The Story - Chapter 9 – The faith of a foreign woman
“Flags” Video for Veteran’s Day – Matt Zelnik
Offering - Baby Dedication Weekend led by Becky Medley
I want to thank Becky Medley for leading our Parent/Baby Dedication. Who else here has children? I have one daughter and one son. I want to talk to you today about three daughters. Here’s Daughter #1: Chaia Thompson. Look at this picture. Chaia is the daughter of Ben & Shaina Thompson and Ben is the Lead Planter of City Campus Church. C3 is a church plant near the OSU campus that we support. Chaia suffers from a rare disease that prevents her bones from growing properly. I saw Ben this past Thursday and he then sent me this email.
“Chaia is great. She is 6 weeks into no treatments which is terrifying. But Chaia went from throwing up multiple times a day for the last 2 years to not throwing up once in the last 5 weeks! For the first time Shaina and I feel less like caretakers and more like mom and dad. We see the neurologist soon to hopefully get cleared on their end and get her off another medication! It looks like a G tube is in Chaia's near future which means she can get rid of the tube in her nose.” I sent a quick video of Chaia learning a new word. You'll get a kick out of this!” I did. I bet you will too. Check this out. (Chaia-honey video) Chaia is a little sweetie! Daughter #2 is Emily. Richard Newcomb is a grandfather and he told this story, “My wife, Mary, had a lumpectomy and is going through 12 weeks of chemotherapy. The other day, she told our four-year-old granddaughter, Emily, that because of the chemo, all her hair would fall out. Emily looked at her and asked, "Does that mean I'll have two grandpas?"[i] You gotta love kids. Name the only two books in the Bible named after women?[ii] Ruth & Esther! Chapter 9 of The Story has taken us through the story of Ruth! Ruth is Daughter #3 and she grows up to become a remarkable woman of faith! Open up your Bibles today to Ruth 1:1! GELNDJJR! If you need a Bible just raise your hand? Your handout contains your pertinent details concerning the life of this church. If you are a guest and have questions about this church we are going to have a little pizza gathering on Sunday at 12N in the Global Café. Lunch is free and childcare is provided. Here’s your Take Home paper and Connect Card! Plus there’s information concerning the Gift Shop! We need gifts and volunteers. Information for both is located on our website! Many of you sent cards for the folks at Pointview Elementary. We received this email from Pax the Pointview Panther. You all have been so amazing to the staff at Pointview. All of the letters that you wrote came just at the right time. October and November have been found to be the toughest of the months in the educational field. I heard many of the staff members comment on how special each letter was to them and how it was like the person actually knew them. As I move around the building, every letter that was sent is posted beside a desk, computer, or on a bulletin board. It really is wonderful to know that so many of you think and care for the people in your community. Thank you! Just as an FYI: We are still waiting for 25 cards. If you took one please return it to the white box in the lobby!
Let’s read Ruth 1:1a In the days when the judges ruled… A judge did not wear a black robe or hold a gavel. They were often military leaders, warriors or deliverers. They delivered God’s people from oppression! I’m not sure if the oppression led to famine but here’s what happened. Read verse 1-2. MOAB is a country and a person. Moab was the son of Lot’s oldest daughter from that fiasco in Genesis 19. Bethlehem must have been bare because Moabites were natural enemies of the Israelites. These folks didn’t like each other, but desperate times call for desperate measures – so they move! Find verse 3. Read 3-5. (Oprah Winfrey was named after Orpah)[iii]
I refuse to let verse 5 just drift away! Death surrounds her. Maybe death surrounds you today – I’m not sure. We will connect this verse in a moment. But in the middle of all this bad news Naomi finally gets some good news. Locate verse 6. They are going back to the house of bread. As they travel Naomi can’t imagine her daughters-in-law would want to live with her. They need to stay in Moab and go back to their own Moms. Orpah kisses Naomi goodbye and leaves, but Ruth refuses to leave her. Find verse 15 in chapter 1. (Read 15-17)
So two widows journey together to Bethlehem! Find verse 19! Read 19-21. This takes us back to verse 5! Here you have a Hebrew (Naomi) who loses faith in God and you have a foreigner (Ruth) who puts her faith in God. The lower story is that we think God doesn’t care. The upper story is that He does and will always care!
A shoplifter leaves a note and an envelope for a storeowner. On the note he writes, I’ve just become a Christian and I can’t sleep at night because I feel guilty. So here’s a $100 that I owe you. On the back of the note he wrote, P.S. /If I still can’t sleep I’ll send you the rest.”[iv] What temptation is he facing? /What temptation is Satan using against Naomi? Doubt! God doesn’t care about me! God has abandoned me! I’m compelled to pray right now for anyone who feels like Naomi! Have you become bitter? Do you think God is against you? You’ve had one too many problems, seen one too many deaths! If you need prayer stand up right now! (PRAY) Almighty God, we often doubt your love and goodness. We often think you are not in control. We think things just happen, but your word tells us that’s not true. God you are in control. Nothing catches you off guard. Even death itself. I pray for anyone here today who thinks that you have abandoned them. God, overwhelm them with your presence. God, I pray for anyone who has become bitter. Help them to taste – to know that you are good! Despite what we see – death is not the end. Reassure us that you are for us and not against us and that you are sovereign over all. Amen
Here’s what so many of us think! Go to verse 22. Oh that’s just a coincidence! All of life is a coincidence. Things just happen by chance. Dumb luck is all it is Greg! The story of Ruth is the story of God’s overruling providence. God guides! Once they get back to Bethlehem it’s harvest time and out of all the fields Ruth could go to glean or gather scrap grain she ends up in the field of Boaz who happens to be a relative of Naomi’s late husband. Man, luck is on a roll! Not a chance. Exactly! God is in control – especially when life is tough.
Here is Naomi’s plan. I’ll go to Bethlehem and sell off my late husband’s land. Ruth and I will live off this money until the proverbial well runs dry and then we’ll stand on some street corner with a sign that says, “Will work for FOOD! Well Ruth wants to help her Mom. They are both hungry! So she’s either crazy or brave because she starts gleaning behind harvesters she does not know! I imagine she’s picking up grain with one eye down and one eye up! Why is this so dangerous? She’s an outcast - a Moabitess. I can hear it now – Moabites bite! Moabites bite! She’s female. She could get raped so easily! She isn’t the only hungry person in town! Get out of my field – go find your own field!
OK. Big deal Greg. So what? I can’t believe I’m going to ask this - What can we glean from Ruth? That’s a good pun. Let me give you two bad puns! What happens when it rains cats and dogs? You have to been careful not to step in a poodle. Why did the butcher make his sausages with meat at one end and corn meal at the other? Because in hard economic times, it's difficult to make both ends meat. Again what can we glean from Ruth? How about this? With God there’s always hope. Her hope was Boaz! Boaz is the exact opposite of the men in Judges. They took. He gave. He was compassionate and kind. Go to Ruth 2:4. (Read 4-6, 8) Ruth if you are hungry I’ll give you something to eat. If you are thirsty I’ll give you something to drink. Just don’t leave my field! So Ruth works all day and takes home roasted grain for Naomi to eat! Go to verse 19. (Read 19-20) Ruth is interested in Boaz. But she’s not sure Boaz is interested in her. So Naomi presents Ruth four easy steps in getting a guy / in landing a man! Turn to Ruth 3:3. Step #1: Wash! Take a shower. Get cleaned up. #2: Use some perfume. Not too much, not too little. Go to the French store (Target) and get something nice. #3: Get dressed up. It makes no difference if it’s BC or AD - men are visual – they like an attractive woman! I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but nice clothes help! Put a little paint on the barn! Best clothes/outside garment! Steps 1-3 seem reasonable to me but step #4 is just plain weird! I can see Naomi looking right at Ruth and saying stalk him! Go to the threshing floor and hang out! Wait till Boaz has had enough to eat and drink. When he lays down sneak up next to him and pull the blanket off his feet and then lay down next to him! The wind will startle him at night and when he wakes up he’ll see you laying there! Now weird as that sounds – there’s nothing sexual about it but I would never tell my daughter to do that! Today, we shake hands as a sign of agreement but back them they took off each other’s sandals and handed them to each other! Once again it’s only weird if it does work! This does work. Ruth does exactly what Naomi tells her and Boaz responds just like Naomi expects! Boaz accepts the responsibility of being her kinsmen or guardian redeemer. He buys their dead husbands land so their family name will live on! He not only marries Ruth but he brings Naomi into his house.
But there’s more. What can we glean from Ruth? With God there’s always hope. Our hope Is Jesus Christ! Go back to Ruth 2:10! Here’s how we should read that verse. Lord Jesus, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me--a sinner?" This is the Grand Story of God! Let’s take communion at this time. He wants to be with us, but we’ve walked away from him. So for God to get us back in his presence – he bought us by giving up His son. The price was his son’s own blood. As the trays are passed take a piece of bread and a cup of juice and thank God for sending you a redeemer. (COMMUNION)
The story of Ruth starts out with Naomi being sad – even mad at God. She felt as if God had left her. Her life was no longer beautiful (Naomi) – it became bitter (MARA). The reason it’s bitter is because her sons are dead. But Boaz married Ruth and they have a son – Obed. Naomi will hold Obed in her arms and life will go from bitter to beautiful. The book of Ruth ends this way. 21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, 22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. Ruth is the great grandmother of David. She will end up in the line and lineage of Jesus. How is that possible? Because with God there’s always hope!
[ii] Dr. James E. Smith, The OT Books Made Simple, 74
[iii] Dr. James E. Smith, The OT Books Made Simple, 77
[iv] 1001 Illustrations that Connect, Guilt Check, #217, 125