Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Nov 8, 2015 Sermon

“Ruth”
Ruth1:11 – 22
Ted Jansen  November 8, 2015  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        I invite us to look at the last few verses of the book of Ruth before we get to her story.  Why is it important to look at the end of the book?  I believe we discover something interesting as it relates to God’s plan and purpose. 
We discover that Ruth was the great grandmother to David.  Ruth 4:21 says, “Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.”  Obed was Ruth’s baby when she married Boaz.  Ruth was a woman from Moab, a Gentile, non-Jew, who was in the lineage of David who was in the lineage of Jesus. 
Ruth was an important part of God’s story because of her family lineage but also because of her heart.  Ruth had a character that made her inspiring to us today.  God will use her life and heart and God will use yours.   
 
2.)        With the end of the story of Ruth known let’s go to the beginning of the book of Ruth.  We discover in the opening verses Naomi and her husband Elimelech, who are from Bethlehem.  They are Jews living in the Judah with their two sons in the time of the Judges.  The period of the Judges were a time when tribal rules were in place with no central way of governing the people.  It was every family and group taking care of themselves.    
            A famine arose in that area and this family left and went to Moab.  Moab was about 50 miles away and it was out of the Jewish territory.  They were away and out of the familiar land and away from family.  Elimelech passes away in Moab and Naomi’s two sons married women from Moab.  They lived there for 10 years and then tragedy struck when the sons died.  The three women were alone. 
            Naomi heard that food was being harvested in Judah so she decided to go back to Bethlehem.  She asked her daughter in laws to stay in Moab with their families and they refused.  Then she pleaded with them again and Orpah said ok.  But Ruth refused to stay in Moab. 
This is what she said.  “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 will be my God.  Where you die I will die and there I will be buried.  May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely if anything but death separates you and me.”  (Ruth 1:16, 17)
            Ruth and Naomi made the journey to Bethlehem and the rest of the story is in the book of Ruth.  You already know what happens at the end of the book!   Ruth has a baby named Obed with her husband Boaz and David is born from her family several generations later.    
 
3.)        I want to highlight four words that reveal the heart and character of Ruth.  The four words are Go, Stay, People, God.  I want you to write those down in the shield.  May you consider those words in your own life experiences as we think of Ruth as our hero. 
 
4.)        Go       Ruth said that I will go.  She would leave her familiar country, territory, rituals, friends, family to go and travel with Naomi.  That would not be an easy thing to do.    
            *What has been your moving experience?  I moved to Indiana in August of 1981 from Pennsylvania.  I learned that people are different in Indiana than in Pennsylvania.  I heard people talk about traffic but never experienced like back east.  I heard people getting excited about basketball a lot.  Sue and I have moved to different parts of Indiana since we were married in 1986.  In each place we met different people 
            How many of you have moved from the place of your birth?  How many of you have not moved out of the town you were born in? 
            Each move represents risk.  It can be an adventure. Through your move you have to have a sense of purpose of the move in your life.    
            We see in Ruth her purpose was that of staying with Naomi.  I will go where you go.    
 
5.)        Stay     Ruth was willing to travel with Naomi and make the move permanent.  Her heart was making a commitment to stay with Naomi.  
           
            *What are the commitments that you have made in life?  Job, marriage, finances, friendships, serving, giving, family, parenting, other.  Each commitment involves sacrifice for the greater purpose you desire. 
            It is vital that we speak words of commitment and then we carry action out.  In life it can be frustrating when the words and actions don’t fit together with people.  It might be in business, friendship, family, politics.  We need to make sure our commitments are strong and steady. 
            We see in Ruth a woman who is committed to stay. 
 
6.)        People             Ruth was going to open herself up to new people.  Naomi’s people and the Jews in Bethlehem were never met by Ruth.  She would be open to new friendships. 
            *It is a decision to be open in your heart to new people in your life.  Sue and I have had to open our heart to each of you and all the new people in the area.  It is a process that takes time.  We miss our former friends as we meet new friends.  It is important to welcome and open our hearts to each person that enters our lives of worship, of work, of play, of neighborhood.  We are thankful for those who have welcomed us.    
            We see in Ruth a woman who was open to new people. 
 
7.)        God     Ruth had a relationship with God that we can see by her words to Naomi.  She was led by God to speak and act.  She wanted to draw close to this God as she left behind any of the religious practices of her past in Moab. 
            *God speaks to us on our journey.  As we think about God’s grace consider how John Wesley focused on our lives.  Prevenient grace is that love of God that speaks when we are not aware of God.  Justifying grace is the love that forgives, heals and restores us.  Sanctifying grace is the Holy Spirit that leads us to live holy lives. 
You have had experiences that you did not even know God was involved but grace was present.  God’s plan for your life has been by the Holy Spirit leading you. 
            Ruth was used of God in a special way.  
 
8)         Who are the women that have qualities like Ruth that you admire?  Who are the women who did risky things?  Who are the women who have kept abiding commitments?  Which women have been open to new people and friendships, perhaps including you as a friend?  Which women have been led by God in their lives for His purpose? 
           
9.)        I thought of a woman named Lee Ann Tuohy.  She was the woman who believed in Michael Oher and adopted him.  Her story was told in the movie, “Blind Side.” 
            Was she risky, did she make commitments, was she open to new people, was she led by God?  I would say yes to those.  She was a woman like Ruth.    
 
10.)      I thought of a woman named Mother Teresa.  We can see in her qualities that make her special.  She was risky, committed, open to new people, led by God.  Here is a story from her life.        
            “The criticism that Mother Teresa faced, especially in non-Christian countries, was that the ultimate goal of her work was to proselytize.  The Hindu priests at a Kali temple were unhappy when Mother and the Sisters began their work at Nirmal Hriday in Kalighat close to the temple.  Then something happened that brought about a complete change of heart. 
            Mother heard that one of the priests of the temple was dying of an infectious disease and nobody would touch him.  She collected his emaciated body in her arms and brought him to her home. 
            The local people asked her to stay.  A Hindu priest of the temple said to her with folded hands, “for thirty years I have worshipped the goddess Kali in stone, but today the goddess Mother stands before me alive.”  
(Deeds, Not Words page 68  “Mother Teresa’s  Reaching Out in Love” compiled and edited by Edward Le Joly and Jaya Chaliha)
            Mother Teresa was a woman like Ruth in her heart. 
 
11.)      As we consider Ruth and our life today which of these four aspects do we need to pay attention to?  Circle the one word that God seems to want you to take home today.   
 
            Go. Go ahead and risk something in your life?  If you are not sure what you need to do as it relates to a decision lean into the unknown.  Be risky.  Go for it.  Don’t be led by comfort.    
 
            Stay.  Make your commitments vital in life.  As you manage your life you might have to say no to things that are not critical so that you can be committed to the vital things.  Let your yes mean yes.  Don’t give up or let go of your commitments.  Never give up.    
 
            People.  Open yourselves to newer people.  Take time to listen to their story.  Take someone out to lunch, dinner or for coffee.  Give a new person 15 minutes.  Or talk and listen to someone you do know about their life. 
           
            God.  Let your life be led by God in a more intentional way.  Let the Lord give you direction in all of your life, not just a little part of it.  God is writing “His Story” and you are a part of it.  You are vitally needed to look to God and trust Him with your life as God’s Kingdom comes to earth. 
 
12.)      Ruth’s life was like Jesus Christ.      
            Jesus told the Father that He would go to earth.  He would risk His life to be with a people who are hurt, who have sinned, who made mistakes, who need a God to be with them. 
            Jesus was committed to stay true to His mission of love.  He was committed to His disciples, even though they all fell away.  He would stay on earth for His purpose 
            Jesus was open to all people.  We see that at different times, even though He came for the Jews, He cared for the Romans, the Gentiles, the sick, the outcasts, the prostitutes.  He listened to women, children, broken, blind and sick people. 
            Jesus was led by God to be used by God for a purpose that would change history and change our lives. 
The love of Jesus expressed in many ways touches our heart.