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WHY IS WORK DIFFICULT ? (Vol 07) - ENEMIES MAKE WORK DIFFICULT – PART 4 - RUTH (1)

Sunday English Service - 15 OCT 17

Transcript

Let's go to the word of God. We've been teaching on work for the last few weeks. The first part of this teaching had to do with 'Why Work?'. I gave you the biblical reasons as to why we must work. The second part is about 'Why Work is Difficult' and that's what we're dealing with now and I have been giving some reasons as to why work is difficult now. The first reason I gave you is that sin makes work a toil. God gave work, didn't give toil. But sin has come in and as a result of sin, work has become a toil. There's a lot of suffering, a lot of hardship in work today. We talked about it. Then secondly, we talked about how death makes work meaningless and purposeless, pointless. Sin brought death and death makes everything different now. The world has become a different world with death that is there. Thirdly, we talked about how enemies make work difficult and that we're still talking about it. Today we're going to continue that. The third reason is enemies make work difficult. Showed you how the human race has now become two streams of people. One is called the seed of the woman as Genesis 3:15 says, when God spoke to the serpent after the sin and fall happened. God said, "I'll put enmity between you, your seed, and her seed." Talking to the serpent, says, "Between your seed," literally the serpent's seed or the devil's seed, "and the woman's seed." The woman's seed is supposed to be the godly seed, the serpent's seed is supposed to be the devil's seeds, people with the devil's nature. "He will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel." This is ultimately carried out on the cross of Calvary through Jesus. But it has more in that verse. Not only is the cross of Jesus the fulfillment of that promise, but it also implies that human race will be now in two different streams: one is the seed of the serpent the other is the seed of the woman. There'll always be enmity between the two. The seed of the woman is godly seed and their work will be on behalf of God, they'll be doing the will of God and the seed of the serpent will always be working to frustrate their efforts.

That is why, we often times as believers we find that work is difficult in this world because there is an enemy and that he is orchestrating a lot of things and therefore, work becomes difficult in this world. I illustrated this truth already using three illustrations. One is Joseph, the other is Daniel, last week we looked at Nehemiah. These illustrations show us how that since the fall things have become difficult because sin has brought all these things into this world. And one of the things it has brought into this world is that there is an enemy and that enemy is now working through people. He originally worked through the serpent because in those days there was no people in the garden. It was only Adam and Eve, who to use? He couldn't recruit anybody. Now, lot of people are inducted into the devil's team nowadays. He's got a big team, all over the world, in every country, in every city, in every village. He's got his own people. He works through them. He doesn't have to use the serpent anymore, he can use people now.

We showed you how in the life of Joseph you see that literally. The seed of the serpent working against this godly man, Joseph. God has a great plan and purpose for him, he is part of God's great plan. His work in this world is something that he is doing for God, for God's plans to come to pass and there is always a frustration of his plans. There is always something happening against him, landing him in trouble. But in spite of that I showed you that the power of blessing causes him to rise to the very top even in the midst of all that difficulty. Sin and the fall is working, its power is working to pull him down but the power of blessing is working in him pushing him up the whole time.

And we saw Daniel, the same story. He lives in a foreign land also. He goes there as a slave and he rises to the very top. Not without any problems, many problems, many enemies try to have him killed but he not only survives, he flourishes because of the power of the blessing. We saw that. Every story shows that. Shows the power of the fall and the curse and what it does to us and it shows the power of blessing.

Nehemiah, the same story. He also was a descendant of the people that went to Babylon as captives coming back now to Jerusalem to build the wall and how much he faces, how much trouble he faces. People want to kill him, destroy him completely, spread all kinds of rumors and things about him to really cripple him from doing this work, this work that he's doing for God.

Today, I want to talk about Ruth. Ruth is a very special story. I'm going to spend this week and the next week on it because it's a story of a woman. There's a lot more in here. Very relevant subject, very wonderful book with a lot of truth in it, so I want to spend some time in it. So, we're going to go to the book of Ruth and look at things here.

One of the things I want to go to before we even go into Ruth is the background for the book of Ruth. The story there happens at the time of barley harvest. When the connection between God's blessing and human labor was celebrated. Did you know when the harvest comes in, during the barley harvest, they were supposed to have a festival, harvest festival? Even today we have harvest festivals. But I don't know if people understand what the meaning of the harvest festival is, what it is meant to convey. It is meant to convey this point that there is connection between God's blessing and human labor, that there is a connection between your work and God's blessing. That it is because of God's blessing you're successful in your work. The whole point of the harvest festival is to convey this thing. That without God's blessing, you will not be so blessed in your work, you will not be successful in your work. In the Old Testament times, God gave them some festivals so that as they celebrated, they will remember that it is God's blessing that made everything possible in their work.

I want to read you a couple of verses from the Old Testament; one from Exodus and the other from the book of Deuteronomy to give you the background because Ruth's story happens in that context. She arrives there, in Bethlehem, in the city where Naomi comes from and starts her life there anew after having lost her husband. These two women, both of them lost their husbands and they come there and they start their life under very difficult circumstances. Both are widows, both need jobs, both need food, both need somebody to protect them, provide security and safety to them. They come under very difficult circumstances and the whole story happens at the time of barley harvest and it has a lot to do with work. The whole story is told in such a way you understand the connection between your work and God's blessing. Let me read these two verses so you keep this background in mind these two weeks. As we talk about it next week when you come, you can maybe...if you have not read the book of Ruth, you should read it. It's a story that you will enjoy. And if I explain it, you will enjoy it even more. That's what preachers are there for.

Exodus 23, we'll read first and verse 16. "And the feast of the harvest, the fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field and the feast of ingathering at the end of the year, when you're gathering the fruit of your labors, from the field." So, if God says...God is teaching the people that they must have certain feasts. God is not about rituals and ceremonies and so on. Even in the old testament, where there are so many rituals and ceremonies, they were all to convey a truth, a very powerful truth. You must always look for what it is trying to say. Is God trying to just give us another festival? Is that the whole point? No. God is trying to, in a very simple way, imprint certain truths in the hearts and minds of people. Very simple way to do it is to have a yearly celebration during which time they will do certain things repeatedly. And that will imprint upon their minds and hearts a particular truth, a truth that is very important for life. And that truth here is that they will keep the feast of harvest and the feast of the harvest is about bringing in the first fruits of your labors. Notice the expression there. The feast of the harvest is about bringing in the first fruits of your labors. Why do you bring in the first fruit of your labors? Why do you have to... it was an agricultural society when the fields... when they grew the crops as the barley harvest came in, they need to bring the first fruit to God. Why first fruit to God? Why God first? Because, He must be first in everyone's life. He must be number one in everyone's life. Because He is the source of every good thing. He is the source of increase, fruitfulness in our life. Without Him being there, without His blessing being there, we cannot have a fruitful, blessed life, we cannot see increase in our life. The fields have grown, they have gathered in everything, they're going to reap the harvest and they're going to get a great harvest. The first fruits are an indication that everything is working well and they can expect a big load of harvest this time. As the first fruits come in, they must immediately bring and give thanks to God and that is what they are taught here. It has to do with their labors. It says, "Bring the first fruits of your labors which you have sown in the field."

Now turn to Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 16:10-12, "Then you shall keep the feast of the weeks to the Lord, your God with a tribute of a free will offering from your hand which you shall give as the Lord, your God blesses you." In other words, he's saying, "Bring an offering to the Lord as the Lord, your God blesses you, according to how much God has blessed you." In other words, what you bring to God must reflect the way that God has blessed you. In proportion to the blessing you have received, you bring an offering, freewill offering to the Lord. It is a freewill thing. You do it out of your own heart, you let it be in proportion to the way that God has blessed you. Then verse 11 says, "You shall rejoice before the Lord, your God, you and your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant and the Levite who is within your gates, the strangers, the fatherless and the widow who are among you at the place where the Lord, your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and you shall be careful to observe these statutes." Or these ordinances, or these observances. You must be careful to observe these things and while you observe these things, while you do these things, remember that you were a slave in Egypt.

Why is God saying things like this? Why is He telling them to bring a freewill offering during the feast and it should be in proportion to the blessing that they have received? It's because of the blessing they received they were able to earn. There is a connection between the blessing and the earning. There is a connection between the blessing and the success in their work, connection between the blessing of the Lord and the fruitfulness of their labors. There is a connection. So, He says, "Let your offering reflect the way that God has blessed you. Bring it there and you rejoice before the Lord.

That's something that churches have never paid attention to. You must rejoice before the Lord. Rejoice over what? Rejoice over what God has done to you, rejoice over the blessing, rejoice over what God has blessed you to earn, rejoice over the increase. And who must rejoice? You must rejoice, your wife, your son, your daughter and the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger, the fatherless and the widows. Everyone is included. And then He says, "Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and you shall be careful to observe these statutes." Why remember that you were a slave in Egypt? When you see blessings coming in, when you see yourself increase, when you see your barns filled with plenty, when you see you have more than enough, when you see that you're doing well, this is in preparation of going into the promised land. He's talking now. He's training these people. They're going to have plenty, they're going to have abundance, they're going to be blessed. He says, "When you go in there and enjoy all these things, don't forget where you're from. Don't forget that it's God who delivered you from that slavery. Don't forget that God is the one that brought you here. Don't forget that God is the one that gave you land here." Everybody was a landowner. Did you know that? "Don't forget that God gave you land, don't forget that God blessed the sowing and the reaping that you did. Don't forget that God made these things possible. So, when you have a harvest, when you bring everything in, you rejoice over everything. Bring your freewill offering to the Lord. Rejoice over that. Praise God for it. And everyone that is there with you in your surroundings join with you in rejoicing and remember that you were a slave at one time. Remember that what you are today is because of God. The increase that you have, the fruitfulness that you enjoy today, the freedom that you have today is because you have been delivered from the slavery of Egypt." That's why God says in other places, "Don't enslave another person, don't take interest from your brother, don't enslave him because he didn't pay you back the money. Don't torment him because you were tormented in Egypt. You were made to work for every little morsel of food. You were treated badly, you were oppressed. Don't oppress others."Don't enslave others," God says, "because you were enslaved and I hated it. When you cried out, when you couldn't bear it and you cried out to me, I came down to deliver you and delivered you with a mighty hand.""Remember that," He says.

These feasts are very meaningful that God established among the people. They were all just talk about what they have experienced as a blessing from God. There are three things that are emphasized here. One is the blessing that they have received from the Lord. That blessing is the source of their productivity in life. So, remember the blessing. Secondly, that blessing came to you and the productivity came to you through your labor. So, the work of your hand is very important. When you work, God blessed it and gave you the increase. Blessing came in the form of your work being successful. Blessing came in the form of fruitfulness and increase in your work. It is very much related to your work. Don't forget the connection between the blessing of the Lord and the work. And thirdly, when you have much more than enough, remember the orphans, the widows, the people that don't have enough. God says, "I didn't bring you from the land of slavery and free you and make you landowners and bring you into the land flowing with milk and honey so that you may just have abundance and roll in it. I gave you all these things because you must always be mindful of those that don't have and meet their needs and be compassionate toward them." The total sum of it is this, the productivity of human labor, what we produce through the work of our hands, is an extension of God's work.

In the beginning God worked. You remember in Genesis 2: 1&2 it says that God worked six days and rested on the seventh day. Then God said man must work and Exodus 19 tells us to work six days, "In six days shall you do all the work and rest on the seventh day." So, we must follow God's pattern. Why did God work? We saw that God worked to create a world. God worked and planted a garden. Why? For man, for Adam and Eve. God worked so that man can have a life. God worked so that He can provide for man, God worked so that man can have everything that he needs. When we work, not only do we follow the six days work and seventh day holiday pattern, rest pattern, we also follow the purpose for which we work. The purpose for which God worked is to bless us, is to provide us everything that we need. The purpose for which we work, now listen to this, the purpose, this is biblical philosophy of work, the purpose for which we work is so that those who do not have anything may be provided for. Those who are oppressed in society can have through us. If you do not believe that, please turn to Ephesians 4. Some people are bewildered -"My God, I thought I must work for myself".

In the world, they have a different philosophy of work. I've often said that. In the English-speaking world, they state it like this, "Get all you can, can all you get and sit on your can. Don't part with even a penny of it because, after all you worked. It's your labor, it's your sweat. You earned it, you scraped it from everywhere, you got it, every penny of it. Don't bother to give to anyone, keep it. Sit on it, don't part with it." That's the world's philosophy. That's the way people think many times. Bible philosophy is totally different. I'll show it to you. Ephesians 4:24, you're not going to believe this, that this thing is in the Bible. That's why it's bible. It is so different from how we think. That's why it's the word of God. It's not some man writing this. It has to be God saying these things. That's why it's so different, it's out of this world. No man will ever come with a philosophy like this. And look at how the Bible states it, chapter 4:28, "Let him who stole, steal no more. Rather, let him labor with his hands what is good so that he may have something to give him who has need." Look at the way it puts it. It says, "Let him that steals, do not steal any more. Let him labor, let him work with his hands, let him work with something good, let him take an honorable job, a decent employment. Let him work." Why should I work? I got to pay my rent, I got to feed myself, and I got two kids, I got to pay my fees. Sure, that's included but your goal must not just be that. Your goal must be so that you will be a provider for those that do not have anything, for those that have nothing.

In countries where they follow the Judeo-Christian philosophy of life, as they call it Judeo-Christian meaning following the old testament and the new testament are originating from the Jews, philosophy originating from the old testament and then developed in and through Jesus Christ. In countries which are based on this Judeo-Christian Philosophy, you know that widows and orphans are completely taken care of, completely taken care of. The government makes sure that they take care of every widow and every orphan. No widow will end up in the street without any money. No widow will become a beggar, no orphan will end up without a home, begging in a side walk. You may see some people there begging and so on. They maybe drug addicts, things like that. That's different. They also get money but they still beg. But widows and orphans are completely taken care of, everything is paid for. They make sure that they give them a house, they give them food and the money that they needed for their upkeep. That they get their education, everything is made possible for them to go and get a good college education. Whatever they want to study, they can study and develop themselves and become a person who can work and be fruitful in life so they can join the regular stream of society and be successful just as others.

God worked to provide for man. We work to provide. Not only for our own but for others also, especially for the widows and orphans and so on. This is how the Bible teaches it and these are the verses or these festivals are the background for what is happening in Ruth. That's why I've told you this. Because what you read in Ruth...see when you read Ruth now, you'll understand it. What you read in Ruth is these principles being played out in actuality, in truth. It is lived out by Boaz, it is lived out by Naomi, it is lived out by Ruth. They live out by these principles and you see the blessing of God flowing in these lives. When you understand this, you will understand what they're doing there.

Now, going to Ruth. You know where Ruth is, right? Just after Deuteronomy, you go to Joshua and then to Judges and right next to Judges, there is Ruth. Why next to Judges? Because the whole thing happens during the period of the judges. That is why it is a book that is placed right next to Judges.

The story begins in this way. There is a family, the family of Elimelech and his wife Naomi with their two sons living in Bethlehem during the time of the Judges, so this is not a made-up story. There's a difference between made-up story...some people think that everything is made up here in the Bible. How can that be? I know what stories sound like. The word 'story' itself is a very bad word. People immediately think it's made up, there's no reality in it. It's not just a story, it's a story of something that actually happened. You know what stories that never happened sound like. 'Long, long ago, so long ago, there was a king,' how long ago, nobody knows. Where was the king, nobody knows because it never happened in any place, it never took place. This is not like that. This is a real story, it actually happened. There is a town name given, Bethlehem's name is given. The family's name is given, the husband and wife's names are given. All details are given. There was a famine there. The people of Israel, whenever they sinned and got away from God and started going behind idols and other gods and so on and when their rebellion against God became so rampant, always they faced problems like famine, lack, and want. Because God is the one that brought them to the promised land, God is able to keep them going like that. God is not sending famine to them. These people have opened their lives to the curses that are in operation in the world. In the world there are famines, in the world all these things happen and these people opened themselves to it; when they disobey God, and live in rebellion against God, the whole place was affected by famine. People were fleeing here and there to find jobs and find food and Elimelech's family with his wife Naomi, they moved, immigrated to the country of Moab and lived there. Moabites, I don't have the time to go into it, Moabites were horrible people and Israelites were not supposed to have anything to do with them. They were commanded not to have anything to do with them. Because of necessity, they're driven to go and live there. They're going and living in a foreign land as foreigners and carrying on with their lives. I don't know whether they got jobs there, but they got wives for their sons there.

The two sons got Moabite wives and after they lived there for few years, a very big tragedy struck the family. This is a tragedy. Talk about tragedy, talk about sin and the fall and the effects and what it produces today and how much the world experience are suffering because of that. It's unbelievable. This family, Elimelech and his wife, two sons and their wives so they're now three families, in all three families, the men are dead. Just in a period of just about 10 years there, they are all dead and the women are left alone. Three women, all widowed, they have no land, they have no rights as they are foreigners...at least Naomi is a foreigner. Her sons were foreigners and now they're dead and the wives are local people. Naomi wanted to make a decision as to how she'll go about living her life now. So, she told her daughters-in-law, "Look, you go back to your father's house, find another man and marry. May your life be a blessed life. You have a long life to live so just go and get married and carry on. I'm going to go back to Israel. I hear that famine is no more there in Israel and God is blessing Israel. So, I'm going to go back to my hometown, Bethlehem, and live there."

One of the girls, one of the daughters-in-law...this is a mother-in-law, daughter-in-law story also, but not like the regular mother-in-law daughter-in-law story. This is a very positive mother-in-law, daughter-in-law story. This girl really loves the mother-in-law and this girl, one girl did not want to go. It says, "They wept and so on but this girl said, "No, I'm not going to go." Look at what she says in verse 16, "But Ruth said," Ruth is the name of this daughter-in-law. She said, "Entreat me not to leave you." "Don't tell me to leave you," she says, "Or to turn back from following after you. For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts you and me." My goodness! She must have been quite a mother-in-law for this daughter-in-law to love her so much. Or she must have been such a daughter-in-law. I don't know what is the case. It looks like both ways. It's true. She says, "No, I'm not going to leave you. I go wherever you go, I will live wherever you live, your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God." She says, "I'm going to completely change. My identity is with you and I will die where you die and I'll be buried where you're buried, nothing else. Don't even talk about anything else." When they leave, one of the daughters-in-law stays there, in Moab, and this daughter-in-law, Ruth, travels back to Bethlehem along with Naomi and they come back to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is the town from which Elimelech comes from, Naomi's husband comes from, she comes back.

When they come back...there's a lot of laws in Israel that support the widows and the destitute, protect the widows and the destitute unlike other nations of the world around them. Special provisions are made for widows and destitute in the land of Israel. They were supposed to care for them just like it was mentioned in Deuteronomy that we read, that they must bring in the the widows and the orphans and so on as they rejoice over their income. Why they are brought in? Because they are also recipients of this increase and blessing. They participate in the blessing that has now come. You're going to share it with them so they also join with you in rejoicing. They're assimilated into society, they're helped, they're taken care of, their needs are met. That is one of the reasons that Naomi plans to come back because there is better safety and protection for women here and also there is provision for destitute and women who are widows like this. Somebody will take care of them. There are certain ways and means, certain laws which take care of them.

So, they come back and settle down in Bethlehem. The story of Ruth does not have great miracles and so on here. There is no outstanding miracles or anything like that. It looks like a regular story that happened somewhere, regular every day happening. But in that every day happening, you see the hand of God in their lives, working things out for them. God is looking out for these two women that are alone, that don't have husbands, that are afraid and they don't know what their future is going to hold. Their family is destroyed when their husbands died and they're looking for God to show them the way. God is watching out for them, you see the hand of God. God who worked in the beginning, six days for man, preparing a world for man, a garden for man. He is working for them, He's working still. He's preparing a way for them, He's preparing other men and women's heart for them. He's preparing a future for them, He's planning and scheming things. He is putting things together, a plan together to cause these women to succeed and to be prosperous. Isn't that something? As a pastor I meet sometimes some women who are destitute and are in great need and they don't know where to go and what to do and so on and they often lament about how they're alone in this world and they have nobody and they have nothing. And I say to them, "Don't ever say that because you have a wonderful heavenly father. Right now, as you're thinking that there is no one for you, He's watching out for you. He's thinking about you. He's working to prepare another future for you."

The sin and the fall has caused damage in your life, destroyed and torn you apart just like these women lost their husbands and they're left as destitute. The sin and the fall powerfully works in this world, sometimes destroying people's lives but the power of God's blessing can work even more powerfully. God is a wonderful redeemer. He can take that which is broken in a thousand pieces and put it back together, more beautifully than even before. In an unbelievable manner God can build your life and bring things together in your life, if you trust in God. That is the thing that you see played out here in these people's lives. One of the things that I...as you read, you watch out for this, you look at the words of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, these three people, all these three main characters what they speak, how much faith they have in the God who works for them, who's watching out for them, who's in the business of providing for them, causing everything to work for them.

I want to just read to you one or two verses but you'll find a lot more there if you will just begin to read how much they believed, each one of them, in God's hand in their life, in their work, in their future, in their efforts that God's hand is there, God's favor is there, God's blessing is there, that's their belief. Let me read one or two verses. Chapter 2:4, "Now, behold Boaz came from Bethlehem." Boaz is a big landowner, wealthy guy. Verse 1 says that he was a man of great wealth, a rich guy in town. He's got a lot of land; a lot of people work for him. He is coming into Bethlehem and said to the reapers...this is reaping time, barley harvest is going on, very important time. He said to the reapers, look at what he says, "The Lord be with you." And they answered him, "The Lord bless you." These guys must have been really spiritual people. We just say, "Hallo." But this guy comes in, one of the richest guys in town, he looks at all the workers that are working for him in the field, reaping and he says, "May the Lord be with you." What does he mean? "As you reap for me, as you reap this field which God has blessed, may the Lord be with you, may everything go well with you." So, here is a man who's wealthy. Some people think being wealthy itself is wrong. The Bible never teaches that. Here's a man who is wealthy and godly, but yet I have heard so many preachers say, "If you are wealthy, you cannot be godly and if you're godly, you cannot be wealthy. The two things never go together." Here you see a wealthy man but a godly man. He says, "May the Lord be with you." He acknowledges God being with him and his efforts,in his work, in everything in his life. He acknowledges God's role in his life. That's what impresses me about his guy. "May the Lord be with you." He knows that's how he is so blessed. He knows that the Lord is with him, He's on his side, He's looking out for him. The Lord gives wisdom, the Lord gives makes things possible, the Lord is blessing him. He says, "May the Lord be with you," what a way to greet your workers. And the workers say, "May the Lord bless you." They have such faith in the blessing of the Lord. They knew that it is the blessing of God that is the foundation for their work. The blessing of God is the foundation for everything so, they bless each other. He blessed the workers, the workers bless him, they speak blessings because they believe that it's the blessing of God that causes everything to work.

Then read on verse 12. Verse 12 is another verse where you see this. After Elimelech meets Ruth and gets to know who she is that she has come back from Moab, she's a Moabite woman and she's the daughter-in-law of Naomi and that Naomi is related to him, he finds out all the details and he also finds out how good this woman is. That she loves her mother-in-law, that's the best certificate, she's been so good to her, she watches over her and takes care of her and everything. He's heard good things about his woman, he's very impressed. He says, "The Lord repay your work." Repay what work? Taking care of mother-in-law, being good to the mother-in-law and being kind to her. He says, "May the Lord repay your work. And a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel under whose wings you have come for refuge." I love this verse because of the way he puts it. He says, "You are a foreigner, you are from Moab with whom we should never have anything to do," because they were considered a cursed people. And even though she has come from that group, he says, "You have come under the wings of my God for refuge. You have put your trust in Him. You have said, "Your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God." You have received my God as your refuge, as your provider, as your everything. You have come under His wings. And when you come under the wings of my God, my God is going to take care of you." "You have come under the wings of my God," he says, "And may my God repay you for all the work that you have done and may full reward be given to you by the Lord God of Israel." They believe in God's blessing. They believe that a person can be down and out and have nothing and be totally destroyed by the circumstances of life, by the sin and the fall and its effects and curse in this world. They can be totally destroyed but by God's blessing, by God's grace, when they put their faith in God, these people believe that you can do well. That when God repays you, when God blesses you, your life will become different. It will not reflect the curse that has destroyed your life. Your life can be renewed and made beautiful in spite of what has happened in this world. You got to believe at least this much as Christians. If churches don't believe this then they have nothing to preach. I say to you no matter how much your life is torn in pieces, how much you have been destroyed by the circumstances of this life, the vicissitudes of life, the problems and the difficulties that we face in this life. The enemy, the devil uses people and circumstances to tear us apart and destroy us and do everything against us. You may have been a victim of that kind of a situation but when you come under the wings of the Lord God of Israel, under His shadow and put your trust in Him and look to Him to be your refuge and your strength and your provider, I'll tell you, your life will become different. I guarantee you you're not going to be the same, I guarantee you your tears will be wiped away. You will be a different kind of person pretty soon because your blessing starts when God begins to look upon you and favors you. When you put your trust in God, there must be a change in your life.

How many of you have put your trust in God? I'm trusting in Him. He is my refuge, my fortress, my strong tower, I trust in Him. Under His wings I have come. I expect Him to provide for me, I expect Him to protect me, I expect Him to keep me from all danger. I'm under His wings. You must have faith in that. We live in a very bad world, very mean world, unjust world, unrighteous world. Bad things happen all the time in the world, every day you must actively put your faith and trust in God. You must every day declare, "I am under the shadow of this almighty God's wings. God is my refuge and my strength. He shall be my provider. I will not lack anything because I trust in Him. The young lions may lack and hunger but they that trust in the Lord shall never lack any good thing. God will take care of me no matter what." You've got to put the trust and these people seem to have that trust in Him.

Look at verse 20. She comes back home after first day of work. Naomi doesn't know where she went to work. She's not going for a job they've given her an appointment letter. It's not a government job, no appointment letter, no invitation to come and work. Poor lady, she's a foreigner, she's at a tremendous disadvantage. She just goes out and everybody is reaping in their field, reaping is happening everywhere. So many different field are there. She says, "I'll go somewhere and start picking the stuff and start working and maybe someone will say, "All right, come, join the worker. Join." And they may take me in and they may give me something to eat, they may give me some grain to take home." That's how it worked in those days. Nothing sure, nothing certain. Very difficult. She goes and Naomi is wondering, "Where did she go, how did things happen in her life? What is happening in her life?" Look at what she says in verse 20. Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "Blessed be the Lord God who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead." And Naomi said to her, "This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives." When she comes home, Naomi tells her, "Blessed be the God who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead." And she says to her, "Who did you work for?" And when Ruth told her that it was Boaz's field, she said, "That man is a relation of ours and one of our close relatives."

You know what she is saying there? The Jewish readers of that time would have instantly understood that and today we find it difficult to understand. You know what she is saying? Naomi later on explains this whole thing to her. Why this is so important is this not just a relative, he's a kinsman redeemer, what is called a kinsman redeemer. In the Jewish law there is a system by which if a woman loses her husband, her husband dies, someone from that family of their husband must marry her, some close relative like a brother or a cousin or somebody from that same home. He must marry her. Why? Because the land is involved. Remember when they were taken out from Egypt and brought into promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey, everybody became landowners. It's amazing thing. God gave them all land. There was not one family among the people of God who did not own land. These people were slaves, all of a sudden, they became landowners. The land must be held by these families perpetually. The laws were enacted by God in such a way that they will not ever lose their land which God has given them. God's idea is this that I have given them the land, therefore, no man has the right to take that land. But God invented...see God is a big economist. He made up a system. He said, "You can borrow, you can mortgage and do things if you need money or something like that if you get into trouble. You want to borrow some money, you can do it but you do it like this. When you go on mortgage, you will never lose your land. You can only mortgage the number of years the lender can enjoy your harvest. Suppose you're going to pay back in 10 years, for 10 years the lender can enjoy the harvest from your land. That his money. For 10 years you cannot touch it, he will have it. For that he will lend you money now. Based on the 10 years, future income. After that he's got to give the land back to you. He can never take it. It's not like here, you lose the land, you lose the house and end up on the street. It can never happen. If the worse comes to worse and you are never able to pay back, still after 50 years there was the year of Jubilee. Every 50th year was the year of Jubilee and that year was called year of Jubilee of great joy because in that year every man is given back his property that he has lost. Even if the man dies, his son can go and claim that land back so that a family cannot ever lose their land at all.

So, a land is involved. God gave them a land, God also made sure and secure that the land will be in the family forever. That's the way God gave it. So, when a woman loses her husband, someone from the husband's family marries her, someone very close marries her. Why? Because of the land. The land will go to him, the guy who newly married her. And he will give her seed so that the guy who died will have seed and the land will continue in the family, continue to be owned by the seed of the family so that perpetually, from generation to generation, the land will go on to the descendants. This is what is involved.

There was a kinsman redeemer system. Kinsman mean relative, redeemer means a person who redeems everything that you lost. Here's Naomi, her husband's land is there. She has become a widow. If she stays a widow and dies a widow, where will her land go to? To whom will her land go to? Because her husband does not have a seed anymore, the sons are dead. Naomi sees a future right here. When this Ruth met Boaz, she immediately saw that this guy is a very close relative. He is second in line to marry her. But there is a guy who has first preference better than Boaz who is a close relative. But after that Boaz, if he refuses to marry her then next turn comes to Boaz. That's the position he holds. So, she literally rejoices over the fact that God has taken this woman, Ruth, a foreign woman, Moabite woman with whom she did not know what to do with her, she didn't know what the future of her land will be and who it will go to. All of a sudden, God is bringing a solution. He has taken her to the exact field where this guy owns it. Boaz owns it and Boaz happens to be the very close kinsman and relative who is supposed to be her redeemer. Marry her and give her life and the land will belong to him. And he will give her seed, sons will be born to him and then it will be perpetuated in that way. She sees a future. She sees God's hand in it. In fact, if you look at chapter 2:3, "Then she left..." chapter 2:2, Ruth is saying to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor." She says, "Let me go work. Somewhere I'll find favor by somebody. They'll let me work." And Naomi permits her to go. She says, "Go, my daughter." Verse 3, listen to this, "Then she left and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz who was of the family of Elimelech." Look at the language here. "And she happened to come to the part of the field." She began to reap where the reapers were reaping and she found herself all of a sudden, it so happened that she found herself as she was joining the reapers and doing the work, in the field of Boaz, this guy. The way it is constructed, the sentence is constructed is very important they say. The people that studied this very deeply go into these words. They say it is deliberately constructed like this. These books are written for our benefit, to teach us a spiritual truth. They're not just history. It's not supposed to give us some historical facts, the more important thing is the spiritual truth in these historical facts. It's a spiritual book trying to teach us a lesson. So, the author, in writing, he deliberately tries to make a point about the spiritual truth that they must learn. Deliberately, he puts in this construction they say so that he puts in this expression 'as it happened'. What a way to put it 'as it happened,' 'as if'. In the world they call it 'as luck would have it'. In the world, when people don't understand God they'll talk about luck. "As luck would have it," they say. But we don't believe in luck. We believe in God.

Why the author put it like this 'as it happened' that means...in Tamil the word is 'tharcheyalaai' . That means it just happened like that meaning that it is amazing coincidence of events. God is bringing her right to this man's field, this man who is supposed to be the kinsman redeemer, who has a right to marry her and give her a new life and change her future. They say that when the writers wrote this book, they were trying to make a point and the initial readers...in interpreting anything from the Bible, you must ask, to whom was it written? Who were going to be the first readers of this book? The Jewish community, of course. We read it after hundreds of years. The Jewish community were the first readers. What will they understand because the message is directly to them. We can make our message out from that, right? But you must know what the message is to them, then only you can interpret it correctly. So, what is the message to the original readers? They say the original readers, when they read it, they would have stopped and said, "As it happened" as she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz..." "as she happened to come?" And then they read about Boaz and then they know that he is the family of Elimelech, that is also mentioned right there, "Field belonging to Boaz who was of the family of Elimelech, her father-in-law." Immediately the original readers would stop there it seems and wonder, "My God! God is the best matchmaker. He is a wonderful orchestrator of things." He amazingly, in the most marvelous ways in our life brings people together, circumstances together, works through circumstances in an unforeseen manner. He's the master of circumstances. He can get into a situation and twist and turn things in such a way that you'll be amazed and look at what God has done. This woman has come from Moab, nobody would have her, everybody would hate her yet God watches over her. She leaves her house to go glean and she doesn't even know where she's going. She happens to come by this man's field as she is reaping and she is doing the work there and finds herself there, right there. The original readers will immediately appreciate the fact how God has made it work, how God has brought these circumstances together so marvelously so that this woman's future can be secure.

Do you believe in things like that? Do you believe that God can work in our circumstances in such a way? He can do marvelous things, things unforeseen that we can never even imagine, that He is the master of circumstances and in our work, He can put us in the right place, take us to the right place, give us favor in the right person's eyes, open doors for us, cause everything to work in our favor, bless us, give us success to empower us in our work. Can God do such things? That is what we're learning here. This woman is seeking for a job, seeking for a life, seeking for some money, seeking for a future, seeking to support herself and her mother-in-law and God so wonderfully operates and works in her life. No great outstanding miracle or something but it's just as marvelous as a big miracle. So beautifully orchestrates and brings her at the right time to the right place so that she ends up where she is supposed to end up, right at the doors of this man who is supposed to marry her.

I believe that our work is not about just our labor and our sweat and our brain and our education and our ability. Woe to us if it only depended on us. What a bad thing it will be if it all depended on my brain, my knowhow and my ability and my expertise and all that. What a terrible thing it will be if it all depended on my strength, if it all depended on me and how well I can do it. It will be a terrible thing, isn't it? What makes work so dynamic, so successful in our lives is God's role in our work. We work but God's part in our work is bigger than our part. We go to work, we do work hard. We go and sometimes make a lot of effort, we have to think, we have to plan, we have to do everything but God does some things that are so unbelievable. He does some things that we can never do because the success of our work is not about our brain, our effort and our human labor and our sweat. It is a lot more than that.

Many times, we succeed because God sends us wonderful people to work with us, that will bring success to us, right? Puts people together with us. Have you ever seen it like that? Brings you wonderful people to help you. God opens up unexpected opportunities many times. Have you ever seen that? Unexpected. You didn't even think. That, you cannot do. You're supposed to do what you can do and what you cannot do, God does. I believe that there are some things in my work I cannot do, only God can do, right? For example, I cannot go out and bring all these people. I cannot do many things. I expect God to do those things. I am not responsible to do but I am supposed to preach. I am supposed to deliver good, life changing truth every week. I'm committed to that, I'm supposed to do that, I need to work towards that. I need to spend my time doing that and God does the rest. I cannot expect to do what God...that's why I don't worry about those things. I just do what I can do and I let God do it. God's role in my work is greater than my role. I have a part in it, certainly but God has a more important part in it. Without God I cannot succeed. Without Him, I can do nothing. So, others work with us, unexpected opportunities begin to show up sometimes. Have you noticed that sometimes there is a burst of creativity? All of a sudden, some new idea comes and you want to do something? And that one thing that you do propels you out there and makes you highly successful. You know what one idea can do? Ask the people who have succeeded in life. They'll tell you one idea from God is worth many millions. One idea, one idea from God that you can never come up with. God can come up with. God has got a brain that's amazing. He can think of things that you can never think of. God can come up with that one idea. So, the work of others, unexpected opportunities, the burst of creativity, unforeseen blessings, unexpected blessings.

I can share with you dozens and dozens of instances where unforeseen blessings have come into my life, made things possible without which I could not have come this far and I'm sure many of you can share the same also. The unforeseen blessings, most unexpectedly. God giving ideas, God bringing people, God opening doors, God making things possible. And therefore, I say to you my friend, in work you must everyday realize that it's not you. It's not your sweat, it's not your labor, it's not your effort, it's not you alone there. You are laboring with God. One of the most comforting words in the whole new testament I find is that verse where Jesus says, "Come ye all that labor and are heavy laden I'll give you rest." And then in the last verse, in chapter 11 of Matthew, in the last verse I think, it says, "My yoke is easy." Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." "Why I'm telling you to come to me is this," he says, "Because my yoke is easy and my burden is light. I'll make it lighter for you. I'll make it light and easy for you." Everybody say, "Light and easy." You want it hard and tough or light and easy? I want it light and easy. It's hard and tough without Jesus. With Jesus it's light and easy.

I read one time...I'm not an agriculturist, I have nothing to do with agriculture, I'm a city boy. I don't even know how they do things in agriculture. But I read somewhere they say about Indonesia some years ago. I shared, I think. When they pair oxen for ploughing the field, they put a new one, young, inexperienced one with the very experienced ox. Why? If you put two new ones to plough, they both will be blinking. They just don't even know what to do, where to go because they've never done it. So, what they do is they put a new one, young one that has no experience with the old, very experienced one that's been doing it for years. Both of them join and now the younger one doesn't even have to think, doesn't even have to make a big effort. The older one is already strong. He has been doing it for a long time. He knows the way, he knows what next, he knows where to go, which way to turn, what to do, how much speed. He knows everything. He's an expert. Jesus says, "Hey, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Let me be your partner in your work." Do I have a part in it? Yes, I have a part in it. I have the lighter part in it. He has the tougher part in it. He's got to lead, He's got to guide, He's got to carry the load, He's got to make it easy and light for me.

These things are seen in the book of Ruth. These people really believe that God is in our work. Everybody say it with me that God is in our work. God is involved in our work. God has a big role in our work, a big role in our success. Without God, you cannot succeed really. With God, you have so much more that your own strength to go by.

Finally, let me say this and close. It is through work that God blesses us. How does God bless us? It is through work He blesses us. So, the work that we do becomes like a channel. This building has electricity, we have air conditioning, we have lights and all of these things. They give electrical connection. They bring the cables all the way here but if you don't wire this place up, you cannot have the power inside here. You got to wire this place up. You got to have channels that will carry the cables, that will carry the power everywhere that you want it, right? You got to make arrangements for it. God wants to give a blessing. God is a God of blessing. God wants to bless your life, to give you increase. God wants to multiply you. But the thing is, many times what people do is they think blessing works some other way. Work is one of the main ways through which God sends blessing into our lives. That's why Ruth said to Naomi, "Let me go and work." She could have sat home and said, "Let your God, the God of Israel under whose wings I have come and taken refuge, let Him come help me as I am sitting here. Let him bring some idli and sambar." No, "Let Him bring me some money," No. she said, "Let me go to work," because she believes that when she goes that God will open doors that give her favor in someone's eyes. In spite of all the disadvantages she has as a foreign woman, disliked by the Israeli community, she believes that somehow God will give her favor and things will work out. If she goes and if she tries, something will happen. I like that. That is something that we all need to learn about work. If we go and try, I'll tell you, you'll be amazed at what God can do. As long as you're sitting there in your easy chair, it's not going to make it easy. It's going to make it hard.

You need to put your trust in God, take Him as your senior partner. Trust in Him, put all your burdens on Him. Pray and ask Him to lead you and guide you and believe that His blessing is there upon your life. His presence goes before you, that He'll never leave you nor forsake you, that His yoke is easy and burden is light and go forth in that faith and you will see God open doors and do amazing things in your life.

I understand there are circumstances in some cases where work becomes impossible. And there are also some circumstances in which you lose your job for so many reasons like natural disasters and layoffs sometimes and prejudice, injury, illness. People lose their ability to work because of this. Unfair treatment lands people in a place without jobs. Legal restrictions, language barriers, I have seen people in foreign countries they go and they can't communicate in English and they have tough time. They may be good people, educated in their own way but because they cannot communicate in English, they have a very tough time and cannot carry on with their profession and so on. They cannot pass the necessary exam, all kinds of difficulty. Some people lack the relevant training and experience, sometimes the age is a problem, sometimes sex is a problem. Because you're a female sometimes they won't give you a job. Because you're a woman, you'll get less paid. All these problems are there in the world, we understand all these things but the thing is this, nevertheless, God tells us to work. That means He says, "I know all thatproblem is there, I know they fired you, I know they laid you off, I know that it's very unfair the way they treated you, I know some people did you wrong, I know all these problems you're facing but go do work. Let my grace be sufficient for you. I know all these things are there but you do and you must go and you must work." It's the original plan of God when He said, "Be fruitful, multiply, replenish, subdue and dominate." It's all action. You got to do something. You can't sit around and say, "Let God bless me." No. God says, "I have blessed you to work." And when you work you will see increase, you will see multiplication, you will see things improve and you will see things change.

When you look at Ruth, Ruth is a great example. She didn't have a steady job with regular hours guaranteeing her a paycheck and all that. Who guaranteed her anything? I remember one lady came and said, "I will send my son to your Bible college. Will you give him a job as a pastor? What is the salary? What is the pension going to be? And when he marries, will you give his wife a teacher's job?" I said, "Where do I have the school?" She said, "What guarantee you give me?" I said, "I don't give guarantee. Nobody gave me any guarantee. I have no guarantee." "Don't bring your son here," I said, "unless you understand what is happening. We cannot give you any guarantee." No, who am I to give you any guarantee? People think like that. Ruth never had any guarantee of any pay. No legal rights of any kind as a foreigner but she went to work anyway and we need to do the same. If all things are against us, we're at a tremendous disadvantage and we have only minus points, still we go and we try because we have faith in God and God is on our side...you can be a foreigner, you can be a disadvantage, you could lack the training and you lack the expertise, you lack everything maybe. But still you will find something there. Someone will open the door for you. God will make things work for you and you will have success because God is on your side.

As a pastor I meet a lot of people who say, "I want a government job only brother. You just pray for a government job. Only government job." "What are you going to do till then?" "No, I'm going to wait till government job." "Will you be 50 years old?" I actually know someone that became 50 years old by the time he got a government job. Finally, he got a job as a teacher and worked for about 10 years and retired. The rest of his life, wasted. Government job. Some people say, "That job I'm not going to take because the salary is not enough." Take it anyway because your eye is not supposed to be on that salary. That salary is not going to sustain you. Even the job is not going to sustain you. Your eye is on God and take whatever comes and begin to work in it. God is your provider. Even if there's not enough salary, you take and work at it, you make your effort at it. I'll tell you then God can move heaven and earth to make things work for you. God will move heaven and earth if He has to. He stopped the sun one time for a man because he's got a job to do. He said, "I'll help you do the job." "I'll stop the sun, you finish the work," He said. God will do anything for us. You take it, you put your faith in Him. Cast all your burdens on Him, you take it. You cannot direct a car that is standing still. Have you seen cars that are standing still in mechanic shops, no wheels. Nothing. And if a guy sits in there and say, "God, tell me where I should go. Right or left?"

We actually had a guy in the Bible college at one time, about 25 years ago. John Abraham went up and found this guy praying. He said, "Lord, tell me and I will write it down. Tell me Lord and I will write it down," and the guy had no paper, no pencil. So, John Abraham went and tapped on his shoulders and said, "Look, are you fooling God? If God tells you something, how are you going to write it down? You don't even have a paper. You're not serious about what you're asking. If God speaks to you, what are you going...if He tells you something for four pages, you don't even have one small sheet in your hand. What are you going to do?" You're asking God to guide you some place, take you some place, how will He guide you? How will He take you? You got to have wheels that move. You got to have an engine that gets your car moving. Move then you can say, "Turn left, turn right, stop here, go reverse, take the second left," to a moving car. But a standing car, you can say nothing. Don't make your life like a standing car, make it a moving car. Move by faith, take steps of faith. Put your trust in God and I'll tell you the saving grace in work is that God is the power behind our work. There is no telling what God can do. We are seldom able to see what God will do for us in advance. You can't tell now what God will do for us. I'll tell you He may do anything for us. He will move heaven and earth.

When I started here, one of my friends...I grew up in Purasawalkam so I know all these boys. One guy, he stopped me right outside the gate and he said, "You're building a church there? Who will come to church there? Don't you have any brain?" That's what he said 25 years ago...30 years ago when we were building this place. "Don't have anything upstairs? You're building a church here? Who will come?" And I went and wept for one whole day before God and said, "God," because I thought this guy was Purasuwalkam's great saint and great, great wise man of Purasawalkam. "This wise man has declared that I am a fool. Am I, God? Have I done something wrong? "Nobody will come here," he says. He said, "Nobody will come."" And 25 years later he was sitting here. At the end he comes to me and says, "What did you do, man? What did you do?" I said, "I didn't do anything. I preached. I can only preach. I cannot move heaven and earth. I can preach." God can do much more than preach. God can change hearts. What you can do, you do it with all your heart. You must do it then God will do amazing things. There is not a limit to anything that God can do.Experience that in your life.

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