“So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” Ruth 1:19-21
Think of the questions that passed through Naomi’s mind as she and Ruth traveled to Bethlehem. Would her home still be there? Would her family and friends welcome her back or would they reprove her for leaving in the first place? Would they accept Ruth as part of their community?
She had nothing to fear as they greeted her with open arms, happy to see her returning, and grieving with her over her losses. She and Ruth found a place to live and started a new life. What lesson can we learn from the people of Bethlehem?
Our church Prayer Group has been praying for prodigals to return to the Lord. As we look at what is happening in our world today, we can be sure that the coming of the Lord is close. We all have loved ones that are not serving the Lord and our desire is to see them restored to Him, ready for His appearing.
By faith, we are going to see people, young and old, coming back to our churches, repenting of their sins, and desiring to begin their spiritual life anew. How will we accept them? Will we open our arms of love and grace to them, welcoming them back into the fold? Will we forgive their past as the Lord has forgiven them? Will we pray for and with them and encourage them in their walk with God?
One of the reasons people who have walked away from the Lord are hesitant about starting over again, is how they will be received by the church. We need to welcome them back without any questions, forgetting their past, and doing everything we can to encourage them and help them draw close to the Lord.
Prayer: Jesus, we thank you that you are moving in the hearts of prodigals, and you are going to restore the wasted years, and bring them back into the fold. Help each one of us to be a support and a blessing to them.
Devotion by Anne Johnston