FIVE STEPS TO BE A MORE EFFECTIVE MINISTER

Lately, I have not been writing many devotionals because I have been studying hard to graduate with my master’s degree. While doing so, I have been so focused on doctrines and the complexities of theology that I have been having issues relating to those I am called to minister to. While doing laundry today I prayed. I asked God to provide me with the wisdom to be a better husband, father, and minister. I have been trying so hard to balance being a full-time student, husband, father, and minister and to be honest, I have felt that I am missing the mark at times. However, after I prayed, I opened up my Bible to do my devotional time and I read 1 Corinthians 9:22-23. Then it hit me like a brick! The Lord gave me the solution to a problem I was pretending not to have because of my pride. I need to get back to the basics of ministry and leave the complexity of theology for school and get back to the foundational principles that made me an effective minister, to begin with. It is these five principles that I want to share with you all today.

It is written, “To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means, save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it,” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23, NASB).

Principle One:

Find a common ground with everyone you meet. I am a strong believer that you can start a conversation with anyone. My wife tells me often that I have never met a stranger because of this principle. Do not be afraid to engage others to find a commonality. It may take time, but when it comes to ministering, it is a requirement.

Principle Two:

Humility is key when communicating with people. You never want to have or give off a know-it-all mentality, especially when trying to minister to an unbeliever. This is key for having an impactful conversation with someone. You want people to not only hear your words but respect them as well. So, when you communicate with someone, always do so in a loving manner.

Principle Three:

Always make sure to make the people you are in contact with feel accepted and loved. Whenever you engage someone, you must always remember that they are a person you want to help find salvation and not a number. It does not matter how many people you have saved or how many people are in your congregation. When you are ministering to someone, they are the sole focus of your ministry. Treat that person as if they are the only member of your congregation.

Principle Four:

Try to have a sensitivity to what people are dealing with and try to meet their needs. These needs can be physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature. Sometimes people do not want someone to solve a problem for them, but in actuality, they just want someone to listen to them. Sometimes people have a physical need that needs to be met such as food, water, or clothing. Other times, people are dealing with real spiritual needs. An effective minister must be able to not only be able to identify what a person’s needs are but to have the sensitivity to show compassion and not pity for others.

Principle Five:

Look for opportunities to share Jesus Christ with others. This does not mean shove religion down people’s throats, but to emulate the qualities of Jesus. Share his love, compassion, and mercy. This could also be an opportunity to share one Bible verse with someone having issues to lift their spirits, help them with comfort, or to encourage them.

Even though I am sharing with you all the five principles that came into my heart, it takes time and dedication to actually do them. We learn from Paul’s commitment to his ministry that it requires personal discipline. In fact, Paul compared this discipline to that of an athlete that is striving to be the best in his or her field. Like Paul, we have to be willing to give up certain thoughts and actions to win the prize, and that prize is helping someone find and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I pray that these Principles help someone today to get back to the basics. If anyone wants to add or share a personal experience relating to this post, please leave a comment. I would love to hear how the Lord is working in your life. God bless you all!

Filling the Void

Ecclesiastes 2:16

“For neither the wise nor the fool will be long remembered, since in days to come everything will be forgotten. The wise man dies the same way as the fool, does he not?”

Death is the ultimate equalizer of all people. It does not matter how much you have attained in wealth, wisdom, or popularity. Death comes for us all the same whether you are penniless or a billionaire. Many people may ask “why not just enjoy your life?” I agree with asking these questions from a slightly different perspective. I ask, “why not live and enjoy the life God gave you?” The way we live our lives affects the outcome of our death. Do you want to pass away and hear angels singing and glorifying our Heavenly Father, or do you want to suffer the consequences of living life full of sin and worldly desires? So, what does the Bible teach us how to enjoy your life?

1 Timothy 6:6-8

“Of course, godliness with contentment does bring a great profit. Nothing to this world we bring; from it take us nothing. With food to eat and clothes to wear; content we are in everything.”

The Bible teaches us to enjoy the life we must be content with what we have. This lesson can be applied to both spiritual growth and personal fulfillment. If you put God in the center of your life and not your personal desires, then you can be content with all that God has already provided you with. Often times people confuse riches and possessions with being fulfilled. Money cannot buy you happiness. People get stuck in a vicious cycle of gaining riches and possessions, and they never feel fulfilled. They have a void in their hearts that only God can fill. However, these people try to fill their voids with more things that do not bring about any fulfillment in their lives. They try to fill the void in their hearts with things that can only bring about temporary happiness. When the void comes back, they repeat the process and end up living a life of emptiness.

Are you currently stuck in this cycle? If so, how do you break it? Many things can be learned from this simple truth God shared with us in 1 Timothy 6:6-8. First, is to love people more than you love your money and your possessions. When you die you cannot bring your things with you. However, the positive impact that you leave on the people around you will be everlasting. Focus on being a good person and being Christ-like. Do not be religious, but act compassionately towards others and be a blessing. Too many people go to church and go through the motions and still fill a void in their lives. But a life of service and love will always bring about rejuvenation to a person’s soul.
Secondly, there is a fine line between what you need and what you think you need. If you continue to try and fill the void in your life with possessions and riches, you can never be content with what God has already provided you. Think about your family and your friends that you are losing in your pursuit of riches and possessions. Think about how many people you could have shared what God has blessed you with and made memories with. If this is you, take some time and figure out what is really important in your life and what you truly need to achieve it.

Ecclesiastes 8:15

“So then I recommended enjoyment of life because it is better on earth for a man to eat, drink, and be happy since this will stay with him throughout his struggle all the days of his life, which God grants him on earth.”

The Lord wants us to enjoy our lives when done in the right spirit and with the right moderations. People who are not believers “yet,” often have this mindset that they cannot fully enjoy their lives if they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They focus on what they have to give up in their lives instead of realizing what they are gaining in return. You see, the Scriptures teach us that life is not just about enjoying what you do have, but understanding that you would have nothing without God’s mercy and compassion towards humanity. By understanding this, you will finally be able to enjoy an abundant life. If you continue to try and fill a void that only God can fill, then you are going to miss the happiness of knowing Jesus Christ and the daily gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray that this short devotional helps someone find fulfilled today in Jesus Christ. Only when someone can truly come to terms with the fullness of having Him in their lives can they truly live an abundant life.

A Lesson from the Life of Judas Iscariot

During my Bible studies, I have enjoyed studying and researching biblical characters. For today’s devotional, I am choosing to teach two vital life lessons from the life of Judas Iscariot. All Christians know that Judas was one of the twelve disciples that Jesus chose himself. However, often times Christians just teach about how Judas betrayed Jesus Christ. This is very true, but the biblical principles that I want to share with you all today goes a little deeper than just simple betrayal.

The exact motivation behind Judas’s betrayal is not very important, because all people can do is speculate what was going through his head. Judas’s real problem was that he did not understand Jesus’ mission. Like many Jews of that time, Judas expected Jesus to make political and military moves against the Romans, however, Jesus kept teaching about his death. This could have discomforted Judas and even made him doubt that Jesus was really the Messiah.
It is written, “And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them,” (Luke 22:3-4, NASB).

The first lesson that I want to address is that Satan uses our doubt in Jesus to do horrible things. In the case of Judas, Judas betrayed Jesus. For many of us, when we do not understand Jesus’ mission in our lives and his love for each and every one of us, we can allow doubt to slip into our minds. This doubt can be used by Satan to make us do things that we would normally never do. It could be to betray the ones we love or commit a sin that we know we would normally not do. However, once the sin is committed, guilt starts to kick in. Like many believers, after Judas chose to sin against Jesus, he realized that he did the wrong thing. I can’t imagine what raced through his mind when he saw Jesus being surrounded in the garden of Gethsemane. Judas knew that very moment that his misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission caused him to be used by Satan. In fact, the Scriptures teach us that he ran back to the temple and cast down the pieces of silver and went and hung himself (Matthew 27:5).

The second lesson that I would like to address on the life of Judas is how he was remembered. He is called, “the one headed to destruction,” (John 17:12). But why is that? You see, when Judas ran off and hung himself, he did not repent to God nor did he seek forgiveness from Jesus himself for his actions. He choose not to enjoy the gift of forgiveness and he lost his relationship with Jesus Christ. In my opinion, this has to be the worst decision in history! This was a mistake because Judas thought he lost his relationship with Jesus. He felt such sorrow of never being able to be redeemed for his actions that he ended his life. Due to his choice, he died unsaved and could only head down to destruction.

We can learn a lot from Judas’s mistake though. The story of the life of Judas reminds us to take a second look at our hearts and reflect on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are able to ask ourselves the question, are we true disciples of Jesus Christ, or just pretenders? Do we choose despair and death, or do we choose repentance, forgiveness, and hope through our faith in Jesus? Have we truly accepted the gift of Jesus Christ into our lives? Jesus wants our love to be Genuine (John 21:15-17). He also thought us that God seeks out those most alienated from Himself (Luke 15).

I am praying that everyone tonight take some time and reflect on their hearts. Think to yourself, “do I understand Jesus’ mission in my life?” Repent if you have any doubt in your heart before Satan can use it to control your actions like he did Judas. However, unlike Judas, we all have time to make the right decision and fully accept Christ into our hearts and minds. The mistakes that Judas did, allows us today to recognize how much we do not want to betray Jesus Christ. If you have drifted away from his love, please run back to him before you are also deemed, “headed for destruction.”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!

The Workers are Few

Last Easter Sunday, I gave a small lesson on the person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ to my family on top of a mountain. I shared that message online, in our ministry’s blog. The purpose of that message was to remind audience (my family and our online community) the importance of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, his persecution, his death, and his resurrection. These topics get preached on every Easter Sunday by churches across the world. However, this Easter Sunday, I would like to share the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. This foundation is and will always be the compassion and love that Jesus Christ had for all humanity. So this message will focus on Matthew 9:35-38. I will be dividing this Scripture into two parts to allow the audience to understand the depth of Jesus’ message.
Matthew 9:35-36
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
As Jesus was going through all the towns and villages of Israel, he was teaching and preaching about the kingdom of heaven. Not only did the Scripture identify Jesus as teaching the people, but healing them. Jesus must have been exhausted, but He did not stop healing those in need. Even though more and more crowds of people surrounded Him, he had “compassion” towards them. The Greek word “esplanchnisthe” is the Greek word translated in this Scripture for “compassion.” Its definition is a strong inward emotion of sympathy. After everything that Jesus already did, he still felt a deep sense of “compassion” for everyone.
Jesus was overwhelmed with compassionate pity over the people. His response echoes the deeper inner working of God, which is described in the Old Testament. Ezekiel 34:5-6 also compared Israel to sheep without shepherds. Like sheep bothered by wolves, lying down and unable to help them, having no shepherd to guide and protect them, the people were misaligned with crooked religious leaders. The people were lost, wandering around without a spiritual leader. Jesus knew what His role of being the “good shepherd” was. He came to show people how to avoid life’s pitfalls.
Matthew 9:37-38
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
When Jesus looked at the crowds of people following Him, he referred to them as being a ripe harvest. Many of the people were willing to give their lives to Jesus if there would be someone to show them how. Jesus commands us to pray in response to the harvest. We are to pray over the harvest with the same compassion and love as Jesus did. In Jewish times, the teachers knew that teachers could only successfully teach and lead so many students. This is why Jesus knew that his followers would have to pray for God to provide more workers to accomplish his job of helping humanity find salvation and truth.
Applications
The application for this piece of Scripture is simple because of Jesus’ instruction. Jesus devoted himself to reaching people everywhere (9:35). It is not practical for every Christian in this world to be missionaries; however, each Christian is called to be loving and compassionate towards their fellow man. We are called to share the light of Christ in everything we do. We are called to deeply care for people, whether they are saved or not. Matthew 25:31-46 teaches us the value of all people is important, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, or religion. The modern day “least of these” are the homeless, the disabled, the uneducated, the sick, and the unsaved. Many of those people will not grace the door of a church, but they will read the Bible of your life through your actions. Our actions will always speak louder than our words. So the first step of this application is allowing yourself to be available for those in need of help, whether they know they need help or not.
The next step in this application has to do with the intentions behind our actions. Jesus showed His followers that the motivation of His ministry was compassion and love (9:36). If God’s Spirit is truly within us, this should be the same motivation for us. Providing spiritual care for people is not only about ministering to them, but meeting their practical needs. These needs are food, water, shelter, and clothing. We are called to listen to people and do our best to meet their needs with righteous intentions. This is not something simple to do, but on this Easter Sunday, I pray that we all remember the sacrifice that Jesus did for ALL humanity. Being a Christian does not mean that life is going to be easy. We learn about the sacrifices of Jesus and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit after our conversion, but it is not supposed to end there. Our conversion is the beginning of our walk with Christ. We must act after knowing the Word of God. We are called to be doers of the Word of God, not just listeners (James 1:22). It is when we cannot continue to move forward to help our community that the enemy wins and we become stagnant.
When reading this Scripture, I get emotional and feel an overwhelming sense of love and compassion from someone who thought that I was worth dying for. I pray that this motivation that fueled Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice does not die because of our lack of actions. It is not about waiting and letting someone else to do God’s will, but it is up to each one of us to move and do something. As the stone moved and Jesus was not there, we should not be found in our couches or seats, but out sharing His love and sacrifice into the world. This is my family’s mission. I pray for more families to stand up and move out towards their community out of love, because the harvest is ripe. The sooner we can come to realize that we are the laborers that people have been praying for, the better our communities can be. So please take this short lesson to heart, and remember who we represent and what we are all called to do. God bless you all.

Paving the Way

Luke 1:13-17

But the angel told him, “Stop being afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy, and many people will rejoice at his birth, because he will be great in the Lord’s presence. He will never drink wine or any strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring many of Israel’s descendants back to the Lord their God. He is the one who will go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, and to prepare the people to be ready for the Lord.”

While burning incense at the altar, Zechariah was also praying. Reading that the angel told him that his prayers were answered, and that he would have a son that would pave the way for the Messiah, must have been an amazing feeling. What amazing news to hear and that Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Lord told him, left him speechless, because he did not believe the angel. It was not until the child was born that Zechariah was able to speak again. How many times has God blessed you, and left you speechless because you couldn’t believe it was happening? I know it has happened to me, but my faith in God’s words got me back on track. Zechariah’s doubt in the word given to him from God left him with consequences just like it does today.

In this scripture, the Lord said to name the child John or “loannes” which means “Jehovah is a gracious giver.” John’s name was given to him by God and not his human parents. In biblical days your name was extremely important and identified who you were and your character. This is why in the old testament our Lord changed so many names like Abram which means “high father” to Abraham which means “father of a multitude.”

John’s name was given power by the Lord and he was set apart for a special service for God. His father was told that he must not drink alcohol. This could be part of the Nazirite vow of consecration just like Samuel in Judges 13. The Lord had great plans for John and gave him the power of the Holy Spirit before he was even born. Just like Elijah paved the way for Elisha, John was to pave the way for Jesus Christ. What an amazing task to be given and what an honor it was to be compared with the great prophet Elijah. This is an honor because Elijah stood up to evil rulers and encouraged the people to turn away from sinning and turn their lives back to our Heavenly Father.

When the Lord told Zechariah that John would be recognized, it meant that his life would have purpose and his life would be a blessing to all mankind. Also when it was told that John would be great, this meant that he would be a distinguished preacher or speaker. He would be sanctified and guided by the very Spirit of God. What an amazing purpose to live your life for!

During the time of John the Baptist, the Jews were separated into many different sects or branches and a lot of them were at war with one another and others just hated their neighbors. John was called to unite his people and show them that they all had only one true master and that would be the coming Messiah.

The reason why I wanted to share the beginning to the story of the life of John the Baptist is because he was always humble and never turned anyone away who wanted to know more about God. John knew his place in life and was content with his purpose. Many times in life we may feel that we are not where we need to be in life or our ministry. We may even feel that we deserve more and that is just our pride getting in our way. Please remember that our Heavenly Father never makes mistakes. Sometimes we are called to be like John to pave the way for another and plant the seeds for future generations to come. We never know who we are paving the way for next, so please be content with where God currently has you at this place and time. Your life has a purpose and each and every one of us has been set apart for God. Each one of us is called to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us just like John the Baptist.

I pray that this lesson about John’s life helps you seek out your purpose and be humble enough to be happy with it. God bless you all!

A Short Commentary on Ruth

Introduction


1.1 Historical Background
1.2 Prevailing Conditions
1.3 Main Characters
1.4 Major Argument
1.5 Major Themes
1.6 The Literary Composition of Ruth


Exegetical Outline


2.1 Elimelech moves his family to Moab to only encounter disaster 1:1-18 7
2.1.1 Elimelech dies and so do his two sons Mahlon and Chilion 1:1-5 8
2.1.2 Naomi is forced to move back to Judah 1:6-14 8
2.1.3 Ruth decides to remain with her mother-in-law 1:15-18 9
2.2 Naomi and Ruth reach Bethlehem and encounter hardships 1:19-2:23 9
2.2.1 Naomi is bitter and disgraced and wants to be called Mara 1:19-21 10
2.2.2 Naomi and Ruth arrive during the barley harvest 1:22 10
2.2.3 Ruth has a chance encounter with Boaz 2:1-7 10
2.2.4 Boaz treats Ruth with kindness after hearing what she did for Naomi 2:8-13 11
2.2.5 Boaz becomes a benefactor for Ruth and Naomi 2:14-16 11
2.2.6 Boaz is identified as a possible redeemer for Ruth 2:17-23 12
2.3 Naomi tries to intervene and find a husband for Ruth 3:1-18
3.3.1 Ruth is instructed by Naomi to entice Boaz 3:1-5
3.3.2 The first conflict of Ruth’s redeemer is established 3:6-13
3.3.3 Ruth informs Naomi of the outcome of her plan 3:14-18
2.4 Boaz begins to act on fulfilling his responsibility as a redeemer 4:1-22
4.4.1 Boaz confronts the other possible redeemer 4:1-6
4.4.2 Boaz addresses the public of his redemption of Ruth 4:7-12
4.4.3 Boaz and Ruth are married and have a child 4:13-17
4.4.4 The genealogy of King David is addressed 4:18-22

Introduction

Historical Background


The authorship of the book of Ruth is unknown. It has been speculated that this book was written by the prophet Samuel. He may have written this book to justify David’s claim to the throne of Israel. The book of Ruth was written during the time of Judges. The estimated date for this book is around 539 B.C. Since the authorship of the book of Ruth takes place during a dark time in the Israelite culture, it also showed how faithful God is to His people when they are in complete obedience to His word. This book also showed the people of Israel that the Lord would and will redeem them when they completely submit and obey Him. This is an important lesson that had to be learned in this time frame of disobedience of the Israelite people.

The book of Ruth is named after a Moabitess who had married a Hebrew man living in Moab. The book of Ruth is annually read before the Feast of Pentecost by the orthodox Jewish people. Ruth is also one of the only two books in the Bible named after woman. The second book is the book of Ester. This shows the importance of these two woman in the Scriptures. From their lives many lessons are to be learned. Also, the history of Israel can be found in this book. Without the legitimacy of king David in Ruth, he would have never been qualified to become king. If David would have not been deemed qualified to become king, Jesus Christ himself could not have been born into the line of David like the prophecies foretold (Isaiah 7:14).

Prevailing Conditions


The prevailing conditions of the book of Ruth are stated in the first verse. There was a time of famine while the judges were ruling over Israel. Since the Judges were ruling Israel, it can easily be deducted that Israel was in-between idol worship, being enslaved or captive, or newly redeemed by the current Judge of that time. This was a dark time in the history of Israel.

Major Characters


The major characters of the book of Ruth are Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. Naomi stands out because she loses not only her husband, but her two sons. Ruth stands out because she is the loyal daughter-in-law of Naomi that goes with her back to her homeland. Ruth had the opportunity to go back to her own family, but chose to undergo many hardships because of her love and loyalty to her mother-in-law. Boaz stands out because he is the nearest living relative to Naomi’s late husband Elimelek. This means he can redeem Ruth and keep Naomi’s family line alive.

Major Arguments


The major argument of the book of Ruth is to show the redemptive powers of God and to establish a legitimate genealogy of the kingship of David. Despite king David’s foreign ancestress, he is a legitimate heir to the throne of Israel. Without this truth being stated, David would have not been qualified to lead the people of Israel as their king. Many truths of Israel can be traced back to this book and its genealogy. Another major argument of the book of Ruth is how complete love and loyalty will ultimately be rewarded by God when he deems it to be the right time.

Major Themes


Some major themes of the book of Ruth are: the power of loyalty and redemption, in the fact that people cannot redeem themselves; providence in the sense of God’s direction for these characters lives; and the transformation of Naomi from bitterness to happiness. This book also shows how God will always act responsibly to ensure His plan is carried out in this world. The significance of the theology of this book is clear, only through faith and obedience to God can individual people and the nation of Israel be properly redeemed. Also that people alone can never redeem themselves. It is only through the supernatural intervening of the Lord can this task be accomplished.

The Literary Composition of Ruth


The book of Ruth is a narrative that takes place during the time of Judges. The period of the Judges was marked by weak faith and irresponsible conduct. Ruth of the Moabites broke the tradition of her idolatrous people and chose to have faith and follow the God of the Jews. This showed that the people of Israel could as well break from their adulterous ways and be redeemed by the Lord. This is why the Lord sent the people Judges to redeem His people when they were enslaved and stuck in bondage when they cried out to Him. It is almost poetic how Naomi’s and Ruth’s cries were heard by God and he redeemed them through Boaz. Then like a reflection in a mirror, the cries of the Israelites’ were heard by God and then he sent the Judges to redeem them. This parallel must not be overlooked because of its specific significance to Israelite history.

 

Exegetical Commentary of Ruth

2.1 Elimelech moves his family to Moab to only encounter disaster 1:1-18

As this story begins, Elimelech takes his family on a journey outside of land and away of his kin to the land of Moab, which promised fullness and sustenance. Elimelech could not know, nor understand the implications of this journey on not only himself, but his entire family. Naomi was Elimelech’s wife and they had two children, Mahion and Kilion.

Upon hearing about the end of the famine back in Naomi’s homeland and the restoration of food supplies, Naomi sets out to return from Moab to Bethlehem. For some additional information on the city of Bethlehem, the cities meaning is “house of bread.” This could possibly be because of the amount of harvest the city normally had before the famine struck the area.

2.1.1 Elimelech dies and so do his two sons Mahlon and Chilion 1:1-5
These were the dark days for Israel, when “All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). Moab was the land east of the Dead Sea. It was one of the nations oppressed Israel, so there was constant hostility between these two nations. By understanding the history of the geographic area that Elimelech moved his family to could have provided some foreshadowing of the events that were yet to come.

While Naomi was depressed and grief stricken by her husbands death, she still had hope in her two sons because they were still alive at this time. Naomi’s two sons married Moabite woman. Even though the Mosaic Law stated that Israelites could not marry Canaanites, there was nothing stating that they could not marry Moabites. In ten short years after Naomi’s husbands death, her two sons both die. The Bible does not give the exact reasons why they died. One can only speculate that it was due to the friction between the Israelites and the Moabites of the area.

2.1.2 Naomi is forced to move back to Judah 1:6-14
As Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws were walking towards Judah, Naomi turns around and tells her two daughters to go back to their homelands. Naomi wanted the best for her daughter-in0laws and she thought if they went back home they would have a better life than going back to Bethlehem poor and widowed. When Naomi’s daughter-in-laws did not want to leave her side, she commented “Can I still give birth to sons for you to marry” (1:11), she was refereeing to the “levirate marriage” where the obligation of a dead mans brother was to take care of the widow. Naomi was too old to be able to accomplish this.

2.1.3 Ruth decides to remain with her mother-in-law 1:15-18
Even though she repartitioned for Ruth and Orpan to leave her, only Ruth decided to show complete loyalty to Naomi. The Scriptures does not address Ruth’s opinions of Orpah’s decision, this does not mean she did not have mixed emotions about the situation. Regardless of the possible emotional conflicts, Naomi observed Ruth’s determination to stay with her. So they both finish the journey together to Bethlehem.

2.2 Naomi and Ruth reach Bethlehem and encounter hardships 1:19-2:23

Naomi had experienced severe hardships. She left Israel married and secured and came back widowed and poor. When Naomi and Ruth returned, it was the beginning of the barley harvest. Due to Israel’s climate, they were able to produce two harvests a year, one in spring and the other in fall. Since Naomi and Ruth were poor and had no resources to even tend to themselves, Ruth begins to glean after the harvesters’ to be able to feed herself and her mother-in-law.

2.2.1 Naomi is bitter and disgraced and wants to be called Mara 1:19-21
Naomi must have felt ashamed and even more bitter when the people of her small town were asking “Is that really Naomi.” Naomi even took it a step further and had people call her “Mara” which means “the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.” Naomi was left bitter and empty inside and Ruth had to hold back her emotions of sadness after losing her husband to properly tend to her mother-in-law. Naomi also openly stated that she left full and came back empty because the Lord was against her. She took what happened to her husband and children personally as a direct attack from the Lord.

2.2.2 Naomi and Ruth arrive during the barley harvest 1:22
Since Naomi and Ruth arrived during the barely festival, this was the first good break the Lord provided them. This allowed Ruth to glean the harvest field to provide food for her and her mother-in-law Naomi to eat. The beginning of this harvest was immediately after the Passover. Bethlehem is also the birth place of the Messiah Jesus Christ.

2.2.3 Ruth has a chance encounter with Boaz 2:1-7
In this chapter in the book for Ruth, Ruth invites us to the world of the immigrant and the powerless. Boaz is introduced I this scene and described as a kinsmen of Elemelch. Also, in this chapter, Ruth begins to glean to be able to feed herself and her mother-in-law Naomi.

Without knowing it, Ruth began to glean on her relative Boaz’s land (2:3). Ruth’s gleaning represents the law of Leviticus 19:9-10 regarding the legality of the poor and aliens to glean in the fields during harvest time. This allowed the poor to be able to find enough food to eat and not starve to death. Also, Ruth gleaned by herself most likely because her mother-in-law was old or ill.

2.2.4 Boaz treats Ruth with kindness after hearing what she did for Naomi 2:8-13
After Boaz hears of Ruth’s kindness to her mother-in-law (being widowed herself and having no other reason to stay with Naomi), he makes precautions so she could work unmolested. This was an extremely kind gesture because the poor and the immigrants of that time would have to move from harvest to harvest to gather enough to eat. So when Boaz told her this, Ruth fell down to her feet and started bowing to the ground, this was expressing both her gratitude and an acknowledgment that Boaz held a greater status of power than herself. After the day’s hard work, Ruth went back home and told Naomi everything that happened and shared the left over food that Boaz provided for her to eat.

2.2.5 Boaz becomes a benefactor for Ruth and Naomi 2:14-16
Boaz invites Ruth to sit beside the harvesters’ and eat roasted grain. She was not only full, but had enough to bring back to her mother-in-law Naomi. Boaz starts to take a special interest in Ruth and notifies his workers not to taunt or bother Ruth as she gleaned. Boaz even takes it a step further and notifies his workers to intentionally leave behind more barley so she could take it home. This benefited Ruth greatly and allowed her to support Naomi better.

2.2.6 Boaz is identified as a possible redeemer for Ruth 2:17-23
Ruth’s return home to Naomi ended Naomi’s emptiness and filled the old woman with anticipation, thankfulness, and hope. This was due to the fact that Naomi could be redeemed through Ruth and have a chance out of poverty. Since Boaz was a close relative to Ruth’s deceased husband, he could marry her and redeem her a child so that her husband’s family line would not perish. Even though Naomi’s spirits were low, she saw that the Lord did not forget her. So Ruth did as her mother-in-law recommended and worked beside the young woman that worked in Boaz’s fields so she would be protected from the men (2:22). Ruth even stays working with the woman until the end of the barely harvest and even stayed to work until the wheat harvest of early summer (2:23). The Lord was providing not only food for these two poor widows, but a possibility of a bright future.

Bibliography

Chronological Life Application Study Bible. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2012.

Cundall, Arthur Ernest., and Leon Morris. Judges and Ruth: An Introduction and Commentary. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press / IVP Academic, 2008.


de Villiers, Gerda and Jurie le Roux. “The Book of Ruth in the Time of the Judges and Ruth, the Moabitess.” Verbum Et Ecclesia 37, no. 1 (2016): 1-6, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1815403370?accountid=12085.


Hamilton, Victor P. Handbook on the Historical Books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.


Hawk, L. Daniel. Ruth. Nottingham, England: Apollos, 2015.


Schipper, Jeremy. Ruth: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New Haven,: Yale University Press, 2016.


Tucker, Ruth. The Biographical Bible: Exploring the Biblical Narrative from Adam and Eve to John of Patmos. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013.


Tucker, Ruth. Dynamic Women of the Bible: What We Can Learn from Their Surprising Stories. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014.


Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures: Old Testament. Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2000.

Giving Until it Hurts

While conducting my Bible study today, I really began to reflect on Mark 12:41-44. In this piece of Scripture, Jesus sat down near the collection box in the temple. He was watching the people placing their tithes into the collection box and saw a poor widow give two small coins into the box. Then, Jesus called his disciples to him and told them that others were tithing a tiny amount of their surplus, however, the poor widow gave all that she had to live on. I sat back and thought to myself, am I giving everything that I have to live on?

The people gave all types of coins. They gave gold and silver and the poor widow gave two “lepta.” A lepton was the smallest bronze Jewish coin in circulation in Palestine. These two coins were a fraction of a penny today. She could have held back one coin, even though Rabbinic rules stated that offering less than two lepta was not accepted as a charity gift (legalistic). By giving all that she had, she entrusted all she had to live on to God and trusted Him to provide for her needs. The amount of trust that widow portrayed in front of Jesus was immense. She truly gave a sacrificial offering that day.

As Christians, we should consider contributing more than just a tithe. I am not just talking about money, but your time or talents to a point beyond convenience or comfort. When we are able to break out of our “comfort zone,” and give until it hurts, we are outwardly pouring out God’s love that resides within us. Like the poor widow, we must rely on the provisions the Lord gives us and the provisions in the future we will be blessed to have. If we hold back from the Lord, whether it is our funds, time or talents, how can we expect His blessing to overflow in our lives? To give and serve others allows us to focus God and not ourselves. When this happens, a beautiful thing starts to happen. We start to grow in faith, trust, and begin to mature spiritually. I write this because in the end of the day, we cannot take our treasures with us into heaven. But the people we bless and impact their lives in the glorification of God will always be rewarded. It is written, “the one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped,” (Proverbs 11:25).

I pray that today’s devotional leaves everyone questioning if they are doing enough. I feel like I can give more to my community, family, and God. I pray that everyone comes to the same conclusion. Since we are supposed to emulate Jesus Christ, who gave His all for all mankind, shouldn’t we at least get uncomfortable with our giving?

Please tell me what you think about this post and lets build a dialog on how we can help our community!