Friday, February 15, 2013
RUTH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSEPS OF FAITH, Fri, 2/15/2013
Pursued By Grace Series
COMING HOME THE HARD WAY, Lesson 4a
A foolish old farmer, so the story goes, concluded one day that the oats he had fed his mule for years were simply costing him too much. So he hatched a plan: he mixed a little sawdust in with the feed, and then a little more the next day, and even more the next, each time reducing the amount of oats in the mix.
The mule didn't seem to notice the gradual change, so the farmer thought things were fine and kept decreasing the proportion of oats. But weeks later, on the day he finally fed the poor beast nothing but sawdust, the mule finished the meal and fell over dead.
A silly tale, perhaps, but it serves as a parable of the backslider--the Christian who slips further and further away from God through un-repented sin or neglect. Though we know our souls cannot survive on spiritual sawdust, we may well convince ourselves that a little won't hurt too much, and a little less real spiritual food won't be missed. Then, over time, the proportion of sawdust increases while the oats gradually disappear. Before long, the change is complete, and our starved, sawdust-stuffed spiritual life has collapsed.
Surely this is how Naomi found herself in Moab with a dead husband and two dead sons. She never meant for it to happen, but one day she woke up to find that she was miles away from where the Lord wanted her to be. This passage is all about how Naomi found her way home to Bethlehem and to the place for blessing.
I know that I am teaching to some people who have allowed a little sin here or a little slackness there and today, you find yourself in a place, spiritually, that you never thought possible. You look around at all that you have lost as a result of your backslidden condition and you wonder if there is hope for your spiritual restoration. The answer to that question is "Yes!" And this passage has something to say about how that can happen in your life. Let's watch as Naomi returns to Bethlehem and think on the thought "Coming Home The Hard Way."
V. 19a THE ARRIVAL IN BETHLEHEM
The trip from Moab to Bethlehem would have taken between 7-10 days. It would have required them to cross the river Jordan and to climb the 2000 plus feet in elevation required to reach Bethlehem. It would have been easy to stop short of the city, but they continued until they were where they were supposed to be! Repentance is the same way! Don't stop until you have come all the way back! There is no record of their conversation as they traveled. This reminds us that a person's repentance is a private matter. It is between them and the Lord and we cannot judge their condition by what they do or by what they don't do!
To The City Of God's Praise - (Judah = Praise) Bethlehem was the place where the Lord was honored and exalted. There was no praise in Naomi's heart when she was in Moab. That child of God who is away from the Father's house cannot have a heart of praise, nor can their life be honoring to the Lord!
To The City Of God's Presence - (Ruth 1:6) God had visited His people in Bethlehem. While Naomi was in Moab, she was away from the Lord's presence! When a saint is away from the Lord's will, he cannot enjoy the presence of God! ( Jonah - Jonah 1:3).
When a believer returns, he can once again enjoy the blessed presence of the Lord, (Psa. 16:11).
To The City Of God's Provision - (Bethlehem means "House Of Bread") It was in the city of Bethlehem that Naomi would find the best of God's provisions. It was thee where she could be fed! So it is with the saint. God's best blessings are reserved for those who will stay close to where He is working!
To The City Of God's People - She returned to a place of kindred spirits and like-minded people. In Moab she was different! In Bethlehem, she belonged! So it is with the wayward child of God! Can you think of those who have wandered away from the place where God meets with His people? Thank God, they (or you) can come home again!
Revelation 3:10 (New King James Version (NKJV)
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
“In His Presence” By: Dick and Melodie Tunney (1988)
In His presence there is comfort,
In His presence there is peace.
When we seek the Father's heart
We will find such blessed assurance,
In the presence of the Lord.
Cover me, Lord, with Your presence.
O Father of Love, God of heaven and earth! You surprise us even today with Your great power and surround us with Your great love. When Your kingdom takes hold in human hearts, the results are breathtaking. Hatred gives way to love. Rejection is replaced by acceptance. Enemies are reconciled. Your peace prevails. Your will is done. And we are blessed beyond all we can imagine or think. Human eyes may not see it. The human mind may not imagine it. But Your kingdom has come and nothing can hold it back for You are at work. Help us to wait, watch and be prepared to be amazed as we wait and watch for Jesus to return to take us home to heaven. It is in His great name that we pray. Amen!
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