Lessons in Faithfulness

Day 1: Ruth 1:1-5

Story: A peaceful home
During the time that Israel was ruled by judges there was a famine in the land. A man who was living in Bethlehem at that time moved to the land of Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons.
While they were living there Naomi’s husband died and she was left alone with her two sons. Naomi’s sons married women from Moab. One woman’s name was Orpah (not Oprah), and the other was Ruth. After about ten years both sons died and Naomi was left without a husband or  sons.
Discussion: Why do bad times come to ruin our good times?
Imagine if the world was as flat as a board: no canyons or cliffs, no valleys or mountains. What if it wasn’t only flat, but everything on it was the same color: no happy reds and oranges, and no darker shades of blue and green.
Life is seldom uneventful for long. Our lives seem full of ups and downs. However, God doesn’t just let us have good and bad times to keep us from getting bored; there is a purpose for everything that happens to us. God uses the ups and downs to help us grow in different ways. Struggles help our characters to grow strong; difficulties build up our faith; and tough times help us become more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). But more often than not, God sends us times of blessings so we can renew our strength, take courage and enjoy life! 
Life was rather up and down for Naomi. First, it was the hardship of a famine and moving to a distant country. Then there were happy weddings and a peaceful home life. And then her husband and sons died. Life had also robbed Ruth and Orpah of their joy at a young age. Yet even as spring follows winter, and dawn follows the dark night, so our seasons of hardship will pass.
Memory Verse: …We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

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Day 2: Ruth 1:6-18

Story: A tough decision
Some time after Naomi’s husband and sons had died, she heard that the famine in her home country had ended. The Lord had given His people a good harvest. So she packed up her things and got ready to go back to her country with her two daughters-in-law. They started out together and as they were walking Naomi turned to them and said, “Why don’t you go back home and stay with your mothers? May the Lord make it possible for you to marry again and bless you both for what you have done for me.”
So Orpah left to go back home, but Ruth said to Naomi, “Don’t ask me to leave you. Wherever you go, I will go: wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her she said nothing more and they carried on walking.
Discussion: Who should I follow when people have a different faith?
Who is right and who is wrong – or are they all right? How can I know whose god is the true God?
Ruth had grown up in Moab where they did not worship God as they did in Israel. Over the years she had watched Naomi’s steady faith in God through good times and bad. Ruth saw how Naomi’s faith had stayed strong, and how God had been faithful to her. Now Ruth was ready to trust God with her life, as Naomi had.
You may know someone who believes in a different god, or who says he believes in the true God but doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God. You can know for sure that the God of the Bible is the living God who created the world and the One who hears your prayers (Hebrews 11:6). If you read believe the Bible, be assured that you are trusting in the true and living God.
Memory Verse: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

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Day 3: Ruth 1:22, 2:1-10

Story: Caring and being cared for
When Naomi and Ruth got to Bethlehem, the barley harvest was just starting. The women of the town recognized Naomi and welcomed her back.
One day Ruth said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields to gather grain that has been dropped. I am sure someone will let me work with them.”
So Ruth went to a field and walked behind the reapers, picking up grain. She didn’t know that she was working in a field that belonged to Boaz, a rich relative of Naomi.
Boaz happened to arrive there some time later and when he saw Ruth he asked the workers about her. They told him that she had come from the land of Moab with Naomi and that she had worked in the field from early morning. Then Boaz went to talk to Ruth and told her not to gather grain from any other field except from his field.
Discussion: Will God always provide for me?
Jesus said that we should not worry about our needs for tomorrow because our Heavenly Father has taken care of them already (Matthew 6:31-34). So does that mean we should not plan ahead, save up, or work for a living? Not at all! God wants us to live responsibly by planning for the future and working hard. In fact, Paul had some strong words for a group of Christians who had stopped working and become lazy: he told them to get back to work (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12).
Ruth worked hard every day to gather enough grain for Naomi and herself. Yet Ruth knew that it was God who had provided the good harvest, the field, the kind reapers and a caring owner.
Memory Verse: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

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Day 4: Ruth 3:1-11

Story: Loyalty is rewarded
Day after day, Ruth gathered grain from the field of Boaz (a relative of Naomi). One day, Naomi said to Ruth, “I must find a husband for you so that you can have your own home again. Boaz, in whose field you have been working, will be threshing barley tonight. Now, get dressed in your best clothes, put on some perfume, and go to where he is threshing; but don’t let him see you. This evening, when he has finished eating, see where he lies down and when he is asleep, go lie at his feet.”
Ruth did everything exactly as Naomi had told her to do. When Boaz woke up in the night, he said, “Who are you?”
Ruth answered, “It is Ruth, Sir. You are my relative. Please will you look after me?”
Then Boaz replied, “The Lord bless you! You are showing even greater loyalty by doing this than by what you have done for your mother-in-law.”
Discussion: What is true loyalty?
Loyalty is a quality that doesn’t always seem that important to people. Often, a person’s physical strength, power, influence, wealth, and cleverness impress people far more than his or her loyalty. Yet God sees things differently (1 Samuel 16:7).
Loyalty: 
   – ties love and faithfulness together.
   – does not expect to be rewarded.
   – wants only the best for the other person.
   – is costly—it may cost a life.
   – does not quit.
   – does not change sides.
   – takes time to prove itself.
Memory Verse: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

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Day 5: Ruth 4:1-10, 13 

Story: A branch of the tree
During the night, Ruth had gone to lie at the feet of Boaz and had asked him to marry her. Boaz loved Ruth very much and wanted to marry her, but there was a problem. Ruth had a relative who was closer to her than he was. So Boaz said to her, “Stay here for the night and in the morning we will find out whether he will look after you.”
In the morning, Boaz sent Ruth home with a huge amount of barley. Then Boaz went to the meeting place in town where he waited for the other relative. When he came, Boaz said to him, “Naomi wants to sell her field, and you have the first option to buy it. However, if you buy the field, you must take Ruth too, so that her children will inherit the field.” When the relative, who had children of his own, heard that the deal included any children Ruth would have, he said, “No, I don’t want to buy it.”
So Boaz was able to buy the field and marry Ruth. The Lord blessed her, and she had a son named Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse; and Jesse became the father of David—the greatest king of Israel.
Discussion: What is a genealogy (family tree)?
Do you know who your grandfather is? Do you know who your grandfather’s grandfather was? Every person has a family tree, which is a way of writing down the names of each person’s parents, going back many generations.
Imagine that you are a twig joined to a thin branch, which is attached to a thicker branch that grows from the stem of a huge tree.
The genealogy (family tree) of Jesus is written in Matthew chapter one. In Matthew 1:5, you will see the name of Ruth. Isn’t it great that someone who was hardly known during her lifetime would be part of the earthly genealogy of Jesus, the King of kings?
Memory Verse: A shoot will come up from Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1