Ruth 4

The book of Ruth’s big, beautiful, theological message can be summed up like this, so I read, 

God cares for needy people like Naomi and Ruth; he is their ally in this chaotic world. He richly rewards people like Ruth and Boaz who demonstrate sacrificial love and in so doing become his instruments in helping the needy. God’s rewards for those who sacrificially love others sometimes exceed their wildest imagination and transcend their lifetime.

We’ve talked each and every week about Jesus in the book of Ruth. He said, didn’t He, that all Scriptures bear witness to Him, and all Scriptures testify of Him. Throughout Ruth, He has been pictured, previewed, and foreshadowed mainly by Boaz and this role of the kinsman-redeemer. Think about just how many ways this little book points us to Jesus…

  • The kinsman-redeemer had to be a family member. Boaz was a relative of the family and people in need (4.3). 

Jesus added humanity to His eternal deity so that He could be our human kinsman and save us (Philippians 2.7ff.).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, was not motivated by self-interest, but motivated by love for Ruth. 

Jesus’ motivation for redeeming us is His great love for us (1 John 4.10).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, had to have a plan to redeem Ruth unto himself – and some might have thought the plan to be foolish. 

Jesus’ plan for redeeming us is looked at as being a failure and being foolish (1 Corinthians 1.18).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, took her as his bride.

We, the people Jesus has redeemed, are collectively called His bride (Ephesians 5.31-32, Revelation 21.9).

  • Boaz, as kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, provided a glorious destiny for Ruth. The bitter life of a childless widow left behind, the glorious life of the redeemed lay ahead.

Jesus, as our redeemer, provides a glorious destiny for us (1 Thessalonians 5.9-11).

It all comes back to the idea of Jesus as our kinsman-redeemer;

this is why He became a man, to redeem you (Guzik).

God might have sent an angel to save us, or some kind of supernatural other-worldly being, but they would not have been our kinsman. Jesus, in His eternal glory, without the addition of humanity to His divine nature might have saved us, but He would not have been our kinsman.

On the other side of the coin, God could have raised up a great person, maybe a great prophet or a fantastic, kind, caring priest. They could be our kinsman because they are like us, but they could never be our redeemer because they would be sinful, like us.

So then, it has to be Jesus, only Jesus, the eternal God who added humanity to His eternal deity. It has to be Jesus because He is both our kinsman and our redeemer.

All of this to say, that for you, and for me, and for us, it simply had to be Jesus. 

It just has to be Jesus.

So what do you do with this then? Yes, take a moment to consider how you are putting your love for others into action, like Ruth, like Naomi, like Boaz.

But more than that, today, right now, I would exhort you and charge you and command you with all the authority of the office and the role that I have to just sit quietly for a few minutes and consider this truth; that it simply has to be Jesus for your life

He is your kinsman having taken on flesh, He is your redeemer because of his eternal deity, and He fused those together, for eternity, so that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. It simply has to be Jesus for you and your redemption.  

If all of this is true, and it does simply have to be Jesus, then our aim today and every day simply has to be radical, life offering, self-sacrificing, obedience to Jesus. 

So I will challenge you, command you, exhort you, to take some time today, actually do this, sit, think, contemplate, cogitate, on this wonderful truth that it simply has to be Jesus, and then like Ruth, like Naomi, like Boaz, how are you going to put this into action? What are you going to do? 

I’d love to hear from you this week and for you to share with me what you are going to do when you truly realise and internalise this truth it simply has to be Jesus for your redemption.



Vines, Branches, the Church, and You

This year hasn’t really been all we had hoped so far, has it? We’ve just ticked over to the second half of the year and most of the world is living in limbo; some things are open, some things are closed, and some things are somewhere in between. No doubt your life is a mix of these states. 

If you are a believer in the risen Jesus and God’s Word to us that we carry in our Bibles, you are by extension a believer in a Sovereign and all-powerful God where nothing happens within His creation that He has not decreed or allowed to proceed. He either said it or sanctioned it. He either actioned or allowed it. Now, just because you believe in a God like this, doesn’t mean you always understand why He is proclaiming or giving permission (Romans 11.34).

So this is all happening, that we cannot deny. We know that God has a plan and a purpose behind it all whether we see it or not, and we know that for those who love Him, all things, both good and bad, work together for ultimate good (Romans 8.28). So, let me make a suggestion, just think;

Could part of this season be a shaking, stirring, and sifting of God’s people?

Jesus said in John 15 that “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (v.2). Sadly, we’ve seen people fall away from engaging with church this last four months. Maybe that was you, maybe that is you, maybe not. Aside from numbers, statistics, and metrics, we’ve seen people be lethargic to connect, commune, and communicate with one another. Yes, there is a committed core of people who have risen to the challenge, but, for many, John 15.2 seems to be happening in real time. 

The sad reality of this is then expanded on in v.6 wherein Jesus says “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” Maybe you know some of those who have seriously disengaged this last four months, some of those who when the tree has been shaken have fallen away. Maybe that was you for a period. The second half of v.6 stands as strong motivation to hold on to the tree when it’s being shaken. 

Sadly though, we’ve seen those with a Friday-only-faith drift away, wither away, and slowly back away from the encouraging, edifying, and equipping covering that being part of a church of God’s people provides. This hurts. As those who know the Word, this hurts because you know, in essence, what they are choosing by removing themselves. Yes, this last four months has been altogether odd and strange. Yes, this has certainly not been ‘normal’. However, there are enough people who have risen to the challenge and clung to the tree to show that it is possible, and that whether we are experiencing lows or highs, plenty or hunger, that as individuals and as a community we can survive and thrive in all circumstances through the root and vine that strengthens us (Philippians 4.11-13).

What do we do with all this then? Well, as Paul writes to the Romans about the Gentiles being grafted into the family of God’s people (11.11-31), so we ought to try and emulate this in our earthly station. No doubt you know some who have slowly slipped away from the fellowship of one-another this last few months. We hold to the unshakeable hope that if they do not continue in their unbelief, [they] will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again (v.23). 

In this season of uncertainty, of change, and of shaking, stirring, and sifting, our task as believers is threefold;

  1. Let us see this season as one of pruning and let us be ready for the season of new growth that necessarily follows (John 15.2). Perspective is paramount. Endurance is essential. Don’t be left behind.
  2. Hold fast to the vine from which life comes. Apart from this vine, we can do nothing (John 15.5). The tree is being shaken. Hold on. We will never Philippians 4.11-13 if we are alone. 
  3. Reach out to those who, in all appearances, have fallen away from the branch or removed themselves from the root (John 15.2, cf. Hebrews 10.23-25).

Friends, our Sovereign, all-powerful, wise, and loving God is moving in the world and in His church right now.

The question for you is, are you moving with Him?

Ruth 3

What is going on in Ruth 3? Is there a moral lesson for us? How about this;

  1. Do what is asked of you.
  2. Be submissive, yielded, willing, and take direction.
  3. Put yourself into action and submit, do as Ruth did, and Naomi did, and as Boaz did.

Again though, that is putting you and me at the centre of this, making us the main character in this story, and essentially we’re then saying that the Bible is really about us. But, we know it’s not, don’t we?

So, where is Jesus in this?

Well, Ruth called out to be saved in v.9,

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”

Ruth 3.6-9

Ruth here then is living out the truth that redemption is found under the protection of the wings, being in the care of, submitting to, the redeemer. This brings safety, security, and salvation.

This has been a consistent message from Genesis to Revelation, maybe it is easier to see in some places than others, but that’s ok, more light is shone on this as we move along the bigger picture of the Bible. But, at the core, the truth has always been the same – call on the name of the Lord to be saved; call out, ask, seek, knock, trust.

One place that it is really clear and that helps us understand what Ruth has done here, and what you can do, is in the book of Joel, one of the Minor Prophets.

In Joel, we are reading a prophesy, a future prediction about the Day of the Lord. Joel writes on a couple of variations of it, ready?; 

  • The day is past, being experienced in a plague of locusts and in a natural drought and famine in 1.2-12
  • The day is current or imminent, the day was to be carried out by an enemy military force in 2.1-11
  • The day is future: immediately in the salvation of Jerusalem from current problems, long term, in the giving of the Spirit of God on all people and the deliverance of all who call on the name of the Lord, and ultimate in the eternal holiness of Jerusalem, protected from its enemies in 2.28-32 and 3.

In the future day of great judgement (end of the world type stuff) God says to His people Israel look, 

return to me with all your heart,

with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

Return to the LORD your God,

for he is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;

and he relents over disaster.

Later in ch.2 we read that at this time of universal judgement, those Spirit-empowered, faith-filled, Redeemer-trusting people will be saved, will be redeemed. Now, Joel 2 is not a blanket truth; we don’t need to pretend we are the people of Joel 2, because we are not the people of Israel, are we, but, the principle within that pledge is so applicable and true; 

call on the name of the Lord to be saved, ask, seek, knock, 

as Ruth said, “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 

See, no matter how much evil there is in the world, no matter how far from God we think we may be, no matter how desperate the situation may be in which we find ourselves, no matter if we are childless widows from a different country, no matter the current state of the world or your life, God has already provided the solution, God has already provided a way out.

This solution came, He lived, He died, He rose again, and He ascended, at which time He sent another solution, another solution of the same kind. The Holy Spirit comes alongside us, to abide in us, to walk with us.

Ruth called out and said

Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer. 

Joel says to God’s people of the OT

The sunlight will be turned to darkness

and the moon to the colour of blood,

before the day of the LORD comes–

that great and terrible day! 

It will so happen that

everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered.

Paul says to the believers in Rome

…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

… because…

“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I’m saying to you today, now, that the same God who redeemed Ruth from a desperate and dire situation through the person and work of Boaz, is the same God who Joel says promises to redeem His people who call out to Him on the future Day of the Lord, is the same God who Paul is saying will answer the prayer of salvation from the believers in Rome, and is the same God that stands ready to redeem you if you call on His Name and take refuge in Him through faith in the person and work of Jesus. 


For more on the Minor Prophets, check out this daily devotional walkthrough!

https://books.apple.com/gb/book/the-minor-prophets-day-by-day/id1519395811

Titus 3.12-15 – Final Words

Today Paul closes his letter to Titus in typical fashion. 

When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

Titus 3.12-15

We see that Artemas or Tychicus are to be sent to Crete to carry on the work that Titus has been doing, and that Zenas and Apollos are to be sent out from the church, fully supported. The practical instructions from Paul to Titus about Artemas, Tychicus, Zenas, and Apollos add a dimension of reality to the letter: these are real people in a real place being addressed by a real person in a letter to another real person. These personal closing words add real authenticity to the text.

Paul gives Titus a nutshell-summary of the entire letter when he writes, let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

The entire text has been about what Titus should and shouldn’t do as the pastor, what he should and shouldn’t focus on, what he should and shouldn’t teach, and this is all so that the people learn to devote themselves to good works…and not be unfruitful

In essence, Paul to Titus to the people is saying look, there needs to be fruit to evidence the root. As we’ve said in previous days, faith alone saves but saving faith is never alone, it will be accompanied by good works (3.8). 

Titus is a wonderful little letter for us to read whether we are in full-time vocational ministry or whether we are serving the Lord and His people in another line of work. There are points for us all to apply, there are principles for us all to apply, there are do’s and don’ts, and they are all built on the platform that He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Our prayer is that having walked thought-by-thought through Paul’s letter to Titus you have a fuller picture of the life of a believer, have a richer appreciation for Scripture, and a deeper love for the Saviour to whom it all points. 

Titus 3.3 – Seven Don’ts

After yesterday’s seven to-do’s, today Paul gives the other side of the coin and shows us where we have come from.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Titus 3.3

Paul begins with a reason why we ought to be the model citizens detailed in 3.1-2, and he says for we ourselves were once…Seeing how far we have come in our lives of faith should spur us on to keep moving in that direction.

Just as there were seven to-do’s yesterday, did you notice the seven don’ts today, the seven characteristics that we are to be actively moving away from in our life of faith? Paul, to Titus, to his people, and to us by extension says that we ourselves were once,

  1. Foolish.
  2. Disobedient.
  3. Led astray.
  4. Slaves to various passions and pleasures.
  5. Passing our days in malice and envy.
  6. Hated by others.
  7. Hating others.

Not a great list, is it? We need to admit this is where we are coming from if we are to be truly grateful and appreciative of the person we are becoming. Accepting the bad news about ourselves puts us in the place we need to be to accept the Good News, that the person detailed in 3.1-2 is developing more and more each day only due to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in you, only because of your active and living faith in Jesus, and only because of the grace of God the Father. 

As painful and awkward as it might be, today just pause and think how you were once all the things on this list.

If there are still areas you know you struggle with, commit them to the Lord today in prayer and ask Him to work His amazing grace through you to help you leave this kind of life behind.