Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10 – The rewards of seeking refuge

May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.   (Ruth 2:12 HCSB)

This was a blessing spoken over Ruth, a destitute widow born into a pagan home and brought to Israel by her mother-in-law who had also lost her husband and sons in a foreign land.  In the social ranks of Israel, you could say that Ruth was at the very bottom of the totem pole.  A gentile, widowed, childless, and dependent on a woman who had also suffered terrible losses.  They both appeared cursed by God.  But Ruth was an extraordinary woman.  Instead of focusing on her horrible misfortune (as her mother-in-law tended to do), she was grateful for her amazing good fortune to be allowed to live in the land of God’s chosen people.

Ruth knew she deserved nothing, but she had the greatest respect for the God of Israel.  She didn’t waste time moaning out of pity, or waiting for others to give her charity.  When her husband died, she could have returned to her parents’ house, but she wanted to find and know this God of Israel.  She worked diligently, served her mother-in-law with great respect, and consistently behaved with good character and integrity.  God noticed, and made sure that His people noticed as well.  As usual, God turned everything around because of her pure heart. Ruth married a wealthy and godly man named Boaz, a leader in the line of Judah, and she entered into the ancestry of King David, and Jesus Himself.  The verse above records the words of her future husband Boaz when he first spoke to her.

It’s so common for us to waste vast amounts of time on petty complaints and self-pity.  We may not speak these complaints outwardly, but we mull over them in our minds, allowing them to ferment and poison our emotions so that real faith has no room to take root.  Ruth had every reason to wallow in self-pity, but instead she only thought of the blessing of being in the land that worshipped the true God, and she did all she could to immerse herself into that world.  Each of us has the same opportunity to immerse ourselves into God, into His Word, into His ways.  We have His principles laid out before us, and if we delight in practicing them, we are promised to be rewarded.

God was speaking this blessing through Boaz, so pleased that this young widow from a far-away land chose to seek refuge under the wings of the God of Israel.  When we consistently run to God and seek his protection, and do all we can to obey and honor Him, He is truly pleased.  That simple decision gives us favor with both God and with others.   Rewards, blessings and honor beyond our expectations are given to us in return.  And if you want, the story of Ruth can become your story as well.

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