#2 (THE "BOOK OF RUTH" SERIES)
TEXT: Ruth 2:1-23
INTRO: Naomi and Ruth found themselves in need; Naomi who had probably once been rich was now poor. Naomi needed help from God and what does she get -- A Moabite daughter in-law! To some this would not have seemed like an answer to prayer! How could Naomi expect God to help her?
So often we want to have God answer in ways that will raise eyebrows ... in supernatural ways that will awe our friends and ourselves; yet, so often God uses the ordinary things around us to answer our needs, we just need to see them as answers from God!
ILLUS: THE STORY IS TOLD ABOUT A PLACE DOWN SOUTH WHERE RECENT EXCAVATIONS FOR A NEW HIGHWAY HAD CONTRIBUTED TO SOME FLASH FLOOD PROBLEMS. VOLUNTEERS RISKED THEIR LIVES TO RESCUE VICTIMS STRANDED IN THE DELUGE. ONE OLD MAN WAS UP TO HIS KNEES IN THE FAST RISING WATERS WHEN A ROWBOAT CAME TO RESCUE HIM, THEY SAID TO HIM, "HOP IN, WE'LL SAVE YOU!" THE MAN BEING A CHRISTIAN RESPONDED, “NO THANKS, THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.” A SHORT WHILE LATER A MOTORBOAT WAS SENT TO SAVE HIM, BY THIS TIME THE WATER WAS OVER HIS WAIST, BUT AGAIN HE REFUSED THE OFFER SAYING THE LORD WILL SAVE HIM AND PROVIDE A WAY OUT. SOON THE WATER WAS UP TO HIS CHIN AND NOW A HELICOPTER CAME OVER AND THEY ASKED HIM TO GRAB THE ROPE, THIS WAS HIS LAST CHANCE, BUT AGAIN HE SAID NO SAYING HE WOULD TRUST THE LORD TO HELP HIM OUT. THE MAN FOUND HIMSELF AT THE PEARLY GATES SUDDENLY FACING PETER, HE WAS MAD AS A HORNET TO REALIZE THAT HE HAD DIED AND HE LOOKED AT ST. PETER AND SAID, "THE LAST THING I REMEMBER I WAS IN TROUBLE, PRAYING UP A STORM, SO WHY DID YOU LET ME DROWN, WHY DIDN'T GOD ANSWER MY REQUEST WHEN I TRUSTED IN HIM?" ST. PETER LOOKED AT HIM AND SHOOK HIS HEAD AND SAID, "WE SENT YOU TWO BOATS AND A HELICOPTER WHAT MORE DID YOU WANT?" -- Source Unknown
Naomi's needs would be met in ways she couldn't have dreamed of, Ruth would meet her needs by simply requesting the rights of the poor in Israel -- to glean from the fields as they were worked. Ruth was willing to put action behind her request and the results will be marvelous. God delights in answering our requests when they are given in a spirit of response on our part to do what we can!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we have the privilege to make requests to God for help and that when we are prepared to do what we can do God will do what we can’t do!
I. GOD'S PROVIDENCE! 2:1-3
A. Commitment 2:1-2
1. The answers to Naomi's needs were pretty practical:
a. She needed encouragement for she was bitter; God gives her Ruth whose name in Hebrew means "friendship."
b. She needed food and supplies for she was poor; God gives her Ruth to help glean the fields for food.
c. All these ways seemed pretty unspiritual but they are the very ground work of God doing great things in Naomi's life, and also for the line of the future king David and eventually for the Messiah Jesus' lineage!
2. Ruth's commitment to do whatever was necessary opened the door for Naomi's needs to be met and for Ruth's requests to be granted!
3. God answers prayers through our fulfilling commitments many times!
ILLUS: THERE IS A
STORY ABOUT AN OLD FAITHFUL DEACON WHO ALWAYS PRAYED THE SAME THING IN EVERY
SERVICE, "LORD, TOUCH THE UNSAVED WITH THY FINGER!" ONE PRAYER MEETING NIGHT HE WAS LEADING
IN PRAYER ONCE AGAIN WHEN AS HE HAD ALWAYS DONE HE PRAYED THIS SAME PRAYER,
EXCEPT THIS TIME HE SUDDENLY STOPPED MIDSTREAM IN THE SENTENCE! SUPPOSING THAT HE HAD BEEN TAKEN
SUDDENLY ILL, SOMEONE WENT TO HIM AND ASKED IF THERE WAS ANYTHING WRONG, IF HE
WAS ILL? HE REPLIED, ''NO, I'M
B. Coincidence? 2:3
1. So Ruth goes out to look for a way to meet the needs Naomi and she has …the important phrase in this verse is, “as it turned out…”
a. What appears to be an accident is God's providential hand at work! This is so true even today in our lives!
b. What Ruth doesn't know will become apparent later, that God is directing her path even though at the moment she is unaware of it!
c. Ruth finds herself in the fields of Boaz, who just happens to be related to her dead husband and Naomi, but she didn't know this at the time!
2. God was already at work, Naomi and Ruth just are not aware of it. To some extent Boaz was not even aware of it, but God clearly was aware of all of it!
a. In God's work there are no accidents, He is already at work in everything in our lives.
b. This is the essence of Romans "All things work together for good to those who are called..."
c. We should not be afraid to request God's help and then believe He will help when we are willing to do what we can do!
WENGATZ IN HIS BOOK "MIRACLES IN BLACK" TELLS THE STORY ABOUT AN AFRICAN CONVERT
WHO WAS LEFT AT A NEW
3. To some this would have been a coincidence, but he knew better; to some this was God answering the prayers of a godly preacher, but what about the ordinary people like Ruth and Naomi!? How about regular people today?
ILLUS: A TIRED-LOOKING WOMAN ENTERED A GROCERY STORE AND ASKED THE OWNER FOR ENOUGH FOOD TO MAKE A CHRISTMAS DINNER FOR HER CHILDREN. WHEN HE INQUIRED HOW MUCH SHE COULD AFFORD, SHE ANSWERED, "MY HUSBAND WAS KILLED IN AN ACCIDENT. TRUTHFULLY, I HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER EXCEPT A LITTLE PRAYER." ALTHOUGH THE MAN WAS UNMOVED AT FIRST, HE THOUGHT OF A CLEVER RESPONSE TO THE WOMAN'S SIMPLE REQUEST. HE SAID TO HER SARCASTICALLY, "WRITE YOUR PRAYER ON A PIECE OF PAPER AND YOU CAN HAVE ITS WEIGHT IN GROCERIES." TO HIS SURPRISE, SHE PLUCKED A FOLDED NOTE OUT OF HER POCKET AND HANDED IT TO HIM SAYING, "I ALREADY DID THAT DURING THE NIGHT WHILE I WAS WATCHING OVER MY SICK BABY." WITHOUT EVEN READING IT, HE PUT IT ON ONE SIDE OF HIS OLD FASHIONED SCALES ... "WE'LL LET’S SEE HOW MUCH FOOD THIS IS WORTH." HE MUTTERED. TO HIS DISMAY NOTHING HAPPENED TO THE SCALE WHEN HE PLACED A LOAF OF BREAD ON THE OTHER SIDE, IT DIDN'T TIP DOWN! HE BECAME EVEN MORE UPSET WHEN HE ADDED TO THE BREAD A NUMBER OF OTHER ITEMS OF FOOD AND IT STILL DID NOT TIP DOWN! FINALLY HE BLURTED OUT, "WELL, THAT'S ALL IT WILL HOLD ANYWAY, HERE'S A BAG, YOU'LL HAVE TO PUT THESE THINGS IN YOURSELF I'M BUSY!" WITH A TEARFUL "THANK YOU!" FROM HER THE WOMAN HAPPILY WENT ON HER WAY. THE GROCER LATER DISCOVERED THAT THE SCALES SOMEHOW HAD BROKEN AND FROZE UP, FOR A LONG TIME HE WONDERED IF THIS HAD BEEN NOTHING MORE THAN JUST A LUCKY COINCIDENCE FOR THIS WOMAN! HAD SHE HAPPENED TO COME IN JUST AFTER IT HAD BROKEN SOMEHOW? HAD SHE JUST LUCKILY WROTE THAT NOTE AHEAD OF TIME SO THAT IT WAS READY WHEN HE SAID HE WOULD TAKE A PRAYER ON A NOTE AND WEIGH IT AND GIVE HER THAT MUCH IN GROCERIES!? EVERY TIME HE LOOKED AT THAT NOTE SHE WROTE DURING THE NIGHT BEFORE COMING IN HE IS AMAZED, FOR ON IT SHE HAD WRITTEN, "PLEASE DEAR LORD, GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD!" HOW DID SHE KNOW HE WOULD PUT A LOAF OF BREAD ON IT FIRST? -- Source Unknown
4. God doesn't work in "coincidences" ... He works providentially!
a. His works sometimes appear pretty "ordinary" in scope to us, but He is supernaturally working in them!
b. Ruth's desire to work and glean the fields was part of God's plan for many things, it will be the "miracle" Naomi is looking for, the one Ruth needs and the one we all needed since Ruth and Boaz were in the direct line of the Messiah!
II. GOD'S PROVISIONS 2:4-18
A. Compassion 2:4-10
1. "Just then ..." Boaz arrives and notices Ruth, again no coincidence!
2. Notice the kind of greeting his workers give him and his greeting to them!
a. “The Lord be with you!” and “the Lord bless you!”
b. This is a well loved man, a man of compassion!
c. Naomi who was bitter, and Ruth who was a stranger and something of a racial outcast was in need of compassion!
3. Boaz notices this stranger in his fields and asks about her.
a. After being identified, Boaz talks
to her and she makes her request to glean his fields which was the right of the
b. He is gracious to her and requests that she only glean in his fields, he offers to protect her and provide water and even food for her.
4. Boaz is a type of Christ here; he is the kinsman-redeemer to Ruth and Naomi.
a. His compassion toward her was not isolated, his other workers loved him by their greeting; he was a man of compassion!
b. God was already answering Ruth's request in the heart of this man of love!
5. God often uses others to bring healing to our hearts and to show us the Father’s love.
ILLUS: AT ONE TIME J. WILBUR CHAPMAN EXPERIENCED A GREAT SORROW THAT NEARLY SHOOK HIS FAITH. IN ADDITION, HIS FINANCES WERE ALMOST DEPLETED JUST WHEN IT WAS NECESSARY FOR HIM TO TAKE A LONG TRIP TO THE WESTERN UNITED STATES. ONE OF THE ELDERS OF HIS CHURCH WHO WAS A WEALTHY BANKER CAME TO HIS HOME TO OFFER A WORD OF COMFORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT. AS HE LEFT, HE SLIPPED A PIECE OF PAPER INTO THE PASTOR'S HAND. CHAPMAN LOOKED AT IT AND WAS SURPRISED TO FIND THAT IT WAS A CHECK MADE OUT TO HIM AND SIGNED BY THIS RICH FRIEND. HE NOTICED HOWEVER THAT NO FIGURES HAD BEEN WRITTEN ON THE CHECK AND HE ASKED, "DID YOU REALLY MEAN TO GIVE ME A SIGNED CHECK THAT IS BLANK?" HIS FRIEND ANSWERED YES TO THIS AND ADDED, "I DIDN'T KNOW HOW MUCH YOU'D NEED AND I WANTED TO BE SURE YOU WOULD HAVE ENOUGH." CHAPMAN NEVER USED THE CHECK, BUT HE MENTIONED HOW HE FELT KNOWING THAT AT HIS DISPOSAL IF HE NEEDED IT WAS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ... GOD HAD GIVEN HIM HIS COMPASSION THROUGH A FRIEND! -- Source Unknown
B. Comfort -18
1. Boaz was responding compassionately to Ruth as one who had demonstrated compassion toward Naomi!
a. It is true that we reap what we sow!
b. Boaz is moved by this foreigner who had shown such love toward a very bitter woman named “Naomi!”
c. As is often the case, God is moved by those who have themselves been faithful to love and sacrifice themselves for others!
Boaz recognizes Ruth's faith in God, though she is a foreigner she was
trusting in the God of
a. In this sense he will act on God's behalf!
b. When we minister to others in Christ’s name we are doing the same thing!
3. Too often we fail to appreciate how God meets our needs, we would always prefer of course to have immediate answers but sometimes God is doing something bigger that requires more time!
a. Ruth would be provided for, but she would work over several months to experience that provision!
b. But this would also allow time for Boaz to fall in love with her!
c. God could have provided all the grain they needed in one moment, but doing it over time was accomplishing more than one purpose that God had in mind!
4. God's comfort is not just something that happens all at once, it is the knowledge that He is at work that should be our comfort, even when it will be spread over time!
ILLUS: A MISSIONARY BECAME CONCERNED WHEN SHE DID NOT RECEIVE HER MONTHLY SUPPORT CHECK. ON TOP OF THIS SHE BECAME ILL AND BECAUSE SHE HAD NO MONEY TO LIVE ON SHE ENDED UP SUBSISTING ON OATMEAL AND CANNED MILK THAT SHE HAD PLENTY OF AROUND THE HOUSE. FINALLY 30 DAYS LATER SHE RECEIVED HER CHECK. AFTER MENTIONING THIS TRYING TIME TO A DOCTOR WHEN HOME ON FURLOUGH HE HAD ASKED ABOUT THE NATURE OF HER SICKNESS AT THAT TIME. SHE DESCRIBED THE INTESTINAL DIGESTIVE TROUBLE SHE HAD EXPERIENCED AND HE EXCLAIMED TO HER, "IF YOUR CHECK HAD COME ON TIME AND YOU HAD BEEN EATING YOUR CURRENT DIET YOU WOULD NOW BE DEAD!" HE EXPLAINED THAT WHAT SHE HAD FOR AN ILLNESS HAD ONLY ONE TREATMENT: A 30 DAY OATMEAL DIET!!! GOD HAD EVERYTHING IN CONTROL AND WAS MINISTERING TO HER BY DELAYING HER CHECK, THUS SAVING HER LIFE! NEW COMFORT CAME TO HER FROM THE REALIZATION THAT A GOD WHO KNEW WHAT SHE DIDN'T KNOW HAD PROTECTED HER! -- Source Unknown
5. Boaz actually gives orders for the men not to hassle her and to deliberately drop extra grain for her to gather!
a. An ephah was an unusual amount for a poor gleaner to gather! (It was about 3/5 of a bushel!)
b. Even the meal that Boaz had let Ruth eat with them was too much and she had brought some of that home to Naomi! This was unusual too!
c. She was allowed to drink from the water drawn for the workers, an unusual gesture as well!
6. What comfort to know that God was taking care of their needs! (He still is today!)
III. GOD'S PURPOSE -23
A. Consoled! 2:19-20
1. All of this was for both Ruth and Naomi, He was at work in both of their lives.
2. As Ruth returns to Naomi with the news of the day and how things had gone Naomi finds a new hope returning to her "bitter" soul!
a. Had God forgotten Naomi and her bitterness? NO!
b. Had God forgotten that Ruth was an
c. God was bringing consolation to both Ruth and Naomi, He was ministering to their needs!
(1. Naomi's bitterness!
(2. Ruth's need of a husband and acceptance!
3. God was touching the rough spots in their lives!
ILLUS: STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE TREES: #1 WANTED TO GROW UP AND BE MADE INTO A BEAUTIFUL CRADLE FOR SOME BABY, INSTEAD IT WAS MADE INTO A ROUGH SHAPED MANGER ... BUT THAT HELD THE BABY JESUS, A GREATER PRIVILEGE THAN ANY OTHER CRADLE! #2 WANTED TO BE MADE INTO A GREAT SEA GOING SHIP, BUT IT ENDED UP AS A PLAIN FISHING BOAT ON THE SEA OF GALILEE ... BUT IT WAS THE BOAT JESUS CAME ABOARD AND PREACHED FROM, A GREATER PRIVILEGE THAN ALL OTHER BOATS! #3 WANTED TO STAY ON A HILL AND GROW BIG, BUT IT WAS TAKEN DOWN AND MADE INTO A CROSS ... NOW IT WOULD NOT HOLD ANY BEAUTY, IT WOULD BE USED TO KILL PEOPLE! JESUS ENDED UP ON THAT CROSS AND IT STANDS AS THE SYMBOL OF OUR SALVATION TO THIS DAY, NO TREE HAS HAD A BETTER MEANING! WE SOMETIMES FEEL LOST AND OUR LIVES ARE TORN FROM US AND MADE INTO SOMETHING WE DIDN'T WANT, BUT GOD TOUCHES THEM AND TRANSFORMS THEM INTO SOMETHING OF GREATER VALUE! -- Source Unknown
4. God was transforming Naomi by consoling her through His provisions for her, provisions she would never have thought God would use to minister to her and her pain!
a. God knows what He is doing even when we do not understand His ways!
b. The full story is never known at the beginning, sometimes not even in the middle!
B. Consistent! 2:21-23
1. Ruth will consistently give herself to serve, in this God will provide for her the needed husband, for day after day Boaz will see her and fall deeper and deeper in love with her!
2. Had Ruth quit she would not have received the needed miracles!
3. Ruth stayed and persisted and trusted God, this is the stuff of miracles!
ILLUS: SOME 50
YEARS AGO, ONE BITTER JANUARY NIGHT THE INHABITANTS OF THE
4. Ruth and Naomi’s needs were answered in seemingly regular ways, but together these things were part of God's great plan for them and for us. Ruth's requesting was answered as she did what she could and God did what He could too!
5. Is God answering needs in your life in ways you don't see right now. It may be through some very ordinary ways used by God in extraordinary ways!
CONCLUSION: Ruth's requests were honored by God because Ruth lived a life within the context of faith! Her faith not only asked, her faith compelled her to act! Faith is not a passive force that simply believes and then passively waits for an answer; faith moves us to act where we can and to trust God for what we cannot do! It is this concept of faith and "asking" that Jesus taught His disciples and us too!