Advent Week 1 – My Redeemer Lives: A Painful Providence – 12-3-17
INTRO: Holiday season is often a time of…. Pain / Suffering / Grief / Loneliness
PROVIDENCE: “To provide” – God directs all things toward His purpose—God is preserving and governing all things
RUTH – MY REDEEMER LIVES
Advent – the Coming of Jesus… Through RUTH, we can be reminded… a baby is coming through Ruth’s suffering that will lead to Jesus Christ Who will redeem the world!
We all can relate to Ruth and Naomi, to their loss, their pain… and we can be reminded of the hope and the joy that comes from Jesus alone!
During Advent, let us celebrate the birth of our Savior and boldly declare to everyone – My Redeemer Lives!
SUFFERING OF RUTH
Ruth 1:13… The Lord’s hand turned against me
Ruth 1:20-21….. the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty….. the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?
Was she really full?
YOU HAVE NO FULLNESS APART FROM GOD
Elimelech name means “My God is King,” yet they didn’t live like He is King. Left Bethlehem (“House of Bread”) during famine.
Matthew 2:6 – And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel.” [HCSB]
Ephesians 3:19– May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. [NLT]
Colossians 1:17– He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [NIV]
Hebrews 1:3– And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. [NASB]
YOU ARE NEVER OUTSIDE OF THE CARE OF GOD
Matthew 10:29– Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. [NIV]
Proverbs 19:21– Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. [ESV]
Ephesians 1:11– In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose ofHim who works all things according to the counsel of His will [ESV]
YOUR “BAD” IS USED FOR GOOD
Acts 4:27-28– For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. [HCSB]
We see that most evil act of all – killing Jesus on the Cross – is most loving act of God
Romans 8:28– And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [ESV]
YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RETURN TO GOD
Ruth and Naomi respond to the painful providence by seeking refuge in God
Acts 17:26-28– From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him–though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist.As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ [NLT]
Jesus will meet you where you are!
C.S. Lewis (Problem of Pain) said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Only through pain in Christ will pain have purpose
Psalm 119:25– My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word! [ESV]
Psalm 63:8– My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. [ESV]
Romans 11:36– For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. [NIV]
In Romans 15:13, we read: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (NLT). We know that Jesus Christ is our only hope. We know that He alone is our confidence. The Bible says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him” (NIV).
If you have put your confidence in a human at any point in your life, it is likely that you have been let down or hurt. Humans are constantly changing. The hearts of humans are deceptive. Being confident in Christ Jesus is different. We are to rely on what He has done for us. We are to trust in the promises of God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
It is when we try to place our confidence in something else that we find ourselves in trouble and we are always let down. Today, consider where you have placed your confidence. Are you relying on human effort? Are you relying on friends or family? Or have you put your confidence in God? Are you relying on the One who was and is and is to come?
“For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.” – Philippians 3:3 [NLT]
The Psalmist notes that the Lord’s plans stand firm forever. His intentions can never be shaken. The Psalmist understands that the Lord is God Almighty. He is in control and He is faithful. The Psalmist understands that whatever God speaks, He will see to fruition.
When we read the Bible, do we accept the intentions of God? Do you understand that He will see that things He designed will be seen to completion? Do you understand that if He intends to accomplish something, that He will see it through? He is not like a person who will have good intentions, but cannot see them through. He is not like person that changes the intentions. The God of the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament. His intentions have never changed. As you page through His Word, you will encounter the Almighty, the great I AM. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).
Today, rest in this truth. Know that you serve a God that has intentions that can never be shaken. His plans stand firm forever. Trust in Him. His intentions are always good and they are always seen through to fruition.
“But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken.” – Psalm 33:11 [NLT]
My dog Max has some issues with other dogs due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is fine when dogs enter our home. He is fine when he goes to someone’s house and they have a dog. The issue is when we are walking. As a result, I am mindful of when we walk and where we walk because I do not want Max to get fearful and agitated.
It does not matter how prepared I am, nor how many alternative routes I can travel. At times, it does not matter and something will happen that is out of my control. This morning was one of those moments. A lady was driving down the road above the speed limit. She quickly veered over to the wrong side of the road, parking illegally right in front of us. She was holding a small dog and had the window wide open with the dog hanging out and actively barking. Right before Max was his biggest fear. He started to react. He was all frazzled.
There is no guarantee that you will have smooth travels throughout your day. There could be an interruption. Something could happen that would pull you off course. You may have spent time in preparation but you are knocked off of your feet. What then? Stop. Breathe. Remind yourself of the promises of God. Remember you are not alone (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He is with you (Psalm 46:1). It may feel like everything is caving in, but in fact, God is preparing the way using all of the good and bad in your life to position you for something great. You were made for great things (John 14:12). You were made to give God glory (Isaiah 43:7). Change your focus and move forward (Philippians 4:8-9). You were made for so much more!
I will admit I am forgetful. As a crutch, I use my Google calendar to remind me of everything both at work and at home. I make a grocery list to remember what food to buy, and then cannot even remember the list. I kept losing my prayer lists; my prayer list is now on my phone. If I don’t write something down, it is likely it will be lost in my memory bank. I would not call it a memory bank – it’s more like a black hole.
This morning while I was on the usual walk with my dogs, I soon realized as we changed directions that I forgot my sunglasses. The whole way home I was squinting because my oversensitive eyes could not face the beautiful morning light. I even grumbled a bit considering the headache that might follow as a result. All because I forgot my sunglasses.
What a surprise when I got home only to realize my sunglasses were in my pocket. I had my sunglasses the entire time!! The sunglasses I own are magnetic and when I grabbed for my keys, they unbeknownst to me followed along. I spent all that time wishing for the solution, when it was right with me. Sadly, that is how many of us are in life from time to time. God has the answer but we look elsewhere. God has provided what is needed but we are too blind to see (2 Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 4:19). God has a perfect plan but we only see the struggles, the pain, the heartache. God is with us through it all but we so often feel alone (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5). My friends, let us open our eyes. Let us look at what He has blessed us with and embrace what He has for us. Let us remind ourselves of what He has done, what He has said He will do, Who He is, and His promise to never leave. We each have all we need to accomplish what God has called us to do in life!
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” – Psalm 33:4-5 [NIV]
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
– Hebrews 10:24-25 [NLT]
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
– Hebrews 13:16 [ESV]