Ruth Series: Life in a Hard Life

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8 October, 2020

Ruth Series: Life in a Hard Life

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:       For those from whom we are separated


O Lord our God,

you are in every place,

and no space or distance can ever part us from you;

take into your holy keeping

those from whom we are now separated;

and grant that both they and we,

by drawing nearer to you,

maybe drawn nearer to one another,

in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Order, 1940, Church of Scotland

Read:

Ruth 1:3-18. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

3Now

Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

6When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

8Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

11But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

14At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

15“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

(Ruth 1:3-18 NIV)


Thought for the Day:

I can’t read this without my heart going out to Naomi. She has received so many hard blows in life. No wonder she thinks “the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”. Wouldn’t you be tempted to think that in her position? She had a vibrant grown up family that had overcome the odds by migrating out of a devastating drought. Now she has lost not only those who were precious to her but the unborn grandchildren she will now never know. Her grief is doubled by the fact that being single in a family obsessed society meant her future was always going to have this shadow over it. Everything seems bleak except for one thing; Ruth.

Her daughter-in-law is determined to stay with her even to the point of leaving her community, wider family and religion out of love for Naomi. What is happening here? It is love. This reveals what sort of person Naomi is. In a world where people love their blood relatives more than those who marry in to the family, Naomi has proven exceptional. She has loved and included her daughter-in-laws so much that Ruth is willing to sacrifice all else to stay with this beautiful person.

Bitter experiences make some people hard but Naomi shows us that it doesn’t have to be so. She retains her inner kindness regardless of what life throws at her. Perhaps you and I could sit at Naomi’s feet and learn.

More From 'Devotionals'

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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