Secret Power to Faith, Family, and Getting a Guy: A Personal Bible Study on the Book of Ruth

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Looking for love?

Ever have these thoughts?
'Does God really want to help me get a guy? It's hard to believe that God cares about what guy I like. And sometimes it's hard to tell that he cares about my family life. Things aren't always as great as I want them to be.'

Ruth, an amazing woman from the Bible, knows about disappointment. She lived a life filled with loss, poverty,...

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Overview

Looking for love?

Ever have these thoughts?
'Does God really want to help me get a guy? It's hard to believe that God cares about what guy I like. And sometimes it's hard to tell that he cares about my family life. Things aren't always as great as I want them to be.'

Ruth, an amazing woman from the Bible, knows about disappointment. She lived a life filled with loss, poverty, and pain. But she leaned on God and found that he could provide her with the love of her life and fill her heart with joy.

If you've ever felt left out or hopeless—or if you're looking for love—have faith! This Bible study on the book of Ruth will help. But don't worry; it's not like studying at school. You can do as much or as little at a time as you want, and you can do the study with a friend or a whole group of friends.

Secret Power to Faith, Family, and Getting a Guy will introduce you to a real Cinderella story—as Ruth leaves behind her life of sadness for a world of delight. You'll learn how to apply the lessons Ruth learned in her life to find goodness in every area of your life—your family, your friends, and even that guy you really like.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310256779
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Series: Invert Series
  • Pages: 126
  • Age range: 13 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Susie Shellenberger travels as a fulltime speaker forty weeks or weekends every year. She has written fifty-two books, and lives in Bethany, Oklahoma with her two mini Schnauzers Obie and Amos. Susie is a former youth pastor, high school teacher, and editor. She loves Sharpies in every color, burnt hotdogs, and praying at OKC Thunder basketball games.

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Read an Excerpt

Secret Power to Faith, Family, and Getting the Guy

A Personal Bible Study on the Book of Ruth
By Susie Shellenberger

Zondervan

Copyright © 2006 Youth Specialties
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-25677-1


Chapter One

RUTH 1:1-22

A Move, Two Weddings, Three Funerals, & Another Move

RUTH

Where is it? Ruth is the eighth book in the Old Testament. You can find it between Judges and 1 Samuel. It's a tiny book with only 85 verses, but it's packed with a powerful message that ministers to everyone who feels left out, hopeless, or looking for love.

Who wrote it? Lots of people think Samuel wrote it, but there are hints that Ruth was written after Samuel died. So we're not actually sure who the author is.

To whom is this letter written? It was specifically written to the people of Israel. But we can also say it was written to us because everything in the Bible is relevant forever.

The scene: This book was written during a dark and evil time in the history of Israel. Most people didn't care about pleasing God; they were only interested in themselves. Sound like today's news?

Sounds kindalike: a Cinderella story. One of the main characters-Ruth-goes from poverty to great wealth, from great sadness as a widow to great delight as the wife of an incredibly wonderful man.

BITE #1

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. (Ruth 1:1)

Israel had no kings at this point in its history. Judges ruled the nation. Before we go any further with this verse, let's take a step backward to the book in the Old Testament before Ruth. That book is Judges. It ends with some of the most horrific scenes in the Bible. Why? Because people were only interested in themselves.

Let's take a look at Judges 17:6: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."

What's the problem with doing whatever we want?

You can imagine the chaotic conditions that permeated Israel during a time of everyone doing his or her own thing! Some Bible commentators have called the last few chapters of Judges "the sewage of Scripture." Th is section of the Bible contains physical mutilation, rape, murder, and other horrendous acts.

But interestingly, immediately following the book of Judges, we find the book of Ruth-filled with hope and promise. What a stark contrast to what Israel had been experiencing. As Christians we need to remember that even in the darkest days, God can provide hope and healing healing.

Describe a time when you were in the midst of dark days yet experienced God's hope, healing, and promise.

The man's name was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. (Ruth 1:2)

We're told this family is Ephrathite. Ephrath is a word often linked with Bethlehem. Places where Ephrath is used throughout the Bible suggest there was an importance, or a special dignity, to being an Ephrathite. Because it's used to describe this particular family, they may have been a well-established family. Perhaps the family was wealthy or held prestige among their neighbors.

This verse also talks about a move. Have you ever moved to a new city?

_______ Yes _______ No

If so, what was the most difficult part of your transition?

Think about the transition you experience when you begin a new school year. You enter new classes and encounter new subjects. What's the toughest part of this transition?

BITE #2

Let's think about the Ephrathites' move for a moment-where they're from and where they're going. They're living in the country of Judah, in the city of Bethlehem. Bethlehem means "house of bread," and it's the city where Jesus would be born centuries later.

Choose the letter that best describes the connection between Jesus and "house of bread."

_______ a. Bethlehem is the "house of bread," and Jesus lived on bread alone.

_______ b. Jesus ate only bread for the first five years of his life.

_______ c. Bethlehem is the "house of bread," and Jesus is the Bread of Life.

_______ d. Jesus ate a lot of raisin bread.

Judah means "praise." So this family is living in the city of bread in the midst of praise praise. Sounds like a great place! And we can assume the family described in Ruth 1:2 is happy. Take a look at their names and what their names mean:

Elimelech: "God is my King."

Naomi: "Pleasant."

How does your name describe you you?

Why would a happy family choose to leave such a great place and journey to Moab?

They left Bethlehem, Judah, when a famine hit the land. But how could a famine hit such a wonderful place, you may be thinking, a place filled with praise for God?

Let's take a quick peek at 2 Chronicles 7:19-20.

But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name.

In this passage we learn that if people turn away from God,

_________ a. God may take the Israelites' land away or force them to move.

_________ b. God probably won't notice.

_________ c. They'll never eat bread again.

_________ d. They'll only have bread to eat the rest of their lives.

List the two things God warns the people not to do in the above passage.

1.

2.

What does it mean to serve other gods?

List some idols that Christians often let slip into their lives.

Let's also look at 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

There are four things listed in the above verse that we must do to draw near to God when we have backslidden or walked away from God. What are they?

1.

2. 3.

4.

And what is the promise when we come back to God?

BITE #3

Back to the story in Ruth. Evidently people in the city of bread and the place of praise are turning away from God. It may have been in subtle ways at first, but there is a turning away from God. The result?

_____ a. No more popcorn.

_____ b. Schools closed.

_____ c. Shopping malls went under.

_____ d. Famine.

Whenever we turn away from God, we can always expect a famine-dry times. We can expect to experience a famine when God doesn't have the proper place in our lives. But there is more than one kind of famine.

Check out Amos 8:11: "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign Lord, "when I will send a famine through the land-not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord."

Can you relate to this kind of famine? Identify a time in your life when you felt like you weren't hearing from God-a time when God felt distant.

All of us will experience times of spiritual famine. The issue becomes: What will you do when spiritually dry times hit? We learn from 2 Chronicles that the cure for famine is to wait where you are and call on God. This is where many people jump the gun. Instead of humbling themselves, calling on God, and waiting for God's response and direction, they immediately seek a fast-food buffet of spiritual excitement.

They become church hoppers, or they float from one set of friends to another, or they read a variety of spiritual books-when they should simply keep reading the Bible, continue calling on God for help, and wait for God's guidance.

Instead of waiting out the famine, Elimelech and his family move to Moab. Grab your Bible and flip to Psalm 108:9. How is Moab described?

Think about this picture: A godly family leaves the city of bread and the place of praise and moves to a garbage dump, a washbasin. What other Bible story reminds you of this?

________ a. Jesus heals a blind man.

________ b. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

________ c. The prodigal son leaves a wonderful home and eats with pigs in a pigpen.

________ d. Jesus heals a deaf man.

You might consider this the story of a prodigal family. When famine hits their land, they leave. Perhaps they get scared and let fear rule their decisions instead of faith. This is only one of 13 famines mentioned in the Bible. Each time there's a famine in the Bible, it's presented as a judgment from God.

Elimelech and his family should trust God to take care of them. They should wait out the famine, continually humbling themselves before the Lord. But instead they flee to the land of Moab.

Identify a time when you should have trusted God, but instead you became impatient or frightened and acted on your own without waiting on God.

BITE #4

Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. (Ruth 1:3)

Have you ever lost a loved one through death? If yes, describe who died, how it happened, and the hurt you experienced. If not, describe the hurt you felt when someone close to you moved away or left.

Let's keep reading and find out what the sons do after their father dies.

They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. (Ruth 1:4)

When Naomi's sons marry Moabite women, they immediately break the Mosaic law-the Old Testament law. They are intermingling with a foreign people, and God had warned them against doing so (Numbers 36).

Look at the downhill progression of this family. It starts with impatience and unwillingness to humble themselves and to seek and wait on the Lord. Then they move against God's will to a place exactly the opposite of being in the city of bread and the house of praise. They move to an ungodly environment and set up home.

Remember what Elimelech's name means?

_____ a. Chocolate cake lover.

_____ b. God is my King.

_____ c. Marathon runner.

_____ d. God scares me.

It's extremely tough to live out "God is my King" in an ungodly environment where we can't surround ourselves with godly people and enter into God's house of praise. Elimelech has moved his family to the garbage dump of cities.

Life has become extremely difficult; Elimelech dies. And probably because he has taken his sons away from the house of praise, God's laws aren't as important to them anymore. They aren't connected with other believers. Their morals have slipped, and they break the Old Testament law by compromising and marrying women who worship foreign gods.

What does it mean to compromise?

Describe a time in your life when you compromised.

What were the consequences?

What things tempt us to compromise our relationship with Christ? Circle all that apply and list others that come to your mind.

Sometimes we're tempted to think we can hide our compromises from God. But the Bible tells us God sees and knows everything. Grab your Bible and turn to Hebrews 4:13 and paraphrase (rewrite) this passage in your own words:

Write a prayer in the space below telling God you don't want to compromise. Ask God to help you stand firm during tough times and not give in to the temptation to compromise.

BITE #5

After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:4-5)

Ten years pass. Naomi may feel as though she's lost everything. If we don't keep God in the priority position in our lives, when tough times come, it's easy to feel as if we've lost everything. It's easy to get discouraged. Naomi still has her faith in God; she simply needs to activate it and recharge her relationship with God.

When you realize you're not where you should be spiritually, what should you do to recharge your relationship with Christ? (There are actually four things you should do, and you can get the answers from recapping 2 Chronicles 7:14, Bite #2.)

1.

2.

3.

4.

When she heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. (Ruth 1:6)

The famine has ended in Bethlehem. The city of bread is filled with praise once again, and Naomi wants to return where she knows she should have been all along-in the city of Bethlehem in the country of Judah.

Mark your three favorite bread items:

_______ wheat bread _______ cinnamon bread _______ white bread _______ gingerbread _______ sourdough bread _______ rye bread _______ raisin bread _______ French bread _______ bread pudding _______ garlic bread _______ homemade bread _______ multigrain bread

Naomi remembers what life had been like in the city of bread and the house of praise. No doubt she has kept those memories alive in her mind and often turned to them during times of grief and depression.

It's important to remember where we've come from. Check out Deuteronomy 5:15. What does Moses instruct the children of Israel to do?

Now flip over to Deuteronomy 8:2. What does Moses instruct the children of Israel to do?

Now turn back to Exodus 13:3. What is Moses asking the people to remember?

Take a moment to remember your life before you met Christ and sought forgiveness for your sins. What's the biggest difference in your life now versus then?

BITE #6

With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. (Ruth 1:7)

Naomi is headed home. We can only imagine the excitement and peace she feels as she pursues the road that will lead her to where she knows God wants her to be.

Think of a time when you were away from home for a while. Perhaps it was camp, a mission trip, or a visit to relatives. How did it feel when you finally got back-to your home?

What three things do you miss most when you're away from your home?

1.

2.

3.

Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband." (Ruth 1:8-9)

Naomi isn't bitter. No doubt she has grieved the death of her husband and her two sons, but it's clear that she wants the best for her two daughters-in-law.

Then she kissed them and they wept aloud and said to her, "We will go back with you to your people." (Ruth 1:9-10) The above verse indicates they have been a close family. How would you describe your family?

But Naomi said, "Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me-even if I had a husband tonight and gave birth to sons-would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord's hand has gone out against me!" (Ruth 1:11-13)

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Secret Power to Faith, Family, and Getting the Guy by Susie Shellenberger Copyright © 2006 by Youth Specialties. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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