Summary: What risk of faith is God calling you to take?
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There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed or played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed.
And when he one day passed away
His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never died!
If we end our lives having never taken any risks, we haven’t lived the life God intended for us. A life of faith is a life of risk.
[Read Ruth 3]
1. God often acts in our ACTS.
OBJECT LESSON: When the hammer drives in the nail, I drive in the nail. When it acts, I act.
The marriage of Boaz and Ruth was God’s plan. And God fulfilled His plan through the actions of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.
• God acted in Naomi’s SCHEME.
“Tonight [Boaz] will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor…” (3:2-3).
• God acted in Ruth’s RISK.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer” (3:9).
• God acted in Boaz’s DECISION.
“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid, I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character” (3:11).
2. We must seize God-given OPPORTUNITIES.
Are you the answer to your own prayer? Often God does not want us to passively wait for things to happen.
• Naomi’s scheme answered her prayer for Ruth.
“May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband” (1:8-9).
• Boaz’s decision answered his prayer for Ruth.
“May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (2:12).
Ruth said to Boaz, “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer” (2:9). This was a request for marriage (see Ezekiel 16:8). “Corner” (kanaph) can also be translated “wing.” Earlier on the harvest fields Boaz had expressed his desire for Ruth to be rewarded by the Lord, “under whose wings [she] had come to take refuge.” Now on the threshing floor Ruth asks him to be the answer to his own prayer: “Let me find refuge under your wings.”
3. Acting on opportunities is RISKY.
But being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.
For Naomi and Boaz’s prayer for Ruth to become a reality, she had to take a risk.
And [Ruth] said to [Naomi], “All that you say to me I will do” (Ruth 3:5 NKJV).
• A risk is an action that exposes you to potential LOSS or HARM.
Ruth’s risk: Rejection, sexual sin.
• Your willingness to risk is based on the potential RETURN.
Ruth’s return: Marriage, security.
Surprise return: Became great-grandmother of King David (4:17) and ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).
The Bible and church history is full of stories of risk-takers:
• Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego
“If we are thrown into this blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Ruth is one of two books in the OT dedicated to the story of a woman. The other is the book of Esther. (There is no reference to God in the book of Esther.) We can see several contrasts between the two books. Ruth is about a Gentile woman who marries a Jew; Esther is about a Jewish woman who marries a Gentile. Ruth begins with a famine; Esther begins with a feast. Ruth tells the story of poverty in Bethlehem; Esther tells the story of riches in a king’s court. Ruth ends with the birth of a baby; Esther ends with the hanging of an enemy.
Esther was queen of Persia, but no one knew she was a Jew. Haman, the prime minister, hated Esther’s cousin Mordecai and persuaded the king to make a law to kill not only Mordecai but every Jew in the empire. As this was happening, the king was in the inner court and anyone, including the queen, who approached the king unsummoned would be killed unless the king extended his golden scepter.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).