Summary: Life cannot be lived outside of relationships. Your Christian relationships are vitally important.
#November 14, 2010
Text: Ruth 1:1-19
Title: You Can’t Do This Alone
I want to start out today by telling the whole congregation how happy I am to have you here. I’m happy to see those who have been here forever. I’m happy to see those who are new. I’m happy to see those of you who have been Christians all your lives and I’m happy to see new Christians or those who have recently rededicated themselves to the Lord. I’m just happy!
Now one of the reasons that I’m so happy is this; what kind of church would this be if I was the only one who showed up on Sunday mornings or Sunday nights or Wednesdays? What kind of church could we have if I didn’t have anyone to preach to? There was a pastor that said it didn’t matter if 100 showed up or if 1 showed up – they were going to have church. The only difference would be this – if 100 showed up his message would be considered a sermon. If only 1 was there it would be a conversation. The truth is I can’t do church by myself. I need you. I need t see your nods of approval when the Holy Spirit brings revelation to you as I preach. I need to hear vocal approval from the congregation as I begin to preach under the anointing. I need to know that there is a church that is praying for their pastor. And I need to know that there is a congregation whose agenda is to help me attain the God given vision that I have for the church and not to have your own agenda. I need to know that there is a spirit of unity among us. You know the difference between union and unity, don’t you? If you take two cats and tie them together by their tails and then throw them over a clothesline, those cats are in union but I can tell you for sure they are not in unity.
Let’s move forward a bit. As much as I need you, you also need me – or at least you need a pastor. And going one step further, you need each other. And that is where we want to go today. I want to share with you about the importance of having meaningful relationships within the church. Hebrews 10:24-25 addresses that fact, 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
So as we look at this passage from the book of Ruth let’s keep in mind, “You can’t do this by yourself.”
Read Ruth 1:1-19a.
Everybody say, “Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I. PEOPLE ARE UNITED IN THEIR RELATIONSHIPS BY THEIR CONNECTIONS.
Let’s begin this morning by looking at some background to the book. Ruth takes place during the last years of the period of the judges. This was a 400 year period when judges ruled Israel. You probably remember the pattern of behavior that is prominent in the book of Judges. Israel would walk with the Lord for a period of time. Then they would turn away to other gods and would be given over to political oppression or military dominance because of their sin. When God’s people rebel there are always the consequences of judgment that will come. It is like that the famine mentioned in verse 1 was God’s judgment on Israel following a time of rebellion. 1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. If you consider that the famine that had come to Judah was God’s judgment on a rebellious people then it appears that this family was running from God. They wanted to avoid the judgment that was coming. It is interesting to do a study on the meaning of the names of the males that were in the story. The father was named Elimelech. The name means, “God is king” or, “my God is king”. Funny, isn’t it, that his name reflects just the opposite of his actions. His name said, “God is king” but his actions were shouting out, “I don’t trust Him, I don’t care about Him, I don’t want to turn back to Him”! Now, add to that the meaning of the sons’ names. Mahlon means “sickness”. Kilion means, “death”. Listen to me; all people are united by something. People who live without Christ are united by the world system. Christians are united by their faith. Romans 6:16, Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? You are in the same boat as others. You’re either in the boat that is sinking and leading to death or in the boat sailing to the Promised Land. Elimelech and Naomi along with their sons, were in the boat running from God. They were connected in their family relationship. Look at verse 3. 3 Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth… Did you know that relationships are at the very core of who we are as human beings? We are created in God’s image right? Genesis 1:26, 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” When God said, “in our likeness” what did He mean? That is a reference to the trinity – God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit – always in unity in their relationship with one another. So if we are created I God’s image what does that say about us? We are created to be in a unified relationship. Back to our passage. Two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth now have come into a covenant relationship with a family that is trying to escape judgment. They may have been good innocent young women, but by association they are now united with “sickness” and “death”. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.