By Jessica Wang
18 Nov. 2012 Sunday
|Sermon: God is at work||video||audio||ppt
|Worship song: Before the Throne Of God Above||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Amazing Grace||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Amazing Love||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: More Than Amazing||video||audio||lyric|
Worship song:Before the Throne of God Above
|Verse 1||Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
|Verse 2||My name is graven on His hand
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
|Verse 3||When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
|Verse 4||Because a sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
For God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me
|Verse 5||Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of Glory and of grace
|Verse 6||One in Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
Praise the One Risen
Son of God
Scripture Reading: Ruth 4:1-22
1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.
2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so.
3 Then he said to the kinsman- redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.
4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you d will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said.
5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire e the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
6 At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)
8 So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.
10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!”
11 Then the elders and all those at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.
12 Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!
15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
16 Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him.
17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
18This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron,
19 Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab,
20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,
21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed,
22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.
Good morning, my dear brothers and sisters. How about letting us bow down and praying together?
Dear Lord, thank you so much to rescue us for washing our sins away. Purify us in front of you by your mercy, by your love. Lord, thank you so much for revealing yourself to us. Let us know that God you are so good for us. God, you are so merciful. You are powerful God. You are Almighty God. God, we just ask you, please keep working in our hearts today. Please open our eyes and our ears and let us know even in the darkness, God, you are still working in our lives in this church and in this country. So God I want to lift up my brothers and sisters here in your hands, and please speak to us and touch our hearts by your power and by your love. I lift myself in your hands, and please be with me and let my meditation and my words be pleasing to you. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters, I am really happy to stand here and to share the Lord’s words to all of us. And before I share it, I want to share one of my stories.
I attend a memorial service last Saturday. I saw and felt God’s work in the family’s hearts. We were so sad, because someone died, but still we had hope because of God’s work. During the service, the daughter said she had to say goodbye to her mom with grief. But still she has peace in her heart. Because she knew the Scripture said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”(Job 19:25) “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection on the life. He who believes in me will live even so he dies.’”(John 11:25) I will repeat this Scripture in Chinese: 我知道我的救赎主活着，末了他必站在地上。(约伯记 19:25) 另外一句经文是：耶稣对他说‘复活在我，生命在我，信我的人虽然死了,也必复活。’(约翰福音11:25) So from what she said, I could feel how God had worked in her heart.
From what she said I could feel how God had worked in her heart, God is at work. He is still working even in the darkest times. But we can only realize that if we obey and trust Him. Then we can know that, God is at work to fulfill his will and also for our benefit.
So that is why today I want to share with you how God is at work through the Scripture of Ruth 4.
We had been studying the book of Ruth and we knew that Naomi and Ruth felt hopeless because they had lost their husbands. They had no security either physically and emotionally. But we also feel that God was working to help them, both physically and spiritually.
They decided to go back to Bethlehem. God protected them on the way to Bethlehem. When they got there, He had provided them foods by giving Ruth a chance to glean in the fields. He showed HIS care for them by getting Ruth to meet Boaz.
This was the great blessing. But Ruth did not know what Boaz thought about her, since in the last chapter, we found out that Ruth went to meet Boaz at mid-night. Even though she did not know about that, she still trusted God and obeyed what her mother-in-law said.
On the other hand, we know that Boaz has already loved Ruth too. He treated her well when they first met. He showed his kindness to her when she came to him at night. He did not take advantage of Ruth, because he knew that it would bring God’s blessing only by following God’s law, or his blessing would be short.
Boaz was a righteous man, he knew someone who was more closely related to Ruth than he was. This man had the first right to redeem Ruth as well as any land that belonged to Naomi’s dead husband. Boaz would not take the place of another. So he decided to talk with that man first. But he did not know he could marry Ruth. He did not know if he could redeem the land or not. Even Boaz did not know the result. But still he trusted and obeyed the laws of God.
So, dear brothers and sisters, even though both of them did not know the result, God has already had a great plan for them and his plan are much bigger than ours.
Ephesians 3:19-20 “And to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. “
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
So, dear brothers and sisters, Today I am going to share how God is work in both of their lives. And to see that God is at work, God is still working even in the darkest time.
God makes things happen
1. God made Ruth and Boaz meet each other.
God was already at work even before Ruth and Boaz met. Many years ago, in Moses’ time God has given the relevant law to take care of the widows like Ruth and Naomi. They would be allowed to glean in the fields of other people. They could pick up the seeds that harvester had missed. This was God’s love for poor people. He also made a lot about kinsman-redeemer, marrying the widow of a dead relative. Long before this happened, God has already known about Ruth and Naomi. Was this just by chance? Of course, not! God was at work.
When Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem, God continued to show his care. Ruth was out gleaning and happened to meet Boaz in his fields. This is not just by accident. This is God’s work. Boaz happened to call in to check his workman. He became interested in Ruth. This was not by accident. This was God’s work.
So when Ruth hurried home to tell Naomi about this wonderful man who had been so kind to her. And Naomi saw the hand of Lord was at work. Before she could only feel the bitterness, but now she could see it was for their good. She had said about Boaz like that, "Blessed be he by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!" (Ruth 2:20) Naomi’s faith has been tested but now it came back to life.
2. God brought the kinsman-redeemer to come along
When Boaz went to Bethlehem to solve the problem he met the kinsman-redeemer. Ruth 4:1 Meanwhile Boas went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, ‘Come over here, my friend, and sit down.’ So he went over and sat down.
So, dear brothers and sisters, this kinsman-redeemer came around, while Boaz was at the gate of that city. That was not by accident. That was not by chance. Of course, that is God’s work.
3. God was working in Boaz’s heart to settle the matter
Ruth 3:18 Then Naomi said, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.’
So when we go through this scripture Jing Lan just read for all of us, we will find that Boaz did a lot of things to solve the problem. Because at the beginning, the closet kinsman-redeemer was not willing to marry Ruth, to buy the land, to rescue them, but Boaz was the second one.
The kinsman-redeemer didn’t come to talk about the issue. That was why God kept working in Boaz’s heart to let him settle things.
l First, we find out that Boaz was willing to bring the matter to the closest kinsman-redeemer.
l Then he suggested the kinsman-redeemer to buy the land to redeem it.
l Then was the reactions of the kinsman-redeemer and he was very happy about that.
l But at the same time, Boaz suggested him to marry Ruth, this was to follow the law and it was to keep the name of the dead man with this land.
l When the kinsman-redeemer heard about this, his reaction was NOT happy about this; he refused it and gave up by taking off his sandal.
l Meanwhile, when this closest kinsman-redeemer gave up, that was chance for Boaz. At the beginning, we share about the worry in Boaz’s heart, because there’s a closer kinsman-redeemer than him to redeem the land and marry Ruth.
l In the end, we found that this kinsman-redeemer was selfish and he was afraid that it would bring problem for his own land. So he gave up his right and at the same time Boaz got the chance to buy the land and marry Ruth. He did the thing in the right way and everything ended well.
So dear brothers and sisters, I want to show this to you and ask all of you a question. Was it all just by chance? Yes or no? Of course, not. God was at work in Boaz’s heart, in Ruth’s heart and also in the kinsman-redeemer’s heart. Because the kinsman-redeemer was a selfish man and he was afraid of bringing problems to his own land, he gave up. And that was the plan God had already made for Boaz and Ruth. So in the end, all of them got great ending.
Boaz settled the matter
1) He brought the matter to the kinsman-redeemer
2) He asked the kinsman-redeemer to buy the land.
3) The kinsman-redeemer was happy.
4) Boaz said he should also marry Ruth.
5) The kinsman redeemer refused.
6) The kinsman-redeemer took off his sandal.
7) Boaz could now marry Ruth.
4. God made the redemption legal
Because Boaz followed all the rules of law, it was legal for him to marry Ruth now. All the people were there to witness this, so their marriage was blessed not only by God, but also by others in the town.
Ruth 4:11 Then the elders and all those at the gate said, 'We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.
Everyone was there at the right time and to make sure it was all legal and blessed. This was not just by accident, but by God’s work.
5. God enabled Ruth to have a son
Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
From the whole book of Ruth, we find out that the first marriage of Ruth may last ten years, but the Bible did not tell us that Ruth had any children as she was wife of Naomi’s son. But here Bible did show us that, when she got married to Boaz, GOD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. How amazing! It could not be by accident, but by God’s work.
Also the son made Ruth and Naomi happy. Naomi’s pain was totally healed by God’s work. The women of the town said to her, Ruth 4:15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.' Naomi had many years of bitterness, but there was blessing and peace in the end. Dear brothers and sisters, I just want to show that it was not by accident and that was by God’s work.
6. God was at work for his own plan
Just now what I was sharing is that God is working in people’s life and make us happy and give us peace and renew us and restore us. This is all for our own benefit. And also, I want to show to all of you and myself that God is at work not just for our own benefit, but also for his own plan. Ruth 4:22, “Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.”
What is a surprising ending! Ruth’s baby became the grandfather of King David. He was an ancestor of Jesus! After so much suffering, Naomi and Ruth now had a normal life.
In the end, God showed us that, the trouble of this small family was the part of the plan—saving the whole world. That is the great blessing.
Summary: God makes things happen
1, He made Ruth and Boaz meet each other.
2, He brought the kinsman-redeemer come along.
3, He was working in Boaz’s heart to settle the matter.
4, he made the redemption legal.
5, He enabled Ruth to have a son.
6, He was at work for his people’s benefit and also for his own plan.
So that was all of what God was working. So brothers and sisters, we have been studying Book of Ruth and we go through their pains. We can see God’s amazing work in their life and also we can see God has a great plan for each person even for a small family, even God uses the troubles and problems to fulfill his plan to benefit all ourselves.
But what is good for us? This is their story. But I do believe that God is the God of Naomi and Ruth and Boaz, and God is the God of all of us. So let us think about how does it affect our own lives?
Application to our lives
1. We must trust God despite our difficulties.
Although there are difficulties, there is dark-time, I want to encourage you and me to trust in God. When we follow Jesus Christ, sometimes we expect that God will bless us. That’s true and of course, God does bless all of us. He has already given us eternal life, he rescued us, and washed away our sins. He has promised us that he will be with us always. And his spirit left in us. But sometime we think that God will take our problems and troubles away immediately. We want an easy life. We expected that God will bless us in the way we think is the right way.
We expect that he must solve problems for us instead of wanting to be God’s servants; we expect God will be OUR servant. So that is our problem, and that is why sometimes, even in the darkest time, we could not keep trusting Him, and we could not keep obeying his laws.
Today’s story shows us that even as believers, we may suffer many things, like what I share with you last time----my suffering of losing my father. And we want God to rescue us and solve our problems right now. But God didn’t just give us easy lives, and he doesn’t always take away all the problems, but he did and he was and is always with us. And he is always at work even through problems, and he has his own plans, and they are much bigger than ours.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” 赛55:8 耶和华说，我的意念，非同你们的意念，我的道路，非同你们的道路。赛55:9 天怎样高过地，照样我的道路，高过你们的道路，我的意念，高过你们的意念。
Naomi’s suffering went on for more than 10 years; our troubles may also go on for a long time. But we know that God has a good and a loving purpose.
Romans 8:28. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 罗8:28 我们晓得万事都互相效力，叫爱神的人得益处，就是按他旨意被召的人。
So dear brothers and sisters, I just want to encourage you and myself that we may face troubles or be in the darkest time, please do not give up. Instead, we should continue to trust him; instead, we should continue offering our lives to him; instead, we should continue to obey him, even when it is hard. It may feel that we are dying, but we knew that following Jesus is the way to true life.
Mathew16:24-25 Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 马太福音16:24 于是耶稣对门徒说，若有人要跟从我，就当舍己，背起他的十字架，来跟从我。因为凡要救自己生命的，（生命或作灵魂下同）必丧掉生命。凡为我丧掉生命的，必得着生命。
If we trust Him and throw on our life to Him, we will find out our true blessing in Him, in His plan.
2. How to trust God in our troubles
I know it is so difficult for us to keep trusting Him even in the darkest time. But I have some suggestions for all of us.
1) Focus on his promises by reading his words and meditating on them.
Let us not forget to read his words regularly. Because his words and promises are powerful and God never leave us alone. God will always be with us and his promises will be fulfilled.
2) Count the blessing in our own daily life to taste how good our God is. Sometimes our eyes are blinded by circumstances. We can be trained to be sensitive to his work by giving thanks and praising him.
3) Hear from others in the fellowship. Other’s experiences can help us know him more and more. And if you need a fellowship, or a group, you are welcome to join us. Because we want all of us to have a fellowship, help each other and build up each other in the love of Jesus Christ.
How God works in the darkest time
Last Thursday, when I was in the office, there was a woman hurrying up to me and she told me, “there is a 7-year-old boy having a brain cancer and he is dying.” And she asked me to baptize him and pray for him. Actually she was worrying at his dying. Then the hospital car brought him to the church, and it would bring him back to his hometown. It is very hard for any pastor to meet this kind of situation. Because in my mind, I know that God is powerful, but still I knew that God has his own plan for each one. That is, God has his thoughts higher than ours and the heaven is higher than the earth. I knew that the parents wanted me to pray for him and baptize him, and then he could be healed. So it was really hard for me. I prayed for them, came to him and baptized the parents and the son. And I kept praying that, “God, I don’t know your plan. If it is good for him, and it is good for your own plan, please heal him, because this is our desire. But still I don’t know your plan. If you will take him away and be with you forever, that is a great thing actually. But I ask you, please comfort this family, especially this young boy’s mom, because she keeps crying and praying”. And then, they went to their hometown. The other pastor and I together baptized them, and we keep praying for them. And we wanted to know the results.
In the end, on a Friday evening, there was a sister who had contacted with them. And they told us that, the 7-year-old boy died on the way to his hometown. At that time, his mom was so painful that she could not calm and did not have any peace. But the greatest thing is that, at that night, God worked in this mom’s heart. And God himself showed his salvation and his power to this mom. And God showed her that this 7-year-old boy was in his arm and he was rescued and with God forever. That is the way God comforts her.
l So dear brothers and sisters, let me summarize what I share with you today: God is at work.
l Even in the darkest times, God is at work.
l His work is to fulfill his plan.
l His work is for our own benefit.
l And I pray that God will open our eyes and ears to follow. Him.