Category Archives: Life Lessons

Ruth 2 Part 1

workhard

You’re in for a treat guys! This chapter comes in two parts…YIPEE.  We just had so much to say (and you know we talk a lot) so we thought why not serve two manageable sized portions instead of one great meal you can’t finish. Did you get that? Most of my analogies are food based because of my not so secret obsession with the stuff. Anyway, I digress.

Before you feast on what I’m about to say (won’t apologise for the food references) Don’t forget to purchase/ borrow from a library/ steal from a friend and return before they notice, a copy of our next book on the menu (Just can’t help myself)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Beautiful-Purpose-Discovering-Enjoying/dp/0764210661/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395827381&sr=8-1&keywords=your+beautiful+purpose

Ok, I’ll stop the suspense. Here’s what I have to say about Ruthie.

Dani 

The two lessons I learned from this chapter were:

1. Your work will make a way for you.

2. You can’t always be polite. Sometimes you have to say “yes please!” to the things God has for you.

The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. She asked, ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather grain among the bundles?’ Since she arrived she has been working hard from this morning until now – except for sitting in the resting hut a short time. Ruth 2: 6-7

If someone were to come to your manager or come to your academic adviser and ask for a report about you, would you come off as squeaky clean as Ruth? I know for one that I wouldn’t. My manager would have an abundance of good things to say about me, generally because I enjoy working so I always give it my best, but my academic adviser, on the other hand, would be singing from a completely different hymnbook. You can speculate all you like about why someone got that promotion or is liked by the management but there’s only so far that, being pretty, and charming your bosses, can take you. Boaz looked upon Ruth favourably because when he asked about her he heard how hard working she was. Most of us only want to perform with excellence when we’re being appraised but it’s the things you do when you think nobody’s watching that will open doors for you. I get it, you’re not always in the mood to pull out that finger and get to business but there’s a scripture that encourages me to work at my optimum whether I feel like it or not:

Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

God wants to bless you because of your hard work, if you aren’t sowing any hard work seeds you can’t expect to reap a reward.

2. Stop being so polite that you stand in the way of your blessings. I don’t know about you but when I was growing up I was taught to not say yes to everything I was offered even when I secretly wanted it. Have you ever been visiting family friends and your mum wants to leave so when your auntie offers yet another round of food, before you can even answer, your mum has shot you those ‘don’t you even dare’ eyes. I think those experiences have haunted me into adulthood so much so that I find myself saying no thanks just because I think I shouldn’t be saying yes or I don’t want to look greedy. Boaz wasn’t giving Ruth a small favour, he was showering her with acts of favour and not once did she say ‘oh no that’s too much’ or ‘surely I can’t take that’. God wants to use people to bless us. Stop being an enemy of your own progress and learn to say yes!You can chuck in a please and thank you if you’re itching to be polite.

Ruth 1

Before we begin, here is the book that we will be reading next month if you wish to purchase it:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Beautiful-Purpose-Discovering-Enjoying/dp/0764210661/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395827381&sr=8-1&keywords=your+beautiful+purpose

Mine took AGES to come, so make sure you buy ASAP in time for us to start reading together.

ANYWAY! This month, we will be studying……

ruth 1

RUTH

Since we are different people, I knew that Dani and I would pick up on different moments in the text and those moments would impact us in different ways. For this reason, we have complied both our thoughts on Ruth 1 into one LONG post. It would definitely help if you read the chapters we reference as we went along (coz that’s the whole point but whatever lol).

Dani said:

Ruth 1:16-17

But Ruth replied, “Stop urging me to abandon you! For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people, and your God will become my God. Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! Only death will be able to separate me from you!” 

Imagine if we had the same attitude that Ruth had towards Naomi, towards Jesus. With Christ we have assurance of the good things he has in store for us, Jeremiah 29:11 says “For the plans I have for you are good and not evil, plans to bring you to a perfect end”. Imagine being in a place of destituteness and following someone that isn’t even promising that greater things will come. Naomi served the Most High God and Ruth wanted to be close to the person she knew could get her to him. We hear all the time that sometimes we have to take a leap of faith but what Ruth did was more like taking a step off of a multi-storey burning building whilst Orpah chose to wait until the fire brigade came.

In this chapter Ruth teaches us that rationality cannot be relied upon. Being educated to a higher level can result in us believing that we can reason with God in the same way that we reason with others, leading us to debate and sometimes even argue with him. However, you didn’t hear Jesus say ‘but realistically you can’t feed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fishes’. You didn’t hear Abraham say ‘but isn’t a bit contradictory for you to tell me to kill the very son you prophesied that I would have’. God doesn’t care about what makes sense and neither did Ruth. It doesn’t matter what is logical in a situation;it’s about what’s Jesusical. If we want to live a life that’s spirit lead, that means seeking after the things God wants for us, and following the commands he gives us, regardless of how well they fit into the plan we have for our lives.

Finally we see Ruth shows us that ‘it’s not everyday listen to your friends’. It’s not that Orpah was doing something against God’s will for her life, it’s that God was doing something different in Ruth’s life. You can spend your whole life seeking after your friend’s miracle or your friend’s blessing and completely miss out on what God had planned for you.

He chose you, and only you, to complete the specific plan he created for you. Will you reply to his calling with the words Ruth said to Naomi?

Joy said:

Ruth 1:8, 11-13

But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.” 

The first person in the story that I felt was exemplary was Naomi. Are you surprised? I was. I expected Ruth to jump out at me and captivate my heart. But what about Naomi? Naomi, a woman who lost her husband and her two sons – a woman who lost it all. Being a woman in those days wasn’t easy at all, without a man to protect you, you were vulnerable and at risk. Men were the providers and owners of all property; when the men in her life passed, Naomi was left with nothing.

Despite her bitterness she began to reason with herself. As she travelled back to her place of birth, she decided that her daughter-in-laws should not have to suffer anymore than they already had. Despite her bereaved state and desolation, she put the needs of others first. Naomi could have chosen to make those young women stay with her and alter their lives to suit her needs; both Ruth and Orpah were fiercely loyal and would have stayed if she had requested. Instead she thought of their wellbeing above her own; they say ‘misery loves company’ but Naomi life shows this isn’t necessarily true for everybody.

How do you act when you are in pain? Do you shut down? Do you shout about the place and set your environment on fire with your words? Do you become selfish, only able to see the situation from your perspective? Would you have told those around you to leave you because you knew in your heart that it would benefit them? I began to ask myself how I act when I’m pain. Do I throw my weight around? YES, I do. Not intentionally, I just make those around me uncomfortable because I don’t speak.

Awkward.

Naomi showed me once again there is a better way to live and behave even when your emotions are in turmoil. Growth. We need to grow. Even if we are hurting, that shouldn’t mean that everyone else around us should have to absorb the weight of our pain. Instead we should seek to lighten the load others are carrying, even if we are carrying a greater pain.

Ruth 1:14

And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 

When should we let go and when should we hold on?

Neither Orpah or Ruth could have known what their futures held but they were both were presented with the same choice -to stay or to go. I wrestled with this part of the text for many reasons. Orpah had NO idea what she was about to miss out on and even if she had gone with them, there was only one Boaz! She may have stayed a widow for the rest of her life – no one knows what would have happened if she went with Nai (yes I’ve given her a nickname) but God.

Instinctively, I love Orpah. Orpah followed her gut. What she did made perfect sense given the circumstances – she was a woman and she needed a husband to protect and provide for her. She had already suffered a huge loss; the best thing to do was to go home to her family and figure things out from there. 9/10 of us would have done the same. Even after reading this story, I’m sure some of us will take the path that makes sense before we walk the path that inconveniences us. We will miss out on a blessing because we cannot see the potential in an opportunity because it is dressed as a burden.

When we are unsure, we must look to God before we look within ourselves for answers. Isaiah 30:21 says “whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” We need to follow the voice of God before we follow our intuition. You see, the answers that lie within us may cause us to make the wrong choices. Although in that moment the choice could have made perfect sense, our legacy will only reflect a lack of foresight to those that walk after us.

Ruth didn’t know what lay ahead – there’s no way she could have known the blessings that would be heaped on her as a result of her decision to stay with Nai. All she knew was the love that she had for her mother-in-law and that was enough. One decision changed her life forever.

What did I learn from Naomi?

  • Regardless of how I feel, I need to always consider the feelings of others. Even if I am at my lowest point, I can’t act selfishly as this impacts those around me.
  • If someone decides to leave me, God will bring someone who will stay and carry me through the storm.
  • Continue to serve God regardless of how unbearable the situation may be.

What did I learn from Ruth?

  •  I will always have a choice; God will never force my hand.
  • Sometimes opportunities will be dressed as burdens; do not be hasty when making decisions.
  • Look ahead. Current circumstances always give way to future blessings. What I feel is my end may one day be recognised as my beginning.

What did I learn from Orpah?

  • There is a time to walk away.
  • No one knows what the future holds, be patient and prayerful.
  •  When walking away, try not to walk backwards. Move forward into a better beginning.
  • Pray before you stay, pray before you walk – pray before everything.

Along Came 2014

2014

During the latter parts of December, everyone becomes excited about the New Year. Usually, I’m the same! I promise! Despite my naturally moody disposition, I love what a new year represents; an opportunity to begin again, to live differently and to do things I was scared to do the previous year. It is as though we are reborn; we have a clean sheet, a fresh start.

It’s cliché, I know.

I am also aware that most people don’t actually utilise the year we are gifted with; people fall into old patterns– they binge eat instead attending the gym, chain smoke instead of wearing nicotine patches and sleep in on Sundays instead of making it to the 10am service. I’d say the ‘change!’ train probably dies around January 18th. My gut tells me that December 31st 2014 will roll around and people will write the same resolutions in different ways, hoping to do things differently but will still be unwilling to do what is necessary to create the change they wish to see.

Alas, despite both my sentimental and cynical nature, I used to love a New Year. But you know what, last year was different. I was apprehensive.

Wait.

I’m lying.

Let me be honest.  I was scared.

During my holiday to Cyprus, I looked back on 2013. I knew 2013 was going to be a madness, I could literally feel it within me on January 1st, but I was in no way prepared for what lay ahead of little old me. On my darkest days, I was on the battlefield fighting for my life, my health and my sanity, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – on some days, there was no light.

As I looked back, it became clear that the days of light far outnumbered the days of darkness but that only became known to me through the gift of hindsight. There were many times last year where I could only see darkness and feel pain. I know I’m not the only one; 2013 wasn’t easy for a lot of us. Despite our planning and our pronouncement that it was ‘our year’, life inevitably got in the way. We experienced problems, depression, bereavement; bouts of anxiety, abandonment and the kind of fear that stopped us from achieving the things our hearts cried for us to do. As a result, some of us are moving through 2014 scared, fearful and apprehensive, unwilling to take meaningful steps, terrified that we may fall and have to spend the better part of 2014 learning how to walk again.

The reality is that we have no idea what lies ahead; we can recount the past and observe the present but no one, with complete certainty, can predict what the future will bring. So I’ll leave with you the scriptures that help me to walk through 2014.

Do not be afraid; just believe (Mark 5: 36)

We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty (Zechariah 4:6)

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Remember there is no battle you have to fight alone now that you have Jesus in your life. Whatever life throws at you, he can handle it.

So glad you’re here and reading this!

Joy xxxxx

Drop The Weight

fatty

2 Corinthians 5:17

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I wish the transformation process were as simple and clear-cut as the scripture above. You decide to give your life to Christ and now there is a light that dwells within you; your old life has gone! Boom, bang, bang!

Well, not really.

On day one, you probably still have most of the issues that you had before you gave your life back to God and you don’t really know what it means to walk with him. I believe unless we work hard (daily!) to move away from the old lives we used to lead, we will inevitably fall back into our old routines. Instead of a new book for our new lives, we will find ourselves rereading our old books, hoping that the words will suddenly change.

I think it is so easy to bring old habits into our new lives and I think this explains why we live in a world with insecure Christians, mean Christians, Christians with anger problems, Christians who look down on other people – the list goes on. I don’t believe some of these traits can co-exist with the Jesus that wants to dwell in our hearts. Please feel free to correct me, I’m no theologian, I’m just trying to go somewhere with this.

Example: you sing on Sunday morning about how much God loves you and you nod along as the Pastor tells the congregation that they are all fearfully and wonderfully made. That VERY evening, you look in the mirror and tell yourself how ugly you are. You tell yourself that you’ll never find anyone to love you and that you aren’t worth anything. I know many people who sing about God’s love for them in one moment but use the same mouth to speak hatefully about themselves in the next. They’re not alone; I’ve been there too and I literally have to work daily to make sure I don’t fall back into that old, vicious cycle.

Sidebar: I have this new rule: If I wouldn’t say it to another person, I cannot say it to myself. It’s easy to be mean to yourself. You do something wrong, you hit your head and say ‘YOU’RE SO DUMB’. What? Sorry? No. You’re not dumb. You are an intelligent individual who made small error. Be kinder to yourself!

Look at all the baggage you’re carrying. Certain habits can’t come on this walk, you know! You gotta drop the negativity out because it’s weighty and it will eventually overshadow the hope, love and compassion God has for you; you’ll simply stop believing all the good that he sees in you.

Have you ever seen ‘The Biggest Loser?’ The contestants are forced to do crazy exercise tasks and they’re struggling because of the weight they’ve acquired over time. That is exactly what you’re doing; you’re struggling, out of breath and overwhelmed by the task. You’ve got to get rid of the weight. I don’t mean a diet until next month with a few biscuits here and there; no, I’m talking for the rest of your life, no more carbs, (OBVIOUSLY THIS IS AN ANALOGY WE LOVE CARBS) and never returning to the things that made it difficult for you to run through life unafraid and unashamed.  No, we leave those things behind and eventually we stop running and we start soaring.

Your new life has begun. You are different. You are new. You are no longer the person you were before you encountered Christ. You don’t have to keep reading the chapters of pain and brokenness, make a daily decision to leave those moments behind and drop the weight.

Joyyyyy xxx