Ruth 1.1-22 – October 29, 2020

Ruth 1:1–22

In the days when the judges ruled,  there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. 

When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty  has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
 (Ruth 1:1–22, NIV)

Call me bitter! Is there a sadder story than a woman in a foreign country without any family to come to her aid? Or is Naomi without the help she thinks she is?

Thought Questions:

Naomi laments her situation, which indeed would have been challenging. Had you been in her shoes, how do you think you would have reacted to her circumstances?

The book of Ruth is filled with heroes who provide help for those in need. Who is the hero of today’s text? What actions proved heroic?

When your life goes wrong, do you assume you are without help? To whom do you turn for support?

Hosea 1.1-3.5 – October 22, 2020

Hosea 1.1–3.5

1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel: 

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 

3 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” 

So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” 

For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.  (Hosea 1.1–3.5, NIV)

“Hosea & Gomer: The story of God’s love for Israel–as an exmple through Hosea and Gomer. God loves us even when we betray him.”

Thought Questions:

How do you think you would react if God told you to marry someone who was promiscuous and unfaithful?

How willing or unwilling would you have been to take back someone who was unfaithful to you?

How has your view of God and your understanding of his love changed having read the story of Hosea?

Galatians 5.22-26 – October 21, 2020

Galatians 5.22–26

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  (Galatians 5.22–26, NIV)

Do you live by the Spirit? Is your life full of love, joy, peace…

Thought Questions:

How have you seen the fruit of the Spirit visible in your life?

In what ways have you been able to put aside the flesh, to avoid those things that are not consistent with the fruit of the Spirit?

Why is your relationship with others such a big part of a Spirit filled life?

Mark 2.1-12 – October 20, 2020

Mark 2.1–12

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”  
(Mark 2:1–12, NIV)

What kind of friends do you have? The kind that have enough faith to do whatever they need to to get you to Jesus?

Thought Questions:

What do you think the friends of the paralyzed man thought about him? He obviously could not do everything they could, but do you think they thought less of him because of it?

Why would the religious elite think so poorly of Jesus’ actions which healed a man? Wouldn’t you think they would rejoice that healing came to someone who needed it?

How important is the faith of your friends to you? How does that faith impact your own?

Ruth 4.1-22 – October 19, 2020

Ruth 4.1–22

This, then, is the family line of Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron,
19 Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
21 Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,
22 Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.

(Ruth 4.18–22, NIV)

In a book that seems slightly off topic, we discover that it is through the lineage of Ruth comes Jesus.

Thought Questions:

So which character in the book of Ruth was most faithful? Might one argue that Boaz was just as faithful as anyone?

How might of the story of Jesus been different if Boaz had not been a part of Ruth’s story?

In what ways has God moved in unusual and surprising ways in your life and the end result was unexpected blessings?

Numbers 13.1-33 – October 15, 2020

Numbers 13:1–33

The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.” 

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
  (Numbers 13:1–33, NIV)

What would you have done, when faced with following God’s commands in the face of seemingly giant odds stacked against you?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think God would have the people of Israel scout out a land he had already promised to give them?

Why is it easier to listen to the people who are negative than it is to listen to those who are calling you to be faithful?

If you were the people of Israel, how would you move forward at this point, based on what you have read?

Esther 4.14 – October 1, 2020

Esther 4.14

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4.14, NIV)

“Esther truly saved the Jewish nation because of her courage.”

Thought Questions:

Why is it easier for us to remain silent, rather than speak up in the face of adversity?

What can we do to give ourselves more strength to speak up?

Describe a time when you felt as if you were at just the right place at just the right time to help someone in the name of the Lord? In what ways did you feel God at work in that moment?