What Should the Church look like?

When you hear the word, “church,” what do you think of?  How do you picture it?  We don’t “go to church.”  We are the church.  Why do we often associate the word “church” with a place and time…or a building?  Even though it is symbolized as a building, that is not what the church, “eklesia,” is.  In a study we did this week, we found that eklesia, the word Jesus uses when he talked about building His church, actually means “gathering.”  But it is more than that.  It is the body of Christ.  It is a group of believers gathered together in unity, to worship God, to lift each other up, to pray together, to meet each other’s need, to live life together, to go out and share the love of Christ to others.  One of the churches I was a part of had a simple mission statement:  To love God and to love others, pursue Christ’s character, serve the world.  To follow Christ and invite others to follow Him.  That is what church is all about.

So what should it look like?  What do you look for in a church?

These are my personal desires in a church.  First, small groups (not necessarily in a particular order).  Having a small group Bible study in a home each week is the most important to me.  That is where you get to really know others, where you can dig deep into the scriptures, where you can grow together.  Along with that, and most importantly is Biblical teaching.  Does the church follow the Bible and teach the truth without sugar-coating or avoiding certain scriptural truths?  Does it have sound Biblical teaching?  What is most important to a church, God’s truth or attendance or something else? Christ should be the foundation.  Then, is the church welcoming?  Are the people loving and friendly?  Of course, we must remember that they are human.  Expect flaws and imperfections.  People are people.  We all have issues.  What kind of ministries do they have and how can I get involved and serve?  Church is not just a service to attend.  We all have a part.  Then, it is a matter of personal preference.  music, style of preaching, etc.  I like contemporary Christian music.  I love to see musical talent (of which I have none), I love a good dynamic speaker.  But we shouldn’t get bogged down on some of these things.  We are there to worship God, not be entertained.

What do the scriptures say about what a church should be?  What is God’s desire in a church? Continue reading “What Should the Church look like?”

Ruth 4: The Redemption

The story of Ruth is a love story.  It is a love story of a man and a woman.  It is a love story of a mother and daughter-in-law, of friendship.  It is a love story of God and His people, God and us.  Ruth goes beyond a love story.  It describes the character of people.  It describes customs of ancient Israel.  It describes compassion.  It shows that no matter who we are, we are loved by God and can be used by God to bless others.  We also see some parallels of how Jesus redeems us.  Though we were sinners, enemies of God, aliens, God provided a way to redeem us.  Jesus is our Redeemer.  Continue reading “Ruth 4: The Redemption”

Ruth 3: Assurance of Redemption

As the story of Ruth continues, we see the parallels between Ruth’s and our own redemption.  We learn more about who she is and who Boaz is.  We begin to see the picture of a redeemer, of Boaz for Ruth, of Jesus Christ for all of us.

Ruth 3

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.”

And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.”

Naomi continues to teach Ruth about the customs of the land and encourages her.  Boaz is their relative, or in some translations, the word is “kinsmen-redeemer.”  It is a picture of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.  To be a kinsmen-redeemer, or ga’al in Hebrew, one must be family, and he must be willing able to redeem.  In ancient Israel, for one to accept this, he must be willing to marry the widow, to carry on his name and produce an heir, he would also buy back property the family sold and buy back a family member who had been sold to slavery due to poverty.  Jesus Christ, God’s Son, or, “Son of Man,” came to this earth for that very purpose.  He was willing to pay for our sins in full.  He was able because He is God and He is sinless.  Through His death and resurrection, we are redeemd by His blood, if we accept it.

feetSo she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.

Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, “Who are you?”

So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”

Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you — good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord  lives! Lie down until morning.”

Here, Boaz shows his integrity.  He follows the customs, he keeps her pure and keeps he reputation and virtuousness.  He is determined to make things right and in the morning he will talk to the other kinsmen and make arrangements for Ruth.  More on that in the next chapter.

Boaz also notes Ruth’s character.  She is an honorable woman of good reputation, virtuous.  She obeys her mother in law and shows her kindness by not going after a younger man but seeking that kinsmen-redeemer to take care of her and Naomi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Also he said, “Bring the shawl that is on you and hold it.” And when she held it, he measured six ephahs of barley, and laid it on her. Then she went into the city.

In a sense, Boaz gives Ruth a down-payment or guarantee.  God gave us a guarantee of our inheritance in Christ, His Holy Spirit:

Ephesians 1:13-14

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “Is that you, my daughter?”

Then she told her all that the man had done for her. And she said, “These six ephahs of barley he gave me; for he said to me, ‘Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.'”

praying in lightThen she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”

So, Ruth waits.  We wait.  One day Jesus Christ will come and take His people, His bride, home to live forever with Him.  Praise God for His mercy and grace, that He made the sacrifice for us, that He paid the price for us, that we are redeemed.  I pray that you put you trust in Jesus Christ that your soul will be in poverty no more, but rich in His glory.

Ruth 2: Showing Character

The second chapter of Ruth reveals the character of Ruth and of Boaz.  Ruth meets Boaz as she is gleaning wheat in his field during the harvest.  The culture in Israel allows the poor to go to fields and “glean,” or basically pick up the scraps in a field during the harvest.  A landowner is to leave the corners of the field so that the poor can come and collect grain for their family.  Also, anything that the harvesters drop is free for the poor to collect.  What a great welfare system! Continue reading “Ruth 2: Showing Character”

Ruth: A Story of Love and Redemption

There is so much in the story of Ruth about love, friendship, loyalty, integrity, redemption; it is an example of how God makes even the worst of circumstances for good, of His redeeming love for us, His plan of salvation, the character of Jesus Christ and the purpose of His ministry on this earth.  All this is contained in four chapters.  I hope that you will go on this journey with me in the next few blog posts as we dive into the book of Ruth.  Feel free to comment on what you have learned through this story.  May God bless you and teach you as you read through it. Continue reading “Ruth: A Story of Love and Redemption”