Today let us consider the story of Ruth and her loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi.

Scripture tells us that Naomi, her husband Elimelek and their two sons left their home and went to live in Moab as a result of a famine in Bethlehem. Then we are told that Elimelek died and the sons married two Moabite women called Ruth and Orpah. When ten years had passed the two sons died leaving all three women widowed.

When Naomi heard that the famine was over, and that the Lord had provided food in Bethlehem, she decided to return home. Both of her daughter in-laws decided to go with Naomi but while they were travelling to Bethlehem she tried to persuade them to return to Moab and find new husbands for themselves.

Orpah eventually agreed to return to Moab but Ruth refused to.

'Look,' said Naomi, 'your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.'

But Ruth replied, 'Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.' When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. Ruth would go on to marry a man called Boaz and they had a child called Obed who is the grandfather of King David.

Let's now, as we watch the ice and snow melt today, consider some of the words of Job, a man of great faith and who was found to be blameless and upright in the eyes of the Lord. As many of you may know Job was greatly afflicted by Satan who had been permitted to test his faith in God, but who was not permitted to take his life. During his trials Job said:

People who fail to be loyal to their friends have also failed to respect God Almighty. But I cannot depend on you, my brothers. You are like a stream that has no water when the weather is dry but is flooded when the rains come. In the winter, it is choked with ice and melting snow. But when the weather is hot and dry, the water stops flowing, and the stream disappears.

You may or may not be able bring to mind people in your life that are loyal and kind, like Ruth was to Naomi, and perhaps there are some like the people Job was referring to who are undependable or inconsistent. But the question we maybe should ask ourselves today is which of these are we like?

(Job 6 v 14-17 as well as Ruth chapters 1 and 4)

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