Summary: This sermon looks at both Naomi and Peter and shows how God reveals Himself to them offering them both new life and new hope

New Life New Hope

April 22, 2018 Ruth 1:6-18 John 21:1-14

Have you ever started something that you were real excited about doing but something came up and it distracted you from what you were hoping to complete so that you never quite got around to finishing the project that you started. You may have wanted to lose 15 lbs to fit back into that suit or that dress, but then somebody invited you Red Lobster or Golden Corral and offered to pay for the meal, and you didn’t want to hurt their feelings. You may have started to paint a room and almost got done, but you needed a special kind of a ladder to reach that last areas, so it never got painted.

When I was in the ninth grade, God had created me to be a sprinter, but I didn’t know it. We were having an away track meet in Georgia. This was in 1971 with the Black Power Movement in full swing. I believed that if you were Black, you were naturally faster than white guys were. There was a race coming up with nothing but white boys in it. I told my friend, let’s get in this race, I know we can beat these white boys. My friend reluctantly agreed and we got in the race.

There were people saying, “look at them brothers. I know they are going to win.” My head beamed with pride with my afro sticking out. Did I tell you, I was a sprinter, and didn’t know it? Well it just so happened my friend and I had jumped into the mile race which was four times around the track. A sprinter is built for a race that lasts a ½ of a lap or less.

There must have been about 15 to 20 people in that race. For lap one, I was in the front of the pack. For lap 2, I was in the back of the pack. For lap 3 everything was becoming blury, I couldn’t even see the back of the pack. For lap 4 I was so humiliated at being so far behind that I ran to the locker room without finishing the race.

The only person left on the track was my friend who still had enough courage to finish the race despite the boos. I remember somebody telling us, you guys are disgrace to the race. I never believed the false myth of racial athletic superiority again.

I could have made one of two critical mistakes. 1) I could have quit track and never ran again or I could have made up my mind to work harder at being able to run a mile. If I had done either, I would not have discovered God created me to be a sprinter, somebody who could run fast for short distances. I began to excel, when I placed myself in God’s will and design for me. We have all been created in a way to glorify God.

There was a young lady who was very attractive and a very hard worker. Somehow she had caught the eye of this foreign immigrant who had come to her country. At first she was a little hesitant of him because they had a different religion and way of doing things. She might not have given him the time of day but her friend had married his brother and things seemed to be working out for her. Well with time the wedding took place and she and her husband, her friend and her husband and her mother in law all lived together.

For ten years, thing went along great. Naomi was happy, because even though her husband had died, her sons Mahlon and Killion had married to wonderful ladies in Ruth and Orpah. The more she talked with Ruth about her God, the more Ruth wanted to know who her God was. Her future was secure, because her sons could take care of her until she died.

But then came that virus that hit the village, and both of her sons got it and before she knew it, they had buried both of them. For Naomi, not only was there the pain of losing two sons that she loved, along with her loss came the words, your social security payments, your pension and your 401k plans have all been terminated. You are on your own. This was true not only for Naomi, but Ruth and Orpah found themselves unexpected widows with no source of income.

What do you do when everything is going along well and then the bottom of life drops out on you. Jesus knows what we’re feeling because He’s been there. When Jesus was on the cross, paying the penalty for your sin and for mine, he cried out those painful words of hurt and desperation, saying, “My My God, Why Have you forsaken me. One of the easiest lies for us to believe is that God has forgotten about us or that God does not care about our situation or that God has left us on our own.

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