Structure, Support, Family-Ruth Pt. 4

Before we go with Naomi on her return trip to Judah please bear with me as I expand a Ruth Avatarbit on one of the many insightful glimpses this short book provides into various aspects of life. It depicts nationality, marriage, family, widowhood, redemption, provision , security-both collectively as well as individually – and REST, true rest. God’s intended perfect rest for EVERY INDIVIDUAL, man, woman and child. Rest that comes from peace with God through the demonstration of His love for us. Rest found in loving truly and being loved sincerely. Rest in love as was Genesis 2 24meant to be demonstrated by marriage as 2 become one flesh in submission to God and each other. Husband and wife each to submit to God first above all, then husband to wife, wife to husband, children to parents. Three roles which equals FAMILY. Which answers the question: ‘What is family’?

Next question: ‘Why is it considered a cornerstone institution of life?’

May I say here that I understand there may be some who stumble upon this post who do not believe God.  I respectfully say, that is your choice to make. I have made the choice that He IS. For that reason I follow and share His point of view for life. I recognize His authority and willingly submit to follow His ways above my own or others.  As is the case with most of God’s principles, they run contrary to man’s desires and people find them offensive. Such may be the case with some who  would venture to read on. Whether a Christ follower or not. You are forewarned but I invite you to consider and explore what is presented with an open mind and a willingness to look outside your comfort parameters.

As mentioned in previous posts family is meant to be a support system as God designed ten commandmentsit. The laws God gave the Israelites went further than being the foundation for governing themselves as a nation; they also gave structure to their homes as well. The first 4 commands address our relationship with Him, the next 6 address our relationships with others – family and beyond. If His commands were adhered to – family as well as nation would benefit in positive ways. Because God’s ways are perfect. Within the confines of that support and structure –

Family as God instituted it is the role model for all relationships.

It is to be the illustration of harmony and unity that can be experienced as HIS order, His way is followed. (Notice the words in red.) Remember the choice and consequences faced by the nation of Israel? Follow God’s governing ways to blessing, life and good; or reject them to find cursing, death and evil.

We face the same choice in respect to all relationships of life. Beginning with family.

Ephesians 5 22

It is in the structure of family, the security of home, that one is to first learn about love, authority, submission and respect. Which is why in the book of Ephesians Paul uses the family as the first, main illustration of how it works.  What it should look like.

Wives submit to your husband as to the Lord.  Husbands love your wives as yourself and submit to the Lord.   Children obey your parents who are to guide you to what you do not yet know and understand.

Matthew 11 28Why? Because purpose, security and rest is only found in God and is only obtained through submission to His authority, His role above your own.

Personally I can say that it was because of this lack of family structure in my own home as a child that it was very difficult for me to grasp the idea of submission, love, and respect in the early years of marriage. Almost to the detriment of my marriage. It was when I came face to face with God and His way that I learned what it meant to be a wife, a mother and how marriage works.

Psm 57 1It didn’t happen overnight for sure, but I have learned the beauty of submission in my role as wife.  The husband’s role of authority/leader/provider/protector over the family truly is an umbrella of rest, and security providing a sense of being cherished and honored. Which cannot be experienced when I position myself outside of that realm. Just like when I position myself under the shadow of the wings of my Lord. NO place better to be.

And let me add that it was in seeing my husband in the role of father to our children that helped me – over the years – to begin to see God as my loving, Heavenly Father, rather than a stern task master. And the wisdom of children being taught to obey, to be in submission to, and to respect their parents! Yes, it is for their good!

John 14 6Ultimately if one does not understand submission – putting oneself under the authority of another – one will have difficulty turning to God for redemption and salvation.

God intended for children to learn such submission as they watch the outworking of it in the home. Mother to father and father to Jesus. As children watch submission, love and respect in practice by their parents, they learn how to practice those characteristics in relationships outside the home. With their friends, school mates, teachers, other adults, bosses, co-workers etc. The home is the first and most important tier of training and learning for every individual. In this way children learn to understand God, Jesus, relationships, submission, love respect.

Family is THE cornerstone in life instituted by THE supreme authority of life to teach and demonstrate to the next generation the understanding of THE purpose of life. Relationship with their Creator and each other.

As stated in a recent study guide: “We teach our children to respect authority so they will learn to honor God. After all, how can we help younger generations learn to respect the One they cannot see if they don’t learn to respect those God has put in front of them?”

Teach our childrehFAMILY – a cornerstone of life, instituted by God. Not just to train up children in a loving, secure environment but to also provide support and protection to other family members as needed. Which is why Naomi chose to go HOME. To where she had family support. And where we will see beautiful things happen for both Naomi and Ruth. For in God’s family plan the widows are not forgotten or neglected. Neither are those who may find themselves in a destitute situation. Hope you’ll stay with me to see how things play out.

Shell Sig

 

Until next time may you find your rest and security in THE One.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ALONE, yet…

I know we haven’t made it very far into this book of Ruth yet, but don’t worry I am not going to go verse by verse all the way through the book! And shortly we shall delvRuth Avatare into how Ruth fits into the picture.

So, Elimelech and his family are settled in Moab. The elapsed time between events of vs. 2 and vs. 3 is not exactly spelled out for us, but I do believe it is safe to say (as we read on) that it has probably been years vs. months. And we now read one of the 2 saddest statements within this short book.   Continue reading “ALONE, yet…”

Famine in the land; in life. Ruth Pt. 2

Ruth AvatarIn the last post it was established that the land of Judah was in a time of famine. A consequence of choices made as a nation.  This account in Ruth tells the personal story of the effects this famine had on a certain man and his family.  (Ruth 1)

“The man’s name was Elimelech and his wife, Naomi. Their 2 sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Benjamin in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.

Elimelech as a responsible husband and father knew if something didn’t change fast, his family could starve. He was going to do what he could to keep that from happening, which as he saw it meant re-locating to a different area. And may we not be too quick to judge Elimelech’s faith and standing with the Lord in his decision to leave. The famine was a result of the nation as a whole turning away from and rejecting God’s way. That does not mean that every person in the land had personally rejected God.  Yet, its affect would be felt by all. Decisions had to be made. The famine seemed to leave no other choice.  With heavy hearts they packed their belongings, headed out and re-settled in a new land. They would no longer be in close proximity to their homeland with the support system of family, relatives and friends already in place. Famine on top of famine.

One of the questions in the Love God Greatly study of Ruth personalized this famine in the land and asked: “Is there a famine of sorts in your life at this time?”

Famine: any extreme and general scarcity, hunger, starvation.

Is there any area of life in which you feel a scarcity of fulfillment, a hunger or starvation for something more? Be it relationally, financially, career wise, emotionally, physically, spiritually, or some other such way  you feel as if you are in a mal-nourished, parched as a dry desert, soul-starved famine of life. And you find yourself faced with the same dilemma as Elimelech: what are your options? How do you survive? Stay or go? Make a change or not?

(As a side note I listened to an excellent message recently that was encouraging in this aspect of going through a season of life when all seems to be falling apart around you, which relates well with going through a season of famine. Hope Giving Love is the title of the message title by J.D. Greear, The Summit Church, NC.)

Before making any decisions go to the Lord. Through prayer as well as reading of His Word, ask the Lord for a verse to sustain you and keep you focused in going forward rather than allowing self to become paralyzed in fear or swept backward in doubt.

In writing the above paragraph the realization hits me – my writing comes across from the point of view of one who has been a follower of Christ for many years. The Lord and His Word are like old friends to me. But perhaps there is someone reading who is not as familiar with the Bible and it seems a daunting task to approach it to read. Let alone to ask the Lord for a verse to sustain you. May I encourage you to give it a try.

Maybe try reading one of the first books of the New Testament such as Matthew, Mark, Luke or John; or going to the Psalms in the Old Testament where many people find comfort, encouragement and hope. Read little bits at a time if that is all you can fit in. But read with intention and expectation. Whether you pick up an actual Bible, or pull one up on line, take the step.

Another option is to use a daily devotion book such as but not limited to Our Daily Bread, or Streams in the Desert or check out the list of devotionals on this page for man or woman; or at your book store or on Amazon. Jesus Calling is another good one. The options today are really quite numerous for digging into God’s Word whether for a quick word to focus on for the day or to study for life. OH, and there are audio versions as well!! No more excuses. 🙂

Whether a short time, long time or no time follower of the Lord I pray that you would not be deterred from giving the Lord a chance to meet you where you are at this time of life.  Get to know Him or work to know Him better for who He is and experience firsthand how faith in Him will help navigate the ups and downs of this life to include times of plenty as well as times of famine.

Isaiah 50 10To conclude: for me, personally, at this time the word ‘famine’ hit home. That is exactly what life has felt like this past year or so. With several questions and matters at heart for which I have been seeking direction and guidance about. Throughout my walk with the Lord He has given me various verses that have bolstered my courage and resolve to make it another day, another week, another month/year. And during this particular study an old familiar passage was brought to my attention as I searched for a ‘next verse’ to keep focus on in going forward through this famine of life.  Isaiah 50:10 (as originally memorized from the KJV.)

 

 

“Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His Servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and STAY upon His God.”

Go or stay was a part of my dilemma. And fully impressed upon my heart was the need to stay the course as I stay upon my Lord.

And so I have kept this verse in my focus these past few weeks. Staying the course (of life at this time) whIdentity in Himile staying upon My God – trusting Him, relying upon Him to continue to guide even in the midst of a seeming famine. May you rest in whose you are; in your identity in HIM whether in a time of plenty or famine.

 

 

Shell Sig

 

Remember: God IS good no matter…

 

 

And yes, there really is a woman named Ruth whose life shall soon be intertwined with this family.

Hope you’ll stay with me.

 

Choice and Consequence. Ruth, Pt. 1

Just finished an onlinRuth Avatare study of the book of Ruth with the Love God Greatly Community. As has happened with studies in the past, there was so much to glean from this little book that I wanted to go back through it again on my own. Here goes!

Before examining the subject of this story, Ruth, a little contextual history may help in the understanding and application of this account of LIFE.  Life with all its complicated nuances of expression, meaning and responses. Life is more than breath in your body – it is LIVING for a purpose, with meaning aGenesis 2 7nd intention. I assert that life is a gift given to us by our creator God. Not happenstance. But, whether you believe in God or not, there are still practical principles to be gleaned from this ancient history.

The very first sentence of this book of Ruth is a reminder of the importance of a good foundation. Be it in our individual, personal realm or the realm of community to include governing. This setting takes place at a time “when the judges ruled in Israel.” Ruth 1:1

A short declaration easily read over, put aside as a boring piece of info not to be thought of again. However, it is a crucial matter in the whole scheme of things. In that statement is shown the state of the nation of Israel at that time. (Time?-approx. 1400-1050 BC or BCE whatever you fancy. It is a real event in real history.)

The state of  the nation of Israel is a factor in the explanation of the circumstances they find themselves in during the time of Ruth. “…a severe famine came upon the land.”

So what? you say! That’s just a part of life, a weather pattern. Things happen.

True.

But there is so much more to it.

CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES.

In a nutshell: Israel is a nation formed by God to be His witnesses to surrounding nations of His goodness and provision for His people. (Exodus 19:4-6; Exodus 4;22 & 5:1 )

Through the descendants of one man – Abram later to be called Abraham – a nation was born and nurtured by God. A nation who would be considered great and through whom “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

To this nation God revealed His truth and gave His commandments as their governing foundation. ( Exodus 20: Deuteronomy 4:12-14; Deuteronomy 5 )

Consequences: If followed the result would be blessings, life and good;

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, “In that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply…” Deuteronomy 30:15

if rejected the result would be cursing, death and evil.

“But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,  I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.  I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…Deuteronomy 30:17

THE CHOICE was theirs to make. Blessing or cursing. Life or death. Good or evil.

BUT He says – choose life!

God, knowing all things, knew there would be times they would gladly embrace His way as well as times when they would reject it.  Through it all, He would be with them and have compassion on them.

Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you,

 Deuteronomy 30:1-3

 All that to bring us to the setting in Ruth described as ‘the days of the Judges’. One of those times when Israel turned away from the solid foundation of God’s truth and governing choosing their own ways instead. There is also a book in the Bible titled ‘Judges‘ which records that Israel repeatedly ‘failed’ to do as God said; ‘would not’ do as God said; would ‘not listen to God’; chose to ‘worship false idols above’ their God; all of which gave grief to God because of their misery.

The wrong choices of his people grieve God! as they do today.

The book of Judges ends with this statement: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25

And the next sentence is the opening statement of Ruth:

‘In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land.’

FAMINE. A consequence of Israel turning away from God’s truth, God’s way, God’s governing design, God’s firm foundation. Choosing to do what is right in their own eyes.

A principle which holds true today. Choose God who is life and good; turn away from God and there is death and evil-a drastic shortage of life and goodness, i.e. famine.

The sad backdrop of this short story which by the grace of God has a beautiful ending.

God IS good and can bring good even from a time of famine.Shell Sig

Hope you’ll return to continue this study through Ruth.