I love the book of Ruth. It is only 4 chapters long but packed full of so much history, powerful life changing testimony, provision, redemption, etc.
I found this book on the Girltalk blog (click link over on the right) and finally decided to read it. I have taught a women's weekend on Ruth at Kasey's church - but "gleaned" even more from reading this commentary. I don't think you can ever read Scripture and not get something out of it - that is the Power of the Spirit working in a believer's life.
So, here are my highlighted things in this book:
"It is the grace of God, which directs the outcomes of those decisions and events according to His sovereignty and good purpose for his people. The grace of God is always the defining element of our lives." p 130 That has been so true for me the past year especially as I've seen much of God's grace woven through everything that has happened in 2007.
"Very often in those defining moments in life where we get to direct our own future, the factors that weigh most heavily in our decisions are those that seem most likely to provide us with comfort and security. The bottom line in our lives is rarely God's will, as it is revealed in his Word, especially if it seems to cut directly across our best prospects for happiness and success." p 133 I don't think the author is saying here that we can't be happy and successful in the center of God's will. But, I do think he is saying that often we look for the happy route - and that may not be God's plan.
"Somehow, it seems easier to bear the pain of continued emptiness than to confess our pursuit of fullness in the wrong place." p 134. Naomi and her (now dead) husband had left God's country in search of food - leaving His provision and His design. Then Naomi had to return, but she was still bitter. Wonder if she ever really realized that she had gone searching for food where food wasn't meant to be found. I often find things in this life to bring my pleasure and happiness - maybe or maybe not realizing that I am trying to find my happiness in something other than the Only One who has said that He will give is (Ps 16.11)
"When we stop believing in God's goodness and give ourselves over to doubt and worry, we easily sink into a despairing inactivity." p 157 God's goodness is overwhelming. I like to ponder on it - whether enjoying his creation, a good book, anything He gives me that displays that - His grace. But, often times, we I get distracted by the ways that I don't see God providing (in my selfishness) then I tend to only think about myself. Ruth, I don't think, thought about herself one time in this book. She was humble (think Phyllis), industrious (think Patty and Angela), obedient (MG), willing (Elizabeth) - all the things that are found in the P31 woman. And, tidbit, the book of Ruth is alongside P31 in the Hebrew text.
"If God has faithfully provided so abundantly for Ruth's need of food, will he not also supply her needs in this other area?" - p 164 This was also very convicting me as I've thought back over the last few years. I remember a conversation with one of my pastors that went something like this: "well, He gave me salvation, I guess I can't expect much more because I really didn't even deserve that." - HOW WRONG IS THAT! That is so wrong in thinking - and ultimately I'm thinking more about myself in that statement than I am thinking about the glory of God. He gets glory when He gives good things to His children. I'm so thankful that He does!
"The temptation is real for us to doubt his good provision for our needs and to look to ourselves or to others to provide for us." p 167 Had another conversation with another pastor about lessons I had learned (since leaving Durham). This could almost wrap up all those lessons in one sentence. Thanks be to a gracious God that I am on the other side of that learning time. Not that I have learned it all yet, but God is so faithful to His daughter!
"In the cartoon movie, Antz, most of the action follows the small-scale life of a neurotic worker ant in his quest to win the love of a princess ant. But as the movie ends, the camera pans outward to show the audience that the narrower action has been taking place in Central Park in the heart of New York. Thus we are invited to consider the parallels between the lives of the ants in the movie and the lives of the real people around them." p 186 This is how the inerrancy and perfectness of Scripture is so real to us. Not only is this story just a story, but it is a real way that we can learn and hear testimony of God's faithfulness and goodness. So - we can take the learnings of Ruth and Naomi and glean that the God of the Israelites is our True and Faithful, never-changing God today.