Bitter or Better


Ruth 1:19-22; Week 4
Day 1:
Invite the Lord to illuminate your heart…..

Ruth 1:19-22
Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “ Is this Naomi?”
But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter- in- law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Chapter 1 ends as it began with names mentioned repeatedly. Why do you think that is?

Naomi’s name is cited most, four times. By whom?

Did you notice that even though she insists on the name Mara, which means “bitter”, the Author does not call her by that name? With other name changes in the Bible (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, etc.), the new names are used after being introduced. Why is this different?

In pain, have you chosen names for yourself, officially or “just” in your thoughts?

In Week 1 Day 2, you pondered what you would like your new name in eternity to say about you. Do you remember?

Jeremiah 1:5
“ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was ordained a prophet to the nations. Ask Him what qualities/ calling He wove into your design:

John 15:16
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. Your response:

Day 2:
Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.” ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick Invite His love to release your life wherever needed:

Ruth 1:20-21
But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” What comes to mind when you hear the word “bitter”?

Where did Naomi place responsibility for her bitterness?

Can you relate? How do you respond to pain?

Before we focus on the healing, let’s diagnose the danger of bitterness, so we are more motivated to uproot it. What characterizes bitter people you have encountered:

Acts 8:23
For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity. What does bitterness do:

Isaiah 38:17
Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
From this verse, what is God responsible for? Write whatever comes to mind:

No matter the state of your heart, He is on your side. Isaiah 1:18 “ Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Hebrews 12:14-15
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; Is He showing you someone to forgive or pursue peace with?

In light of all this, how can you pursue holiness today?

Isaiah 43:1-3
…“ Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Your response:

Day 3:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Isaiah 43:2-3

Tell Him where your heart is today:

Then focus on what He calls Himself.
For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…(Isaiah 43:3) “The Lord”: “יהוה yhwh: (the) self- Existent or Eternal”
Think of what is not eternal, not self-existent in your life:

How does it matter that the Eternal One, outside time, deadlines, and stress, is you Helper?

What does it mean to you that He is your God?

Holy One of Israel: קדושׁ” qados; or קדשׁ qadosh; from:sacred (ceremonially or morally); (as noun) God (by eminence), an angel, a saint, a sanctuary…”
As God is Holy, so Israel, so we, are called to be holy. This command shows up 163 times in the Bible. But what does it mean?

Some antonyms (opposite words) of holy are: abominable, common, cursed, impure, polluted, secular, wicked, worldly. Whatever the words represent is in direct opposition to God’s character. Based on this, how would you counsel Naomi? Ruth 1:20-21
But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Your counsel:

Twice, she called Him “the Almighty”, which means All-Powerful. Where do you need to know that He is All Powerful today?

Perhaps Naomi lost sight of His goodness. Whether or not we can grasp it, He never sets aside one quality to flex another. If any part of you wrestles with this, meditate on this Scripture, until you have peace: Isaiah 49:14-15
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Treasure these Words. They are life.

Day 4:
You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? Psalms 139:5-7
Tell Him what His presence means to you today:

Ruth 1:22
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter- in- law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Name three facts from this passage:
1.
2.
3.
Do you hear God cheering on Naomi here? Yes, she was bitter, yes, she had sought refuge away from His land, His people, and His ways in Moab, but she returned! Do you in any way need to return to Him, His people, or His ways?

If not, pray for someone still in Moab to return. Actually, do it anyway:

The name Naomi chose for herself in her bitterness, Mara, is the same word repeated three times in this passage: Exodus 15:23-27
Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.
There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.
The people complained against Moses, and Moses cried out to the Lord. What is the difference in their response?

To whom did the Lord show the tree that sweetened the water?

What did the Lord want them to know about Him?

What is He impressing on you now:

As He led them to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters~ so He is continually inviting you to camp in the oasis of His presence. Your response:

Day 5:
You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalms 16:11
Ask Him to show you the path of life today:

Back to the story of Ruth. Jewish tradition teaches that Elimelech and Naomi left during the famine, because they did not want to share their wealth while others became needy. In that case it makes sense for Naomi to declare, “I went out full..” (Ruth 1:21). From that perspective, how would you expect the city to respond to their return?

Ruth 1:19
Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “ Is this Naomi?” How did the city respond when they came to Bethlehem, “the House of Bread”?

John 6:35
And Jesus said to them, “ I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. What are you hungry or thirsty for today?

The joy over people returning to Him is perhaps the most important theme in the Bible. Luke 15 features three parables, all with that simple, life-giving point emphasized. The prodigal son story (verses 11-32) always grabs my heart, both because of the father’s unreserved embrace when his lost son returns, but also because the older son cannot rejoice. As Naomi could not rejoice. Do you identify with that in any way?

Whether you never left His way, like the older (bitter?) son or, like Naomi have wandered far from His path, meditate on this: Luke 15:7
I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety- nine just persons who need no repentance.
If any part of you resists that joy in heaven over you, take a deep breath and let is go:

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C. S. Lewis Ezekiel 16:6-8
“And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘ Live! ’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘ Live! ’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare.
“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God. Your response:


Leave a Reply