Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, November 23, 2017
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May 21, 2017 Sermon

“Women of Faith: Ruth and Mary”
Ruth 1:6 – 9, 16 – 18, Luke 1:46 – 55

Ted Jansen  May 21, 2017  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        Jochebed and Eunice were two women of faith that we explored last week.  I shared that as they lived out their faith they expressed three C’s.  They had courage, were crazy (in an adventurous and risky sense) and were calculated.  The C word to focus on today is commitment in the lives of Ruth and Mary.  As we learn their stories we see a commitment that defined their journey, their path, their family, and their relationship with God.  We see in their lives God’s plan, in its many expressions; personally and historically.      

 

2.)        Ruth lived in Moab when Naomi, her husband and their two sons came to her land.  They moved to Moab because in the Bethlehem region, were they were living, the conditions were not good for living.  There was a famine in that part of the land.  So they moved to this foreign land were living conditions were good.       

We read that Naomi’s husband died and her two sons decide to get married in Moab.  Ruth and Orpah were their wives names.  They were married for ten years when both of Naomi’s sons died.  Naomi is left now in Moab with these two daughter in laws.  Naomi heard that conditions were better in Bethlehem and decides to go back.  She believes she will get care with family there.     

So, Naomi tells Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab to find a family.  She can’t promise any type of life for them back in the land of Judah. 

Orpah and Ruth said that she would stay with Naomi but Orpah was convinced to stay in Moab.   Ruth decided to go with Naomi. 

 

3.)        We read these words in Ruth 1:14 – 18. “At this they wept again.  The Orpah kissed her mother in law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.  Look said Naomi, your sister in law is going back to her people and her gods.  Go back with her.  But Ruth replied, Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.  Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.  May the Lord deal with me, be it ever severely, if anything but death separates you and me.  When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”

 

4.)        As I reflected on these words several things were expressed that demonstrated how Ruth, a woman from Moab, was a woman of faith.  Ruth was committed.    

            Ruth clung to Naomi.  We read that in verse 14.  This was an expression of commitment.  She was going to stay with her.  It was a physical description of holding on but also a description to an emotional and spiritual commitment.  You hang on and cling when you don’t want to let go.  When you are committed you don’t let go.    

            Ruth shared that she was leaving her life in Moab and going to live with Naomi in the land of Judah.  They was a commitment to Naomi. I will live, be with your people, worship with you, die with you.  Ruth was all in.          

Ruth believed that the Lord wanted her to go.   Ruth did not have a faith tradition, she was not Jewish, like Naomi’s family.  In ten years she was drawn to the Lord and it appears the Lord became her God and spoke to her heart.  She said that she did not want the Lord to deal with her if she did not go with Naomi.  She knew the Lord and this was her path to follow.  God was real and commitment was to God as well. 

 

5.)        You can read the rest of Ruth’s and Naomi’s story and what happened to them when they went back to Bethlehem.  Ruth eventually got married to Boaz and they had a child.  This child married and had a child.  Ruth’s grandson got married and when they had a child they gave him the name David.  If Ruth had not lived out her faith through her commitment we would not have had King David, a man who was vital in Jewish history.    

 

6.)        God’s plan and God’s purposes are lived out in our commitments.  This affirmation is true in all of life.  Commitments are not instant “success” that it appears we are attracted to but are the long term faithfulness to a goal, an ideal, a person, or God.  We live out our faith in our commitments.  That is what Ruth did. 

            Here are two questions to consider as I think of Ruth and how we can apply her story to our story and consider commitment. 

a.) When your dream, goal or plan takes detours are you still able to be committed? 

b.) In the midst of hurt and heartache can you be drawn closer to the Lord?  

 

7.)        Life is made up of what I call “Plan B” in life.  What happens when the life you thought you were going to have did not turn out?  Can you embrace Plan B, or Plan C, or Plan Z?  The commitments you make to God and to others determine your path. 

An inspiration from Ruth is that no matter where you go, go with others, don’t go alone.  When you go through heartache and hurt know that the Lord is with you.  We forget that and feel alone so see God in the midst of your tears.    

 
8.)        “Spread Your Wings and Arise”        © By M.S.Lowndes
 

There are times in our lives We feel much like A flower struggling to bloom;
We go through those times Of change and growth Like a caterpillar in a cocoon

 

Nobody can see The Lord's hidden work Until the day we break through —
Then we can begin To spread out our wings And arise as butterflies do

 

God has a much higher Calling for us And wants us to rise up in Him;
We can make such a difference If we'd only realize The potential we have within

 

So allow the Lord To work in your life, To make you all you can be —
So you will one day Be able to soar And know what it means to be 'FREE'.

           

9.)        Mary was engaged to Joseph and living in the town of Nazareth.  She had dreams and ideas for her future life.  One day an angel came to her and told her that she was going to have a child.  Mary asked the angel how this could be since she was a virgin.  The angel tells her that the Holy Spirit will come upon her.   

            Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.”  This was the way she expressed her faith.  She was committed to God’s plan.  These words express in a wonderful way her life of commitment, service and humility.  “I am the Lord’s servant.”    

 

10.)      Mary decides to go and visit Elizabeth who is also pregnant with a child, even though Elizabeth is older.  Elizabeth’s child will be named John, who will prepare the way for the Messiah, Mary’s child. 

When Mary goes into Elizabeth’s home the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps inside and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit.  Elizabeth expresses joy and offers a blessing on Mary for the child that is within her.  Mary takes this news into her spirit and as they Holy Spirit fills her she praises God.  We hear her words in Luke 1:46 – 55.  

“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.  His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.   He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”

 

            In Mary’s words of praise there are 15 different references to scripture, the Old Testament.  Her words of praise are inspired by the Holy Spirit with scripture.  Mary had a foundation of faith and scripture that gave her strength in her commitment.    

 

11.)      Mary had challenges, beginning with her relationship with Joseph, who was planning on divorcing her, to traveling when she was nine months pregnant, giving birth in a place and in conditions that were less than ideal.  Mary was far from home when she gave birth and lived for period of time.  She had to pack up in the middle of the night and leave for Egypt where they lived for several years, until they finally moved to Nazareth. 

            Mary was a servant and lived out her commitment to the Lord.  We know that her child, the one who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man.         

 

12.)      God’s plan’s and God’s purposes are lived out in commitment.  This is what Mary’s life teaches us. 

Here are two questions as we think of commitment, faith and Mary’s story. 

a.)    How do you know when you have received a divine message? 

b.)    When God speaks to you are you able to be a willing servant and trust God? 

 

13.)      When God speaks to us do we have a sense of peace, joy, grace?  God can speak through others, creation, scripture, the Holy Spirit speaking to your spirit.  We can read scripture and test God’s message with other Christians. 

            When Sue and I were dating and believing that God wanted us to get married we talked to our Christian friends who knew both of us and asked what they thought about our relationship and if they had peace about what we sensed God leading us in.  They said they had peace.     

There are times when we trust God and take steps of action even though we don’t know if this is from God.  We believe and take a step forward.  Time will reveal our faith and God’s plan.    

 

14.)      There was a woman named Anjeze Gonzhe Bojaxhiu in Albania.  She was a woman of faith and in her early years believed God was calling her to serve as a missionary.  So at age 18 left home to become a nun and serve as a missionary.  She taught school for over twenty years and enjoyed her life with her students.  Then she experienced another call as she sensed a need to serve the poor that she saw around her.  She believed God wanted her to leave the school and go care for the poor, destitute, the lepers, the diseased and broken in Calcutta, India.  She went and served the poor the rest of her life.    

This woman early in life took on the name Teresa.  We know her as Mother Theresa.  She heard a divine message and was committed, like Mary and Ruth were. 

Mother Teresa was a special woman, just like Ruth and Mary but there are special woman here in this sanctuary.  There are women who are committed to God, to family, to goals, to serving and life has taken you on paths you never thought you would go on.  Thank you women for your faith and your faithfulness and your commitment.