the younger women regarding how to manage a home? Most importantly, what is our example teaching others? Actions always speak louder than words.
We must prayerfully seek God’s wisdom daily, taking seriously our roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers, and remember the importance of the home as a mission field.
We can have great success outside the home in many areas, but if we fail at home, we have failed. No other success will ever compensate for failure in the home.