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Archive for the ‘Faithful Friendship’ Category

They grew in their faith and recognized that the friendship, love, security and strength that they found in that friendship came from a Redeemer Lord God who loved them and cared for them.  (Ruth 4:14-15). 

They grew in their faith…. Naomi and Ruth continued to encourage and strengthen each other and it was evident to others.  Whenever we really worship, we don’t have to tell people what we are doing.  They will witness for us.  The town women saw the testimony that came from Ruth and Naomi’s friendship and their trust in the Lord. 

I am fortunate to have several close intimate friends and each of them challenge me to grow in my faith, while encouraging and supporting me where I am each day.  They are women I can laugh, cry and share with.  But there is no one I can laugh, cry or share with more than my Lord Jesus Christ.  He is a constant friend who walks with me each moment—my friends remind me of that too.  When we recognize that our blessings are from our Redeemer Lord God and acknowledge His love and care, our lives overflow with blessings that include wonderful intimate friends. 

Oh, Lord, I praise you today for the friends you have given to walk this journey with me.  Thank you that You are the Friend who is always close and can always be counted on to provide strength, love and security for the daily challenges I face.  Help me Lord to recognize the times when my friends need me to walk with them through times when they are vulnerable and need to take a step of faith that seems uncertain.

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Is there anyone in your life that gives really good advice?  I can think of more than a few who give bad advice but it’s rare to have that one person you know will give GOOD advice.  Ruth had someone like that in her life, her Mother-in-Law Naomi.  Yes, her Mother-in-Law! 

“‘I will do whatever you say,’ Ruth answered.”  (Ruth 3:5)

Getting advice is something I get from someone every day.  Whether in a store with a toddler, at a school function with older kids,  in conversation with friends, or from my own Mother-in-Law who I see twice a year…  It’s what we do with all that advice that matters. 

I first look at the source.  Ruth got advice from Naomi.  She loved Naomi more than any other earthly person.  That is clear in the first couple chapters of the book of Ruth.  She knew that Naomi had her best interest in mind.   Second, consider the advice, even if it’s from a source you wouldn’t expect.  I tend to get defensive if someone offers advice on my wife or mothering duties.  After all, don’t I know my family best?  That’s when God sets me straight.  God knows my family best and he may use the words of a stranger to bring them closer to Him.  So my response now is to say “thank you” and let it simmer for a bit before either tossing the advice out or using it.

 
I hope you have a friend or a family member that you trust as much as Ruth trusted Naomi.  Outside of my mother I’m not sure that I do.  It used to bother me, and did when I first started typing this, but then God reminded me HE is the best and most trusted friend I will ever have and His advice will never steer me wrong.  Because of that relationship with Christ I can with confidence say to Him “I will do whatever you say” just as Ruth did.

Lord, You are completely trustworthy and wise.  Help me to clearly hear your voice today as I seek your advice and counsel!

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Clinging to the confidence that together they could handle whatever the future faced, they took the risk to step out and pursue a future that meant accepting change and taking risk (Ruth 1:16-19).

Friends want the best for each other. Friends encourage us to make choices that improve us or open future opportunities—they don’t try to hold us back. Such was the situation with Ruth and Naomi.

Naomi realized that she needed to return to her homeland because as a widow in a foreign land the culture didn’t leave her many options for meeting her financial and emotional needs. I don’t believe Naomi necessarily thought the opportunities offered at home were any better, but only that her spirit was so deflated and defeated, she could only cling to the emotional connectedness that comes from thinking of “home”—a place that held pleasant memories and that which she was familiar with from childhood. All of us reach a time and place where we want to go “home” even if that home held bad childhood memories, at least it is familiar and something we know. Those are times when we are most emotionally vulnerable.

Ruth may not have understood all that Naomi was feeling, but she too was vulnerable and needed the friendship that had grown intimate over the years. Because of the friendship they shared, Ruth was willing to do all that she could to help her friend, Naomi, find the emotional healing she needed. When they took the risk, God showed up. C.S. Lewis said, ““God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

We can count on the Lord to send a friend who will walk intimately with us through those times when we are vulnerable, confused or afraid. Jesus Christ is such a Friend who walks with us through those moments of vulnerability; those moments when we want to run home to what is familiar and safe. He will not leave us. He is just waiting for you and me to ask for His help to face that uncertain future; to give us the strength to take the risk of friendship today.

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This week’s devotionals are focused on friendships.  The book of Ruth is filled with rich lessons that we can learn from.  Today, let’s take a brief look at Ruth’s love towards Naomi and her determination to remain her friend in hard times.

 “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”  When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.  So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem…..Ruth 1:16-19.

Ruth could have turned her back on Naomi and returned to her family.  Instead, she risked everything and began a journey with Naomi.  Ruth had no idea what the future would hold but she chose to trust God.  “Your God will be my God”.

How do you respond in the midst of turmoil?  If circumstances in your relationships get rough, will you choose to walk away?  Or will you trust God and do what is needed?

We don’t know what the future holds.  What we do know is that God has a plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11

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In the search for bigger and better one of the best things I’ve experienced on planet earth is the blessing of friends that pray.  One of the more valuable treasures we can experience is to choose a person who you are “safe” with and can share your true self and be accepted.  (Proverbs 17:17:  “A friend loves at all times….”)  And to be that kind of friend to another person, whether or not they can reciprocate, and whether or not you are in a personal place of blessing yourself, is an even better treasure. 

In the first chapter of Ruth, Naomi prayed for her daughters-in-law for the Lord to provide kindness in their future life because she was not able to reciprocate their kindness due to her deep grief and bereavment. (“The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Ruth 1:8,9)

Often we have concern and care for our friends who are in anguish about challenging trials, like the death of a loved one, strained relationships, children making bad choices, the fear for the future, tec.  When we don’t have the wisdom or ability to help, God does.  When we cannot be there with them to provide peace, God can.  We cannot know the very depth of their experience and emotion that affects their soul, but God alone knows.  So we pray!

In other cases we are so self absorbed or sincerely unaware of our friend’s deepest need.  Perhaps we are in challenging circumstances ourselves. When we pray for our friends, He takes care of the “unspoken” things that are too great for us to even know about.  So we pray!

Having communication and connection to God our Heavenly Father through prayer can bring nothing but good to our lives and the lives of those we care enough to mention to Him.  It’s never too late to start a new habit of or improve upon your habit of praying…why not today!?
In praying with and for friends, I have found it helpful to follow the ACTS principle:  A = Adoration, C = Confession, T = ThanksGiving and S = Supplication (which means requests).

And as a final encouragement, read the words to this song “More Than You’ll Ever Know” by Watermark:

‘Cause you’ve been more than a friend to me
You fight off my enemies
‘Cause you’ve spoken the Truth over my life
And you’ll never know what it means to me
Just to know you’ve been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah

You had faith, when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn’t think I could find the strength to sing
And all the while I’m hoping that I’ll
Do the kind of praying for you that you’ve done for me
And that’s the way it ought to be…

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