PREPARE

Prepare

We prepare the way for You to come and move among us

Will You calm our hearts and draw us near?

Father, we need Your presence here.

We will look to the Cross for forgiveness.

We will look to Your Scriptures for real truth.

We’ll acknowledge Your Spirit, as You move us and change us…

we love You… Oh, we need You

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“Take Over”

I am not a great guitar player or singer, but I love to worship Jesus. This is one of my favorite worship songs:

Take Over by Shane & Shane [key of G, capo 2nd fret]

Thirsty, I’m thirsty for You

In a dry land, with no drink, I need You

I know You made a home inside this heart of stone, so turn it into flesh… Spirit soften it.

I give You all I have, I’m holding nothing back… Jesus, I am Yours.

Jesus, I am Yours!

[chorus:]

Take over, Lover of my soul… take control.

I surrender, there’s nothing I want more than to know You, Lord… just to know You.

[bridge:]

What am I supposed to do with all my kingdoms next to You… You’re the Lord!

You’re the Lord!

I could gain the world and more, but it’s all nothing next to You: my Reward! my Reward!

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Hope For The Hopeless – Ruth 4:1-22

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INTRODUCTION:

We’re going to finish our verse-by-verse study through the Book of Ruth today. In the first three chapters of this short book we’ve been introduced to Ruth and her mother-in-law, both widows, both poor, both somewhat hopeless. They’ve traveled and moved to the city of Bethlehem where Ruth has run into a well-known, well-respected, and well-to-do man named Boaz. Boaz, throughout this story, has been a picture of Jesus Christ, as Ruth has been a picture of you and I… the Bride. This is a Biblical love-story and it has been a beautiful picture of the love story that Jesus is desiring to have with you and me… and it is here we see how God can bring HOPE to something, even lives, that were hopeless.

We left the story, at the end of chapter 3, with Boaz sending the message for Ruth to simply ‘wait’ for Him to work. He wanted Ruth to be his wife… he wanted to come in and take care of her… to save her, however, he mentioned that there was a ‘nearer kinsman’… a relative that was closer to Naomi and would thus have first rights of refusal to marrying Ruth. He desperately wanted Ruth, but would have to go through the proper channels and protocols before he could make her his bride. This is where chapter four begins…

Ruth 4:1a – “Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there;

The next day, Boaz went to the city gate, where business transactions took place. No doubt amazed that Ruth would see him as her kinsman redeemer, he was eager to complete the process of redemption.

Ruth 4:1b – and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down

This was the nearer kinsman of whom Boaz spoke in chapter 3. Who was he? Check this out…

Ruth 4:2-4 – And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the close relative, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. And I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.’” And he said, “I will redeem it.”

The ten elders of the city are an illustration of who our nearer kinsman is. It’s the Law.

Think: The Ten Commandments. The Law came first. Before Jesus came to earth to redeem us, the Law was already in place. With its dos and donts it was an unmerciful nearer kinsman which laid claim to you and me.

Ruth 4:5 – Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance.

According to Deuteronomy 25, the nearer kinsman – not only had the right to redeem the property, but an obligation to take care of the family. If the nearer kinsman refused to meet his responsibility to the family – in this case, if he refused to marry Ruth – the Law said he was to be spat upon. Then his shoe was to be removed from his foot, signifying that he was walking away from his responsibility – that he was a ‘heel’ and that he had no ‘sole’.

Ruth 4:6 – And the close relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

“I’ve already got my own thing going… and I don’t want to ruin it” said the nearer kinsman. “I can’t take on the responsibility of all that right now. I cannot redeem.”

Ultimately… this guy couldn’t redeem Ruth. So too… Many people think the Law can save us through our good works, but we realize in the end that it cannot redeem. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes that the strength of sin is in the Law. The more you read the Law, study the Law, and know the Law – the more you realize that the Law is not your redeemer.

It’s your condemner. The Law points out your weaknesses, your failings, and your flaws.

It is only when you stop trying to earn your salvation and merit brownie points with God in your Christian walk that you are free. Once you realize your rules and regulations – joining the right clubs, working on the right committees, and being nice to your dog and cat – will not redeem you, you look to your Greater than Boaz. You look to Jesus Christ. You see, it’s not what we’re doing that counts – it’s what He has done that matters.

Ruth 4:7-8 – Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel. Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” So he took off his sandal. 

Biblically, the shoe always refers to possession.

In Joshua 1:3, the Lord said to Joshua, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you”.

It was when the Israelites came to the Jordan River, and when the priests put the soles of their feet into the water that it departed (Joshua 3:13).

Now, think with me: The true Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who came to redeem the nation of Israel, had His heel bared as He was nailed to a Cross, and received spit in His face when the nation rejected Him. Thus, although they didn’t know it consciously, Scripturally, what Israel said was, “You will not be our Kinsman-Redeemer. We spit in Your face. We take off Your shoe. We will not have You rule over us.”

Today, if you have not acknowledged Jesus as your Redeemer, you, too, have taken off His shoe. You have spat in the face of the One who died for you and wants to live inside you. Your rejection of Him is the greatest insult that could ever take place. It’s called the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and it is the one sin which is eternally unforgiveable (Matthew 12:31). 

Ruth 4:9-10 – And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. 10 Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.”

Boaz stepped up and said, “Since the nearer kinsman cannot redeem, I will!” And that is exactly what our Greater-than-Boaz, Jesus, says concerning us.

  • Jesus alone has the right to redemption. Rules and regulations do not, will not, and cannot.
  • Jesus alone has the resource for redemption. He purchased us with the richness of the blood that flowed through his veins and onto the ground at Calvary.
  • Jesus alone has a reason for redemption. It is His grace, His undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor which brings us into His family.

Ruth 4:11a – 11 And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses

Acts 10:39-43 says that the Law and the prophets are a witness of Him.

And we are witnesses for Him, as the Holy Spirit enables us.

Ruth 4:11b-12 – The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.”

Ephrathah” is an old name for the city of Bethlehem.

No longer is Ruth a stranger. Never again is she called a Moabitess because now she has been absorbed in the covering of Boaz, her kinsman redeemer.

Ruth 4:13-16 – 13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! 15 And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him.

Remember Naomi’s story. She left full. She came back empty. And now God is blessing her once again. The women told Naomi that Ruth was better than seven sons, seven being the number of perfection. Their words were prophetic indeed for out of Ruth’s line would come forth not only King David, but the Perfect One – Jesus Christ.

Naomi, this prodigal daughter of the Old Testament, came back to Bethlehem, where God rebuilt, rebirthed, restored, and renewed her.

And that’s what He’ll do with us – if we’ll just come back to Him.

Ruth 4:17-22 – 17 Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Obed in Hebrews means “worshipper”. I love that out of this love story between Boaz and Ruth, a worshipper is born. So too, when you and I realize the love relationship that Jesus wants with us, what comes forth is worship. People who are in love with Jesus can’t help but worship… it is the natural reaction… it is what comes naturally… in a sense, it is what is birthed.

18 Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; 19 Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; 20 Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; 21 Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; 22 Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.

This genealogy is a bit strange to me. Why in the world does it start off with “Perez”? Who exactly is Perez? And why is he so important that he’s being brought up now… at the end of this love story?

In Genesis chapter 38 there is an incredibly disturbing story. It involves a guy named Judah. Now follow this: Judah had a bunch of sons. His firstborn son’s name was “Er(I know, they must have really struggled to find that name). Er had a wife named Tamar. Er was killed. So Judah asked his next son, Onan, to take Tamar so that the family name could be carried on for his older brother. However, Onan, wasn’t down with that idea and took appropriate measures to insure that she wouldn’t become pregnant… and then Onan was killed. At that point, the father, Judah, told Tamar that if she only waited for his third son, Shelah, to grow old enough, then HE would marry her and things would be groovy. However, Shelah grew up… and Judah, the father, didn’t allow him to marry Tamar. I guess he thought she was bad-luck or something and he didn’t want to lose another son! Anyways… Tamar took things into her own hands and went and disguised herself as a harlot and went to another town where she knew her father-in-law would be visiting… and came on to him. Her face was covered, so he didn’t recognize her being Tamar. He slept with her and she became pregnant. Three months later, when he found out that Tamar was pregnant, he was furious and demanded that she be burned! However, she was smart. She had kept some of his belongings and was able to prove that the father of her unborn baby was none other than Judah! Wow! She was actually pregnant with twins,… but the first baby to come out… was Perez.

You’re thinking, “Man, Michael! Why in the world did you tell us all that!” Because here, at the end of Ruth, we’re given this long genealogy, and for some reason it starts with Perez! I believe, there is a reason for this… and I hope you can catch this today…

According to Deuteronomy 23:2-3, no descendant of an illegitimate child could enter the tabernacle until ten generations had passed. Judah’s son, Perez, was illegitimate. The author of the Book of Ruth shows us exactly ten generations, starting with illegitimate Perez and ending with David – ten generations between the illegitimate son and the greatest king Israel had ever known, the one who’s son, Solomon, would in fact build the new House of God.

CONCLUSION:

What’s the point? Listen, at the time this Book was written, King David was (and still is) the greatest King to ever rule over Israel. He not only killed Goliath, but the guy was revered for all the incredible things he did as Israel’s king. The author wants everybody to know that, not only was David’s great grandmother a ‘dreaded’ Moabite, but David’s lineage also included a woman who was a harlot and a deceiving liar! However, even though that was all true… He was still, according to Scripture, the one that would bring back the presence of the Lord for Israel.

So too, Jesus, would be born in the lineage of David… we know He was called, ‘The Son of David’. This means that Jesus, in His genealogy had harlots and sinners! I’m so grateful for this fact.

We can’t pick our relatives, but Jesus did! He knew exactly who was going to be in His lineage before the foundation of the world. And He chose people like this, to give us great hope no matter who we are, no matter where we’re at.

I hope that every person listening to me today will understand that the Gospel is Good News, and that Good News is that Jesus takes people like Ruth… a Moabitess, a total outsider,…

and people like Naomi… a woman who walked away from God and His people, and was brutally   broken and hurting and hopeless,…

and people like Judah, who snuck out with a harlot, only to be found out and shamed,…

and people like Tamar, who WAS a harlot and a liar,…

and people like Michael, a guy who was absolutely nothing special.

This is the message of the Book of Ruth:

Our Lord is a Restorer; He is a Rebuilder; He is a Reviver; He is a Redeemer.

He can take the totally messed-up… and if we’ll come to Him

He can bring HOPE to the wiped-out, hurting, and hopeless.

Let’s pray…

 

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Walking in tRUTH – Ruth 3:1-18

The following is a VERY LONG sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado, as part of a thru-the-Bible teaching on the Book of Ruth. (I could have easily made this a two-parter, but I choose not to… thus, I had to skip a lot of what is written here when I preached it live… here, you get to read all the juicy parts I had to leave out for sake of time 😉

INTRODUCTION:

Blessed to have our third, and youngest, son, Caleb and his beautiful wife, Jocelyn, here with us today. They both are full time, on staff with a wonderful ministry called Revolution 5, based out of Colorado Springs. They’ve devoted their lives to Jesus, and serving Him with everything they have. They are headed to Nepal later this Summer, in order to scout out the land (much like Joshua and Caleb did in Numbers 14).They are feeling the Lord call them to move there and serve as missionaries, which is completely scary… and completely awesome. This Dad and Mom… are very proud.

(3 John 1:4) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

I’ve been thinking a lot, this week, about what it means to “walk in truth”. I think the answer is pretty simple, really. I know that Jesus called Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” in John 14:6… and so I think ‘walking in truth’ is simply walking ‘in Jesus’. Walking in such a way that He is in control… He is in charge… He is calling the shots – not my comfort level, not my personal desires, but my life is His… it’s “hidden in Him”, as Colossians 3:3clearly declares, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.This is my prayer. “God… I want my life to be hidden in You. I want to walk with You… not just one day in Heaven… today… now!”

Always remember that the Book of Ruth is way more than just a love story about a respected Jew and a foreign woman. It is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the bride… you and me.

As I was studying in Ruth, the Book we’ve been going through, I find in chapter three, seven steps God’s people must all take if they want to be those that walk in truth, and enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Like we see in Ruth, we must not be satisfied merely with living on leftovers, or even receiving gifts. We must want an intimate relationship with our Redeemer… we must want Him alone, for when we have Him, we also have all that He owns. It’s not the gifts that we should seek, it’s the Giver.

(Ruth 3:1-2) Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 

When the two widows came to Bethlehem, their plan was that Ruth take care of Naomi and both of them eke out an existence the best they could. But now Naomi has a new plan: Ruth is going to marry Boaz, and then all of them can live happily ever after. Naomi could tell that Boaz would be in favor of this, by Ruth’s report in the last chapter… so she begins to set things in motion. In that day, it was the parents who arranged marriages, so Naomi wasn’t out of place in what she is about to do in this chapter.

(Ruth 3:3a) 3 Therefore washyourself …”

Naomi is setting things up for this relationship to happen! And the first thing she instructs Ruth to do, in order to prepare herself to be Boaz’s bride is…

  1. WashYourself

‘Get cleaned up, Ruth’… is what Naomi is saying. I am going to set this thing up and seek security for you… but the first thing you must do is wash yourself… the bride must be washed.

In Ephesians 5:25-26we read, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word”. Boaz is a picture of Jesus, the Bridegroom… and Ruth is a picture of you and I, the bride. The apostle Paul is saying in these verses that the bride is to be washed by the water of the Word (Scripture). Therefore, there is nothing more important than keeping in the Word day after week after month after year. There is a ‘washing’ that happens when you and I spend time reading, studying, meditating on… God’s Word.

Hebrews 4:12states, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.

(Ruth 3:3) Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself,…”

The second step is…

  1. Anoint Yourself

Anointing is something that you see all throughout the Bible. From anointing oil being given to new-born babies, to being poured out on kings’ heads, to making something smell good to anointing bodies for burial. Lots of anointing of oil. However, it seems to always be a picture of the work of the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 11:13, after describing how a father would never give his child a stone if they asked him for a piece of bread, or how a father would never give his child a snake if they asked him for a fish… Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give the holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

So too, if you and I are going to be those who walk in truth, and have a radical relationship with Jesus, we must be those who not only spend time washing in God’s Word… we also must anoint ourselves in God’s Spirit.  Jesus said, of the Holy Spirit, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.(John 16:13). For you and I to expect to walk in truth, we must seek the Spirit of truth… and allow Him to guide us.

Zechariah 4:6– “…Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

The third step…

(Ruth 3:3) Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment

  1. Put on your best garment

Ruth was instructed to change her clothes in preparation of her new life with Boaz. So too, are you and I. Isaiah 61talks about how the Messiah will “give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (vs 3).

The psalmist tells us in Psalm 33:1, “Rejoice in the Lord, O your righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.” You and I can make a choice on any given day to be totally blessed by the Lord, by walking in closeness with Him, if we will washourselves in the Word, anointourselves in the Spirit, and praise Himthroughout the day! It is a choice… like choosing to put on a jacket. We choose to remove the heaviness and put on praise. We say, “God, today is all about You! I love You! I think You are awesome! Regardless of my plans, my busy calendar, my stressful agenda… the heavinessI’m feeling… I choose to praiseYou… not because I feel like it, but because You are worthy!

Fourthly… to be those that walk in truth we must…

(Ruth 3:3) Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment … and go down to the threshing floor;…

  1. Go down to the threshing floor

The threshing floor, throughout Scripture, is the place of separation andsacrifice.

In 2 Samuel 24, we read how David purchased the threshing floor of Ornan. After plague had swept the country for three days and thousands had died, David went to Ornan and said, “I want to buy your threshing floor to build an altar of sacrifice to Jehovah”. Ornan offered to just give it to David, but David famously replied, “I will not give to the Lord something that cost me nothing” and so he paid full price.

In Judges chapter6, we read the cool story of how God commissioned a guy named Gideon to be His deliverer, while Gideon was hiding from the Midianites… guess where? A threshing floor.

And in Luke 22, Jesus told Peter that Satan sought to sift him like wheat – an analogy of a threshing floor.

You see, a threshing floor was a cleaned off spot where the workers who pulled up the wheat would lay it down. In the evening time, when the breeze developed, the separated grain and straw was gathered into a pile in the center of the threshing floor. A farmer used a 5-pronged fork called a ‘winnowing fan’ and a spade that was called a ‘winnowing shovel’. The fork was used by placing it into the pile and tossing it up in the air. The wind would blow the straw away, while the heavier grain fell back. When the grain was too small to be picked up by the fork, the shovel was used. The chaff was used to fire the domestic stoves; the straw was collected for the animals, and the remaining grain was kept to be eaten. The grain then had to be purified by sifting. The wheat and barley grains were mixed with all kinds of loose fragments from the threshing floor. Everything was put in large sieves that allowed the grain to pass through but left most of the rubbish behind. It was necessary to remove any darnel grains at this stage. ‘Darnel grains’ were called ‘tares’ or ‘weeds’ in the N.T. It looks identical to wheat until the grain ripens, when it becomes black instead of yellow (Matthew 13:24-30). The grains are bitter and cause dizziness and sickness if eaten.

Used as a pic of how God will judge people (separation of good and bad) in Psalm 1:4and Jeremiah 15:7.

John the Baptist illustrated the work of Jesus in Matthew 3:12His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thouroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”.

When Jesus said Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat in Luke 22:31, He was probably referring to physical shaking of the sieve.

The threshing floor speaks of separationand sacrifice.

Have you and I come to the place where we are not simply in the field gleaning forourselves, but at the threshing floor giving of ourselves?

Romans 12:1states, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”.

Perhaps you are in a ‘threshing floor’ season of life right now… one where you feel like you are getting tossed up in the air and blown away. Whenever we come to times like this, we have an opportunity to be great. They are times that don’t come around every day, but when they do, we can say, “Lord, do whatever You want to do with me. Be glorified somehow through my life and even my pain, and have Your way. My life is Yours. I sacrifice all that I am, it is my reasonable serviceto You. Separate the chaff… all the stuff that is sinful and of me… from the wheat… all that is holy and of You.”

Oftentimes, when all the tossing and separating was done on the threshing floor, the farmer usually stayed with the grain at night, camping out on the threshing floor to ensure that the harvest wasn’t stolen. Like Boaz does in our text.

Jesus also camps out with us… in the midst of our ‘threshing’… He is there!

(Ruth 3:3b-5) Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.

The 5ththing I see Ruth do here… is go along with what Naomi has instructed her to do. I believe this is a key to walking in truth for you and I, as well.

  1. Submit To God-Given Authorities

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2

Paul gets practical in how to apply our beliefs to our lives by challenging us to submit to God-given authorities. For children, this means parents; for adults, this means leaders in government, the workplace, and the church.

Why should we submit?Is it because these leaders are the smartest, most reliable individuals on earth? No. God simply provides us with an authority test. Before we will ever become leaders of integrity, we must learn to follow other leaders, regardless of differences. In fact, the acid test of character comes when we disagree with legitimate authorities. When we refuse to demand our own way and instead submit to others, our hearts are right. This is when God can trust us to lead others.

We never submit to ANY authority when they go against God’s clear Word. Acts 5:29But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’

(Ruth 3:6-7) 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her. And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.

Ruth laid down at Boaz’s feet. This is step number 6…

  1. Lay at Jesus’ feet

This probably sounds strange to us… but in this culture, this would not have been seen as inappropriate or sensual.

I believe this speaks of humilityand worship. InLuke 10:38-42we read of Mary and Martha. Martha was so busy serving, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Jesus remarked that what Mary was doing was the better thing. In Luke 7, we read of a woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair. And Psalm 51:17declares, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise”.

When I’m full of ‘myself’… full of pride… not humbly approaching the King… I am not going to enjoy intimate relationship with Him. He ‘despises’ it, actually. Lay at Jesus’ feet.

(Ruth 3:8-11) 8 Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”10 Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman

The phrase, “more kindness at the end than at the beginning”  I think refers to her personal devotion and kindness to him being better than her even leaving home and family to be with Naomi.

Boaz calls Ruth a “virtuous woman”, which Scripture tells us is one whose “worth is far above rubies” (Prov. 31:10). One translator defines this statement as, “You are a bride worth winning”. This is honestly the Lord’s heart toward us.

We think He’s stuckwith us, when in actuality He’s in love withus… because He sees us as a bride worth winning.

(Ruth 3:12-13) 12 Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. 13 Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the Lord lives! Lie down until morning.”

We’ll dive more into this “other relative” in our next study in Ruth. Apparently, there is a legal complication, due to the fact that there was another relative who was closer to Ruth than Boaz… this guy actually had the right of “first refusal” in a sense. He could serve as a redeemer, if he so chose.

(Ruth 3:14-18) 14 So she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 

15 Also he said, “Bring the shawl that is on you and hold it.” And when she held it, he measured six ephahs of barley, and laid it on her. Then she went into the city.16 When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “Is that you, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her. 17 And she said, “These six ephahs of barley he gave me; for he said to me, ‘Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’18 Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”

There is a lot of good stuff here, but for sake of time… the last stepI see that we must take to walk in truth…

  1. We must wait.

When Naomi heard all that had taken place, she told Ruth to “sit still”and wait for the outcome of this complex sequence of events.

I think there is a hidden message here that Boaz is sending to Naomi through Ruth. I don’t think Ruth got it, probably because she was knew to this whole “Jehovah/One God” thing. But Naomi got the message loud and clear! What message? Boaz gave Ruth 6 measures of barley. The number 6 is the hidden message, I believe.

God created the heavens and the earth in exactly 6 days – Boaz and Naomi would have known this. They also would’ve known that God didn’t rest until the seventh day- when His work was complete. Boaz is sending a message, “I’m going to work and not rest until my work is complete – until she’s my wife.” It was a tricky message that passed right over the head of Ruth, a new convert, but understood by Naomi, as evidenced by her response in verse 18: Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”

This is always the hardest part for us as we are walking in faith. When no more action can be taken and nothing remains but to wait patiently for God to work out His will. It is at this moment that doubts arise and anxiety creeps in.

“Stand still” was the command of Moses to the people of Israel when the Egyptian army was pursuing them. There was no need to panic, for God had the situation well in hand. Then the Lord commanded the people “go forward” (Ex. 14:15), and He led them safely through the sea. There is a time to stand and a time to march, and we must be alert to know which one God wants us to do.

Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). This is a great antidote for a restless spirit. The Hebrew word translated “be still” means “take your hands off, relax.” It’s so easy for us to get impatient with the Lord and start meddling in matters that we ought to leave alone. He is God, and His hands can accomplish the impossible. Our hands may get in the way and make matters worse.

Boaz was busy working for Ruth, and Naomi was confident that he wouldn’t rest until he had settled the matter. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). It is awesome to know that Jesus is working unceasingly for His people as He intercedes in heaven (Romans 8:34), and that He is working inus, seeking to conformus to His perfect will (Phil 2:12-13).

Am I putting myself at the feet of the Lord of the Harvest, and am I trusting Him to work? One evidence of my trust will be my willingness to be stilland wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31).

CONCLUSION:

May you and I be those who choose to walk closely with Jesus this week… walking in Truth.

May we wash ourselves in His Word…

And anoint ourselves with His Spirit…

And put on the garments of Praise, removing the spirit of heaviness…

And may we go to the Threshing Floor and offer Him our lives as a ‘living sacrifice… separating ourselves from this world.

May we Submit to the God-Given Authorities in our lives…

May we be humble, lying at Jesus’ feet…

And may we be patient… waiting on Him to complete the work He has begun.

Let’s pray…

 

[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]

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Bitter to Better – Ruth 2:15-23

The following is a sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado, as part of a thru-the-Bible teaching on the Book of Ruth. 

INTRODUCTION:

It is a new month, and there are many new things on the horizon for The Alpine Chapel. I’ll share some of those in a bit, but for now, let’s pick up where we left off last time in our verse-by-verse, in-depth study through the Old Testament Book of Ruth…

(Ruth 2:15-16) 15 And when she rose up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 Also let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her; leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.” 

Basically, Boaz is saying to his workers, “Make sure Ruth gets all that she needs… as you are working, purposefully leave some of the good stuff on the ground for her to pick up. This way all of her needs will be met.” This is Grace. Grace has been called, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”.

These workers could have responded to Boaz, “Hey… that’s not fair! We’re having to work hard for what we get… and it’s our job! But you’re letting this woman have it easy, she just is able to pick up what we’ve already worked to pull out of the ground!”But that’s what grace is. It is receiving something that you didn’t deserve, couldn’t earn, and would never have gotten otherwise. Boaz is showing Ruth grace… as does Jesus to us. Grace is “God’s Riches At Christ’sExpense”… He paid the price, and we benefited big time.

(Ruth 2:17-19a) 17 So she gleaned in the field until evening, and beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 Then she took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. So she brought out and gave to her what she had kept back after she had been satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work?…

I read this week that Christians use to greet each other this way: “Where have you gleaned today?”What if we still did that? Can you imagine? Talk about openness and accountability!

Unfortunately, I find it way too easy to describe the latest TV show I’ve watched, or movie I’ve seen, or sports game I’ve attended… than I do to describe the latest spiritual insight I’ve received from God’s Word. What we tend to talk about most, can identify where we’ve been gleaning. This is one of the reasons doing what we are doing now… diving into God’s Word… is so very important.

EXAMPLE:

In-N-Out example: Driving through Utah, I filled up on Burger King… and wasn’t hungry for a Double-Double from In-N-Out… something I was desperately hungry for!

All too often we’ve been feasting on the stuff that doesn’t satisfy, and we find we’ve lost appetite for the stuff that does.

(Ruth 2:19b-20) …Blessed be the one who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”

20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!” And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.”

Check out the drastic change we see here in Naomi. Pretty cool when you think of where we first started out with her. Remember? In chapter one, verse 20: “…Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”Back in that study we talked about how the Hebrew word ‘mara’ is literally “bitter”. Naomi was so hurt, in the midst of her grieving, that she wanted people around her to actually call her, “bitter”.

Now, however, is the first time we see her coming out of that bitterness. Now, she is blessing the Lord again. Instead of blaming the Lord, she’s blessing the Lord. What caused the change?What took her from being “bitter”…to“better”?

Notice a few things: First, Naomi blessed Boaz for what he had done; “took notice of you”… and for who he was; “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives”. Then Naomi blessed the Lord, “who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!

This is huge! She blessed Boaz for what he had done, and for who he was. These are the two things that we too should bless the Lord for! We worship/thank/bless Him for all that He’s done for us personally… and we worship/thank/bless Him for all that He is too us.

Whenever we feel like it’s hard to worship and bless the Lord… a good thing to do is to remember those two things. Take a second and meditate on Who He is (all the nameson the bookmark) and then take a moment to meditate on what He’s done.

I suggest to you that it’s hard to remain bitter… about ANYTHING… when we truly stop and consider all that God has already done for us. Listen… there are a lot of things I have prayed over the years, wishing that God would ‘do’ for me. But the truth is… if God never did one other thing for me… He has already done more than enough by giving me His life on the Cross.

In the second Book of the Bible, the Book of Exodus there is neat story that shows us how to deal with the bitter things that happen in this life:

Exodus15:22-25a

22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

God had done so many wonderful things for these people – delivered them from slavery, helped them escape the Egyptians (bad guys) by splitting the Red Sea and taking care of them. Now, however, they are thirsty. They begin to complain… and whine. It’s almost as if they have forgotten all that God has done for them.

We do that, right? No matter how good God has been, when we face a hardship… a trial…we tend to forget… to complain… act as if God has forgotten us… like He doesn’t care about us or for us.

So, all the people come to this lake. It’s looks awesome at first, but then when they try and drink it… it’s too bitter! They called it “Marah”, because “marah” means “bitter” in their Hebrew language. They’re stuck. They’re thirsty. They’re at the end of their rope… or so they think.

Their leader, a guy named Moses, cries out to God and the Bible says, “and the Lord showed him a tree…When he cast itinto the waters, the waters were made sweet.

Moses saw how desperate these people were, he knew they needed to drink, yet would be unable to, due to the bitterness of the only water around. So, he prays to the Lord, and the Lord “showed him a tree”. Moses cuts it down and tosses it into the bitter water and in a split second… the water loses all bitterness and becomes sweet!

Approximately1,476years later… there would be another Tree. We know it as the Crossof Jesus Christ. The New Testament Books of Galatians(chapter 3) and 1 Peter (2:24) talk of the Cross and refer to it as “the tree”. It is the Cross of Calvary… the Cross that Jesus died upon… which still transforms biter experiences, bitter people, and bitter circumstances.

How?By realizing that the wrongs done to us, the offenses against us, the disappo0intments registered by ushave allbeen paidfor, dealtwith, washed cleanby the blood of Calvary.

In our text, we see Naomi begin her transformation from “Bitter” to “Better”, because she goes from blaming the Lord, to blessing the Lord – to recognizing WHO BOAZ IS… and WHAT HE HAS DONE.

Please hear me carefully today: So too… if you and I are struggling with the hurts of this life causing bitterness to be rooted deep within us – the key for us is the same. We too, must stop and recognize, not only WHO GOD IS… but exactly WHAT HE HAS DONE. We must, in a sense, toss in the TREE – Remember God’s greatest gift – Jesus’ life on the Cross. As we do… we will watch the waters of our bitterness be miraculously transformed into the sweetness of praise.

We could stop here, but I want us to see one last lesson in our text… let’s read on and finish this chapter…

21 Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also said to me, ‘You shall stay close by my young menuntil they have finished all my harvest.’”

Okay… so this is odd. Ruth is referred to here specifically as, “the Moabitess”. Why?

I think it might be because she is showing a bit of her ‘Moabitish’ tendencies here. She quotes Boaz and tells Naomi that he specifically told her; “You shall stay close by my young menuntil they have finished all my harvest”… but go back and read verse 8,… what did Boaz ACTUALLY say? “…Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women”. Boaz didn’t tell Ruth to hang out with the young men, he said to hang out with the young women. Ruth twisted what he had told her.

Do we ever do that? Has God ever spoken something clearly to you that you either mis-heard, or flat out changed to better fit what you were more comfortable with? I wonder if this is what is happening here with Ruth? If it is… notice Naomi’s reaction

22 And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field.” 23 So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law.

Here Naomi reiterates exactly what Boaz ACTUALLY said. “Stay by the young women, Ruth, that’s what’s best for you!” And then we’re told in verse 23 that Ruth did exactly what Naomi andBoaz bothadmonished her to do.

Listen, Ruth was young… not only age-wise, but young in her walk with the one, true God. Boaz was a much older man, and Naomi was a much older woman. Both of them older in age, but also they both had known of, and walked with, the one, true God all their lives. In other words… The older, more mature ones are speaking into the lifeof the younger, less mature Ruth. This is awesome… and it is so needed today. The Body of Christ… the Church… is made up of mature believers – those who’ve walked with the Lord for many, many years. And the Body of Christ is made up of fairly new believers – those who are brand spanking new to this entire way of life.

New believers are in desperate need of someone with some maturity to lovingly, and with much care, speak into their lives! It’s easy for a new believer to get things twisted. It’s easy to misinterpret what the Master has said. In those times, the mature brother or sister must come alongside, and “tell the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

CONCLUSION:

Today, I know that I’m speaking to many who have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. You’ve been amazed at how He has changed your life. You’ve ‘tossed in the Cross’ and He has miraculously changed the bitter to so much better! Praise the Lord!

However, that’s not the end of the story for you. Finding salvation is wonderful. Being saved from our sins is incredible. But the Lord is not finished with you and me yet. He has plans for us. He wants to use us… in the lives of many others who He will bring along our path. Those who are mixed up and have misinterpreted Him. We must be those who speak out… and speak up… and lovingly correct.

Where are the spiritually mature?

Where are the spiritual mothers and fathers, who will come alongside the next generation?

Pareto Principlesays that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people in any organization. That often is the case in most churches too. Here at The Alpine Chapel we are wanting to turn that statistic on its head. It is time for all those who are mature to step out… and step up… and begin to do something.

READ:Ephesians 4:11-15

equipping of the saints for the work of ministry” – This is my job as a pastor. So, starting this month, and every month from now on, there will be more opportunities to ‘equip’ our folks for this awesome work of ministry.

Let’s pray…

 

[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]

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Meaningful Memorial Day – Ruth 2:5-14

The following is a sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado, as part of a thru-the-Bible teaching on the Book of Ruth. 

INTRODUCTION:

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Originally known as ‘Decoration Day’, the holiday was established on May 5th, 1868 by the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. Envisioned as an opportunity for the nation to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead, General John Login declared May 30thas the official date of commemoration because by that time, flowers would be in bloom all across the country.

Ceremonies were first held at Arlington National Cemetery with children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan home placing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, all the while reciting prayers and singing hymns.

[The Origins of Memorial Day, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public Affairs. See: www.1.va.gov/pubaff/mday/mdayorig.htm]

History has a way of sanitizing even the most brutal of circumstances, but can you imagine the pain and sorrow that must have been represented on the green fields of Arlington that first Memorial Day morning? I close my eyes and I can see a little girl of just five or six, a yellow ribbon in her hair, placing a rose beside a granite marker of her father – a man she never knew. He fell at Shiloh, or Vicksburg. I also see a boy of maybe 10, dressed in his Sunday best, who is kneeling in the shadow of a towering oak tree. He is now old enough to read the markings on his daddy’s grave and mature enough to remember him, too. This is now the final resting place of his father who left with the other idealistic young men who marched off to fight in our nation’s bloodiest war. Six hundred thousand of them never came back, and many of those who survived were horribly disfigured and disabled.

The prosperity that we enjoy today has been purchased with their blood, sweat, and tears… and we cannot, we must not, forget the sacrifices in the Civil War and on a thousand other battlefields around the world since then. Perhaps we can draw new inspiration from the words of Abraham Lincoln, spoken in a Gettysburg ceremony where so many brave men had recently died:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave us the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

This Memorial Day weekend we pray that American military personnel currently deployed in Pakistan, Yemen, South Korea, and Somalia – and those also in Iraq and Afghanistan… and other places around the world… will be able to help bring about this ‘new birth of freedom’ of which Lincoln spoke on behalf of those who are oppressed, exploited, and imprisoned. We also pray that the terrorism that arises within our own beloved country upon innocent people in schools and churches would cease… and for the brave police officers, fire fighters, and other emergency responders. Our world is broken… in desperate need of Jesus. But, this weekend is so much more than just a 3-Day-Weekend. It’s a day when we honor those who shed their blood that we might live in freedom. It’s a day when we remember those that gave their lives that we might enjoy liberty.

This being Memorial Day weekend, I want us, as a church family, to consider another One, Who shed His blood that we might have liberty. Let’s think about One, Who gave His life that we might live eternally and in freedom presently. I want us to consider Jesus Christ and how we might honor Him. You see, Monday across the country there will be parades honoring the soldiers who died on the battlefield so bravely. There will be speeches orated, and various monuments concerning those who gave their lives sacrificially. Jesus, though, our King, is the greatest soldier of all. He single-handedly stormed the gates of Hell… single-handedly gained the victory and gave His life sacrificially. It’s an amazing thing that He did for us.

How do we honor Him? Do we, like they are going to do on Monday, march in a parade to show our pride and love for Jesus? Or… do we erect a monument in His honor? Jesus, interestingly enough, didn’t ask us to march publicly in a parade in honor of Him. That’s not really His style. In fact, we are told that He “wouldn’t be heard in the streets” (Matthew 12:19). Jesus moved with such humility… such quietness… that when it came time to betray Him, He had to be ‘kissed’ and identified as ‘the Man’, because people were still unfamiliar with Him. It didn’t seem that Jesus was really into parades. He wasn’t interested in monuments or even buildings being set up for His honor either. Remember He said, ‘Not one stone will be set on another’– speaking of the Temple. “This place is going to be totally obliterated… not standing at all!”And if you know your history, you know that the Temple, sure enough, was totally torn down in the year 70 A.D.

So, if Jesus isn’t into parades, monuments, or buildings… what does He want from us? How are we supposed to remember His death? How are we supposed to memorialize Him? Believe it or not, the Bible comes right out and tells us… pretty plainly:

1 Corinthians 11:23-24 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,“Take, eat; this is My body which isbroken for you; do this in remembranceof Me.

Or a ‘memorial for Me’. “This is what I want you to do… not parades, buildings, or monuments. Just take and eat and do THIS in remembrance of Me.”

Today, we’ll be sharing the communion meal together… but before we do… let’s continue in Ruth, chapter 2… and pick up where we left off last time… verse 5…

(Ruth 2:5-7)5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”So the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered and said, “It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a little in the house.”

Here we are introduced to this unnamed servant. Who is this guy?He reminds me of the other unnamed servant, we spoke of a few weeks ago, who Abram sent to find a wife for his son. The story is found in Genesis 24, and the servant found Rebekah for Isaac.

These unnamed servants are awesome pictures to you and me of the Holy Spirit. The One who seeks a bride for Jesus; the One who moves in secrecy, never speaking of Himself, always pointing to Jesus – the One who drew youand me into a relationship with Jesus.

(Ruth 2:8) Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. 

This is what our ‘Greater-than-Boaz’, Jesus Christ still says to us today: “Don’t go to some other field to find your sustenance. Stay in MY field. Don’t go elsewhere to find some deeper theological truth, or some exciting new mysterious, esoteric experience, some new slant on doctrine. Stay in the field of redemption… the field of God’s Word.”

(Ruth 2:9)Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”

I love this! She doesn’t even have to find her own water. Boaz is totally looking out for her! He’s protecting her from the advances of the young men, and he’s providing water to quench her thirst. Sounds a lot like what our Greater-than-Boaz, Jesus Christ also does for us.

When we choose to walk after God, stay in His field, find our sustenance in Him alone… He has got our backs. Jesus told the woman at the well that He could give her water that would foreverquench her thirst,…

and then He stood up in the synagogue, in John 7:37-38and cried out,

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

Jesus in the last day of the great feast of Tabernacles, when no water would be brought from the Pool of Siloam [tell story – Psalm 118:25 “Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.”], cried out in reference to their emptiness and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Again, the Holy Spirit… like the unnamed servant… draws the bride to the BrideGroom… into relationship with Jesus – where ALL OUR NEEDS ARE MET! Only Jesus can protect us and satisfy the deepest thirst of our souls!

(Ruth 2:10-12)10 So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

 Notice Ruth’s response to the grace that is being shown to her. She falls on her face. She bowed down to the ground. She calls herself a ‘foreigner’, but we know she’s more than that! She’s a Moabitess! God had cursed the Moabites and proclaimed they could not come near the tabernacle for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3). This meant that if your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother had Moabite blood in her, you could not come into the Sanctuary, even though you were an Israelite. Indeed the Moabites were a cursed people – and Ruth knew it. That is why she was blown away by Boaz. The “big man in Bethlehem” was so good to her. “Why have I– a Moabitess – found grace?”she asked.

That’s exactly how I feel. How could it be that I have found grace in God’s sight? When I realize that I could do nothing! I had absolutely nothing to do with my salvation. The Holy Spirit drew me, and Jesus filled me… I causes me to be blown away too!

I also love how Boaz basically says, “Hey, Ruth… I know you. I know all about you.”

I think of Nathanael – When Philip came to him in John 1, saying he had found the Messiah, Nathanael sarcastically said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Come and see,” Philip said.

When Jesus later saw Nathanael coming, He said, “Behold an Israelite in whom there is not guile – one who is not easily tricked.

I love that! Jesus could have condemned Nathanael for his sarcasm and unbelief, instead, he commended him for his caution.

How do you know me?” asked Nathanael.

Before Philip came to you, I saw you sitting under the fig tree,” Jesus answered (John 1:48).

The Lord sees us. The Lord knows us. And the Lord has chosen to show grace to us. I don’t understand it. I know I don’t deserve it. But I am so grateful for it.

This is the Good News!The Lord does not condemn you. He commends you. He doesn’t focus on your sin. He hears your sigh. He hears your heart saying, “I want more of You, Lord. Even though I am a Moabite, even though I have problems, I want to be right in your sight.”

And He responds with grace.

(Ruth 2:13-14)13 Then she said, ‘Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.’ 14 Now Boaz said to her at mealtime, ‘Come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed parched grain to her; and she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back.

And here we have another beautiful picture for us. Boaz invites Ruth to share a meal with him… eat of the bread and dip it into the vinegar. The word there for ‘vinegar’ is the Hebrew word, “homes” and is translated literally, “wine vinegar”.

It is the word used in Psalm 69:21

They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegarto drink.

Other translations translate this word as “sour wine” (NLT, ESV).

This, obviously, is a Messianic prophecy… because when Jesus hung on the Cross we read,

“Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.”(John 19:29).

CONCLUSION:

This is Memorial Day weekend…

1 Corinthians 11:23-24 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,“Take, eat; this is My body which isbroken for you; do this in remembranceof Me.

Remember this is also a ‘memorial for Me’. “This is what I want you to do… not parades, buildings, or monuments. Just take and eat and do THIS in remembrance of Me.”

Today, we don’t only remember the death and the sacrifice of the ONE who purchased our freedom… we also remember the AMAZING GRACE He has shown us… Moabites… who didn’t deserve it.

Let’s pray…

 

[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]

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Are You In The Way? – Ruth 2:2-4

The following is a sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado.

INTRODUCTION:

We’re continuing through the Book of Ruth, a powerful little love story that ministers a message of hope to any who feel hopeless, helpless, and hurting. We’ve finished up chapter one, and got all the way through chapter 2, verse 1 last week!

Let’s pick up where we left off last time…and for the sake of context I’ll start at the beginning of chapter 2…  

(Ruth 2:1-2)1 There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz.So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.”And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.

Ruth, although a new follower of the one true God, must know something about Scripture. Notice, this is not Naomi (the woman who was a Hebrew and knew the Lord), it was Ruth (the woman who is a ‘Moabitess’) who is asking/begging to not just sit around and starve, but go out and work for food by gleaning heads of grain.

The Midrach – the Hebrew commentary respected by all biblical historians– declares that Ruth was none other than the daughter of Eglon. Do you know who that is? He was the king of Moab who oppressed the Israelites for eighteen years! He is the only man in the entire Bible referred to as, “a very fat man” (Judges 3:17). This guy was a bad dude! He finally was taken out by a man, that God had raised up, named Ehud. It is absolutely one of the coolest stories in the Bible!

Quickly tell the story from Judges 3

Anyways… Ruth is this fat guy’s daughter! This is how she was raised! In a totally secular, immoral, anti-God way! And yet, in verse 2 we see her begging Naomi to go out and glean grain. Maybe you think… “So what?” Well, it’s a BIG DEAL, because in the Law of God, God had made another beautifully compassionate provision for the poor which stated that a poor person could go into the fields during the time of harvest and gather whatever was left behind by the reapers.

Deuteronomy 24:18-19– “But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing. ‘When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless youin all the work of your hands.

If you put two-and-two together here, you begin to realize that Ruth,a young woman who was raised in a completely anti-God way, by an evil and immoral father, somehowknows the Word of God well enough that she has to, in a sense, remind her mother-in-law, of what Scripture declares. She begs Naomi to allow her to go and do EXACTLY what Scripture declares she CAN do… and it is going to result in, not only them not starving, but in her meeting the man of her dreams!

Gang, it doesn’t matter where you come from… who your parents were… how awful your upbringing might have been… when God becomes YOUR GOD… diving into reading the Bible is going to end up being awesome for you! We don’t read the Bible, as Christians, because its sort-of this RULE (all good boys and girls read the Bible). No man, we read the Bible because it will benefit US! God wants to bless you! God wants to do things that you can’t even imagine, and the BEST WAY for you to be blessed and to make GOOD CHOICES… is for you to know what God’s will is. The best way for you to know what God’s will is… is to read HIS WORD. Ruth must have read His Word… because she is quoting it perfectly here in verse 2.

(Ruth 2:3)Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happenedto come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

The wording here is very interesting: “she happenedto come to the part of the field belonging…”. I think that is so cool! She just “happened” to wind up in the field belonging to some guy who just happenedto be related to her deceased father-in-law. Listen, Ruth didn’t know that this guy was a close relative… a ‘kinsman’. God was directing her steps!

In this story, Ruth is a picture of you and me. We’re the Bride of Christ… but we didn’t start out that way – just like Ruth didn’t start out being the bride of Boaz.

We were lost. We were hungryand maybe we didn’t even know it! And then one day we just ‘happened’ to find ourselves in the field of Jesus. One day, someone invited us to church, or to Bible study. Or maybe we just happened to have parents or grandparents, or a friend that introduced us? Or maybe we were clicking thru channels on the TV, or the radio dial… and we just happenedto hear this GOOD NEWS?

However it “just happened”… it was ALL PART OF GOD’S PLAN… that we were allowed to come in contact with our ‘Greater-than-Boaz, Jesus Christ!

Listen, when we are obedient to God’s Word, as Ruth was, and obedient to His Holy Spirit’s promptingswe can be assured that we are in His covering and in His hands.

Psalm 119:33Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.

Proverbs 16:9A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Psalm 37:23(NLT) “The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives.

Jeremiah 10:23(NLT) “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.

Turn with me to Genesis 24… this is another love story: Abraham wanted a wife for his son, Isaac… but he wanted her to be from the land of Canaan. So he had his lead servant travel there and find the perfect wife for Isaac. The servant was a little intimidated by this great task, but obeyed his master, Abraham. When he arrived he went to a well, and… you’ll have to read it later to get all the cool details… he ran into this beautiful, young woman named, “Rebekah”. After meeting and talking with her, he knows she’s the one that God has picked for Isaac, and the servant…

Genesis 24:26-27Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord. And he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led meto the house of my master’s brethren.”

Many times, people wonder how God will lead them. “How will I know whether to take that job, get involved in this relationship, or take on a new ministry?” they ask.

The servant says, “As for me, being in the way, the Lord led me…” I think the wording here is super-duper awesome!Centuries after this story took place there would be this Rabbi named, Jesus, and He would have the audacity to declare, “I am the Way” (John 14:6); and did you know that the first group of Christians… the early church… would be called, “the Way” (Acts 19:23)?

When you and I are walking in the Way, if we’re obeying Jesus and walking with Him…living according to His Word, we will end up at the right spot, and at the right time. We never have to waste our time struggling and striving to find God’s will.

Simply walk day by day in the Way, and, as He did Abraham’s servant, and as He did for Ruth… God will lead you.

Maybe you’re listening to me, and you’re thinking;

Man, how in the world am I supposed to walk in the Way?

You don’t know how hard my life is?

You don’t know the kind of people I work with… or live with?

I don’t think Jesus wants to be anywhere close to where I’m livin’!

Look at the nextverse in Ruth…

(Ruth 2:4)Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered him, ‘The Lord bless you!’

This is pretty cool: Boaz walked among his reapers, saying, ‘The Lord be WITH you’…

Just like Jesus, our ‘Greater-than-Boaz’,is called, ‘EMMANUEL’, which means, “GodWITHus”.

God desperately wants to walk withyou and me. He ALWAYShas:

Genesis 3:8And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the gardenin the cool of the day…

Deuteronomy 23:14For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you…”

John 1:14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory…

Philippians 2:5-8Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

God has ALWAYS desired to walk WITHus.

But the truth is… man hasn’t always desired to walk with God.

But that is going to change. That passage in Philippians doesn’t end at verse 8…

Philippians 2:9-11Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confessthat Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Every person is… one day… going to see Jesus walking among us.

And like the workers in the field, who saw Boaz and heard Boaz say, “The Lord be withyou!”… responded by saying, “The Lord bless you!

So too, will every person, not only recognize that the Lord is walking among them… they will bless His name. Everyone. Even the person you may be thinking of right now, that you would NEVER imagine that they’d ever bless the Lord or confess Him… they too will bow their knee and bless the Lord.

Praise the Lord… we know that we can walk with Jesus right now!I use to sing an old hymn that had this line in it: “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other has ever known!

For the longest time I just wanted to know who “ANDY” was!  But it ain’t ANDY that we’re talking about… it’s JESUS.

We have a great hope! Just like Job had (a guy who had a pretty rough life, by the way):

Job 19:25For I know that my Redeemerlives, and he shall stand at last on the earth;

CONCLUSION:

It’s not a coincidence that you are here this morning. God wants you! He wants to walk with you… daily.

He wants to speak to you through His Word.

He wants to direct your paths.

You’re not just “happening” to be hearing this today. God wants you!

Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Let’s pray…

 

[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]

 

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Picture Perfect – Ruth 2:1

The following is a sermon I preached at The Alpine Chapel in Telluride, Colorado.

INTRODUCTION:

We’re making our way through the Old Testament Book of Ruth; 4 chapters, and only 85 verses long, the mighty midget with a meaningful message! It is a powerful little loves story which shows how the Lord can take something totally wiped-out and make it totally far-out. It’s a Book in the Bible that ministers a message of hope to any who feel hopeless, helpless, and hurting. We’ve finished up chapter one, where we were introduced to Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth; two ladies who’ve lost their husbands and have made their way to the city of Bethlehem-Judah, from the city of Moab.

Oftentimes, before God changes our circumstances, He wants to change our hearts. If our circumstances change for the better, but we remain the same, then I’m not so sure things are actually “better”. God’s purpose is not to make us comfortable, but to make us conformable, “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Looking more like Jesus is really the ultimate goal for each of God’s kids.

As we talked about last time, Naomi was bitter against God, but Ruth was willing for God to have His way in her life, so God began His gracious work with Ruth. Ruth would end up influencing Naomi, and then God would bring to pass a wonderful work that would eventually bring the Son of God into the world. Ruth and Naomi had no idea that they were an integral part of an eternal plan. That plan was to bring the Messiah – the ‘Anointed One’ – the ‘Deliverer’ – the ‘Light of the World’ – Jesus Christ. Ruth would end up being in Jesus’ family tree. The love story that we’re talking about here, results in Jesus being birthed!

Listen, I find this really, really cool! Ruth’s story begins with the death of her husband, and it ends with Jesus being birthed! This is an amazing truth that still is true today. Sometimes our heartaches and trials can seem to be the end… but if we’ll hold onto God during those seasons of heartbreak, we too, will see Jesus being ‘birthed’ through our lives!

Let’s pick up where we left off last week…in the first verse of chapter 2…  

(Ruth 2:1)1There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz.

Here we are introduced to Boaz. His name in Hebrew means, “standing in strength”. Remember, he lived during the “days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1)… and those days are described in the last verse of the Book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The days, the country, and the culturewere extremely tough, yet Boaz was a man who truly stood strong and true in days offilth and famine.

This guy was impressive, to say the least. He was ofthe tribe of Judah, and from him would come the greatest king Israel would ever have, King David… and ultimately, the king of Kings, Jesus Christ! Solomon was so impressed with his great, great grandpa, that he named one of the two main pillars of the Temple after him (1 Kings 7:21)… If you think about it, “standing in strength” would be a pretty good name for one of the main pillars in the Temple, right?

So, here you have this strong, impressive man, Boaz… and he is apicture of Jesus.The word ‘relative’ here is the Hebrew word ‘modat’, which literally means, ‘kinsmen’. In other English translations thatisthe word used (KJV, NASB). What’s interesting, is that this word, ‘kinsman’, is found eleven other times throughout the small Book of Ruth, and in each of those eleven times it is not the word ‘modat’ that is used, it is the Hebrew word, “ga-al”. I don’t want to lose you here, but I find this very interesting. Every other time “relative” or “kinsman” is used in this story, it is the word “ga-al”. Maybe you say, “So what? Who cares?” Well… the Hebrew word “ga-al”, which is also translated “kinsman” eleven times in Ruth, has a few other meanings: “relative”, “kinsmen”, and “deliverer”, “avenger”, and “redeemer”.

Again… Boaz is a picture of Jesus. I grew up hearing things like, “Jesus is our Kinsmen-Redeemer”, but to be honest… I never really understood what that meant. To get a grasp on what an awesome thing that is, we must first understand that the word “ga-al” has its roots in chapters 25 of Numbersand Leviticus, where God had outlined a plan to prevent capitalism from getting out of hand. Every fifty years, there was something called the ‘Year of Jubilee’. In this particular year, all properties purchased by corporations or wealthy individuals due to bankruptcy were to go back to the original owner. In the Year of Jubilee, all debts were canceled. It was Father God’s safeguard against the greed which causes such a gap between the rich and the poor.

As gracious as the Year of Jubilee was, however, fifty years is a long time to be without your land – especially if you’re a farmer. So, the Lord made another provision: The closestrelative, or ‘kinsmen’, had the right, at ANY time, to buy back property which had been lost through bankruptcy, poor business practices, or mismanagement. That is why the word ‘ga-al’ is translated both ‘kinsman’ and ‘redeemer’.

So… above and beyond all of that, a redeemer was a relative who could “buy” a personthat had been sold into slavery, usually because of debt. If a person became enslaved because of debt, the redeemer would “purchase” the person to obtain their freedom. As a result, the redeemer would “own” the person, but as a close family member, not as a slave. This entire Book of Ruth is an example of this whole awesome process. Its why, I believe, we have this love story in our Bibles. Boaz acts as a kinsman-redeemer for Ruth. In Ruth 4 (verses 5,13)it says he “bought” her and she became his wife. God has given us this story, as a PERFECT PICTURE of what is happening with you and me today:

Jesus is our ‘Ga-al’. We’re bankrupt. We’re out of it. Like Ruth and Naomi, we have nothing. Sin has come in and separated us from a loving and beautiful God. But there is One who stands in strength. He is our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:13-14(NASB)– “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

I love that! Jesus, our Kinsman-Redeemer, forgives us “all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt…”. Everything I owed… gone! You see, my sin cost something… big time! Romans 6:23declares that “…the wages of sin is death…”. The cost is DEATH!Because I chose a life of rebellion, I was going to have a day of reckoning. But Jesus, stood strong on my behalf. He went to the Cross and died a horrific death… being nailed to it. In so doing, “…He has taken it(my debt)out of the way…”.

When I was a kid we use to sing a song in church based on Isaiah 51:11 (KJV)“Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away”.

The redeemed of the Lord” in that verse is speaking of the Lord’s people having been brought across the Red Sea, delivered by God miraculously out ofslavery. God calls them “the redeemed”… but His goal wasn’t just to free them from slavery! He wanted an intimate relationshipwith them!

Exodus 6:6–7–“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem youwith an outstretched arm and with great judgments.I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians”

God was saying that He would be their Redeemer and take them as His people, as a man takes a woman as his wife, as Boaz did for Ruth. God did not just want to release them from slavery, but He wanted an intimate relationship with His people, like that of a husband and wife. He redeemed them out of love for them and wanted them to be close to Him forever. Often the Scriptures speak of God as the husband/redeemer of Israel:

Isaiah 54:5– “For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.

Jesus, who was our Redeemer from sin, also “purchased us” as His people with His blood that was shed on the cross. As Peter says,

1 Peter 1:18 – 19– “knowing that you were not redeemedwith corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Peter points out that Jesus was the spotless lamb… and it was the Lamb’s blood that paid for our freedom. Just like the lamb’s blood protected the Israelites in Egypt and led to their redemption from slavery. In the same way, Jesus’ blood redeemed us from our debt of sin, and the death we deserve because of it. Through His death, Christ “bought” us as His people, but not justto set us free. Instead, like a husband taking a wife, He redeemed us out of His great love, so that we could have an intimate relationship with Him.

Boaz is about to redeem Ruth and free her from her situation of indebtedness… being poor… being without hope – even as Jesus Christ has redeemed us, the church, and brought us out of our slavery to sin… but also into intimate relationship with Him… as His bride.

As we can see… this is a PERFECT PICTURE.

Boaz,the kinsman-redeemer/ Jesus,ourKinsman-Redeemer.

CONCLUSION:

Today, I’m grateful for this glimpse at Who Jesus is, and what He’s done for me. It’s good to be reminded. I think it’s easy for us to forget… how much gracewe’ve been shown.

Remember the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and the anointing oil? They complained.

Luke 7:47– “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Do you love little, today? How much have you been forgiven?

You and I will NEVER be CONFORMED into Jesus’ image, if we love little.

We will never see Jesus “birthed” in our world… if we don’t see the depth of our sin, and our need for a Kinsman-Redeemer.

We must be those that look at the PERFECT PICTURE…

of Boaz’ love and saving of Ruth,… and see Jesus.

But… I also wonder if you and I could be a picture perfect,PERFECT PICTURE?

Like…we can read this story, look at Boaz, and see Jesus…

But wouldn’t it be cool if people could look at us… and see Jesus?

It starts with understanding we’ve been forgiven… A LOT.

Then falling in love with Jesus.

 If the world sees that… then maybe they’ll see Him. 

 Let’s pray…

 

[*I use The New King James Version, and most quotes from the Bible will be from NKJV, unless otherwise noted. Also, I use various books and commentaries when preparing a message. I have NOT given credit in each instance, but will say that I do not use on-line commentaries such as Blue-Letter Bible, or other on-line sources. I use the following on a pretty regular basis, because I own them: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Jewish New Testament Commentary, The Complete Biblical Library (NIV), Skip Heitzig’s ‘The Bible From 30,000 Feet’, William MacDonald’s ‘Believer’s Bible Commentary’, Matthew Henry’s ‘A Commentary On The Whole Bible’, Jon Courson’s ‘Application Commentary’, Holman’s Study Bible, The Archeological Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, William Barclay’s Commentaries ‘The Daily Bible Series’. I think that’s about it.]

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