The God of Small Details and Perfect Timing
Ruth 2:1-23 (ESV)
Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.  And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”  So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.  And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.”  Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”  And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.  She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”
 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.  Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”  Then she fell on her face, bowing 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?”  But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”  Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”
 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.  When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.  And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”
 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.  And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.  And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man 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.”  And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”  And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ”  And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”  So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
As we continue through this account we are left with a ray of hope at each point along the way. God is a God of grace. Even in the midst of struggle and trial, we do not struggle alone but God is with us, leading us home just as He was leading Ruth and Naomi home. Read More
God’s Sovereign Grace
Ruth 1:6-22 (ESV)
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.  So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.  But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.  The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.  And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”  But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?  Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons,  would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”  Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”  But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. 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. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”  And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”  She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
As we learned last week, the Lord had visited His people with a bitter providence. Their fields dried up and a famine was the result. Now in verse six, we learn that the judgment was over. The storm of wrath had passed over and Bethlehem once again had grain in her fields.
We really get a sense here of Divine Grace. It doesn’t say that the people in Bethlehem or Naomi in particular repented. It seems as if God’s grace was at work. Naomi hears the good news that the famine is over and she responds. She arose and returned to Bethlehem from the land of Moab. I believe this is a picture of how we respond to the call of God. We don’t repent and then God saves because of our repentance. God saves and then we respond.
It’s like the account we have of Lazarus.
John 11:43-44 (ESV)
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Lazarus was dead and couldn’t respond. When Jesus called him he came to life, got up and came forth.
The author wants us to understand that Naomi’s coming back to Bethlehem is in a sense a resurrection. She was destitute and left empty and alone. In the midst of her struggle, the Lord calls her home. She hears that the Lord had visited His people with kindness. She doesn’t stay in her former condition but rises and goes to the Lord.
It’s very clear in the text that it was the Lord who visited His people and it was the Lord who provided food for them, just as it was the Lord who caused the famine.
1. Naomi’s Bitterness (Ruth 1:7-14) Read More
Learning From Bitter Providence
Ruth 1:1-6 (ESV)
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.  The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.  But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.  These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years,  and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.
The Book of Ruth is a simple somewhat ordinary story on one hand and on the other; it is an amazing account of God’s sovereign dealings with a simple family. The Book of Ruth is sort of the calm in the midst of the storm. The Book of Judges is a book of one episode of judgment after another. God’s people would listen for a while and then they would turn to evil…God would judge them…God would send them a deliverer…they would turn back to Him. This cycle would happen time and time again. The reason this was so was that rather than listening to God, rather than reading His Word and obeying, the people did what they thought was right. Read More
A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare
Ephes. 6:10-24 (ESV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,  and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything.  I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
As we begin to unpack these verses this morning we must first see the imagery Paul is giving us in this last section of the book. He has taught us doctrine in the first three chapters. In the last three he is teaching us duty. Here, in this final piece of the puzzle, he is giving us the means in which we can live out those great commands that he’s issued in this great book to the church.
He uses a Roman Soldier as a metaphor picturing the Christian Soldier. As we examine each piece of the Christian Soldier’s suit of armor I pray we will see clearly how the Lord has equipped us for this battle. Every Christian is in this battle. The Lord wants us all to be fighters and not bench warmers.
Let’s look together at A Biblical View of Spiritual Warfare
1. The Soldier’s Strength (Ephesians 6:10-12)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
There are forces that are alive and well in this world that are hostile to you as a Christian. These evil forces work against everything that you are to be engaged in as a Christian. More than anything else, these forces are fighting against the Gospel.
To close out the Book of Ephesians, Paul makes it very clear that all the doctrine he has laid out for us and all the proper behavior he has taught us is going to meet with extreme resistance. Satan and his army are battling us. Satan is the prince of the power of the air. He is lord of this present darkness.
I hope you realize that the Christian life is a constant battle. The moment you let your guard down, you go backwards.
The Church will be victorious, the gates of hell are no match to the church. And at the same time, we’ll only be victorious if we wear the armor and fight the war. Read More
Working for Christ
Ephes. 6:5-9 (ESV)
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,  not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,  rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,  knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.  Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
As we begin to unpack this text today, it’s important that we think Bible and not think society. As we look at the Scriptures they tell unanimously that slavery within God’s boundaries was not an evil of society.
Many folks have gotten sidetracked as they read texts of Scripture like this one. They cry out why doesn’t Paul condemn slavery and why doesn’t Paul shout with all his breath that slavery is evil and sinful and that slave owners are unconverted hell bound sinners? The fact is he doesn’t. The fact is Jesus doesn’t. The fact is God in the Old Testament doesn’t.
I thought I’d drop that bomb on you early on in the message in hopes that it will begin to sink in and you will have somewhat recovered by the time we get to the application of these very important divinely inspired words.
Before we begin to look at our text under consideration, let’s set in place a proper view of slavery and especially a view that will take us closer to our text. Here more than ever, if we are to understand the text we must understand the times in which it was written.
Slavery was common in the ancient world. In the ancient world, barring the abuses, it was a lot like the employer and employee relationships of today. Read More