Dear Cornerstone bothers and sisters,
As we have been considering the last few weeks in Mark, we serve a glorious, powerful, and merciful Savior. We serve a savior who calms the storms and seeks out the least of these in his mercy. Christ alone is worthy of our praise and worship. May we live each day ‘coram deo’ – before his face. Indeed, Jesus is always with us – caring for us, guiding us, and teaching us. I pray you spend time with your Lord this week in his word and prayer!!
A few announcements:
First, as I announced last week, the dates for the Cornerstone / Providence Spring retreat are May 29-31. Please let me know ASAP if you are interested in joining us for a wonderful time of fun and fellowship.
Second, our next men’s breakfast is scheduled for Sat, March 1. Time and place TBD … but mark your calendars.
Third, ladies will meet at the home of Nenita Tan on Saturday, March 8 for “Mugs and Muffins.”
Fourth, the ladies’ baby shower is scheduled for this Sunday at the Perkins’ home at 3:00.
Finally, this week’s devotion begins a series of reflections on the beautiful book of Ruth.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Your God Shall be My God”
Ruth 1:16, “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
The book of Ruth is a beautiful book in the Old Testament that speaks to the church about many great and glorious truths. Although only four short chapters, in its pages Ruth confronts us with the doctrines of faith, redemption, the Christian life, the grand Redemptive plan of God, and more. Over the next few weeks, I want to reflect on the Lord’s teaching to us in this wonderful book.
The story of Ruth takes place “when the judges ruled” (1:1). If we know our Old Testament history, we know that the time of the Judges was a low-point in the history of Israel (Judges 21:25). Also, as opposed to a history of the nation as a whole (that we see in Judges, for example), Ruth narrows the focus to one specific family unit, and to God’s purposes for that specific family. Ruth 1:1-5 sets the stage for the narrative that follows. To briefly summarize: because of a famine in Bethlehem, Naomi, her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons travel SE to Moab. The two sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Soon thereafter, Naomi’s husband and her two sons die. As verse 5 concludes, “[Naomi] was left without her two sons and her husband.” On top of the emotional heartache that Naomi would feel would be the stark reality of life for a widow living in the Ancient Near Eastern culture. Naomi then hears “the LORD has visited his people and given them food” (v. 6). Thus she sets out to return to her homeland and urges her two daughters-in-laws to remain in their home country of Moab. Undoubtedly, Naomi’s motivation in urging Orpah and Ruth to remain in Moab was righteous as Naomi was well aware of the difficulties she faced upon returning as a widow (vv. 9-13). Orpah heeds Naomi’s advice and stays in Moab, but “Ruth clung to her” (v. 14b). Again Naomi pleaded with Ruth to remain in Moab but Ruth responded with a glorious profession of faith in Yahweh, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried” (vv. 16-17a; cf. Gen 17:7-8; Lev 26:12). There are two lessons I want us to see in this opening chapter.
First, we see the amazing providence of God in the salvation of sinners. Elimelech’s initial venture to Moab was an act of disobedience to the Lord. The Lord had brought a famine on his chosen people and place due to their disobedience. And Elimelech fled from the chastening hand of the Lord to Moab, a sworn enemy to God’s people. Furthermore, once in Moab tragedy struck this Jewish family. In only a short time, Naomi was left without husband or son and with Moabite daughters-in-law to consider. But it was through these dark providences that the Lord brought a sinner to salvation. Put simply, the Lord worked through disobedience and sorrow to strike the heart of Ruth. Oh the amazing grace and smiling providence of the Lord. Indeed, “behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.
And secondly and briefly, we see a glorious confession of faith (cf. 1 Thess 1:9). Ruth is now a believer; and she simply must go with Naomi to Israel. There is no other option for her. She must – and she will join with God’s people in God’s place. May the heart of Ruth strike deep in our hearts as well!
God bless and I look forward to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day,