Gospel of Ruth Bible Study Week 5

Welcome to the fifth week of reading  The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James. Next week will be our last week of study as we finish reading this book. Carolyn reminds us that “God is still the main hero in this bible story as the story of Ruth reveals Him and his transformation on human hearts.” Once Naomi recognizes hessed in her life, the story takes another bend in the road as she finds courage and takes action. Her concern is no longer for herself as Naomi looks to the welfare of her daughter-in-law. Ruth has provided for Naomi and now Naomi wants to return the love. She sees an opportunity and does not hesitate to implement an action plan for Ruth. Carolyn writes “This is a stunning moment in the biblical record- one with seismic ramifications for women. It is yet another instance in scripture where we see that gospel living goes against the grain of human culture. Boaz foreshadows how Jesus would one day reach out to women who were rejected by their communities, to commission and empower them to serve him.”

Our next chapter looks at submission as presented in the story of Ruth. We see all three characters demonstrate submission and in different ways. Naomi submits when she gives up her only remaining family member, Ruth, in order to secure Ruth’s future in a foreign land. Ruth submits when she exposes herself to a possible refusal from Boaz, and also another attempt at childbirth. She loves Naomi and her God, and Ruth submits to demonstrate her love. “Ruth, out of her poverty, is giving away all that she has,” writes Carolyn. Boaz submits by redeeming this family. All three are showing us to” Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

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

  • The bible clearly teaches submission.
  • Submission is not an occasional event, it’s a lifestyle.
  • Submission isn’t an act of mindless compliance, but an act of wisdom, strength and determination.
  • We were created to be like Jesus and we can’t be like him if we leave out submission.
  • Submission means those with power give it up.

For Next Week

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

  1. What changes do you observe in Naomi? How to you explain her new courage?
  2. Why is submission a lifestyle rather than an occasional event?
  3. How does Jesus change our understanding of submission?
  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 22 Comments

  • Rhonda says:

    I see week six has not been posted but I need to say the following:

    As I am in the process of moving and we are leaving later this evening I do not have time to post anything except, thank you for this Bible Study. It was what I needed when I needed it. You are all in my prayers and please keep me in yours. Until we meet again,

    Rhonda

  • Lisa says:

    3. How does Jesus change our understanding of submission?

    Ahhh, submission. For me, submission depends on my mind set.

    There is “strong-willed” I am not going to let people walk all over me, determined me! Then, there is “martyr” I am so submissive but everyone takes advantage of me, poor me! I fall in the first category. Like several of you, I was raised as a go getting I can take care of myself kind of gal! I thought I was submissive, especially since I was submissive to God, but then I married my husband, and God taught me what “real” submissiveness is.

    Jesus did not represent either of these traits, strong-willed or martyr, when he submitted His will to God, which He did do in the garden by asking if there was any other way… just one example. 🙂 To me, the key ingredient is grace. Jesus had grace dripping from every pore.

    It is always amazing to me how my attitude toward something can change the outcome totally. When I pour grace into submission, the act of submission becomes something more than me giving in. Grace fulfilled submission does not seem like submission at all. With grace, I do not feel like I have to dig my heals in and fight the battle, submission seems to flow easy, not leaving me feeling like I gave in. By the same token, grace filled submission fills you to the brim, not leaving you feeling like a martyr being filled by “your” sense of submission. When you play the martyr, or the strong-will, role then submission does not come from grace, it comes from self. That is the key ingredient am I submitting out of self or out of God’s grace?

  • Susan says:

    1.What changes do you observe in Naomi? How to you explain her new courage? Naomi realizes that God has not abandoned her as she thought (through the hesed shown by Ruth and Boaz) and focuses on Ruth’s future and well being, also displaying hesed.
    2.Why is submission a lifestyle rather than an occasional event? Boy, was this difficult for me. I’ve never known my religious denomination to mention submission during any discussions, sermons or lessons. I always thought submission was a sign of weakness. I never thought that Jesus was submitting to God. I just thought that through his actions Jesus was fulfilling Old Testament prophesy. This is a new concept to me and I do see it but it will take me time to accept this (accept probably isn’t the correct word to use but I have to get over the negative connotation of submission). Jesus’ submission was a sign of will and strength.
    3.How does Jesus change our understanding of submission? Think I already answered.
    4.Share a favorite moment from this week’s study. Two statements: 1) They knew, as I should, that God directs me and guides me in the path he wants me to take. 2) Because he expects us to give more than we think we can.

    This was a very thought provoking lesson for me.

    • Christine says:

      We’re having this conversation in my church bible study as well, so here are some quotes from the book “The Me I Want to Be”

      Jesus understood that if you want to experience victory, you must start in surrender. John Ortberg #quote
      When I surrender I don’t just let go of my will. I also give up the idea that I’m in charge of outcomes. .John Ortberg #quote
      Surrender means that I will seek to handle the problem facing me in a way that honors God. John Ortberg #quote

      • Susan says:

        What wonderful quotes. I definitely need to get this book. Christine, thank you so much for being our leader. Your insight and guidance is very much appreciated!

  • Rhonda says:

    What changes do you observe in Naomi? How to you explain her new courage?
    The only way to explain it is that she renewed her faith in God, allowing Him to take away her bitterness and pain. I think I can identify more with Naomi than Ruth. Naomi has suffered many losses in her life and feels so alone. She is hurting and though she loves Ruth she knows her own future is far more uncertain than her daughter-in-law’s. She feels sorry for herself (and boy do I know that feeling. I think my first words must have been “Why is it always me Lord?”). She wonders what she has done to have her husband and sons taken for her. She has every right to feel helpless and bitter, yet she never entirely gives up. Something in her must have known that God was still in charge and would not forsake her. Too m any times in my life I have walked this path of self-pity and pain, only to find God waiting on me at the end. He never even charges me with disbeliefr or lack of trust in His grace.

    Why is submission a lifestyle rather than an occasional event?
    This has been an issue for me my entire life. I am a real go-getter, like to be in charge of my own destiny, and do NOT want to submit to anyone in authority. This study has been a true Godsend because I now know there is submission and then there is submission. I have come to acknowledge that God wants me to want to be submissive to His will, and that submission does not mean being under someone’s thumb or being mistreated. Submitting to God’s will for my life can actually give me freedom I would not have other wise because by submitting to Him I am allowing Him to take control and care for me. This is really quite liberating when you think about it.

    How does Jesus change our understanding of submission?
    Seems like I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself on the last answer:)

    Share a favorite moment from this week’s study.
    Realizing that submission give me strength as it takes courage to sumit your own will, makes me realize how much it means to God to have me do so.

    • Christine says:

      I just finished reading “the Me I Want to Be” by John Ortberg and he answers your question “why is it always me.” God shapes you through difficult people and experiences and allows them in your life because it strengthens your faith and refines you. Another great book is “Soulprint” by Mark Batterson.

      “there is submission and then there is submission” Right! There is submission as a result of fear or domination, and there is submission as an act of love. We need to shape our hearts and minds to love like Jesus and not like man. I’m struggling with this and working on it through prayer and bible study.

  • Laura says:

    1.What changes do you observe in Naomi? How to you explain her new courage? Naomi moved from abject despondency feeling like she had lost everything, to determination as she see’s God’s provision through Boaz’s kindness to Ruth, and from there to planning – taking an active role in seeing God’s plans accomplished as she surrenders her bitterness, surrenders her daughter-in-law and in turn for her surrender is clothed in hesed love from God.
    2.Why is submission a lifestyle rather than an occasional event? If it is Godly submission, it is a denying of self-interest first, a denying of being self-centered and selfish, laying down our rights and putting the self interests of others first. Following Jesus example, He surrendered everything to leave heaven and walk on Earth, both King of Kings, Lord or Lords yet clothed in humanity at the same time even to His death on the Cross. His example is one of consistent day in and day out submission to the Father’s will. Jesus then being our perfect example, lived a life we are called to follow by surrendering self and living in submission and obedience to all God calls us to be, and to all He wants to accomplishs in and through each one of us.
    3.How does Jesus change our understanding of submission? Jesus prayed on the night of His arrest, “yet not My will but Yours be done.” After His example of the ultimate sacrifice of laying down His life for my sins, how can I do anything less than live a life of submission to His will, living in obedience to His Word. Though I will fail repeatedly and fall short, God will be faithful to continue to work on me as I yield (submit) to Him on a daily basis.
    4.Share a favorite moment from this week’s study. On Page 164 Carolyn writes, “Naomi can talk all she likes about finding rest for Ruth. Ruth already found it the day she took refuge under Yahweh’s wing. It is from this place of rest and security that Ruth finds the strength and freedom to lay down her life for Naomi. Submission isn’t an act of mindless compliance but an act of wisdom, strength, and determination.” Then on page 168 she tells us that, “We were created to be like Jesus, and we can’t be like Him if we leave out submission. Being a strong-willed woman by nature, the concept of submission hasn’t been an easy one for me to learn or to live out!

    • Christine says:

      I find submission very challenging because I was raised to fight for myself, be independent and never let someone walk over you. Ruth demonstrates a heart of love and I think it probably takes a stronger will to submit than to fight and defend “my rights.” I am looking forward the the Loving Well study because it does focus on the heart and I’ve been praying for a heart more like Jesus and less like me. 😉

      • Laura says:

        Thanks Christine. Sometimes I think strong-willed is just another name for being stubborn – a trait I don’t think pleases God most of the time 🙂 Every morning in my payer time I pray Lord, less of me and more of You. I am looking forward to the Loving Well study too. I ordered my book yesterday. May the Lord bless you as you serve Him!

  • Sue Alice says:

    I too am not going to answer questions this week, for I am taking the other two studies and my head is spinning. God is talking to my heart and I need to spend time with Him. Thanks everyone. Blessings.

    • Christine says:

      This is the primary reason why we’re only doing one study next time. Rather than pleasing everyone by offering many studies, we’re going to offer a single study and slow down for awhile.

      • Lisa says:

        A single study that has me intrigued… I need to look and see what it is. I was on a much needed holiday with the family last week and am just getting back into computer gear. I may not answer the questions again this week, but it has been such a blessing to read the comments and listen to God as he speaks to me through them and the book. Carolyn Curtis James says so many profound things that jump off the page at me sometimes I need a few moments to let it sink in. Hesed Love, that has been one I have been contemplating for a few months now. How to truly love someone as yourself Jesus style.

        • Christine says:

          You are not obligated to answer the questions online, unless God places it in your heart Lisa. Many times what you say or another woman will say, speaks directly into the heart of another.

          • Joni says:

            I think that’s what makes the study more interesting, to say what we think and feel and sit back and watch other’s reply.

  • Joni says:

    I am not answering questions this week, I am asking some. Every time I try to get deeper into the word, I end up confused with questions I cannot answer. So, if Ruth had sex with Boaz, and she did this to take an active part in the outcome, then is sex before marriage all right if one is doing it for the right reason? I don’t know what would be the right answer, and I don’t know if she prepared for sex, but why else would she get all dressed up merely to “uncover Boaz’s feet.”

    And, I just thought that I had prayer down, and was asking God for His will to be done, now that mixes my brain topsy turvy. How do I pray? Do I ask for what I want, or just pray for His will to be done. Ahd what if my actions are contrary to His will? How do we know the difference?

    Hope someone can shed some light for me. Thank you all!

    • Christine says:

      There is nothing in scripture that said Ruth had sex with Boaz. In the story she prepares herself as a bride and we assume she dressed up as if going on a date, wearing her best clothes and perfume, watching herself. In those days, people rarely washed and bathed. We know from scripture she laid at his feet, yet we can assume this was a posture of submission and not one of sex. Boaz wakes up to this visual body language, sees her as a potential wife, and decides to marry her. Uncovering his feet was an act of intimacy and not sexual. In biblical times, this would be scandalous. Later in scripture Jesus uncovers the feet of his disciples and washes them using a towel around his waist, another act of intimacy. Knowing Boaz, Naomi and Ruth were all strong in faith we can also assume none of them broke God’s laws by having unmarried sex. When David did this with a married woman, scripture clearly spelled out the sin and he was punished for it with the death of his son.

      There are many ways to pray and you may want to explore this more. Joyce Meyer has a good book on it, as well as Stormie Omartin, Dutch Sheets or John Eckhardt. You need to take your focus off the legal way to pray and pray through your heart. You can ask the Holy Spirit to speak on your behalf and give you the words, then wait and listen to your heart. Prayer is a discipline and we each have our own style. Practice it and find one that words well for you. Read scripture for examples of how Jesus prayed.

      Imagine yourself sitting in the emergency room waiting for the doctor to look at your child’s broken finger. While you are waiting, a toddler is rushed in and he is not breathing, he has drowned in a pool and a neighbor finds him and brings him in. He is blue and the trauma team has called a helicopter to get airlift him to another hospital. Would you sit there and wonder what words to pray, or would the words just flow out of you as you find yourself filled with the Holy Spirit and loving over this little boy? He’s in the hospital, his mom is nowhere to be found, and he is blue. You’d pray! I know, because this happened to me and the best sound I’ve ever heard was when the boy started coughing up water and crying. Pray…and know that God listens to your heart, not your words.

      We pray for God’s will and it’s okay to ask for your heart’s desires. Ask for your will to be in alignment with his. Ask for his will to be done and for doors to open. Ask him to equip you. Surround yourself with people who pray often- and learn from them. Most bible study videos/audios or pastor sermons always begin and end with prayer. Go to iTunes and start listening. Your prayer needs will be based on your spiritual needs. If you are under a cloud of demons you’ll have a different prayer than if you are walking in a shower of blessings. Always remember a prayer is a conversation with God. Some conversations will have gentle words, some conversations will have frustration words and some may have tears attached. The important thing is to communicate with God- and we do this in prayer. Prayer is opening your heart to Him.

      • Sue Alice says:

        Thanks Christine for that post, though it was not met for me, but said a lot. Your are so good with words, and truely a Daughter of a King. I am blessed to have you as a friend.

      • Rhonda says:

        Christine,
        I too felt like you were speaking to me with this response. It seems we all have so much going on in our everyday lives that we feel we are on a merry-go-round. I am only doing two of the studies this time though I really wanted to do all three. I am struggling to keep up I admit but am so glad I decided to do both. They are speaking to me in different ways, yet both seem to be what I need right now. With preparing to move 800 miles away, leaving my job and all that is familiar, our Bible study is keeping me grounded. It is helping me to step back and look at my own life, take measure of where I am vs. where I need to be and to make a path that will enable me to get there.

        • Christine says:

          It’s good to know God is already waiting 800 miles away and setting up your new home and your future. IN 100% of the times I’ve moved (and I’m a realtor so I move alot) God has always had a plan in place and waiting for me. I never see it when I move, only after it happens and I look back on my soulprint.

          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. Jer 29:11 NIV

          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

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