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!

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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!”

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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.

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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. 

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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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Steadfastly Minded

by John O’Malley

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"When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her" (Ruth 1:18).

The scene must have been incredible. Ruth broke her recorded silence with her profession of faith. This must have sent a clear signal to Naomi that Ruth was a genuine convert. Ruth’s conversion silenced Naomi’s insistence that Ruth go back to Moab. 

You see, bitterness of the soul allows no rejoicing over the conversion of sinners.Naomi had not recognized that the sovereign hand of God was at work in her life. God had spared one from Moab’s sinful grip, and yet she still could not see God’s almighty hand had been very good to her. This happens to many a believer. They think that all is lost and life is over; yet God is never bound by the circumstances of our lives.

Ruth, though a new convert, certainly had the mind of the apostle Paul. Paul stood before the brethren of Cæsarea and they saw Paul could not be persuaded. Ruth too exhibited the proper mindset for a believer. This should serve as a call to steadfastness though our journey is long, though the way threatens to be hard, and though the future is not clear.

Ruth clearly was steadfastly minded in her word, walk, and work. Are you? 

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Knocked Out of the Race

by John O’Malley

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"The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me" (Ruth 1:17).

Several years ago, an Olympic runner was knocked down in his race. The crowd gasped as his hopes for winning were crushed. The crowd of runners all passed him by, but he determined to get up and finish. Certainly, he would have been justified to get out of the race, because he would not win the race. Truly, he would not win, but that runner ran on because his determination was to finish the race he started. 

In our passage, Ruth is beginning her race as a believer. Obstacles and obstructions certainly were before her. So, she concluded with determination that she was entering the race to finish. She determined that day that she would finish her course. 

She stated this with the strongest declaration she could make. Ruth said nothing short of death would knock her out of the race. She went on to declare that she wanted God to give her worse than death if she ever dropped out from this fellowship between herself and the only other believer she knew: Naomi.

The point is clear. Many of you are in a church, a local congregation, and fellowship of believers. (If you are not a member of a Bible-believing, local church, you should hang your head in shame; for your pride seems to be a stronger edict than God's Word.) Setbacks, sufferings, and sin will take place in your walk with the Lord. I wonder, what would it take to get you to quit His church? 

There are those who have quit church because of the unfriendliness of believers. Others have quit church because of embarrassment over children or spouses. Even some believers have quit church because a high standard for personal holiness was upheld. I know of some who quit church because they did not get their way in God’s house. (This has always perplexed me. Since it is God’s house, should He not get His way?)

What would it take to make you drop out of church? Ruth knew when she started the race that it would be a race worth finishing. Have you made up your mind, like Ruth, to run and not drop out?

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Drawn to Heaven

by John O’Malley

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"Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried" (Ruth 1:17)

The statement must have resounded in Naomi's ears. "Wherever you die, that is where I want to be buried." Ruth had just stated the intentions of her faith. She had heard so much about God and His people that she told Naomi, “I just bought a one-way ticket, and I am here for the duration.”

Where would Naomi die? Does a believer in God ever die? No! We who believe in Him will neverdie (John 11:26). Ruth's soul had been drawn to heaven by one who lived in Moab, but never let Moab live in her soul.

It was as if Ruth was saying, "Naomi, I want your leaving place to be my leaving place." Ruth wanted Naomi's launching place of death to be her launching place. Ruth wanted Naomi's landing place in heaven to be her landing place.

Death is a leaving place for the believer. As Ruth left Moab, death will let us leave the Moab of earth. Death for the believer is a launching place. When a believer dies, they launch out of this world without the help of NASA. Death for the believer means that the landing place is heaven. Oh, do you not want to go?

Dear reader, these last few devotions have dealt with a testimony in Moab. How is yours? When last did a Moabite come up to you and say, "Wherever you are going when you die, that is where I want to go?"

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Drawn to Him

by John O’Malley

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"And Ruth said...and thy God my God"  (Ruth 1:16).

The testimony of Naomi’s life in Moab had drawn Ruth to her heart, hope, homeland, and home folks. Now Ruth stands at the exit from Moab and the entrance to the Promised Land and says, “Your testimony has drawn me to Him. The gods of Moab are nothing and have no hold on me.” 

Ruth indicated, “I have heard about His passion for His people. I have heard about His power for His people. I have heard about His provision for His people. I have heard about His pardon of His people. Naomi, your testimony has drawn me to Him. You have spoken so much about God; I want Him to be my God.” 

All Ruth had known growing up as a little girl was the gods of Moab. Those gods were lifeless, man-made objects, deified by Moabites. Now having heard of the one true and living God, she declares, “Naomi, your testimony has drawn me to Him.” 

Dear reader, do you have a testimony in Moab? How are you doing in making Jesus known in Moab? Have you become so self-absorbed that you are telling others of your woes, worries, and wants and are no longer speaking of the wonders of Calvary?Have you become so intoxicated on your own problems that your testimony is virtually silenced? I urge you today, break out of this pattern and look around you at the Moabites who are your neighbors. Go find one and declare to him the wonders of Calvary’s Christ. 

God’s mercy reaches Moab. Why not tell a Moabite today? 

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Drawn to Your Home Folks

by John O’Malley

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“And Ruth said...thy people shall be my people” (Ruth 1:16).

Ruth’s testimony of her conversion included an interesting phrase. She told Naomi, “I want to be a part of your people.” Certainly, Ruth had been listening to the last ten years of Naomi’s conversation about her people. This phrase demands an investigation into the content and tone of Naomi’s conversation about her home folks.

Ruth’s statement includes two apparent thoughts. First, Naomi maintained a distinction from being a Moabite. No matter how long she spent in Moab, she never became a Moabite. We note this from Ruth’s confession that said “thy people.” 

Secondly, it is critical to note that though Naomi knew “all the dirt” on the home folks, she spent her time speaking of a people that were different because of their God, not because of their idiosyncrasies. Not one word that Naomi spoke during Ruth’s ten years of listening drove Ruth from God, but rather drew Ruth to God’s people.

Ruth wanted to meet a people who had God to fight their battles for them. She wanted to meet the people that had provision made for them in the wilderness and in famines. She wanted to meet the people who had escaped Egypt, marched around walls, and seen miracles in battle. She wanted to become one of those people.

How are you doing when it comes to your conversations about the people of God in your church?Have your conversations drifted to cynical, sarcastic, and shadowy gossip? Will this draw your lost family members to Christ? I think not! Let us maintain a standard in our conversations that is Biblical (Philippians 1:27; 1 Peter 2:12).

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Drawn to Your Homeland

 by John O’Malley

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And Ruth said...and where thou lodgest, I will lodge” (Ruth 1:16).

Home. For most people the very word stirs hearts and elicits a warm feeling within the bosom. During the Christmas holidays, a friend called me in the middle of unwrapping presents and heard such laughter and rejoicing as my four siblings and their spouses and children opened gifts. He asked me, “Can I come over?” He was content and enjoying the day with his own family, yet when he heard the thrill and joy in my “homeland,” he asked to be a part.

Naomi must have had many a conversation about the Promised Land in Ruth’s presence. Perhaps it was the stories of a land that flowed with milk and honey. Maybe it was the account of the grapes of Eschol that grew so large in their clusters that two men would have to carry them. Was it the incidents of days when seas parted and rivers stood on end to allow God’s people to move about? No matter the specific occasion, clearly Naomi had spoken enough about home that Ruth determined that she wanted to lodge wherever Naomi lodged.

What would happen if we began to speak more about our home in heaven? What if we told of streets of gold, or gates of pearl. What would happen if we began to speak of a place where sorrow, death, and tears are never present and will never be allowed access? What if we told of a Land of rest and reunion that never ends? What if our conversation included tidbits of heaven? You know, if it did, perhaps our testimony would draw people to our Homeland. Remember, we are merely strangers, aliens, and pilgrims on this earth; our Homeland is just beyond the veil of this life.

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Drawn to Your Hope 

by John O’Malley

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And Ruth said…for whither thou goest, I will go” (Ruth 1:16).

Hope is the sole possession of Naomi. She no longer has a husband; death came and took him. She no longer has her sons; death visited her home and took them. She is down to one daughter-in-law after the departure of Orpah. She will leave grave sites and grave memories in Moab. She seemingly is both empty-handed and empty-hearted. 

How can hope be her sole possession? Her circumstances and conditions indicate on the barometer of hope that a storm is here. Yet, you must recall that she had heard in Bethlehem-judah that the Lord had visited His people again with bread. 

You may say, “It must be a very special bread to make her walk sixty-seven miles home.” No, my friend, she is not headed home for the bread, but rather for the Baker of the bread. Hope has been kindled in her heart again. 

Ruth catches a glimmer in Naomi’s hope-filled eye and states, “Wherever you are going, I want to go. Your hope in the Bread-giver is the kind of life I want.” 

I wonder about us. Do many people see the hope of eternal life in our eyes or only the despair of the moment?Do many people see the hope of an ever-present help in our time of need or only the helplessness of our current crisis? I dare say, my friend, let the hope be seen. 

The inhabitants of this hopeless world need to see people who have hope. How this hope would attract people to our Saviour!

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Drawn to Your Heart 

by John O’Malley

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And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee” (Ruth 1:16)

 Ruth spoke of six things to which she was drawn because of Naomi. Consider the first comment: “Intreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee.” It was as if Ruth was telling Naomi, “Your testimony has drawn me to your heart.”

 The companionship and compassion of Naomi had become very precious to Ruth. Ruth did not want their hearts to become separated. She wanted no emotional, physical, or spiritual separation between them now. 

 Clearly, she thought that since the days of Moab were ending and the return to the Promised Land was their next step, she wanted to be there. Their hearts, once melded together by disappointment, death, and disaster, now were melded together because of faith’s fellowship. 

 How about the “Ruths” whom God has placed around you? Are they drawn to your heart? Has your Christian walk been consistent enough for them to receive a clear signal of your testimony? 

 Covenant with the Lord today that you will make the effort needed to send a strong signal of salvation’s message at the next encounter God provides you.

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Here to Stay

by John O’Malley

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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 Lorddo so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Ruth begins the testimony that marks her conversion to Israel’s one true God. On two recorded occasions, her mother-in-law has told her to go home to her culture, gods, and people. Naomi thought Ruth’s desire was emotional, not spiritual. However, unbeknownst to Naomi, the convicting power of God was at work in Ruth’s heart. 

Ruth made it completely clear to Naomi, “Do not ask me to leave anymore; I am here to stay. The gods of Moab cannot draw me back; I am here to stay. The culture of my people cannot draw me back; I am here to stay. The friends I once had cannot draw me back; I am here to stay.”           

Ruth knew her conversion had to come with conviction. She had a conviction to the way, words, and will of the one true God. Remember, her decision was not made in the comfort of Bethlehem, but rather in the deserts of Moab. She determined in the hard place that she would live for the one true God and Him alone.

Dear reader, you should notice Ruth’s conviction to stand on God’s will, words, and ways and compare them to the believers of today. It seems we have fewer “Ruth” believers today than ever. We have many who trek between Bethlehem-judah and Moab with only a conviction to yield to the will of self. We even have believers who have moved within Moab’s borders. These same believers spend their time convincing anyone who will listen to them that it is fine to be a spiritual drifter. 

Today, we need believers who will say, “Do not ask me to leave any more; I am here to stay!”

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“And Ruth Said”

by John O’Malley

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“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” (Ruth 1:16).

Naomi’s testimony in Moab was on display for her family and friends there. Though both girls viewed Naomi’s testimony, only one was drawn to the Lord. Every day in Moab, Ruth and Orpah watched Naomi’s devotion, dedication, and decisions. Each daughter-in-law made up her own mind about the God of the Hebrews as portrayed by Naomi. 

These girls had only known Moab’s idols and gods. Yet on the trip out of Moab, one girl had seen and heard enough about God that she was convicted of her own nature and converted to Israel’s God. When I read Ruth’s testimony, I am convinced of six things:

Naomi’s testimony drew Ruth to her heart. “entreat me”

Naomi’s testimony drew Ruth to her hope. “goest”

Naomi’s testimony drew Ruth to her homeland. “lodgest”

Naomi’s testimony drew Ruth to her home folks. “people”

Naomi’s testimony drew Ruth to Him. “God”

Naomi’s testimony drew Ruth to heaven.

Each believer sojourning here in Moab (the world) must be aware of his testimony before the lost and the Lord’s people. What would someone say of your testimony on this earth? The world watches your actions and reactions as you sojourn here. Your life is a reflection of the God in whom you say you believe. Will people convert to God because of your testimony?  

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Gone Back

by John O’Malley

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“And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law” (Ruth 1:15).

Naomi and Ruth stood as a pair in misery watching Orpah return to Moab. The moment was overwhelming. Discouragement’s trio became a duet. The remaining pair watched Orpah’s departure in agony. Naomi said to Ruth, “Behold, thy sister in law is gone back.”Naomi encouraged Ruth to do as Orpah had and go to her home.

Orpah went back to Moab’s people, principles, and priorities. She left the ways she had lived in for more than ten years. Orpah determined she would be more comfortable with the ways she once knew than to convert to another way. 

Today, some people are like Orpah. They once stood with God’s people in righteousness and truth. They used to sing the songs, pray the prayers, walk the walk, and talk the talk; but now they are gone. When the Orpahs depart, it has an effect on the remaining people.

The message of this verse does not solely rest in Orpah’s departure to Moab, but rather in Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi and go to Bethlehem-judah. Sometimes the departure of an Orpah forces us to a place of personal decision about our own “stick-ability.” However, remember this one principle: never permit the departure of an Orpah to affect you.

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The Moment of Decision

by John O’Malley

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“And Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her” (Ruth 1:14). 

The personal decision to depart from Moab had stirred the hearts of Orpah and Ruth. They had by the rules of compassion, custom, and culture, escorted Naomi to the border of Moab. Naomi had encouraged them to go home. Naomi reminded them of their mothers and fathers; she spoke of the peace and rest they would have by being home. Naomi prayed the Lord’s blessings on her daughters-in-law because they had been kind to her. Naomi urged them to go away from her dark cloud of judgment from God.

Orpah and Ruth each had to make a decision: “Do we go with Naomi and face uncertainty with her in Bethlehem-judah? Do we stay home with our people?” If it had been solely a legal decision, they would have been free from being required to go to Bethlehem. If it had been an emotional decision, then they would have been choosing between returning home to family or going with Naomi, the sole connection to their deceased husbands. If it had been a financial decision, they would have been choosing between a hard life in Moab and a hard life in Bethlehem.

The decision was not an emotional, financial, or legal issue on which to deliberate. That moment was a spiritual moment, with an invitation to make a decision. “Do I choose the ways of Jehovah or refuse them altogether?” That was the question to answer.

Reader, are you at a similar place of decision? Your response is either to kiss or cleave. Once and for all, why not forsake Moab’s ways and cleave to the truth of God’s Word? Those who try to play in Moab and worship in Bethlehem-judah, fail.

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They Wept, Again

by John O’Malley

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“And they lifted up their voice, and wept again” (Ruth 1:14). 

Agony has no fitting words. This mourning trio could only lift their voices and cry out. Their heartfelt expression, by custom and culture, was done by the repeated smiting of their hands on their breasts or on the tops of their heads while crying out in anguish. These sisters in suffering, struggles, and sorrow wept from their hearts. 

What a pitiful sight they must have been. Sorrow buried in the heart is oftentimes hard to relate to others in words. Orpah, Ruth, and Naomi paused to consider the emotional precipice of the moment. That mournful day would be long remembered by all involved.

The trio wept as they realized they were leaving their memories and mates buried in the sands of Moab. They wept again, when thoughts of being homeless, husbandless, and hopeless entered their sphere of thinking. The phrase that captures my focus is “They wept, again.”They were not hindered by the fact that they had wept a few moments earlier. 

I know it would be easy to discount the continual weeping because they were women. Weeping, and weeping again, is not an exclusive right of women. Men must learn that tears can be the words that speak the hurts of their heart.

When sorrow visits, and then visits again, the homes of our friends, remember a child of God is commanded to “weep with them that weep”(Romans 12:15).

Are you doing your job?

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