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4 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

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This book begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding! It opens with famine and closes with fullness! Ruth's love for her mother-in-law and her willingness to obey the Word brought her into joy and blessing.  The decision she made in Chapter 1 determined her future.  Had she gone back to her heathen way of life, she would have been heard of no more.  Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament (Ru 4). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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We like to say, nothing happens by chance.  But clearly in this Book of Ruth we can see a theology of chance threaded throughout the writing.  By chance Ruth comes to the field of Boaz (2:3). There she receives the blessing of grain through the faithfulness of Boaz. By chance Boaz lies down at the end of the heap of grain (3:7). By chance Mr. So-and-So appears at the city gate (4:1) so that Boaz can faithfully settle the issue of redemption to effect blessing upon the widows. Within human luck, then lies divine intentionality.  A faithful God blesses through a faithful people. (David N. Freedman, 1922, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, V. 5)

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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 divine goal for each of His children. (Wiersbe, W. W. 1993).

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This is the eight book in the OT, and eight is the number of new beginning.  The events in Ruth take place during the days of the Judges, but what a difference between these two book! Instead of violence and lawlessness, we see tenderness, love, and sacrifice.  It is good to know that there are still good people in bad days, and that God is at work in the "corners of the land" though violence may fill the news. (Wiersbe, W. W. 1993)

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There's been a transition in sports from social activism to social service since the apex of social protests in the sixties.  Today's athletes are discouraged from identifying with a progressive or unpopular cause, the way Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Wilma Rudolph, Althea Gibson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Oscar Robertson did in the 1960's  when the civil rights movement was seen a destructive and disruptive.  Their activism helped to bread down barriers and increase pay and open doors for others, including those who hadn't protested. Still, we must not forget that they were strongly discouraged from their activism and harshly rebuked by the powers that be.  (Dyson, Michael Eric, Tears We Cannot Stop- A Sermon to White America, St. Martin Press, New York, NY (2017, Pp. 121, 122))

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To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communication with Him, always leaning on Him, resting Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our chief Fountain of life and strength, as our chief companion and best friend.  To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior. (J. C. Ryle)

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A transition is the in-between period of life development of a Christ follower. In a transition, individuals consolidate past learning, process issues of character, deepen convictions and values, and are prepared for the next phase of their development.  Transitions bring closure to the past in order to move forward to the next stage of personal development.  (Walling, Terry B.: Stuck! Navigating the Transitions of Life and Leadership, Church Smart Resources, (2008, p. 8)

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As you seek direction for your life, remember that true wisdom is in keeping with God's priorities, whether it comes from your inner voice or from those around you. (Burton, Valorie; What's Really Holding You Back, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO (2005, p. 153))

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Dr. Wayne Cordeiro tells a story in his book, Dream Releasers: Over the years I have closely watched several world-class tennis players, as well as many Olympic figure skaters. In nearly every case, I have seen a common practice: they always travel with a coach. ...A Dream Releaser is a kind of coach.  Coaches can make the difference between winning and losing.  Often, the greatest ideas, the most monumental thoughts and the most creative answers lay suffocating beneath the rubble of mistakes, character flaw, the fear of failure, a history of rejection, the fear of accountability or personality quirks.  These are dream killers. (2002, p. 98)

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