Gospel of Ruth Bible Study Week 1

By September 5, 2011Ruth- Gospel of

Welcome back to online bible study as we discuss the The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James. Shannon Barr is leading these studies, however she is without electrical power due to the recent storms and so I’m filling in this week. Last week we asked you to read the NIV Text of Ruth and the Introduction section of the book.  The author’s focus in this study of Ruth is to examine the question “Is God Good for women?” The day before I started reading this book I actually had someone ask me this exact question! I had just started work at a new job and a man I hardly knew came into my office and said “you’re religious, right?” After telling him I believed in Jesus he said “do you think the bible is kind to women, or do women get a bad deal in the bible?” Imagine my surprise when I started reading this book and the same question was proposed by the book author! I knew there was something valuable in this message and God was speaking to me through my new coworker. Later I found out his wife had died of cancer, she was a believer, and he was seeking answers about God.

Maybe you’ve had the same question hidden in your heart, or maybe you already know the answer. We’re going to take another look at the story of Ruth and dig into the heart of Naomi, a female Job.  Carolyn Custis James has proposed four guiding principles of this bible study:

  1. God is the true hero of the story.
  2. Eve’s legacy, a blueprint for women, is the key to understanding Naomi and Ruth.
  3. The bible is an ancient book, written in a culture foreign to us.
  4. The beginning, middle and end of the book are deeply interrelated.

Our six-week study begins as Naomi walks a path of despair and a feeling of rejection from the Lord she loves. One daughter-in-law walks away. One daughter-in-law stands by her side and together they walk into town as childless widows- and the story begins.

Prayer Requests

Please visit our Prayer Wall and post a prayer request or praise report. Take time this week to lift others up with your prayers.

Carolyn Custis James Quotes

  • Whenever we study God’s word, our main quest is always to discover what He is telling us about Himself.
  • Naomi and Ruth understand that the world revolves around God.
  • In one pivotal moment, Ruth’s identity and center of gravity change forever.

For Next Week

Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like

  1. Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness.
  2. How do you feel about “a female Job” openly sharing her feelings about God and questioning His goodness?
  3. What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God?
  4. Share a favorite moment from this week’s study.

Author Christine Abraham

Founder and Ministry Director of the Womens Bible Cafe™ since 2009, Christine has led 60+ online Bible Studies for women. She completed a Graduate of Biblical Studies from Liberty University. She's an inspired writer, Amazon Top Reviewer and Blogger Follow on Facebook

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Join the discussion 34 Comments

  • Autumn says:

    1.Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness.

    I have to admit, I have had my share of moments when I questioned God’s goodness. There hasn’t been just one moment. More like seasons of it.
    Unlike the author, I am not a mother, i don’t have children, although I am preparing to become a wife. I haven’t questioned God’s goodness in the sense that she did when she described wondering if her purpose was finished when she wasn’t the bread winner and the kids left the house.
    I have often felt like I can’t get started on my call. I’m waiting and waiting, and then (as silly as it sounds) I begin to wonder if God even has a purpose for me. I’m super ordinary. I haven’t done anything earth shattering and I don’t have ground breaking talents. I went to the University and graduated with a degree that I cannot use at the moment. I’ve been lost spiritually until recently.
    I questioned God’s goodness because I knew I wasn’t “good”. Surely God wouldn’t bless someone as non-descript as ME.
    I went through a very dark season, and that’s when my eyes were opened. I mean…I was seeing things in Neon lights when they were black and white before. I was brought to my knees, and when i had nothing (seemingly) that is when I was blessed the most. God demonstrated how Good He is and that I wasn’t someone thrown to the wayside. Changes happened almost over night.
    It’s true that God works in mysterious ways, and it’s been my experience that suffering brings out the most opportunities to Glorify Him.

    My post just feels like like it’s rambling, I apologize. Thank you all for your patience. I hope I didn’t miss the point of this. The book is amazing and I’m so excited and blessed to be a part of this study! So many intelligent women with thought provoking discussion. Thank you for providing wisdom for me as well.

    • Stephanie says:

      Autumn-

      You were NOT rambling, it was a wonderful post! I love what you said about “suffering brings out the most opportunities to glorify Him.” Powerful words!

  • Nina says:

    How do you feel about “a female Job” openly sharing her feelings about God and questioning His goodness?
    I love this story and when I meet a female Job I want to scoop her up and show her God’s goodness even in her trying times. God let’s us go through things, but HE never leaves us HE wants us to know that HE is with us through the good and the bad and we have to stand firm on our faith that HE will get us through it. We have to sit back and really look at the situation we are in because as Naomi was going through the motions she had a daughter-in-law that would not leave her side and God was about to reveal HIS goodness and HISself to them through Ruth.

  • Dorothy says:

    Seeing Naomi as a female Job gives us, as women, another avenue to explore our relationship with God. In Naomi we can see her as a woman who did things right and then have to pick herself up with courage and conviction. For me personally, as I make a move from Washington State back home to Missouri the idea that Naomi chose to move back “home” to be closer to those who could support her took a strength that we don’t often see portrayed in women even though the reality is far different. I can see Naomi not as the bitter, old lady, but as a woman who is resolved and determined to enter into the next chapter of her life still focused on God. We have no problem seeing Job as a man of faith, courage and conviction but to see a woman in the same light gives new meaning to the story of Ruth. We see both women, not as “man hungry beggars” but as women with a sense of faith that God was in charge – and like Job there was no question of that fact. We see God active in Naomi and Ruth’s lives and as such we can enter into dialog with God ourselves and see Him active in our lives.

  • Karen says:

    Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness.

    In one meeting on the issue of women teaching adult men, an elder’s wife invited any women who wanted to teach when adult men were present to leave and find a church that permitted women to teach men. It would take a book to write my experiences of being shunned and dis-fellowshipped for just being of the opinion that it is okay for women to teach the Bible when adult men are present. This is when I began to wonder if God was good for women.
    Are women just created for reproduction purposes and useless thereafter? Does God dislike women? Am I a woman because God doesn’t like my spirit? If Muslim women are treated so abominably, is this just further evidence that God loves and honors men and hates and demeans women? Was Eve’s punishment a curse on women of all time? Am I being punished because Eve was deceived, even though Adam sinned willfully? How unfair of God is that? Why did God give me intelligence and expect me to keep my thoughts to myself when I am among male church members? Is God counting on me, a woman, in any way, shape or form to help build his Kingdom or am I excused because of my gender? Do I have a calling beyond my life as wife and mother, which is now passed? Why is the least competent man better for the church/God’s Kingdom than the most competent women? Why did Jesus lift women up and allow them to speak, while Paul seemed to muzzle them? These are just of few of my questions about God’s goodness toward women.
    After much prayer, study and soul searching, I realized if the answers to all my questions about God are in the negative column for women, no woman would want to serve this god? God’s character would not permit him to treat women in such a manner. It is satan, who is at enmity with all women. And I will be so bold as to ask, “If anyone is preventing Christian women, by word or deed, from using their gifts and calling to advance God’s Kingdom, are they unwittingly if not outright in league with satan in his enmity toward women?”

    • Donna says:

      Wow your post spoke to me! When I answered this same question in my notebook it was regarding a similar situation. I had taught a mixed adult singles class for a couple of years. I had felt a very strong calling to do this. Then our church got a new pastor who met with me and basically told me that this was not God’s will and wouldn’t be allowed anymore. At that time, none of the men in our class felt called to lead. This class that I cared about so much disbanded. I questioned my relationship with God – had I so misread my calling? I am not a mother or a wife, does that mean that I am not worth anything to God? Am I not supposed to use my gifts just because I am a woman? At the same time, other areas of my life fell apart as well. I struggled with these things for a long time. I am now in a different church and have had some counseling with my new pastor. He has helped me to realize that it is ok to question God. Satan can plant doubts and really shake our foundations by using words from people we see as authorities or circumstances that happen in our lives. I am learning that I need to rely on what I know to be true – God loves me and has a plan for me. Jer 29:11

  • Michelle says:

    I believe that if we stifle our questions about God we start to lose our ability to grow as individuals and not only lose our ability to grow as individuals but potentailly distance ourselves from God. We are all on our own journeys and we are all doing these bible studies for different reasons. The number one reason though is to learn more about God and be able to share that with others.

  • Pam, Louisiana says:

    Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness. I was going through a rough time while in a church I was attending at the time. Everyone around me was receiving the Holy Ghost and talking in tongues. I couldn’t understand why I was not receiving it. I knew GOD, who he was, what he hated, what he does and yet I couldn’t get it. I was seeking and seeking asking why? why?. Finally, I made a decision to leave that church and attend another one. All my answers came when I left that church. I won’t go into any more details, but it had nothing to do with the church. Only with me. I didn’t feel comfortable at that church. I kept seeking. But, I did quite often ask the LORD, why? But thank you JESUS that I received my answers and he didn’t give up on me.

    What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God? I have to agree with Laura on this one. I think you need to have a very close intimacy with GOD. When you get that, there is just something there that you will want all the time. You can ask GOD anything and HE will give you the answers in HIS time. I experienced that one time. My preacher had been preaching on the intimacy with GOD and how each one of us needs to obtain that. I pray and pray every night for that. One day I spent all day in HIS WORD. I just couldn’t get enough. I decided to get up and fix lunch around 3pm. A little late. But, I was just working on fixing lunch and praising HIM and when I turned around there HE was. I didn’t see HIM, but I felt him looking at me and listening to me. I was startled. I had this overwhelming feeling and all I could do was hit me knees and worship HIM. AWESOME! I want so badly to feel or hear HIS heartbeat. And, I know that I will get it.

    Share a favorite moment from this week’s study. Just realizing that the outlook about Ruth and Naomi is one that I have never heard before. I think that it was so awesome of how she pointed out that Ruth became and Israelite and wanted to serve Naomi’s God. That was her turning point. I love it and I can’t wait to read more.

    • Christine says:

      “Share a favorite moment from this week’s study. Just realizing that the outlook about Ruth and Naomi is one that I have never heard before. I think that it was so awesome of how she pointed out that Ruth became and Israelite and wanted to serve Naomi’s God. That was her turning point. I love it and I can’t wait to read more.” This was my experience as well. I’ve studied Ruth and have not seen the story from this perspective, so I find it quite interesting.

      • Pam, Louisiana says:

        Yes, yes. I think the more we get into the book, the better it will be and the more GOD will open my eyes. Thanks for sharing with me.

  • Sue Alice says:

    1. Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness. I did during my teen and early twenties what I was a rebellious teen, and I ran away from home for over two years and no one knew where I was…..let alone still alive. I did some pretty bad things than and It took along time to see God’s goodness or return to Him. This was over twenty six years ago, and the road has been smooth and rocky. I would not be were I am today without God’s goodness.

    2. How do you feel about a “female Job” Someone has to ask the hard questions and not be afraid to do so…….I only wish I could.

    3. What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God? We may never truely know and love Him. His goodness and mercy.

    4. Moment……..seeing Naomi, Ruth, Orpah in a different light.

  • Lisa says:

    “When you marginalize God out of the story you will always miss the main message.” I love that quote!

    I like the word fidelity. In our society is often viewed as a negative word, a breaking of trust, “he broke their fidelity.” I often think in our walks as Christians we break our fidelity with God. We no longer trust in His ability to see our hurt and to care about it, so we quit talking to Him about it. We don’t question Him for two reasons. One we have given up on His faithfulness to us. Or two, questioning Him would make us look like a weaker Christian, so we put our fake mask on, to God and to others.

    In doing so lies the potential harm. Once we start faking our walk with God, or give up completely, we slowly begin to build a wall of protection around our hearts. Protection from hurt, and from a God who does not seem to care about me. Once that wall is built it is hard (but not impossible) for God to tear it down. I have found, in my life, often God will not tear that wall down, he is a God who wants me to choose Him, to seek Him. And so, he will wait patiently for me to quit marginalizing Him or His presence in my turbulent situation. He will wait for me to fight, to ask the hard questions. When I ask the hard questions I am still very much in the battle. When I stop asking questions, I have surrendered, thrown in the white flag and when I do that I open the door for Satan to step in and take over my thoughts and feelings. Those thoughts and feelings quickly turn from God caring about me, being loyal to me, and having fidelity with me, to bitterness, jealousy, and marginalization. When I marginalize God, I lose sight of the meaning of my life. So, I have learned over the years to continue to ask the hard questions, to fight, to stay true and loyal to God, to trust and have faith in the One who has my best interest in His hands.

  • Kay says:

    Share Favorite Moment from this week’s study: On page 29 of the intro, I underlined “…a woman’s life is transformed by the discovery that God’s love for her is rock solid, even though her circumstances indicate otherwise.” I just kept reading that phrase over again – especially the words ‘transformed’ and ‘discovery’ and ‘God’s love is rock solid’. And on page 28 of the intro, the author suggests Naomi’s parallel to Job, and I underlined “…their wrestlings with God”. Such a unique phrase – wrestle. A wrestling match with God. What one move does a wrestler make to win the match, I wondered? Have I ever wrestled with God? I tried to talk myself out of the answer, which was yes. But then I realized that in my wrestlings, God had shown himself to me in countless ways. And when he made his move, he won me forever.

  • Rhonda B. says:

    1.Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness.
    I went through a time of when I questioned where God was while I was suffering through marriage problems, a daughter’s deafness due to meningitis (age 18 months), and my parents house burning all within a couple of months. I could not pray, because it felt like my prayers hit the ceiling. That was 27 years ago, and now I can see threads of Gods goodness all through this time. I had faithful, praying parents who lived with us and cared for my two other daughters, my husband had a steady job, and insurance paid for my parents house after it burned ( and noone got hurt). And my daughter is now 28, and has her Masters Degree and a wonderful job. Praise God ! He is good !!!

  • Susan says:

    A friend was unable to conceive and had prayed for years to become pregnant. This was such a painful time for her. She questioned her womanhood and she really started to question her faith but she eventually realized that God always provides what we need, not always what we ask for. She later adopted two children.
    I think it’s a natural reaction to question God when tragedy strikes. The grieving process provides an opportunity for us to become closer to God although we may be aware of this during that time.
    Bitterness and loss of faith may occur if we stifle our questions. God knows our thoughts and we can gain additional understanding and a closer relationship to God by asking questions.

  • Shannon says:

    Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness.

    I’ve been through a lot of negative and hurtful experiences in my life. A couple years ago I had a revelation to write about these experiences and how I am healing from them with Gods help. It wasn’t until recently God used a woman I had met to tell me that sometimes due to no fault really of their own hardships are placed on people so they in turn can help someone else that is dealing with similar things with their testimony. That sometimes what you experience really might not be about you at all and that God can turn your mess into a message. It gives me hope that I will soon be able to help someone else.

  • Kimberly Hornsby says:

    1.Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness
    I am so hard on myself. I constantly replay conversations and my actions again and again in my head. Sometimes if I feel like I said the wrong, or did the wrong thing, or maybe even did the wrong thing without realizing it, I immediately start to wonder did I disappoint God. I let the Devil run rampat in my thoughts. I have to purposely pray and remind my myself that God knows my heart and that if I did say or do something that disappoints Him, He is a loving forgiving God.

  • Sherrie says:

    A favorite moment of mine from this week’s study was reading the book of Ruth in my NIV Study Bible. It is always so interesting to read the notes and correlations made to make the text come alive in a different way.
    I am very anxious to read more insight from the author throughout the study.

  • Laura says:

    1.Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness. I have a group of friends fondly referred to as “the Treasurers” and this group of women have prayed together for years. One of these wonderful friends has lived through so much adversity that it is hard to believe and we have cried with her, supported her, and prayed with and for her for years as she has questioned God. It is so hard to watch someone you love so much questioning the Lord and His goodness.
    2.How do you feel about “a female Job” openly sharing her feelings about God and questioning His goodness? I had never looked at Naomi as a female Job so this was completely new thinking for me. I do think it is good to honestly bring all of our questions before His throne. God is big enough to accept all of our doubts and to take all of our questions, and in fact in Isaiah, God invites us to reason with Him, even about our sinful condition. This is referenced in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “ Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
    3.What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God? I think the harm is in not living authetic lives before God, and not having authentic and real relationship with Him. He knows our thoughts and He knows our hearts. If we stifle the questions, we miss out on the learning He has for us as well as the blessings that come out of deep raw honest dialogue with our God who loves us so lavishly that we cannot fully comprehend this side of Heaven.
    4.Share a favorite moment from this week’s study. Carolyn says that the centerpiece of Naomi’s story is her quest to know and walk with God. It made me think of how much I want my legacy to be known as a women who loves God with absolutely all that I am, and that my life will be one characterized as having an insaitible appetite to know God deeply and walk with Him faithfully.

  • Vickie says:

    What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God? If we don’t ask the questions, we will for sure not get the answers we are looking for. This is a breeding ground for more doubt. Once we have some answers, or at least feel like we are getting somewhere, we feel more peaceful. Also, in the act of asking the questions, this causes us to not only look to the Bible, but to reach out to other Christians who may have some guidance for us. This helps us build our relationships with others and possibly find a friend or mentor. Then as we grow and become more confident, we can help guide others as well.

  • Kathy Kuzas says:

    How do I feel about a “female Job” openly sharing her feelings about God and questioning his goodness and what potential harm might come from stifling our questions? I have to say good for her for her honesty. God is honest with us and expects the same in return. It is our humanity which causes us to question and it is our humanity that God loves. Only in superficial relationships do we not care enough to sometimes question and that is NOT what God wants for us or what we should want from him. His love for us is unconditional and He can handle anything that we throw at him!

  • Angie says:

    What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God?

    Seekers ask questions, and we are supposed to be seekers of the Lord. I want to be continually getting to know him, and the way to experience true intimacy with God is through our questions. When I seek the Lord, I find that he replies – not necessarily in a true, audible voice but through circumstances, feelings, and new revelations that he puts into my path.

    I look at Naomi and feel intense grief for her: losing her husband, her sons, and her way of knowing in the desperate times she lived in must have been a terrible loss for her.

  • Joni says:

    This discussion reminds me of this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOufqWodFNo&feature=player_embedded

    Also, I read Ruth from my favorite Bible which is New King James Version, The Inspiritional Study Bible by Max Lucado. At the Introduction it said that there are four characters.”Chacter number one is a prostitute. Character number two is her son. By the time we meed him he is wealthy, powerful and single.” I couldn’t find any reference that said that Boaz was the son of a prostitute. Can anybody comment on this?

    I’m not sure I see the corolation between Job and Ruth. Can someone explain?
    Thanks, and God Bless. I am the Christian with all the questions. Seriously, really……

    • Christine says:

      Rahab was the prostitute, she was the mother of Boaz.

      Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.
      Matt 1:5-6 NKJV

      Salmon had Boaz (his mother was Rahab),
      Boaz had Obed (Ruth was the mother),
      Obed had Jesse,
      Jesse had David,
      and David became king.
      Message version

  • Michelle says:

    What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God?
    I think if we don’t ask questions we stifle our growth in the word and the goodness of His mercy and grace. Asking questions helps us to feel His presence because it opens our heart to hear Him more..
    Recenly I went through a time of bitterness in such a way that it hurt my worship with the Lord. I went through a period of time that I thought I being forgotten by God. and until I finally started asking God the questions that I needed to and seeking out the answers in His word and the people that He placed around me I continued to be stifled in my walk. I was not being honest in my feelings toward God or myself because of me hiding the questions I needed to be asking.. Now after months of battle I feel the healing power of His goodness!!

    • Angie says:

      Thank you Jesus that you did ask those questions Michelle! You are brave to be a seeker and break the bondage of bitterness.

  • Rhonda says:

    Describe a time when you or someone you know questioned God’s goodness.
    My son (and at the only time my only child) was diagnosed with severe autism and I questioned everything about God’s love for me. I felt physical pain from this diagnosis and was both sore and guilty with grief. It took me many years of going through the motions of praying and asking for answers from God to realize he had given me a gift not a punishment. Because of his disorder I went back to college and got a masters in counseling and have made a new career of helping others that I would not have even thought of before.
    How do you feel about “a female Job” openly sharing her feelings about God and questioning His goodness?
    I like, Naomi knew God was my protector, but questioned why He had chosen to pull His protection from me. I often felt like I was alone in a desert like place where I wasn’t sure God even heard my prayers anymore. Also like Naomi, I feel like God used me for a greater good than I might have been able to be involved in otherwise.
    What potential harm might come from stifling our questions about God?
    God already knows your questions and doubt. Stifling these feelings is not being honest with Him or yourself. It was only after I openly told God i was angry with my position and felt abandoned did He start to comfort me and help me see His plan for me and my family. At this point in my life, I would not change a thing as I see how things have worked for God’s glory and how I am exactly where He meant for me to be all along.
    Share a favorite moment from this week’s study.
    Seeing both Naomi and Ruth as heroines rather than as actors used to tell Boaz’s story which is basically how I had been taught to think of them. Enlightening!

    • Christine says:

      Are you blogging Rhonda? Your testimony about your autism experience would be very helpful to other parents of newly diagnosed children. As a parent of a special child with needs, I too know how the enemy can build a dark hole and invite you inside. The devil convinces you the child’s illness is your fault, your burden alone, and your misery. Then Jesus arrives in the darkness as a bright shining Light, and He reveals to the truth. God loves us and our children and He has a plan and a purpose. He is the Father who turns illness into Glory.

      And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

      • Rhonda says:

        No Christine, I am not blogging. I have thought about it but I am in the process of moving to South Carolina and am tying up some loose ends at my job etc etc. I will definately consider it for the future though. In addition to this, my 19 month old grandson was born with Downs Syndrome. My daughter has never experienced the feelings of guilt and misery I experienced because she said ” I saw you do it alone and I know I have you and am not alone. You paved the way for me”. God does work in mysterious ways.

        • Sue Alice says:

          Rhonda,

          You and your family are in my thoughts and prays. Have a safe move and a happy time on the drive. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Teresa says:

    How do you feel about “a female Job” openly sharing her feelings about God and questioning His goodness?
    We are in a relationship with God and only honesty can bring true intimacy in a relationship. So if things are happening in our lives that cause despair or pain, we can be confused about God’s promises to protect and care for us as our Shepherd and then we question His goodness. These are honest feelings and I don’t think God minds us sharing them with Him or even others. But as we make our way through the pain and despair, we continue to seek Him. And it is in seeking that we find. We find Him and His Truth and His goodness

    • Christine says:

      I agree Teresa, we need to be authentic and let the feelings of our hearts come to the surface. Jesus often questioned people and encouraged them to open their hearts to the Lord. We need to open all our feelings to Him, not just the good “sugar-coated cupcake-style thoughts!” To fear the Lord is to expose yourself and your thoughts to Him.

  • Cathie says:

    What is the potential harm in stifling our questions about God? God already knows our questions and He has the answers we need (or seek), When we fail to ask our questions we may be limiting our view of God and depriving ourselves of His wisdom. By asking questions, we are opening ourselves up and allowing God to speak directly to us through His Word and actions.

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