Ruth, Taking Hold of What Christ Took Hold For Her

Ruth is the 3rd woman listed in the genealogy of Christ.

She exemplifies an important truth for the greatest adventure.

She took hold of that for which Christ

had taken hold of her.

I think of the LORD as “the LORD of the dance,”

who wants each of His children

to take His hand and let Him lead each day,

the dance He had planned for each of us from the beginning of time.

Watch this clip from Miss Potter and

imagine the Lord singing these words to you.

It is a mystery, but we are told that God

has taken hold of each of us for a purpose.

How do you know what that is for your life and for each day?

We ask Him, are alert, and so often, are amazed. 

God’s ways truly are mysterious, but if we are prayerful and attentive, I believe He will show us, as we will see this week how He led Ruth to take an enormous risk, and leave her family to follow Naomi all the way to Bethlehem, then to go out into the fields, then to boldly approach Boaz.

The lovely paintings below should be seen from right to left for the story in sequence: Ruth leaving Moab, clinging to Naomi; Ruth meeting Boaz, Ruth and Naomi with baby Obed.

The Story of Ruth Thomas Matthew Rooke 1876

You have studied this story before (in fact, I’m counting on it — but if you haven’t — be sure you read the 4 chapters in Ruth) — so this week we will look just at the prayers in the book of Ruth. I believe God puts prayers in our heart, but when we actually pray them, we begin to take hold of that for which He has taken hold of us.  We are going to look at those prayers and I believe they will encourage you to pray, be alert, and experience the dance! 

 

Let me tell you a story. Below is a picture of Pam, a young mom who spoke at our evangelistic Christmas Tea this year. Two years earlier, Pam was struggling with postpartum depression and weeping in the locker room of the YMCA. When she came out of the shower, there was an anonymous note pinned to her backpack. A woman was praying for her, that she would find her place in God’s plan. That was the beginning for Pam, a devout Catholic, and she put her hand in God’s, and asked Him to lead. First He led her to get therapy, and she began to heal. Then, last Christmas, at what might seem like a “chance meeting,” God led her in the next step. Pam’s husband took their little boys to a park one evening and one of their pre-school sons (Elijah) met another pre-school boy, also named Elijah, when running through this Christmas tunnel of lights in Sister Bay, Wisconsin.

Gretta was the mother of the other little boy named Elijah, and Gretta goes to my Bible study. Prayerfully, Gretta took hold of what Christ Jesus had taken hold of her, by befriending Pam and inviting her to Bible study.

Pam did not want to go — she was scared. But her husband, also a devout Catholic, prayed for her and encouraged her to go. She did, taking hold of what Christ Jesus had taken hold of her. And her life was changed. And indeed, it all started when an anonymous woman dared to pray the prayer God put in her heart — and pinned it to a backpack.

We often help each other in the body of Christ to hear the music and take God’s hand. Truly, God often works with praying women, telling us two are better than one.

Debbie, who orchestrates the Christmas Tea, and Twila and I, who help, were all praying about who should give their testimony this year — a key decision. We often find new Christians are the best for they don’t speak Christian lingo and they are so excited and fresh. Our vision for this annual Christmas tea is to woo unbelievers to try Bible study. We ask the women who are already in Bible study to host a table and invite their unbelieving friends. And they do. Each makes a beautiful table and prayerfully invites friends.

Many hands and hearts make this tea beautiful, and as they bake, decorate, make favors, and invite — they pray. They pray for the women to come whom God wants to come, and they pray for the steering committee to know whom to invite to give a testimony. And they pray for the day to glorify God and accomplish His purposes. They want to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of them.

When we prayed, “Pam” kept coming to mind. I had already thought of her when Debbie said, “How about Pam?”

I asked Twila. She said: “Pam would be perfect.”

When I e-mailed Pam to ask her I didn’t hear back — she was so scared. So I invited her to get together with me. And as we sat with coffee before the fire, I said: “You don’t have to do this, Pam. We want you to hear from God.”

“I am going to do it.”

“You are?” (Jumping up and down inside.)

“Yes — I am very scared but my husband feels God is calling me to do it.”

Pam took hold of that for which Christ took hold of her. She was WONDERFUL. Honest, vulnerable — telling the women she DID NOT want to come to Bible study but God simply surrounded her — and at the very first meeting she knew it was what she needed — and it changed her life.

 We definitely saw that God led us all in this dance, as breath-taking a dance as the tango! Gretta shared beautifully as well (she is to the left of Pam at the table below) Aslan was on the move and many signed up for study. What an adventurous life we are permitted to have if we just take His hand in the dance. We pray, are alert, and are amazed. Taking hold of what Christ has taken hold for us.

Sunday:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. What do you think it means “to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of you?”

3. How have you experienced this? Share a specific story.

 

Monday: Naomi’s Prayer

Though the sky fell on Naomi, and she lost her home, her husband, her sons, and her position, still, there must have been something beautiful in her that her daughters-in-law would want to permanently leave their own families and travel with her to Bethlehem. You get a glimpse of the love that drew them in her prayer for them:

We pray as best we can, considering our doubting hearts, but God often takes those flawed prayers, sifts them, and gives us not what we asked for but what we need. Just our act of endeavoring to pray persistently is a way of taking hold of God. Naomi envisioned the girls returning to Moab and finding Moabite husbands, assuming no true Israelite would marry a Moabite. And indeed, that is probably what happened to Orpah. But not Ruth.

How often I have experienced the same. A year ago I accepted an invitation to a church in Georgia. I took it because, generally speaking, their denomination has lost its grip on the gospel, and I thought I would go and bring them the good news. Then, when I got there, I found one of the most grounded groups of women I have ever spoken to. What’s going on, Lord? Now this same church is working with me in February to film a curriculum for The Jesus Who Surprises. We move forward as best we can, praying our feeble prayers, and then God shows up, doing what He planned to do all along, and it might be quite different than we imagined.

4. What kind of sacrifice and love do you see in Naomi’s prayer for her daughters-in-law?

5. How do you think she expected God to answer her prayers — and how did He surprise her?

Tuesday: Ruth’s Prayer

Ruth’s prayer has immortalized her. Though often spoken, aptly, as a wedding vow, it was spoken from a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. She saw a difference between the gods of Moab and Naomi’s God, and here she pledges herself to Him with a frightening vow.

6. Read Ruth 1:8-18

    A. How many times does Naomi tell Ruth to go back to Moab — and why, do you

         think?

    B. What promises does Ruth make to Naomi and to Naomi’s God — and 

         how does she convince Naomi that she is not to be dissuaded?

    C. Why do you think Ruth does not do what Naomi asks?

    D. How did Ruth take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of her?

 

Wednesday: The Harvesters’ Prayer and Boaz’ Prayer

Ruth, still taking God’s hand in the dance, asks permission of Naomi to go out and glean in the fields. “As it happens” she finds herself in the field of Boaz. And again, “just then,” Boaz comes to check on the harvesters. He was a good man and they loved him, and their greeting to him is a prayer.

 

7. The above is such a simple prayer — but consider — how did God answer this? 

 

8. Next, Boaz encounters Ruth. He goes beyond the law of the reaper, where God told the Israelites to let the aliens and widows glean on the edges of the field. See if you can see it in Ruth 2:8-9 and Ruth 2:15-16.

 

9. Read Ruth 2:10-12

    A. How does Boaz answer Ruth’s question?

    B. What does he pray for her?

   C. How is God going to answer this prayer — and how will Boaz himself be blessed? Do you think

        he was surprised at this answer?

 

Thursday: The Prayer of the Women of Bethlehem

Oh my. Their prayer os SO BOLD, I have to believe it was inspired by His Spirit.

10. Read Ruth 4:11-15

      A. Ruth had been barren in Moab. What do they pray in verses 11-12?

      B. How does the listing of Leah and Tamar indicate the Spirit is guiding their

          prayers?

      C. How is their prayer for being famous in Bethlehem answered?

      D. What do they say about Ruth. (Israelites considered 7 sons a perfect family.)

 

11. How do you see the people in the book of Ruth taking hold of that for which God took hold of them?

 

Friday: Optional Keller Sermon

This one is not free, so it’s optional. Here’s the link. If you buy it, share your notes and comments.

https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/ruth-5253/

12. Notes and comments

Saturday:

13. What is your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (119) Post a New Comment ↓
Reply

7. The above is such a simple prayer – but consider – how did God answer this?

Boaz was an older man (older than Ruth) and was not married. We are not told if he had a wife who died, or just never married. The Lord blessed him with a wife who was loyal, faithful, devoted, loved God and others, and eventually, God blessed Boaz with children.

 

8. Next, Boaz encounters Ruth. He goes beyond the law of the reaper, where God told the Israelites to let the aliens and widows glean on the edges of the fields. See if you can see it in Ruth 2:8-9 and Ruth 2:15-16.

Boaz not only lets Ruth glean in his fields, but he puts her under his protection, commanding his servants not to touch her. That could mean not to harass her and for the male servants not to assault her. He tells her that when she’s thirsty, to drink from the water jars that his own servants drink from. Boaz commands his servants to allow Ruth to glean from the sheaves and to pull out grain from the bundles and leave it for her, ensuring that she gets more than she would from what she would pick up off the ground. He also tells them not to insult or rebuke her.

 

9. Read Ruth 2:10-12

A. How does Boaz answer Ruth’s question?

Ruth wants to know why Boaz is treating her so kindly since she is a foreigner? But Boaz tells her that he knows all about her, about her kindness to Naomi and how she left behind her family and people and came to a strange land and people she did not know. Apparently, Ruth had a reputation, and it was a good one.

B. What does he pray for her?

Boaz prays that the Lord would reward her work and that her wages be full from the Lord. Boaz is the one helping Ruth, but he sees, above himself, that it is the Lord Himself who is caring for and providing for Ruth, and so he asks God to really bless her with provision for her needs.

C. How is God going to answer this prayer – and how will Boaz himself be blessed? Do you think he was surprised at this answer?

God will answer this prayer by using Boaz! Boaz will become Ruth’s husband who will care for and protect her, and they will have a child from whom a king shall come. I think he was surprised because he thought himself too old and undesirable for a young woman like Ruth.

Reply

11.  Sometimes I see us in life as actors on the world’s stage. In the book of Ruth, she, Naomi and Boaz are the principle roles. To make the story full took all the ‘extras’ – the townspeople who reaped and threshed and interacted and prayed. That wasn’t their whole purpose, as each individual was someone God died for. But for this book, it was part of their journey that supported the story God wanted lived and recorded.

when the ‘books’ are opened in heaven, each of our stories will be told. All of my decisions and prayers, all my failures and successes. And all showing the strong red cord of God’s hand making me a part of Christ’s lineage on the other side of the cross.

 

Take away. Trust Him. Lean on Him. Everyday and in every way. My story is being written today. I get to participate in making it a victorious one as He shines above all.

    Reply

    Love this — to make the story full it took all the extras.

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10. Read Ruth 4:11-15

A. Ruth had been barren in Moab. What do they pray in verses 11-12?

The people pray that the Lord would make Ruth like Rachel and Leah, who built the house of Israel (wow), and that Boaz would achieve wealth and become famous in Bethlehem. They also mention Judah, Tamar, and Perez, asking that the Lord would make his house to be like the house of Perez through the children that he and Ruth would have. This is so interesting because Ruth was “grafted in”….she was not an Israelite but look how God grafts her in and blesses her, and she is compared with the mothers of the twelve tribes of Israel.

B. How does the listing of Leah and Tamar indicate the Spirit is guiding their prayers?

Leah and Tamar were the unfavored ones. Leah was not loved, and Tamar left to be a widow in her father’s house, but God chose to bless them….even Tamar, who did something very unconventional, even scandalous. It shows that God sees those whom others regard as insignificant and small.

C. How is their prayer for being famous in Bethlehem answered?

Boaz and Ruth were the great-grandparents of King David, and eventually, the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, from the line of David.

D. What do they say about Ruth. (Israelites considered 7 sons a perfect family)

They say to Naomi that Ruth, the daughter-in-law who loves her, is better to her than seven sons.

    Reply

    Cute song!

Reply

Thursday

10.  Read Ruth 4:11-15

A.  Ruth has been barren in Moab.  What do they pray in verses 11-12?

“May the LORD make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended!  May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.  And may the LORD give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”

B.  How does the listing of Leah and Tamar indicate the Spirit is guiding their prayers?

God was in control in using Tamar and Leah, two very unlikely women, to build the nation of Israel.  He chose Ruth, a Moabite, a nation cursed by God and obviously also unlikely, to continue in bringing more descendants.

C.  How is their prayer for being famous in Bethlehem answered?

Ruth was the grandmother of Jesse, the father of David, who became king of Israel and all his descendants brought forth the Messiah, the King of kings!!

D.  What do they say about Ruth? (Israelites considered 7 sons a perfect family.)

“That she, who loves you, has been better to you (Boaz) than seven sons!”

Reply

These next few days are so busy, and I pray for each of you to be filled with His love and grace. I also pray for those who face such sadness this Christmas. I was thinking of how different the Hallmark Christmas movies are than the carols. They say we need Christmas spirit, the carols say “O Holy Child of Bethlehem, be born in us today.” May that be true of each of us. I love you.

    Reply

    Thank you Dee, I love you too and these next few days will be so much better after coming here this week and this morning. You bless us so!

    Reply

    Praying for your time with family Dee, and for all of you here, that we would see Him and be filled with joy of our future hope of what He has taken hold of for us!

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7. The above is such a simple prayer — but consider — how did God answer this? 
 God blessed Boaz with Ruth and Obed and yet they had no clue that they would be in the line of Jesus.
8. Next, Boaz encounters Ruth. He goes beyond the law of the reaper, where God told the Israelites to let the aliens and widows glean on the edges of the field. See if you can see it in Ruth 2:8-9 and Ruth 2:15-16.
 God blessed overflowing that is for sure. She was able to go into places the other women couldn’t and the men there wouldn’t lay a hand on her. She was protected and provided for abundantly by Boaz. Over and above the law of the reaper.
9. Read Ruth 2:10-12
    A. How does Boaz answer Ruth’s question?
He heard how she left what she knew; her parents, family to be with and help her mother in law and a people unknown to her. How she has taken refuge in God.
    B. What does he pray for her?
That God would richly reward her under whose wings she has taken refuge.

Reply

C. How is God going to answer this prayer — and how will Boaz himself be blessed? Do you think he was surprised at this answer?
God gave Ruth Boaz..a godly, humble man who leads well. A man who God raised up as a picture of Jesus-our kinsman redeemer in scripture. Boaz is blessed with being in the lineage of Christ, and also with a woman who desires God and takes refuge in Him. To me that is a huge blessing on earth but also in the future with Jesus as they help one another grow in holiness and grow closer to God.

 

Reply

I did buy this week’s sermon but have only started it, I will try to finish today & post some notes. But I’ve been pondering more this week “taking hold of that for which God took hold for us”, and I’m not sure I can articulate my thoughts, but it seems there is a connection with having a sense of freedom within, in order to take hold, and a perspective of our future hope. I know for me, when I remind myself this world is not my home, my Home awaits and is without tears or illness…I feel a rush of courage, of freedom, a willingness to say “yes, Lord, send me!”. It is only when my eyes are off myself that I can have a glimpse of what He has brought me to. Ruth’s eyes were not on herself, but on her God and serving Naomi. Pam’s eyes were not on herself but on wanting to share with others that they might know Him.

Thank you Dee for this timely and beautiful lesson this week!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full, in his wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim’ In the light of his glory and grace

Reply

I had eye surgery Monday so haven’t been able to look at screens to post answers here.

13. What is your take away and why? In all this study I am still struck (and convicted by) the little things… seeing the “next right thing” and doing it. Not waiting for the big thing or scared by the lie that I won’t be enough….the story is in His hands, not mine!

Yesterday, I did a little thing. It was obvious where the situation was going and my fear pleaded “please…no….” but then He put peace in my heart and reminded me, “it’s just a little thing.” My heart didn’t even race because it wasn’t in spite of fear but in the absence of fear! He took my hand and we danced!

Reply

I am so blessed by each of you!

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3.   What kind of sacrifice and love do you see in Naomi’s prayer for her daughters-in-law?
She was most interested in their welfare as she was with hers. She wants them to live their lives in Moab thinking they would find a better life in their own country.
4.   How do you think she expected God to answer her prayers — and how did He surprise her?
That they would agree with her and stay in Moab so they could find second husbands who will provide for them.
God surprised her by having Ruth insist on going with her.

Reply

Tuesday:
6. Read Ruth 1:8-18
    A. How many times does Naomi tell Ruth to go back to Moab — and why, do you think?
3x. Naomi was expressing all practicalities that seemed good to her for her daughters-in-law. a. for them to find rest in the homes of another husband b. they cannot wait for Naomi to bear more sons at her age c. Orpah was going back so Ruth will not have a Moabite friend with her when she gets to Naomi’s hometown.
    B. What promises does Ruth make to Naomi and to Naomi’s God — and how does she convince Naomi that she is not to be dissuaded?
Your people, my people, your God, my God. Where you go, I will go.; where you stay, I will stay and where you die, there would I be buried also. She is identifying herself as an Israelite by way of Naomi.
Ruth said that she takes responsibility for Naomi’s life.
    C. Why do you think Ruth does not do what Naomi asks?
Ruth loves Naomi and Naomi must have been a great mother-in-law. Naomi must have shared her faith in God with Ruth and Orpah. Aslan was pursuing Ruth?
    D. How did Ruth take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of her?
She was determined to living a life with uncertainty knowing in her heart that she was called to go with Naomi.

    Reply

    Reading your reply made me think about the difference between Ruth and Orpah was not in what they had heard about the God of Israel or in their love for Naomi but in their focus…Orpah May have focused on having to find another husband to establish her future security while Ruth focused on the Lord as her future security!

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Wednesday:
7. The above is such a simple prayer — but consider — how did God answer this? 
The Lord blessed Boaz with a future wife in Ruth. He must be much older than Ruth.
8. Next, Boaz encounters Ruth. He goes beyond the law of the reaper, where God told the Israelites to let the aliens and widows glean on the edges of the field. See if you can see it in Ruth 2:8-9 and Ruth 2:15-16.
He had her gleaned with the women working on the field; to gather among the sheaves. She did not have to glean on the edges. Boaz gave her something to eat as well as water to drink. Boaz also instructed the men to purposely leave stalks for her to pick up.
9. Read Ruth 2:10-12
    A. How does Boaz answer Ruth’s question?
Boaz noted the sacrifice of Ruth leaving her own home so she can take care of Naomi.
    B. What does he pray for her?
.That Ruth would be richly rewarded by God.

Reply

C. How is God going to answer this prayer — and how will Boaz himself be blessed? Do you think he was surprised at this answer?
Ruth’s reward was her becoming Boaz’s wife.
I don’t think Boaz was surprised. I could just imagine “love at first sight” happened. And after many years of waiting for God for a wife, Boaz must have said, “this is the woman God has planned for me.” I envision Boaz to be a contemplative man and close to God in his daily prayers.
 
Thursday: The Prayer of the Women of Bethlehem
Oh my. Their prayer os SO BOLD, I have to believe it was inspired by His Spirit.
10. Read Ruth 4:11-15
      A. Ruth had been barren in Moab. What do they pray in verses 11-12?
That Ruth may have children like Rachel and Leah-not so much as to the number but that from Ruth will descend the nation of Israel and be “famous” in Bethlehem.
      B. How does the listing of Leah and Tamar indicate the Spirit is guiding their  prayers?
They thought of the obscurity of Leah and Tamar (like Ruth) and brought out of that and became part of the lineage of Christ. Only the Spirit can guide that prayer.
      C. How is their prayer for being famous in Bethlehem answered?
Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
      D. What do they say about Ruth. (Israelites considered 7 sons a perfect family.)
Ruth is better than 7 sons for Naomi-an ultimate compliment for a woman or a daughter-in-law.
 
11. How do you see the people in the book of Ruth taking hold of that for which God took hold of them?
They were meant to be encouragers for Ruth and Naomi and Boaz. We can be catalysts( taking hold of what God plans for us) for God’s will in the lives of others as they take hold of what God has taken hold of them for.

    Reply

    I like the thought of being a catalyst to help bring about God’s will in someone else’s life!

      Reply

      Lucy, me, too! The word catalyst just came to mind while writing my comments as I remembered talking about it in nursing school. So anyway, I looked up the word and I even love it more. “A catalyst is a substance that speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction but is not consumed during the course of the reaction.”  Wow-we can “speed” up the spiritual growth of others but we are not consumed in the process! Makes me think that as long as we are doing God’s will, He will provide everything that we need to “survive” on the other side. (LOL). speaks so much to me as this semester was exhausting. I was not consumed! God was merciful and gave grace. Catalyst-my one word for 2019.

        Thanks so much for the definition! I needed that reminder that a catalyst is not consumed…and if I am feeling consumed…it is likely that my behavior is coming from the core of my idolatry and not from the center of Christ’s great love for me.

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My take away:

I did not get to listen to Tim Keller’s sermon as this was our last week at school-so many details to take care of before the break. The Lord did send some encouragement as I was blessed with a visit from some of my former students. It was just another “kiss” from the King. I believe the Spirit moves among us to carry out His plan and also even among those who do not know Him to bring along encouragement for us as His children. Just like my students paying me a visit and the people blessing Ruth and Boaz with their prayers.

My main take-away is to be like Ruth-to take risks and to depend on God to write my story. To take His hand and follow His lead in the dance. And to be anticipating with joy of that which will come as result of it.

Dee, thank you for taking a hold of what God has taken a hold of you for at this point of your life-leading us on this blog and blessing us with your leadership, exhortation and love. You have obeyed and we are recipients of all things as a result your obedience.

 

Reply

10. Read Ruth 4:11-15 
      A. Ruth had been barren in Moab. What do they pray in verses 11-12? 
 

They pray for her to have a life with many children, and for her to have a lineage of God.

 
      B. How does the listing of Leah and Tamar indicate the Spirit is guiding their prayers? 
 

Leah was less than her sister Rachel in others’ eyes. Tamar was a prostitute; an undesirable type. Ruth might have been considered lower class because she was from another country. Both Leah and Tamar ended up being a piece of the whole puzzle. They are praying for the same for Ruth.

 
      C. How is their prayer for being famous in Bethlehem answered? 
 

It reflects the lineage of Christ.

 
      D. What do they say about Ruth. (Israelites considered 7 sons a perfect family.)
 

They say  how blessed Naomi is due to her daughter in law who she loves more than “seven sons.”

11. How do you see the people in the book of Ruth taking hold of that for which God took hold of them?
 

They are loyal to God; they are faithful.

Reply

I listened to the sermon and got my takeaway for the week…that even when there are no dreams, no visions, and no apparent miracles…God is still at work! God works in the mundane and ordinary! There are not many “thrones” but mangers are everywhere and Jesus came to the world in a manger. There is hope around us even when we cannot see it. There are periods in life where I may be in Naomi’s place…utterly empty…and in need of a Ruth in my life to help me see hope. There will be times where I am someone else’s Ruth…helping them see hope. But regardless of which place I am in…God is at work.

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