Chance or Chosen? Read:
After arriving in Bethlehem, things did not get any better for Ruth and Naomi. It appeared that they were not being taken care of those in the city, so they somehow needed to get food in order to survive. For the second time we see the loyalty and devotion of Ruth as she tells Naomi to let her go into the fields to pick grain.
We see from the text that Ruth “happens” upon a field belonging to Boaz, a wealthy relative of good standing. She could have picked any field to glean (follow after the workers and pick leftovers) and “as it turned out” ended up in his. It is clear from the way the story unfolds that God directed her steps. Matthew Henry points out, “Many a great affair is brought about by a little turn, which seemed fortuitous to us, but was directed by Providence with design.”
When we go about our daily tasks, such as filling up for gas or buying groceries, we rarely stop to think whether it is God’s providence directing us in our steps. But if we truly trust in our sovereign God we must see Him working in every detail of our lives.
Think about the places you have been or difficult situations you have recently endured. Tell yourself that God has you there for a reason; that He is directing your steps. Do you believe it?
How You Can Pray
Pray that you will trust God with the details of your life. Ask that He reveal His plan to you and use you in a powerful way for His Kingdom.
Day 9 Read:
This passage begins with the Hebrew word for “behold,”, indicating the importance of what follows. Here, we see Boaz’s entrance heralded by the text. Boaz did not have to come and visit the fields, as he had foreman or servant overseeing the work on his behalf (vs. 6). Despite this, Boaz knew his workers, whom he greeted with “Jehovah be with you,” and he also knew the poor who gleaned behind the workers.
When he saw Ruth, he asked who she belonged to; historically, it would have been rare to find a single young woman of marriageable age. The overseer explained that Ruth was Naomi’s daughter, but did not stop there, taking time to commend her character to Boaz. Ruth had every legal right to glean behind the workers (Dt 24:19-21), but still asked for permission. And once given permission, she worked faithfully all day.
When Ruth is read carefully, it is impossible to miss God’s sovereignty in the story. Ruth “happens” to end up in Boaz’s field as he “happens” to visit and takes notice of her. Scripture shows us there is no such thing as a chance meeting.
You are called to love your neighbor, care for your family, and reach the lost. Think about who God has intentionally placed in your life for you to interact with as a believer. Do you make the best of these relationships for His Kingdom, or let opportunities pass you by?
How You Can Pray
Pray that you would see every meeting with every person as an ordained opportunity to pray, serve, and love.
Favor Found Read:
Boaz legally had to let Ruth and others like her glean behind the workers. He also felt he was responsible for her as a relative of his. But Boaz was not content to simply do the bare minimum. Instead, he went above and beyond what was required, revealing his character as a righteous man.
First, he told Ruth to stay in his field, where she would be provided for without having to look other places. He also told her to stay with his servant girls. This meant that Ruth had a front-row seat to the best of the leftover harvest as she walked with the servant-girls who bound the grain. Boaz also told his men to leave Ruth alone, keeping her safe from potential verbal and physical abuse. Finally, he gave her permission to drink from his own water jars whenever thirsty, instead of having to travel back to the local Bethlehem well. He truly provided for her.
Boaz was already acting as Ruth’s kinsman redeemer even though he was a relative of Naomi. Boaz’s care for Ruth is a picture of Christ’s redeeming love for His people. Both go beyond what is expected to provide and care for the needy.
If you truly believe that God provides your daily bread, sustaining you on Him alone, how should this motivate you to care for those in need around you? Because you are redeemed by Him, you should desire to, in turn, show His love to those who need redemption!
How You Can Pray
Pray that you will find rest and contentment in the redemptive work that Christ has done and the many blessings He has given to you. Pray that God will provide you with contentment with what you have and faith that all your needs will be met by your heavenly Father.
Day 11 Read:
Refuge of the Lord
Ruth accepted the praise of Boaz, but did so humbly. As a foreigner in a strange land, Ruth knew that her situation was tenuous at best; yet, she continued to provide for Naomi and herself in spite of her circumstances. In verse 13, Ruth told Boaz that she desired to continue to find favor in his eyes, in spite of her poor standing.
Boaz saw something very different than a poor foreign girl. Instead, he pointed out her hard work, difficult decision to leave home, and the care she had shown Naomi. He asks that the Lord may bless her, to repay what she has done. This rich reward was not to come because of her work, but because of who she taken refuge with, the God of Israel. By doing the things Boaz praises her for, Ruth is displaying faith in her God, revealing that she has truly made Naomi's God, her own. She trusted the Lord (1:16).
It feels good to receive praise for a job well done. When we accomplish a task, like gaining a promotion, graduating from high school or college, or performing amazing athletic feats, we want recognition. Being honored is not bad in and of itself, but if we fail to humbly understand that our blessings come because of the faithfulness of God, our perspective is blurred.
What do you hope people notice about you so that you feel honored or appreciated? Take some time today to confess to God that you are thankful He has blessed you and that He is your refuge in spite of the praise of others.
How You Can Pray
Pray that you will humbly seek refuge in the Lord God Almighty, that, in spite of the praise of man, you will rest in His love for you, displayed so powerfully in the work of Jesus Christ.
Place of Honor Read:
Boaz acted as redeemer for Ruth throughout the entire story. His care for her is a clear picture of Christ's love for His people. In the same way that all believer's will one day sit at the great feast in heaven, Boaz invited Ruth to sit with him and the workers and eat her fill. This was both unusual and unexpected.
In addition to inviting her to eat, Boaz once again reminded his workers to gather in peace. His earlier words told the workers to keep her physically safe; here he tells them to avoid any kind of verbal abuse. Finally, he goes above and beyond his legal duty when he tells the workers to pull some of the actually stalks (the good stuff) out of the bundles and leave them on the ground for her. Boaz made Ruth's burden light and her work fruitful in spite of having no obligation.
Psalm 23:5 tells us that God prepares a special place for us at His table where our cups will overflow. Ruth reminds us that we have a redeemer who cares for us and loves us in spite of our problems and pain. His yoke is easy and His burden light (Mt 11:30).
As you deal with the problems and struggles of your life, do you do so with a temporal or eternal perspective? In other words, are you concerned about being fulfilled here and now, by what this world has to offer, or do you look forward to the feast in heaven, where all your needs will be provided for and you will dwell with your redeemer forever?
How You Can Pray
Pray that you find your peace in the Lord today. That regardless of frustrating situations or difficult decisions, you will trust in His provision and love for you.
Day 13 Read:
Puzzle Pieces Fall
Up to this point, Ruth had had no idea that she was working in the field of a relative. God has directed her steps along the way and Ruth had faithfully and diligently worked all day. When she returned home, Naomi was astonished; for someone who followed the threshers in the field, Ruth had an incredible amount of food.
Ruth told Naomi where she harvested and Naomi revealed that Boaz was a close relative. She asks God's blessing on him twice for his great kindness. She also points out that he is one of their kinsman-redeemers. According to Levitical law he was one of the few who could redeem the inheritance of one in poverty (Lev 25). Thus, the puzzle pieces fall into place, showing God's hand clearly driving Ruth and Naomi towards redemption in spite of Naomi's bitterness and Ruth's lack of knowledge of a foreign land.
With seven billion other people on earth, it is amazing how we often “bump” into people we already know or have a connection with. In these moments, we often say, “small world, isn't it?” We fail to see that God is orchestrating our lives and the people we meet are never by accident.
Who has God placed in your life that you fail to see as part of His purpose? Do you have neighbors, co-workers, or family you ignore or fail to pray for or share God's love with? Think about one person you “ran into” today that God may be directing your way to give you an opportunity to live out the Gospel of Christ.
How You Can Pray
Pray that you would see every person you interact with as a providential encounter. Pray knowing that you have been called with a purpose to love your neighbor by showing the love of God to those you meet.
Settling into Routine Read:
It was a common practice for the poor in Ruth's day to move from field to field, gleaning to find the best of the leftover harvest. Because of the kindness of Boaz, however, Naomi determined it was best if Ruth stayed at his field until the end of the harvest. Ruth had been granted safety, a place with his workers, and extra grain left just for her.
So Ruth continued to glean with the women of Boaz until the harvests were finished. She also continued to return to Naomi every night, providing for her dutifully. In all this, Ruth lived up to her promise from 1:16. Where Naomi went, she went and where Naomi stayed she stayed. The Israelites had started to become her people, and their God was certainly her God. As chapter 2 closed, Ruth was now in a position to be noticed regularly by Boaz. Her character and devotion would not escape his eyes.
What is interesting about Ruth is that in the middle of her fascinating story she fell into a daily routine where she continued to labor faithfully. As we go about our own daily routines, do we believe we are being used by God for a purpose even in the midst of a repetitive cycle of a job, school, exercise, or caring for children?
Think about your life right now as one thread in a grand tapestry God is weaving together. How can you, even in the midst of a routine where you feel like you do the same thing every day or week, bring honor to God and love those around you?
How You Can Pray
Pray that God would use you powerfully in the midst of normal and average circumstances to further His Kingdom and bring Him glory, that in spite of going about the same daily tasks, you have passion, zeal, and joy from the Lord.
Ruth – a Devotional and Prayer Guide
Ruth Sermon Series Available Online
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