The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Ruth/Esther: Doing God's Will Whatever the Cost

The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Ruth/Esther: Doing God's Will Whatever the Cost

by Warren W. Wiersbe

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A practical Bible study based on Warren Wiersbe's astute commentary on the books of Ruth and Esther.

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A practical Bible study based on Warren Wiersbe's astute commentary on the books of Ruth and Esther.

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David C Cook
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The Wiersbe Bible Study Series
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Doing God's Will Whatever the Cost

By Warren W. Wiersbe

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2008 Warren W. Wiersbe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6573-4


Lesson 1

A Bad Decision

(RUTH 1)

Before you begin ...

Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

Read Ruth 1. This lesson references chapter 1 in Be Committed. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

"The efforts which we make to escape from our destiny only serve to lead us into it."

The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that in his book The Conduct of Life, and it's just as true today as when the book was published back in 1860. Because God gave us freedom of choice, we can ignore the will of God, argue with it, disobey it, even fight against it. But in the end, the will of God will prevail, because "He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth" (Dan. 4:35 NKJV).

Be Committed, page 17

1. What was your immediate reaction to this first chapter of Ruth? Were Naomi's complaints justifiable?

More to Consider: You'll notice throughout this book (and the Bible in general) that names carry great significance, and that a name change is not a matter of vanity or preference, but representative of a life change. However, in this case, though Naomi wanted people to call her Mara (which means "bitter"), she is referred to consistently afterward still as Naomi. Why doesn't the writer of Ruth refer to Naomi as Mara from here forward? What does this suggest about why some name changes "stick" and others don't?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Ruth 1 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here. What strikes you about this verse?

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

If we obey God's will, everything in life holds together; but if we disobey, everything starts to fall apart. Nowhere in the Bible is this truth better illustrated than in the experiences of Elimelech and his wife, Naomi.

Be Committed, page 17

3. Circle every attempt Naomi makes to send Ruth and Orpah away to their hometowns. Why do you think Naomi is so insistent about sending them away? Do you think her determination is prompted by her grief? Why or why not? Why does she finally relent? How might God be working in her life in this exchange?

From the Commentary

When trouble comes to our lives, we can do one of three things: endure it, escape it, or enlist it. If we only endure our trials, then trials become our master, and we have a tendency to become hard and bitter. If we try to escape our trials, then we will probably miss the purposes God wants to achieve in our lives. But if we learn to enlist our trials, they will become our servants instead of our masters and work for us; and God will work all things together for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).

Be Committed, page 19

4. Which response to trouble do you see most often in your life and the lives of those around you? Endurance? Escape? Enlistment? Why do you think that is? What does it look like to "enlist" trials? Can God also work through enduring trials? Escape attempts? How?

From Today's World

The story of Naomi and Ruth is one that ultimately proves to be an example of healthy relations between in-laws. However, popular media tends to portray the relationship between adult children and their in-laws in less than flattering ways. Consider the movies or television shows you've seen that depict adult children and their mothers-in-law.

5. Why do you think people tend to expect the worst from in-law relationships? What are the greatest challenges adult children face when considering their in-laws? If Naomi's story were played out in popular media, how might Ruth's character respond differently?

From the Commentary

How do you walk by faith? By claiming the promises of God and obeying the Word of God, in spite of what you see, how you feel, or what may happen. It means committing yourself to the Lord and relying wholly on Him to meet the need. When we live by faith, it glorifies God, witnesses to a lost world, and builds Christian character into our lives. God has ordained that "the righteous will live by his faith" (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38; 2 Cor. 5:7); and when we refuse to trust Him, we are calling God a liar and dishonoring Him.

Be Committed, page 19

6. In your own words, what does it mean to "walk by faith"? When Elimelech left because of famine, do you think that was an example of walking by faith or walking by sight? In what ways does Ruth exemplify "walking by faith"? Is it possible to walk by faith when your faith hasn't even been defined? Why or why not?

More to Consider: Look up the following verses Wiersbe references: Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38; 2 Cor. 5:7. In what ways do each of these illustrate how the righteous live by faith?

From the Commentary

God visited His faithful people in Bethlehem, but not His disobedient daughter in Moab. Naomi heard the report that the famine had ended, and when she heard the good news, she decided to return home. There is always "bread enough and to spare" when you are in the Father's will (Luke 15:17 KJV). How sad it is when people only hear about God's blessing, but never experience it, because they are not in the place where God can bless them....

Naomi's decision was right, but her motive was wrong. She was still interested primarily in food, not in fellowship with God. You don't hear her confessing her sins to God and asking Him to forgive her. She was returning to her land but not to her Lord.

Be Committed, pages 21–22

7. What are your reactions to what Wiersbe writes in the excerpt? What sins did Naomi need to confess to God? What are some similar situations you've witnessed in your own experience about good decisions based on wrong motives? How do you think God responds to these decisions?

From the Commentary

Naomi was trying to cover up, Orpah had given up, but Ruth was prepared to stand up! She refused to listen to her mother-in-law's pleas or follow her sister-in-law's bad example. Why? Because she had come to trust in the God of Israel (2:12). She had experienced trials and disappointments, but instead of blaming God, she had trusted Him and was not ashamed to confess her faith. In spite of the bad example of her disobedient in-laws, Ruth had come to know the true and living God, and she wanted to be with His people and dwell in His land.

Be Committed, page 24

8. Though their circumstances were very similar, Ruth and Naomi had very different responses to them. Why do you think this is true? How is this like the way Christians today respond differently to trials and disappointments? What does this say about the creative way in which God speaks to each of us through difficult times?

More to Consider: What sort of conversations do you think Naomi and Ruth had as they ventured back to Bethlehem from Moab? In what ways might Naomi's bitterness toward God have impacted their relationship?

From the Commentary

We can't control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them. That's what faith is all about, daring to believe that God is working everything for our good even when we don't feel like it or see it happening. "In everything give thanks" (1 Thess. 5:18) isn't always easy to obey, but obeying this command is the best antidote against a bitter and critical spirit. The Scottish preacher George H. Morrison said, "Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness, and is an insult cast in the face of God." Because Naomi was imprisoned by selfishness, she was bitter against God.

Be Committed, page 27

9. What are some examples of being "imprisoned by selfishness" you've known or seen? How does selfishness lead to bitterness? What are the steps that a person needs to take to turn away from bitterness and instead give thanks for difficult times? What obstacles do we face when attempting to give thanks for difficult times?

From the Commentary

Naomi thought that life had ended for her, but her trials were really a new beginning. Naomi's faith and hope were about to die, but God had other plans for her!

Naomi not only had life, but she also had opportunity. She was surrounded by friends, all of whom wanted the very best for her. At first, her sorrow and bitterness isolated her from the community, but gradually that changed. Instead of sitting and looking gloomily at a wall, she finally decided to look out the window, and then she got up and opened the door! When the night is the darkest, if we look up, we can still see the stars.

Be Committed, page 28

10. Think about times when you or a friend or family member has faced trials and then discovered later that those trials were really a new beginning. How did you or the other person respond initially to the trials? What changed to help you or the other person discover the "newness"? Naomi was surrounded by friends who wanted the best for her. What does this tell us about the importance of Christian community—especially in challenging times?

Looking Inward

Take a moment to reflect on all that you've explored thus far in this study of Ruth 1. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.

Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don't press for people to speak if they're uncomfortable doing so.

11. Whom do you most relate to in this chapter of Ruth: Ruth, Orpah, or Naomi? Why? What does this say about how you respond to challenging circumstances? Which person would you most like to relate to? What steps would you need to take to be more like her?

12. When have you felt bitter toward God? What prompted that feeling? What does it take to move from bitterness to joy?

13. As you consider the first chapter of Ruth, what thoughts do you have about your current relationship with God? If you are in a season of being distant from God, how can you move toward Him? If you are in a season of closeness, what brought you here?

Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you'd like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It's better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do so poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don't try).

Do you need to work on overcoming bitterness? Moving close to God in difficult circumstances? What does working on this look like in practical terms? Be specific. Go back through Ruth 1 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.

Real-Life Application Ideas: Consider a bad decision you've made recently, then write down what led you to make that decision. Next, write down some thoughts about what you've learned from that decision. Has it led you closer to God? Farther from God? What are some things you think God is telling you through this circumstance? How might those lessons impact the way you deal with this bad decision (or the consequences of that decision)?

Seeking Help

15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you've previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.

Notes for Small Groups:

Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the "Going Forward" section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you've read and studied.

Before you start the next lesson, read Ruth 2—3. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters 2 and 3, "The Greatest of These" and "The Midnight Meeting," in Be Committed.


Lesson 2

Love, Grace, and a New Day

(RUTH 2—3)

Before you begin ...

Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

Read Ruth 2—3. This lesson references chapters 2 and 3 in Be Committed. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

Before God changes our circumstances, He wants to change our hearts. If our circumstances change for the better, but we remain the same, then we will become worse. God's purpose in providence is not to make us comfortable, but to make us conformable, "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29). Christlike character is the divine goal for each of His children.

Be Committed, page 33

1. Respond to the Be Committed quote just presented. How does this speak to the content of Ruth 2—3?

More to Consider: Notice that Ruth is referred to as "Ruth the Moabitess" throughout the first few chapters of Ruth. But this changes after she marries Boaz, and she is then referred to only as Ruth. She is given a new identity that essentially redefines (if not "erases") her past. Describe how this is similar to what happens when someone becomes a believer in Christ.

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Ruth 2—3 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here. What strikes you about this verse?

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

To live by faith means to take God at His word and then act upon it, for "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20 NKJV). Since Ruth believed that God loved her and would provide for her, she set out to find a field in which she could glean. This was completely an act of faith because, being a stranger, she didn't know who owned the various parcels of ground that made up the fields. There were boundary markers for each parcel, but no fences or family name signs as seen on our farms today. Furthermore, as a woman and an outsider, she was especially vulnerable, and she had to be careful where she went.

It is here that Boaz enters the story (Ruth 2:1, 3), a relative of Elimelech who was "a man of standing" (NIV) in the community.

Be Committed, page 34

3. Sometimes events that play out in Scripture might look at first like "coincidence" rather than providence. How is Ruth's act of faith rewarded by God? Do we always get to see the result of our faith in such a vivid way? What does this Scripture passage teach us about faith?

From the Commentary

Naomi had hope because of who Boaz was;—a near kinsman who was wealthy and influential. As we shall see, a near kinsman could rescue relatives from poverty and give them a new beginning (Lev. 25:25–34). But she also had hope because of what Boaz did: He showed kindness to Ruth and took a personal interest in her situation. When Ruth shared with Naomi what Boaz had said, Naomi's hope grew even stronger because the words of Boaz revealed his love for Ruth and his desire to make her happy. That Boaz insisted on Ruth staying close to his servants and in his field was proof to Naomi that her husband's relative was making plans that included her and her daughter-in-law.

Should not we who believe in Jesus Christ rejoice in hope?

Be Committed, page 41

4. Circle or underline all the reasons Ruth had to hope after meeting Boaz. How did God build up her hope? How is this like the way God builds hope in the lives of His followers today? What are the greatest obstacles to seeing or feeling hope?


Excerpted from The Wiersbe BIBLE STUDY SERIES: RUTH/ESTHER by Warren W. Wiersbe. Copyright © 2008 Warren W. Wiersbe. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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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