Adversity and death pursue sinners, but the righteous gain happiness and prosperity. Our emotions will either produce positive or negative motions in our circumstances. Life is about learning to love God and serving others. Ruth is a good example of humble service and overcoming great adversity. Ruth, the Moabitess, continually spoke words of hope, and she obtained the power of grace to change her life. Boaz, Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, was a man of great wealth. He decreed over his reapers, “May the Lord be with you!” (Ruth 2:4) He inquired “whose young woman is this?” (Ruth 2:5) because Ruth stood out in the field. God looks for outstanding women. Our best years are ahead because God is with us; positive changes will bring success! Adversity will only cause us to gain strength and momentum as we learn to press into God.
Doors of Opportunity
Fear hinders our potential by causing us to remain in our current negative situation. In
contrast, Ruth concentrated on the abilities God gave her and the love she felt for Naomi. She walked through the door of opportunity determined to overcome adversity. Positive attitudes give us energy to move forward. By managing our thoughts and moving in the Spirit, we will find ways to create solutions. God has a plan to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11). Be diligent in seeking God’s heart on every matter. Work hard and solve problems as they arise. Placing God’s will first in our lives will ensure our success (Matthew 6:33). Abiding in His presence develops intimacy which enables us to carry His atmosphere into the world. His presence makes our path straight. The thoughts we think and the words we speak determine our success or failure. Ruth determined to find favor to prosper, and she did. How do we prosper? When condemnation, fear, or negative opinions enter our mind, cast them down. Refrain from entertaining critical, jealous evaluations. Refuse to listen to the accusing lies of the enemy. There is no condemnation in Christ, only love, hope, and grace. Ruth clung to Naomi and overcame devastation. Orpah, “the one who is quick to flee,” kissed her opportunity for a godly life good-bye. When opportunity presented itself, Orpah chose familiar comforts. She ran back to her dead gods, forsaking salvation.
Words Created the World
Words are building blocks that come from our thoughts. Thoughts create positive mental images that construct the world we live in. Our words either draw people toward us or they push them away. Words craft who we are today and who we will become tomorrow. “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you . . . Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16–17). Be determined and purposeful in achieving your calling and destiny in life.
Who Are You in Your Darkest Hour?
Naomi tells Ruth: “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes (preparation), and go down to the threshing floor (humble yourself); but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do” (Ruth 3:3-4). It happened in the middle of the night (midnight is the darkest hour) that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.
He (Boaz) said, “Who are you?” (God asks us that same question.) And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid” (Ruth 3:8–9). Ruth came on the scene as a humble servant not seeking his face but resting at his feet. God reveals Himself to us in our darkest hour. As we humbly seek God, He will once again tell us what to do. A servant is a slave who is subjected to another—a worshipper, an ambassador, a minister, or an official messenger. The threshing floor represents the place of broken emptiness. A broken person will listen for God’s voice and do according to everything He commands.
The Eyes of God are Searching
The eyes of the Lord are searching for those with a servant’s heart to support and promote. We can do nothing in our own flesh, strength, or abilities (2 Chronicles 16:9). Our success comes by His great grace and favor shining upon us. “For by their own sword they did not possess the land, and their own arm did not save them, but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, for You favored them” (Psalm 44:3). Ruth is a powerful picture of the church today. Ruth found herself as a young widow, far from God in a pagan, sin-laden country called Moab. Ruth had no means of support. She had no real hope for a prosperous future, but God gave her an invitation to leave everything familiar behind. Naomi (the pleasant, cordial one), Ruth’s mother-in-law, is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Naomi heard the famine was over. The Lord had visited His people again by giving them bread in Bethlehem (house of bread). Naomi left Moab (which means, incestuous birth of her father), to return to Judah (a place of praise), which birthed Obed (a servant’s heart).
Hope in God
Ruth (the friendly, warm, welcoming one) accepted God’s invitation and clung to Him. God became her desperate desire, her all in all. Ruth trusted God against all odds. She developed an intimate relationship, placing her hope in God during her darkest hour. Ruth said to Naomi, “Do not urge me to leave or turn back from following you.” Ruth’s cry became “Where you go, I will go!” Your people shall be my people, and Your God, my God!”(Ruth 1:16) The words of Ruth’s mouth created a new victorious life for her. Her bold commitment and willingness to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit allowed God to transform Ruth’s dark night of the soul into a bright new day that dawned on the horizon of her future.
God Hides Himself in Darkness
Ruth’s words changed her life. When Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem, the whole city was stirred up. When Jesus, the Living Bread, is broken and served, His presence will shake the place, and His power will be noised abroad. Demonstrating the Living Word will end the famine of not hearing the Word of the Lord; our ears will be opened. The darkness in the world calls us to the threshing floor. God hides Himself in darkness. When we leave the threshing floor, the Word of God will release a great light within us. All will see the glory of the Lord covering the whole earth. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached with boldness; signs, wonders, and miracles will be seen; there won’t be room enough to hold the crowds. They will begin to take the roof off to get into God’s glorious presence. Ruth didn’t make her decision to follow the Holy Spirit from what she saw, but from what she felt in her heart through faith. Ruth’s faith in God brought her out of a pitiful state of poverty into affluence. Her humble servant’s heart enabled her to inherit all the redemption Boaz had to offer. The choices we make in life determine the life we live.
The Way Up is Down!
The ways of God are much higher than the ways of man. We often forget that the way up
is down. The way of increase and abundance is obtained on the narrow path of humility. We are called to remain totally dependent upon God. We do this by submitting to the protective hand of God. He alone knows the time of our exaltation. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).
When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, she told her friends to call her Mara or bitter, because she felt the Lord had dealt harshly with her. Naomi said, “I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:21). When we empty ourselves, it allows God to fill us with His glory. We are called to humble ourselves under the hand of God, but at times, God allows others to reject or openly humiliate us. Responding in love to their rejection brings forth promotion. Naomi and Ruth’s journey brought them from a broad place of death in Moab to a small, narrow gate or birthing canal of life in Bethlehem. Ruth arrived at the time of the barley harvest. The priests offered barley as a jealousy offering when a man or woman was suspected of adultery. Ruth risked her reputation laying it at the feet of a man who was not her husband in hopes he would cover her with grace and marry her. In Ruth 3:14, Boaz instructed Ruth, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Both men and women are going through the threshing process to become more fruitful. When we fall desperately in love with our Redeemer, we will be willing to risk our reputations to come under His glorious covering. Boaz asked Ruth to bring him her mantle. He poured six measures of barley into her veil. This is double the amount she was able to glean on her own. Ruth progressed from a place of weakness, gleaning the leftovers in the corner of the harvest fields, to coming to rest at the feet of Boaz’s strength and provision. Ruth risked her all, lying down on the cold, hard threshing floor. Ruth was redeemed when she gave her all.
Boaz’s name means the sure strength, swift, and solid. He offered Ruth a safe place, provision, and protection, choosing her from among all the other maidens. Boaz told Ruth, “I have fully seen and it has been told to me all you have done. You are a woman with an excellent spirit. The Lord will compensate your work and give you a full reward for your faithful service, because you have chosen to rest and trust in His covering wings” (Ruth 2:12). Ruth’s place of quiet rest and trust in the Lord as her source led her to the comfort and warmth of Boaz’s steadfast protective marriage bed. The lowly servant became the gracious heiress of a grand estate. Boaz, the lord of the harvest, took Ruth as his wife and abundantly supplied for her. The Lord gave her a son, Obed, whose name means, “The one with the servant’s heart.” When we, as the bride of Christ, birth a servant’s heart, God will trust us with the double portion of increase.
It is time to cleanse and re-robe in a fresh anointing of His glory. Ruth went to the threshing floor, a place of encounter and breaking to remove the hard husk. After the wind of the Spirit blows away the chaff, the pure grain will remain. When we sow the field with the pure grain, we will reap the greatest harvest. Ask for intimacy. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11–12). It is winnowing time. Ask for an engagement and a new encounter. Ask Him to cover our nakedness, to give us eyes to see His glorious presence and ears to hear His beautiful voice. We will gain a new sense of security when we wash ourselves clean in the Living Word. The bride is to make herself ready. Adversity, difficulties, and the darkness of midnight should draw us closer to God.
Ruth followed Naomi everywhere she went and gained God’s abundant provision. Ruthfollowed God’s wisdom so she became fertile and prospered. Ruth found favor and grace in the eyes of the Lord of the harvest. The words she decreed established a prosperous path for her to walk on. Ruth chose to rise above her painful past and her present devastating circumstances to become fruitful. Boaz covered Ruth. He sheltered, loved, and took care of her, just as the Lord will cover us under His protective wings of love. “Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8).