Tuesday, October 12, 2010

“A Story Worth Knowing” (Ruth 1:16-17)

S-1213 20SAP/3C 10/10/10 Hymns (O) #297; S#660 L.S. #32; #370; #457 (C) #52

Text: Ruth 1:1-19; 2 Timothy 2:1-13; Luke 17:11-19

Them: “A Story Worth Knowing” (Ruth 1:16-17)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is from the O.T. Lesson: “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, it is an art to tell a story. A story that is told well captures the hearts and heads of its listeners from the moment the narrator begins until the end. All the while the listeners are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the next syllable and the image that will be painted on the canvas of their minds. Therefore, sit back and listen to a story that is worth knowing.

The story begins in the land of Judah—Bethlehem. There we are introduced to Elimelech’s family—wife Naomi and two sons Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech whose name means (God is my King) didn’t trust God his King, because there was no king in the land. He takes the family away from the land of bread, the land flowing with milk and honey – due to the drought and famine, to another land—Moab to satisfy his hunger. Elimelech is not relying on God here, but himself to be the provider for his family.

While away from his homeland and hometown Bethlehem, Elimelech and his two sons die in Moab, and his wife Naomi and the two daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah remain. Now there are 3 destitute and distraught ladies. No husband, no family, no land, and no food. They find themselves in an odd place in an odd way.

Now the narrator begins to weave the script by pulling on the strings of the listener’s ears and hearts. He paints with wide-stroke brush the images of the destitute and despondent women and the options before them. And how the Awesome God of Israel, intervenes and provides for all of their needs.

This is the incredible story of Naomi the widow from Bethlehem and her newly widowed daughter-in-law Ruth the Moabite who return to Bethlehem—the house of bread because word had come that God has provided for His people again.

Along the journey home, Naomi begs and pleads with the two daughters-in-law to return home to their father’s homes. Orpah returns, but Ruth with those familiar words proclaims I shall go with you wherever you go. Ruth’s own words have come down to us to encourage us also to return home to the God who provides for all that we need. Here is how Ruth confessed her faith: “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

With these words, Ruth is determined and declares that the God of the Hebrews will be her God. She will bow to Him, worship Him and serve Him. He will guide her every step and movement. She will live under His banner of love, protection and provision.

The Moabite Ruth after marrying Boaz becomes the mother of Obed {the one whose worship is found in service}. Obed is David’s grandfather. Without our Triune God’s blessing Ruth and Naomi, redeeming both women, we would not have Jesus. Ah yes, the Lord is our King and He provides for all that is needed. He redeemed the truly outcast... and did far more than just save them. He blesses us today through them.

And the story that is worth knowing continues with how God intervenes in the lives of these widows. He provides for them a kinsman-redeemer—one who will buy them back and provide for them to live a decent and honorable life. Ruth the Moabite is now redeemed by the God who redeems all people from their sins—by the greatest provision from Bethlehem—the house of bread, with the Bread of Heaven, Jesus the Christ. PAUSE.

Don’t for a moment think that this story is simply a story that took place so long ago in a foreign land. NO! NO! NO! This story is being played out day in and day out in your lives and mine. For you see in reality you and I are the foreigners, we are the outcast of society, we are the misfits of the world, we are the Samaritans and the Moabites. We are the ones who have been brought from the desert dreary life to eat at the Eternal banquet that God provides for us.

Do you realize that there is nothing that you have, or offer to God that will appease Him from destroying you? There is nothing that you can do to take away His wrath from you. After all, we don’t like our story. We want to compose and contain our own story the way we think it should be.

But the truth is we are nothing but strangers here. Our sermon hymn reminds us of this “I’m but a stranger her, heaven is my home!” (TLH 660 v. 1). We can bring nothing to God. Instead, we see ourselves crawling and coming home from Moab with nothing but the promise from the lips of God Himself, WHERE YOU GO, I WILL GO! (Matthew 28:20b), and with this promise comes from the Father of all compassion and mercy and provides us all that we need.

We saw in the story before us and in the Gospel lesson today, how God intervenes and provides what is needed. The 10 lepers are cleansed from sin and commanded by the gracious Lord, the Bread of heaven—Jesus to show themselves to the priest so that the leprosy of sin will be removed. And they are cleansed and healed. Naomi and Ruth, too, are provided for by the gracious hands of God Himself. And so do you His most beloved bride. Yes, He provides for you what you can’t provide for yourself. We stand before the High Priest Jesus whose crimson blood washes away all of our leprosies and sends us on our way redeemed and forgiven.

Remember the story that is worth knowing? It began in Bethlehem (the house of bread) with no bread. Elimelech (God is my King) but there was no king. There was famine and drought. But how does it end? With a story that you should know and share with others—it is your story and mine. In Bethlehem, the God of heaven in a lowly manger provides the gift of heaven—manna—His Son, Jesus Christ. Now there is bread. Now there a King: Jesus Christ. Now there is a family. Now there are provisions flowing from His pierced side and hands. Now there is forgiveness and peace. Now there is joy in the house because the famine and drought have been replaced with faith and delicacies.

Today, you the Redeemed from Moab, the Samaritans, the outcasts, will dine on the true manna from heaven—Jesus Himself as He serves you the eternal bread and the joyful cup for the salvation of your soul and the blessings that comes from the God who goes where you go.

Most precious beloved of our Savior, know this—this is not simply the story of Ruth—but yours and mine and we should know it and tell it to all people.

Perhaps some you still remember the Television miniseries Roots? It was the story of a slave from Africa by the name of Kunta Kinte who was kidnapped and brought to the shores of the USA. His American captors wanted to give him a different name, but he refused to accept it and kept telling his family about his home, how was kidnapped and brought here. All along he reminded them of the freedom he had in the old country and his name was Kunta Kinte.

We too, have a name and a story—it is the story of our salvation. We have been brought about by the true Bread of Heaven—Jesus Christ, who freed us from the slavery of leprosy, death and the devil; and gave us freedom. Therefore, today, we, like Kunta Kinte relive our story and share it with others—the story of our Redemption and salvation. The story of God’s love for you by sending His greatest gift—His ONLY begotten Son, Jesus the Christ. May God grant you the power and ability to live, know and share the story that is worth knowing Amen.

Now the peace of God…


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