Ruth Series: Character Matters

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9 October, 2020

Ruth Series: Character Matters

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:       For the graces of the Holy Spirit


O merciful God,

fill our hearts with the graces of the Holy Spirit,

with love, joy, peace,

patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


Teach us to love those who hate us,

to bless those who curse us,

and to pray for those who abuse us,

that we may be the children of our Father:

who makes the sun shine on the evil and the good,

and sends rain on the just and unjust.


In adversity grant us grace to be patient;

in prosperity keep us humble;

may we guard the door of our lips;

may we lightly regard the pleasures of this world,

and thirst only after heavenly things;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St Anselm, 1033-1109


Read:

Ruth 2:1-11. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

1Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.

2And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favour.”

Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 

3So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.

4Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”

 bless you!” they answered.

5Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”

6The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 

7She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

8So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 

9Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

10At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

11Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 

12May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

(Ruth 2:1-11NIV)


Thought for the Day:

“I’ve been told …” It is not only bad news that gets talked about in the community. Surprising actions that reveal a wonderful character gets much airspace as well. Ruth’s selfless acts were both extravagant and noticed. As a result Boaz (who she had never met) wanted to support her.

Grace works the same way now as it did then. Extravagant love towards others changes minds and changes lives. And it all begins in the heart.

What sort of person do I want to be? 

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Jesus, Giver of Peace

Jesus, Giver of Peace

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer:

Risen Jesus,

we thank you for your greeting,

‘Peace be with you’.

The shalom of God, deep lasting peace;

peace that brings inner calm;

that keeps a person steady in the storm;

that faces the persecutor without fear

and proclaims the good news with courage and with joy.

This is the peace that reconciles

sister to brother, black to white,

rich and poor, young and old;

but not a peace that is quiet

in the face of oppression and injustice.

This is peace with God,

the peace that passes understanding.

(John Johansen-Berg in Bread of Tomorrow, ed. Janet Morley)

Read:

John 20:19-21 (NIV) Jesus Appears to His Disciples

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Thought for the day:

Slow your breathing, close your eyes, and bring to mind a peaceful place or an image of what peace means to you. Using our imagination to take us to a place of peace can reduce anxiety, and help us to relax. Whilst our yearning might be to remain in that relaxed place of peace all day and every day, life makes this impossible. The peace which Jesus gives is this kind of peace and more. It is a deep inner peace that enables us to be strong in the face of life’s difficulties, and to stand up for what is right. When Jesus was speaking with his disciples before his death he said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Finish by rereading the prayer.

Image: Tile from peace wall in Hamilton, New Zealand

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Leadership, Enemies and Peace

Psalm 27 Surviving Leadership

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER: A collect of the Evening

Lighten our darkness,

Lord, we pray;

and in your great mercy defend us

from all perils and dangers of this night;

for the love of your only Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

An Australian Prayer Book, 1978

Read:

Psalm 27. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

1The Lord is my light and my salvation—

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

of whom shall I be afraid?

2When the wicked advance against me to devour me,

it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.

3Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

4One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

5For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

6Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;

at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7Hear my voice when I call, Lord;

be merciful to me and answer me.

8My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”

Your face, Lord, I will seek.

9Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger;

you have been my helper.

Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour.

10Though my father and mother forsake me, the

Lord will receive me.

11Teach me your way, Lord;

lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

12Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,

for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.

13I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.

(Psalm 27 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

David had discovered that leadership is tough in this “dog eat dog world”. Even though the Psalm is written by an individual, this individual is the King. It is his position that attracts envy and enemies who want to discredit and bring him down. He is almost drowning under the weight of their gaze.

This is still felt today by anyone in leadership either in politics, or in social media, football, etc. Not a day goes by without someone sharing how they were ‘trolled’ or the victim of hate speech, or the victim of false accusations. Not a day goes by without politicians saying misleading things about their opponents.

How does one survive?

David seeks God’s face. (v 8) He fills his thoughts with God and his ways and this helps change his mindset from victim to ‘blessed one’. The goodness of the Lord preoccupies his thoughts not the malice of his enemies. These are the insights of experience. This is how David actually survived and flourish in a life that was never without enemies.

What do you fill your thoughts with over the day?

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Psalm 26 Self Awareness

Psalm 26 Self Awareness?

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER: A collect of the morning

Lord our heavenly Father,

almighty and everlasting God,

we thank you for bringing us safely to this day.

Keep us by your mighty power,

and grant that today we fall into no sin,

neither run into any kind of danger,

but lead and govern us in all things,

that we may always do what is righteous in your sight;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

An Australian Prayer Book, 1978

Read:

Psalm 26:1-7. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

1Vindicate me, Lord,

for I have led a blameless life;

I have trusted in the Lord

and have not faltered.

2Test me, Lord, and try me,

examine my heart and my mind;

3for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love

and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

4I do not sit with the deceitful,

nor do I associate with hypocrites.

5I abhor the assembly of evildoers

and refuse to sit with the wicked.

6I wash my hands in innocence,

and go about your altar, Lord,

7proclaiming aloud your praise

and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

(Psalm 26:1-7 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

We know David’s life story; his childhood steeped in shepherding and reflecting on God, his faith based gangly teenage faith based war on Goliath, his rise to General in Saul’s army, and his faith based defense of his own paranoid king. It is no wonder that he wrote a Psalm like this- before he became one of the “deceitful, wicked, evildoer, hypocrites”! His adulterous affair with the married Bathsheeba and the cynical disposing of her honourable husband under cover of the warfront took even David by surprise (see his Ps 51)

It is a very human thing to do. It begins when we demonise people who do bad things. In our arrogance we assume that they are not like us, that there is something different about them, that they (and not us) have a quality called ‘wickedness’ about them that makes them do what they do. And because we don’t have this quality we are safe from ever doing what they do.

The Editor who collected all the five Psalms collections together into one book 2500 years ago knew that the composer of Ps 26 was the composer of Ps 51. When read together they give a much fuller understanding of what it is to be human.

When read together we begin to gain self-awareness.

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