Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Encouragements to Faith (Ruth 1:8-22)

These are notes on a sermon that was preached by Teddy Donnelly on last Lord's Day's evening at Trinity RPCI.

The central fact of the passage is Ruth’s decision to leave her native country for a foreign land.

This is the journey of faith from need, loss, and sadness to provision and joy.

The Importance of Encouragement

  • It was a time of lawlessness and danger (see Judges 21:25), so it was a dangerous journey.
  • Ruth was also leaving her family.
  • She was to go to a strange land and live as an alien, especially considering the relationship between Israel and Moab.
  • She was also a widow. The Hebrew word contains loneliness, abandoned, helplessness.
  • Women were utterly dependent on men.
  • Widows were mistreated (Ezek. 22:7).
  • She needed to marry, but she was giving up all hope by going as a Moabitess to Israel.
  • The journey of faith is difficult.
  • Sometimes it means a painful separation from loved ones.
  • It may mean giving up cherished plans.
  • We need encouragement.

The Means of Encouragement

  • She came to God through people. It had to be so because a Moabitess wouldn't have known the Scriptures.
  • Although her husband died early, it may well be partly through him that she came to faith. If it wasn’t him, then it would have been through someone else in the family, probably Naomi.
  • Naomi is a great example. She was thoughtful and loving (v. 8-13).
  • Here is a good mother-in-law, contrary to modern soceity's perception of the mother-in-law. (Sadly the perception can be found in reality. Are you as an in-law what you should be, or are you interfering?)
  • Naomi gives her advice with respect and no compulsion. She seeks her daughter-in-law's benefit before her own.
  • This is a lesson about the power of our lives and behaviour.
  • Note her devotion to God despite the circumstances (vv. 6, 8, 9, 13, 20, 21).
  • Her piety is not false and glib. She is candid and forthright and honest about her situation.
  • Despite her pain, she still calls God Yahweh (the Covenant God of Loving Faithfulness) and El Shaddai (The Almighty).
  • The examples of others' faith should encourage us.
  • Sometimes we suffer so that the light of our faith may shine more brightly.

The Result of Encouragement

  • Ruth is not out for herself. She is out to serve Naomi.
  • Natural affection is not enough to start the journey of faith. Orpah loved Naomi too, but she didn’t go.
  • Parents must take this on board. Your children may profess faith out of natural affection, not from real faith.
  • They must express true faith and true repentance.
  • Also, how often have believing children become too close to an unbelieving friend of the opposite sex and think they can change them. How foolish this is. Natural affection isn’t enough. It can't save others.
  • Evidence of Ruth’s faith:
    • vv. 15, 16 In response to Naomi's suggestion to Ruth that she return to her own gods, she says, "Your people will be my people and your God, my God."
    • v. 17 "Where you die, I will die." Although Naomi will die before her, she wants to live on where Naomi comes from.
    • v. 18 "The LORD to do to me, and more also…" She invokes the name of Yahweh, the God of Israel.
  • Have you come to this point? Have you gone on the journey of faith for the right reasons?
  • One is a mature believer, the other a young believer, but they both are taking the journey of faith.
  • They’re both on the way to more blessing and happiness than they can possibly imagine at this terrible time in their lives.
  • We may look at one side of an embroidery and it is full of tangles and loose ends, but then we turn it over, and see what it is really about. So it is with our lives: now we may see a tangle and a mess. We don't discern what God is up to, but we may see later on what God's purpose was, and certainly in eternity we will see the other side of the story of our lives and understand. In the meantime, let us exercise faith in trusting God even though we don't understand, believing that He is working all things for our good and His glory.
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28)

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