From the Pastor

Loving the Outsider

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Here is William Wilberforce, the great 18th century Christian opponent of slavery on our obligation to love our neighbor:

"It is the true duty of every man to promote the happiness of his fellow creatures (his neighbors) to the utmost of his power."

And as promised, here is this week's study guide for personal use and discussion in our small groups. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Daniel Block, Judges & Ruth, 1999.
Sinclair Ferguson, Faithful God: An Exposition of Ruth, 2005.
Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules, 2008.
Paul Miller, A Loving Life, 2014.


Head: Understanding the Bible

1) Read Ruth 2. Why is Ruth going out alone to glean in the fields? Where is Naomi? What risks are involved for a single woman going out alone in the ‘days of the judges’?

2) What do we know about Boaz before he does anything? What words are used to describe him?

3) We learn about gleaning and God’s law form the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Read Lev. 19:9 and Deuteronomy 24:19-22. What is the motivation to allow the poor and needy to glean?

4) List everything Boaz does for Ruth. Is it more or less than the law of God demands?

5) Boaz care for Ruth the Moabite culminates with an invitation to eat with the men. Who serves this meal? How does a meal signify bring an outsider into the community?

Heart: Using the Gospel on Our Affections

“One of the really wonderful things about the demonstration of Jesus’s love is the way he addresses individuals where they are, without some mere one-size-fits-all formula. A rich young ruler whose money is his god is told he must sell all he has and give the proceeds to the poor. But that is not what Jesus tells a Samaritan woman he meets at a well. He tells her to fetch her husband, and of course she cannot do it, for she has burned through five husbands and is currently living with another man who is not her husband: she must address the barrier of her broken relationships. The Gentile leader with a child whose life is threatened, the broken woman who washes Jesus’s feet, the apostle who publicly disowns Jesus—in every case the Master’s love is not only profound but pointed and shaped to address personal needs most accurately.” D.A. Carson, The God Who is There

6) What is it like to be on the outside looking in? What causes you to feel like you don’t belong or aren’t welcome? With friends? Family? Church? Job?

7) What makes us outsiders in relationship with God, our Creator and Provider, outside of Christ? What does that feel like?

8) How does God communicate His gracious and generous welcome for outsiders like us in the gospel? Is there a meal involved? How is His love and care specifically tailored for us individually?

Hands: Applying the Gospel to Our Lives

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
~James 1:27

9) God through Jesus’ kindness and care for us, the outsider, has brought us into God’s family! What would it look like to apply our identity as God’s own dear child, living under His protection, when we enter into situations where we feel like we are outsiders?

10) How can we aim our lives to welcome and care for outsiders? At home? At church? What “Moabites” are around you? Is there a need to repent for a hard heart and closed hand towards outsiders?

 

Posted by Nate Thompson with

The Radical Love of Ruth

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Here is this week's study guide for Ruth.  Please take time to pray for God to help us apply these things.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Daniel Block, Judges & Ruth, 1999.

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Dennis E. Johnson, Counsel from the Cross, 2009.

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 1971.

Paul Miller, A Loving Life, 2014.

Head:  Understanding the Bible

 

1) Read Ruth 1:6-18.  Where does the conversation between Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws take place?  Why does she try to get rid of the only family she has?  What specifically does Naomi pray God will do for her daughters?

Hesed—Hebrew for covenant love.  It is in verse 8, “May the Lord deal kindly with you.”  Sometimes it is translated steadfast love or unfailing love.  Hesed is tricky to translate because it includes all of God’s positive attributes committing to his people.  God is stuck with us because of His hesed.  Or a better theological way of saying this would be: God voluntarily binds himself to us with his hesed.  He is willingly trapped in a relationship with you.  Love in this case is being used not as a feeling but an action.1

 

2) Were Ruth and Orpah followers of Yahweh at the time of this conversation?  (Read vs. 15 closely)  How does your answer shape your view of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi?

 

3) What is Ruth giving up to stay with Naomi?  What does Ruth have in her possession as she walks towards Bethlehem?  How will a depressed widow like Naomi survive alone? 

 

4) Read Genesis 12:1-3.  Compare Abraham’s sacrifices made in faith with Ruth.  How did God bless Abraham’s faith?  How then should we expect God to work through Ruth’s faith?

 

5) Compare Ruth’s deeds of faith with Jesus’ description of the deeds demanded by faith in Mark 8:34-38.  Who seems to have a better understanding of God’s hesed:  Naomi or Ruth?

 

Heart: Using the Gospel on Our Affections

“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”            ~Madeleine Engle2

6) Why is a Ruth-like commitment so difficult?  What is your natural reaction to hard relationships? 

 

“There is no safe investment.  To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and [anxieties] of love is Hell.”    

~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

 7) Compare Ruth’s sacrifices made for Naomi with Jesus’ sacrifices made for us.  What do each have to put up with in this hesed relationship?  Whose sacrifice is greater?  Describe Jesus’ love for his people in your own words.

 

 

8) Read Ephesians 5:1-2.  How does Ruth model the principle of love as we have been loved, even before Jesus came?

 

 

Hands: Applying the Gospel to Our Lives

 

“...walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…” ~Apostle Paul, Ephesians 5:2

 

9) Who is Jesus calling you to do hesed for?  In light of the command to do hesed, what do we need to repent of?

 

 

10) How can we model hesed in our relationships at home, in the workplace, and at Hope Church?  Make sure to process this question in light of the little word, as, in Ephesians 5:2. 

 

God’s disposition toward us is entirely different because we are beloved.  He isn’t simply tolerating us, regretting that he opened the door to the likes of us.  No we’re beloved.  This is the same word the Father used to describe his disposition to his Son, Jesus (see Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Eph. 1:6)3