Naomi’s Story

We are now in our 17th week of storytelling our way through the Bible. There was one week that was just a review so tonight was our 16th story. I wrote a version of the book of Ruth that I called Naomi’s story. It was a fun one to write because the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz is such a rich one, but also a very straightforward story. I have included the story after the jump. There may be a typo or two, but I think you will find it helpful.

THE STORY

During the time of the judges in the town of Bethlehem there lived a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi, which means pleasant. Because of a Famine in the land Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons moved from Bethlehem into land that was controlled by the Moabites. There in the land of Moab Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons who married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After 10 years the sons of Naomi also died and she was left alone in a foreign country without husband or sons to take care of her.

In this day there weren’t many options for a widow, and a woman without a husband would be dependant on the handouts of others. So when Naomi heard that the famine was over in Israel she made plans to go back to Bethlehem. Orpah and Ruth made to go with her but she stopped them saying, “What good is it for you to come back with me. My sons are dead and I will have no more sons. Stay here with your people and maybe you will find another husband.”

Orpah agreed and stayed in the land of Moab, but Ruth said to Naomi, “Where you go I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”

So Naomi returned to her hometown without husband, sons, or possessions. When people recognized her they exclaimed, “Look! Naomi is back!” but she silenced them and said, “Don’t call me Naomi, for the Lord has made my life bitter. Call me Mara, or bitter, instead” So Naomi returned from Moab with Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law just as the barley harvest was beginning.

Ruth asked Naomi to be allowed to go into the fields and follow behind the men harvesting grain. One of the rules that Moses had left the Israelites was to allow the poor and the widows to walk behind the harvesters and pick up what ever fell out on the ground. Naomi gave her permission and Ruth ended up in the field of a man named Boaz.

When Boaz arrived at the field he noticed Ruth and spoke kindly to her and gave her something to eat. When he returned to the field with his workers he said to them. Let Ruth come up and gather right where you are working and pull a few extra stalks of grain from your sheaves and leave them for her so that she will have plenty.

So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening and gathered a large amount of grain. Naomi was surprised to see so much grain and asked Ruth where she had been. When Ruth told Naomi that she had been in the field of Boaz Naomi was excited.

“Boaz is my husband’s relatives.” Naomi said, “He is a man of standing in this community and it is good that he has taken notice of you for he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.”

In Israel at the time it was custom for an unmarried brother or family member to marry the widow of someone from their family. This was so that the family name could be continued and also to provide for the woman that your family had already pledged to support. This person was called a kinsman-redeemer.

Naomi told Ruth to wait until it was dark and all of the men had fallen asleep around the threshing floor. Then she told Ruth exactly what to do in order to convince Boaz to propose to her.

Ruth, following Naomi’s instructions got dressed up in her finest clothes and went to the threshing floor. She pulled his robe up over his feet and lay down. In the middle of the he woke up and was shocked to see a woman lying at his feet.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied, “Spread the corner of your garment over me since you are a kinsman-redeemer to me.” This wasn’t a simple request because she was cold. Ruth was asking Boaz to marry her and to bring her and Naomi back into good standing.

Boaz had heard of Ruth and of her commitment to stay with Naomi. He agreed to pursue her, but since there was someone else who was a closer relative to Elimelech than he was Boaz didn’t have the right to ask her first. Because Boaz was a man of integrity he offered Ruth and all of the land that Naomi had a right to purchase as Elimelech’s widow to nearest relative. This man refused however and gave the rights to redeem both Ruth and the land to Boaz.

So Boaz took Ruth to be his wife and it was long before she conceived and bore him a son. Naomi, no longer denying her name, praised God and rejoiced that he had taken her empty life and made it full.

Boaz and Ruth named their son Obed who later became the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David. David was the father of Solomon. Following the path on down through the generations we find that the descendant of Solomon was Joseph who was the earthly father of Jesus.

Seed: Guided Prayer

Seed: Guided Prayer

Synopsis

This is a guided prayer activity using a seed as an object lesson.

Spiritual idea

This is a prayer of submission to God asking Him to guide you as you grow over the next part of your life.

How it works

Pass out a seed to each worshiper. I would stay away from sunflower seeds as people may want to eat them, but pretty much any other seed would work. Read the prayer below giving time for worshipers to pray where appropriate.

The Prayer:

Hold this seed in your hand. Think about the plant that it came from. Imagine the plant that it will become…

Now Think about this past year of your life. Spend some time thinking about the good and the bad things. Are you different now than you were at this time last year? Did you fulfill all that God had planned for you…

Look at the seed in your hand. Think about its potential. Think about what it can become…

Imagine there are glowing words written from the inside that you can read…These words are the plans God has for you this year. Do you see anything at all? What do the words say?

Take your time and listen for the words that God speaks to your heart. He has called you to change the world and he has a mission for you this year… Think about your potential; think about what you can become with God.

Some of those plans of God may conflict with your own desires for you life…if so acknowledge those now, don’t try to hide them…which would you prefer? Life your way or God’s way?…be honest with how you feel…ask God to give you a heart for his way…

hold out your hand and offer you seed to God…ask him to use you this year…ask him to fulfill his plan in your life…

Now close your hand and hold your seed close to you…say a short prayer of thanks to God for choosing you…thank him for inviting you to His grand adventure…

Father God, You have called us to a grand adventure, a holy quest. You have called us to be a part of your plan for changing the world. Help us each to let go of our lives and let you have control. Help us to seek out your path and follow your design on our lives. Let us grow this year as you work in our lives. Let all that we do be worship to you. Amen.

Visual Object Lesson

Check out the previous post for the genesis of this idea, but while at M-Fuge the pastor asked us what sort of image our love for each other was painting of God. Yesterday I preached at church and turned that idea into an object lesson.

There is a lady who paints in our church and from time to time she will paint while we are singing to add visual basis to our worship time. It turns out that she just did this about 3 weeks ago so it was still fresh in everyone’s mind. I asked her to paint another one, but this time it was one that we would ruin.

So she got up and painted a picture of the face of Jesus, with the cross in the background. We didn’t talk about it at all, just sort of let it stay there on stage while the song service ended and I started to preach. About halfway through my sermon I began talking about how the way that we love each other as a church is painting a picture of the God that the world sees. I cued some pre-enlisted students who came up one at a time and in big black letters wrote these words across the face of Jesus.

Gossip, Hypocrisy, Cliques, Hatred, Ridicule, and Sin

As they wrote I was asking the church. What do people see when they look at the way we love each other? Do they see a God who loves or a God who gossips? Do they see a God who accepts or a God who just talks to His own friends?

I challenged them to stop painting the after picture, the one with Jesus covered in black words and instead paint the before picture by loving each other the way that Christ loves the church.

The painting is still in the sanctuary, and with the words scribbled on it is pretty powerful.

Love Worship Stations

Love Worship Stations

Each of these stations were designed to be used by individual worshipers in a self-guided worship activity. These stations were written to accompany the LOVE worship outline, but they can be used on their own as well.

How it Works

  • Create a space for each station. The station will dictate what sort of space is required, but normally a table containing the instructions and materials will be sufficient.
  • Spread the stations out around your room so that participants will be able to move freely between them.
  • Include space around your room for participants to simply sit and worship too
  • Spend some time designing your stations with material, candles, and other elements that seem appropriate.
  • Print the instructions for each station and place them where they can be seen easily.
  • Place the materials on each station. (If something is going to be used and placed back you may need only a few of them, if something will be used and taken you will need as many as you have participants)
  • Play some soft music while people are engaged with the stations to cut down on distractions and help keep people focused.

Love Letter to God

  • Stationary (we used card stock cut in half and the folded like a card)
  • Pens

Instructions:

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. 1 John 4:16a (NIV)

There is nothing quite as amazing as a love letter from someone we love. We read each word carefully searching for hidden meaning. We scrutinize and memorize as we rejoice in every sentence every syllable. In many ways the Bible is God’s love letter to us. It is a record of His work in the world and it is His way of reminding us of His love for us that He proved on the cross.

Take some time and come up with your own love letter to God. Write an original work of art that expresses your love to God. It can be a poem or a paragraph or whatever you feel like saying.
Remember that love is more than just a feeling it also involves your actions.

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6 (NIV)

Love Art

  • art supplies
  • paper (we used one big communal piece of paper, that way at the end we had a mural of the love of God)

Instructions:

Read the verses below, then without using a heart as a symbol draw a picture of love

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. [35] By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35 (NIV)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. [13] Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13 (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Loved

  • build a large free standing cross (ours was made out of 4x4s)
  • Paint the cross black
  • Use red paint pens to write the bad list on one side of the cross (fill the cross with words even if you need to repeat a few)
  • Use white paint pens to write the good list on the other side of the cross (fill the cross with words even if you need to repeat a few)
  • Set the cross somewhere that worshipers have access to both sides
  • Bad Word List: Unloved, Unloveable, Unworthy, Ugly, Worthless, Useless, Forgettable, No good, Used, Overlooked, Ignored, Hated, Outcast, Stupid, Guilty, Forgotten, Alone
  • Good Word List: Loved, Chosen, Worthy, Beautiful, Valuable, Useful, Important, Holy, Noticed, Loved, Liked, Invited, Picked, Forgiven, Remembered, Family, Child of God, Saint, Changed, Reborn, Renewed, Restored, Loved, Loved, Loved, Respected, Welcome, Transformed

Instructions:

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

It is the cross where God proved his love for us. But many times it is hard for us to feel very loved. The words of our own mind and the words of others are more real to us than the words of God.

Look at the front side of the cross (the side with the red words). Read the words that are written there. As you come to a word that you feel is true about your life, or that others have called you or have made you feel then place you hand on that word.

The beauty of the cross is that none of those words are true about you. God loves you and proved that love in the cross. This means that you are important to God.

Move to the other side of the cross and read the words there that are true about you. Place your hand on any that are hard to believe and ask God to speak the truth of those words to your soul.

 

Healing Love

  • Heart shaped cutouts (you will need two for each worshiper)
  • Box for heart pieces

Instructions:

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)

Take a heart from the stack on the table and find a place to be by yourself.
Think of the times in the past that you have been hurt. What pains are you still holding on to? What are you having trouble letting go? These pains may be things done to you by someone else or by your own mistakes. For each of these hurts tear a piece of your heart. Don’t hide the things that hurt you be honest with yourself as you tear your heart.

Now go back to the table and place the pieces of your heart in the box and get a new heart.

That new heart is the heart that God wants to give you. Real life hurt can’t be healed in one night, but all healing comes from God. It is God’s love for you that restores you and creates in you a new heart.

Take your new heart home as a reminder that God can heal you.

Love in Action

  • Index Cards
  • Pens
  • List of Actions (on back of instruction sheet)

Instructions:

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21 (NIV)

Love isn’t just a feeling it is action. Love is a verb. Look at the list of actions on the back of this sheet. They are each actions that require you to get out of your comfort zone and reach out in love.

Spend some time in prayer asking God to show you how He is asking you to reach out in love.

Take one of the cards from the table and write down the love actions that God is calling you to do. Then take this card home and put in somewhere that you will see it everyday as a reminder of your commitment to love.

The Actions:

I will spend time with someone who needs a friend

I will spend time with someone in this youth group who I don’t know very well.

I will stop gossip when I hear it, and I will not pass it on to others.

When I see someone getting picked on I will step in and defend him/her

I will do something nice for my parents

I will share the truth about Jesus with my friends.

I will remember that my life is a picture of the gospel for others and I will live a life that points others to God.

I will choose to stay away from places and situations that can ruin my testimony to others

I will take an interest in how God’s love is being shared around the world.