1. Today is your Crops and Industry service. A time when we ask God's blessing on our work - whether the planting of the fields or the work we do in the factory, office, home, or other place of employment.
2. It is a time when we affirm our belief that God is the one who is the provider. We work but He is the one who gives the increase.
3. Today we look at the book of Ruth in both services and see how God is the one who provides.
4, We enter into the time when the judges ruled Israel. Joshua had led people into promised land and led them to begin conquering the inhabitants so that they might lay claim to the land that God was giving them. This period of Israel's history, between time of Joshua and the time when kings ruled, is a time when a certain cycle repeatedly took place. The people would forget the Lord their God and serve Baal, the anger of God would burn against them and He would allow one of their enemies to defeat them. they would then cry to the Lord and He would answer them by sending out a judge to save them - like Gideon, Samson, Deborah. This cycle of disobedience, defeat, and deliverance happened over and over again.
5. It showed God's sovereignty - His hand remained upon the nation despite its unfaithfulness. The story of Ruth takes place in this setting.
6. Unlike book of Judges, however, Ruth is not about heroes, leaders, or people that had great influence upon the nation. It is not about civil strife, national upheavals, or international concerns - anything that would impact history. It is rather the story of ordinary people facing ordinary events. The story of a certain man and his family and their fortunes and misfortunes. This is important, because it reminds us that the God of the nations is also concerned with ordinary people like us and our fortunes and misfortunes. We believe in a sovereign God - that He holds the world in His hands.
7. Often hard to believe when we see wars, chaos and the mess it is in. Killings, abortiosn, abuse - how can this happen if God in charge? Yet He does rule this world. Same with our own lives. We experience tragedy, losses, illness. See in sick, in broken relationships, in addictions, in unexplained tragedies. How can we say that God watches over each one of us each day of our lives? That the same God who has a divine plan for history also has a divine plan for each of our lives?
8. Perhaps we see failures and unresolved issues in our lives and we wonder what the purpose or meaning of our lives is all about. I believe that each of us has that deep question inside of us - even as Christians we sometimes do. Many try to escape from this way of thinking, this lack of meaning, by keeping busy with different endeavour - work, hobbies, TV, sports - find it hard to stop and face realities and questions. As Christians, when we start thinking this way and questioning God, it gives us even more concern. We start to struggle deeply with our faith. Is God really there when life falls apart? How can these things happen to me? Is my faith real? Has He walked away from me?
9. If He is here, if He is sovereign, and if He cares, we would see a pattern, purpose and direction in our lives. Yet often our lives seem like the back of this wall hanging or tapestry. (sHOW TAPESTRY) There is no apparent pattern to it. R- rather our lives seem to be a tangled mess, a tangle of unrelated colours, loose ends and unravelled knots.
1. This is the tension that Naomi is dealing with in the book of Ruth. This evening we examine the struggle which she faces and how she deals with this struggle. It may help some of us to deal with some of the struggles and questions we are facing.
2. Naomi's situation was very bleak. There had been famine in Judah and her husband had decided to take her and their 2 sons to land of Moab. But her husband, Elimelech died, leaving her with her 2 sons who married Moabite women. Then 2 sons also died and her life was empty. In Israel a woman without a husband was in a weak position. No one to watch over her in a man's world. Worse when no children - sign of God's favour. One of His covenant promises was that of fruitfulness - having many children. And there she is in a foreign land - not even among her own people.