New International Version (NIV)
11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.[a] 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.[b]”
21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”
22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”
23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
The Message (MSG)
14-15 The town women said to Naomi, “Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life. May this baby grow up to be famous in Israel! He’ll make you young again! He’ll take care of you in old age. And this daughter-in-law who has brought him into the world and loves you so much, why, she’s worth more to you than seven sons!”
Naomi and Ruth came together in less-than-ideal circumstances. To escape a famine in Israel, Naomi’s family moved to Moab. While living there, her two sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Then Naomi’s husband and sons died. In that culture, women were dependent on men, which left the three widows in a predicament.
Word came to Naomi that the famine in Israel had ended, so she decided to make the long trek home. Orpah and Ruth started to go with her, but Naomi urged them to return home, saying, “The hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”(Ruth 1:13). Orpah went home, but Ruth continued on with Naomi, affirming her belief in Naomi’s God despite Naomi’s own fragile faith.
The story started in desperately unpleasant circumstances: famine, death, and despair. It changed direction due to undeserved kindnesses: Ruth to Naomi and Boaz to Ruth. It involved unlikely people: two widows (an aging Jew and a young Gentile) and Boaz, the son of a prostitute(Joshua2:1;Matthew 1:5). It depended on unexplainable intervention: Ruth just “happened” to glean in the field of Boaz. And it ended in unimaginable blessings: a baby who would be in the lineage of the messiah.
God makes miracles out of what seems insignificant: fragile faith, a little kindness, and ordinary people. In all the setbacks of your life as a believer, God is plotting for your joy.
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Moral values, and a culture and a religion, maintaining these values are far better than laws and regulations.
Introduction: The church is the ecclesia, the called out of God. In the days of the Apostle Paul anytime a Roman city had a town meeting the ecclesia would gather together. These were the ones called out to decide the business of the town. The word is carried over into the NT to designate the church.
This is not the only way the church is designated in the NT. It is called ‘his household’, ‘salt and light of the world’, ‘Christ flock’, ’the bride of Christ’ and the ‘body of Christ’.The word ecclesia is used three ways in the NT in reference to the church.
1) It is used to designate all the redeemed that belong to Christ. Easton’s Dictionary says, ‘It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ, the invisible catholic church’. Catholic being used here in the sense of the universal church. In the book of Ephesians the Bible says Christ is the head of the church and He is the savior of the body.
2) It is also used to designate a small group of believers for example in Romans 16:5 we read ‘ Likewise greet the church that is in their house.’ Every Christian is a part of the church, the body of Christ.
3) It was also usedtodesignate all the believers in one city, whether they gathered in one place to worship or not. For example we might, if we lived in that age, received a letter from the Apostle Paul which might be addressed to the churches in Concordia parish. It would be for all of us who believe on the name of Jesus Christ. That is in reality what the Holy Spirit of God meant for us as He inspired the writing of the NT. The Bible is for every believer in all places. Yet sometimes the church runs into trouble just as it did in Corinth. She finds herself embroiled in the midst of something which threatens to divide her membership. What is the church to do when it encounters these divisive issues.I. Must Focus on the MessiahA. Where must our focus be?
As Paul begins to address the Corinthian church and some of the problems of division they were faced, he began by asserting the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why does he use the phrase ‘by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ’? Paul was speaking in His place as the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the role assigned to him by God, Paul spoke with authority to the church. It wasn’t Paul’s authority, but the authority of the word of God.
He wants to refocus their attention on the one to whom their devotion and true allegiance lies, Jesus Christ. The allegiance of the church does not lie with the pastor, although the pastor has a unique role and responsibility assigned to Him by the call of God upon his life. The allegiance of the church does not lie with a few select members of the body but with the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the church. In verse 13 three probing questions are ask. One, is Christ divided? Two, was Paul crucified for you or were you baptized in the name of Paul? The answer to these three questions is the same, no. No Christ is not divided and no Paul did not die for us and we were not baptized in the name of Paul, meaning that we in our baptism identified with Jesus Christ.
B. What happens when we lose sight of the Savior?
1) We can get our eyes onto other people. That’s what happened at Corinth when they lost sight of the Lord Jesus. They began to focus in the personalities around them rather on the Person who saved them.
2) We can get our eyes onto other problems.
They began to focus on the problems they were having with each other. They began to argue and fuss and even began to take each other to court.
3) We can get our eyes onto other priorities.
Even in church we can often get our eyes on the wrong priorities. The priorities of the Corinthian believers began to be what they desired. They began to live according to their appetites thus becoming carnal rather than the spiritual people they were supposed to be. This lead to the abuse of spiritual gifts and the abuse of the Lords supper.
In the case of the Hebrew Christians to whom the epistle to the Hebrews was written they were exhorted to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us and looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, they were to run the race set before them with patience following the example set by the Savior who for the joy set before Him endured the cross despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Let us take this same exhortation to heart so that we might also run the same race before us, having laid aside the things in our hearts that hinder us and the unbelief and the apathy that entangles us. Let us, in our race of faithfulness, keep our eyes on the One who is the eminent example of faithfulness, who is comparable to no other. Look at His faithfulness to the will of God as our example. Among the legions in the hall of faith in chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews no one comes close to Jesus example. Whether you speak of Moses, Abraham or any other prophet you find none of these, no matter how tremendous their walk with God, match our Lord. If you ever feel that the race is to much look upwards at Jesus. Never set another person on a pinnacle. Never set a pastor or preacher up as the one you ultimately look for your example but let your eyes be on Jesus. I know that we who are pastors and preachers and leaders are supposed to be examples, but you will always find fault with me and with other mortal men’s example of faithfulness to Christ, but you will never find a flaw in the Savior.
The truth is, as the book of Hebrews tells us plainly, there will never be another to match our Lord. He is the finisher. They say Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player that has ever lived and that may be true. They say that Mohammed Ali is the greatest boxer who ever lived and that may or may not be true. Some say the greatest preacher who has ever lived aside from the Lord Jesus, is a man named Charles Spurgeon.
The point is that there will probably come along some basketball player who is better than Jordan or boxer better than Ali or preacher better than Spurgeon but there will never be anyone better than Jesus. Always, always, always our focus must be on Jesus our Savior. We owe no other greater allegiance than we owe Him.
II. Must Focus on the Mission
In the 1st chapter Paul exhorted the Corinthians to focus upon Jesus. If their focus was upon Jesus then their focus would also be upon the mission Jesus had given the church. One of the problems in the Corinthian church was that some were identifying with certainleadersrather than with Christ. The apostle Paul, while not diminishing the importance of believers baptism, which identifies us before the world with Christ, points out that his commission was not to baptize but to preach the gospel. (17) In Matthew 28:19 we find the passage known to us as the great commission. Jesus said, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching themtoobserve all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen. The Peoples NT commentary says, ‘The structure of the sentence in the original Greek shows that it is the disciples and not the nations who are to be baptized; according to the commission, therefore, one must be made a disciple before he can be baptized.’ Baptizing does not save you, but one must be saved or made a disciple before he is baptized. If you are not committed to Christ in your heart before the outward rite of baptism is administered then what makes you think you will be a disciple after you are baptized. If a man marries a woman but he has not been committed to her before they wed, then he is not likely to be faithful to her after they wed is he?
Paul states his mission in precise terms. His mission was to preach the gospel. His mission was to gospelize not baptize. The gospel is the death of Jesus according to the Scriptures, and the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus according to the Scriptures.
We are to keep our focus on our Messiah, on ourmissionand also we…III. Must Focus On The MessageThe mission of the church is not to proclaim the latest and the greatest fad or fashion of the world but to preach Christ crucified. That is the only message that will do the world any good. Paul may have been looked up as a fool by the world for preaching Christ but he would have rather been a fool in the eyes of the world and wise in the eyes of God, than have been considered a fool by God for adhering to the vain and pointless philosophies of the culture around him. The world may consider us morons friends for believing the Bible and preaching that Jesus is the one and only way for a person to be saved and go to heaven but that is OK because it will be better to enter heaven a moron than go to hell being considered wise by the world.
The same is true for you and I. Are we going to transform our culture or is our culture going to transform us? In Corinth the entertainment choice of the day was to hear an eloquent speaker. This was someone who could tickle your ears with his fancy speech. Paul’s task was not to entertain and wow the crowds with his fabulous oratorical skills but to proclaim the cross. He did not want to do anything to draw attention to himself and to take away from the message. May it never be that we do anything that takes away from the message of the gospel. May we never distract someone from looking upward at Jesus Christ and being gloriously saved. May we never proclaim anything else to this lost and dying community and world than the salvation through Jesus Christ.
The age in which we live has a message of its own. In large part the message of our age is moral relativism which says there is no absolute truth. If you are sincere in what you believe then that is enough. There is no real right or wrong answers, just what you conceive of as right and wrong.
This relativism has even entered Christian circles. I see it when someone says that it really doesn’t matter what you believe as a Christian just as long as you are sincere. I want to ask you a question. I don’t want you to answer this question out loud but in your heart. Which statement is true. It is more important that you are sincere in your beliefs than it is that what you believe is right? Or is it more important that what you believe is right?
The answer is that it is important that what you believe is right according to Scripture. You can wrong and be sincerely wrong. The Bible says study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed.
The church has one Messiah, one Savior. The church has one mission to win and disciple our world and the church has one message. It is the message of the cross. The key verse in 1 Corinthians is found in chapter 2 verse 2. ‘For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ Let that be us, nothing except the living Jesus and Him crucified. That’s what our neighbors need and that’s what we need as our focus, as our mission in this year.
The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’
King James Version (KJV)
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.
Many children learn to count on their fingers, but a nurse once taught a child to pray on his fingers.
This was her method:
Your thumb is the digit nearest to your heart, so pray first for those who are closest to you. Your own needs, of course, should be included, as well as those of your beloved family and friends. The second finger is the one used for pointing. Pray for those who point you toward the truth, whether at church or schoo;. Pray for teachers, mentors, pastors, and those who inspire your faith.
The third finger is the tallest. Let it stand for leaders in every spere of life. Pray for those in authority–both within the body of Christ and those who hold office in various areas of government. The fourth finger is the weakest, as every pianist knows. Let it stand for those who are in trouble and pain–the sick, injured, abused, wounded, or hurt. Those in Belize who are being over taken by the “Crack Cocaine” epidimic. Pray for those who are in war torn countries, trapped and inpovisioned prisoners of other countries. My God thier are so many to pray for on the weakest finger.
The little finger is the smallest. Let it stand for those who often go unnoticed, including those who suffer abuse and deprivation. What a great tool to use in teaching children how to pray for themselves and others! What a simple and wonderful reminder to use as we pray ourselves!
Daily prayers will diminish your cares. Don’t long for the absence of problems in your life. That is an unrealistic goal, since in this world you will have trouble. You have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven. rejoice in that inheritance, which no one can take away from you, but do not seek your heaven on earth.