Sunday, October 23, 2011

Notes from Refuge Ladies' Retreat

We're attending Refuge church.  The church is less than 2 years old, and this was their first ladies retreat with 43 women attending!  Wow!!  Sue LeBoutillier of Calvary Baptist Church in Ontario, Oregon taught through the book of Ruth.  This isn't everything, but hopefully enough to light a spark in you to go and study the book of Ruth for yourself!!

At the retreat, we went through the book of Ruth and WOW, WOW!  The famine in Bethlehem was a way for God to get the attention of His people, so they’d turn back to Him.  If you look at Judges 21:25, that is like the set up verse for Ruth: In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.  So this is what Elimelech and Naomi do.  They see that there is food in Moab, and although God is against Moab, they go there anyway, thinking they’ll only be there “a short time” rather than turning back and trusting God to provide.  10 years later Naomi is still there and has lost everything!  She’s come low enough to realize that the ONLY thing she has left is to return (to Bethlehem, to God) application: in a place of need do I try to fill that need on my own or do I continue to trust in God’s provision? 
Then, in Ruth you see that Judah is referred to as “land”, implying a vast expanse, whereas Moab is referred to as a “country” implying a limited space.  God gave them vastness but they chose the small, limited space.  Proverbs 16:25 says, There is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.  The result of their choice was death in a foreign land.
As Naomi and her daughter-in-laws set out, there are a lot of tears. Naomi’s are tears of repentance (compare this point with the prodigal son in Luke 15).  Orpah’s tears are emotional only, she is like the seeds sown on rocky soil, nothing really went deep into her and changed her.  She returned to her old life.  Ruth’s are tears of true desire.  She has been changed and is compelled by Naomi’s intense desire to return.  She is truly a seeker, willing to suffer any trial (being a foreigner in Bethlehem) in order to meet Naomi’s God.  Application: How serious am I in my seeking?  What kind of tears do I weep?
Arriving in Bethlehem, Ruth knows she needs to be the one to provide for them.  She is able to glean in the field because in Deuteronomy 24:19, God has already provided for this to happen!!  When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  Ruth is both an alien (sojourner) and widow!  And not only does she happen to be in Boaz’ field, he offers to provide and protect her and goes beyond what is expected!  Application: Ruth is a symbol of the Bride of Christ (us) and Boaz is a simple of Christ.  He notices and focuses in on Ruth and cares for her above and beyond her need.  She came seeking and he was there.  As we press in, God is there! Isaiah 43:1 says, BUT NOW [in spite of past judgments for Israel's sins], thus says the Lord, He Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  Just as Boaz tells Ruth to stay in his field, Christ tells us to stay in His field, under His ownership.
Ruth 2:17-23 is about Ruth’s returning, and it is obvious to Naomi that Ruth has gleaned in abundance.  Application: it shows when we’ve been gleaning in Christ’s fields.  Where are you filling yourself?
Ruth had to make 5 choices.  She prepared herself by removing her widow’s garments and making herself ready to belong to someone else.  She went to a specific place, a place of threshing or separating the good from the bad, separating self-righteousness and God’s righteousness.  She chose a specific person, a “kinsman redeemer”.  To redeem is “to restore it it’s original purpose”.  In order to be a kinsman redeemer, the person had to be the nearest male blood relative.  Hebrews 2:10 says, For both He Who sanctifies [making men holy] and those who are sanctified all have one [Father]. For this reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren; Christ is our kinsman redeemer, and like Boaz, He’s WILLING to redeem!  Ruth also chose the right posture, she came to Boaz in a position of humility and submission application:  am I willing to submit myself at Christ’s feet?  Am I willing to do this for my daily life??  And finally, Ruth chose the right petition.  She recognized that she needed a covering.  We can only be reconciled to God through the covering of Christ!

Well, that’s the meat of it.  The story goes on and there was more, but just seeing it in light of Christ and His bride brings so much more depth to it all!  My thought on all this was that “Blessings will abound when we abide!”

So there you go!!  :0) I pray that you may have the time to read through this and ponder it and that it blesses you as it did me!!  I’m not even gonna look in Moab’s direction (heh heh, and from here that’s only a few hours away!!!!!!!!!!!)

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