MONDAY, AUGUST 24 | RUTH 1
We’ll read through the entire book of Ruth this week. This story takes place during the “morally corrupt” time when judges guide Israel. Against this backdrop of immorality comes a story of grace, promise and hope. It begins in Judah, in a rural town near Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “House of Bread,” or “Place of Food.” There’s a famine in the Place of Food! Elimelech means “my God is king.” Naomi means “my pleasant one” or “my lovely one.” In 1:20-21, when she laments that she is no longer pleasant, but bitter, because of the loss of her husband and two sons. The infant mortality rate is so high during the Iron Age that parents typically don’t name children until they survive infancy and are weaned. The name Orpah (“back of the neck”) is related to the verb (“to turn one’s back”). The name Ruth (“friendship”) is derived from the root for “friend, companion.” Ironically, Orpah will turn her back on Naomi, while Ruth will display extraordinary friendship, making promises to Naomi as her life-long companion. Is there someone in your life who has been a fulfillment of God’s promises? Today, tell someone how God has been faithful to you through them. Thank someone for being the promise of God for you.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 25 | RUTH 2
At stake here is the survival of three women through the grace and hope that comes from promises given, accepted and kept. Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, find themselves without a male guardian to provide for them. Naomi decides to return to Judah, where she might have some hope of finding a former family member to give her a chance. But her daughters-in-law cannot expect such a welcome. Somewhere along their trip back to Judah, Naomi decides that keeping them bound to her is not fair to them. Plus, she will be bringing not one mouth to feed, but three. She implores Ruth and Orpah to go back to their families, where they have a chance to survive, remarry and have sons of their own. Orpah finally relents, but Ruth will not leave. Ruth says one of the great lines in the Bible to Naomi: “For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people, and your God will become my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! Only death will be able to separate me from you!” Ruth doesn’t just make a promise, she places a curse on herself. If she fails to be faithful, she agrees to become an object of divine judgment. Today, tell someone how God has been faithful to you through them. Thank someone for being the promise of God for you.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26 | RUTH 3
Ruth’s devotion to Naomi is especially strong. Instead of receiving a sure blessing and going home, Ruth takes on a serious responsibility and subjects herself to potential divine punishment. Death, a power beyond Ruth’s control, will separate the two women, but until that time Ruth will stay by Naomi’s side. As the story unfolds, Ruth’s promise bears fruit. Naomi helps Ruth secure a husband, Boaz, which gives Naomi a place among her people. Naomi is once more “the lovely one.” Ruth’s promise gets most of the attention in this text, and it is an amazing and wonderful promise. But there is more to the story than the promise given. Naomi has to accept the reality of Ruth’s promise. She has to believe it. Believing the promise changes everything for Naomi. Keeping her promise changes everything for Ruth, too. What promises are you trusting in today? How does that change how you feel about today? Tell someone how God has been faithful to you through them. Thank someone for being the promise of God for you.’
THURSDAY, AUGUST 27 | RUTH 4
Naomi lives her life with nothing but a promise, but this story shows us how a promise given has real power. Ruth gives the promise, but Naomi begins to live the promise. The promise gives her hope. Naomi lives as if Ruth is one of her people. Naomi begins to take steps. She gives permission for Ruth to work in a particular wheat field where she is certain that Ruth will be noticed by one of the landowners. When that landowner expresses interest in Ruth, Naomi becomes the non-digital version of eHarmony or match.com. Ruth promises to be one of Naomi’s people, but in the end it is Naomi’s belief in that promise that makes it happen. Ruth gets married, has a child, and Naomi lives out her days raising her grandson, who turns out to be the grandfather of King David, the most famous and successful of all Israel’s kings. When you look back on your life, do you see how the promises of God are kept and fulfilled through people you’ve encountered? Today, tell someone how God has been faithful to you through them. Thank someone this week for being the promise of God for you.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 28 | ISAIAH 41:8-10
We live in a world where promises matter. Promises give us hope. There isn’t a better promise-giver or promise-keeper than God in Jesus. Jesus promises that wherever two or more are gathered in his name, Jesus will be there. That promise brings us together in worship, small groups, and all kinds of Christian gatherings that give us hope. Jesus promises that if you are weary or overburdened, when you come to him, he will give you rest. Scripture is full of promises just like the we read today (Isaiah 41): “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” What a promise! In many ways it echoes the promise of Ruth to Naomi. It changes us because we believe it to be true. As we live the promise, we do not fear. We are given strength and we know that God helps us find our way. The promise is for the future, but it changes us in the present. The promise gives us hope. Today, tell someone how God has been faithful to you through them. Thank someone for being the promise of God for you.
PROMISES OF GOD
SATURDAY, AUGUST 29 | GENESIS 1:26-28, 12-23, 18:18
This is one of the first promises in scripture. God makes us in God’s image and gives us dominion over the earth and all its creatures. It’s a promise that calls us to respond in good stewardship, care of the earth, and care for one another. This promise also tells us whose we are, and who we belong to.
This promise of God, like many promises, calls for a response. In chapter 12 we read of another great promise of God. God blesses the descendants of Abraham, and all people on earth have been blessed through them. We are blessed to be a blessing. This promise calls forth a response from us, too. How can we be a blessing to someone else today? How can we care for the earth and its creatures today? Tell someone how God has been faithful to you through them. Thank someone for being the promise of God for you.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30 | RUTH 1:16-17, 2:12, 4:14-15
Here we’re promised that commitment to following the Lord leads to redemption and life. Can you trust that promise? In Ruth 2:12 we are promised that God will repay us for what we’ve done, and we’ll be rewarded for faithfulness. Could faithfulness and merciful actions be a reward in themselves? Is God teaching us that faithful living provides abundant life? This might not be an if/then promise, but a because/therefore relationship. In Ruth 4:14, God restores of life and nourishes us in our old age. Can you trust those promises? What can God restore for you? What needs nourishing in your life? Tell someone how God has been faithful to you through them. Thank someone for being the promise of God for you.