Ruth Series: Roundabout Ways

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12 October, 2020

Ruth Series: Roundabout Ways

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:       Offering ourselves to God

O God,

who has so greatly loved us,

long sought us,

and mercifully redeemed us;

give us grace that in everything

we may yield ourselves,

our wills and our works,

a continual thankoffering unto you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Westminster Divines, 1647


Read:

Ruth 3:1-13. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

1One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. 

2Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 

3Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 

4When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

5“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. 

6So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

7When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 

8In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!

9“Who are you?” he asked.

 of our family.”

10“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 

11And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 

12Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 

13Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”

(Ruth 3:1-13 NIV)


Thought for the Day:

Isn’t it amazing how different cultures are around the world. And yet somehow we can still recognise what is going on here. Naomi is trying to matchmake with Ruth. She loves Ruth so much that she wants her to have a life of her own. Boaz is probably 20 years her senior but it is his character that Naomi has noticed (see chapter 2 “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for Boaz, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.).  

In all these roundabout plans God is working. Are these co-incidences or good human choices based on belief in good character before all else? Or both at the same time. The writer of Ruth doesn’t say but seems to hold both together.

Good character is a theme in Ruth in both male and female. In our society success is valued highly. If you had to choose, which would you rather have in life; success or good character?


Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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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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