Welcome back to the fourth week of reading The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James. This week we completed chapters five and six. We had an interesting group discussion last week and you are really opening your hearts and minds to this study. The more you share, the more we learn so let the Spirit lead you and join the conversation.
In chapter five we saw Naomi open her heart and express concern that God no longer loves her. She fell into a cloud of depression, convinced she is unlovable and no longer has God’s favor, or hesed. Naomi knew loving-kindness when she lived richly in her hometown, but when she left Bethlehem her favor disappeared. Naomi assumed she lost hesed and so she returns to the place where she once knew it. Her faith brings her back, though her heart is still weeping. Captivated by this faith, Ruth follows and looks for an opportunity to demonstrate her own version of loving-kindness towards Naomi. Little did either woman know- God had a plan and it included a man named Boaz. At the end of the chapter we see the hope of Naomi’s heart and God’s plan for a redeemer. She went home seeking hesed and God blessed her with loving-kindness. God never stops loving His children and leads our hearts home to Him. “We were created to live in God’s hesed- to dwell in his love and to thrive in his care,” writes Carolyn. God’s hesed did not run out for Naomi. She just needed to return home to find it. When her heart was focused on her misery and suffering she was unable to focus on God’s goodness. The story shifts when she takes her eyes off herself and puts them back on God. Carolyn concludes “Living by faith means hanging on to God’s hesed and trusting Him, even when we’re looking at him from ground zero.”
Carolyn reminds us in chapter eight that we are looking at the world and at God from an earthbound perspective in the story of Ruth. We examine the fingerprints hidden in scripture and “assume God’s hand is in everything,” says Carolyn. With scripture-based vision, we have better clarity and focus on the world. We discover it was no accident Ruth is gleaning in her kinsmen-redeemer’s field. God opens doors and closes others, and this was no exception. We see how He forms a Blessed Alliance between His children: a wounded soldier, a fresh recruit and a man of valor are all brought together, explains Carolyn. Naomi’s message moves from despair into hope, just as the sinner’s heart moves from shame into grace. A Redeemer has entered the story of your life.
Please visit our Prayer Wall and post a prayer request or praise report. Take time this week to lift others up with your prayers.
Carolyn Custis James Quotes
- Hesed is the gospel lived out.
- Hesed is something you do more than something you think or feel.
- Prosperity tends to dull our senses to the presence of God’s hesed in our lives.
- God’s hesed is non-negotiable.
- God never stops loving His child.
- We aren’t spectators to what God is doing in this world, but participants.
For Next Week
- Read Chapters Seven and Eight in the book
- Join our Womens Bible Cafe Chat on Facebook
- Register for Loving Well by Beth Moore 4-week video based bible study
Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like
- Why is it sometimes difficult for you to believe God is overflowing in hesed? (page 123 )
- How does Jesus assure you of God’s love, even when your life is full of trouble? (page 123 )
- Describe a situation in your life that you would say is a “God thing.” (page 137 )
- Share a favorite moment from this week’s study.