Join a Garlands of Grace Bible study. For more information about studies in your area, please contact the National Office at 423.237.3623 or go to the Conversations in the Word page.
Come, be a Garland Girl and learn to lead by learning to know the God you serve. Women of all faiths, nationalities and ages are invited.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
by Teri Pizza
THE SOWER AND THE SEED: 4 TYPES OF LISTENERS
by Dr. Caroline Leaf
A GOOD REASON TO BE FRIENDS
by Beth Henderson
Streams in the Desert
by Lettie B. Cowman
by Mark Batterson
Before It is Too Late
by Robert J. Morgan
. . .
GOD MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE
by Audrey C.-S.. (New Jersey)
by Dr. Jerry L. Spencer
FAITH THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
by Linda Pollak
For more information, go to the Pastors' Coalition page.
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS
FOR A STRONG MARRIAGE
by Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
by Jo Harris
Garlands of Grace is trademarked. We are not affiliated with other organizations who have taken the name.
Autumn is now in the past and our season of celebration begins so very soon - sometimes sooner than we are ready for - but nonetheless it will come. We rush around shopping, decorating, cleaning, cooking, and wrapping gifts when all we yearn for is some peace.
SEVIER COUNTY, TENNESSEE
On April 7, 2016, Robert J. Morgan will be the Keynote Speaker for the Sevier County National Day of Prayer Luncheon. Save the date and plan to attend.
SHOP FOR A GREAT CAUSE!
Fabulous gift ideas at reasonable prices, on the Living with Panache page!
TURNING NEGATIVES INTO POSITIVES
by Tyler Edwards
YOUR ETERNAL LIFE
Would you like to spend eternity in God's presence?
For links to these events,
FEBRUARY 12-13, 2016
FEBRUARY 19-20, 2016
Do you enjoy a good love story? How about one filled with suspense, danger, destitution, death, unwavering devotion, international intrigue, and “love at first sight?” February is known as the month of love, so it’s appropriate that we look at the book of Ruth, which is one of history’s best known love stories. It is a tender story of tragedy and triumph.
We are introduced first to a Jewish gentleman named Elimelech. Bethlehem of Judea is experiencing a horrific famine, and this poor man is forced to move his family to the country of Moab. His new venture was, however, short-lived. Elimelech died. His wife, Naomi, was left with her two sons. Both boys married local Moabite girls, but soon both young men passed away.
Imagine how Naomi must have felt. She was all alone in a foreign country with two young widowed daughters-in-law. It must have been devastating as she was overtaken by one tragedy after another. But God, had a plan. We often experience dark and depressing life situations. We must always remember that behind the dark clouds there is a silver lining. We must remember that “ . . . all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28b)
It is easy to understand why Naomi decided to return to her homeland. She encouraged her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab and to resume the life that they knew prior to their marriages to her sons. One daughter, Orpha, chose to stay. The other daughter, Ruth, was determined to follow Naomi back to Bethlehem. Her declaration of devotion was made with some of the most passionate words ever recorded.
And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God;
where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.
I cringe when I think of the challenges facing two women walking cross country alone. It must have taken them from seven to ten long exhausting days to reach Bethlehem. Upon their safe arrival the townspeople began recognizing Naomi. They asked excitedly “Are you Naomi?” She told them she was indeed Naomi, but she asked them to call her Mara (bitter) because, “since leaving here God has chosen for me one bitter experience after another.”
But something positive must have happened in Naomi’s heart. In faith she decided to allow her experiences to make her better and not bitter. It is amazing to witness the wise advice she gives Ruth. God had definitely motivated her to turn positive and to trust God to lift the two of them out of their destitute situation. Yep! God had a plan.
I am confident that almighty God was intimately involved in the things that had happened and the things that were about to take place. You see, the redemption of all mankind was at stake. This is a bold statement, but you’ll see that it is true.
Elimelech had owned property in Bethlehem. It was inherited from his forefathers who had received it as a land grant from Joshua when the children of Israel came in to the Promised Land. He had evidently forfeited this land during the famine. Jewish law allowed for the rightful heirs to reclaim lost property through what was known as a kinsman redeemer. Naomi informs Ruth that she knows a wealthy man named Boaz who could be their kinsman redeemer.
Naomi instructs Ruth to go to Boaz’s grain field and take full advantage of gleaning laws. The owners could make only one pass through the field and all the grain that remained on the stalk and on the ground was available to the widows and the destitute. While Ruth was gathering grain, Boaz came by and noticed her. Her name, Ruth, means “a vision of beauty.” I think when Boaz saw this dark-eyed stranger he must have remarked to himself, “she reminds me of my mother.”
Boaz’s mother, Rahab, was from Jericho and Moab is very close by. I think that Rahab and Ruth must have looked a lot alike. When Boaz saw Ruth it was surely, “love at first sight.” He began to show Ruth favoritism. He instructed workers to purposefully leave handfuls of grain for her and invited her to dine with him. Love was in the air. When Naomi learned of the generosity of Boaz she set into motion a plan conceived by God.
I envision Boaz with love songs running through his mind: You’re So Beautiful To Me, Don’t You Know That I’ve Fallen In Love With You, You’ve Got Me Under Your Spell. Naomi knew that something wonderful was developing.
Following the instructions of her insightful mother-in-law, Ruth went one night to the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping and laid down at his feet, which she uncovered. During the night Boaz awakens and cries out “Who are you?” She answers, “I am Ruth, spread therefore thy garment over thy handmaiden; for thou art a near kinsman.” Let me paraphrase his reply, “Praise God!!! You’re interest in me has grown. You have chosen me over all of the young men. You are a virtuous woman. Fear not, I will do all that is required.” AND HE DID. “... and Ruth, did I ever tell you, YOU REMIND ME OF MY MOTHER.”
Boaz took all of the steps necessary to redeem the family inheritance, AND HE MARRIED RUTH. God’s purpose was being fulfilled. They had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David. Through the lineage of David Jesus Christ was born. JESUS BECAME OUR KINSMAN REDEEMER. The love relationship between Boaz and Ruth was a vital link in God’s eternal plan of redemption.
Pray hard this year when your children are exchanging valentines or gifting someone special with a box of chocolates. You never know ... God may be instigating love relationships that could impact the world.
~ About the Author
Dr. Jerry L. Spencer, a former high school and college athlete, attended Union University for 3 years and graduated from University of Tennessee (MB) in 1964.
He attended Southwestern Baptist Theolgical Seminary in Ft Worth, TX and has been awarded a number of honorary degrees including a doctorate from Liberty University. He has been actively involved in his denomination - Southern Baptist. He served on their Executive Committee for 9 years and served as SBC Vice President. He also served as president of both the SBC Pastor's Conference and SBC Conference of Evangelist. He has been privileged to preach in many outstanding churches . . . He has preached in over 100 Area Crusades in the US and in over 50 Countries. He just made his 50th trip to India. Additional information is available on his website: jerryspencer.org.
Peace only comes from knowing the Lord. Among the excitement this Christmas, be sure to take a pause in the chaos to celebrate the birth of Jesus. That is the gift we should be celebrating all year. Jesus is our Prince of Peace.
In January, we celebrate the new year, 2016! We are grateful to start a clean sheet of "life pages" which we fill each day with our blessings and prayers.
February brings us Valentine's Day when we once again celebrate love - which all began in December. It seems so joyful that we end our Winter Edition with love.
How wonderful is our God? He truly knows how to keep us celebrating!