If you take a fire poker and let it sit in a raging fire, it will become hot to the touch. The environment of the fire will transfer to the poker. The poker does not have its own power or temperature control. It cannot create its own heat but is depended upon its environment. Further, if you were to take that raging hot fire poker and then touch something with it, it would burn or scold whatever it touched – not because the poker had its own power but because of the poker’s relationship to the fire. Likewise, if your life is not aflame with God’s power and favor, it is likely because you have not been spending time in the environment of His fire. You are out of alignment with His purpose and plans and therefore you have no power. You must reposition yourself in surrender to His will and way that in God’s providential favor you may grow warm and catch a spark.
Today’s message is a reminder that God’s grace is overflowing and available to those willing to receive it. It is not God’s goal to hide or remain mysterious in our hardships. Yet, God calls us toward a trust relationship that involves patience and perseverance.
EXAMINE RUTH 2 The Power of Grace 3 unlikely truths for experiencing the power of grace
God’s grace is found in an unlikely transition (Ruth 1:22)
Naomi & Ruth had experienced the death of their spouses, along with the passing of Naomi’s 2 sons. They were lonely widows in need of compassion and grace. This family had spent over a decade (1:4) in Moab. They did not know what was to come. But, in the midst of all the chaos they found comfort because they risked all their hope in the hands of God by leaving Moab and returning to Bethlehem.
Ruth expressed beautiful devotion and legendary love toward Naomi in 1:16 “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried.” Her decision to transition was the realization that if she stayed behind, her emptiness would increase; she was trusting God for herself, and interestingly enough for Naomi too, that He would provide for their future. Sovereignly, God was in this transition and brought Naomi and Ruth to Bethlehem during the beginning of the barley harvest.
When you are in transition, you will be tempted to not trust God. You will lean on your own understanding and attempt to make decisions with self-made wisdom. We must remember that in transition God wants our attention. As Naomi & Ruth turned away from Moab, so there are things we must turn & transition away from and toward.
Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.”
Proverbs 3:5-7 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”
– Transition of career – serve for God’s glory and the good of others
– Transition of relationships – submit to Jesus as Lord in every relationship
– Transition of hope – surrender to Jesus as the only Savior
God’s grace is found among unlikely people (Ruth 2:1-18)
In the previous chapter moments Naomi wanted to be called Mara (bitter), but twice now she has continued to be called Naomi. The idea is that grace is on the horizon. As Naomi & Ruth arrive in Bethlehem there is the providential meeting with a relative of Elimelech whose name was Boaz. This was further grace because this man could have died during the famine but God kept him alive – and more, blessed him beyond proportion to others.
Boaz means strength. He is identified as
– Man of kinship: brother of Elimelech
– Man of worth: noble substance (character), standing (communal reputation), strength (valiant warrior; cf. Judges 6:12) and in God’s providential grace he is single!
– – > side note: ladies, if you want to find this type of man the location of your looking matters. Godly men are not going to be found at a bar, not going to be found at keg parties… stop lowering your standards! more on this next week in chapter 3.
Ruth the Moabite continues loyalty to Naomi and initiates opportunity to work for provision. She could have wallowed in grief but instead she seeks a work of grace (favor – 2:2). It is God’s providential grace that Ruth “happened to come [chanced upon chance – but this is how God works!] to the part of the field belonging to Boaz” (2:3). Ruth is allowed to glean (gather scraps, as opposed to reap/harvest) and gather the extra sheaves left from the field reapers. The national communal system of providing for the poor was established in Bethlehem because of God’s heart and provision for the poor (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-22). As the entire earth and land belonged to the Lord, God’s people were to share His provision with the poor as an act of generosity and kindness. Further, in giving the poor an opportunity to work and labor for their food they retained a measure of dignity and fulfilling their innate drive to labor & cultivate (Genesis 1:28) than simply begging with expectation to receive (cf. 2Thessalonians 3:10).
– – > side note: this is often missing today in entitlement mentality
– Grace is opposed to earning but not effort…
Boaz observes Ruth as someone culturally different as a foreigner/Moabite; listed 8x in book), as someone socially different (young and poor widow with Naomi) and even as someone spiritually different (2:11-12 faithful to Naomi and taken refuge in the Lord God of Israel).
Nonetheless, Boaz extended favor to Ruth
– Ruth began a relationship with Boaz as he called her “my daughter” (2:8).
– Ruth was allowed to glean in Boaz’s field for food
– Ruth was to keep close to Boaz’s other servant women for fellowship & protection
– Ruth was under the protection of Boaz’s servants
– Ruth was allowed to drink water from Boaz’s well
– Ruth was blessed and prayed for by Boaz (2:12)
– Ruth ate bread, roasted grain and wine at Boaz’s table; eating until she was satisfied (2:14)
– Ruth was able to live in peace, comfort, kindness and provision of Boaz
– Ruth gleaned in the field and returned home to Naomi with an ephah (2:17)
ð As an unbeliever, Boaz is a picture of Jesus Christ
- Just as Boaz was a worthy man to redeem Ruth, so Jesus was alone righteous to redeem us from sin.
- Just as Boaz was a near kinsman to Ruth, so Jesus in becoming human made himself like us to draw us near.
- Just as Ruth responded to Boaz with humility (2:10), so we must worship Christ.
ð As Christians, we must extend care and compassion to the needy/downtrodden
Proverbs 14:31“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”
- Who are the needy in your life… physically, emotionally, spiritually?
- The teen attracted to love from the wrong person
- The woman overwhelmed by her home life
- The spouse seeking to checkout of the marriage
- The man who lost his job and is always angry
- The person of another race that feels isolated and injured by your actions
- COMPASSION COMES FROM THE CROSS
ð As a church, we must extend hospitality to strangers/guests at church
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…”
1Peter 4:9 “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
God’s grace is found through an unlikely faith (2:19-23)
Ruth was aware of Boaz’s ability but not his identity. She understood Boaz was prosperous but did not realize his position as a kinsman redeemer. Upon returning home Ruth reveals the man’s name who has provided so richly – Boaz! I think she said his name with a blushing smile.
Ruth had endured much heartache and loss. She left everyone and gave up everything. She allowed her trials to drive her to trust; her affliction to faith in God.
We often say we believe God is in control, but when life seems out of control we roll. Our culture worships the idols of convenience and comfort. We want a god made in our image, who accomplishes our will and answers our prayers according to our purposes – and if God has a different plan then we “unfriend” Him.
Not Ruth. Ruth didn’t roll on Naomi, nor did she roll on God. She stayed. She trusted. She had faith.
“For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us… For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:18, 24
God’s grace is found in unlikely transitions.
God’s grace is found among unlikely people.
God’s grace is found through an unlikely faith.
We see our life as a story, thinking we are the main character. The problem is that it’s a B-movie at best. God offers us to be part of a blockbuster movie that will sell out week after week and draw millions. The catch is that we are not the main character – He is. Life is about the story of God, not the story of me.