Bags more LOVE

We really hope you’ve enjoyed Bags of Loe! We invite you to dig deeper into what the Bible says about love. As we walk through life, and as we read the Bible, big questions come up. Perhaps, as you’ve gone through the activities each day, some of these questions have surfaced for you. Fortunately, the Bible has some really big answers!

Perhaps you’ve read the Bible a lot. Perhaps you’ve never read it. Wherever we are with God and the Bible, we hope that this will be helpful to you. We’ve picked out a few of the big themes we’ve been looking at in Bags ofLove, and for each, we’ve listed some short Bible verses that say something about them.

God is faithful in times of trouble

Where do we turn when trouble comes? 

The book of Ruth begins with trouble: there is a famine in the land (Ruth 1:1). The response of Elimelech is to take his family away from Judah and go to Moab. In the Bible, leaving the land God had given his people had a history of ending badly: to leave God’s land, was to seek help from someone other than God. More problematic still, Elimelech’s two sons marry Moabite women – and Moabites were excluded from the assembly of God’s people because of an incident in the past. Sure enough, trouble turns to tragedy as Elimelech and his two sons die.

One of the great turning points in the story is when Naomi hears the news that “the LORD had helped his people. He had begun to provide food for them again” (1:6) and decides to return to Judah. Ruth’s decision to go with Naomi, “Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God” (1:16) is an accompanying change: the decision to put her trust in God in this time of trouble. Ruth’s decision turns out to be a source of blessing not just to her, but to everyone in the story, something the story foreshadows in the words of blessing that Boaz speaks over Ruth on their first meeting, “May the Lord reward you for what you have done. May the Lord, the God of Israel, bless you richly. You have come to him to find safety under his care.” (2:12).

The Bible says that God is the source of life and blessing. In times of trouble we may doubt this and often make bad decisions – trying to find out own way out, rather than trusting God. But God is greater than our troubles, our failures and our mistakes. The Bible speaks of God’s faithfulness throughout life. In times of trouble, the Bible encourages us – as it does through the book of Ruth – to put our faith in God.

 

God is our place of safety. He gives us strength.
He is always there to help us in times of trouble.
The earth may fall apart.
The mountains may fall into the middle of the sea.
But we will not be afraid.
Psalm 46:1-2

The Lord is good. His faithful love continues forever.
It will last for all time to come.
Psalm 100:5

The Lord your God will go with you. He will never leave you. He’ll never desert you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

The God who has chosen you is faithful.
Thessalonians 5:24

God is at work in all the details of our lives

Unlike so many other books of the Bible, the book of Ruth contains very little that explains what God is up to in the lives of the characters. But it’s important not to interpret silence as absence: the whole arc of the story is a stunning demonstration that God is present in the troubles and the tragedies that befall both Naomi and Ruth, and that God is at work in all the details of their lives – both good and bad. 

Trouble and tragedy have a tendency to distort our view of reality: Naomi blames God for what is going wrong (Ruth 1:20-21) but the trajectory of the story continually highlights the presence of God bringing blessing and hope. The little phrase “as it turned out” (2:3), when Ruth finds herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, is the narrator’s understated way of saying that God is present and in the details. 

The Bible is full of reminders that God is present and active in our world, and in the details of our lives. These reminders – of who God is and what he is up to in the world – are great sources of hope, particularly when God seems silent, and where it is hard to see what God is up to. The Bible also contains honest testimony from people who have experienced this themselves, and their words encourage us to be honest with God about how we feel, even as they encourage us to put our trust and hope in God.

He holds the life of every creature in his hand.
He controls the breath of every human being.
Job 12:10

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid.
You are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff
comfort me.
Psaml 23:4

The fig trees might not bud.
The vines might not produce any grapes.
The olive crop might fail.
The fields might not produce any food.
There might not be any sheep in the pens.
There might not be any cattle in the barns.
But I will still be glad
because of what the Lord has done.
God my Savior fills me with joy.
2 Corinthians 4:17

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.
Romans 8:28

God rescues us through Jesus

Are we trusting that God is work through Jesus to rescue us?

The story of Ruth takes place at a very difficult moment in Israel’s history (Ruth 1:1), “In those days Israel didn’t have a king. The people did anything they thought was right.” (Judges 21:25). Vulnerable, poor widows like Naomi and Ruth were at risk, something both Boaz and Naomi acknowledge (2:9, 22). Boaz provided salvation for Ruth and Naomi: protecting them, providing for them, and ultimately – at great cost to himself – keeping the land within the family, and drawing Ruth – an outsider – into the family. But Boaz’s actions also draw Ruth into the heart of the Biblical story, as great king David – and David’s descendant Jesus Christ – will come from the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. 

The story of Ruth show how God works to save and restore broken lives as he works in and through the lives of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. But ultimately this great purpose of God to save humanity finds its fulfilment in and through Jesus Christ. 

The world is a very different place from the time of Ruth. But our world, and our lives within it, still pass through difficult moments. In all history, and in our lives, God is at work, seeking to draw us all back to himself through Jesus.

Our God is a God who saves. He is the King and the Lord. He saves us from death.
Psalm 68:20

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. John 3:16

God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift.
Ephesians 2:8

Through faith you are kept safe by God’s power. Your salvation is going to be completed. It is ready to be shown to you in the last days.
1 Peter 1:5

prayers

The Bible is full of prayers. The prayers below encourage us to be honest with God about how we feel and model for us how we can bring our lives before God and ask him for help. 

You are all around me, behind me and in front of me.
You hold me safe in your hand.
Psalm 139:5

God, don’t remain silent.
Don’t refuse to listen.
Do something, God.
Psalm 83:1

Lord my God,
no one can compare with you.
You have done many wonderful things.
You have planned to do these things for us.
There are too many of them
for me to talk about.
Psalm 40:5

God, you are the one who saves us.
We will trust in you.
Then we won’t be afraid.
Lord, you are the one who gives us strength.
You are the one who keeps us safe.
Lord, you have saved us.”
Isaiah 12:2

Jesus taught his disciples to pray:
“Our Father in heaven,
may your name be honored.
May your kingdom come.
May what you want to happen be done
on earth as it is done in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
just as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.
Keep us from sinning when we are tempted.
Save us from the evil one.”
Matthew 6:9-13

All scripture references are from the NIrV.

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