*sermon preached Sunday, October 12, 2014
Some things we can talk about, teach about, preach about and come together to study each and every week. We hear the same messages or the same theme in the messages in worship; but we don’t change. We don’t always attend worship and think, “God is always with us; God is right here with us! God is coming down to transform us!” The hard truth is that we have become desensitized to the incredible power of God’s Word. We have become desensitized to the amazing transformation that God’s grace can bring us.
God is calling us to relive and rediscover the joy; to rediscover the excitement of his grace. Not just so we can learn something new; but so God himself is allowed in our lives to transform us into the people he created us to be.
The story of Ruth is really incredible. Here’s a brief synopsis of this story:
Although the book is named for Ruth, it begins and ends with Naomi, a woman from Bethlehem. The story opens with Naomi and her small family traveling to Moab to escape famine. The men die off, and Naomi is left without her family in the foreign land. When Naomi decides to return home, her daughter-in-law Ruth insists on coming along. Back in Bethlehem, Ruth works to get food for the two of them by collecting leftover grain in what turns out to be Boaz’s field. (Boaz was their relative). The two women think up a plan for their long term security. Boaz cooperates and marries Ruth. The story’s final scene shows their newborn son in Naomi’s arms. (1)
So this is a picture of grace. 2 concepts we’ll look at while thinking about grace are: faithfulness and redemption.
Ruth’s faithfulness to stay with Naomi. So what does this mean for us? First of all we are reminded that God’s faithfulness is steadfast and unchanging. (2)
God is with you, God is with me and he is steadfast and unchanging. We have to be patient in any circumstance that we’re in so we don’t lose hope.
God is being faithful to us in every aspect of our lives by never leaving us nor forsaking us. Our first concept here is faithfulness; God is faithful to you. Our question today is, and as we begin this stewardship series is “Are you faithful to God?”
That is a tough question and many of us really don’t even want to think about it because it seems like we will begin an argument or get very defensive; but this is a hard question we really need to seriously consider. Are we faithful to God?
Remember this good news: God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to him. Our faithfulness to God honestly depends on our mood, how much sleep we got, how our day goes, etc.
As we ponder that, we should think about our priorities that we have in this life. If we look in the story of Ruth, Naomi’s priority was to find food because there was a famine. The land was parched. Our souls are parched and we are searching to find the living bread and the living water; but God is so faithful that we already have nourishment within our reach.
Are we as faithful to God as God is faithful to us? NO. But God believes in you so much, God believes in us so much that he is willing to stand by us and walk with us through the years of famine so we don’t lose hope.
The other concept we see as we just briefly go through this story is “redemption.”
To redeem, in this sense, comes from the Hebrew word Ga’al. What this means is “to redeem, to ransom, to release, deliver, to fulfill the duties of a relationship. The main idea is the buying back of someone of something such as a field or a farm.” Basically something that is consecrated to God. (3)
We see Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s, is redeeming the land.
Redemption is the act of releasing another from captivity or bondage; it points to acts of reconciliation. (4)
God is faithful to us and God is working in us and through us to redeem the world. Part of redemption means to be reconciled. Not only to other people, but to God. When we are reconciled to God, our faithfulness to him increases. So we’re not only thinking of ourselves or sulking in our situations. We’ll look at the global picture and see what God wants us to do. We realize that we should be faithful stewards of this creation and all we’re given.
As we live in Christ, we get to see the amazing grace that God gives us in our lives. Think about that for a minute. God is faithful and God redeems us.
I like this story of a father and son who go fishing. The father and son are out all day long. They didn’t catch anything; they were out in the water and didn’t catch anything. Besides that is was a hot day. The father was getting frustrated so they go on home. The mother asks the father, “how was your day?” He said, “terrible, we did not catch anything; it was a terrible day fishing.” She goes off and talks to her son and asks, “how was your day?” The son, looks at her with a big smile on his face and says, “it was fantastic! I got to spend the whole day with dad!”
The truth of the matter is that we’re too much like…………………..the father in that story. We look at our circumstances, or lack thereof and we say it’s a terrible thing. But in this story God has the attitude of the son. God loves to spend quality time with us. God is excited to be in relationship with us. That’s what he’s calling us to do: to reclaim and rediscover our excitement for him!
So as they were traveling back to Bethlehem, Naomi and Ruth were searching for a redeemer. They were trying to find someone who would save them, and they found Boaz. He not only bought the land to save the family inheritance; but he took Ruth as his wife.
Today, we still search for a redeemer, for a savior. But we don’t need to search anymore because Jesus Christ has bought our past, our present and our future and he is faithful to stay with us forever.
Boaz broke the chains of famine holding Ruth and Naomi down to give them freedom and a known, secure future. Christ breaks us free from any chains or walls we have built: greed, lust, pride, envy (jealousy), personal comfort, selfishness, and on and on.
He’s just asking that we are as faithful to him as he IS faithful to us and trust that the redemption that he has bought for us can and does transform our lives so we truly live in this grace that God freely gives us. So we trust him and allow his amazing grace to change our lives, to change our future. Trusting him and seeing God in every person we encounter and everything we do.
(1) CEB Study Bible Introduction to Ruth
(2) Wesley Study Bible NRSV
(3) NIV Keyword Study Bible
(4) Wesley Study Bible NRSV