Preacher: Jimmy Lemon | Series: Ruth(Less) | When we look to the world to help us find hope and purpose, we will be disappointed. When we look to the world for help, we rob ourselves of God’s hope. No matter what your background or your history, God is faithful to those who choose to be faithful to him.
– And as I’ve looked at the book of Ruth, I was thinking a lot about a stud finder. Anyone kind of consider themselves handy in here, anyone? Anyone consider themselves pretty handy? Some of you are like, yeah, some. So right here, what does a stud finder do?
– [Congregation Member] Finds studs.
– Finds a stud. So, cue the joke right, like beep, beep, beep, right. How many of you guys have ever heard that joke? Literally every time I’ve seen a stud finder, ever or talked about a stud finder, everyone’s like, oo, found me, right? Or I found you, whatever it is. Actually, while I was walking around with this, Tony Barker brought it for me, I had to text three people yesterday to find a stud finder and every time they said, well, I thought you already found this, all that kind of stuff ’cause I was walking around, everybody was making stud finder jokes. But here’s the thing, yes it does find studs, it found me but when you run it up against a wall, right, what you do is you find studs in the wall. And why do you want to find a stud in a wall when you’re trying to hang something or affix something to a wall, you want something behind the drywall, right, in order for whatever you’re hanging to actually to stick.
Because if you just try to hang something in drywall, without an anchor or without getting a stud, it’s not going to, it’s not going to hang up there, right. Makes perfect sense, pretty basic, home maintenance 101, right. Well, I haven’t always knew this basic stuff. I remember when Megan and I got married, we moved in and I kind of had this, we had this little room that we had as a home office and we were putting floating shelves from Ikea up, right. You guys, anyone love Ikea, any Ikea fans in the house? You know how miserable it is to put together anything from Ikea, right. So we’re putting these floating shelves up and at the time, I didn’t know a whole lot about home maintenance, I probably really don’t know a whole lot now. But we were supposed to put these floating shelves up, we didn’t have a stud finder, I didn’t really know that you’re supposed to look for that. So I figured out pretty quickly that these shelves aren’t just going to stick into the drywall. So I looked up, you need anchors, so I found these drywall anchors. Well apparently, the drywall anchors that I chose weren’t rated heavy enough for the weight of our floating shelves. So I get it up and it looks beautiful, it looks beautiful, the shelves are awesome, I put stuff up, my Ohio State stuff up on the shelves, it looks nice in the office and it looked great for about a month.
Then one day I’m just sitting in our living room and all of a sudden I hear, kur-plash, just this loud bang, real loud, and I run in and my, this floating shelf just torpedoed down and just ripped big pieces of drywall off the wall. It was ridiculous, well the reason that it did that is ’cause I wasn’t, I didn’t have a firm grip, I didn’t have, I wasn’t in a stud or I didn’t use the right anchors. Well, I put it back up with the right anchors and actually, I think we left those up whenever we move out the house. So some of that’s someone else’s problem now. But that’s why you want a stud finder is you want to find something that you can screw into when you’re trying to hanging something against a wall that’ll be able to withstand the force so things don’t come crashing down.
And as we’re in our series called Ruthless, as I’ve looked at the book of Ruth, really just been fascinated by this women, Ruth, from the Old Testament and her future husband, or I guess it’d be her past husband now, Boaz. Just this fascinating story and I think in a lot of ways the book of Ruth reminds me of a stud finder. Now, some of you know the book of Ruth and you’re like, yeah, stud finder, she finds Boaz, it’s like op, Boaz, beep, beep, found a stud, so I guess so. I guess, those of you that are single here, the book of Ruth does, it’s chalked full of just good insights into who you should be looking for in a man or who you should be looking for in a woman in the case of Ruth. You want to find a stud, look at the character traits that are found in the book of Ruth and it’ll get you on the good, right track. Inversely it’s kind of good at kind of a stud finder in determining, hey, where am I at? Am I a stud when it comes to my faith or am I a little off? How do we rank when it comes to who God wants us to be because Ruth and Boaz and the people in this book are absolutely phenomenal human beings and we can kind of learn from that. That’s why we’re this series Ruth-less because sometimes our world feels ruthless, right. Sometimes we look at the world and you’re like, man, just people are killing people and hurting people and just spewing nonsense and knocking people down. This world, life can feel hard, right, life can feel ruthless sometimes. And I believe as I look at the Bible, look at the book of Ruth, I believe the reason why our world feels so Ruthless is because we have as severe lack of people like Ruth, we are literally Ruth-less. We don’t have people with the character, and kindness, and faith, people like Ruth and Boaz in the Bible.
So it kind of is like a stud finder to see where are we in our Christian faith. Because I’ve studied it and look at the book of Ruth, even more than that, what I think the whole theme of the book, the whole theme we’ll have here the next four weeks as we go through the book of Ruth from the Old Testament scriptures is that God is this firm foundation that as we go through the heaviness of life, as the world tries to pull us down, we need to have something firm that we’re latched onto, we need to have something firm that we can find our hope in and that hope is in God. So let’s look at Ruth chapter one this morning and I think we’ll find that through this book, we can find a lot of really practical applications for our lives. So what I want to do is I’m just going to read a couple sections and then kind of go back through and see what we can learn here from the book of Ruth.
So Ruth 1:1 says, “In the days when the Judges ruled, “there was a famine in the land. “So a man from Bethlehem and Judah, “together with his wife and two sons, “went to live for a while in the country of Moab. “The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife was Naomi, “and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. “They’re Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. “And they went to Moab and lived there. “Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, “and she was left with her two sons. “They married Moabite women, “one named Orpah and the other Ruth. “After they had lived there about ten years, “both Mahlon and Kilion also died, “and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.”
So here’s the story, this man, he marries this woman named Naomi, they have two sons and all of a sudden there’s a famine in the land, there’s a famine in Bethlehem, which is kind of ironic because the name Bethlehem actually means town of bread, city of bread. And there’s no bread, there’s this famine, there’s no food in Bethlehem. So what this family does, they do the thing that makes sense, right, if there’s no opportunity here, if there’s no food here, if we can’t take care of our family here, what are we going to do, we’re going to move out of the area and they go to this place called Moab. And while they’re in Moab, the two sons, they find these two Moabite women, these two women from Moab and they marry them. Well, after a little while, the dad, the father-in-law, he dies and after several years, about a decade, before they have kids, the two sons they also die. And what’s so fascinating, there’s a couple of things that are fascinating to me in this passage.
Number one in verse one it says, “In the days when the Judges ruled,” in the days when the Judges ruled, now, you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to figure out what this is talking about because if you have your Bible and you’re in Ruth one, if you literally turn one page over to the end of the book of Judges, so the days when the Judges rule, the very verse before Ruth 1:1, is Judges 21:25. It says, “In those days Israel had no king, “everyone did as they saw fit.” So what the writer of the book of Ruth is saying here is listen, this was the time of the Judges, and what we’re supposed to think of when you kind of get the setting, right, you guys know whenever you’re reading a book or watching a TV show, you get your setting down. The setting of the book of Ruth is in the time of the Judges and key passage, the key idea of the book of Judges is everyone did as they saw fit. Everyone did what they thought right in their own eyes. People weren’t worried about doing what was right, they were worried about doing what they felt was right, what they thought was right. Everyone took care of their own selves instead of taking of taking care of everybody else, they just kind of did what they wanted. And it was this really dark period in Israel’s history and it was actually this big downward spiral where, man, some bad things would happen and God would raise up a judge to come and take care of them and they’re like, oh, God’s awesome and they’re like, all right God, I’ll see ya later and they’d go and do whatever they want. And it was just this big downward spiral for the nation of Israel. Where everyone was just kind of doing whatever they wanted, they didn’t care about what God said, they didn’t care about how their decisions effected anyone else, they were just doing what felt right instead of doing what was right. And that’s the setting, that’s the time period of this book is in. And it said there was a famine in the land. So you think, yeah, it makes sense that this family would go, they would leave this area but what you have to remember is they went to the city of Moab, the area of Moab, to the Moabites and if you start reading through scripture, Moab is like these mortal enemies of the Israelites. They’re like the sworn rivals, they hate each other, there’s always these frictions between the Israelites and the Moabites, so basically they’re like listen, God, the people of Israel, we don’t think you can take care of us anymore we’re going to go to Moab. So they’re actually not only are they leaving their town, leaving their area but they’re actually turning their back on God. They’re not just leaving their town, they’re leaving their faith. They’re leaving their faith and God behind and they’re looking for somewhere else, they’re looking to another God in order to take care of them. But what I love is that they had planned to live in Moab for awhile. Verse one said they planned to go there for a while and then just in the next paragraph, how long were they there, 10 years. Think about that, they had planned just for a little while, just for a little while to go and turn their back on God, to go and look for something else to fill them up and all of a sudden it’s 10 years later. I was thinking about this this week. You know I realized this week, I have quit every diet I’ve ever started in my life as I was eating pizza this week I’m like I’ve quit every diet I’ve ever started. And some of you are like the big health gurus and you’re like, you know, it’s not supposed to be a diet, it’s supposed to be a lifestyle change, right. You guys know that? Well, let me tell you this, I have quit every lifestyle change I’ve ever tired to make in my life. And here’s one of the reasons why, you guys, anyone when you diet you have cheat meals? You guys have cheat meals, you guys, whenever you’re trying to be healthy you give yourself cheat meals? Anyone, no, some of you guys are like, I don’t even diet, I don’t care. How many of you will give yourself a cheat day, like a fatter-day, like on Saturday, you can be fat on Saturday, you guys do that? Here’s my problem, I think, that’s great, you know, you can eat healthy all week and have a cheat meal or cheat day. Here’s my problem when I get a cheat day, I turn it into cheat life. My whole life has been a cheat meal. And I never intended to be that way, right. Earlier this year I was doing great, I’d lost some weight, I’d been running and all of a sudden, we go on vacation, right, and you’re like, it’s vacation baby, let’s live it up and all of a sudden its like, oh wow, it’s August and I still haven’t gotten back on track. And we do this all the time in our life and sometimes with health, sometimes with our relationship with God, whatever it is, it’s just this one thing, it’s just this one time, it’s just this one little bitty, just for a while. And all of a sudden, we look up and we’re farther away from God than we could ever imagine being. And we just look around we’re like, God, how did I get here? What happened, just time seemed to fly and all of a sudden, I’ve got caught in this whirlwind and I’m just in somewhere I never intended to be in my life. And this family, Naomi and her husband and their sons, they’re looking for help, man, they’re struggling. Sometimes life is tough and life was tough for them and they’re like, we just need someone to help us out and they turn their back, just what they feel like is for a moment from God and all of a sudden it’s a decade later. And then what happens is dad dies and the two sons die. And that’s heartbreaking enough, right, if you’ve lost a loved one you know how heartbreaking that is but put yourself in these shoes. This is thousands of years ago, think about this, this was long before Jesus was on the scene and Jesus was on the scene 2,000 years ago. We’re talking about three, four, 5,000 years ago when this happened. This isn’t like you can go down and get welfare checks and stuff back in the day or today, this isn’t that. These women, as much as we want to empower women in our day and age, you got to think how tough it would’ve been for a woman in that time period, especially three women who had nothing and especially Naomi who’s away from her family, who’s away from her hometown, who’s away from her people. They have nothing to take care of them. Because they turned their back on God, because they looked to the rest of the world for their hope, all of a sudden now they’ve missed out on God’s help. And in our life, when we look to the world, when we look to the world for our hope, when we look to the world to be the thing that’s going to take care of us, that’s going to provide us security, that’s going to provide us purpose, it’s what’s going to be what’s going to help give our life meaning. When we look to the world for our hope we miss out on God’s help. Think about that for a second, all the good things that you have in your life, your job, I’m sure, is great. But if you look to your job for the thing that’s going to give you security in life, you’re going to miss out on the hope of God. So what I mean by when you look for the world for help is anything outside of God, when you look to the world for anything, for that hope, anything outside of God, what are you look for for your hope right now? Is it in your job, is it in money, is it in your status, is it in your uniqueness, is it in your family, is it in your just doing good things, doing good deeds, is it showing up to church? What is your hope in right now? ‘Cause here’s the thing, if it’s anything besides your hope being in God and the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, you’re robbing yourself of God’s hope, of God’s help. Because God is that ultimate anchor, God is the thing that when life tries to drag us down, everything else, it might stay up for a little while like my shelves did back in the day, it might look pretty, it might look nice, it might work for a little while but eventually gravity is going to take over and it’s going to tear us down. But when we are connected to God, when we’re connected to that firm foundation, when we’re connected to His hope, we can withstand anything that life throws our way. This family had turned their back on God. And they thought just for a little while but instead of it just being a little while, it became longer and longer and longer and all of a sudden they looked up and they were so far from God they had robbed themselves of the hope of God. So here’s these three women, Naomi, Orpah, which fun fact, Oprah was supposed Orpah, that’s actually what they wrote and an aunt was like, Orpah’s a stupid name, let’s change it to Oprah and now we have Oprah, so you can think that, fun trivia there if you’re ever at trivia night at Roosters or something. But you had Naomi, Orpah, one of the daughters-in-law and then you have Ruth, one of the daughters-in-law. So these three women are on their own without a lot of food, without a lot of help, without a lot of support and here’s what it says in verse six. It said, “When Naomi heard in Moab,” so she’s still in Moab, “that the Lord had come to the aid of his people “by providing food for them, “she and her daughters-in-law “prepared to return home from there. “With her two daughters-in-law “she left the place where she’d been living “and set out on the road “that would take them back to the land of Judah. “Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. “May the Lord show you kindness, “as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. “May the Lord grant that each of you will find “rest in the home of another husband.” So what happens is Naomi hears that God is providing for His people back in Bethlehem that He is finally, the breads going, there’s food there, there’s no more famine in the land, so she’s like, you know what, we need to go back. And as she’s going, as they start to walk back toward Bethlehem, and this was like a treacherous journey, this was a far journey, especially back then. This was a dangerous thing just for three women to be going on this trip. And she’s going, she stops one day and she looks at her two daughters-in-law who she clearly loves and they clearly love her, and she’s just like, you know what, Orpah, Ruth, go back home, there’s nothing I can offer you. I have nothing, you’re just going to be so much better off. Instead of coming back with me to my people, go back home to your people. Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept out loud, there was just this love that’s so evident between them and they said to her, we will go back with you to your people. They loved Naomi so much, they’re like no, we’re sticking with you, we’re not going back home, we’re going with you back to Bethlehem. But Naomi said, she insist, “Return home, my daughters, “why would you come with me, “am I going to have more sons? “Who could become your husbands? “Return home, my daughters, “I’m too old to have another husband. “Even if I thought there was still hope for me, “even if I had a husband tonight “and then gave birth to sons, “would you wait until they grew up? “Would you remain unmarried for them? “No, my daughters. “It is more bitter for me than for you, “because the Lord’s hand has turned against me.” You feel the sadness in Naomi’s words there? She’s like listen, this is tougher for me than for you, but listen, she says, even if I thought I still had hope, which, I don’t. But there’s nothing I can offer you, I can’t just have, even if I had sons right now, even if I had hope, would you wait until my sons were grown up, no, you go back, go back to your people, find you a husband, live your life, don’t worry about me. I’m going to go and I’m going to die somewhere, you guys just go and take care of yourselves. That’s just, in verse 14, “At this they wept aloud again. “Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, “but Ruth clung to her.” So whenever they heard this, Orpah does the smart thing, right, Orpah does the thing that makes sense, Orpah does the thing that’s best for her. She kisses her mother-in-law, tells her goodbye and she walks away, she does the thing that makes the most sense. But Ruth, she clings to Naomi, I’m not sure this this how it goes, but in my mind she’s kind of around Naomi’s ankle like my son is whenever he doesn’t want me to leave. You guys ever had your kids do that where they just wrap ahold of your ankle and you’re like, argh, let’s go. That’s kind of what the picture that Ruth is here, Ruth clings to her. Said, “Look, said Naomi, your sister-in-law “is going back to her people and her gods.” Don’t miss that, it’s not just going back home, it’s not just going back to your people it’s going back to their gods, it’s turning their back on the God that they had started to learn from Naomi’s family to the gods of Moab. “Go back to your gods, go back with her. “But Ruth replied, Don’t urge me to leave you “or to turn back from you. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. “Your people will be my people and your God my God. “Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. “May the Lord deal with me, ever so severely, “if even death separates you and me. “When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined “to go with her, she stopped urging her.” So basically Ruth said listen, I’m in, I know it’s not going to be easy, I know it’s not always going to be great but not only am I on your side, not only am I going to follow you anywhere your God is my God. Don’t miss this, she said listen, whatever imprint that she had made, even being far from God for a decade about the God of the Israelites about Naomi’s God, Ruth said listen, there’s something about that God that I believe in. I could go and turn back and go back to my people and back to my gods but I am committed, your God is going to be my God.
Last week we finished up a series called Mix Tape, anyone like the series Mix Tape? You guys enjoy that, we got Achy Breaky Heart and all that, all that kind of stuff. Oops, I Did It Again, last week was pretty awesome, right? So we finished that this week and everyone seemed to like that real well. So as I was reading this, I just thought, you know what, it’s a shame that we weren’t still doing Mix Tape because could of had the band do this song because I think this is pretty much what Ruth was telling Naomi here, so let’s check this out.
This is what Ruth’s message to Naomi was. ♪ Never going to give you up ♪ ♪ Never going to let you down ♪ ♪ Never going to run around and desert you ♪ ♪ Never going to make you cry ♪ ♪ Never going to say goodbye ♪ ♪ Never going to tell a lie and hurt you ♪
Did you guys expect to be Rick-rolled at church today? You guys just got Rick-rolled. But I would of liked for Megan to say that but that’s basically what Ruth tells Naomi, right. I’m never going to give you up, I’m never going to let you go, I am going to be with you, no matter what. And you got to look at this, this is amazing faith from this woman named Ruth. She had so much faith in the God of Naomi and what Naomi stood for and all those, she had so much faith that she was willing to put her life on the line to stay with her mother-in-law. She was willing to put her life on the line and move away from here, from all that she’s ever known, from her people, her country, her gods and move toward the living God, the true God, the God of the Israelites, the God that we serve. And here’s the thing that we have to see here is that we can be faithful when we are full of faith in God. We can be faithful when we are full of faith in God. Listen, in church world, we try to brow beat people, it’s like you got to be faithful, you can’t do this, you got to do that, you got to toe the line, you got to do the right thing, you can’t do the wrong thing. We’re all about what you do and what you don’t do, we’re focused on people being faithful, right? And that’s a good thing, faithfulness is an incredible thing, we live in an incredibly faithful, just in a culture where faithfulness really isn’t looked up on, right. We kind of look down on faithfulness. If your marriage isn’t working, hit the eject button. If your job stinks, hit the eject button. If your church stinks, go somewhere else. We’re just like, hey, don’t, if you don’t like it, go and do whatever you want, we’re kind of like the culture of the Judges, right. Do whatever is right in your own eyes, do whatever feels right for you, do whatever you want to do. And this idea of faithfulness is just like, eh, I don’t know, in our culture. But there we have this women named Ruth who has so much faith in the God of Naomi that she’s willing to lay her entire life on the line and faithfulness to this God who she doesn’t even really know yet. And that’s the thing in our life, if you want to be faithful to God, it’s starts by having faith in God. If you want to be faithful to God, it starts by having faith in God. Listen, if you’re here today and you’re not sure what you believe about Jesus and about God, my job isn’t to get you to act more like a Christian, I could care less about that. I could care less about what you do as far as acting like a Christian. That’ll come later but you know what I care about? I want you to have a relationship with the one and true living God because no matter what life throws at you, no matter how much life tries to pull you down into the muck and mire and to the dirt that is in our world, no matter how tough life can get at times, Jesus Christ, God is that stud that we can latch onto. God is that firm foundation that we can find our hope in, God is that firm foundation that we can find our peace in. And so often we put our faith in all these different areas. I think there’s a reason that all of Christianity, all of the church, all of faith, all of our religion when it comes to Jesus Christ it’s all centered around belief and faith. Because it’s about trusting Him, it’s about believing that He’s going to be the one that’s going to give us security. that He’s going to be the one that’s going to give us piece, that He’s going to the one that wipes the tears away from our eyes one day. He is that firm foundation, He is that solid rock that we can tap into, He’s going to be the thing that can hold us up when life tries to drag us down. If you’re trying to be faithful, if you’re trying to act like a good Christian without having true faith in God, it’s not going to work very well. See we as the church, we’ve been so guilty of focusing on what everyone does that we missed the fact that we don’t teach people very well on what Christ has done for us. See, if you have faith in God, then you can be faithful to God. And Ruth was this incredible woman of faithfulness. This incredible woman of faithfulness because she had faith in God. Hebrews says this, “Faith is the confidence “in what we do not see. “And hope for and is,” I’m sorry, I messed up. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for, “and assurance about what we cannot see.” Think about that, we think of hope like, if we go outside today, and it’s cloudy, right, it’s cloudy, what will you say, if you have something going on outside? Man, I hope it doesn’t rain today. You guys, you say that? And doesn’t hope for us just sound so pessimistic? Oh, I hope it doesn’t rain today. I hope that person isn’t mean to me today. I hope they have a good day at school, like you know they’re going to have a bad day, but oh gosh, I hope they have a good day at school. It’s just, our hope in this culture is so pessimistic but in Hebrews it says it’s confidence in what we hope for. Man, when we hope like, man, I believe it’s not going to rain today because it’s, whatever, that’s what hope is. But then it’s assurance, it’s assurance about what we do not see. We live in a culture that we want to see results, right, we want to be able to, if you can convince me 100% that Jesus raised from the dead, then I’ll believe and we’ll do that. That’s not the way faith works, that’s why it’s called faith, that’s why it’s called belief. Hope is having this unending confidence in what you cannot see. Can you see a stud behind the drywall, no. But it’s still firm, it’s still that solid foundation that you can hang onto and that’s what faith is. And in verse six of Hebrews 11, it says, “Without faith, it is impossible.” Without faith it is impossible to please God. For we know that anyone that comes to him must believe that he exists, so if you don’t believe God exists, you know, it’s not much faith you can do to please God, right? You have to start with believing that he exists but then, not should you believe that he exist but you believe that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. What God says here in Ruth is that I will reward, I will bless those that earnestly seek me. I will bless those that have so much faith in me that they’re willing to lay down their life in order to find the hope and the purpose and the peace that I have called them, that I have created them for. That’s who God blesses. Now, it’s not like the whole prosperity gospel when you just give this and God will give you $10,000 or let this, some weird guy on TV pray over your face and all of a sudden you’re healed. That’s not what it is, which that’s always been kind of weird to me, right. I always see these people on TV saying they can heal me but they’re wearing glasses. Dude, just touch your forehead and fix your eyes, but that’s not how God works. That’s not all, God doesn’t always bless in the way that we think that he will. But God will reward those who earnestly seek Him. God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. Listen, God’s going to be faithful either way but He’s definitely going to be faithful to those who are faithful to Him. So my question for you this morning, where’s your faith, where’s your hope, what you are you holding onto in your life? As life seeks to tear you down, what are you grabbing ahold of? You’re grabbing ahold of your job, your family, what is you’re grabbing ahold of? Your reputation, how many followers you have on Instagram, what are you grabbing ahold of? ‘Cause here’s the thing, in the most darkest moments of her life, even as her mother-in-law, who she believes so much in, was just so hopeless saying, you know what, I’m empty, I’m hopeless, there’s no hope for me. Even as all that was happening, Ruth chose to grab ahold of the living God. She’s putting her faith and her trust, she was banking everything, as life was trying to pull her down, as life was trying to knock her down, she was banking everything in her life on the hope and the purpose that was found through the living God. What are you grabbing ahold of today? What are you latching onto, what is your firm foundation? Are you connected to Christ or something else? ‘Cause when you look to the world for your hope, you’re going to end up robbing yourself of God’s help. When you look to the world for your hope, you’re going to rob yourself of God’s help.