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RUTH

Losses and Gains from Moab

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. (Ruth 1:1)

Bethlehem means ďhouse of bread,Ē but there was a famine in Bethlehem. Why was there no bread in the house of bread? Perhaps it was to test the stamina and stability of the residents there. One family went to live in a pagan country where there was bread but no worship of the one and only true living God. What an exchange!

Elimelech made the decision to get out of Bethlehem and live in Moab with his wife and two sons. But Elimelach died.The two sons took wives and after living in Moab about ten years, both sons died. The three women were left with no husband. The wife, Naomi, made the decision to go back home to Bethlehem when she heard that the Lord had considered His people and given them food.

Was Elimelech wrong to have left the house of bread? Would he have lived longer had he stayed in his own land? Did he make a wrong choice? We donít know whether it was a wrong choice or not. What we do know is that Ruth, the widow of one of the sons came back with Naomi to Bethlehem. She married Boaz and gave birth to Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David. And through Davidís lineage, Jesus was born. Was it all part of Godís plan? Apparently so!

Sometimes we, too, end up in Moab. Sometimes we suffer losses there. But then, sometimes we gain something as well. Remember the Moabs of your own life.
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Three Widows: Three Choices
At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)
 
The Book of Ruth is a short love story of only four chapters; yet it depicts three widows who had to make three different choices.
 
Naomi epitomizes a woman who recognized God's control in her life in the midst of hardship. She chose to go back to her country, her people and her God. It wasn't Naomi's choice to leave in the first place. It was her husband's. After his death and the death of both her sons, she made the choice to go back home. God does allow us to go back home when we make that choice.
 
Ruth faced a different choice. She chose to leave home and she found happiness in a new country, with a new family and a new God. God does allow us to leave home when we make that choice.
 
Orpah played it safe. She was not a risk taker. She battled with indecision because she loved Naomi and Ruth. Even though they were family to her, she did not want to leave her country, her culture, and her own family where she had always lived with their pagan gods. She saw Bethlehem as a new set of problems. She made a choice to stay in Moab, and we have never heard from her again. Orpah stayed home!

We don't know if Orpah ever learned what happened to Ruth and Naomi, but we know that they found peace and happiness in Bethlehem. Ruth married Boaz and became part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. Three widows: three choices! Each ended a different way. Every choice you make is similar to either Naomi's, Ruth's or Orpah's. Which choice parallels yours? Naomi, the choice to return to that which you have left? Ruth, the choice to take a chance on that which is different? Orpah, the choice to take the path of least resistance?
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What Happened To Them?
"...And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And Naomi said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods . . ." (Ruth 1:14-15)
 
Have you ever wondered what happened to your high school or college classmates, or the people who were with you in the armed forces? Have you ever wondered what happened to those people who mistreated you or those who were kind to you years ago? Have you ever wondered what happened to certain people in the Bible after they did what they did?
 
A notorious prisoner named Barabbas was chosen by the mob in Jerusalem to be released instead of Jesus. (Matthew 27:16) Jesus' name has been lifted up, and He is still talked about today. What happened to Barabbas after he was freed instead of Jesus? There is no further mention of Barabbas after he was released.
 
A Moabite woman named Orpah was given a chance to go with Naomi to become part of a godly life, but she refused. (Ruth 1:4) What happened to her? Orpah returned to her people and her god, and there is no further mention of her. Ruth, the other daughter-in-law accompanied Naomi to Bethlehem. An entire Old Testament book bears her name. She is remembered today as being part of the lineage of Jesus.
 
What happened to Queen Vashti after she refused to dance before King Xerxes and was banished from the palace? While her departure made way for Esther to because the new queen, there is no further mention of Vashti. However, Esther also has an Old Testament book named after her because she was in the right place at the right time to save her people from destruction.
 
Are people somewhere wondering what happened to you? Years after your death will people still remember you for what you did for the sake of the gospel? Will your name go down in history as having done something no matter how minute, or will there be no further mention of you?

Let your life stand for something . . . Do something for the sake of the gospel.
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 No Further Mention
...And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And Naomi said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods . . . (Ruth 1:14-15)
 
Have you ever wondered what happened to certain people in the Bible after they did what they did?
 
A notorious prisoner named Barabbas (Matthew 27:16) was chosen by the mob in Jerusalem to be released instead of Jesus. Jesus' name has been lifted up, and He is still talked about today. What happened to Barabbas after he was freed instead of Jesus? There is no further mention of Barabbas after he was released.
 
A Moabite woman named Orpah was given a chance to go with Naomi (Ruth 1:4) to become part of a godly life, but she refused. What happened to her? Orpah returned to her people and her god, and there is no further mention of her. Ruth, the other daughter-in-law accompanied Naomi to Bethlehem. An entire Old Testament book bears her name. She is remembered today as being part of the lineage of Jesus.
 
What happened to Queen Vashti after she refused to dance before King Xerxes and was banished from the palace? While her departure made way for Esther to because the new queen, there is no further mention of Vashti. However, Esther also has an Old Testament book named after her because she was in the right place at the right time to save her people from destruction.
 
Years after your death will people remember you for what you have done for the sake of the gospel? Will your name go down in history as having done something no matter how minute, or will there be no further mention of you? Let your life stand for something . . . Do something for the sake of the gospel.
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What Happens In Moab Stays in Moab
 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. (Ruth 1:22)

Sometimes when we go through bad experiences, we don't allow ourselves to be happy again. This was not the case with Ruth. She left her past behind in Moab. In other words, what happened in Moab stayed in Moab. And Ruth began a new life in Bethlehem with Naomi, her mother-in-law.  
 
Ruth did not hesitate to leave her past in Moab to begin her future in Bethlehem. She left behind her pagan god only to know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She left behind her culture only to become part of the Jewish nation. She left behind her widowhood only to become the wife of Boaz. She left behind her childlessness only to become the mother of Obed. She left behind her meals in Moab only to get barley in Bethlehem. She left behind her legacy only to become a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.
 
When you mourn your moments in Moab, you miss out on your blessings in Bethlehem. No matter what happened to you in Moab, you still have hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Like Ruth, when you are out of Moab, great things await you.
 
Let what happened in Moab stay in Moab.
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Let God Know You Are Serious
One day Ruth said to Naomi, "Perhaps I can go out into the fields of some kind man to glean the free grain behind the reapers." (Ruth 2:2)

Many times we have good intentions about serving God, but we don't make a move. We vow to serve in the Kingdom of God, but it is only lip service. We make every effort to do what's right, but we almost always fall short. What can we do to let God know we are serious?
 
We MUST do something to let God know we are serious. It doesn't have to be anything big, but we MUST do something. We MUST indicate in some way that we mean business. When we show God that we are serious, He will show us that He is serious.
 
In the above scripture, we see Ruth making a suggestion to her mother-in-law. Instead of depending on Naomi, Ruth went into the fields to do the little she could do. God rewarded her initiative.  
 
If you are waiting for God to reward you for something, then you MUST do something. God will bless your efforts. However, He is waiting for you to make the first step to demonstrate just how serious you are.
 
Merely thinking about working in the Kingdom of God doesn't move God. Merely talking about working in the Kingdom of God doesn't move God. What moves God is your move.
 
Like Ruth, do something to let God know you are serious!

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Why Salvation is NOT a Reward
The Lord will reward you for all you have done. You will be paid in full by the Lord, the God of Israel. (Ruth 2:12)

We will be rewarded in heaven according to the work we have done on earth relating to the building of God's kingdom. We can't work for salvation, and we don't work to get rewards. However, once we are saved, there is just something inside of us that prompts us to work for the kingdom.

Why, then, is salvation NOT a reward? Simply put: "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord." (Ephesians 2:8) Salvation is not a reward we receive in heaven. It is the gift of God we receive while on earth.  We do receive some benefits of salvation on earth; however, the best benefits come later. And they are out of this world.

Salvation is NOT a reward for something we have done. Instead, it is a free GIFT given to us because of Jesus' death on the cross. We receive rewards in heaven for what we have done on earth. We do nothing to earn our salvation except believing and receiving it by faith.
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 Jesus, Lover of My Soul
Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a kinsman redeemer; and may his name be famous in Israel! (Ruth 4:14)
 
A kinsman redeemer is one who has the right to redeem, to protect, to care and to provide for. The biblical definition of "kinsman redeemer" is a close relative who has the first option by law to buy. Jesus is our kinsman redeemer. He bought us with a price, with His own life. When we have no one else to love us, Jesus does. When we have no one to take us into his bosom, Jesus does. When we have no other refuge, we can always go to Jesus, and He will provide support and comfort. When it seems like the whole world is against us, remember that there is one who is for us.

When we think we aren't loved, we must remember that Jesus loves us. He will never leave us nor forsake us because Jesus IS the lover of our souls.
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