Sunday 30th August

Service Transcript & Video

God’s extraordinary purposes for very ordinary people.

                                                                Ruth chp4

I don’t know about YOU…  but I have really loved working our way through this little Book of Ruth…

 

One of the strongest impressions and lessons that I come away with  is this:

  1. In one sense this story of Ruth is the story of the ordinary

I mean these are very ordinary people… dealing with the ordinary struggles, heartaches, disappointments and challenges of everyday life….  just like you and me.

For Naomi… it’s the struggle of dealing with loss

Many of you know that struggle and many more will know it in the months to come as we hear of more and more redundancies and shop closures..

For Ruth it’s struggling to make enough each day working in the fields to have bread on the table and pay all the bills..

For both Ruth and  Naomi it’s the struggle to make some sense of the suffering and pain that they’ve come through in losing husbands and for Naomi both her precious sons.

It’s the struggle of trying to hold together the truth that .. on the one hand… GOD loves them and loves to hear and answer prayer… on the one hand… with the pain and suffering  and death of their loved ones on the other.

Q. How do you reconcile those two things…

Sometimes that’s a real struggle.

And do you know something else that’s remarkable in this Book..

There are NO miraculous, supernatural visitations from Heaven throughout the Book.

No prophetic messages or messengers to bring God’s Word into these broken lives

No glaringly obvious signs of GOD’s Presence or work in these ordinary lives…

BUT…

Quietly, imperceptibly you see God’s Providence and His Providential love and  care being worked out and worked through  in their ordinary everyday lives and relationships..

So as we noticed in chapter 2..

Ruth so happens to end up in a field that belongs to Boaz… who so happens to be a kinsman Redeemer of Naomi… who so happens to be willing to rescue and save Naomi and Ruth   from a precarious existence as widows

And Boaz and Ruth marry and it so happens that they have a baby.. a son.. OBED…  who so happens to be an ancestor of King David…..and the family line from which the Saviour and Redeemer of the world will come..

I love that…

I love that GOD is working out His plans and purposes in the normal, unspectacular, ordinariness of Ruth and Naomi’s life in their day…. and in yours and mine here in Donaghadee or wherever you are living right NOW.

Do you believe at is true of your life??

 

I can see it in our lives and family..

I’ve looked at things that have happened in these last couple of weeks and say LORD..

Thank you.. I see Your hand in that situation… You really helped and cared and protected us there..

I see YOUR hand in closing that door that Linda and I were trying to go through and opening a different door for us… that in your mercy will work out better..

I see YOUR hand LORD… in some of the day to day struggles disappointments and hard times that we’ve come through… and I’m so thankful that though I can’t see a reason for them right NOW…  or the end result… that YOU do…

Q. Do you know that the word Providence…. Comes from 2 words..  PRO VIDEO…  to see before..

That’s our GOD… that’s WHO HE is…

He is the ONE who is fully in charge and Who sees the end from the beginning and the start from the finish… and He is working out HIS sovereign purposes in time and into eternity.… OR… in the words of that great theologian BUZZ LIGHTYEAR…   to infinity and beyond..

So as we read the BOOK of RUTH and as we know from our own experiences…

Life isn’t always easy..

LIFE can be incredibly difficult, painful and bewildering at times..

We don’t have easy answers to the day to day disappointments, hurts and heartaches we go through…

BUT…

We do have a loving Heavenly Father who reminded His hurting people in EGYPT…

“I have seen the misery of my people.. I have heard them crying…. And I am concerned… so I have come down to rescue them.”                                                   Exodus 3v 7-8

And in your life to-day our Loving Heavenly Father genuinely still

Sees… hears… feels.. comes…

And in the ordinary, unspectacular stuff of your everyday life and mine… is working out His purposes for our good and for HIS glory….

What a faithful GOD we have… What a reassurance, comfort and strength… when life is tough and NOT making much sense.

Behind the scenes…the LORD is working…

though 8 weeks ago… at the beginning of the barley harvest when she returned through the gates of Bethlehem… it did NOT feel like that to Naomi…  because she was in such grief and pain.

Q.  What about YOU?? Can YOU See GOD’s providential hand in your life and your circumstances??

 

2nd Struck me from the Book of Ruth is this:

How we treat other people really matters… especially when we unselfishly put them before ourselves.

 

Boaz wastes no time and next morning goes to the city gate where all the social, business, legal things were done and waits for the nearer relative of Naomi to come along…. which he does.

I love that Boaz chooses to get involved with Ruth and Naomi… though he doesn’t have to… and  they have NOTHING to offer him in return..

He is rich, comfortable and  well off…. There is someone else.. someone closer… He is NOT responsible for Naomi and Ruth… he could easily have chased Ruth from the threshing floor and said “it’s NOT my problem” YET….

He chooses to care for the poor, the widow, the foreigner…

the most vulnerable, powerless and helpless people in his town… because his faith and relationship with GOD is worked out into the way He sees and treats the people he comes across in his everyday life..with compassion.

Q. Does your faith and YOUR love for God have that kind of practical edge to it in Donaghadee or wherever??

Q. Are we known as a church for our care for the most vulnerable in this town??

Often we think…. If only we had a little more … time.. money.. abilities… then we would help people MORE….

NO!!  Use what YOU have..

Make a difference with what you’ve got…

True story of Bridge over the river Kwai…2nd World War..

 

I love that Boaz is as good as his word to Ruth (3v13)

“Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it.”

What Boaz said and what Boaz did were consistent.. He takes the initiative and goes to the city gate the next morning (4v1) and does what he has promised to do..

He is a man of integrity.. a man of his word. (2v1)

Q. Are YOU??  Is that how people think of YOU??

 

I love that Boaz chooses to think of others more than himself. (4v5&10)

Look at those verses. Boaz is not buying the land or marrying Ruth only for Himself.. his own selfish agenda.  (although he does love Ruth I hope!)… but… v10

“I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his home town.”                 Ruth 4v10

Boaz is more concerned for the name of Elimelch and HIS family… than he is in making a profit… or a name for himself…

I love that…   Boaz is genuinely unselfish… selfless…

One of my little prayers is this:

“I repent of my self-absorption and I want to live a selfless sacrificial life for the sake of others..”

Actually Boaz does become famous.     (the end of v11)

The people of the town pray for Boaz…

“May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.”

And here we are 3000 yrs later and we know HIS Name.. but NOT the name of the other relative who chose not to redeem Ruth and the land….  because it was going to have financial implications for him and his inheritance ((v6)

“At this, the guardian-redeemer said, ‘Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”                              (Ruth 4v6)

X2  cannot…  truthfully.. it’s that he WILL NOT… because it is too costly financially for him..

He is thinking about himself and his own family…first!!

Q. How many of us would do exactly the same if we were in his shoes??

 

I love that the  women praise the LORD… because they see the goodness of God in the lives of Boaz, Ruth and Naomi. (v14)

The women and indeed the elders and people in v 11-12 see the LORD’s hand and the LORD’s goodness… in the lives of these 3 people and it causes them to praise the LORD and give HIM the glory…

I love that…

God is glorified when people in Donaghadee see the church reach out in care and compassion.. in genuine love and servant hearts to the people of this town..

This week some of us had the privilege in your NAME to take little gifts of chocolate or a little bunch of flowers to all 78 business in the town.

We put this little NOTE with them…

“   covid 19

And honestly..   it was such a privilege to be involved..

to see people’s reactions…

to watch people’s expressions…

Some of them were deeply moved and touched to think that we as a church family are thinking about them… caring for them.. praying over them… trying to support them when life is VERY DIFFICULT for them and some of them are struggling to survive this crisis..

“YOU are the LIGHT of the world….let YOUR LIGHT SHINE before others… that THEY may see YOUR good deeds and glorify YOUR Father in heaven.”                  Matthew 5 14-16

Q. Are there any people of this town that we love…. praising GOD to-day…  because JESUS has radiated out your life as you have touched theirs…  with HIS  selfless compassion and care?

 

The 3rd thing that struck me from this chapter is this: 

3. Who You are and HOW You live your life really matters… Not only for to-day… BUT.. for generations to come.

It’s amazing how many people think to themselves…

Q. What have I ever achieved with MY life??

Q. Does my life have any meaning, purpose, value, significance??

Q. Why am I here and What am I here for?

 

When you read through this chapter there’s lots of Names that don’t mean anything to you…. Famous people in Israel who have lived BEFORE Naomi, Ruth and Boaz….

You can look up their stories in Genesis and find out their significance… and then the chapter and the Book ends with this family line of 10 generations (v18-22)

So Why are they here?? What is the reason? What difference is it going to make to you to read NAMES that you can hardly pronounce.??

What the write is trying to give to you is a sense that GOD is working out HIS loving purposes in the history of our lives..

We are Not meaningless slimes of….. whose lives are of NO value and whose lives have NO significance or worth..

YOU are precious.. YOUR life matters.. 

GOD is working out His saving purposes in the history of the world and in the lives of these people..

 in the generations before us… and…  in the generations to come after us…

When we live our lives for GOD and to GOD and with GOD… like Boaz, Ruth and Naomi… 

We leave a legacy… and get to play our part in God’s salvation story in our town and generation.. 

 though at the time.. our lives may look very ordinary and unspectacular..

So look at the family line that flows from and follows on from Boaz and RUTH..

(v22) Obed is the father of Jesse and Jesse is the father of David..

Who is David….   he is the shepherd boy from Bethlehem…. this little town where the story is being told… who becomes the great man of GOD and the greatest KING ever in the history of Israel…

And this very same family line in verses 18- 22 is repeated again in the opening verses of Matthew’s Gospel as Matthew traces the family history of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David…

 right down through the generations from Abraham… through Perez.. through David….

 right the way down to Joseph and Mary…  who in this same seemingly insignificant little town of Bethlehem… 

 just like Boaz and Ruth ….give birth to another baby boy… whose name is NOT OBED… but  JESUS…

the One who will save the people from their sins..

 the Saviour and Redeemer of the world..

Folks.. 

I would just love YOU to catch the Vision of and a passion for …  what GOD is doing in your life…

 in this seemingly insignificant little town of Donaghadee….

in our church and in our generation…

Because Who you are and HOW YOU live your life… especially if you are a Lover and follower of JESUS….

really does matter..

You are significant… your life has meaning and purpose..

GOD is using YOU for HIS purposes.. in history…

When GOD touches ONE generation.. It impacts every generation below…

When GOD touches ONE life… and that life is saved and changed and transformed by the goodness and grace of GOD…

Then their children.. grandchildren and great children’s lives will be touched and impacted and affected also…

The greatest legacy that you can pass on to the Next generation is your love and devotion to JESUS…

I always think about my friend Stephen Crooks at University…  Whenever someone in his family got converted to Christ.. he would always say…

 Granny crooks strikes again…  because Granny Crooks was always praying and interceding and crying to GOD on behalf of her family…

 And she impacted her own generation and  the generation below her and the generation below that again..

 

Naomi, Ruth and Boaz… had NO idea as they lived out their ordinary lives in that little town of Bethlehem.. that they were being caught up into the eternal purposes of GOD…  NOT only in their generation… BUT for generation to come…

 

Neither have YOU or I…..  

 We have NO conception of just how much our lives matter…. 

How precious and significant your lives are in GOD’s eyes and GOD’s purposes for this generation and for the generations to come..

Your life has meaning .. value… significance and purpose… NOT only in this generation…   But in the purposes of God for generations to come…

Who YOU ARE… HOW YOU LIVE… 

especially how YOU follow JESUS…. 

Is of extraordinary Value… and eternal significance…

For this generation and the generations to come..

So live it for GOD’s glory….

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