Posts tagged purpose

Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part One)

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)

Ruth 4v1-12

The last scene of our story left us hanging. Would Boaz come through? Would the unnamed mystery man block the hopeful outcome of Ruth and Boaz’s love story?

As Ruth and Naomi wait back home with baited breath, Boaz hurries into town like a man on a mission. With cunning planning, he sets up the scene, using all the powers at his disposal to influence the outcome.

First, he politely petitions the close relative to take a seat and chat a while. Before the conversation is allowed to develop into a contractual dispute, Boaz wisely nabs ten of the leading men of the city to validate the transaction. Only then does Boaz bring up the relative’s opportunity to redeem Elimelech’s land. Just as the unsuspecting man is about to sign on the dotted line, Boaz throws a fast one. “By the way, you’ve got to marry Ruth if you acquire this particular piece of property.” That little piece of information jolts the relative back to earth in a hurry! A wife is the last thing he needs at this point in his life - he hands over his right to purchase the land to Boaz with a sigh of relief.

Somehow everyone comes out satisfied with Boaz’s solution. Naomi gets her money, the relative keeps his freedom, Ruth secures her future, and Boaz, with titillating glee, surrenders his bachelorhood to his bride. Even the onlookers join with our characters to pronounce a blessing on the young couple as they pledge their lives to each other.

This week, we’ll look a little closer at some of the customs of the day whose meaning alludes to us as we read through the story. We’ll delight together in Jesus’ choice of us as His bride, find ourselves further in love with Boaz as he mirrors our Lord to us, and delight in how He sets us up to accomplish more than we ever dreamed. And more than anything else, we’ll be reminded that our God is luring us into relationship with Himself. It is intimacy He is after - that closeness you and I long for with all our hearts.


Revel in His love this week, my dear friend. Be amazed at the grace that saved a wretch like me!



Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part One)


Verse of the Week




More Words from the Father

1 Thessalonians 1v2-10

Psalm 57

Hebrews 6v9-19

Isaiah 26v3-9

Psalm 51v10



From my Heart 

“But Moses’ Hands Were Heavy…”

Exodus 17v12

Moses was wearing out. His job was overwhelming, impossible, too much for one man to bear. For months now he’d lived with dissatisfied, contentious people. Trying to love them was like embracing a porcupine. He’d felt the sting of their criticism one too many times. Their quarreling and grumbling were finally turning his own heart cold and angry. Right when he felt about ready to explode, the final straw came. A group of foreign invaders chose just that weak moment to attack their seemingly safe camp. A fierce battle ensued. His people turned from tearing each other apart to engaging the enemy in a fight for survival. And now those who had been increasingly critical of Moses were desperately dependent on him to help them win the war.

Have you been there? Do you find yourself faltering? Do you sometimes feel as though your life is on an emotional roller coaster and you are hanging on for dear life? That if you let go of control for one moment you will go hurling into who-knows-where? That the people you most love are the very people who most hurt? That your soul is weakening, and like Moses, your hands are heavy?

The Bible has one answer for your dilemma - one solution to your impending meltdown….


“Be ye steadfast.”


I know that’s the last thing you want to hear right now. What you really want is sympathy, and maybe permission to blast away at those who hound you, to just release all that irritation and let ‘em have it. And they deserve it. I’m sure they do. Just like Moses’ people deserved to be wiped out by the enemy who had snuck in while they were busy lambasting Moses.

But just as God expected more of Moses, He is asking more of you.


Be steadfast.


“Okay, okay, but how?” you ask. “So far, I’ve tried to just knuckle down and grin and bear it, but that hasn’t worked very well. I’ve stuffed all that frustration and plastered a smile on my face, but even I can feel the anger seeping out of my pores. How in the world do I be steadfast?”

As always, the Scriptures are imminently practical, making the impossible possible for even such weaklings as you and I. And, as is often the case, God provides an example of someone who did what He asked and thrived in the process.

In Acts 17, we read a story of a group of “prominent women” who heard the Gospel explained and expounded on by the Apostle Paul. For three weeks, they absorbed his teaching and their hearts embraced the truth. Then their husbands, friends, co-workers, and families drove Paul out of town in a fit of rage. Later, we read his letter to them as he encourages them in their new faith. In his opening lines, Paul praises them for their “steadfastness of hope” (1 Thessalonians 1v3). In Paul’s outpouring of encouragement to these persecuted people, I think we can find some clues as to how they maintained that steadfastness of hope which we long to experience.

First of all, the hope which held them steady was not some kind of Pollyanna prudishness claiming that everything would work out hunky-dory in the end. That kind of hope leads to the opposite of steadfastness as soon as we wake up to the realization that the circumstances and relationships in our lives do not always resolve themselves in our favor. Divorce happens. Children choose their own way. Economies collapse and health is a precarious gift. The hope that held these new believers steady was hope in God. They were able to look beyond the crabbiness of their husbands and the conflicts in their families to find their needs met in His presence. Their world was not stable, but their God was. That’s what got them up in the morning. That’s what kept them strong.


And they knew their purpose.


These women, (okay, there were men in the group too!) knew in their deepest beings that God had a specific purpose for them. A task to accomplish. A role to play in His Kingdom. They were keenly aware of “His choice of you.”  To the Ephesians he wrote of the “good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” These people woke up every day with that energizing realization that they mattered immensely.


Do you?


Are you aware of His choice of you? Are you figuring out His plan to accomplish those tasks custom designed by God for you?

Of course, these women sometimes faltered. Steadfastness does not mean perfection. Sometimes they struggled to see God in their circumstances just like you and I. Sometimes they felt overwhelmed and their footsteps slowed to a crawl. And undoubtedly, there were times when their own chore lists superseded God’s task sheet for their kingdom role. But in those times, these women had a hidden treasure that they had discovered to keep them going when the going got tough. Not only did they hope in God, not only were they keenly aware of their choice by God, these women had something else which kept them steadfast:


They had each other.


We cannot do this alone, my dear sisters. If we try to be strong and independent, always with the got-my-act-together façade firmly in place, we’ll fail. Like Moses who had his friends Hur and Aaron on either side of him holding up his arms when he grew weary, we need intimate relationships with a few other women to help us stay strong. Not the kind of friendships we so often fill our social calendars with; those connections based on common interests or compelling personalities. We need a few friends who will hold us up before the Father when we falter. We need the kind of friends who will interrupt our sad soliloquies, place their hands on our shoulders, and pray that our hearts will align with His. We need the kind of deep friendships that will do whatever they have to do to keep us from segueing into that kind of dreary complacency which characterizes so many women of faith.

Paul saw this in these women when he thanked God for “the love of each one of you toward one another,” which he noted “grows ever stronger.”


These kinds of friendships don’t happen by accident.


They rarely fall in your lap unexpectedly. You and I will have to go after this kind of love with all the determination with which Ruth went after Naomi’s friendship. Naomi wasn’t easy to love by any means. Yet when Ruth needed her the most, she held her up, helped her wait, and kept her heart steadfast.

So, if your hands are growing heavy and your soul weary, don’t give up. Don’t buckle down and “try harder.” Don’t hold all your frustrations in ‘til they threatened to burst. Instead, follow the leading of these women of faith who hoped in God, who delighted in their specific roles in the Kingdom, and who tucked a few close friends around them who would hold them up when their faith faltered.


Hanging on steadfastly with you,


From my heart,






For Sale

The real estate market in Canaan

Putting your house up for sale in ancient Israel was not as simple as it is today. In fact, the house itself wasn’t worth much. The wealth was in the land.

In the days of Joshua, God had instituted a unique system of land management which revolved around individual tribes or extended families. The assigned land belonged to its respective clan forever. When an individual fell on hard times, and needed the cash the land could offer, he could sell it only within his own clan. As if that was not limiting enough, every fifty years, in what was called the year of Jubilee, the land legally reverted back to its original owner. So if someone bought the piece of property two years before the designated year of Jubilee, he had to hand it back free of charge no matter how many improvements he had made to it.

When Boaz declared that Naomi was selling the piece of land which belonged to Elimelech, he was presenting the nearer kinsman with first rights of refusal. Since the land had to be sold within the clan, Boaz was next in line to buy it. The man refused on the grounds that being expected to take care of Ruth along with the land would somehow add unwanted burden to his own estate.

Everyone benefited from this transaction. Boaz acquired the land, and with it, a wife. Naomi was lifted out of dire poverty into independence, living off the proceeds of the sale. Ruth had a husband to provide for her, and the tribe of Judah kept their piece of Bethlehem within their borders.


Ruth 3v1-18

The Proposal (Part Two)

 (Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)


The Verse of the Week 




More Words from the Father

John 14v1-4

Luke 6v30-38

Colossians 3

Psalm 90v1,2



From my Heart

How to Create a Haven (Part One)

Every woman longs for a home. Not just a house filled with lovely things, but a home to run into and be safe. An abode where love spills on to everyone who enters there. A dwelling overflowing with comfort. A nest which pulls people in by its peace.

Naomi dreams of this for Ruth. She wants to see her daughter blossom in a place where she is valued. Her hopes for Ruth have risen from a heart which finally sees her for the jewel she is. It is this very desire which propels Naomi to urge Ruth to throw out convention and risk rejection in order to go after what they both need.

What about you? Are you willing to make yourself uncomfortable, to put your grand sense of self aside in order to create the kind of home you long for - the kind of home God longs for you to build?

I have to ask myself the same question. You see, all my life I’ve been called a dreamer. As I leaned on my window sill overlooking the rooftops of the town in which I grew up in Europe, I weaved lovely stories of life as it ought to be - a handsome prince, a house full of children who talked just like my Chatty Cathy, and me, pampered and petted and adored.

Reality painted a different picture. My handsome prince had to go to work, my children argued, whined, and complained (sounding an awful lot like me!) and moments of pampering got lost somewhere between loads of laundry

Are you disappointed that your home isn’t what you wish it were? Do you gaze around and wonder what happened? Do you look at your kids or your roommate and feel your heart sink in discouragement?

Here’s what I have discovered along this adventure of listening and learning from God’s Word for the last three decades: the kind of haven I envision for myself doesn’t just happen,


it is built on purpose.


This third chapter of Ruth provides for us a picture of what our homes can be. Here, the Father gives us a glimpse of home as He intended it to look and feel and smell. Whether your home is an apartment or a mansion, a cottage or a cot in the corner, it can be a place of refuge for all who enter its doors.

Let’s take a look at what Ruth and Boaz, with a little nudging from Naomi, created in the beginnings of their home.


A place of beauty.


From the beginning, God created man and woman for a beautiful place. The Garden was a reflection of His creativity and care - His welcome of us. It was there that He placed in our hearts an instinctive embracing of beauty which has never gone away. Naomi knew this. She helped Ruth to bathe and slather on perfume and to put on her finest clothes, not to impress Boaz, but to welcome him.

It takes time to create beauty. It takes effort. It takes forethought and planning. Yet when our home looks and feels and smells beautiful, we can’t help but sigh a great sigh of relief and rest there.


A soft place.


“Then she came softly…” I love that phrase. Here we get a glimpse of Ruth’s unique imprint on the scene…her signature style. As we go about building our home we add our uniquely gentle touch. By our own example as well as by our watchful enforcement (think hall monitor with a smile), we can create and defend an aura of gentleness within our relationships. We can insulate our homes from the harshness of the outside world - a world where horns blare, bloggers decimate strangers, teachers belittle teenagers, and peers point out every misstep. Our home ought to offer relief from all that in-your-face sort of confrontation.

And mothers, take note. If you follow the current strategies in child-raising by allowing your children to “work it out for themselves,” you will be an unwitting participant in what often amounts to sibling brutality. We have all seen it happen. Voices escalate, words proliferate, and the strongest, ugliest, meanest man wins. Training our children to control their feelings, reign in their tongues, and learn to communicate in loving, direct dialogue takes a lot of work. It requires constant vigilance and incredible wisdom as well. We know who to go to for that, though, don’t we?


A delightful place.


Ruth gave Boaz the surprise of his life when he woke up in the middle of the night to find her curled at his feet. Heart thumping, adrenalin surging, Boaz sat up with a start. His response to Ruth’s overtures bubbled up and spilled over her in the form of an outpouring of praise. He couldn’t say enough about her kindness to him in that moment. What about you? Do you often bring exclamations of delight from those who reside in your home? Are you filling your family and friends with memories of delightful surprises - those extra touches that speak volumes to whom they are directed? When I got the rare chance to visit my parents in their home in the mountains all by myself, my mom delighted me each night by slipping into my room, turning on the electric blanket, and folding back the bedding. That small gesture practically shouted love and care to me.

What would bring delight to those you love the most? Perhaps it’s time to give it some thought.


A place of discovery.


Every once in a great while there comes into our lives someone who “gets” us. They find us fascinating instead of weird. They shine a flashlight into the corners of our personalities to discover strengths we didn’t know we had. When we find such a treasure in a friend, we find ourselves feeling freer than we’ve ever felt before. Those of us who are kind of quiet begin to talk. Talkative people rest. Walls fall down and our hopes and dreams seem doable.

Boaz listened to Ruth. He asked questions instead of firing accusations. He waited to interpret her behavior through the grid of respect and what he discovered was a gold mine. How can we unleash that sense of discovery in our own homes? Could we, like Boaz, learn to believe the best of those we love? Dare we ban that attitude of distrust we find ourselves so naturally reverting to? What if we choose instead to highlight each other’s value and overlook each other’s flaws? I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of heart I want to come home to.

Whether your home is a suburban house with a husband, children, and a menagerie of pets or an apartment with three roommates, are you making it a place of rest and refuge? Is it time that you, like Naomi, threw off that passive complacency and poured yourself into creating a home for those you are called to love?

Somehow, I think, this longing in our hearts for home may be part of the Father’s plan. He wants to use us to create an alluring glimpse of God’s dwelling place. And that just makes me want to jump in and get to work!


To be continued tomorrow…from my heart,





 How Big is a Scoop?

A pinch of salt, a dash of nutmeg, a dot of butter. We can imitate these in our kitchens. But an ephah of barley? Six measures of grain? Is that a lot or a little? A token or a treasure?

According to historians, an ephah of barley was an enormous amount of grain. It would have weighed between 30 and 50 pounds by today’s measurements. Considering that an average bag of whole wheat flour which we buy at the grocery store weighs about five pounds, Ruth gleaned a lot of grain! In one day, she gathered the equivalent of a month’s ration of grain for the average male worker in Israel.

A measure is uncertain terminology and, in fact, is not specified in the text. Translators filled in the blank with a vague term in order to keep the sentence coherent. He measured six somethings of barley into her upheld cloak. It could have been six shovelfuls or even six omers, which would have equaled about half of what she’d carried home from the fields. Whatever it was, it was more than enough to convince Naomi that Boaz’ intentions were serious. Their days of hunger were over.





What in the world was Ruth up to when she snuck up to the place where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet, and lay down? Was this some sort of sexual seduction? Not at all! Ruth was using a common idiom for a proposal of marriage. The phrase “corner of your garment” is kanap. It is a word which can be applied either to the edge of his covering or as coming under his wings for protection. It is the same word Boaz used in Ruth 2v12 when he admired Ruth for seeking security in God.

Ruth may have been bold, but she was not in any way suggesting something shocking. Boaz response to her proposal was immediately enthusiastic, for he knew exactly what she meant. He had given her plenty of reason to believe that he held a strong affection for her. She was simply encouraging him to pursue his interest. Still, he knew that others could possibly perceive her presence at the threshing floor late at night as inappropriate, so Boaz took steps to protect both her purity and her reputation.

Note: for a really interesting rabbit trail, read what Jesus had to say about measurements in Luke 6v30-38.