Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sunday Sermon Notes - 8.26.07

Ruth 1

The story of Ruth is a classic tale; the one recorded in Scripture is a crown jewel of ancient classical literature. It is full of the fully human themes of tragic loss, bitter hope, unexpected help, reversal of fortune, a new life. It is also an oddity in Scripture, for God's role is relegated to behind the scenes; he doesn't talk, he doesn't speak through anyone, he doesn't perform any miracles. God is mentioned a couple of times, but he is not central to the story. What is central is the crucial importance of God's people doing what is good and right; what is central is God's providence given through the righteous deeds of humans.

Any human that does good, does what is right, opens themself up to being an agent of God's providence, of provision for those in need. In the story of Ruth, the great need that sets off the story is one of famine. But it is not just a famine of food to sustain health and life; it is also a famine of justice and righteousness. Those that ruled did as they pleased; those that were ruled also lived as they pleased, each one doing as he saw fit. This moral breakdown caused a spiritual famine; God being starved of affection from his people.

At the beginning of the story, we find Naomi as the central character; the famine forces her family out of their homeland, they become refugees in the land of their ancestral enemies. There her husband dies, and her two sons end up marrying Moabite women - what a disgrace! Then her two sons die, and Naomi is left with two barren, Moabite daughter-in-laws; she is a disgrace to Israel and to her God.

But she hears that the famine has ended; God has been merciful to his people - they have repented, and so Naomi seeks to return home...maybe the famine can end for her as well.

What is the famine in your life? Have you heard of others returning home? Do you need to repent of something to God? What keeps you from returning to God? God provides through righteous people; who are some righteous people you might want to spend some more time around? How might God be using this hard time to help you become more righteous, that you might be used by him to bless others with provisions for the mouth as well as the heart?

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