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Giving! — Luke 6:27-38

Giving! — Luke 6:27-38
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 14, 2017

J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in his book The Hobbit, “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” This is why mothers are so important and in fact they are the ones who teach us those everyday deeds of kindness and love but they also teach us a quality that has often been lost in this day and age; they teach us about giving.

Here in Luke’s gospel Jesus teaches us about giving, what it means, how it is done, and the blessings of giving. What we fail to realize is that for the believer giving comes in various forms. In this passage from Luke we discover Jesus teaching his disciple about giving for the Christian. Let’s discover what Jesus taught about giving…

READ: Luke 6:27-38

We have all heard that believers should give but why should we give? I learned about giving from a nonbeliever. He gave consistently and without any animosity because he felt it honored his Christian wife who believed Christians should give in order to honor God. So, he would give for her so she could honor God. He later gave his life to Christ. Jesus shares with us that…

I. We are to give undeserved love! (Vv. 27-31)

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

1. Jesus had just got done teaching who was blessed in the kingdom of God and who would be, well, cursed; that is what all those “woes” are about. Jesus knew what he was teaching was impossible for the ordinary person to do, especially people who were so wrapped up in following rules and regulations like the Jews were. Only someone who was changed from the inside out, someone born again, and someone who intimately knew the Messiah could understand what it meant to sacrificially give! So Jesus begins by relating to them “But I tell you who hear me”. Only those who actually listened and followed through knew what he meant. One must be spiritually born again. Only such a changed individual could “Love your enemies” or “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you” and “pray for those who mistreat you”! Say what? Now if you thought that this was hard enough, Jesus continued by relating that “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” This gets more and more difficult the more Luke relates to us Jesus’ words. We are not to retaliate. This is utterly impossible yet Jesus is not done there and continues that “If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” So you mean thieves could steal from us and we should not demand our stuff back? We can’t live this way, what is possible with God is utterly impossible for us to do. However with God all things are possible. Certainly those Jesus describes here do not deserve our love. But did we deserve the love of God displayed in his sacrifice of himself on a cross for our sins? The key to these utterly unrealistic demands of Jesus is that we are to “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” For the Jewish listener who had heard all of their lives that it was an “eye for an eye” what Jesus proposed was impossible. And that was his point. Because we would know undeserved love we are to give undeserved love!

EXAMPLE: Look at the list Jesus just gave you to do. Now honestly can you do each and every one of these things on your own? My mother was not a perfect mom. She could be harsh in her discipline, selfish in her actions, and just plain ornery. And I hated it when she would remind us that we would always be her babies. When we grew to be big hulking adults this little petite woman would remind us over and over “You are always a part of me”. I did not fully understand this until I had a child and then grandkids. It is a bond that can never go away. When we trust Jesus to save us, to change us spiritually, we become his always and it is through this relationship we can do the impossible. We are to give undeserved love!

We live in such a selfish generation, so much so that it has infected our Christianity. There are those who think the church march or protest. There are those who only look for the church to meet their needs as if it were some kind of a spiritual fitness center. And finally there are those who treat the church like a grocery store and only go when they are out of something they need. Yet here in Luke Jesus teaches us that…

II. When we give we are to expect nothing in return! (Vv. 32-35)

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

1. Either Jesus has changed you or he has not there is no shades of grey here. And if we are changed we will reflect it in how we live our lives. In the first section we just went through it was tough and no one could actually do what Jesus asked; could they? Yet Jesus asks his listeners, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” We often feel justified in loving only those whom we deem deserving of our love however Jesus retorts, “Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.” I have learned that some of the most loving people can be some of the most ungodly folks. But being loving is not the same as being godly. Godly folk are changed folk. So, “if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?” Not much because “Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full.” We are to be different than the sinful world around us; we are to reflect the sacrificial love of God! Instead we should “love (our) enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” We are not to lend but rather give. I find it odd when Christians gripe about giving money to someone and then they do not get back what they thought they should. We are not to sit back and grouse when we give someone money and we do not get repaid because believers are not to be in the money lending business. We are to be giving people because of what God gave us. His gift was no loan! It is an attitude. “Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” When we reflect Jesus we will be giving people and when we give we are to expect nothing in return!

EXAMPLE: My Mom used to say when she got really tired, “I work and I slave and what thanks do I get?” I must confess in our little wicked orneriness we would tease her with this when she would ask us to do something. My brother would be washing the dishes, I would be drying, and we both would softly repeat, “I work and I slave and what thanks do I get?” My mom would laugh and tell us that she would give us something to be “thankful” about. Sadly far too many believers have lost sight of the fact we are to be giving people simply because of who we follow and so when we give we are to expect nothing in return!

Giving has fallen out of vogue in many churches today. And in some they never mention it, teach it, or require it thinking that they will win the favor of their audience by doing so. Jesus teaches us something we have forgotten about giving, namely that…

III. God will bless our giving! (Vv. 36-38)

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

1. Because we have been saved by grace we are to be gracious people. We are to live lives of grace and so Jesus teaches us to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” In God’s mercy, his grace, he came as Jesus to die for us but more than that to rise from the dead to show us that he could give us eternal life through our faith in him. It is not based on anything we have done; it is solely because of his mercy, his grace. In this truth Jesus tells us, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.” To “judge” here does not exactly mean to pronounce critical judgment, nor does it refer to simple judging at all, whether favorable or unfavorable. The context makes it clear that the thing here condemned is our willingness to look unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, or unkind judgments. We would say, “To look down our noses”. Therefore Jesus continued, “Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” As believers we are required to weigh the lives of fellow believers, but here Jesus is concerned with our judging or condemning those who are still in sin. We are told to “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” The whole idea here is one of what the believer’s life is now to be about. When we freely accept what God gave us we are to freely forgive others. Our salvation is not based on this but it shows what we believe. Christians should be the most gracious giving people on the planet. We should never ever have a problem in supporting our church, ministries, or missions. Forgiven folks are giving folks because we know that if we “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” Now this is not some name-it-and-claim-it or blab-it-and-grab-it garbage but a spiritual reality. We are blessed when we give. We should never give in order to be blessed; we are to give because that is who we are. It is a way of life “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” We cannot out give God. God will bless our giving!

EXAMPLE: My mom was one of those mothers who understood giving back more than what she received. This petite fiery redhead would tell us miscreants, “I will beat you until you can’t stand up and then I will beat you for falling.” Of course she only made good on this threat a few times; being the wild and woolly kids we were we knew she had to catch us first. As believers we should live our lives without any fear of retribution and in the grace of God. Therefore we should live lives of givers knowing that God will bless our giving!

Conclusion:

We are to give undeserved love! When we give we are to expect nothing in return! God will bless our giving!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Hannah, determined devotion! – 1 Samuel 1:1-20

Hannah, determined devotion! – 1 Samuel 1:1-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 13, 2012 AM

My Mother taught me several different important lessons as I was growing up. Like LOGIC: “What were you thinking? Answer me when I talk to you! Don’t talk back to me!” HUMOR: “When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me!” She taught me about my ROOTS: “Where do you think you were born — in a barn?” About ANTICIPATION: “Young man, just you wait until I get you home!” And, my all time favorite thing – FAIRNESS: “One day you will have kids and I hope they turn out just like YOU.” Yep, that’s my Mom.

In the Bible we see examples of mothers as well. One in particular can teach us a lot of important things too. One who stands out among women of the Bible is a lady named Hannah. Her name literally meant “grace” or “mercy.” Its root meaning comes from the idea of someone humbly bending their knees in petition and asking for mercy. That is a good picture of Hannah. Hannah was one of those Moms who displayed determined devotion. Let’s discover how this morning…

READ: 1 Samuel 1:1-20

There is a story of a little four-year-old boy whose Mom was getting him ready for his first sleep-over at a friend’s house. She began to list off several things that he needed to do. “Be polite.” “Don’t chew with your mouth open.” “Say, ‘Please” and ‘Thank you.’” “And, be a good boy and make your mother proud of you.” The boy looked up at his mother and very seriously replied, “Aw Mom, don’t worry I don’t sin anywhere else but at home!” Hannah teaches us that determined devotion was found in…

I. Her focus on her children!
1. “No man is poor who has had a Godly mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
1) Hannah’s hope and desire was to have a child of her own: “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son!” Some would say that this was expected of women in Hannah’s day and that we now live in a more “enlightened age.” However, look at what our world has gained because of this “liberated” view: abortion for convenience and relationships built on lust rather than love! The Bible describes later how “each year” Hannah “made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.” (2:19) Hannah’s focus was her child. Every mother’s focus should be her children. God created women to be the nurturers in the home. Proverbs 29:15 reminds us, “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” It is our mothers that are to be the first line of discipline in the home. When a mother doesn’t discipline consistently, the home is disorganized and dysfunctional. This is why the writer goes on to say, “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her…” (Proverbs 31:27-28) Every mother’s determined devotion should be like Hannah’s and focus on her children!
EXAMPLE: Recent studies have shown that when there is not a consistent nurturer in the home, children grow up more violent, have lower grades in school, and are involved more in drugs. Nurturing, however, does not mean overindulgence. Too much pampering in the home causes selfishness and ingratitude. A mother’s focus should be her children, but not to the detriment of her household. This is why Proverbs reminds us: “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.” (Proverbs 29:17-18) The idea for the writer was one of consistent discipline. Hannah’s focus was her children.

It’s ungodly how in some States they are actually trying to force mothers to give up their nurturing duties and place their young children in preschools! It has been proven that children between the ages of birth through about 10 years absolutely need their mothers at home. Seeing a mother who loves her children is a great thing. Hannah did not just want a baby she also displayed other qualities of determined devotion that made her a great mother! We discover that Hannah…

II. Loved and respected her husband!
1. A man is not a man until he has a woman who will truly love and respect him!
1) Hannah’s respect for her husband was seen in the way she treated Elkanah. Even when she was wronged she kept it to herself. Some may think she was brow-beaten, but this was not the case. Hannah knew one of the main ingredients to a successful marriage is admiration of her spouse. Some will say, “Well, admiration has to be earned.” Yet, we are told, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) The word “submit” literally means “to be subject to under respect or obedience.” Nowhere does it say it is earned. Hannah, in determined devotion, respected her husband because that is who Hannah was and that is what she believed. We discover that Hannah’s respect was a reflection of her inner character and her love for her man. In Genesis we see God telling Eve, after she had sinned, that from that point on her “desire will be for” her “husband.”  From then on, she was only to have eyes for her man. In fact the female poet in The Song of Solomon confidently sings, “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me.” (Song 7:10) A mother is to be a one man woman. Her love and respect is to be given only to the one she marries and that is what Hannah was all about in her marriage. Hannah loved and respected her husband!
EXAMPLE: I really do not like TV shows that have the wife continually putting down her husband, especially in front of their children. Why? Our society has emasculated men. It reflects an ungodly cynicism directed at God’s true desire for us. “A man has two significant mirrors in his life.” So states Lewis and Hendricks, in their book “Rocking the Rolls,” “One is his work” and the “other is his wife.” This is where he finds self-worth, meaning, and identity. Over time work fades, but what he receives from his wife is that deep satisfaction that speaks to his real manhood. Where a woman needs to hear the words, “I love you,” a man needs to hear the words, “I am proud of you.” Hannah understood this. The best moms determine in devotion to love and respect their husbands just like Hannah!

A teacher gave her class of second graders a lesson on magnets. The next day, on a test, she asked, “My name has six letters. The first one is “m.” I pick up things. What am I?” Over 50% of the class had answered the question with the word “mother!” Yes, moms do pick up things but they are more than “magnets” gathering up dirty clothes and picking up toys. Mothers have a much higher calling than that! A good mother is like Hannah who in determined devotion understood that…

III. Her Spiritual relationship was with her God!
1. Godly mothers not only bring you up, they bring you to God!
1) Hannah was more concerned for her son’s devotion to the Lord, than her own motherly needs. She willingly made a vow to God for a child, because she knew God would take care of her child. In everything Hannah did she pointed her child towards God. There is no greater testimony than that of a godly mother. Remember what Paul told his young friend Timothy? “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5) We see that Hannah was willing to sacrifice her most cherished thing in the world, her son, in order to follow God. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Whoa! You might ask, “Pastor Lee, didn’t you just tell us that a mother’s children are to be the most important thing in her life?” Her focus yes, her devotion however is to be directed first to God. We are not to “worship” our children. Remember, Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) Why do you think so many families have spiritual problems? And notice that Hannah was not afraid to talk to God about her greatest needs. She had a consistent prayer life. It is evident in her willingness to go directly to God with her most personal problem. Hannah was not afraid to let others see her worship and pray! Hannah’s life displayed determined devotion through her spiritual relationship to her God!
EXAMPLE: There were once four scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful, eloquent old English. Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its literal treatment of the text. A third man preferred a translation called the Moffatt translation because of its quaint, penetrating use of words. After giving the issue further thought, the fourth scholar said, “I have personally always preferred my mother’s translation.” When the other scholars chuckled, he responded, “Yes she translated it. She translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw.” The best moms have a determined devotion to God like Hannah!

Conclusion:
The best moms know what Hannah did. They will focus on their children, love and respect their husbands, and have a personal relationship with God. The best mom has a determined devotion like Hannah!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Ruth: Gracious caring! – Ruth 1:15-17; 2:2-7; 2:10-12; 4:13-17

Ruth: Gracious caring! – Ruth 1:15-17; 2:2-7; 2:10-12; 4:13-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 29, 2012 AM

She loved him until the day he died. She loved him in spite of his demanding and perfectionist ways in dealing with just about everything. In 35 years she had had very few nightmares—because she rarely had a full night’s sleep. His illness often made reality worse than a nightmare. His persistent calls demanded immediate attention. Today, nearly 10 years after his death, she remembers his life and times fondly, as if they were still occurring, even as if they were the good old days. They had been married in a private family ceremony. The couple had stood before a preacher who would, upon the ceremony’s completion, become the bride’s brother-in-law. She had held flowers and clutched hopes of finally enjoying the sort of home life she had never known as a child. Such a dream was not to be, however. Multiple sclerosis struck her husband soon after their first child—a daughter—was born. MS began strangling life from his legs, even in its early stages fighting a relentless battle as vicious as it was ruthless. Somehow, though, her love for her husband remained as determined as the disease. Her life was an example of gracious caring.

Many adults function as caregivers for others—people such as an elderly husband, a grandchild, a disabled spouse, and special needs individuals. From demanding life-moments represented by stories like this one, we can enter the Bible’s gallery and recall the elegant portrait of Ruth’s life story. A growing relationship with God will lead believers to graciously care for others, including people who haven’t been stricken with an illness or some other special challenge. One simple question remains. How? Today we will be near the fields around Bethlehem, the graveyards of Moab, and the nursery of Ruth’s new home to show how real love for God always is reflected in our love for other people. Let’s discover how we can live a life of gracious caring…

READ: Ruth 1:15-17; 2:1-7; 2:10-12; 4:13-17

In Judah’s agrarian culture, a famine meant the fields were barren. Judah was fed and satisfied from Bethlehem’s waving and tender wheat fields—Israel’s “house of bread.” Hebrew families plowed fertile dirt and planted enough grain so that one day their ovens would emit the soft, warm aroma of freshly baked bread. But then “there was a famine in the land” (Ruth 1:1). Ruth lived “in the days when the judges ruled” in Judah (Ruth 1:1) when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). But Ruth, like a rose among thorns, nurtured and grew a graciously caring heart for Naomi, who could do little for her in return. We can be like Ruth and…

I. Commit to care for others! (Ruth 1:15-17)
1. You care to commit when you commit to care!
1) Elimelech moved his family away from the ravaged fields of Judah. Elimelech’s search for bread came to mean that he, his wife Naomi, and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion, had to leave Bethlehem for a new land. While they were there, Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. Eventually tragedy struck and Elimelech and his sons died. Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth must have soaked the earth near their gravesites with tears. Still grieving, Naomi turned back toward Bethlehem where the famine had come to an end. After dismissing her daughter-in-law Orpah to go back home to her family, she tells Ruth, “Look, your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” Yet, we see that Ruth replies by telling her mother-in-law, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” Like Abraham Ruth decided to leave her ancestors’ idolatrous land to go to the land of promise. And Ruth did it without the support of a promise. In fact she made her decision despite Naomi’s strenuous encouragement to do otherwise. Ruth replied from a graciously caring heart and in doing so made a commitment to care for others!

Ruth pledged lifelong love and allegiance to Naomi. She promised to die where Naomi would die and to be buried near the place of Naomi’s burial. Only death would be able to separate them. God loves the whole world, but Christian love starts one person at a time. The Bible gauges love for God against love for others. God requires patience toward family members in need, whether the need is spiritual, physical, or emotional. Sometimes, because of following through on our commitment to love, we suffer long. Such is the way of love. From Ruth’s example we discover that we should…

II. Take the initiative to care for others! (Ruth 2:1-7)
1. Actions speak louder than words!
1) Naomi and Ruth journeyed from Moab to Bethlehem and we see that “all the city was moved” when they arrived (Ruth 1:19). Because of their immediate need for food, Ruth said Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Actions usually speak louder than words, but passionate words plus hard work give testimony to a caring heart. In Ruth’s eyes, Naomi was worthy; so Ruth graciously sought to care for her. Naomi responded, “Go ahead, my daughter.” Ruth began to glean in the field after the reapers and apparently showed no shame over her condition as a poor Moabitess. God directed Ruth, and she began “working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.” That which “happens” doesn’t really “just happen.” A sovereign God orchestrates it and uses it for His purposes. As Boaz surveyed the field and the workers, his eyes fell on Ruth. He asks his foreman, “Whose young woman is that?” He learns that Ruth is “is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi.” But more than that the foreman immediately speaks of her character, that she had asked politely to glean behind the harvesters, and that she had “worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” Ruth saw the need at hand, and knowing grain wouldn’t just appear at the doorstep, she took steps to secure what was needed. Like Ruth, believers today should take the initiative in taking care of others!

The clock never stops ticking for people involved in caring for others. Ruth had worked so that she and Naomi would have enough bread. Ruth was without a husband and unaware that God was about to give her one. God’s good things often happen to us as we concern ourselves with meeting other people’s needs. After hearing the servant’s answer to his question, Boaz, perhaps later in the day, approached Ruth and spoke to her. When Boaz went to Ruth, he spoke kindly to her, saying she should harvest in his fields only, stay with the other young women, and feel welcome to drink water provided for all the harvesters. In Ruth’s example we learn about…

III. Sacrifice in the care of others! (Ruth 2:10-12)
1. Concern for others often takes advantage of our time, talent, and treasure!
1) When Ruth heard Boaz’s kind words, “she bowed down with her face to the ground.” Even after losing her husband and leaving her blood relatives in Moab, Ruth apparently had not grown bitter. Beautiful of spirit, Ruth asked Boaz, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” Boaz and Ruth were still in the early dawn of their relationship, but Boaz had already known about Ruth and thought highly of her. Through the foreman’s report, Boaz had read Ruth like a book. In these moments at the threshing floor, Boaz spoke a biography about Ruth. He knew her past, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.” Sacrifice reaps its own reward in life. Ruth went out to glean leftovers and harvested much more! Boaz’s comments reveal how Ruth had grown in her relationship with God. He blesses her by saying, “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Indeed, the foreigner from the pagan land of Moab had grown in her relationship with the Lord to the point that noble Boaz could seek the Lord’s full reward for her as if she were one of His people! Ruth’s sacrifice in the care of others, challenges us to do the same!

Taking action to fulfill lifelong commitments remains profound but all too rare in today’s society. Sacrifice opens a loving heart as a key opens a door. For example, exercising a sacrificial spirit at home means paying the price daily to have a better marriage. Sacrifice means serving each other rather than wishing and wondering why your dreams didn’t come true. Who needs your sacrificial care and support? Picture Ruth working in the fields on behalf of Naomi, now, picture your “field” of sacrificial care—and get busy showing gracious care for someone in your life! When we do, we learn from Ruth that…

IV. God blesses those who care for others! (Ruth 4:13-17)
1. Happiness comes when we have shared our lives with others around us!
1) The famine is gone and life had renewed itself for Naomi and Ruth as well. They were in Bethlehem among friends, and for the two women an unexpected blessing had happened, “Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.” Ruth did not know the road of providence would lead her to a wedding ceremony. God blesses His people, but not always in the same way every time. We surely can believe God blesses those who graciously care for others. And for Ruth, “the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son!” Boaz served Ruth intentionally and purposefully, just as Ruth graciously served Naomi. Together, they served each other. The Lord of the harvest grew a life of blessing for them all through their service for each other. Still, Ruth stands as a shining example of one who graciously cared. Even the women of Bethlehem acknowledged that Ruth’s love for Naomi was a love from God! They sing, “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth!” In another Old Testament book, we learn that “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first!” (Job 42:12 NIV) Likewise, God blessed Ruth’s later years more abundantly than ever. Boaz’s home was now complete with God, Ruth, Naomi, and baby Obed. God truly blesses those who care for others!

Conclusion:
We should keep in mind that Ruth, when she determined to stay with Naomi and remain faithful to her, could not have imagined all the ways God eventually would bless her. Moreover, we should remember that God’s blessings didn’t come overnight but over time. Are you willing to extend caring actions toward people who need your loving influence—regardless of how and when God blesses you for doing so? One of the key principles arising from Ruth’s example is this: Do what’s right and trust God with the results. We learn from Ruth to: Commit to care for others! Take the initiative to care for others! Sacrifice in the care of others! God blesses those who care for others!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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