Study 3: Working with God

It isn’t always easy to see how God’s plans are unfolding. 

big storyThat’s particularly true when things don’t appear to be working out as we expect. Instead of the anticipated blessing and growth, we’re experiencing hardship and difficulty and the light at the end of tunnel seems permanently switched off.

God’s promises of “I can” and “I will” (see Jeremiah 29: 4 – 14) may seem hollow at times like this particularly when we’ve become accustomed to fast fixes and quick results in other areas of life. It’s important to remember that God doesn’t work to our timescale nor will He necessarily work in the way we expect.

To think about
  1. What have we learned from the story so far?
  2. How might we encourage those people struggling with a famine or celebrating a feast in their Christian discipleship?
 The story so far

Naomi and Ruth are now back in Bethlehem where Ruth, the resourceful young widow has ensured that they have enough food to survive.

Did you notice that one short phrase in chapter 2 verse 3 “ it turned out”? The way things turned out for Ruth was that she was about to meet the man who would later ... (more about that next week). The next few verses take their relationship on a bit further as God works his purposes out through them. It may look like coincidence or accident but it is all part of God’s plan.

Our story
  1. What coincidences have you seen in your life?
  2. Looking back, how does the benefit of experience put those events into perspective?
  3. Why might our lives turn out very different from what we expect?

Reading together – please read Ruth 2:14 to 3:13

 Studying together
  1. What is the chapter about? What does it tell us about God?
  2. What disturbs you about this story? Why is that?
  3. List the reactions of the key characters to each other. What does this tell us about them?
  4. How does your response when your faith has been tested differ from Naomi's (verse 20)?
  5. Marriage practices then were very different from our experience today. Boaz would have understood from Ruth's words (verse 9) that she was asking for marriage as well as physical protection. How far do you think that Naomi and/or Ruth are trying to run ahead of God's plans here – or, are they simply responding to the situation that God puts them in?
  6. We've all made decisions that are important: relationships, home or employment. What or who helped you to make the right or the wrong decision? How have you learned from this?
  7. How can we make prayer/seeking God more of natural part of our plans rather than an added extra?
Praying together

Let's use what we have been studying and learning together to prompt our prayers.

God has a plan for us, but we need to ask Him to show us what it is and then to act on his guidance. It might mean doing something we've not considered before, but we need to be open to what God wants to say to us, what He wants to do to us and what He wants us to do.

God can speak to us all but are we quiet enough for long enough to listen to and for his voice?

This week: Please read Ruth 3:14 to 4:12 in readiness for the next study