I remember it as if it were last night. In the darkness of a warm Oklahoma summer’s night I gave up. At age twenty-two I decided to stop believing in Jesus as the Savior of the World.
I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. I had simply decided that I was wrong about this God/Jesus thing and that maybe all religions really were the same. Maybe all roads do lead to heaven.
So, I stopped reading my Bible. Church no longer made my Sunday “to do” list. I didn’t study other religions, I just stopped believing in Jesus. I had no doubt that there was a God, but I no longer could feel His presence.
When God Let’s You Go
God is not a dictator. Jesus is King, but we maintain our free-will, our choice to trust Him and live for Him or live for ourselves and the world. And that’s what I did. There was a famine in my heart, so I moved to other religions, actually a melting pot of religions.
I had given up on God, but He never gave up on me. He does not give up on us. Ever.
When We Misjudge the Situation
I listened to a very Godly man share a little bit of his testimony the other day. He’d been lured into a cult. He thought he was doing the right thing, but as he went farther and farther down this path with these people he began to realize he needed to get out. He needed to go home. After seven years of estrangement from his family, he had to go back. He was a pastor’s kid. Returning home was like returning back to the one true God.
His story and mine are both very similar to the story of Ruth. I believe her family misjudged the situation too. Because of a severe famine they left God’s land. They probably justified it like I did. Maybe they thought God was telling them to go, but where they went was a forbidden place. They suffered consequences, but God did not give up on them.
Naomi Returned Back to Judah
We’re in week 3 of our study of the Book of Ruth. At a snail’s pace, we’re uncovering verse by verse what happened in this beloved story and how it applies to us. I don’t think there’s one person who cannot relate at one part or another of Naomi and Ruth’s journey. With her husband and sons gone, Naomi was left with nothing but a decision to make. She needed to go home, But I think she needed a sign.
Ruth 1: 6-7
When 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. 7 With 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.
When God Gives You a Sign
I (I have repeated this for the printable below.) I believe Naomi needed a sign to go home, and I think that sign was that God had ended the famine. That was it. She knew it was time to go back. But Naomi’s return holds a spiritual significance too. She wasn’t only returning home, her actions proved her return to God. The Hebrew word in this passage is shuwb. To shuwb meant to turn back, but it also meant to repent.
Bringing the Treasure Home to Our Hearts
Has there been a time when you were going the wrong direction in life or found yourself in a place where you didn’t belong?
Maybe you’re in a place like that now, but you see no way out. Please hear me. There is ALWAYS a way out. There is ALWAYS a path back to Jesus. There’s a good chance the Holy Spirit has been prompting you. He’s probably put somebody in your life leading you back. Return to Him, Shuwb. He’s waiting. He’s a prayer away.
Join us as we dig into Ruth this week and apply her story to ours. Each day has a short Bible reading and prompts to make God’s truth yours. You can even get the reading plan “to go!” Just click on any of the printable links below.
Bite of Bread Reading Plan and Prompts (Printable Available)
Monday: Ruth 1:6: When 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.
- I wonder if Naomi needed a sign. Her husband and sons were gone, and all she had nothing but two daughters-in-law. Nothing was keeping her in Moab. Do you ever need a sign to go back? Write down a time when God did something that confirmed a decision you were trying to make.
Tuesday: Ruth 1:7: With 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.
- She was going back, returning to Bethlehem, but her move was more than physical. Naomi’s return home was symbolic of her return to God. What happened to you when you turned or “returned” to God?
Wednesday: Deuteronomy 30: 1-3: When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunesand have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
- This was the old covenant, a covenant of blessings and curses. God makes promises here. What was His promise?
Thursday: Read Deuteronomy 30: 1-3 again.
- What were the three prerequisites in order to receive God’s gracious restoration and compassion? Which one of these stands out most to you? Why?
Friday: Galatians 3: 12-14: The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
- How did Christ redeem us?
- How was He our Ga’al (how did he pay for us?)
- What do we receive by faith?
“Rather than the physical blessings promised to the Israelites in the first covennt now we are promised the Holy Spirit. We’re guaranteed the Spirit of Jesus himself living in us. That’s better than a two-story home with a white picket fence and two and a half children any day. Houses need repair, fences have to be painted, children grow up and move away, but the Spirit of Jesus leads us, fills us, and promises never to leave us” (Ruth Bible Study, p. 37).
- Have you experienced the Spirit? In what ways has the Spirit counseled, helped, comforted, spoke to, or guided you?
[End of Printable #BOB]
Wednesday Night Live Bible Study
Join me at 7:30 ET Wednesday night for a little virtual small group time. Simply follow me on Facebook and meet me on my timeline at 7:30. You can even set up a “Watch Party” to watch with friends allowing you all to discuss with each other as I teach. Looking forward to it!
Here’s last week’s teaching on feeling like we don’t belong here.
Have a blessed week my friends!