27 September 2010

God's Providence in Our Bad Decisions (Part 1)


Ruth 1:1-5

I love the Old Testament! It’s not an old boring book that means nothing to us today. I love the Old Testament because we see average (every day) people dealing with the day to day struggles of life. I love the Old Testament because it displays the attributes of God. I love the Old Testament because it shows the patience and mercies of God. I love the Old Testament because it prevalent even in our present generation.( no matter what age you are or where you come from). I love the Old Testament because it encourages my heart to see God prevail and glorified even the toughest of decisions whether as a nation, at war or whether you are alone. I love the Old Testament for how it shows the redemption plan of God for man from the beginning of Genesis all the way to Malachi. OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS we are going to be looking at a wonderful Old Testament letter that displays.......... God’s providential blessing and care to those who trust in Him. THE BOOK OF RUTH!!

• A letter that specifically talks about a young woman who came from pagan idolatry
• A letter about a love story
• A letter that plays a pivotal part in human history
• A letter is filled with many real life situations that we can learn a great deal from

IN THIS LITTLE BOOK OF 85 VERSES WE SEE:

• A story that connects the house of David with the Tribe of Judah
• A story that connects Jesus to the line of David
• A story about making bad choices in life and the lessons you learn from them
• A story about the consequences of disobedience to a faithful God
• A story about an outcast, a despised nation without hope
• A story about choices and the results of those choices
• A story about dedication and commitment
• A story about what a virtuous women looks like
• A story about what a real man of God looks like
• A story about God’s sovereignty and providential care
• A story about the glory of God displayed to mankind!
• A story about redemption even to the worst kind of people (sinners)

AS PAUL SAID “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Rom 7:24. The answer is in the verse (V25) “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” That’s what this story is all about.......God’s redeeming grace to sinners and the continued blessed hope the Old Testament speaks about to the heart of every generation...even to us today! BUT THE STORY OF RUTH DOESN’T START OFF WELL! As you would read in a fairy tale or watching a Disney movie....”Once upon a time there lived this beautiful young lady.....”or “Once upon a time there was this noble king who was loved by all!” NO! THIS LETTER HAS A TERRIBLE START! The story begins with a big decision to make not only for yourself but for the whole family. As I like to call it....... a testing of your faith! Look at the first verse! “a famine in the land”. The very place Elimelech and his family lived were faced with a calamity of great proportions...........Bethlehem, Judah was without food. Bethlehem means “the house of bread” and Judah means “praise”.........“So the house of bread in the land of praise is without bread!” WHY? The very first part of the opening verse gives an indication for the reason of this famine in such a blessed land “These were the days of the judges” (v1). Time was not easy for anyone during the time of the judges ...especially for the Jewish people. Warren Werisbe said “the book of Judges is the story of Israel at one of its lowest points in history; it’s a record of division, cruelty, apostasy, civil war, and national disgrace.” You might think Warren is being a little bit too harsh!.................. BUT IS HE? Turn to the last verse of Judges.......look at what it says carefully!! “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Doesn’t this sound like the days we are living in, here in Canada today? Or.....North America for that matters? Or...... How about the whole world? SOMETIMES IT TAKES A CALAMITY TO WAKE PEOPLE UP FROM THEIR SLUMBER. It did for King David with losing of his new born son. What about Solomon when he felt empty in his letter of Ecclesiastes......Peter at his denial........Saul on the road to Damascus.........When you’re alone! Famines weren’t uncommon to these people......in the Old Testament up this point in the life of God’s chosen people. FOR EXAMPLE: Gen 12:10 “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.” Gen 26:1 “There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham.” Gen 47:13 “Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.” Famines make people do some strange things as I said one time before were people would go as low as eating another person to survive. Elimelech had a decision to make stay and possible go hungry which ultimately would lead to death or find somewhere else to go that has food and be content and move on with life! The right answer would be to........wait upon the Lord and see what He is going to do!! LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION MEN.......Dad’s, husbands! What would you do if you were in that situation? If your answer would be to go and find somewhere else....... you’re wrong! What did Elimelech do? He took his family from the house of bread a place that God’ promised the patriarch of old........ a land flowing with milk in honey! All God asks in return is that they (you) put their faith and trust in Him as they did when they crossed the Jordon River with Joshua and the rest of the people. Think about this! DO WE REALLY TAKE THE BIBLE SERIOUSLY! Matt 6:25-33 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Do you beleive that? Answer seriously though! Did they forget how the Lord provided for their ancestors...those who walked before them? Did they lose heart because the chosen people had turned away from God? Did they have any faith at all? Elimelech chose the simple and easiest route for himself and his family......go where there is food......which is exactly what most of us would do!! “O you of little faith” would be the words we would her from Jesus. Their bad decision doesn’t end there...not only did he decide to leave the land of praise, but the place he choose was even worse.Where did he take his family? The country of Moab. Why is this such a bad choice Mike?........ He needed to provide for his family! YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT......But he did one thing that many of us are doing today! “Walking by sight and not by faith” It’s bad enough their lack of faith brought them to this point in life.....to doubt that God wouldn’t or couldn’t provide for their needs. (even in a time like this). Scripture makes it clear that God would have provided for Elimelech’s family if they had stayed in Judah  “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed.” Ps 37:25-26. As Paul said in 2Cor 4:8 “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;” By leaving they prevented God from displaying His power and care in their behalf. What’s worse is that they chose to go to a country..... and nations that God calls a “wash pot” Ps 108:9. A way you could paraphrase that verse would be to say “Moab is a garbage can” DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE DESCENDENTS OF MOAB CAME FROM? From the events that took place between a drunken Lot and his daughter (Gen 19:37) Not a very good beginning to a nation of people!

• Moab oppressed the Jews for 18 years up to this point in time during the book of Judges
• Moab were outcasts to the Jewish people (they were half breads and wicked)
• Moab is not spoken of well in God’s precious Word
• Moab tried to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites (Num 22:4-24:25)
• Moab was a pagan and idolatrous country (1 Kings 11:7-33)
• Moab was later defeated by king Saul (1 Sam14:47)
• Moab was cursed by God (read Isaiah 15, 16......Jeremiah 28......Ezekiel 25:8-11............

Amos 2:1-3 “Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime. But I will send a fire upon Moab, And it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; Moab shall die with tumult, With shouting and trumpet sound. And I will cut off the judge from its midst, And slay all its princes with him," Says the LORD. A man whose name means “my God is King” leaves the land that God promised the patriarchs to go to a place that is described as a garbage can...... It would be the same as if anyone of us said there is no more food here..... we must go to the Grahamdale Garbage Dump to find it. Now are you starting to see that was a wrong move on the part of Elimelech? WE DO THE SAME....apply this to our lives today....We get stressed out about where our next meal comes but if asked you today did you eat yesterday....YOU WOULD SAY YES! So to that....... I would say “isn’t God providing for you then.....” Look at what happens to this family over the next ten years....Now we need to understand...This doesn’t mean God killed off all the men for their bad choices.....we don’t read that here passage! What do see here is........God who is glorious and all powerful display His providential plan for the redemption of many in the years to come! If they didn’t go to Moab we would never see later through Ruth and the birth of her children........the birth of David! SO LET ME ASK YOU! What are you going to do when you are faced with a crisis or in this case a famine? Are you going to run or stand firm in Christ that He will find a way to provide for you and your loved ones.....Because truthfully, He does every day, you just don’t take notice of it.

• Have you always had shelter?
• Have always had food on the table?
• Have you had fairly decent health?
• Have air to breathe?

Your answered would be YES.......... right! Sometimes God allows these kinds of things to happen in our lives to refine us...to strengthen to help us lean on Him more each and every day! He can always take our bad decisions and turn them out for our good. Just as He did for Jacob.....Jonah....David.......Solomon......Peter and You. He knows what He is doing! You need to walk by the faith trust Him...as Abraham had when he said to his young son Isaac......."My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.” TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST ..........when we refuse to trust Him, what we really are doing is calling God a lair and dishonouring Him! SEE TO WALK BY FAITH IS TO........ Claim (state...declare..right it down) the promises of God. Obeying His word ........in spite of how you feel or what might happen. It means committing yourself to the Lord and relying solely upon Him to meet your needs. That’s a living faith that honours God and pleasing to Him. Again as Warren Werisbe said “when we live by faith, it glorifies God...” There is wisdom of this world that leads to foolishness and sorrow.....and there is wisdom of God that seems foolish to the world but it leads to blessing! THE SUNDAY QUESTION IS........Who are you going to listen to? The world......you.........or............. God the Author and sovereign sustainer of our souls?

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