Words for the Workers

by John O’Malley

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“And, behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee” (Ruth 2:4). 

Boaz loved his workers, and he knew them very well. He looked after his harvesters as well as their harvesting. He came to his workers with a greeting. “The Lordbe with you,” he said to them. They enjoyed when Boaz came by and visited them in their work. They knew his position, power, and prestige; but, they loved his presence among them!

They would reply to his greeting, “The Lordbless thee.” What a response! The field owner arrives at the work place, and is greeted with, “The Lordbless thee.” This would be the kind of place anyone would love to work. It was a workplace where harmony ruled and attacking the other workers was unknown. It was a workplace where Boaz’s presence was longed for, not loathed. It was a workplace where good words replaced worthless gossip. 

Boaz knew his fields were God’s fields. He knew his workers were God’s workers. He wanted everyone at his workplace to know that God’s presence was to be recognized, revered, and rejoiced over—even though they were in the field. They enjoyed the spiritual while they occupied themselves with the servile.

We can draw many lessons as we contemplate the Lord of the harvest, the Lord’s harvest, and the Lord’s harvesters. Has the work of the harvest become so tedious that we have neglected spiritual fellowship with our co-laborers? Is harmony ruling in our spiritual work for the Lord? Has gossip become the theme of the conversations in our spiritual workplace?

We know all the attributes of our Eternal Boaz’s great position, power, and prestige; yet what we should love most about God is His presence.

If you fear His presence, I encourage you to look for His presence. Take pleasure in Him the next time He passes your field. 

When did the Lord last come by your harvest field? You may say, “He has never passed by my field!” Friend, does that really sound like our Boaz? He probably has come by your field many times to fellowship with you, and you were too busy griping, gossiping, and grumbling about working so hard. You may know the facts about our Boaz, but do you know His fellowship?

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Boaz From Bethlehem

by John O’Malley 

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“And, behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee” (Ruth 2:4). 

Boaz, our new principal character, broke across the line of the horizon as he came from town to see about his business in the fields. It would not be uncommon for the field owner to check on his fields during the time of harvest. As the field owner, Boaz had every right to see after his servants, their service, and the status of the harvest. His arrival was not in judgment, but rather in an inspection of his expectation for the harvest.

Our Eternal Boaz has an interest in His harvest and His harvesters. His harvest is one of souls. He has an expectation of His harvest. He knows when the seed was planted, and He knows when there should be a reaping. He knows what His fields will produce given the conditions they have been experiencing. 

Jesus, our Eternal Boaz, also has an expectation of His harvesters. He expects them to be present in the fields and prepared to work in the fields. He will not leave His workers in the field without provision. 

When Jesus inspects the section of the harvest we are working on for Him, what does He find?Are we present in the fields? Are we reaping the harvest He expected us to receive for the seed He had cast there? Are we producing for Him in the fields?

It is rather easy to spend all of our time checking on everyone else’s lack of productivity in the harvest. Often we do this and neglect our own production for Him. When He comes, let us determine to be found present, productive, and pleasing to Him in the work of the harvest.

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My Hometown

by John O’Malley

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“And, behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee” (Ruth 2:4). 

Boaz’s arrival is marked by the fact that he came from Bethlehem. The city, at 2350 feet above sea level, overlooks the main highway to Hebron and Egypt. His walk to the fields may have brought him by the burial site of Rachel, Bethlehem’s hometown girl, whom they affectionately called “The Mother of Israel.” Rachel, Jacob’s wife, would be long remembered in this little town for her marriage, her children, and her life. 

Much would happen in this little town nestled in the hills of Judah. Boaz had no idea that this little town of Bethlehem-judah would be so significant in God’s plan. Kings would be anointed here. Men of valor would rush here and endanger their own lives for a glass of water for their anointed King David. Jesus, the Son of David, Bethlehem’s greatest inhabitant of all, would choose to be born in Bethlehem. 

Outside this quiet town, shepherds would receive an angel’s message as they kept the night’s watch over their sheep. The angel’s message would be followed by a multitude of the heavenly host, who were “waiting in the wings” to herald their message right there outside of Bethlehem. 

Celebratory days would not be the only images in Bethlehem’s scrapbook of history. There would come a day when there would be great sorrow in her streets over the slaying of the young children of the town. An even sadder day was yet to come when Bethlehem’s greatest resident would be hung on a cross in the neighboring town to the north.

For generations it has been a part of our culture to evaluate someone by his or her hometown. Perhaps there were some in Boaz’s day that would criticize him because of his hometown. People criticized Jesus and questioned whether good could come from His hometown of Nazareth. They diminished him by saying He was just the carpenter’s son. It would be wise to recall Mark 6:4, “But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”

The next time we see guests in church, we must evaluate the needs of their heart instead of evaluating them based on their neighborhood. What would happen in our hearts if we would encourage people instead of discouraging them over senseless things? What would happen in our hearts if we would cease from being critical and cynical of others and become more Christ-like?

Bethlehem was not the largest town, nor did the religious elite herald it as the “preferred” town, but it was small and unbecoming enough for God to make it a great hometown.

Rememberit is not in our own merits that greatness is established, but rather by God’s mercy that great things are wrought!

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Kindred of Elimelech

by John O’Malley

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“Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech” (Ruth 2:3).     

Boaz’s history is often untold. We marvel at Boaz’s compassion toward Ruth. She was a Moabite by birth; yet in her new birth, she was an Israelite. When Boaz saw Ruth in his field, he did not instantly reject her because of her birthplace. He simply accepted her status in the faith over her status as a foreigner. 

Normally, Israelites would be slow to accept an outsider. What then made Boaz so apt to accept Ruth? Perhaps the answer becomes clear when we pause to look at Boaz’s family album. Let us ask him:

 “Boaz, do you have a picture of your parents?”

“Oh yes, let me show you my parents,” his reply would be. “Here is my father, Salmon. He was an Israelite prince.” 

“Oh, I see. Do you have one of your mother?” 

“Yes, let me show you. You may have heard of my mother. Did you ever hear the story of the walls falling down in Jericho except for one woman’s apartment?”

“You mean Rahab the harlot?” 

“Yes, Rahab the Gentile girl from Jericho is my mother.”

 Now it is quite easy to see why this powerful man would take the time to accept a young, widowed Moabite convert by providing for and protecting her. 

 This same Boaz was also a man with a heritage. He belonged to the same family line of Elimelech. This was not by happenstance. It was God in His sovereignty which placed Boaz in the family that would be able to redeem the name of Elimelech, and thereby restore the line of Christ.

 Boaz was also a man of honor. Although this point will later be seen clearly, Boaz was honorable in his integrity toward men, women, and God. No wonder God chose to use him!

 Many times people believe that their lives have very little value or importance. They often discredit their abilities, discount their talents, and even minimize what God has bestowed upon them. 

It would be easy to discredit or discount your abilities or heritage, but God has placed you where He needs to use you. Never grumble or gripe about what you do not have. You have what He wants you to have for what He wants to do with you.

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A Field for His Use

by John O’Malley

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The field belonging unto Boaz” (Ruth 2:3). 

 The book of Ruth, in its first chapter, keeps Elimelech and Naomi as the principal characters. In chapter two, the attention switches from them to Boaz. After Elimelech’s death, God used Naomi to cultivate His Gentile gem, Ruth. He used a man named Boaz to care for this Gentile gem. 

 How did God use Boaz to care for her? He began by using his possessions. He later used Boaz’s position. Then, He used Boaz’s provisions. All of this God did to care for His Gentile gem, Ruth.

 Boaz was a resident of Bethlehem because of God’s will. Boaz was given the Hebrew title that, translated in other verses, would read a mighty man of valor. In Ruth 2:1, Boaz is declared as a man with great wealth and position. He owned fields outside of Bethlehem that would become the place of provision for Ruth. The fields Boaz owned would become the place of Ruth’s presentation. Boaz’s fields ultimately became the place of Ruth’s protection.

 At that moment, the plan of God centered on Boaz’s will. God had much that He would do for Ruth with Boaz’s person, position, and possessions. God was going to do great things for Israel because of Boaz’s willingness. God was going to do even greater things for His Son Jesus because of Boaz’s surrender. Boaz was willing to allow God to use him and whatever God had given him.

 Oftentimes, we are like young children when it comes to our possessions.We like what is ours. We are not prone to share unless forced by a higher authority. It takes an earnest threat to get most of us to give something beyond what we might not miss. 

 We scold our children for their refusal to share toys, food, or money; yet when it comes to our possessions, we end up acting just like our children. We do not share our possessions, position, or paychecks with anyone, including God. We tend to look at something and say, “Now, this is mine. If God wants to use a rich man’s things, that’s fine; but I am a poor man, and I do not care to have Him use my things.”

 Oh, the blessings we miss when we hold back on God! There are times that God would like to use what He has given us; but we are slow to respond and sometimes even rebellious about what He wants to use that is ours. Imagine what poverty Boaz would have come to if he had been stingy with God? Imagine how poor we become when we become stingy with God!

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Just Happened By

by John O’Malley 

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 “And her hap was to light on a part of the field” (Ruth 2:3). 

“And her hap.” What an interesting phrase! It is a comfort to know that the Lord of Glory Who places queens in palaces, Who softens the landing of sparrows that fall, and Who provides rams in thickets also guided the incidentals of Ruth’s life. She was simply looking for a job, and God brought her to the right one. 

If Ruth had chosen the wrong field, she would have missed God’s handfuls of purpose. If Ruth had chosen the wrong field, she would have missed God’s man for her life. If Ruth had chosen the wrong field, she would have worked harder for less barley. If Ruth had chosen the wrong field, she would have been childless forever. If Ruth had chosen the wrong field, she would have failed to see the best that God had and would have unknowingly settled for second best.

The Lord directed the steps of Ruth and allowed her to see that the best place to glean was the field of Boaz. How many times have we walked along the paths of our lives and thought we happened to discover something, and never once contemplated that it was a sovereign God Who orchestrated the events of our lives so that we could “happen” upon His will.

When you are in God’s will, the places you will walk today, the people you will meet, and the provisions you will discover are all designed to reveal His goodness. The Lord orders the steps of a good man. Why not purpose in your heart to take each day and look for God’s hand at work in your life?

Before us today are choices that may determine if we will be in the place of His handfuls of purpose. It would be disheartening to have lived our lives and look back at life’s end and see the handfuls of purpose God would have dropped our way, but did not because we made our choices and not His choices?

How much do we include God in the decisions of our lives? How often do we communicate with Him over the simple things? Since He is interested in the watch care of sparrows, rams, and whales which have no souls; surely He is interested in us and our life decisions. There are no coincidences with God. May we seek Him early, often, and humbly for His guidance, and watch for His handfuls of purpose along our way.

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Gone Gleaning

by John O’Malley

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— Personal Reflection

The temptation in our lives is to do what we want to do. We are prone to go where we want to go. We want to please ourselves. 

Ruth’s simple desire to be where God wanted her and with whom God wanted her brought her to the right field at the right time.

In the next 24 hours, what does God have for you do for Him and with Him?

1. Is there a person or persons you need to visit today to encourage them? Write their name(s) below:

 

2. Is there a task God placed on your heart today and you have not done it yet? Write the answer below:

 

3. What will you do today to serve God? Write the answer below:

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Words to Comfort

by John O’Malley

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— Personal Reflection

Dear Father,

Thank you for your love for me. 

Thank you for the comfort I find in Your presence, promises, protection, and provision. Your Words give life. Your Words give hope. Your words give power.

Your Word tells me that in my tongue is the power of life and death. God help me today to use every word to speak words of life to help those who are under a burden. Help me to speak words of life to those who hurt and need hope. 

God, I really need your help not to speak words of death today. Let me not be the one who discourages someone today. Let me refuse the temptation to harm others with my words. Let me find someone in a dark place today and say to them, like Naomi said to Ruth, “Go my daughter.” 

Help me to speak words of life today to bring you glory and bring hope to others. 

Amen.

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Seeking What Lacked

by John O’Malley

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— Personal Reflection

Scripture does not record any words spoken by Ruth since her confession of faith in the first chapter. Ruth wanted to go out and find a place where she could glean and a person in whose eyes she would find grace. 

Ruth decision to glean led her to discover the pardon for her heritage, the permission to enter the harvest, and the provision for her home. 

Imagine for a moment what faith it took for Ruth to believe that God’s provision for widows would even extend to someone from Moab. Imagine what hope Ruth had as she believed she would return from gleaning with sheaves of grain and grace.

If you are a child of God by faith, you do not have to think too hard to see yourself as Ruth. You had nothing before Christ. You were nothing before salvation. Yet today, He claims you as His own.

Today, ask God to show you someone, even a total stranger, to tell them what God has done in your life. 

Who will you to tell?

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It Is in the Past 

by John O’Malley

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— Personal Reflection

Dear Father,

Only you know every imagination and thought of my mind and heart. Only You know how pre-judging people comes easier to me than believing the best about others. I do not like that trait in me to judge others based on their past or present.

Help me to see others like you saw me. Help me to treat others as you treated me. You took me as I was. You knew my past, present, and problems. Yet, You loved me where I was and when I was nothing. 

Help me to love as You love, care as You care, and lift others as You lifted me.

Amen.

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A Widow’s Portion

by John O’Malley

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 — Personal Reflection

God had a portion for Naomi in Bethlehem-judah. If Naomi is to see God’s portion for her, she will have to look past the graves, grief, and the shame in her life. She will have to train her eye to see the goodness and grace of the Lord.

God has a portion for you. He has an allotment for your life right where you are as you read this today. The portion God has for you is sufficient for whatever this day brings.

What in your life right now is God’s portion for you? What is He doing in your life to get you to see past the griefs and graves of your life? 

Are your eyes trained to see the goodness and grace of the Lord?

Yes or No.

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Bounty in Bethlehem 

by John O’Malley

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God’s will brought Naomi to a place of blessing from a place of brokenness. It is when Naomi arrived to where and when God needed her to be she then began to see what she had.

God’s will is not a destination as much as it is the daily journey with Him. God’s will is not only for those in full-time Christian service. God’s will is for full-time Christians.

Today, can you say with integrity?

•         I am doing what God wants me to do today.

•         I am where God wants me to be today.

•         I am with whom God wants me to be with today.

•         I am available, without reservation or hesitation, for whatever God wants from me today.

God’s will brings the best out of you for His glory.

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Three Funerals and a Wedding

by John O’Malley

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And they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest” (Ruth 1:22).

So much has happened in the lives of these two women in the last ten years. Travelers who passed these two women might have remarked as to the oddity of seeing two women traveling alone. Others may have queried amongst themselves as to why two widows would be traveling. No one person could aptly tell their story just from glancing at this traveling couple. The sorrow that was entombed in their hearts, the agony of disappointment that etched their faces, and the defeat that might have affected their posture, all played a role in the journey home. 

They complete their sixty-seven miles of reminiscing and replaying the videos from their library of memories. Their arrival in town is marked by the comments of the townspeople and the much-awaited beginning of the barley harvest. 

The latter half of this verse is marked by two elements worthy of comment. Note the first element pertains to the words “and they.” This is reminiscent of verse two of this same chapter. “And they came into the country of Moab.” The “they” is different this time. It is comprised of a Jewish mother-in-law with her recently converted Moabite daughter-in-law. Naomi did not leave Moab alone; God saved a Moabite girl who would be used to bear a child in the line of her deceased father-in-law. This child would be grandfather to David, king of Israel, and in the earthly line of Jesus Christ. The words “and they” reveal and confirm the promise God made to Abraham back in Genesis twelve and reaffirmed to Jacob’s sons (Genesis 49:10).

The second element is found in the time of their arrival. God was bringing two strangers together, and it would be set against the backdrop of the barley harvest. Outside of town, in the barley fields they passed, they did not know that God had the barley growing in Boaz’s field, waving its welcome to Ruth and Naomi. Ruth saw in the barley a potential occupation and provision for immediate needs, but God had a different plan. 

You see, their story is more than just a tale of three funerals. This would be the story of three funerals and a wedding. You may be facing difficult days. You may now only see the difficult and the disappointing, but remember God’s timing is precise, perfect, and providential.

Think about it...

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Return to Sender 

by John O’Malley

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So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab” (Ruth 1:22).

The letter from the post office arrived. On its envelope was marked, “Return to Sender–Undeliverable as Addressed.” A long time had passed since its sender had posted it. In fact, the envelope resembled one sent years ago by the sender. Though it has picked up a few markings along the way, it has made its way back home. The postal service had not found a place to deliver the piece, so they just sent it back with one phrase: “Return to Sender–Undeliverable as Addressed.” It was the postal service’s way of indicating: “This piece does not belong here, so we are sending it back from whence it came.”

This simple illustration helps us understand Ruth 1:22. More than ten years before, Elimelech “sent” his family to Moab. Now after these many years, the Holy Spirit of God stamped Naomi’s life with a message: “Return to Sender–Undeliverable as Addressed.” There was no place for Naomi in Moab. She and her kin belonged in Bethlehem-judah. God canceled the self-delivery attempts of Elimelech and Naomi in Moab and put Naomi on the mail route of forgiveness, that made deliveries to Bethlehem-judah. 

As the letter returned, Naomi had the markings of her journey.These markings she bore on her brow and in her heart. Yet on her return, we can identify the marks of God’s grace .She had been “Returned to Sender,” not placed in the dead mail pile. She had been received by the home folks, not rejected. The company she had brought with her from Moab had comforted her loneliness and rejection on this journey home. Yes, God had been so good to her. Naomi’s trip home began when she came to herself and wanted to get back to Bethlehem-judah. 

You may have tried to deliver yourself to a place down in Moab. This is not where you belong. The day you come to yourself, God will place you on the mail route of forgiveness and send you home. 

Weary travelers come home! There is no place for you in Moab!

Think about it...

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It Is All About Me 

by John O’Malley

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Why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:21).

Naomi stands before her own people and seemingly cannot bear to hear her own name. This one, whose name meant “pleasant” or “delightsome,” stood before her own people and said, “Call me not Naomi, but Mara.” 

The evidence she offered for this identity change is two-fold. She explained the God of Israel, Jehovah, had testified against her. The second reason offered is that El-Shaddai, The Almighty God, had afflicted her. Afflicted by the Almighty and testified against by Jehovah: were these two factors enough to justify her renaming herself from Naomi to Mara? 

God had brought her home again, but she could not yet see the blessing of His providence. Presently, she could only see the hurts, hard times, and seeming hopelessness. She simply saw the burden of her punishment. However, as it usually is with God, the best was yet to come. Her days of restored blessings were just around the corner.

Naomi did as most of us do. We believe that correction surely must make us unloved by God, and therefore we should be unloved by all. However, God’s correction is not solely an indication of His wrath, but rather an indication of His love.If He did not correct us, we would be classified as illegitimate children. 

Instead of walking around mumbling the plaintive words of the song, “It’s All About Me,” why not walk around determined and certain that, “It’s all about Thee!”

Think about it...

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Sin’s Effect on the Believer

by John O’Malley

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I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty” (Ruth 1:21).

Naomi reveals to us, in her answer to the towns people’s questions, the lessons she learned from her time in Moab. These lessons become our examples for today. When a careful look is made of Naomi’s answer you can see four valuable life-lessons for when we make “Moab mistakes.”

Naomi recognized that confessed sin reveals God’s forgiveness. Consider the words “I went out,” and the counter phrase, “The Lord brought.” Naomi saw her error in leaving the protection and provision of Bethlehem-judah. She saw that, though she walked out, it was God who brought her back home. Friend, you may have left the place of God’s will for your life. No matter how far you have gone, upon the recognition of your error, God can bring you back.

Naomi recognized that sin removes God’s fellowship. Look carefully for the words that signal this lesson. Do you see the words “out” and “home”? She knew that sin had placed her on the outside of God’s will for her life. She saw that Bethlehem-judah was home. She knew that by coming back there, her broken fellowship would be restored. Sinful choices that take us to Moab will always break our fellowship with God.

Naomi further recognized that sin robs God’s fruitfulness. Consider the words, “full” and “empty.” Though Elimelech and she left Bethlehem-judah in a famine, she now saw herself as having left there full. Surely, she noticed that the townspeople who had remained to cope during the famine had come through it. They were better off now than she and Ruth. Naomi now declares herself as bankrupt because of her sinful departure from God’s will. She learned that Moab never makes you richer, only poorer!

Lastly, Naomi, recognized that confessed sin reveals God’s faithfulness. Consider the remaining word in this phrase “again.” Do you remember in verse five Naomi had heard how God had visited his people again, and she began her trip home? God allowed Naomi to come home again, after she learned her lesson in Moab. God revealed His faithfulness in permitting her to come home, again. John would later write in his Epistle the lesson Naomi had just learned what God would record in I John 1:9, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (emphasis added) and to let us come home again!

Think about it…and come home!

 

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The Unjust Accusation 

by John O’Malley

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…for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).

These words crossed the lips of Naomi in her bitter state of mind. The God of Israel now stands accused in the courtroom of Naomi’s mind and soul. She hurled the unjust accusation toward heaven in front of the spectators in Bethlehem-judah. Eternity’s witnesses had not been called to offer testimony; it was just one accuser who assessed the course of her life and said, “The Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.”

Had she really meant what she said about Jehovah God? Were these just the words of a ten-year struggle with her decision to remain in Moab after her husband’s death? Were these the words of a woman embarrassed by her situation in front of her home folks? Did she really believe that the Almighty had been dealing with her in a very bitter way?

It would be easy to judge her, but the careful reader would note that the end of the story reveals that God had been very gracious to her, to allow her to have her husband and son’s name restored, a grandchild to be born, and to have security in her old age. Did these hastily spoken words influence her family for generations to come? I would remind you of the words of her great-great grandson; “I have been young, and now am old; yet, have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).

Believers, in times of trial, we may have occasionally repeated Naomi’s unjust accusation toward God. Please remember, God will always do the most gracious thing for His children.Before you say, “Shame on Naomi for her accusation,” you should consider the times you have said the same thing.

Think about it...

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“When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll”

by John O’Malley

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And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara...” (Ruth 1:20).

Naomi, whose name means “pleasant,” has ended her sixty-seven-mile journey. The home folks are stirring about her and calling out to her. Naomi’s very name seems to haunt her. She blurts out an answer to those who call to her, “Naomi, is that you?” The question, oft repeated, begins to haunt her empty soul. Her very name stands in contrast to her present feelings. Clearly, Naomi is drowning in a sea of personal crisis and agony. 

She replies to her questioners with this mournful sentence: “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” This statement indicates to us that she is a woman self-absorbed in her misery. Had the Almighty dealt very bitterly with her? Is Naomi facing the consequences of her sinful choices since her husband died? Was she facing the providential hand of God as He orchestrated events to lead her in making the right choices in her life? Was it that she was blaming God for all that went wrong in her life? 

Horatio Spafford, the hymn writer, penned these words after his own difficult experience in the song, “It Is Well With My Soul.” He wrote, 

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

What do you say when the sorrows of your life seem to roll like the waves of the sea? Have you learned the Lord’s lesson for Horatio Spafford in the sorrows that attend your way? Do you say in sorrow, “It is well with my soul?” 

Dear reader, remember, your name is “Christian,” not “bitter one.” Let it not stand in contrast to the way you feel inside during each crisis. 

Think about it...

 

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Remembered in Bethlehem-judah

by John O’Malley

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And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?” (Ruth 1:19).

More than ten years had passed since Elimelech and his family left Bethlehem-judah during a famine. Though a quartet left, only a duet returned. The townspeople were all abuzz with excitement and questions. “Is this Naomi?” was their chief question. The questions abounded, and the answers were difficult; but her answer should have been, “Yes, this is Naomi!”

She was not the same woman that had left this humble town. Naomi, who once was the wife of a mighty man of great wealth, was now a humble widow. What once all made sense to Naomi, now was confusing, as she reckoned that the Almighty had dealt bitterly with her. Yet the question, “Is this Naomi?” should have a lasting effect on the reader of God’s Word. The effect namely is, the people of Bethlehem-judah had long remembered Naomi as the one whose name and nature were pleasant. 

How about your sojourn on this earth? The people you have met during the varied stages of your life, how do they remember your nature? Were you faithful and friendly? Were you a blessing or a burden? Were you a help or a hindrance? Though the testimony we have in the present is vital, the testimony we leave still speaks of us.

Having read this part of the verse, let us make sure the testimony we are leaving and the testimony we have left behind are both pleasing to the Lord.

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Redemption in Bethlehem-judah

by John O’Malley

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"So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem” (Ruth 1:19).

The journey home finally begins. This journey had been in God’s plan since before the day Elimelech’s family left Bethlehem-judah more than ten years earlier. Naomi’s strides toward Bethlehem-judah are sure and steady. Heaviness and hope mark each footprint on this sixty-seven mile journey. Their journey to Bethlehem-judah should give a student of the Word of God much to contemplate. 

Scripture indicates Bethlehem-judah has certainly been a place where God has sought to conduct His divine work of redemption. On no less than three directly related occasions in Scripture, God has established His interest and wrought redemption in this tiny town of Bethlehem. The trip of Naomi and Ruth would be the first of three redemption journeys detailed in Scripture. 

God began this trilogy with the redemption of a Moabitish girl named Ruth. He would use a man named Boaz who would stand in Bethlehem-judah’s gate and declare his intention of being the kinsman-redeemer to Elimelech’s name and Mahlon’s widow. This redemption restored the birth line of the Messiah. 

The second incident of God’s redemption in Bethlehem-judah occurs in 1 Samuel 16:1. Saul, the King of Israel, has had his leadership terminated by God because of his pride. Samuel, the prophet, is told by God to go to Bethlehem-judah and find David, the great-grandson of Ruth, the redeemed Moabitess. God sought on this trip of redemption, not the redemption of an individual, but rather the redemption of a nation, Israel.  

The third occasion in the trilogy of God’s redemption in Bethlehem-judah occurs with a relative of David, the great-grandson of Ruth, the redeemed Moabitess. It will be about fourteen generations later, and God will take an unlikely couple and send them to Bethlehem-judah for the third episode of redemption in Bethlehem. They get to Bethlehem, and Mary gives birth to Jesus her first-born son, not of Joseph, but of the Holy Ghost.  

Joseph and Mary’s trek to Bethlehem-judah was not for the redemption of an individual, nor for the redemption of a nation, but for the redemption of the world. Angels would herald to shepherds the good news, which was for all people. This good news was a Saviour born for the world. Yes, this would be the last of Bethlehem’s involvement in God’s plan of redemption. Bethlehem’s story of God’s redemption must be told and re-told.When last did you tell it?

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