As we continue in this wonderful story of God's providence found in the book of Ruth. Let me ask you something personal. How do you respond to bad decisions or bad outcomes in your life? BETTER YET! How do you respond to God in your bad decisions or circumstances of life?
WHETHER IT WOULD BE:
• Your finances
• Your marriage
• Your children
• Your farm or business
• Your health
• Your path that He has put you on
Sometimes it’s hard to see past the hurt...heartache and the confusion of life. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean or do things that display our inner character or feelings. TAKE FOR EXAMPLE! You’re standing at the grave sight of your 14 year old daughter. A person who by world’s standards has her whole life ahead of her. You watch as the machine lowers your daughter into the ground....a place where her body will remain until the final days of Jesus. It’s a sad time for everyone...including the preacher! Because that could be one of yours one day. What are they thinking? Are they angry with God......Are they angry at themselves?..............Are they thinking only if I could have stayed longer or hide the keys so that she couldn’t do what she did. WE CAN’T SEE THE PLAN GOD HAS FOR US...........because in reality if we did, we would run like Jonah and hide like Adam every time. God’s providence is when He displays His glory even in our darkest hour.........He takes what seems bad, uncomfortable, hurtful, and sinful and turns it out for His glory! “Providence is shaping our ends; a plan is developing in our lives; a supreme and loving Being is making all things work together for good.” F B Meyer. As the Psalmist says "Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases!" Psalm 115:3
IN THE CASE OF THE BOOK OF RUTH...........we see:
• 4 people went out and only 1 is coming back!
• 3 deaths and 1 surviving widow
• 4 full of life and 1 left empty
Which brings us to this part of the letter that most scholars believe the prophet Samuel wrote? WHAT WAS NAOMI FEELING DURING THIS TIME? According to the Scripture we are going to see a woman who is hurting..........broken.........frustrated.......sorrowful......and resentment for the cards the Lord has dealt her. Remember we need to understand! Naomi can’t see the future. So she can’t see the blessings that are about to follow in the coming day or even the plan that God had for her and Ruth. Let me ask you without making Naomi the only person who feels this way at some point in your life. Have you ever been angry with God? Do you blame God for your trials or think that this is His way of punishing you? Be honest because God knows your heart! And the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. I LIKE WHAT JOHN FLAVEL SAID “How often has providence convinced its observers, upon a sober recollection of the events of their lives, that if the Lord had left them to their own counsels they had as often been their own tormentors, if not executioners?”
George macDonald said “To the dim and bewildered vision of humanity, God's care is more evident in some instances than in others; and upon such instances men seize, and call them providences. It is well that they can; but it would be gloriously better if they could believe that the whole matter is one grand providence.” We as Naomi can’t see past the pain or trials sometimes. It’s better to be angry then face the facts and move on and say “Lord I surrender all because Your ways, are not my ways” Look at verse 19 they start to make that long journey home! The trip from Moab to Bethlehem would have taken between 7-10 days. It would have required them to cross the river Jordan and to climb the 2000 plus feet in elevation required to reach Bethlehem. IT’S INTERESTING TO NOTE: We don’t here of any of the events leading up to Bethlehem, but considering how dangerous of a trip for 2 unaccompanied women, and we again see God’s providential care for these two women. WHY I SAY THAT? Jeremiah called the road wicked and polluted (Jer 3:2). Remember the Good Samaritan story in (Luke 10) the man who was beaten on the road to Jericho. The same road these ladies would venture on back to Bethlehem. WHAT DO YOU THINK NAOMI AND RUTH TALKED ABOUT?
• Did Naomi tell her about her people and the Law of Moses?
• Did Naomi tell her about the customs of the land?
• Did Naomi tell her about the deliverance from Egypt?
• Did Naomi tell her about God’s wonderful plan of redemption?
Whatever they talked about is not for us to know otherwise it would be here in the pages of Scripture for everyone to see. One thing we do know from Scripture, is that Naomi’s attitude wasn’t the greatest.....Look at verse 20. Mara means “bitter”.........Naomi was bitter because of what happened to her and the family. By her husband’s compromise left this women whose name means “Pleasant” feeling “bitter” .....“It looks like Pleasant wasn’t pleasant anymore” This adventure had taken its toll on her....we all have breaking points and Naomi reached her after 10 long years of heartache and pain. Naomi attributes all her ill fortune to God as she acknowledges Him by saying “El Shaddai” .............Almighty......the All powerful One has afflicted me (Naomi)Not us but me! This is the name the patriarchs knew before He revealed himself to Moses in (Exo 6:3). Naomi was saying the Lord has made her life bitter..........not by chance or by any other gods! Now we need to be careful here! Naomi is acknowledging God’s sovereign hand in this not accusing Him of doing this...But this still doesn’t excuse the way we deal with things in life....Self pity! We are to seek His face for His yoke is light. He can carry us through even in our darkest of hours as David said in Psalm 23! Maybe this will help you understand how she feels.......There was another wife who felt the same way Naomi felt..... Job 2:9-10 “Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity (hardship, difficulty)?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” We have to understand the time and the commands that God had put in place because they are the same today for you and me! God demands obedience not compromise!
• We are not to compromise and flee for the sake of comfort.
• We are not to compromise God’s word because it might offend.
• We are not to compromise when God tells us to do something.
• We are to walk by faith and not by sight.
PRIME EXAMPLE KING SAUL.......in 1Sam 15:22-23 “So Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king." Not only was Naomi feeling bitter towards her life circumstance she was also left with nothing! Look at verse 21 "I was full but know I am empty" This is a very sad statement, especially when it coming from a child of God. BASICALLY WHAT NAOMI IS SAYING IS........I have empty hands...an empty home....and an empty heart. CAN I SAY THIS! There is not one empty person in this church, or in this country or in this world! Why? No one is empty when they are breathing...that is a gift from God! Who else was full and came home empty?.............................Prodigal son. This is a prime example of how God deals with each individual when they don’t listen to wait upon Him.When we make our choices in the flesh it usually nine times out ten ends up hurting the flesh.What I find interesting about what Naomi says is true for most, if not all of us here in this church....GOD ALWAYS NEEDS TO EMPTY US WHETHER IT’S:
• a bad choice
• pride, money
• arrogance, bitterness
• hatred, selfishness
• idolatry and so on, and so on
Before we can see Him and His providential plan for our lives.....he needs to break our will sometimes........................God allowed Naomi to be bitter in time when she should have been like Job praising and thanking Him for His sovereign goodness. God was dealing with Naomi in her bitterness! LET ME ASK YOU......What is God dealing with you in your life? ARE YOU BITTER RIGHT NOW FOR THE CARDS THAT HAVE BEEN DEALT ON YOUR LIFE? I like what Warren Werisbe said in his commetary on Ruth “we cannot control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them. That’s what faith is all about, daring to believe that God is working everything out for our good even when we don’t feel like it or see it happening?” As the Scottish Preacher George Morrison said “nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness” Naomi couldn’t see the future or what is going to take place in the coming days. She doesn’t have the letter that we hold in our hands today.......then at that time! She is going to be happy again! Praising God once again. Remember God always needs to empty us first, of our stubbornness and pride to make this possible. In the coming days of her present situation she is going to see the glory of God. She will finally see’s the plan that God has for her and Ruth. That’s God’s providence even in our bad decisions. He turns everything out for His glory even in your time of suffering and confusion or bitterness. If you don't agree with me, maybe you will agree with these examples:
• Abraham has he is about to plunge a knife into his son Isaac chest.
• Joseph as he sits in a prison cell for doing nothing wrong.
• Jonah in the great fish as he is about to witness the greatest revival of all times.
• Mary the chosen sinner that God looked upon with favour.
• Polycarp and the decision he had to make and the impact that he would leave behind for the people in the future.
• Ignatius and the impact he would have on people before he was feed to the lions.
• Luther and his faithfulness and how it would change the church forever.
• Jim Elliott and the sacrifice he and his team would make for the blessed Gospel that saves to the uttermost!
• Your present circumstance or situation...because He is going to get the glory whether you like it or not.
God’s Providence in Our Lives! Despite how Naomi felt about her life and the situation she was lefty holding........God in His infinite wisdom and plan had something else in store for her and her Moabite daughter in-law. Despite how I wished or hoped things would turn out in my life God saw His plan was better than mine!Despite how you feel in your present situation God has a plan for you...and in the end it will bring Him the glory He so greatly deserves......Again as Warren Werisbe said “stop staring at the wall and by faith get up and open the door to a brand new tomorrow.” Naomi might have felt empty but she is going to find out that she is the richest person alive! Why? She has a daughter in law named Ruth! The mother that would lead to the line of David ......which ultimately leads to the Jesus Christ.........
• The King of Kings and Lord of lords....
• The Giver and Sustainer of life......
• The Great I’AM
• The Prince of Peace
• The Precious Lamb of God
• The Great Redeemer
The one that Paul said........ Eph 2:4-8 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” As we close let me say this! "We are the richest and fullest people on the planet, if you are a child of the living God."