Category: Ruth


This is the last post in this short series from Ruth chapter 4. This final article covers Ruth 4:13-22.

I believe our gracious God wants you to live in 2021 with great confidence that he is faithfully at work in your circumstances to redeem every part of your life. That’s the whole reason these last verses of Ruth were written. This is our God at work here. This is the Lord moving Naomi from three tragic deaths and three terrible funerals to a beautiful wedding and the birth of a precious baby. Naomi’s emptiness and bitterness and hopelessness is resolved by God and we know he’s been moving the pieces and working out the details the whole time.

Naomi suffers untold tragedy and loss. She has no husband to provide for her, no sons to protect her, no grandchildren to cheer her spirits, and no land to call her own. She is miserably sad and alone. When she gives her approval for Ruth to go glean in the field, she’s just looking to survive. But God is redeeming her story. God moves Naomi from death and emptiness to life and fullness, almost like a resurrection because the name of her husband and their family line will now live on forever. Praise be to the Lord who this day has not left you!

And look at Ruth. I’m calculating she’s a young woman in her late 20s. She’s married and suffers through ten years of infertility and then is widowed. She moves with her mother-in-law to a foreign country where she’s an outsider in a dozen different ways and where the law makes it illegal for anyone to ask her out on a date. But the Lord blesses her with a redeemer of a husband and the Lord causes her to conceive and give birth to a son. When Ruth goes to the field on that first day, she’s just looking to survive. She had no earthly idea that she would marry the landowner and their great-grandson would be David, the greatest king in the history of Israel, through whom God would bring the promised savior of the world. But that’s what our God does. That’s what he is always doing.

By God’s great love and faithfulness, he is always at work in our lives to do what’s best for us. We know that God works all things for the good of those who love him. But our God is also working so the things that happen in your life fit into what he’s doing with the whole world, with all of time and space and salvation history. That’s what our gracious and powerful God is still doing right now today, and that should fill you with confidence.

In his final words to God’s people, Joshua reminded of the great confidence we have in our Lord:

“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” ~Joshua 23:14

You’ve got to know that and believe it and own it if you’re going to live in all the unknowns that are facing us in 2021.

I don’t know when Amarillo is going to move from Code Red to Code Orange or how much longer we’re going to have to wear these masks. I don’t know how many more people are going to get sick and suffer and die. I don’t know what our church is going to look like at the end of 2021. I don’t know what choices we’re going to make or what decisions we’re going to be forced into. I don’t know how you are going to deal with the loss you’ve suffered in the past year. I don’t know about your pain and how that impacts you in 2021. But I stand today with the apostle Paul who wrote , “I  do know this! I am confident of this! That he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus! The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it!”

As we move into this new year together, allow me to remind you that the Lord’s eye is still on the birds of the air and his hand is still with the flowers of the field. How much more with you, the precious child of his heart?




This is the second of a three-part series on Ruth chapter four. This post considers Ruth 4:5-12.

At first, the nearer relative is eager to buy back Naomi’s property. “I will redeem it!” he says. Immediately. He knows Elimelech is dead and Naomi’s two sons are dead and she’s too old to have more kids, so there are no descendants to Elimelech’s line. This guy can just buy back the land and it’ll become a part of his family’s inheritance. Whatever he has to pay to redeem it, he’ll make up in the value of the property and the produce it provides. Yeah, of course I’ll take it!

Then Boaz observes, “You realize this property comes with Ruth and the obligation to carry on Naomi’s line in connection with the property.” And the first guy says, “If the land comes with a wife, I’m out!” This guy didn’t want to take on the risk or the responsibility. He didn’t want to spend his own money to purchase a wife and a mother-in-law only to have the kids he has with the wife take the property back to the mother-in-law’s possession. “I cannot do it,” he says. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that he won’t. He wouldn’t make the sacrifice. It wasn’t worth it to him.

Boaz thought it was worth it. Boaz wanted to make the sacrifice for the sake of Naomi and her family. So he did. He redeemed for Naomi what she had lost.

It’s easy to see why the Bible calls Jesus our redeemer and why his death on the cross is described as redemption. Naomi and Ruth were too poor to redeem themselves. And so are you.

You and I need a redeemer more than we need anything else. You need a redeemer to buy back everything you’ve lost, everything you’ve given up, everything the devil and this world have stolen from you. You need a redeemer to restore your righteousness and your holiness, to give back to you your honor and your good name and your place in the community of God’s people. You need a redeemer to fix what’s broken in your life and to make right everything that’s gone wrong. And Jesus Christ is the only one who can do it!

If anyone is in Christ: New Creation! The old has gone! The new has come! God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus has become for us our righteousness, holiness, and redemption!

And like Boaz, Jesus had to be related to us to redeem us.

Jesus left his home in glory; he gave up his authority and power and rights, he came to this earth and made himself nothing, he became a servant, he took on our humanity, our flesh and blood; he took on all our weaknesses and pains and sufferings, he took on all the risk and responsibility, and he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. He did all of that to redeem every part of you because he thinks you’re worth it. The Bible says you were redeemed at a price. Jesus paid that price with his own precious blood to buy you back, to put his name on you, to bring you into the eternal family of God forever.




I’m publishing a series of posts here this week on Ruth chapter four: Lost, Redeemed, and Confident. I pray this short series will be a blessing to you.

In the opening verses of Ruth 4 we learn that Naomi has lost her land. We didn’t know this before, but now we do. Naomi has lost her land. It’s been mortgaged. The bank or somebody else owns her property. It appears that Naomi’s late husband sold the rights to the land before they moved to Moab. Naomi is a poor widow and has no way to repurchase the property herself but, under Israel’s law, she can transfer the obligation to her nearest relative and he can buy it back. He can redeem the property and place it back into the family’s possession.

The way this works is spelled out in Leviticus 25. The closest living relative can buy back any property that used to belong in the family but had been sold out of financial necessity. If it was the only way out of a bad economic situation, a person could sell the rights to his land, knowing that a near relative could always buy it back. That’s what is happening here. Naomi and her husband had gotten into some trouble during the famine and had made a terrible decision. They gave up their land.

They had probably been forced into it by the awful situation they were in. They probably felt like they didn’t have a choice. Whether they sold it on their own terms to get out of a jam or to help pay for their relocation to Moab, or whether it was taken from them against their will, the bottom line is that Naomi has lost her land. She gave it up.

Even though she is back in Bethlehem, she doesn’t really have a home. There’s no way for her family name to continue. In this context, it’s not just the property at stake, it’s Naomi’s name, it’s her honor, it’s her worth in the community. This is a terrible thing that’s happened. Her property has been mortgaged, her land has been lost, and she is powerless to buy it back.

I don’t know what you have lost. I don’t know in your life what has been taken away from you. I don’t know what terrible foolish choices you’ve made in the past or what maybe you’ve been forced into doing when you didn’t really have an option. But somewhere along the way, maybe you gave up your innocence. You gave up your righteousness. You gave up a relationship. You lost it. And you can’t get it back. Your good name. Your honor. Your worth in the community. Your place with your family or in God’s Church. You lost it. Maybe you feel like you’ve mortgaged your future. Maybe it was stolen from you. But you’ve lost any opportunity to be truly happy and whole and at peace. And maybe you feel powerless to get it back.

You need to be redeemed. That’s what Naomi and Ruth need. They need to be redeemed by a redeemer.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live… But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgression – it is by grace you have been saved!” ~Ephesians 2:1-5



Commit Your Way to the Lord

We just finished preaching through Naomi and Ruth’s story here at Central as a way to visualize moving into 2021 with our God and with one another. It’s easy for us to relate to these two widow ladies because they suffered great loss during the days of the judges, when the social and political landscape was an absolute mess, and they were dealing with a famine, a national natural disaster that was causing the death of many people. Tough times. Feels familiar.

When Naomi details her plan for their financial and familial security in Ruth chapter three, Ruth replies, “I will do whatever you say.” That reminds me of the first time God gathered his people together at Mt. Sinai and gave them his commands. The people all responded together, “Everything the Lord has said, we will do!” That’s what Mary, the mother of Jesus, told the angel Gabriel: “May it be to me as you have said.” That’s what Jesus said to our Father on that last night in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Not my will, but yours be done.”

It seems like the correct response to a powerful line in Psalm 37: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust him and he will do this.”

And that seems like the best way to live in 2021.

Ruth and Naomi and Boaz each had their own struggles, their own issues. But in the middle of their own problems they showed an uncommonly selfless love for one another. Each one showed extraordinary care and concern for the other two. And they had plenty of differences between them. There were background and culture and nationality differences, gender and language and social status differences — a lot of differences here with a lot of stress and pressure on top. There’s plenty of room for disagreements and arguments here. Selfish behavior would be understandable, it would be expected and probably excused. But they each show this incredible compassion for the other two, even at great personal risk.

And God moves them and he moves their story from famine to harvest, from emptiness to fullness, from hopelessness to promise, and from devastating death to everlasting life. That’s how it happens. When we trust him and his ways, God makes it happen.

Our God has already inaugurated the new creation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus has been raised and exalted, he is seated at the right hand of the heavenly Father in eternal glory where he reigns supreme today and forever. That assures you and me that death will be destroyed, that creation will be redeemed, and that God’s people will be restored to righteous relationship with him and with one another forever. All of that is happening right now and you and I are the instruments of that transforming work. Through us, the Kingdom of God breaks into the world for healing and reconciliation and justice and peace. Christ’s Church is a witness and a community that embodies the Kingdom of God as present and real. We are participating in God’s everything new and we are a sign of God’s everything new. We are both the promise and the presence.

Just like he works in Naomi and Ruth and Boaz, we trust the Lord is working in us and through us to still make amazing things happen. God is still at work when parents make sacrifices for their children and when children go out of their way for their parents. God is still at work when strangers open up their doors and their hearts and their lives to other strangers. When people cross the barriers of race and culture and class without a second thought, when people rise up to defend and protect the marginalized, when we move to understand instead of accuse, when we love and forgive and accept first, when we put the needs of others ahead of our own — God will move you and he will move this world from emptiness to fullness, from division and violence to unity and peace, and from darkness and death to everlasting light and life.

I am confident that he who began a good work in you and in this world will carry it on to completion until the day of our Lord Jesus. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.



God with Naomi and Ruth

As we begin the new year here at Central, we’re preaching through the story of Naomi and Ruth. There’s a lot to like about the short book of Ruth but, as a preacher, here’s what I love: Everybody can personally relate to almost all of it. Ruth and Naomi lived on the other side of the world nearly 3,500 years ago, but the circumstances they face and the ways they deal with their situations are so normal and typical. They are just regular ordinary people dealing with regular ordinary things. Their story is about family and work, traditions and laws, marriages and death and birth. It’s about moving to a new town, looking for a job, covering up sin, trying to get along with the in-laws. It’s about making poor decisions — Naomi and her husband trade in a famine for three funerals. Some of it is so real and genuine that it’s almost comical. Chapter three reads like a script from an old sitcom: the meddling mother-in-law telling Ruth how to catch a man; go put on a pretty dress and lots of perfume and wait for Boaz to get drunk!

The author of Ruth is not trying to clean this up for anybody. This is real life with real people where real things happen to us every day. And it’s in these regular people and these common things that we see our Almighty God at work. That’s what the Bible wants us to see, that through normal ordinary people in everyday situations, God is making everything new!

Bad things have happened in 2020. All of us have suffered some level of pain and loss. Some have suffered more than others, but we have all experienced suffering. And the suffering isn’t quite over yet. The story of Naomi and Ruth shows us that the situations our God allows, the circumstances he permits to happen in his sovereignty, are the very circumstances through which he acts in love and faithfulness to his people.

While God allows emptiness to come to Naomi, he does so in order to bring her fullness again in an even more significant way that brings salvation to all of Israel for a thousand generations and to the whole world forever. Their sufferings are for reasons that go beyond them, reasons only the God of Heaven and Earth knows. But we see through the course of their lives that God moves their story from emptiness to fullness, from famine to harvest, from bitter to pleasant, from hopelessness to promise, from silence to praise, from devastating death to everlasting life, from no future to an integral link in God’s chain to bring the promised Savior to the whole world.

What God is doing for Naomi and Ruth, he is also doing for you and your family. For us. For your church. For all of creation.

In 2020 we all learned that we are not in charge. Any illusion of control you might have had has certainly been shattered over the past eight months. Now is the time to choose a new direction. Now is the time to trust God, to trust his plans for you and the people you love, to place your faith and your whole life unconditionally in his love and his will and his power to make everything new.

Right now, at the start of the new year, are you more afraid that your life might someday end or that your life will never have a true beginning?