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31 Days of Gleaning With Ruth: Questioning My Way Through a Famine Season by Lisa Brittain.

Enjoy this devotional through the Old Testament book of Ruth with a fresh journal, a new pen and an open heart.

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Eyes on Jesus… You’re Shining!

~Lisa

Day 11: {Remember} when… ?

 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.  She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

“Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”  So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”  Ruth 2:17-20

{Remember}

To recall, be reminded of, look back.  To remember is a purposeful choosing.  It’s an action step on our journey toward our forever home.  And I am mindful today, remembering is a privilege.

pablo (70)

On this day 11 of our 31-day journey through Ruth, it seems fitting to take a rest stop and {remember}.

We began to walk with Naomi during a famine… and now she is experiencing harvest.

Naomi lost her husband and two sons to death in a foreign land… and now she is experiencing ‘family’ with Ruth and her kinspeople back at home in Judah.

Naomi changed her name to bitter – Mara… and now she is blessing Boaz as pleasant – Naomi.

Naomi poured out her heart and held out empty hands in her grief… and now she has her heart filled with the love of a daughter and holds out hands to receive abundant grain provision.

Naomi declared her inability to provide for her daughters in law… now she offers Ruth a home, a people, and most important the One True Almighty God.

Naomi’s life, understandably after such great loss, seemed doomed and hopeless.  She had lost everything… except God had never left her.  In a sense, she and her family may have left God.  They may have believed they could make a plan of escape for themselves and avoid the famine season.

However, I believe God wants us to know there’s a desert walk, a famine season, a wilderness experience on every one of our paths toward HOME.  God intends this part of our life experience to be purposeful.  It’s part of our pioneer training.  He leads us into it for our good – for our strengthening.desert plants

 

I was reminded this past weekend… Jesus, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.  If the wilderness experience was a part of Jesus’ training, strengthening and considered purposeful by the Father, why wouldn’t I think the same is true for me?

Lord Jesus, help me {remember} to put my eyes on You today.  Help me to {remember} to follow You wherever You are walking and to stop and rest with You too.  You are my Great Pioneer of faith.  You are my Good Shepherd.  I want to follow You.  Thank You for reminding me to sing of Your goodness, to meditate on Your faithfulness in Your Word, and to recount Your abundant benefits and blessings I’ve received in my own life.

I bless You, Lord, O my soul and all that is within me.  I bless Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 

Ponders:

Below is a portion of Psalm 77:  a prayer of anguish in the dark night where sleep will not be found.  Let’s read through this Psalm either recognizing this scenario as our current circumstances all too familiar or {remember}ing a time in the past – a season of our lives when this could have been our own prayer.

  • How good is it to cry aloud to the Lord?  Have you?  What release did you experience when you poured your heart out before the Lord?  Do you think this is what Jesus meant by casting our cares on Him?
  • The psalmist writes, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.”  Do you have a go-to hymn or praise song for the middle of the dark night?  Have you memorized certain Scripture on which to meditate, repeat, chew on during the long night of anguish?
  • From Psalm 77 and from your own experience, what happens to us as we begin to {remember}?  When we begin to sing that song in the dark?  When we begin to repeat the Scripture we know?  Or maybe the only word we can eek out in despair is the Name above all names, Jesus, what happens to our soul?
  • If you haven’t made use of God’s limitless resources, His amazing benefits – will you begin today?  If you are in this season, just choose to remember God’s goodness in the past.  If you have come out of that season, maybe now is a good time to remember, the dryness, the pain, the wandering, and then the good and loving way your Shepherd led you through safely.
  • This is your testimony.  This is the story of your life God is writing.  Will you write it down?  Will you share something of your own experience with {remember}ing the goodness of the Lord?

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

 

You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.

I said,“Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
We give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever! Amen.

Day 8: {truth} or dare? A dangerous game of name calling

She (Naomi) said to them (the people of Bethlehem), “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”  Ruth 1:20-21 esv

Naomi entered into a dangerous game of name calling as she encountered family members and friends in Bethlehem.  She rejected her true name of Naomi, which means pleasantness or agreeable and took on the name of bitterness or Mara.

I refuse to be judgmental of Naomi.  I’ve participated in this dangerous game of name calling more times than I care to admit.  My name Lisa holds beautiful meaning:  Oath of God, God is satisfaction and in an English translation – My God is bountiful.  When I choose the truth of my name – I love my name.  Who wouldn’t want to be called ‘My God is bountiful’?

However, a number of years ago as I experienced my own journey through the famine land, I felt anything but bountiful or satisfaction and certainly saw no evidence of God’s oath stamped on my existence.  It seemed I was in great danger of losing my husband and both of my sons – not by death as Naomi had, but loss loomed large none the less.

girl in wheat 31 days

I was tempted… and I often fell – made an agreement with the lies of the enemy about my true identity.  I dared to call myself names I felt were more suited to my empty life.  I was bitter, angry, hurt, and I most often called myself failure.

That is until beautiful, loving women of my faith community gathered around me to speak the {truth}.  They would not allow me to choose these lies and speak the ugly name of failure over myself.  I began to receive deep inner healing as they prayed with me and looked into God’s word with me.

We, together with Holy Spirit’s guidance, were pulling up the lies – the weeds – which had begun to take over my heart garden.  In the place of those weeds called lies, we began to sow seeds of truth.  With my friends help, the seeds were watered, life fertilized the ground of my heart and Jesus shed His Light in my heart until the beautiful garden of truth began to spring up and produce fruits of the Spirit.

In a truly transformational prayer time with friends and Holy Spirit, I was asked this question:  Who does God say that you are… By what name does your heavenly Father call you? (5 minutes)

In the quiet of my heart garden, the Lord met me there and the fresh breeze of His whisper washed over me with this name – Passionate Pioneer of Peace.  In my spirit, I heard my Lord assure me, “Daughter, this is the name I call you.”

Interestingly, as I researched Naomi’s true name and the bitter name she chose for herself, I found a beautiful {truth}.  God is famous for taking our bitter and making it sweet.

Brittains SGBAs the Israelites wandered through the desert wilderness – free from Egypt, but not quite home in the Promised Land – they came to a place called Marah, which means bitterness.  Do you remember this place from Exodus 15:23-25?

The people found water in this place, but the water was bitter.  Have you ever felt like they?  Dry, thirsty – water, please!  But the water was undrinkable.  Moses cried out to the Lord for help.  There at Marah, the place of bitter water, the Lord showed Moses a tree (perhaps a branch or a log) to place in the water.  Miraculously, the water was turned from bitter to sweet.

Ponders:

 

Oh, Naomi, you experienced this miraculous blessing of God in your life, and me too.  Gleaning here, I recognize the entrance of Christ’s tree into my bitter circumstances miraculously changes my testimony to sweetness.

  • Will I embrace {truth}?  Will you?
  • Who are the trusted friends in your life who love you enough to call you out when you dare to play the dangerous game of name calling?  Will you ask them to hold you accountable?  And will you do the same for those you love?
  • Will you ask the Lord in the witness of trustworthy brothers and sisters in Christ for the true name by which He calls you?  (Words of Jesus, His promise: “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Matthew 18:19-20)
  • Will you (along with me) with accountability choose to call yourself by the truth of your identity in Christ – your true name – for His glory and the power of your sweet testimony?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine  ~Lisa