14 Jan The Difference a Decade Makes
Message by Brother G. Matally, Church For All, Sunday, January 12, 2020
We live life by the decade – the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s (mine), 70s, 80s, 90s, the first decade of the millennium (2000-2009), the 2nd decade (2010-2019), the 3rd decade (starting this year, 2020, ending 2029).
What will your life be like ten years from now? The years will pass. What’s your plan for the next ten years that have just begun? Unless you have a plan, the years will only happen to you, and you will just hop along and hold on. You can do better than that: Make a plan…
- Personal development
- Spiritual life
- Fulfilling your purpose in life
- Our church – what would like to be doing between now and the end of 2029?
- Transitional housing?
- Food outreach?
- Missions – church planting?
In Ruth chapter 1, we see the life of a family changed drastically within the span of ten years.
Scripture: Ruth 1; walk through the text – read and comment.
Within ten years, the family experienced famine, migration and relocation, two weddings, three funerals, and return home.
Outline of Ruth 1
- Departure from Judah due to Famine (verses 1-2)
- Disaster in Moab for Farmworkers (verses 3-5)
- Decision by Naomi, a Frustrated Widow (verses 6-13)
- Devotion by Ruth, a Trusted Friend (verses 14-22)
One decade of events in Naomi’s life
- Migration & relocation: from Judah to Moab, where the family became migrant farm workers
- Two weddings: Mahlon to Orpah; Chilion to Ruth
- Three funerals: Elimelech, husband; Mahlon, son; Chilion, son
- Three widowhoods / three friendships: Naomi, Orpah, Ruth
- End of famine
- Return & relocation: from Moab to Judah
Application points for your life during this decade: In the next ten years…
- Your fate or failure may not be your fault.
It was not Naomi’s decision to leave her homeland due to famine; it was her husband’s decision for the family to leave the Promised Land for Moab:
- Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
Elimelech ran from famine in his homeland only to run into sickness and death in a strange land. Elimelech’s well-intentioned decision turned out to be very costly; it caused Naomi and the rest of the family to suffer greatly – the humiliation of being farm laborers in the pagan country of Moab; the untimely deaths of all of the men in the family; total vulnerability for Naomi as childless widow in a foreign land.
- Your faith will be shaken, but it can remain unbroken.
Though Naomi complained about God punishing her, as she understood it, she somehow held on to her faith in Yahweh, the God of Israel:
- Ruth 1:8b, 9a, 13, 20, 21 “The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” 13 “…it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me!” 20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
- One faithful friend can brighten your future.
Perhaps the greatest blessing that Naomi received during what seemed like the lost decade of her life was a friend named Ruth, whose very name means “friendship.” Ruth’s words plus her behavior reveal and seal her loyal devotion to Naomi as her closest friend:
- Ruth 1:16-17,22a But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab.
The next three chapters of the book show that, through Ruth, Naomi would find her new role as the greatest matchmaker and grandmother in the Bible: she counseled and coached Ruth, the younger widow, to find love again; Ruth’s marriage to a man named Boaz started a family line that ran from Obed, Jesse, and King David, down through the ages to the Messiah, Jesus, our Savior, our Lord, our King! The Friend you and I find in Jesus began with Ruth’s loyal friendship with Naomi way back there between 1350 and 1100 B.C. If you would just find one true friend, or be a true friend to one person, it could make a huge, godly difference in this decade of your life.
Perhaps, like Naomi, you need to return home, especially back home to your Bethlehem (“the house of bread”) – to the place where the bread of life, the Word of God, is served. May God steer your heart back to Bethlehem, back to Him, with the lyrics of this song by Cochren & Co:
There was a time that I swore I would never go back
I was blind to the truth, didn’t know what I had
I was running, I was searching
But every place I turned for healing
Left me more broken than the last
Take me back
To the place that feels like home
To the people I can depend on
To the faith that’s in my bones
Take me back
To a preacher and a verse
Where they’ve seen me at my worst
To the love I had at first
Oh, I want to go to church
Tried to walk on my own but I wound up lost
Now I’m making my way to the foot of the cross
It’s not a trophy for the winners
It’s a shelter for the sinners
And it’s right where I belong