Even though we have turned our calendars, it doesn’t mean that the pain, hardships or struggles that we have been facing automatically go away. While our hope is that the New Year will bring blessing upon blessing, the truth of the matter is that we will most likely find ourselves wading through some sort of challenge, hardship, tragedy or even loss. Our series, “Beautiful Living in a Broken World” is meant to not only encourage and strengthen us in those times when life is turned upside down and we find ourselves dealing with the realities of life, but invites us to reflect on how we can walk well with others while take care of our own spirits.
+ January 2
Naomi’s husband Elimelech died. Ten years later his two son’s Maholon and Chilion also died, leaving Naomi and her two daughter in Laws facing an unknown future. What made matters worse was that there was a severe famine in the land. In the hopes of finding food, Naomi and her two daughters-in law planned to return from the country of Moab to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem in Judah. Our reading picks up with a conversation between Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws Ruth and Orpah.
Text: Ruth 1:8-13
Even in her time of loss, Naomi thinks about the welfare and safety of her daughter–in-laws and places their needs even before her own. In this selfless act of love Naomi seeks to support and encourage Ruth and Orpah to find healing, renewal and security even if it means their returning to their family of origin. Sometimes the hardest part of loving is letting go. Yet throughout the story of Ruth, Naomi continues this practice of nurture and advising. Through Naomi’s desire to support and encourage others even in her time of loss, what does it teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ January 9
In her grief, Naomi put the needs of her two daughter-in-laws before her own and it’s here that Ruth and Orpah are faced with a choice. They could either return to their own people as Naomi invited them to do, or they could take the journey with Naomi. We pick up in our reading with Orpah and Ruth’s response to their mother-in-law who blessed them and was prepared to send them on their way.
Text: Ruth 1:14-18
When faced with a loss, people experience and cope with it in different ways. Some might have a tendency to become paralyzed or want to leave or ignore the situation, while others may dig in and seek help and care in any way possible. While our tendency may be to think that one may be better than another, they’re just different. Yet there is also the reality that just as we may want to care for others in their time of loss and need, others may feel called to walk with us. What can we learn from the responses of Orpah, Ruth and Naomi on about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ January 16
Ruth had just declared her commitment to her mother-in-law—that she would walk alongside her and support her through thick and thin. After leaving Moab, Naomi and Ruth finally arrived in Naomi’s home town of Bethlehem—and as you would imagine, news travels quickly.
Text: Ruth 1:19-21
In today’s reading we hear how Naomi came to grips with the pain that she was experiencing. Naomi didn’t sugarcoat her words or try to present it in such a way that was comfortable for others, but spoke directly to the hurt of her heart. While it may be difficult to share our hurts out loud and name and claim all that weighs on us, perhaps it allows us to begin the healing process. Yet the reality is that Naomi’s story doesn’t end there (and neither does ours) as God’s hand continues to move in her life. What does Naomi’s acknowledgement of her pain and blessing from God teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ January 23
According to the law, those harvesting a field would not strip the land bare or reap into the edges of the field, but would leave what had fallen for the poor and the foreigner. As a widow and foreigner, it would have been natural for Ruth to go into a field in order to gather what had fallen to feed herself and her mother-in-law. It just so happened to be the field belonging to Naomi’s kinsman Boaz.
Text: Ruth 2:4-10
Sometimes in life we may find that we are in need and other times we may find that we are blessed. What does it mean to bless someone? What does it mean to be attentive to the needs of others? The kindness of Boaz went beyond a single event and plays out throughout the story of Ruth. In fact, we see his character unfold with each conversation and interaction from his care of Ruth to acting in honesty and integrity. This week we will be looking at the words and actions of Boaz and what they can teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World.
+ January 30
With each conversation and interaction we gained a greater insight into the heart, spirit and generosity of Boaz. We will continue to look at the character and integrity of Boaz and how he seeks to care for Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi. What do the words and actions of Boaz teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
Text: Ruth 2:4-10
+ February 6
For showing her kindness and allowing her to not only glean in his field but to drink from his well, Ruth fell prostrate before Boaz and asked, “Why have I found favour in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” In today’s reading we hear the response of Boaz that serves as a reminder for us to continue to stay diligent and faithful in the task before us.
Text: Ruth 2:11-13
Sometimes it may be difficult to stay true to our character or keep diligent and faithful to God when we find ourselves in a time of hardship. What does our reading for today teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World and how we can be a witness to others through our work and attitudes?
+ February 13
After finding favor in the eyes of Boaz, Ruth brought what she had gleaned from the field in order to share it with her Mother-in-Law. Overwhelmed with gratitude Naomi begins to question Ruth.
Text: Ruth 2:19-22
Oftentimes in hardship it can become easy to focus and dwell on the pain. Yet in our text for today there is a sense of relief and joy even in hardship. Our text for today challenges us to ask, “How am I acknowledging God’s provision and where is my voice of praise?” What does Naomi’s response to the blessings that were provided teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ February 20
Elkanah had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah and the other was Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but even though Hannah prayed and prayed, she was unable to have children. Hannah’s rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her.
Text: 1 Samuel 1:7-12
I would imagine we’ve all had people push our buttons to the point that we’ve had enough. Yet instead of taking matters into her own hands, Hannah placed the matter in God’s hands. What does Hannah’s response to the abuse she was facing teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ February 27
Hannah was praying in the temple that the Lord would answer her prayer. She had been tormented by the words of her rival and in her pain, she pleads to God in prayer. Overcome with emotion, Hannah is unable to get the words out which raises concern for those who witness her time of prayer. Yet God hears the cries of her heart.
Text: 1 Samuel 1:12-18
Sometimes we can make snap judgments of others based on our own perception without truly understanding the entire situation. While Eli stepped in and addressed a concern, he was quick to see his error, listen and offer support for Hannah. While Eli’s initial assessment of the situation could have been handled differently, that instead of relieving a pain he added to it. What does his acknowledgement of his error teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?
+ March 6
Hannah’s prayer had been answered and she gave birth to a son and named him Samuel. In a time of deep distress, Hannah had made a promise to God that she would dedicate her son to the Lord and that he would serve Him in His temple. In due time, Hannah brought Samuel to the temple and after they offered a bull as a sacrifice, which was the custom of the time, she brought the child to Eli the priest.
Text: 1 Samuel 1:26-28
Sometimes in life we may make a promise or a vow to God. Sometimes it is made with all the right intentions but we fail to follow through when that prayer has been answered. Maybe there was even a time when we made a flippant promise or comment in order to get something we wanted or desire, “IF you do this Lord, THEN I’ll do this.” Hannah’s prayer was not only spoken from the heart but she followed through with her actions. What does Hannah’s faithfulness to her vow teach us about Beautiful Living in a Broken World?