Ruth: The Moabite

by Carolyn Hope

So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. (Ruth 1:22)

Moab and Israel had a tempestuous relationship, as clearly portrayed in Scripture (see Numbers 25, Judges 11:14-28, and Revelation 2:14). If you look you’ll observe that the Moabites tried to destroy Israel through trickery instead of helping them on their way. Because of this, God instructed the Israelites that they must not let a Moabite enter the temple courts; nor were they to promote their well-being (see Deuteronomy 23:3-6). The name “Moab” left a bitter taste in Israel’s mouth.

Ruth, however, was a Moabite. When Naomi and her family moved to Moab to escape a famine in Israel, Ruth became the wife of one of Naomi’s sons. Then, when Naomi’s husband and two sons died, Ruth came with Naomi as she returned to Israel.

Not only was Ruth a foreigner, a challenge all by itself, but she also came from a country that wasn’t viewed too favorably by the Israelites. Even still, Ruth’s honorable character overcame the obstacles of her race and origins. She gladly abandoned her country, her lifestyle, and her religion in order to follow after Naomi. She was willing to sacrifice her culture, all she’d ever known, because of her love for her mother-in-law. She left her own flesh-and-blood family for a woman related to her only by marriage! Not only so, but when she arrived in Israel, she adapted to the Hebrew culture and way of life. She became one of them.

Some of the Israeli people may have regarded her as an enemy at first, but she quickly became family. Though her skin may have looked different and her accent may have sounded strange, her behavior was respectable and kind. Her identity came more from who she was and how she acted than from where she came.

It doesn’t matter where you came from or how you started. What matters is who you are. What does your character prove to others? How do your actions speak for you? It’s not for your ethnicity or your beginnings that you will be remembered; people will remember you for what you did with your life. The way you carry yourself is far more compelling than your outward appearance; the words you speak matter far more than the accent with which you say them. Even if you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, you can and will make a difference, because Jesus is with you, and He will empower you to be all you need to be.

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Ruth: A Story of Redemption

by Carolyn Hope

The story of Ruth in Scripture is an especially beautiful one. Ruth was a woman who displayed the power of kindness. The Book of Ruth spins a charming tale of redemption, full of characters who lived with gentleness and quiet strength.

This week, I’d like to explore some of the different identifying titles Ruth had (or could have had). Ruth was a Moabite, a daughter, and a servant. She was also a widow and a wife. Throughout the many changes and adjustments in her life, Ruth remained faithful, compassionate, and humble.

My hope for you this week is that you can find the Ruth inside of you. Not that you would be exactly like her, but that you would see how her redemption story can be yours as well. There are many qualities to admire in Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi; but the greatest truth to see is the mercy and grace God extended to them, and how that same Father loves and cares for you.

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A Rightful Reality

by Carolyn Hope

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

As with yesterday’s post, these are the very last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before He died for us. Often, when someone speaks, we remember their first and last words the most. These two sentences were what Jesus left the disciples with, which means they are especially meaningful.

Our position is that of victory. When trials and sorrows come, we don’t fight for victory; we fight from victory. Jesus told His disciples that He has overcome the world. Not us. Not our hard work, nor even our faith. Our overcoming and victory are because of what He has already done!

By the way, Jesus spoke this statement before He was crucified, buried, and risen. He hadn’t even done the full purpose He came to fulfill, but He still said, “I have overcome the world.” The victory of Christ is timeless and eternal. It can’t be altered or diminished. And this same forever victory is yours.

When you face an obstacle or a trial, stand strong in your victory. Even if you don’t yet see it, believe the truth about who you are: you are a conqueror, an overcomer, and a child of the undefeated King. That breakthrough will come. Those problems will be solved. The pain and hurt will be healed. You have the victory now; don’t give up on it.

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A Rightful Repose

by Carolyn Hope

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. (John 16:33)

John chapters 13-16 record the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples during His last supper with them before His crucifixion and resurrection. These were, in essence, His last words to them. As the time of His death loomed closer and closer, He expressed with these dear friends the matters heaviest on His heart and most necessary to their future.

In His closing remarks, He includes this sentence. The entire purpose of all He said was for the disciples to receive peace. He wanted them to know what was coming, so they would have peace. He spoke about Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, in order for them to take peace. It was for peace. It was all for peace.

Sometimes the Lord will tell you things that are important, serious, and perhaps even grave. He doesn’t share such things with you to scare you. His words to you are to bring you peace and security. Choose peace. You were created by a God of peace, saved by a Prince of Peace, and made new as a person of peace. Even when your emotions rage and your senses tremble, choose to walk in the peace that has been purchased for you. Peace will guide you and guard you. Don’t be afraid. You weren’t meant to live in fear. You were made for peace.

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A Rightful Role

by Carolyn Hope

Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father. (John 16:26-28)

Jesus had a close, intimate relationship with His Father. More often than not, He referred to God as “the Father,” not ‘my Father’ as we would say or expect him to say. That implies something: God is not just a father, He is the Father. The one and only. The greatest, the best, the truest of them all. He is the Father who loves us more than we can comprehend. He is the perfect Father.

As Jesus knew His Father intimately, now we can too. Just as the Father loves Jesus, He loves us. We are the dearly beloved children of God (see 1 John 3:1-2)! There is no need for any distance. Jesus came to this earth and lived a perfect life for us; He is our example. His greatest, deepest relationship was with God, His Father. If we are to follow Him, shouldn’t we draw close to our Father as well?

The Lord longs to be a Father to you. Let Him into your heart. He desires to know you intimately and share Himself with you. Whether you have the best father you could hope for or none at all in your life, there is a Perfect Father who can and will meet every need of your heart. All you have to do is let Him. Sometimes it’s scary. Many times it’s hard. I encourage you to press through that and discover His radical Daddy’s love for you. It’s truly unlike any other.

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A Rightful Request

by Carolyn Hope

At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (John 16:23-24)

Under the old covenant, communication between God and people required a mediator. This role was fulfilled through the priests of Israel. Now, we’re under a new and better covenant. Jesus came and paid the price for us once and for all. While He remains our perfect Mediator, interceding on our behalf, we also have the ability to approach our Father ourselves. When Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, the veil was torn and our access to the King was restored. We have the freedom to walk in boldness and confidence right up to His throne. Our authority – our right – to come before our King is found in Jesus’ work for us.

Every time we pray in Jesus’ name, we remind ourselves, the world, and God the reason for our qualification: the Blood that Jesus shed. Our prayer is acceptable, because of Jesus. Our hearts’ desires are right, because of Jesus. The goodness within us and the greatness we can become are because of Jesus.

What’s holding you back from approaching your Creator? The door to the throne room is unlocked and opened. Enter freely; your King is waiting for you. He loves it when you come near and whisper your requests to Him. It is His delight to hear you and to answer you. You don’t need a pastor, a prophet, or one of the ‘greats’ to pray for you. Your voice is powerful and strong, and your Father longs to hear from you. You are acceptable. You are enough.

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A Rightful Reaction

by Carolyn Hope

I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (John 16:2)

Just before this passage, Jesus told the disciples how the world would hate and persecute them. He forewarned them so that when the hard times came, they would not falter in their faith. His words proved true. The disciples and the early church suffered much persecution for their faith, but they clung to it. They did not give up. They were so utterly sold out to Jesus that they submitted to even the most horrific tortures and deaths. Peter was crucified upside down; John was boiled in oil; Paul was stoned. Early Christians were thrown into lions’ dens and gladiator arenas. Later Christians were burnt at stake as martyrs.

I believe that the reason these strong men, women, and children could endure such trials was not only their determination but, more importantly, their surrender. They could have reacted in anger, defiance, or rebellion. Certainly, they had ample reason to feel justified in revolting against their persecutors; but that’s not what they chose. When tribulation came, the sons and daughters of the King reacted in surrender.

Regardless of your situation, surrender is the right position. That’s not to say that you let people and life’s troubles walk all over you; you are not a doormat. However, your response to everything that comes your way should be radical surrender to Jesus. What does He think? What does He say? What is He wanting to do in and through you? Search for the answers to these questions; you’ll find them in His Word and in His heart. Determine to do what He says is right. Submit yourself to Him, and let your life be one of full and total surrender.

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Rightful (John 16)

by Carolyn Hope

Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (John 16:10)

The work that Jesus did for us has made us right with the King. We are rightful (just and correct) because the righteousness of Jesus Himself has been imputed to us.

As a follower of Jesus, there are some things in your life that are simply right. Victory, free access to your Father, and surrender are a few. This week, I’ll be pulling some of these truths from John 16. Hold fast to who you are. Walk in your identity and in power. Don’t give up, for victory is yours.

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Fatherly Relations (Relations with the Father)

by Carolyn Hope

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. (Ephesians 1:2-6)

The bulk of this passage is describing what God has done for us and how He has become our Father. Before the first sunrise, before the first day, the Lord decided to adopt us into His family. It was always His plan to draw us to Himself through Jesus; and the thought of our becoming His brought Him joy and delight. We don’t have to do a thing to gain His favor. All we have to do is believe Him. Because of this, we give Him praise. Not out of obligation or duty, but from the abundant overflow of gratitude in our hearts.

How do we interact with our Perfect Father? We do so with freedom, confidence, and love. We are free to approach Him at any time and about anything. We can be confident in the goodness of who He is, and in who we are because of Him. Finally, we can walk in love, for we are always, unchangeably, unshakably loved by our Dad; and because He loves us, we can love Him back.

Last week, I was serving in the nursery at my church. There were a dozen children in the class, ranging from about five months old to three and a half years. One particular baby was in there for the first time, and he was doing really well. Toward the end of the service, however, he got a little fussy because he was tired but didn’t want to fall asleep. I picked him up and held him, rocking him gently and holding him close. After a couple minutes, he settled into my arms, calm and peaceful. Soon he was sleeping, and he remained asleep even after the service was over and his dad picked him up.

Your Father holds you tenderly and gently, and you are forever secure in His embrace. Settle into His love. Let yourself find rest and peace in His strong arms. You don’t have to work, or strive, or stay awake. In His presence, you can be free. You can be confident that He will take care of you. His love for you is perpetual and enough. You are enough in Him.

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Feisty Relations (Relations with Foes)

by Carolyn Hope

Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” “I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.” Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” (John 18:7-11)

When confronted with danger, our natural response is to fight it or to run away. Jesus did neither. He stepped forward and submitted Himself as the Sacrifice for us all. He could have defeated his enemies right then and there; He didn’t. He could have lashed out in hatred or anger; He didn’t. He could have slipped away as He had done before with hostile crowds; He didn’t do that either. In bravery and compassion, Jesus remained the same person and Savior that He always was.

Peter’s response, on the other hand, was to pull out his sword and attack. In all four Gospel accounts of this scene, Jesus squelches the violent impulses of his disciples. A movement that did not start with violence and was not run by force would not end in violence or force. This is not to say that self-defense or fighting for a cause is evil; the point is simply that opposition did not change God’s plan or His heart.

When people or circumstances rise against you, do not let them change you. Whatever you do, however you respond, let it be from who you are, not from fear or pressure. Walk in your authority and the peace that has been given to you. Let your decisions be based on your character, not your emotions. Who you are is more powerful than any weapon. Whatever you do, be true to yourself, and fight for who God says you are.

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