Gleanings with Ruth

I have been slowly reading through the Bible because I want to fully read and study God’s living Word. I am currently in the book of Ruth and even though it is a short book, it has so much truth and grace wrapped up in those 4 chapters. Here are some things that God spoke to me through chapter 2.

Ruth:  A Hard Worker

Ruth 2:5-7 – “Then Boaz asked his foreman, ‘Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?’ And the foreman replied, ‘She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes rest in the shelter.'”

  • Ruth had just come into town with her mother-in-law Naomi to help care for her and she had to get to work to provide a living for them. She took the initiative instead of waiting around for things to happen for her. She went into the fields after the harvesters to “glean” what was left over. Gleaning was after the harvesters had cut the wheat and the barley stalks, the poor people could come in and pick up any grain that was dropped or left over. This job was probably a rough task. It was tiring and even degrading. It wasn’t a job that many people would choose to do. But Ruth did it faithfully.
  • How many people enjoy their jobs? What tasks in our lives do we completely despise? What’s your attitude in these situations? Does your job feel worthy of your potential? Tough questions.  But maybe God has put us in these situations to test our character. He wants to see how we will react. Does your attitude reflect your heart? Colossians 3:23 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” When we change our attitude as if we are working for God instead of people, God can change our hearts toward the situation. God will use these menial tasks to mold and shape us and open up doors for new opportunities.

Ruth:  A Good Reputation

Ruth 2:10-12 – “Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. ‘What have I done to deserve such kindness?’ she asked. ‘I am only a foreigner.’ ‘Yes, I know,’ Boaz replied. ‘But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.’”

  • Boaz asked who the foreigner girl was and when he had heard that it was Ruth, he wanted to talk with her because he had heard of the goods things that she had done for her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth was hard-working, loving, kind, faithful, and brave and these qualities earned her a good reputation. Did she do these things just so others would see her? No, her character was consistent in all areas of her life.
  • How is your reputation formed? By the people who watch you at work, in town, at home and at church. Is your character consistent when no one is watching? A good reputation takes a lifetime to build but it can take a second to destroy. Being consistent in your work, faith, family and in all areas of your life can give you a good reputation. I pray that when people see you, they know that you are someone exhibits admirable character. How do we become a person of good character and reputation? 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” Allow God to be the center of your life and he will build your reputation for you.

Boaz:  A Cheerful Giver

Ruth 2:15-16 – “When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, ‘Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!’”

  • Boaz liked Ruth and had heard of her good reputation. He knew that she was poor and was supporting her mother-in-law. He wanted to help provide for them. He told the workers to let her gather grain with them and to drop some bundles of barley for her on purpose. Boaz went above and beyond the gleaners’ law (Lev. 23:22). He was demonstrating kindness and generosity. He was a man with a giving heart. Out of his abundance, he provided for those in need.
  • When it comes to giving, do we do it because we “ought” to or because we “want” to? Do you give out of reluctance or because you want to share with others who don’t have as much as you do? 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’” It doesn’t matter how much we give. What matters is the attitudes of our hearts when we give. God has given us so much so shouldn’t we in return want to give back to those around us?

Father, I thank you for the examples of Ruth and Boaz. I thank you that they showed their character through their hard work, their reputations, and through their giving. I pray that you will give us the zeal of hard work, a good reputation through our character, and the joy of giving to those who need it. I pray that our attitudes will reflect our hearts and that our hearts reflect you. Amen.

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Sermon on the Mount: Jesus Teaches about Spiritual Vision

In verses 19-21, Jesus starts talking about wealth and materialism and how it affects the heart, mind, and the will. Jesus explains that where you store up your treasure – either in this world or the next – that’s where your heart will be. In these 2 verses, Jesus talks about how wealth and materialism can distort your spiritual vision. If we allow “stuff” to creep in our lives, it will corrupt the way we see things therefore leading us down a destructive path.

Matthew 6:22-23, “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

  • Think of your eye as the spiritual window to your soul. If your window is clean, your soul will see clearly. If your window is dirty, you will see things distorted. You will won’t be able to see things clearly and will not receive the full benefit of the light. This will lead to double vision. If the eyes into our souls become distorted, then our minds and eventually our hearts will become distorted as well. Wiersbe explains that, “God’s Word often uses the eye to represent the attitudes of the mind. If the eye is properly focused on the light, the body can function properly in its movements. But if the eye is out of focus and seeing double, it results in unsteady movements.”
  • Keeping our focus on anything but God will cause our minds to wander.  James 1:8 says that a “double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Many times we try to have the best of both worlds by trying to serve both God and the world at the same time. This cannot be done without leading to destruction. We cannot walk in the Spirit and walk in the flesh. We cannot live for God and live for self. There is no compromise. C.H. Spurgeon explains that, “Two leading principles cannot rule in one heart; they cannot both be master. Either sin or grace will engross the whole heart; neither will submit to compromise.” Only one thing can sit on the throne of your heart. God or the world. Grace or sin. Spirit or flesh. A man who’s mind is divided will always lead to a divided heart.
  • When the windows of our souls become bad, we will be filled with darkness. We will become blind and numb to things that are good or spiritual. Our desires will become selfish. Our hearts will become hardened. Our minds consumed with the lust of the flesh. Our will becomes our own. We live in the darkness of our own little worlds and sin begins to eat away at our souls. “A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him” (Proverbs 28:22). What good is it if we gain the whole world but lose our own soul? (Mt. 16:26)
  • So how do we become men and women with singleness of mind and heart? God can take our blind, numb, dark, and stubborn hearts and turn them into responding, spiritual hearts that are alive in Him. “And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart” (Ez. 11:19). A single eye, mind and heart means one that is fixed on the spiritual. Here are 3 things we can do to fix ourselves on the spiritual.
  1. Ask in prayer – Jesus says that whatever we ask for in His name we will receive. If we desire a singleness of mind and heart, all we have to do is ask Him for it. John 14:13, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”
  2. Fix our thoughts – We can become single-minded by fixing our thoughts on the good and pure things of Christ. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Phil. 4:8)
  3. The Word – Being intentional in the Word will keep our focus solely on Christ. God’s written Word is His living Word and when we study and obey, our minds and hearts become single to Christ. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Heb. 4:12)
  • It’s time for a spiritual vision assessment. How are the windows of your soul? Are they clean or dirty? Are you seeing clearly or is your vision distorted? Is your eye good or bad? Are you single-minded or double-minded? Are you filled with light or darkness? Jesus says in John 8:12, ” “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Only He can bring you out of the darkness and into the light of His truth. Allow Christ to become that light within you. Amen.

Sermon on the Mount: Jesus Teaches about Treasure

In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus addresses the issue of materialism. Materialism can and will enslave the heart (19-21), the mind (22-23), and the will (24). When a person allows materialism to creep into their lives, it becomes an idol.  Anything that takes the throne of your heart instead of God will become what you serve. The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s people turning toward idolatry. Money, possessions, and materialistic things are among the top things that would turn them away and it is the same way in this day in age. For the next 3 posts, we will study how Jesus tells us to rid ourselves of these idols and keep our focus on Him.

TEMPORARY TREASURE 

Matthew 6:19, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” 

  • In order to turn from our materialistic ways, we have to address how to get rid of the issue. Jesus describes earthly treasures with 3 things that are temporal – moths, rust, and thieves.
  1. Moths –  What do moths do? If they get in your closet they will eat holes in your clothes. In Jesus’ day, clothing was highly valued and it represented your wealth. Some of the best clothing would be made of wool and that is one of moths’ favorite entrees. So what good are clothes if they have holes? They will just be thrown away. The same goes with earthly possessions and treasures. They waste away. Earthly treasures cannot be taken past this earth so what’s the use in putting all of your time and effort into attaining more? “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.” (James 5:1-2) Jesus’ warning:  Stay away from pleasures that will wear out like an old suit of clothes.
  2. Rust – Rust is a corrosion of metal. In this case, the word rust translated is brosis. It figuratively means to corrode but it literally means to “eat away.” When Jesus used the word brosis, he was referring to diseases that attack wheat, grain, grapes, crops, etc. Examples of things that “eat away” are fungi, worms, and other various agents. Barclay explains that, “In the east many a man’s wealth consisted in the corn and the grain that he had stored away in his great barns. But into that corn and grain there could come the worms and the rats and the mice, until the store was polluted and destroyed.”  Once again, man-made wealth would waste away. There was nothing permanent about possessions like that.  John 6:27 says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Jesus’ warning:  Stay away from pleasures that can be eroded away.
  3. Thieves –  Thieves are those who steal something that is not theirs on purpose. They will dig through others’ possessions until they find something of value or worth to take. D.A. Carson explains that, “Many ‘treasures on earth’ are the delight of thieves, who break in and steal. Actually they ‘dig through’ and steal; for most homes in ancient Palestine were made of mud brick which easily succumbed to any thief with a sharp tool.” It was easy for a thief to find valuables in homes in that day. It’s still easy today for people to steal our prized possessions.  That’s why we shouldn’t depend on our wealth or possessions because they can easily be taken away from us. Nothing on this earth is permanent so we need to keep a loose grip on the things that could easily distract us from our true purpose. “Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.” (Psalm 62:10) Jesus’ warning:  Stay away from pleasures that can be stolen away.

ETERNAL TREASURE

Matthew 6:20-21, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

  • Jesus gave 3 warnings when it comes to storing up treasure. These things are earthly, temporal, and can easily be snatched away from us. But there is hope. When we store our treasures in heaven, the moths will not be able to eat it, the rust can not corrode it, and the thieves will not be able to steal it.
  • What does it mean to store up treasures in heaven? Storing up our treasures is not just limited to tithing but when we give for God’s purposes, we are furthering the work of His kingdom. Jesus told the rich young ruler how to store treasures in heaven in Matthew 19:21, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” He’s not commanding that we give everything that we have away, but he is telling us that our hearts need to be focused on Him only and not our possessions.
  • Another way to store up treasures is to “use all we have for the glory of God” (Wiersbe). Whether that be the material things we are blessed with or the spiritual gifts that God has given us, it should all be used for God’s glory. How will you use your money, time, talents and gifts that the Lord has given you? Ask the Lord how you can use these things to bring glory to His Kingdom.
  • It is often said that “the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” We should examine our hearts to see what desires are controlling us. What we treasure the most is what we will serve. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts because “everything you do flows from it.” Does your heart desire the materialistic, temporal things of this world? Or does it desire the eternal, everlasting things of heaven? “As always, the heart must be right first. In fact, if the heart is right, everything else in life falls into its proper place. The person who is right with the Lord will be generous and happy in his giving to the Lord’s work” (John MacArthur). 
  • Your heart will always follow your treasure. Make sure you know what and where your treasure is before you start to pursue it. If you invest and set your heart on treasures of this world, you will only gain this world. But if you invest and set your heart on treasures in heaven, you will gain a life in eternity. An eternity with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. – Colossian 3:1