Text: Ruth 3:1-18, Title: Discerning God’s Will, Date/Place: LSCC, 5/28/06, AM
A. Opening illustration: an ad was printed in a paper read: SBF seeks male companionship, ethnicity not important, good-looking, I love to play, long walks in the woods, hunting, camping, fishing, riding in your pick-up truck, cozy winter nights by the fire, a candlelight dinner will have me eating out of your hands, rub me the right way and watch me respond, I’ll be at the front door when you get home from work wearing only what nature gave me, kiss me and I am yours, call 404-875-6420, and ask for Daisy. 15,000 men called at talked to the Atlanta Humane Society about a yellow lab named Daisy.
B. Background to passage: There is much to the story that we probably don’t have, being that there was about six or seven weeks to the barley and wheat harvests, and Ruth and Boaz probably saw a lot of each other during those times. But what we see in chapter three, much like our ad for our yellow lab, is charged with sexual overtones that could be the recipe for disaster. Naomi and Ruth take a huge risk in trying to figure out God’s will for their lives. And whether its finding the right spouse, getting the right job, or purchasing the right home or car, sometimes figuring out what God wants us to do is difficult. We will see in ch. 4 that they got it right, so lets look for principles for finding God’s will in ch. 3.
C. Main thought: We will see four principles that help when trying to discern the will of God for our lives.
A. Be Wise (v. 1-5)
1. Naomi hasn’t done so great up to this point in determining the will of God for her own life. So probably every reader is wondering what is going to happen with this crazy plan that Naomi is concocting. But if we examine the plan, it is pretty wise. Naomi is older and native to the culture in which they now live. She and Ruth are at least for now bound to the same set of circumstances. And she tells her to prepare herself to encourage Boaz to fulfill his role as a kinsman-redeemer. EXPLAIN KINSMAN-REDEEMER, LEVERIATE MARRIAGE—DEUT 25:5-10. Make the right preparations (wash, don regular clothes, smell good). Choose the right time.
2. Eph 5:15-18, Pro 28:26, James 1:5,
3. Illustration: Charles Stanley says that the question: what is the wise thing for me to do? Reveals our greed in financial matter, our selfishness in relational matters, our lust in social situations—wisdom shines like a spotlight on the soul. Christians marrying Christians—wisdom in dating. The man named Phil who kept getting into trouble with friends on business trips immediately following dinner. Advice was given to not go to dinner with them, question about rightness of eating with them, not the point. Didn’t follow the advice, left his family some years later, cries like a baby wishing he could do all over again. Ever notice what recent divorcees do when they get divorced—lose weight, clean up more, and start doing nice things for other people…
4. Be careful as to who you take advice from. Older, wiser, godlier, trustworthy, caring people are the best people to hear from. But sometimes their advice is still not right. Ask yourself the question: in light of past situations, current situations, and sinful tendencies, what would be the best thing to do? Many times wisdom seems like common sense, but it is the Spirit of God that guides in wisdom, therefore to refuse to act wisely is to ignore the leading of the Spirit. Do the wise thing at the wise time.
B. Be Biblical (v. 6-12)
1. The basis of Naomi’s plan was a biblical responsibility of the kinsman, and that of a mother-in-law to her daughter-in-law. And both Boaz and Ruth acted in the highest of moral integrity during it all. Not once in the text is there a suggestion of immorality, even though in the culture, the threshing floor was a common place of fornication. Boaz also had enough integrity to acknowledge a closer relative and a biblical precedent.
2. John 16:13-14,
3. Illustration: a noted pastor tells about a time when a woman came to him and announced that God told her to divorce her husband, he also tells about a time when a couple was living together as Christians, David Livingstone threw away every book but the bible as he journeyed into Africa,
4. When determining the will of God for your life, the bible (correctly interpreted) should be your first filter. How many of you men would have been so upright if you woke up alone with a good-looking much younger woman lying at your feet? How many of you ladies would have scorned at opportunity to secure for yourself a future with some loose living? We must allow the word of God to be the judge over our feelings, impressions, and leadings. To use this, you must be in it.
C. Be Sensitive (v. 13-15)
1. Boaz must have been a man who was sensitive to the leading the Holy Spirit in his life. Because in the state of being a little groggy, he correctly discerns Ruth’s intentions. He could have taken her actions as that of a common prostitute, and then either fulfilled that purpose or shooed her away in shame. He open and honestly shared the situation with her, and his intentions to take care of the matter in the morning. He was sensitive enough to look out for public perception in having her leave. He was sensitive to Naomi as well. Explain the brideprice in this culture and its meaning to truly marry and show good behavior in the meantime.
2. Acts 16:6-10, 1 Thess 5:22,
3. Illustration: Jim was buying his first house, found a great deal, began to pray, couldn’t get peace, agent was confused, everyone thought he was scared, passed up the deal. Next perfect house for him, had peace, began negotiations, got within $3500, one final offer and was within $2500, passed on the deal. Some weeks later the owners came back, Jim is a homeowner, not a tough negotiator, but led by the Spirit. Warren Wiersbe says that living a holy life (in the will of God) isn’t the automatic consequence of reading the right books, listening to the right CDs, or attending the right meetings. It’s the result of a living loving union with Jesus Christ…” the story of the Navigators guy who went to check out Uganda, ended up in a hotel praying that God would really have to do something amazing to confirm that this was his leading for him, his wife, and their three small kids to go there—and the 6’ 5” African who had been praying 2 yrs.
4. The Spirit’s leadings in our lives are often subtle promptings that he gives us. It could be desires, it could be strange observations, it could be a strange peace, or lack thereof. But we must be walking close to him to be sensitive to them, and correctly discern them and their meaning. God is not trying to hide his will from you, it is just that He desires that you maintain a proximity to Him to hear clearly. Just walk closely to him in your sanctification and suffering, and you will blessed, even when things are bad.
D. Be Patient (v. 16-18)
1. Naomi was saying, “How did it go?” And after Ruth finished, Naomi gives a piece of advice quite different that most of her advice up to this point. Just wait, and trust God and Boaz. Patience is probably one of the most difficult character traits. Talk about a long night and a long day! What do you think Ruth did all day, set up shop by the window and play solitaire on the computer?
2. Ps 25:21, 27:14, 37:34, Rom 8:24-25, Isa 26:3, 40:31, Gal 6:9,
3. Illustration: the guy on the radio said that the average American now spends 10 years of his life waiting in lines by the time he dies. According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man…God answered, “I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?” Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can. Found seldom in a woman, Never in a man. I waited over 10 years for my Dad to get saved, praying, witnessing to him, instructing others to witness to him, preaching to him, giving invitations to him, and then he died.
4. What if I have to wait a month? A year? 10 years? What if? What if this darkness doesn’t leave for years? What if this prayer is not answered for months? What if this situation is not resolved for decades? Do you change the instruction of God because of the length of time? The pleasing of God is more valuable than any immediate gratification, if Christ is the most valuable thing in our lives. If he is not, then you will be tempted to design your own way out. Is He most valuable to you? Rules for waiters: 1) Be diligent in the disciplines, 2) Always affirm the sovereignty, wisdom, and kindness of God, 3) Gather accountability helpers and prayer warriors. Put your time to good use while you wait to see the salvation of the Lord.
A. Closing illustration: “Knowing the will of God is one’s greatest knowledge. Doing the will of God is one’s greatest accomplishment.” –Anonymous, “In order to find God’s will for the future, you must be doing God’s will in the present.” –John MacArthur, testify about our coming to Maine.
C. Invitation to commitment