Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Appeal to Christians for Self-Examination

(A sermon in the tradition of Asahel Nettleton)

1Cor 11:28...But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks unworthy eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

2Co 13:5 examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove your own selves. Do you not know your own selves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates? 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not reprobates.

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he tells them they need to examine themselves, so that they might not partake of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy way. That would include how you are living, how you are treating the body of Christ as the church, but also whether you are a believer or not. This is why we ask those who are not believers in Christ not to participate in the Lord’s Supper, but if you are a believer you are welcomed at His table.

He makes clear the idea of examining whether you are a Christian or not in his next letter to the Corinthians.

2Co 13:5 examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove your own selves.

It plainly says Christians should examine whether they are true believers or not, but most don’t know how. They think if they have been baptized they must be OK. Or if they said a Sinner’s prayer, or if they walked an aisle, or even if they grew up in the church, they’re OK.

Some people don’t remember a time when they didn’t believe that Jesus died on the cross for them. But none of those are evidence according to the Bible. And THAT is the most important question, what does the Bible say about this?

Two things are obvious from this text.

First, it is possible to be saved but not be sure that you are. Some people don’t believe this but why else would Paul say that we should be sure? Sometimes we doubt things that are true, even the things we experienced.

Second, a person Can be sure that he is a Christian. There are those who doubt this, too. They say you can’t know until you get to heaven. But Paul tells us to be sure! Paul also wrote, “I know who I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed unto Him against that day.” John said, “it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, that when He appears, we shall be like Him.” Do you hear the confidence in there?

Even if you have doubts you are a Christian it doesn’t mean you are totally ignorant of it. You will have some idea that you are. You will have evidence in your life.

When it comes to self examination though, there are generally two kinds of people. One group looks for evidence where there is no evidence. The second group sees some evidence but is not sure that it’s REAL evidence.

Did you ever have a teacher let you grade your own paper? If you were like me, you’d give yourself every benefit of the doubt in order to make a higher grade. Ever do that? You’re supposed to write down the number for Pi in 5 digits and you only write down 3. But hey you got those three right, so what’s the big deal? But not everybody is that way. Some will write down 7 digits, and even if they got the first 5 right, they’ll be worried if they missed #7 whether they should get credit or not.

But there’s another kind of self-testing. By my bed I have a sphygmomanometer, which is a fancy word for blood pressure cuff. Sometimes, when my heart feels like it is beating too hard or too fast I check my blood pressure. In this setting I have no desire to put myself in the best light. I want to know the truth. What are my actual BP numbers? I need to know if I need to call an ambulance or not. You see the difference here? In one example people like to fudge and think they are better off than they really are. In the other example life and death is hanging in the balance and you’ll want to know the truth!

Why do some people approach salvation as iff they are trying to get a higher score on a test than they deserve, when life and death are at stake?

The problem with that is two things: God doesn’t grade on a curve. He doesn’t give points for almost right. You either pass the test or fail. But, if you never know if you pass the test you’ll live your life unsure of your relationship with God and won’t be much use in the Kingdom.

So Paul says Be Sure!

But how? There are a number of things you can look at in your life.

I. The Fruit of the Spirit: If you don’t have any love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, or self control, then stop right there, you don’t have the Spirit of God and you are lost in your sins and headed for a Hell made for the devil and his angels.

But, you say, I have some of those a little, well it may just mean that you are still growing in faith. So dig a little deeper. Even on Fruit trees the fruit isn’t there all year long. The question is have you had spiritual fruit in your life.

II. Let’s find out if you have changed any. There are a couple of lists in scripture concerning who will make it to heaven. We’ll just take one because it makes the point.

1Co 6:9 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, abusive, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

Now you might think, hey I never was THAT bad. Really? You never have been greedy, or verbally abusive, or drunk, or even sexually lustful? Seriously? Here’s the thing, even Christians stumble in sin sometimes. But what they don’t do is continue unflaggingly in these things.

You would be surprised how many men in churches are abusive to wives and family. Sometimes it’s women, too. If they are habitually that way, or if someone is still a drunkard, or someone is a cheat in their business; they need to go ahead and assume that they are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. I’m not talking about the occasional lapse into sin for which you feel convicted and you grieve over it. I’m talking a life of willful sinning!

So, if you aren’t living a life of willful, indulgent sin, let’s go deeper.

III. The positive life test: 1st John is a wonderful book written for 1 primary reason; that you may know you have life in Jesus Christ.

1. 1Jn 4:7 says, “… love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.” If we have a love From God, then for sure we ought to Love God with that love. Do you love God today? Now I don’t mean do you have squishy or fuzzy feelings. Can you look at all God has done for you, sending his son, and Christ dying for you on the cross, without humility and gratefulness? If so, I don’t think you love the Lord.

2. 1Jn 3:23 And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Then back in the gospel of John, 1:12 But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name… TWO Simple questions: Have you received Christ? Have you surrendered control of your life to Him and trusted in Him to save you?

3. I’m going to borrow one from James now; Jas 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn, they shall be comforted.” You see godly repentance from sin includes a real and deep sorrow for sin. We experience real grief when we have sinned against Jesus. Not grieving over sin is like not admitting you have sinned. John says; 1Jn 1:8 if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

4. Do you love to practice your faith? 1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome. Jesus gave us instructions about making disciples, abiding in His word, prayer, worship, fellowship. Do you delight in these things or do you do them because you are expected to? Do you pray regularly? Does the Word of God bear witness in your heart and mind as God’s very words to you? Do you worship the Lord and fellowship with the saints?

5. And the last one I want to give you is that a True Christian Loves the brethren. 1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

Another simple question do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you really? All of them? Ask yourself this, even the ones I don’t really like being around, would I lay down my life for them?

16 By this we know love, He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

If you love them why criticize? Either tell them the truth in love or just lay down your life with your mouth closed.

If you love them, don’t treat them as 2nd class citizens.

If you love the brothers and sisters, treat them as Jesus treats you!

Have you been examining yourself to see if you are in the faith?

Are you? Good!

If not, come to Christ! Surrender to Him. Don’t draw back!

If you know that you are a believer but God has convicted you of sin today, remember, if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marriage: Christ and the Church

Marriage is a “type” of the union of Christ and the church. Believers need to see marriage in a new light.

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

In 1st Century Palestine, there were three prominent cultures: Hebrew, Greek and Roman. While both Greek and Roman cultures had those who married one person for life, the better off you were the more likely you didn’t fit that scenario. It was quite common for a Greek man to have a wife to perpetuate the family legally and other women for friendship and romance. In fact that tended to be the rule. As far as Romans go, they were big on divorcing. Some folks were divorced and married 10 to 20 times. But the Hebrew norm was still one man and woman for life. There was some divorce in Jewish culture but not very common. So if you had asked Paul if he was teaching anything new in this passage about marriage he would have probably said, “No, I’m teaching what the Bible says.” But he did have one new twist.

First, Let’s look first at His Grounds for Marriage. In v 31, Paul grounds marriage on Gen 2:24: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” Real simple, right? One man, One woman, One flesh. Not two men or one man and two women, or a man and his TV. One of each gender, one flesh, no other options. Also percolating up through this passage we see the permanence of marriage in the Old Testament illustrated by how God wanted to have an eternal union with His people. God referred to Israel as his bride as his espoused, he was engaged to her. (Jer 3:14, 2:2; Hosea) That relationship foreshadows the relationship between Christ and the church. It’s not the same, but similar.
2nd. That brings me to the Great Mystery. While marriage is based on one man/one woman of the OT, there is a New mystery: namely, the union of Christ and the church.

In Rev 13 we see Jesus crucified before the foundation of the world. So spiritual truths and the reasons Christ was crucified come before the creation of everything. God's plan to unite Christ and the church came before the creation of people and the creation of marriage. Marriage then, is the symbol, memorial and tribute to the marriage of Christ and the Church. We tend to look at all the good “human” reasons for marriage and there are good reasons. It’s a great way to raise children, great way to practice grace and patience, gives stability to a society etc. But first and foremost, it should be a picture of the Love of God for His people. 
It reminds us of the price Jesus paid to redeem us so that He could be in Union with us and us with Him! There are three great Unions in scripture: A) The union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God, 3 persons. There are NOT three gods. Hear Oh Israel, the Lord is One. B) There is the Union of two natures in Jesus Christ; he is both God and Man. Those are two distinct things. God is not human, man is not divine, but in Jesus they are met together. C) The union of Christ and the church becoming one. It is similar to the union Christ and His Father. There is an eternal joining of redeemed people and their savior, as individuals and as the church as a body. This is what is pictured in a marriage. 
3. Now because of this, there is a Greater Meaning to marriage. First, Note how the title “Christ” is in this passage 6-times (along w/ He, Lord, His etc.). He plays the most prominent role. Especially in V32; he doesn't say he was not talking about marriage, but that marriage and the teaching of marriage applies to, is found in, (Gk-eis), Christ and the church. This is what REALLY makes marriage all the more sacred. Not the joining of two sinners, but the picture of the perfect Christ and His Holy Bride, made Holy by the Blood of Jesus! 
4. This brings us to the Godly Mandate for marriage. A) First, marriage should be permanent. How long will the Bride of Christ live and reign with Him in Heaven? A few years? ‘Til somebody better or cuter comes along? Until He gets tired of us? NO! FOR-EV-ER! Jesus will NOT trade us in for a Trophy Wife. B) Second, Christian marriages should imitate Christ and the church. Really! Christian marriages should have a groom who would and does, lay down his life for his bride. Not just his life, but the things in his life. Is he willing to give up his bass boat? His King Kab F-150 pickup? How about his night out with the boys? How about his magazines and x-rated movies? A couple married 15 years began having more than usual spats. To make their marriage work the wife had an idea. For one month they planned to drop a criticism in a "Fault" box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: "leaving the jelly top off the jar," "wet towels on the shower floor," "dirty socks not in hamper," on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They all had the same exact message; on each slip was, "I love you!" Now maybe that husband was just ‘guilting’ his wife, but isn’t that what Christ says when we come to him confessing our faults? I love you. Christian marriages should have a bride who is in submission to her husband. Who loves him even though he’s not near enough like Jesus. One who is willing to follow him anywhere, but is responsible enough to LOVINGLY bring her hopes, wisdom and experience to the table to help make decisions. C) And third, Christian marriages should be a witness to the world. Is your marriage a witness? Do people look at your relationship with your husband or wife and say, now That’s a Christian marriage. Sadly, not very often that you see a couple like that. There are some! There are some right here in this church. An old pastor friend of mine who lived on a lake early in his ministry, and over the weeks, as he met people around the lake, he encountered a man who said, “Oh I know who you are. You’re the new preacher who lives across the lake from me.” My friend Jimmy was impressed and asked him how he knew. He said, “Sound carries over water, and a few days ago I heard you giving your wife 'what for', for not bringing something down to your boat when y’all were going fishing. So I started asking the neighbors who that loudmouth was across the lake.” Jimmy was crushed. That wasn’t a very good picture of Christ and the church was it? You see, just as God said, the two will become One Flesh, so also Jesus prayed that we would be joined in union with Him, like He is with His father. So acting in a way that hurts the witness of your marriage also hurts the witness of Christ. But knowing that every believer in Christ is joined together with Him and we have His spirit living within us; we know that we can show the world what the marriage of Christ and the church should look like. Have you been joined together with Christ? You have if you have repented from sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation! Until that happens you’re marriage can’t possibly reflect Christ to the world. Will you turn from your sinful life today and trust in Christ? i John 17

Monday, March 15, 2010

Treasures in the Fields of Boaz

Lessons gleaned from the Fields of Boaz help believers see there is something for them in Ruth.

When I was a boy I would occasionally dig for buried treasure. Somehow I’d get it in my head that a certain place looked like a place somebody would bury something valuable. Of course as a child I couldn’t calculate the odds that some pirate, in the early 1800s, landed at Corpus Christ, traveled 200 mi., picked a random spot to bury his treasure – WHY? I have no idea - and it turns out to be smack in my neighborhood 150 years later. So I dug anyway. Never found a thing.

But, you are almost guaranteed to find something if you dig into God’s word! Really! All you need is one thing, well two if you count the Bible. You need the Holy Spirit. You are not born with the Holy Spirit. That has only happened twice, and you aren’t one of them[i]. You must be Born Again! Jesus told Nicodemus that! Born Twice, How nice! Born once, what a dunce. Or as an old gospel preacher used to say, One birthday-two deaths; Two birthdays- only one death. Remember the story of Jesus about the man finding a treasure in a field, and then bought the field? The fields of Boaz have many buried treasures, let’s look at a few.

First Treasure from Ruth is simply what I just said; studying the Bible brings great reward! Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drops of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

1 Jn 2:14 God’s word lives in you, so you overcome the evil one. Jn 10:35 Jesus said scripture cannot be broken-its inerrant! Jn 17:17 Jesus says the word of God makes us holy. In 15:11 He says His word brings us joy! I have had many joyful moments in the study of Ruth.

2nd Treasure in Ruth: Importance of sexual purity. Sometimes I think the church has just given up on this and let the world win. Sex outside of marriage is SIN. That’s it, period! The world has been lying to us since the garden. Sex outside of marriage damages and sometimes destroys lives.

In Matt 5:8 Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” To help us understand this, the great George Whitfield said a person who is most pure in heart will see God the clearest. I like that! Boaz and Ruth resisted temptation, keeping themselves pure & God blessed them incredibly.

We have loved ones living in sin. Do we keep on condoning it, are we doing them a favor? We say, ‘Oh but their little baby is so sweet and they’re good parents.’ No they aren’t, not if they’re living in sin. And you can bet that child is headed for heartaches when mom and dad split up. Over half the couples who live together split up without getting married. Of those who do marry over half those marriages end in divorce. So at best its 2 out of 10 that stay together in that situation. 80% will not be together for the whole life of that child. And let me ask, when was the last time you saw a couple celebrating 50 years of shacking up? I never have.

Advice for girls and boys:
Girls, if your boyfriend ever says, its ok to do this ‘cause we love each other, this is what you do. Call him a liar, slap his face, and get out of there! Really! Boys, if the girl says to you its OK we can do this ‘cause we love each other. Look her in the eye, call her a wicked Jezebel (don’t slap her) and run out of the building – immediately!

3rd Lesson from Ruth: Embrace Christian Manhood and Womanhood! I am not going out on a limb when I say that Feminism and social liberal attitudes have really confused gender roles in the family.

I’m not saying Feminists were totally wrong. I remember back in the day when the favorite put down for boys and men was, “You’re a male chauvinist pig.” Remember that? Guess what, there are still a lot of male chauvinists around. But to balance things out we now have lots of female Chauvinists!

What is chauvinism? There was a Frenchman named Chauvin who was fiercely loyal to Napolean even after he had been defeated and run out of Paris. It is a blind belief in the superiority of your group. Many men think they are superior to women and vice versa. That is NOT a Biblical male or female!

Some say, why can’t we all just be good loving Godly people? Yes, we should be! But it doesn’t mean we don’t have gender roles. Its not enough to tell a little boy he should grow up to be a kind loving person, he needs to grow up and be a MAN of God. Look at how Boaz longs to provide for Ruth and Naomi. Godly Men have a desire to provide for their wife and family!

Look at Ruth, here’s an incredible, hard-working, loving, sacrificing woman; yet she shows deference, respect, and yes, submission to this man, her elder, a landowner who has been good to her. Men, we need to learn that kind of deference and submission that a Godly woman demonstrates.

She did not have to show him that level of submission. Her respect and proper behavior was enough for her to be a godly woman. But she chose to demonstrate to Boaz what her submissive spirit would look like. The same kind of submissive spirit we ALL should have to the Lord, and yes, I’ll say it, to one another. Men, you can have a submissive heart and still be a leader! In fact, don’t even TRY to be a leader without it!

4th Lesson: I don’t know if you saw this one, Embrace Ethnic Diversity! One of the reasons this book is in the Bible is to establish the importance of Jesus’ ancestors, Mat 1:2-6. I read recently that in many parts of modern day Africa the reciting of genealogies at weddings is still important! There is a respect for heritage and family and the guidance and honor that have been passed down. There are 4 women in Jesus’ genealogy: Tamar a Jewish girl, who had a child by deceiving her father in law Judah. There are sinners in the line of Christ: Rahab the Canaanite prostitute; Sinner and pagan; Bathsheba the Hittite, Sinner, pagan, and Queen. Then there is Ruth, the Moabite, pagan and part of a wicked culture, who became a God-fearing woman.

God embraced ethnic diversity. We have a Hindu temple four blocks from our house, but there are Thai people who need Jesus. I eat Chinese food served by Chinese people who need Jesus. I live next door to Hispanics that need Jesus! Listen, there are illegal aliens within a mile of here, yes they are here illegally, yes they are breaking the law, but more importantly they are headed for Hell and we have the good news. If I’m talking to an illegal alien, I’m more concerned about his eternal soul than his temporary living arrangements! And if you aren’t shame on you! Are you too old for the mission field? Its OK, God brought the mission field to us!

And the last lesson I’m going to mention, although I could come up with 5 more, Trust a sovereign God!

Listen to Heb 12:5.

...have you forgotten the exhortation … "My son, do not take lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved. 6 the Lord disciplines those he loves, and chastises every son he receives." 7 It is for discipline you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are without discipline, … then you are illegitimate, not sons. 9 Besides, we had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 they disciplined us for a short time … but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

God allows many difficult things in our lives, I don’t think everything hurtful is just to teach us a lesson, but in the midst of it, God can teach us something. It may be that we need to draw near to him, or that He loves us, but something! Sometimes we suffer at the hands of others, God can still use it in our lives.

Some people do not believe God brings any sickness, poverty, or death into the life of a believer. But I ask why should he treat us better than his only begotten Son? He brought betrayal, hate, scourging, beating, and crucifixion into Jesus’ life. And it was all planned. The Bible says ‘Christ died for us ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.’ What scriptures? Old Testament prophecies and God’s law. None of it was by surprise. Just as God made pharaoh’s heart hard, so he also made the hearts of the priests, Pilate, and the soldiers who crucified him hard. Because it was God’s Will that Jesus suffer! No two ways about it. Sometimes its God’s will that we suffer. But the person who suffers most is the one who never knew God!

Have your sins been forgiven? Have they been washed away by the blood of the lamb? Jesus can save today! He forgives, He loves, and He will give us His spirit which is the promise of Heaven.

Will you surrender to Him today?

[i] Jesus and John the Baptist

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Boaz Ultimatum

God is at work making everything turn out for His Glory. Believers see God at Work in the normalness of Life.

Text: Ruth Ch. 4

When we last left our two widows, Naomi was telling Ruth to wait because Boaz would act on what he said without delay. Ruth had heard almost the same thing from Boaz himself in 3:11 “And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.”

I grew up in the Hill country and often drove back roads around New Braunfels, Canyon Lake, Wimberley, and out to Bulverde. Those roads are filled with twisting turns, ups and downs and blind curves. I remember once as a truck driver driving from far south west of San Antonio back to Austin, I was rounding a blind curve, on the side of the mountain, and even though I couldn’t see anyone coming I had to put my left front tire on the edge of the cliff to get my trailer around the turn without sideswiping the mountain. I prayed that no-one was coming towards me and made it.

But once when I was learning to drive my dad let me take the wheel on the interstate through Tennessee. I’ll never forget, I’m driving up mountain, surrounded by tall trees, then I round a curve, the trees seem to fall away and laid out before me is about 100 miles of downhill dry straight highway, with a blue sky overhead, good music on the radio, and little birdies singing in the trees. It was gorgeous.

Now which one of these is like life? The broad straight road laid out for miles with no surprises? Or the twisting, up and down blind curves of the hill country? I would suggest most of life is ups and downs, blind curves and switchbacks. Every now and then we are rewarded with a nice view, but it doesn’t last long.

And in that respect the book of Ruth is a lot like our lives.

Naomi and her husband go to Moab to find food. Her husband dies. Her sons find wives. Her sons die. She goes back to Bethlehem destitute, but Ruth comes to help her. Ruth begins to glean in the fields and God blesses them. A nice man takes care of them and he turns out to be a near relative. It looks like that maybe Ruth and Boaz are falling in love but then the bad news, there is a nearer relative to contend with.

UP AND DOWN, back and forth, highs and lows. Did you ever think, Man! When will it ever get easy?

You know, God never promised his people the road to heaven would be easy. But the road will in fact get there! HE will get you there. There will be blessings and heartaches along the way, but now and then he will give you a vista. A vision of the future. A long gaze into the distance, and in times like that we can remember our destination.

Now back to Boaz. Usually elders met at the end of the day, but this is morning and it seems that Boaz has arranged this meeting. He has invited ten men of the city and the nearest relative to a meeting. We’re going to call this man Mr X. That’s basically how the story refers to him, Boaz doesn’t call him friend, but they might have been. They were relatives.

Boaz asks Mr X if he wants Elimelech’s property which included care for Naomi. Mr. X would love to have more land!

So then Boaz says, well there’s another part to this. Not only should you redeem the property and Naomi, you need to be the redeemer of Elimelech’s daughter-in-law and have a son for her dead husband Mahlon. To which Mr. X replies, “WHOA NELLIE! Hold on a second there pardner!” Or something like that. You see its one thing to take on a parcel of land and an old lady to feed. It’s another to take a parcel of land, an old lady, and a young lady, and then raise up a son for your dead relative who will inherit that parcel of land someday anyway.

Notice that Boaz didn’t say, Hey Friend, would you like a young strong second wife and a parcel of land too? He started with the land and hinting at the financial gain, then brought up his Ultimatum. “Oh by the way!” That is one of the most dangerous phrases in life! “Oh by the way.”

When you’re reading this story and you get to the part where Mr. X says yes I’ll take it, you want to say “no, not him!” But why? This man is willing to do the right thing and take care of Naomi. But we don’t care! We say NO because we want Boaz to marry her. Have you ever read a story to a child and have them interrupt you and say, wait, that’s not right! The mean old cat isn’t suppose to EAT Mr. Mouse!

But Boaz had the right perspective. He told Ruth; 3:13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you.

You see Boaz cared for Ruth. He wanted her to be taken care of, so whatever happened, it was going to be OK. But when it came down to talking to Mr. X, he was quite persuasive!

Then, of all the crazy things, Mr. X takes off his sandal and hands it to Boaz and tells him, buy it yourself. And all the other men say “Witnesses!” You know where that comes from? That sandal thing? Deutero. 25:7 if a man does not wish to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go to the gate to the elders and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to carry on his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother….' 8 Then the elders… shall call and speak to him, and if he keeps saying, 'I do not wish to take her,' 9 then his brother's wife shall go in front of the elders, pull off his sandal and spit in his face.

You see it started as a demoralizing thing, to shame the man. But it became something else. Now Mr. X wasn’t a brother, he wasn’t being mean, and there was an alternative – Boaz. So he took the sandal off himself as a sign of his decision before the elders.

BUT, the elders aren’t done. There seems to have been a bit of celebration going on; because the elders and the people speak three blessings on Boaz. See v.11. 1) That Ruth would be like Rachel and Leah! WOW, they had 12 sons between them! Somebody tell Ruth! 2) That he would be respected and famous in Bethlehem. They had no idea the fame Bethlehem would someday have because of him. And 3) that His house would be like Perez. Now this is a little odd because of the story of Perez’s parents, Tamar and Judah. But basically Perez was the offspring of one of these Levirate marriages. Perez was the son of Judah but was born to carry on the name of Tamar’s first husband. But Perez became a great man and so they hope that Boaz’s son will too.

And they all lived happily ever after! But wait, there’s more, the story isn’t over. This whole story took about 2 months to happen. Then we fast forward a year or so and Lo and behold, RUTH, who HAD BEEN BARREN, has a son.

Look down at v 13 (read 13-15).

When they start talking about a redeemer you may think they are talking about Boaz; but no. They are talking about the baby. This is a foreshadowing because another baby would be born in Bethlehem someday that is also a redeemer. In fact, he will be a descendant of this baby!

And now at last, they get a rest from all the switchbacks and the ups and downs and blind curves. Now they get to sit on top of the mountain and see a 100 miles of good road stretched out ahead. THEY’ll have plenty of turns and valleys in the years to come, but right now the vista.

Why does God give us these moments?

Because they remind us that someday, in glory, there will be eternity laid out before us. He will get us there, even if the road is sometimes hard.

Think of the feelings that must have been going on in these people. At one point Naomi thought God was giving her more than she could handle. God was afflicting her. At some point Ruth probably thought it was vain to hope for anything better than being a homeless stranger in Israel. Boaz may have thought he was too old to experience the joy of a devoted wife.

We all have points in our lives like these. Life is too hard, you’re afraid to hope, you’re too old, or too poor, or too young. Remember, Psa 34:19 many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all.

Think back thru this story a second. Did God ever part the seas? Did He heal any blind people? Did he do anything that is out and out miraculous? No, he didn’t. But all thru this story you see the hand of God moving. What makes you think He’s not doing the same thing in your life? I know He is.