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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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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The Ruler

by Carolyn Hope

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:39-41)

Finally, in a moment of unquestionable victory, God elevated Joseph from the prison cell to second-in-command. Such a jump to power could have had shaky ramifications. In reality, though, it wasn’t so different a situation. The luxuries and the extent of Joseph’s new position were greater, but how he functioned and who he was didn’t change.

Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s house, and there he was elevated to second-in-command. He was then a prisoner, who was eventually placed just under the warden in authority. Now we see him before the head of all of Egypt, and once again he is lifted to the second highest place of influence and power.

This was Joseph’s life. Joseph was a ruler. It’s who God made him to be; and as such, everywhere he went, he ruled. Because Joseph was faithful in the little and in the hard times, God knew he could be trusted to be faithful in much and in even harder times. Joseph had to be faithful over a household before he could be faithful over a country. He needed to learn to steward well in the dirty prison that was barren of hope before he could serve an empire facing a ruthless famine. Everything in Joseph’s life prepared him for this time.

God has a calling on your life; it’s real, it’s powerful, and it’s important. In your journey to reach the fullness of your potential, you will go through seasons of testing and trial. These times aren’t usually exciting or pleasant, but they are the training ground to prepare you for an even greater purpose. Will you push through and be patient? Will you determine to learn from where you are now? Will you be faithful in the small and seemingly insignificant? Don’t be discouraged. God has great dreams for you. If you’ll submit to your current season and become cemented in character and identity, you’ll be ready for what comes next.

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The Interpreter

by Carolyn Hope

And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.” (Genesis 40:8)

Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.” (Genesis 41:14-15)

Joseph’s story as recorded in Scripture started with a dream. How fitting it is, therefore, that his interpreting the dreams of other’s helps him arrive at the fulfillment of his.

This scene from Joseph’s life illustrates to us not only his gifting and ability but also his willingness to help. God clearly gave Joseph understanding to know the meaning of these dreams, but Joseph chose for himself to hear them and then to deliver the truth they carried. Amidst his own personal suffering, he did not keep from helping alleviate that of others. The character of Joseph shines in his response to others’ discomfort.

Your circumstances are not in your control; what you do with them and in them is. Are you willing to help others even while in pain yourself? Will you still use your gifts when your opportunities run dry? Will you lift others up when you’re at rock bottom? In the middle of your hardship, let your character develop and deepen. You may not consider yourself as visible, but God sees you and cares for you.

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Joseph: Many Roles, One Character

by Carolyn Hope

If you’re looking for a roller-coaster ride, the life of Joseph is a great place to start. He was a man who seemed to be followed by misfortune and success at the same time. However, everything that happened in Joseph’s life was setting the stage for a purpose and destiny greater than even he could dream. Wherever he went, whatever he did, God remained with him.

As Joseph’s story progressed, he had to play many different roles. This week, I’d like to share with you some of the key functions, or possible titles, that Joseph performed or had. Through it all, his character stayed the same; if anything, it only deepened and grew more secure with time. We can learn from Joseph, for no matter the season of life we walk through, we can have success, favor, and victory.

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