July 10, 2016
First Presbyterian Church – Coeur d’Alene
Message Series: Letters from Home
Message: Part 2
Scripture Text: Ruth 1:16-17
1. Sign up to receive letter from home next Sunday. Pick yours up after worship if you singed up last week (extras available).
2. It’s awesome to find a hand-written envelope with a letter from home every once in awhile – even regularly. But what if you got one every day. Would the novelty wear off? Would it
seem too much?
a. When my grandmother was alive she would call my Mom at random times every day, keep her on the phone for an hour going over the latest grocery prices. My Dad called it “that damn phone call.”
b. My best friend in college (in Kansas) was dating a girl who was interning in DC. He worked at the college radio station and used the paid long
distance to talk to her for over an hour every day. It drove me crazy and got him into trouble when the college found out.
c. In dating it’s called being whipped. In parenting – helicoptering or smothering. On social media– stalking, trolling.
d. Commonly, it’s called being clingy.
Just too much connecting.
3. The Book of Ruth is a story about a woman clinging to her mother in law Naomi. It even
uses the Hebrew word for ‘cling’ or ‘keep close’
a. On one level, it’s a story of survival. Both are widows, which means they have no security or support in a male-dominated society.
Naomi – a Jewess living in the foreign country of Moab – decides her best chance is to go back to her homeland.
b. But Ruth, a Moabitess, should stay in her home-country where her best chance lies. Her sister-in-law, Orpah, makes that very decision.
c. Instead, Ruth clings to Naomi, travels with her to Israel, and gives a famous speech of the Bible.
This is more than survival. This is a choice to be faithful, loyal for the rest of
her life, backed by a solemn and serious oath.
d. Read the rest of Ruth and things turn out well. Ruth gets a job working for a rich, bachelor farmer who falls for her and marries her, receiving Naomi into his family as well. Naomi gets to be the babysitter for their son.
Clinginess is rewarded in this story.
4. But if you get to know the major divisions in the Bible you’ll know that this story of Ruth’s clinginess takes place within a larger story of Israel’s unclinginess to each other and to God.
a. In your table of contents: beginning with Joshua and ending with Esther, the section
called Old Testament History is one generational cycle after another of God’s rescue and provision answered by Israel’s rebellion and straying.
It’s repetitive but spiraling in the wrong direction. The section begins with freedom in their own land and ends with slavery in a foreign land
b. Only two stories in this thousand year history highlight faithful clinging to God and His Will – Ruth & Esther.
c. And its Ruth’s story, in particular, which sets up the one beacon of hope in this dark history of sin: her clinging to Naomi and coming to Israel, marrying a Jewish man, leads to a great-grandson named David. He becomes Israel’s greatest King, and God promises that through his lineage a Savior will one day come.
Ruth is singled out in Matthew’s family tree of Jesus. Her clinginess brings eternity into history.
d. Who has God called you to “cling to?”
5. But what if we took Ruth’s speech and made it God’s speaking to you? What if it’s God promising to be the clingy one?
a. 23 or the 89 verses in Ruth mentions of God, only 2 of them by the narrator. Ruth is about people coming to terms with a God who intervenes, is present in daily life,
working to bring his loving purposes about.
Romans 8:38-39 and Matthew 28:20
b. Through all the major sections
of the Bible, relationship with God is described as a marriage – together forever, faithful to each other in all circumstances.
c. God sends us a letter, calls us up, speaks into our hearts every day. Even if we are ignoring, or avoiding, or clueless.
That’s true, I believe, of both Christians and Nons.
d. If you cling back, like Ruth, amazing things happen: Slavery turns back into Freedom.
6. What might clinging back look like? I pulled some phrases from Ruth’s cling-speech.
a. Go where you go. God has pursued you, now pursue him. Follow the sound of his voice every day. If you feel him speaking to you, do what he says and go where he directs.
b. Your people my people. Spend time with God’s people, make them a spiritual
family. We are clinging to God together, and I find that gives me encouragement and strength.
c. Die where you died. God died on the cross outside Jerusalem. What was put to death was the dreadful consequence of rebellion. Put to death in yourself what God
put to death on the cross: the victory of hate, fear, pride over your soul and over your life and over the world.
7. God is sending you a letter from home every day calling you onto a new path. Will you ignore it?