28 Oct. 2012 Sunday
|Sermon: In God's Hands||video||audio||doc|
|Worship song: Seek Ye First||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Your Steadfast Love||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: The Power Of Your Love||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Draw Me Close To You||video||audio||lyric|
Worship song : Draw Me Close to You
|Verse 1||Draw me close to you. Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm your friend
|Verse 2||You are my desire. No one else will do
Coz nothing else could take your place
To feel the warmth of your embrace
Help me find the way, bring me back to you
|Chorus||You're all I want. You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want. Help me know you are near
Worship song: Power of Your love
|Verse 1||Lord, I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace That I found in You
Lord, I've come to know,
The weaknesses I see in me,
Will be stripped away,
By the power of Your love
|Verse 2||Lord, unveil my eyes,
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love, As You live in me
Lord, renew my mind,
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day,
By the power of Your Love
|Chorus||Hold me close, Let Your love surround me
Bring me near, Draw me to Your side
And as I wait, I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You,
Your Spirit leads me on in the power of Your Love
Scripture Reading: Ruth 2:1-10
1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”
3 So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.
4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!”
“The LORD bless you!” they called back.
5 Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, “Whose young woman is that?”
6 The foreman replied, “She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls.
9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me — a foreigner?”
Thank you. Good morning my friends. It is my privilege to share the Word of God with you this morning. Today we will continue our series on the book of Ruth. Today we are going to study Ruth 2. Let’s bow our heads to pray and get started.
Heavenly Father, we want to thank you for your unchanging love and your salvation. Lord, we come to you as we open your Word today, asking you to speak to us, speak to our heart. We want to hear from you. Lord, I pray for those who are lost, who are facing difficult times and challenges. Lord, please bring and give them much hope, strength and faith. Pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ok. Well, let me ask you a question, how many of you have read the book of Ruth, could you raise your hands? I want to see. If you have read the book of Ruth, could you raise your hands? Ok, some of you have read the book of Ruth. Some of you have not, I encourage you to get a Bible if you do not have a Bible.
Introduction to and background of Ruth
The book of Ruth is in the Old Testament. It is a very short book. It has only four chapters. The book of Ruth is a well-written and beautiful story, and a true story. It talks about a family that went through some tragedies and lost some family members. In the midst of that, God brings good into their lives. God blesses them. God uses a rich man called Boaz and redeems the family.
“Redeem” means being rescued or paying back or purchasing back something. This story of redemption really points to Jesus. Maybe some of you are new to this church. Maybe you have never read the Bible. One of the things I want to tell you is that the way we look at the Bible, the Scripture, is that the Bible is the Word of God. God speaks to us through His Word, and Jesus is the main character of the Bible. The Bible is about Jesus, and Jesus connects all the dots together. And Jesus is our redeemer. He saves us from our sins. That is in the Bible. So if you take Jesus out of the Bible, it will be just a normal book. So every time you read the Bible, you need to think about, what does it say about Jesus? So this story we just read, the book of Ruth, is about Jesus’ ancestors. It is a great picture of Jesus’ redemption. I want to help you catch up with this story here, so that we can be on the same page.
The story took place in the time of Judges. It was about two thousand years before the birth of Jesus and it was about three thousand years from now. It was a time of sins and rebelling. It was one of the darkest periods of Israel history. The story started at Bethlehem, which is where Jesus was born. “Bethlehem” simply means “the house of bread”. But in that period, there was no bread, there was a famine.
So there was an ordinary Israeli man called Elimelech, who took his wife Naomi and two sons, left Bethlehem, and moved for fifteen miles to the country called Moab. Then the husband died after they moved there. The two sons married Moabite women. One was called Orpah, and the other called Ruth. However, the two sons both died. There were three widows left. So Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem. She asked her daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland and go back to their family, because it was just extremely difficult for a foreign widow to find a new husband in Israel. So Orpah went back to her homeland, went back to her family. But Ruth insisted in staying with Naomi. She said:
“Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay, your people will be my people, your God my God, where you died, I will die.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
That is incredible! You know, Ruth faithfully followed Naomi and went back to Bethlehem. So when they went back to Bethlehem, some people recognized Naomi and they said:
“Can this be Naomi?” (Ruth 1:19)
The name of Naomi means pleasant. You know, what Naomi said? She said:
“Don’t call me Naomi, call me Mara (which means bitter)…, I went away full, but came back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)
First point: trust God even when things are difficult
I know some of you are facing difficult challenges, and going through some difficult times right now. You are wondering, “Where are you, God? I was full, but now I am empty. Where are you, God?” You know the Bible tells us, “God is good. He loves us. He brings good into our lives.”
If you look at James chapter one, verse seventeen (it is shown on the slide),
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Doubt and the concept of sin
You know God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us. He never changes. He brings good into our lives. Some of you may ask, “So if God is good, why does he allow the evil to exist? Why does bad thing happen? Can you tell me why?” I think the answer is very simple - because of love. Because of love; God loves us, so that evil exists, bad things happen. Let me tell you why. You know, every time we think about evil, we think about someone else or something else. Let me tell you, every one of us has something evil inside us. In order to get rid of all the evil, God had to get rid of you and me.
We are living in a sinful world, and sin creates a lot of problems. You know, some problems come from our own hands. It is our problem. I think the source of problem does not really matter. We need to believe, we need to know that God can turn it around, and bring good into our life. God can teach us lessons, and develop in us good characteristics and faith. One day we will find the blessing and benefit from it.
I know, nobody likes suffering, nobody enjoys pain. Is that true? Yeah? Who likes suffering and pain? Nobody. I believe nobody likes suffering and pain. But I want to remind you that do not focus your eyes on the environment or problems, because the environment and problems can only discourage us, and we can feel fearful. Let me give an example. If we only focus on our problems, our eyes (focused) on problems, let’s say, the problem is like the size of my mobile phone; if you only focus on the problems, all you see is problems; we cannot see other things; you cannot see God. But I want to remind you today, focus your eyes on Jesus, look up, be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, because we know our God lives, we know He brings good things into our lives. We trust Him. That is our God.
A tragedy turning good
The story of Ruth started with tragedy. In the midst of that, God was going to do good things and bless the family. In chapter two, it is told that there was a rich man called Boaz. His name means strength. So Boaz is a relative of Naomi’s husband’s. One day Ruth said to Naomi,
“Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” (Ruth 2:2)
You can make a note of or underline “favor”, which means grace in Hebrew. Naomi replied, “Go ahead, my daughter”. So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters.
You need to understand it - a young foreign woman went to the fields to pick up the leftovers among poor people after a famine. That was dangers, and their life hit the lowest bottom. She could have easily been mistreated or hurt. But Ruth had faith and was trusting. When I read this, (I know) God was going to do good things. He was going to give someone with a heart for you and me, and we will find favor in his or her eyes. He or she will take care of us. God will never let us down. This is faith. She did not just sit at home await, doing nothing. But she trusted God and took action.
Second point: trust God with our actions.
James 2:17 says,
“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
You know, God does not want us to become just Bible experts, memorizing lots of verses. He wants us to live out, really believing it and taking actions. Ruth went out to the field in faith. The Bible says, it JUST happened, it JUST turn out. And she found herself working in the fields belonging to Boaz. This is very interesting. She was working in the fields of Boaz who was rich, a single man and also a relative of Naomi’s husband’s. She HAPPENED to pick the fields of Boaz out of all the fields. She HAPPENED to go there on the day when Boaz also HAPPENED to be in the fields. He HAPPENED to see her. We know that did not just happen; it was not coincidence or luck. You know this HAPPENED because of God, God’s provision, and God guided her there.
If you listened to prayers, we usually pray like this, - God, please do this, God, please do that…. It seems like God is not doing His part; it seems like God is lazy; it seems like God needs a job. You know I believe God is at work all the time. God is in control; we are in God’s hands. He gives us responsibility; He gives us a role to play. God can work through us. There is something we can do.
Larry’s personal testimony
I want to share my story with you. I hope you can get some encouragement. It can encourage you. Many of you may have heard my story before. I had studied in England for six years and found the Lord there, and came back to China, and moved to Beijing, got married, and then I started to worry, I thought of the responsibilities when I got married. I was thinking, oh, I needed to make more money. I needed to make more money for my family, you know, to provide a good economic base so that they can live a happy life. I worried a lot about how to take care of my parents, how to take care of my children, all these questions came into my mind.
I think it is our human nature that we want to build many invisible walls for security by ourselves. Some people believe money can bring security. So they work extremely hard to get more money, to get more money. Some people believe job can really help them to have security. They work hard for that job. And some people believe that authority, power, can give them security. They work hard and want a higher position. Over the years God teaches me to trust Him - He is the only one that can give me the true security. I should not trust money in the bank accounts. Amen. I think that is the same thing we (all) need to do.
Many of you might have heard that we just had our first child. Her name is Joy. Now she is eight months old. Many people asked how this child was doing. I want to show you a couple of pictures. I hope you do not complain that I show you her pictures every time. She is beautiful! And this is another one. She is starting to call “daddy”, and when I get home, that just warms my heats, just to see the baby calls you “daddy”. I just found my heat feeling very thankful; she is a present from God. We are also very thankful for our parents; they are willing to take care of her for us when we are at work.
But my wife and I felt that we had the responsibility to take care of her and teach her. So my wife and I decided that she should quit her job and be a full-time mom. And she has already done that. Next Friday will be her last working day. She has a good job, and she really likes working at that company. We do not have much saving, but we believe that God will provide; we believe that we are in His hands; He is in control. We just need to step out in faith, and we did that.
I want to encourage you that there may be something you have been thinking for a long time. You just need to step out in faith, trusting God that He is in control, and we are in His hand.
God is in control of Ruth’s life
“just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted harvesters, ‘The Lord be with you!’”
Notice the greeting to the workers from Boaz. Maybe some of you are managers or in charge of some people. I want to tell you that we can always pray for and bless them, and be a blessing among the people.
The workers replied,
“The Lord be with you!”
Boaz saw that Ruth was picking up the leftover grain, and he asked someone in charge, “Whose young woman is that?” The man told Boaz about Ruth,
“She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi; she has worked hard from morning till now, except for a short rest.”
Boaz noticed Ruth was a lonely outsider, a foreigner, who was gleaning in his field. You may know Moab is a traditional enemy of Israel, and Ruth was from there. They are enemy countries. Boaz could have ignored her or driven her away, or responded in many other ways. But if you read the story, you will find out that Boaz showed great kindness to her. Please look at the screen, the Bible tells us,
He gets Ruth to glean in his fields (Ruth2:8) so that she does not need to go away;
He offers her protection among his own workers, and she can follow along with his servant girls (Ruth2:8-9);
He also offers her water, in that culture, women should fill the jars with water by herself (Ruth2:9);
Boaz provides her with lunch (Ruth2:14);
He gives her food to take home (Ruth2:18); and
Tell the workers to leave stalks for her (Ruth2:15-16).
Verse 10, Ruth said,
“Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me - a foreigner?”
In other words, “what have I done to deserve this?” You see the story is connected to Jesus - what have we done to deserve God’s grace? Nothing, salvation does not come by work, we cannot earn it, but it is by the grace of God.
Verse 12 Boaz even prayed for Ruth, read this,
“May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
Third point: show kindness to others
Interestingly, Boaz prayed for Ruth for blessings, and then later in the book, he answered that prayer by becoming the source of blessings. Isn’t it interesting that we always pray for someone, something or some ministry, and God can use us to bless that person, that ministry, and God can use you to answer that.
Boaz was a godly man. He not only showed kindness to his workers, but also showed great kindness to Ruth, a foreign widow, even if she was from an enemy country. My third point is “to show kindness to others”. I just want to ask you whom should we show kindness to. Our family, co-workers, friends, or brothers and sisters? Let us read this, the Bible says,
“43You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”(Mathew5:43-45)
There are a lot of media out there, you name it, newspaper, magazine, television programs, internet, weibo these days (very popular) and twitter, and all kind of media out there. And they are trying to influence us, teaching us something and pleasing to our eyes. Are these all right? How do I know what is right and what is wrong? We always need to go back to the Bible. The Bible is the guide for our life. God asks us to love our enemies, to show kindness to them and pray for them. That means including loving the people you do not like. You properly do not like to hear the next thing I am going to say, but I want to say it anyway - that means including loving people from Japan. Love the people you do not really like, maybe they are family members, co-workers, even brothers and sisters in this room; but love them and pray for them.
Verse 19 Naomi was so surprised when Ruth came home with all the grains, she asked,
“Where did you glean today?”
Ruth told her what happened that it was not luck or coincidence. Naomi knew this because she said in verse 20,
“He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”
I have talked about a lot of things today, but I know you did not happen to sit here, you did not happen to hear the message. I do not want you to go back with a bunch of knowledge. My prayer is that God really changes our heart that we can trust Him, knowing that He is in control, and we are in His hands. He brings good to our life, no matter what kind of situation you are facing right now, trust Him and follow Him. There are probably something we cannot do, God gives the real responsibility to pray about the things we cannot do, trust Him and follow Him. God knows you better than everyone else. He has a master plan for you.
“Heavenly Father, we want to thank you, thanks for your Word and the good examples in the Bible. We want to thank you for you are the faithful God, and you never change that we can trust you, and we thankthat you love us. Father, I ask you to give us a sensitive heart that we can see the needs of others; we can show our kindness to others. Lord, I am just so thankful. Pray in Jesus’ name, amen!
Transcribed and edited by Esther, Feel, Franz and Liu Laoshi; thanks be to our Lord, our redeemer!