Ruth – A Portrait of God’s Grace – Part 1

Accessing Grace!

Ruth 1

May 3, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (James 4:6)


A.    What is it like


1.      Being forgiven and loved, instead of condemned and cursed? Loads of people do not know!

2.      What is it like living free, instead of in bondage?

3.      What is it like experiencing compassion, gentleness and mercy, instead of ruin?


B.     All of that, God wraps in one package – one word… GRACE! Kindness, favour, compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, mercy and love, all wrapped up in one word… GRACE

C.     And it is a GIFT


1.      Mercy is NOT getting what you deserve – which is wrath

2.      Grace is getting what you DON’T deserve – which is compassion!


D.    It is absolutely Free! (Eph 2:8,9; Romans 3:24)


1.      That’s what Grace means! A GIFT!

2.      Real kindness, favour, compassion, forgiveness, gentleness, mercy and love cannot be earned, merited, lived up to, or bought!

3.      That doesn’t mean Grace is free of cost – just free to YOU!

4.      Grace always costs! And it cost the God EVERYTHING!


E.     But how could anyone access such a gift? Where do you find it? How does someone PLUG INTO IT?

F.      A young woman named Ruth, is our next portrait of Grace we are going to study


1.      We have seen God’s great grace in Moses’ life

2.      In the life of the Woman caught in Adultery

3.      In Cornelius’ life


G.    I hope one day you will see GOD’S work of grace in YOUR life! Because IT IS there, if only you and I would access it!

H.    You see, Grace is available to anyone

I.       It just needs to be “accessed” – reached, like a door handle. NOT by wisdom, by wealth, power, pedigree, intelligence, breeding, religion, good works

J.       But by humility!


II.    Background – Ruth Chapter 1


A.    Things were not so good in Israel – IT WAS A ROUGH TIME. People basically were doing whatever they wanted (Judges 21:25), and it had taken its toll on the nation.

B.     It is the time of the Judges (like Gideon, Samson), before the Kings of Israel (Saul, David, Solomon) (Ruth 1:1). So things were pretty up and down spiritually and morally.

C.    There was a Family (Ruth 1:2)


1.      Elimelech

2.      Wife, Naomi

3.      Two sons: Mahlon and Chilion

4.      They lived in Bethlehem – small farming village of just a few dozen families


D.    There was a famine (1:1)


1.      Desperate times

2.      People were in serious danger of starving

3.      No government programs like Joseph had initiated in Egypt – everyone was on their own

4.      Elimelech’s debts started to grow – he had lands that he had used as leverage against loans on grain and cattle – and there was no crops and no cattle year after year


E.     Elimelech moves his family (Ruth 1:2)


1.      Elimelech hears that the famine is not so bad across the boarder in Moab

2.      Decides to move house to Moab

3.      Now, Moab was not a great place to go


a.       They were sworn enemies of Israel – always hated the Jews for being their neighbours

b.      They were a pagan, God-hating people

c.       The culture was filled with the worship of evil gods – Chemosh and Ashteroth, and Ashtart, and other demonic gods

d.      Incestuous gods, that demanded child-sacrifices, and were only always angry with the world, and destroyed the world, and could never be pleased!

e.       The only way a person was ever forgiven by these gods was at great personal price and with great effort – no rest


4.      But as you see, Elimelech and Naomi are desperate


F.     And then tragedy struck (1:3)


1.      Elimelech died – unknown reason – maybe an accident on the farm

2.      The one person who held everything together was now gone

3.      Naomi is a single parent, with two grown up sons in a strange, foreign land


G.    Life went on (1:4)


1.      Naomi has two strong young sons, ready to marry

2.      The sons married Moabite girls – the only girls around


a.       One was named Orpah

b.      And the other Ruth


3.      It looked like everything would work out now

4.      Ten years away from home and family back in Bethlehem didn’t seem so bad – they could make it now

5.      Or so they thought


H.    But tragedy struck again (1:5) – it usually does


1.      BOTH sons died

2.      Again, maybe it was just an accident. God doesn’t say so don’t read into it

3.      Just know that Naomi is totally alone now, in debt, in a foreign land

4.      Away from God, out of God’s will, away from God’s people

5.      Scared, defeated, a failure

6.      She can only come to one conclusion – GOD is against her and is crushing her! Catching up with her and her past and her failures!


I.       THAT is when God’s Grace Steps In – or haven’t you noticed yet?


1.      Naomi is about to discover just how amazing God’s grace is

2.      And that all she needs to do is begin to allow it to be at work in her life!


III. Message – Ruth Chapter 1


A.    Naomi Decides to Go Home to Bethlehem (1:6)


1.      She hears some good news – that God was blessing Israel with food – famine was over!

2.      She makes a very smart decision

3.      To start over, not in just another city, but back where she was right with God, and walking with God and with God’s people!

4.      Naomi decided to go home.


B.     Orpah and Ruth Want to Go With Her (1:7)


1.      Remember… They had experienced every tragedy that Naomi has experienced


a.       Their father-in-law’s death

b.      The death of their own husbands

c.       They experienced the sorrow every day in their homes – no joy there at all anymore

d.      There was nothing but ruin and failure in their homes

e.       They, like Naomi have lost everything


2.      Both Ruth and Orpah evidently love Naomi, and want to stay with her

3.      But that was a hard thing to do


a.       Because THEY (Orpah and Ruth) would now be the foreigners in another land

b.      Israel is no place for Moabites, and especially Moabite women!

c.       They would be rejected – no hope of ever finding a husband there


C.     Naomi Pushes Them Away (1:8-13)


1.      Tells her daughters-in-law to leave her and stay with their own families

2.      She has no way to take care of herself and them too!

3.      She pushes them both away from her

4.      Because she doesn’t want their lives ruined any more

5.      Sometimes we do that when we are defeated – we push everyone away

6.      Orpah is easily talked out of following Naomi and heads back to her own family

7.      But Ruth, well, she is a different kettle of fish!


D.    Ruth Was NOT Going to Leave Naomi (1:14-18)


1.      Even though Orpah left

2.      Even though she has no guarantee of anything working in her favour

3.      Ruth chose to stay with Naomi, no matter what it takes!


E.     Naomi Is Bitter (1:19-22a)


1.      Who would naturally blame her. A lot of people live this way. Bitter, cold, hard, harsh, defeated.

2.      But at least Naomi is home

3.      And… she has Ruth!

4.      I don’t think Naomi realises just how much of a gift Ruth is going to be to her!


F.      But that is just the beginning of the Story (1:22)! God is just showing us the entranceway of GRACE! He has a whole lot more to show!


1.      Romans 5:2 “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace

2.      Ephesians 2:18, 19 “through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners...”

3.      Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy

4.      It is ALL through JESUS! He is the door, the only way that accesses God (John 10:9; 14:6)

5.      ALL of God’s grace is available to you (2Cor 9:8)! And he never runs out!

6.      If we would just access it!


G.    How Grace SAVED Naomi (Ruth 1:6-15; 19-21; see also Isaiah 61:3)


1.      Naomi’s life was ruined. GREAT! That is a great starting place!

2.      She Decided to Go Home – Change Course


a.       Home was still there – thank God! It is not always going to be there!

b.      She decided to start over!

c.       Whatever is ahead, it will be better than what is behind, as long as she gets back to the place where she left God’s will and work in her life!


3.      She Got Rid of Old Baggage – at least tries to!


a.       Leaves everything behind in Moab – the culture, the idolatry, the home, and even her two daughters-in-law who would only bring Moab with them


4.      She Admits She is Bitter – WOW what a life changing act!

5.      Then GRACE Stepped in!


a.       Life has painted Naomi’s life dark and ruined

b.      NOW God can paint beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3)

c.       And boy does He paint well!

d.      Grace WAITS for us to admit we are lost, we are bitter, we are proud, we are hard, we are cold, we are angry!

e.       Once we let that out, Grace steps IN! (James 4:6)!


H.    How Ruth Accessed God’s Grace – even more amazing!


1.      Everything was against Ruth


a.       She was a pagan girl from birth – only knew idolatry, abuses, and loss

b.      She was a foreigner – NOT a Jew

c.       She was cursed by God (Dt 23:3,4)

d.      She was a complete failure in her soul, and her spirit – defeated, and lost!

e.       That is, until she had met Naomi!


2.      Ruth Desired a Different Life


a.       It was not forced on her, it was her desire, her hunger, her choice

b.      Her Moabite life offered her nothing – nothing good!

c.       Her gods had never taught her anything but hate and war and death to their enemies

d.      Life was cheap, children were constantly at risk

e.       Here was a chance to access a different life in Israel – a life of Grace, and kindness and forgiveness and mercy


3.      Ruth “CLAVE” to Naomi – CLUNG, held onto, stuck with her


a.       Why? Because Naomi and her Jewish family were different. Flawed, imperfect, backslidden, away from God, but different.

b.      Begged Naomi to not ask her to leave her

c.       Wanted to follow Naomi wherever she went, no matter where she went

d.      Ruth has watched Naomi, and knows her inside and out, seen her on her good days, and now sees her on her bitter days, and still loved her!

e.       Wanted to stay with her!


4.      Ruth’s Blind Trust


a.       She trusted Naomi – who she could see

b.      More than that, Ruth had started to trust Naomi’s GOD, BECAUSE of Naomi!

c.       And was willing to leave everything and everyone behind – no matter what it might cost her – because of that trust!


5.      Ruth’s Complete Swap – she could not bring anything of Moab into her new life


a.       No Moabite baggage could be brought along into Israel

b.      She left her home in Moab, for wherever Naomi ends up

c.       Her Moabite family, for Naomi’s family

d.      Her Moabite gods for Naomi’s God

e.       I think that was a pretty good swap!

f.       YOU need to make that same kind of swap!


6.      Those FOUR attitudes opened God’s grace to this cursed foreigner named Ruth!


a.       Desire – your choice

b.      Trust – Come under His rule (Ruth 2:12) – adoption!

c.       Clinging – not just a wish, or a one time decision that flippantly changes from day to day – but a determination to stay the course! Holding to the decision

d.      Swap – complete swap of the old life for the new (Eph 4:22-24; Philp 3:7-9)


IV. Application


A.    A Life Without Grace, is No Life (Ephesians 2:12) This is you and me without Jesus…


1.      Alone – only GRACE keeps people together. YOU keep trying to keep things together, it won’t work. You will need GOD’S Grace, to overlook and love in-spite of flaws!

2.      Constant Loss – whether you admit it or not

3.      No future – doomed if not for Grace

4.      Under the dominion of false gods – Satan (Acts 26:18)

5.      No life – only one curse after another

6.      Bitterness, harshness, fault-finding, coldness, anger, wrath – NONE of that is the fruit of GRACE!

7.      At fault – guilty of leaving God’s will

8.      The Bible is full of people who lived far away from Grace – don’t join them!


a.       Not just the Moabites, but the Ninevites, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Babylonians

b.      As well as King Saul – never enjoyed God’s grace because he lived alone in his world of pride, never concerned that he had no access to God’s grace!

c.       The Pharisees – lived sad lives, judgmental, condemning of everyone around them

d.      Esau – became obsessed with revenge and bitterness (which is how Naomi could have turned out if not for Ruth in her life)!

e.       As well as every man, woman and child who all their lives will not bow the knee and humbly seek God’s grace before facing His judgment!


B.     God Was Already At Work


1.      Did you notice all that GOD was doing?

2.      God was actively at work in every life affected, but Naomi, Ruth, Orpah never realised it!

3.      Brought Elimelech and Naomi TO Ruth and Orpah’s area – even Elimelch’s wrong decisions turn out good because GOD is in control – remember that!

4.      God showed Himself through this backslidden family


a.       Elimelech’s family was flawed – backslidden, not very devout, consistent

b.      But they still lived differently that the Moabites

c.       And that was the Bible that Ruth read every day!


5.      Stripped these three women of everything they could hold onto

6.      And then forced them all to make a decision


C.    What Blocks / Hinders / Limits God’s Grace? (James 4:6)


1.      What makes it so that GOD Almighty can’t help you?

2.      What makes it so that He HAS to stand in your way? And make things harder for you?


a.       Pride (1Peter 5:5)

b.      Apathy – unconcerned like Orpah about the spiritual things that matter most

c.       Idolatry (1:15) – as Ruth was until she decided to dump her idols. What gods are running YOUR life, your finances, your thoughts, your time, your attention?

d.      Bitterness – Naomi didn’t enjoy God’s grace until she saw RUTH basking in it! Ruth was NOT bitter!


D.    How You Access God’s Grace…


1.      NOT as a special person, as a Jew, Prime Minister, Movie Star
But AS a foreigner, stranger, outsider – even an enemy - a Moabitess (2:10)

2.      NOT as a success, or wealthy person
But as a failure – she had nothing to show for her life and way of life

3.      NOT with great abilities, or Powers and strengths
But as powerless, without rights, without help, without strength or authority

4.      NOT because you deserve to be accepted by God
But as undeserving, unworthy, pitiful, never good enough!

5.      And most of all, NOT with ANY pride at all
But only as humble, low, meek


a.       We have way too much ‘ME’ in our relationship with God

b.      Soft – feminine (2:10)

c.       Changeable, yielding, breakable


E.     It’s Up to YOU! Choose right!


1.      Desire Grace – your choice – don’t desire blessings, money, success. Desire GRACE!


a.       Grace, kindness, acceptance, a new life was available to both Orpah AND Ruth

b.      You will never get born again until YOU want it – want the new life (John 10:10)


2.      Trust God – Come under His rule (Ruth 2:12) – adoption!


a.       They could NEVER have imagined just how good God’s grace is

b.      But they could never experience it unless they solidly, and absolutely decided to trust the God of Naomi

c.       Access God’s infinite grace by Faith alone – just believing God will take care of you as you seek HIM and His will


3.      Cling to Him – not just a wish, or a one time decision that flippantly changes from day to day – but a determination to stay the course! Holding to the decision


a.       Make a determined choice to access God’s Amazing Grace (Rom 5:2)


4.      Make a Good Swap – complete swap of the old life for the new (Eph 4:22-24; Philp 3:7-9)


a.       Choose to change (1:16) – not to change yourself, but decide you are now ready to be changed, transformed, made new (2Cor 5:17)

b.      Are you ready to start over?

c.       Are you ready to put up with bitter and flawed people called Christians?


5.      THAT is when GRACE is accessed (plugged into), and it will begin to work in your life and transforming it, saving it from hell, and from sin!