through His Word
A Bible Study Devotion from Faith, Courage, and Victory
by Katy Kauffman
Reverend Phil seemed seven feet tall to me when I was a child. He could have been a captain at sea or a firefighter or a police chief, but he was a pastor. One Sunday night, his deep voice caught my attention as he unfolded the story of a wild and violent man whose encounter with Jesus changed everything.
A demon-possessed man roamed the tomb-filled hills of the Gadarenes. Everyone feared him, and no one could tame him. They managed to shackle him, but he broke the chains. Then Jesus came to the area—the one Man who could unshackle his heart. When the man saw Jesus, he knew who He was, and he was afraid of Him. He said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me” (Mark 5:7). Jesus didn’t hurt him; He helped him. The man had many demons in him, and Jesus sent them all out of the man into a nearby herd of pigs. The pigs “ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned” (Mark 5:13 NKJV).
When the people of the area came out to see what had happened, the man who had been demon-possessed was sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. That made the people afraid. Those who had been there told the people what happened to the pigs. The people of the area wanted Jesus to leave. Reverend Phil’s characterization of their attitude toward Jesus, was memorable. It was as if they said to Him, “We don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as You leave here.” The healed man’s reaction was just the opposite: “I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You.”
Does your heart want to stay with Jesus, no matter what? Has He worked in your life in such a way that you have come to love and admire Him? Are you mindful of the debt that He paid on Calvary for everyone who will believe in Him, and your heart is grateful? Have you come to trust Him so that you could say with the healed man, I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You?
Scripture gives us a beautiful story of a woman who wanted to stay with someone. The woman was Ruth, and she wanted to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, even when Ruth’s husband had died. Ruth had no idea that she would marry Boaz and become the great-grandmother of the greatest king of Israel, King David, and an ancestor of the Messiah, the King of Kings.
She only knew that she loved her mother-in-law, and wanted to go with her when Naomi made plans to leave Moab and go back to Judah. Naomi, Ruth, and Naomi’s other daughter-in-law, Orpah, had all become widows, and Naomi wanted to go home. So she said good-bye.
Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law." But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me." When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her. (Ruth 1:14-18 NKJV)
Have you ever loved someone so much that you felt this way about him or her? Have you ever loved God so much, that you said something like this to Him? Wherever You go, I will go. Wherever You stay, I will stay. I am Yours, and You are mine. I will not let go.
Naomi was leaving Moab, Ruth’s homeland. To go with Naomi would mean for Ruth a new country, a new people, a new way of life. But Ruth loved her, and wanted to stay with her, wherever she went. Her “stubborn” courage was fueled by love.
Are we willing to give up anything and everything for God? Are we willing to leave behind all of the things that distract us from following Him closely? Are we willing to leave behind our old ways of thinking, feeling, and acting and follow God to a new way of life? The more we know Him, the more certain we will become that we can trust His heart and rest in His goodness and wisdom. We will find that God satisfies our souls and gives us good things. He is a Father who loves us and a Best Friend who shares all of life’s adventures with us. When we choose to say yes to God, we gain a life of love and fellowship, strength and victory, wisdom and usefulness. When we leave behind the ways of sin and commit ourselves to following God, He enriches us with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3).
When Naomi said farewell, Orpah kissed her, but Ruth clung to her. Ruth was ready for a different way of life because she loved the one who was going to lead her into it. Deuteronomy Chapter 30 tells us that God wants us to love Him, cling to Him, and walk in His ways (Deut 30:16, 19-20). He wants to lead us into a new way of life. So our principle is:
In your life of faith, love God, cling to Him, and walk in His ways. (Ruth 1:16-17)
How can we cling to God if we can’t physically see Him or touch Him? By spending time with Him studying His Word and talking with Him. We then learn how He thinks and acts. We gain encouragement and know what promises to count on when we face battles and trials. We can cling to God by depending on Him throughout the day, asking Him for help and living out the truths we’ve studied. We cling to God when we run to Him and choose faith instead of fear, peace instead of anger, and love instead of selfishness. We cling to God by holding onto what we know of Him and not giving up, even when we don’t know how things will turn out. We cling to God by living the life that He is leading us into. It’s the kind of life in which our conviction grows ever stronger: “I want to stay with You.”
1. How powerful do you think love is? How strongly does love influence what we do?
2. Do you think it’s true that we build our lives around what we love?
3. How does love strengthen our faithfulness to a person or commitment?
4. What enemies of love would weaken our resolve to follow God and cling to Him?
5. How does love silence each of the enemies you named?
Dear God, I choose You for my life. I choose to love You, draw close to You, learn Your ways, and walk in them. I realize more and more that Your ways are best and that Your heart is good, perfectly good. My heart wants to stay with You, forever. I love You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
*Author’s Note: This Bible study devotion is an adapted excerpt from Faith, Courage, and Victory: The Stories, Struggles, and Triumphs of 24 Characters of the Bible (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2015), pages 45-50. All rights reserved.
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Thank you for letting me share these “victory” excerpts with you. This Bible study devotion came from Faith, Courage, and Victory: The Stories, Struggles, and Triumphs of 24 Characters of the Bible, which was the 2016 Selah Award winner for Bible studies. It is available as a paperback through our website, and you can also check it out on Amazon.
victory, faith, closeness to God, loneliness, relationships, knowing God, I Want to Stay with You, Courage, and Victory, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies
Stay close to God. He is our forever home.