Ruth: Unexpected Loyalty

Ruth: Unexpected Loyalty Sermon Audio Here

Ruth 1:6-14

For the next four weeks, we’ll be looking at the small book of Ruth. What is it about this woman that still speaks to us today, especially in times of transient love and temporary relationships?

What Does It Mean To Join A Family?

Concern Is Demonstrated – Ruth 1:1-15

  • v1-5 setup of the book: Jewish family moves to Moab because of famine; all the men die, women are stuck
  • v6-9 Naomi (Mom) decides to move back to Judah, but tells her daughters-in-law to remarry locally and survive
  • v10-12 Mom insists they leave her and go back home in Moab to live
  • v11-13 Naomi points out that Jewish law will not provide for them; they need to remarry to survive
  • v14-15 Orpah agrees and leaves; Ruth will not leave Naomi.

Loyalty Is Declared – Ruth 1:16-18

  • v16 Ruth’s declaration of loyalty, part 1:
    • going: willingness to join in the unknown
    • staying: choosing to build life together
    • community: recognition of belonging together
    • faith: reverence for religious relationship
  • v17 Ruth’s declaration of loyalty, part 2:
    • death: lifelong commitment to be shown
    • covenant: inclusion of God’s standards

The close of the chapter shows Naomi changing her name to Mara, because she’s bitter about what has happened to her and her family. And yet, by her side is Ruth, willing to live out her days with the family she’s joined, in good times and in hard times. This is our call as well: to show a watching world what faithfulness and loyalty looks like.

The JV Team: An Unlikely Savior – Rahab

The JV Team: An Unlikely Savior – Rahab Sermon Audio Here

Joshua 2:1-6/James 2:24-26

We’ve all heard about instances where Christian leaders do something awful, and it brings shame to the whole community of faith. But have you ever considered the other side of the coin?

When Sinners Act Like Saints:

What Do Their Actions Demonstrate?
Joshua 2:1-6 When we read this story, all we specifically see in Scripture are the actions taken by Rahab.

  • But our challenge is to understand that although history judges Rahab’s actions based on faith, we might sometimes have a hard time extending that same privilege to others today. We tend to judge ourselves by our intent: by our own motivations. Since we can’t see the motivations of others, we’re stuck with viewing only their actions. And let’s be honest: don’t we tend to give ourselves a “pass” based on our internal motivations, and others a “fail” based on their mere actions when something happens that we don’t understand?

What Do Their Motivations Teach?
James 2:24-26

  • v24 this justification is not towards God, but towards others; God knows the contents of our hearts, but He’s the ONLY ONE WHO DOES; our faith must result in action for it to have meaning in God’s Kingdom
  • v25 Rahab’s example: an “unrighteous” person (based on her reputation) is CONSIDERED righteous because of her actions in God’s economy
  • v26 we cannot live in compartmentalized faith: it must be joined with real world activity to be functional and whole

If we could hear Rahab herself explaining what she might have been thinking, would it make a difference in how we understand how an “unrighteous” person can be used by a righteous God?

The JV Team: Little Brother, Big Impact – Jude

The JV Team: Little Brother, Big Impact – Jude Sermon Audio Here

Jude 1:1-7

Matthew 13:55: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? ~ Jude was Jesus’ brother, but didn’t glory in that relation. Why not?

Jude’s Humility Reminds Us We’re To Be

Compelled by the Call, not Position (Jude 1:1-4)

  • v1 servant to Jesus, brother to James
  • v2 a particularly helpful reminder when Christians face difficult times: may you have Mercy, Peace, Love multiplied
  • v3 “urge you to contend” MORE IMPORTANT for those who have been called
  • v4 Jude reminds us: we CANNOT allow cheap grace to undermine our faithful
  • cheap grace: the idea that since we know God is all-forgiving, then we can just go ahead, disregard God’s call for holiness, and live however we want because we know God is predisposed to forgive.
  • Bonhoeffer: “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
  • Keep in mind: I, {Ed} am not chewing you {Warden Community Church and blog readers} out for this: we are together reading Jude’s warning to early Christians. If we find echoes in our own lives, we’d be wise to pay attention to the solutions brought up in Scripture.

Called to Caution, not Permission (Jude 1:5-7)

  • v5 We MUST NOT assume that family connection can substitute for faith: Jude, Jesus’ brother, knows this better than anyone!
  • v6 Angels have NO FAITH: they stood in God’s presence directly with knowledge and invested authority and they STILL decided to go their own way; if THEY who knew directly will be judged, won’t we?
  • v7 NOTICE “gave themselves up” to be tempted is NOT a foregone conclusion to sin!

We do not NEED to fail in holiness, that’s NOT a foregone conclusion. Jude’s warning is to CHOOSE to stand against cheap grace, lazy living, and groundless faith. Ephesians 3:17-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The JV Team: Secretary and Scribe – Baruch

The JV Team: Secretary and Scribe – Baruch Sermon Audio Here

Jer. 36:1-8/Col. 3:13-17

Background on Baruch – a learned well-connected man, brother to the chamberlain/chief of staff for King Zedekiah, he was willing to help Jeremiah speak to a nation in turmoil.

How Can We Speak To People In Trouble?

By Knowing Baruch’s Bias
Jer. 36:1-8

  • v1/4 Baruch willing to be a helper: wrote down Jeremiah’s prophecy
  • v5/8 Baruch willing to take a risk: delivered Jeremiah’s message to a hostile crowd

By Showing a Risky Response
Col. 3:13-17

  • v13 take the risk of forgiveness- let go of the right to be offended
  • v14 take the risk of loving above all- love is an ongoing choice, not a feeling
  • v15 take the risk of peace- preempt rising agitation
  • v16 How to do that? By allowing Jesus’ words to take the lead in our lives
  • v17 The result of this risk-taking? We do what we do in Jesus’ name with thankfulness

Baruch served Jeremiah through the fall of Jerusalem, and was carried away into exile with the prophet. He was helpful; he was a risk-taker; and most importantly, he was faithful to serve the Lord in times of trouble. May we be found to do the same.

The JV Team: Dr. Details – Luke

The JV Team: Dr. Details – Luke Sermon Audio Here

Luke 1:1-4

We spent 30 weeks going through the Gospel of Luke, looking at details that were noticed. But did we notice Luke himself? What example does Luke the person set for us today?

By Looking at Luke, We Learn

A Different Perspective about God
A Gentile view of a Gentle Savior

  • 1) Gentile who came to faith by Paul’s preaching (not raised in faith)
  • 2) Doesn’t mention himself by name; does use WE to indicate his own experiences
  • 3) writes from a Gentile standpoint; the only writer in the New Testament to do so – and specifically wrote them to persuade people of Jesus’ identity as the Son of Man, the chosen one of God.
  • Luke describes Jesus as the ultimate human: warm, compassionate, able to meet people’s needs through both miraculous works and mundane presence.

Indicators About God’s Work
Luke 1:1-4 why focus on details?

  • v1 they point to God’s promises as FULFILLED
  • v2 God’s promises are HANDED DOWN (intentionally passed on)
  • v3a God’s work should be RELIABLY INVESTIGATED
  • v3b God’s work should be CLEARLY SHARED
  • v4 God’s work can be CAREFULLY VERIFIED

Luke’s perspective noticed details to God’s glory; how does your view of God shape your role in God’s Kingdom?

The JV Team: Ever Heard of Hur?

The JV Team: Ever Heard of Hur? Sermon Audio Here

Ex. 17:8-13 / 1 Tim.2:1-8

Hur held up Moses in prayer; who are you holding up?

Holding Up the Actions of Belief

Join Together in Prayer
Ex. 17:8-13~ Aaron & Hur support Moses; who do you support?

  • v10 Aaron is Moses’ brother; Hur is a trusted man who helped lead (Ex. 24.14), maybe even Moses’ brother-in-law by marriage to Miriam
  • Notice: the Staff is NOT magic (God works through the Ordinary)
  • Notice: Moses is NOT superhuman (God uses everyday people)
  • Notice: Moses is NOT alone (God stood before him to provide; Aaron/Hur stood beside him to support)
  • It is not Magic or SuperPowers that win the day here: it is an act of faith by simple trusting people

Stand Together In Faith
1 Tim.2:1-8~ Timothy to teach the Gospel; first thing first: prayer

  • v1 We’ve been given the challenge that Moses enacted: to stand before God and bring our concerns to Him.
  • WHY? God knows already! But our simple act of faith in prayer makes a difference; and when we band together, like Aaron & Hur did with Moses, something extra happens
  • (cf. Mat. 18:18-20 – two+ gathered in My name, I am there w/ them)
  • v2 topic of prayer: pray for authorities. WHAT? That they would listen to God
  • v5/7 Jesus stands before God, and intercedes for us all; Jesus does it, Moses did it, Paul did it; it’s OUR turn to stand in for each other

vs 8: when we lift up holy hands, we’re lifting up one another before God. We following in the footsteps of Paul, Hur, and Jesus.

The JV Team: Apostles on the Outskirts

The JV Team: Apostles on the Outskirts Sermon Audio Here

Luke 6:13-16

Someone on a JV team (or a character actor) is generally lesser known, sometimes to learn a skill (JV) or to fill a role (cast member); all are important to make a program work.

Luke 6:13-16 ~ what happened to the rest of the list? Peter, James, and John are considered Jesus’ Inner Circle. But what happened to those disciples who weren’t on the “inside”? We know Judas’ story? But what about Philip and Bartholomew? What happened to Doubting Thomas?

Once they leave the pages of Scripture, tracking the movements of the lesser known Apostles becomes more challenging. But no matter the historical sources that are used, three things are true of each of them that are helpful for us to remember today.

Remember THIS about the Apostles on the Outskirts:

They were SENT
1) that’s what Apostle means: one who is sent away; like a messenger or ambassador. Even though the lesser known Apostles didn’t have kind of impact on the church that Paul did, for example, they still carried out the charge that was given to them by Jesus: Follow Me.

They were MARTYRED
2) They gave all they had for a very good reason – All of Jesus’ band of followers ended up being killed for their faith. Their faith wasn’t a generic faith that God would be good to humanity; the issue at hand was very specific: Did Jesus rise from the dead? They all were violently killed because they would not deny the Resurrection of Christ.

They MATTERED
3) They MATTERED as they scattered – as the Apostles dispersed, they did not all go the same direction: Andrew went to Russia; Thomas went to India. Matthew went to Ethiopia, while Philip went to North Africa. James son of Alpheus went to Syria, and Simon the Zealot went to Persia. Bartholomew went all over the place: India, Armenia, Ethiopia, and Southern Arabia.

The point is that many Christians in these areas of the world consider these Apostles as THEIR Apostle, responsible for bring them into God’s Kingdom, bringing light to darkness.

These JV’ers weren’t talked about much in the pages of Scripture, but they sure set a great example for us to imitate: Follow Jesus, Give it Everything You’ve Got, and Bring Light to a Dark world: THAT will make all the difference.


Pastor Ed Backell

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Pastoral Tweets

  • If we could hear Rahab explain what she thought, would it change our understanding of how an “sinful” person can be used by a righteous God? 3 days ago
  • Ruth lives with her family in good and hard times. It's our call as well: to show a watching world what faithfulness and loyalty looks like. 3 days ago
  • When Sinners Act Like Saints: What Do Their Motivations Teach? (James 2:24-26) 3 days ago
  • What Does It Mean To Join A Family? Loyalty Is Declared (Ruth 1:16-18) 3 days ago
  • When Sinners Act Like Saints: What Do Their Actions Demonstrate? (Joshua 2:1-6) 3 days ago

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