Special Blessings (The Story of Ruth)
Part 1: (Naomi: Let Your Light So Shine)

We are going to begin studying the book of Ruth and go deeper into the many lessons we can gain from her story.  The book of Ruth is a story of amazing, faith, grace, and love.  I pray that it blesses each and every heart as much and more than it has blessed mine.  Our LORD is faithful and HE is our kinsman redeemer!

Handout: Special Blessings (The Story of Ruth)
Part 1. Naomi: Let Your Light So Shine

Ruth 1:1-7 “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3 And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.  7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.”
Now GOD had told the people of Israel that if they would be HIS people and obey HIS law and not worship idols, HE would always be with them and protect them. (Deuteronomy 28)  However, we find in the book of Judges that even though they had agreed before to obey GOD and live as his people, they had gotten themselves in a vicious cycle of sin, next, suffering because of their sin, then they would cry out to GOD for deliverance, and finally out of pure grace and mercy GOD would hear them and send a judge to deliver them.  So famine had come to The Promised Land and Elimelech decided anything was better than living that way so he decided to move to Moab.  I’ll share the words of Mr. John Phillips commentary on the book of Ruth.  He writes…
“The story begins with the ominous words, “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.” A famine in the Promised Land was always a mark of divine displeasure. The constant neglect of God by the people who professed His name called for punishment. God simply turned off the rain. The crops withered in the fields; the cattle died along the roads; people were reduced to starvation. Hunger, misery, and death went hand in hand. At this point, we see Elimelech taking the first downward step.
1. Moving to Moab (1:1–2) Turning his back upon Bethlehem, Elimelech “went to sojourn in the country of Moab” (v. 1). Probably he had no intention of staying there. Few backsliders ever intend to make permanent shipwreck. The difference between a backslider and an apostate comes into focus right here: a backslider rationalizes what he is doing, trying to justify it and square it with his conscience. An apostate repudiates, root and branch, the truth of God, which once cast light upon his soul. Elimelech was not an apostate; he was a backslider. We see him moving to Moab. Thus, his circumstances, instead of being the spur to drive him closer to God, became the spur that drove him away from God. Moving to Moab is bad. The next step was worse.
2. Marriage in Moab (1:3–4) The two sons married pagan women—women who had no knowledge at all of the true and living God, no knowledge of the Bible, no grasp of spiritual things, no concern about the mind and heart and will of God, no knowledge of His salvation, no concern about His people. Such a marriage God could not bless. Throughout the Bible, God warns against the marriage of a believer with an unbeliever. Occasionally, in His grace, He does overrule such a marriage. Usually it remains singularly unblessed. In the case of these two boys, the pair of them died before they could bring any sons into the world to cement them in their pagan way of life. Next comes the result of moving to Moab and marriage in Moab.
3.  Misery in Moab (1:5) The Lord loves us too much to allow us to become really happy in a back- slidden condition. We read of Naomi that “the woman was left of her two sons and her husband” (v. 5). She was now in Moab, out of touch with God’s people, a lonely widow in a foreign land in a day and age when widows had no pension and no protectors, and were looked upon as unlucky and unwanted. So there was a sudden change—a change from the land of promise to the land of Moab, and from the place of blessing to a place under the specific curse of the Law.” (John Phillips)
Reading we find out that Elimelech dies and about ten years after Mahlon and Chilion die as well, leaving behind Naomi alone with her two daughters in law, Orpah, and Ruth.  Naomi is now alone and decides to go back to own people.  We find that Orpah goes back to her family, however, Ruth refuses. Instead she vows to remain with Naomi forever.
Ruth 1:16 & 17  "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."

Now some say that Naomi was backslidden, but I tend to believe that she was just following her husband.  I believe that just the fact that Ruth and Orpha were willing to leave their home and family to follow her to an unknown place was a testimony for Naomi. 

Ruth 1:18-22 “18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? 20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21 I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lordhath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
So Naomi and Ruth head out and travel back to Bethlehem and the people of the city are talking…is this Naomi?  She says to them, don’t call me Naomi (which means pleasant) call me Mara, (which means bitter).  She said, I went out full, and I have come back empty. 

When we leave the place where GOD has put us, we will leave full and come back empty every time, (Remember the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-22.) 

I wonder how Ruth felt leaving her family and traveling to a different place knowing they were two widow women alone.  Still, the wonderful story is that GOD had called Ruth out by pure grace!  A non-Jewish woman, a gentile!  HE had called, and she had accepted!  Oh the plans of wonderful GRACE HE had for her!  I believe Ruth was able to say yes because of the love between her and her mother-in-law, Naomi!  I believe that even though Naomi had followed her husband to a distant land, she made the best of it!  She still had her heart toward The LORD because Ruth had come from a land of pagans, and in verse 17 we read that Ruth told Naomi that she wanted her GOD!  I believe that Naomi had bloomed where she had been planted!  I believe that she was letting her light shine bright!  GOD was using Naomi in a wonderful way the same as HE will use us if we will let HIM!

We as believers are living in our Moab today!  We are surrounded by people who are non-believers and in a world that satan is ruling at this moment with sin and his evil plans.  Are we letting our lights shine?  Are we showing the world the LOVE of CHRIST?  Are we sharing the good news of The Gospel with those around us?  We can and that is exactly what we are supposed to do! 

Matthew 5:14-16 “14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your FATHER which is in Heaven.”
We are supposed to be living our lives centered around JESUS so that non-believers will want HIM!  So that they will be willing to leave their lives of unbelief and sin and be willing to say your GOD will be my GOD! 

I praise HIM today that HE let’s us be part of HIS mercy.  First that HE showed mercy and called me out by HIS grace, and second because HE allows me to be apart of HIS miracle of mercy for others too!  He doesn’t need me, but HE will use me for HIS glory if I will trust and obey HIM, what a blessing!  The HIGHEST honor in all of life is to be HIS!  I want to bloom where I am planted, I want to be a light that points to JESUS CHRIST. 

I pray that the lesson today has encouraged you.  Please know that sometimes we can end up in situations and places that we have no idea how or why we are there, but know that GOD has a plan, and if HE has placed you somewhere then it is for a Kingdom purpose!  Stay on your knees, seek HIS face and stay in HIS WORD and HE will bring about the plans HE has for your good and HIS glory!  Bloom where you are planted…don’t let this world discourage you or change who HE has called you to be!  STAND FIRM in CHRIST and LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE SHINE SHINE!  GOD Bless you all.

FATHER...Thank you for you grace and mercy, and for being with us another week.  Help us to love you as you deserve to be loved, help us to honor your name as we go out into the world and point the lost to Your light.  We thank You for Your many blessings, for the special blessings You pour out upon Your children even when we are not aware of it. Thank You for this ministry, use it for Your glory and honor, and help us always follow You We love, praise, and worship Your worthy name forever.  In the name of JESUS...Amen.

March 22, 2014