Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church Experiencing Christ In Community


1 Corinthians 4:1-21

A letter like Corinthians is where we have to keep on getting our heads around something ancient,

another land in another time with another customs,
with different lives to ours

still what they faced also still feels very present in the temptations we face and the times we endure

where we find our soul anchored
where our lives are most prone to wander
where joy sits on our heart in Jesus

to be able to simply answer
where the community of Christ Centered people in your life is

in Corinth we find ourselves dealing with a church
that had descended into factions
they argued over who their favoured teacher was

they argued over the future - they argued - well about anything

if we were a fly on the wall at a Corinthian Church service
we'd witness disharmony in all its forms
arguments, disputes, lovelessness

factions over the Paul camp and the Apollos followers and the Cephas disciples

here in ancient Corinth some local Church teachers started teaching they had some special revelations of wisdom they wished to share that was superior than the tin pot itinerant Apostle Paul who'd been with them 3 years earlier

their message was it's time to move on
you don't need that apostle anymore,
it's time to move with the times

in fact what they shared they said was even far superior than any eye witness to the resurrected Christ could ever teach them
far wiser than anything a leather working tent maker could ever share

in short the Corinthians were being taught to believe
they had already arrived spiritually

spiritually they were to think themselves superior
morally they were encouraged to live as though
they had it all now

what was done in the body no longer mattered
you could do what you liked

they were taking credit for successes that only grace can produce
they were being less than watchful and protective
when it came to temptation and sin in their lives

they were smug and felt entitled to what they could never earn or achieve

in attitude this view of arrival was endemic
it showed when they expected of others
the perfection that you think you have achieved yourself

self glory is poisonous
it's self referencing, self congratulating attitude of pride

Paul writes in pastoral love for them to put their pride aside and to clothe themselves in humility with a Christ shaped love
demonstrating his love in this letter
to warn, to shame, to correct
to do all he can to see they get back on track

even sending his trusted fellow worker Timothy to speak with them and pastor them in the way Paul knows they need to be steered back towards their relationship with God

so lets walk through what Paul has to say to the already arrived Corinthians about attitude

this passage breaks 3 ways
as we navigate the text itself

Paul directs the Corinthians attention to their divisive pride
In attitude to how well they serve or self serve in love

we read about it in verse 1

4:1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.

then down to verse 6

6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one over against the another.

Paul's standing argument is to combat the attitude of smug superiority is to show that humility begins with our recognition we are not our own, we were bought at a price it is Christ we serve and not ourselves.


As an Apostle after all is an eye witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus

The stand out is that in Christ we face our need for upmost humility
We are stewards to the mysteries of God
Who handle an ancient truth
Wrapped in the eternal plans
of the infinitely loving God

Paul uses the word servant in verse 1 & 2 to describe his work,
a better way to see that word servant is as a steward

called first of all to be faithful to his master to be faithful to distribute to others what he had received from God

Next Paul moves the discussion on he asks the Corinthians to assess themselves are you kings or fools now you are in Christ

like we see in verse 8

8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings -and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!
he says so you think you've arrived already
consider this instead verse 10

10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!

Notice the irony he uses, we get a read on what they had been saying of themselves

Already rich, already filled already arrived
No wonder their attitudes and behavior towards one another
turned loveless and hurled invective

The only way these Corinthians would learn
Was if they got who they are now
How they were called to live
as stewards of Christ's love and mercy

verse 15-16
15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

How we go at the world reveals who we are
I was thinking about that like the way we use the internet
on our computers or phones or ipads or tablets

In some ways how we go about that reveals who we are
What we like, what we search, what we read or watch

When we're feeling low what page we like to look up

When you think about it
Does that reveal something to yourself about who you are?

Wisdom isn't what we know
It's what we apply
Not just outwardly showing we conform to God

For Paul the question he had was where is the community of Christ centered people in your life - how well are you loving them

Paul makes crystal clear what he has been setting out from the beginning about what source we drink from to take our satisfaction

The Corinthian church had developed into factions
Paul wants to cut through it
pointing them the right direction

to set the ground compassionately
That when he comes on a return visit to Corinth he will come
as a pastor not as a policeman to them

the battleground being fought over
was what does appreciation look like for a follower of Christ

what is it we are to do with ourselves
given we know our own hearts are prone towards
pride or desire or fear of man or even unbelief
we hijack our own hearts

God's word aims a bead that bears straight at our hearts
expose to the light of God's truth
what we often feel and hide in the shadows of our souls


What Paul wants for these Corinthian Christians and for us is
To know Christ more and more, rest in him,
be amazed that he makes so many promises to you
that he keeps them

God's grace is sufficient, His mercy and love is life transforming
Paul calls us to humble our hearts

also we are to take on board a challenge like this , verses 16-17
16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Could we say to someone
Imitate me as I follow Christ
Not because we are puffed up with pride
Not because we think somehow we have spiritually arrived

But because we know that only by grace we are saved
Our attitude reveals our heart
Living my life in Christ Jesus bears a special kind of fruit

Would you make this your prayer for this week
In that what we seek is to live with personal integrity
We seek Biblical self knowledge -
We seek to let God's word saturate our hearts
warm our souls
turn our faces to turn towards him

living as a redeemed people by Jesus
we also are to be people who ask for help

accountable people , prepared to share a struggle
ask someone to check up with us

for a problem or a habit or a misplaced desire you know wants to keep hiding itself in the dark and you know it's time to bring it out in the light open to God's truth

follow me as I follow Christ is being willing
to be courageous to go to hard places in our lives

be bold and willing to expose and see our sins and sorrows for what they are

We also express honest godly emotion
In which we create a climate of grace in our relationships
We give mercy because we are given mercy
We cultivate a humble, large, generous heart

That reaches across and sees the other person
Let's pray…

1 Corinthians 2:6 - 3:23

Is there something mysterious to you about following Jesus
Do you have a question you've got that you've said out loud
"When I get t heaven I'm going to stand in Paul's line
to ask him …this?"

or when I stand before Jesus I want him to answer this problem

have you ever noticed when things are running smoothly or things are starting to go well that we brace ourselves expecting something bad to come

like we feel slammed
or tempted with things we didn't think were still a problem
unexpected, unexplained troubling stuff going on

where do you reach out to
what are your first impulses to see that stuff as

Paul here wants to engage us in seeing the reality of life as followers of Jesus in the midst of real spiritual warfare we are surrounded by

where hard things go on in the life of those who follow Jesus

As we consider this passage this morning think about where it is you are seeing the Spirit of God on the move in your life.

what God is most challenging you with ,
what part of your life you are most thankful
so that you overflow with joy in Jesus

In Corinth Paul brings us back to look at a church where
their time together had become chaotic

when Paul first preached the gospel
Many became followers of Christ
Three years pass since Paul lived there

Now the infant church he left behind
Seems to have developed some unloving
worldly ways about how they were coming to church

so in his letter Paul anchors this letter from the start in the truth, of who these Corinthian Christians are

The question they were asked
What is it you have let take captive of your heart and soul
Other than Jesus Christ

As we read in 1 Corinthians 2:6-7

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

There is no hope to be found in living for here and now
this mystery Paul comes to is to how we as people
now come alive in Jesus

God in his divine planning
Had already decided to reveal himself in the flesh through Jesus

if King Herod or the Jewish Sanhedrin
or Pontius Pilate or Satan had understood what they were about to do when they crucified Jesus they would not have done it

Paul reminds these Corinthian Christian
Of this lesson from the past and God's plans
he turns their gaze on their present situation

The instinct of our foolish wisdom is to trust ourselves and control our situation, that only makes matters worse

The mark of sin in our heart is to insist that life is about me
To make me the centre of everything

Paul says open up your eyes, see God

God who is with us and for us in Jesus
makes new life possible through his agent of change
Through His Holy Spirit, the Counsellor
Who writes the promise of life on the human heart

Verses 11-14
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are discerned.

We're only ever guessing if we think we can totally read people
We only ever say what we want others to hear
Often times there are things we are thinking
that would be highly inappropriate to say out loud

with God notice how deeply he dives into our lives
when he redeems us as his own

Paul brings us to see in the midst of our weakness
We come face to face with God's encouragement and comfort

The Holy Spirit is the one who comes alongside us with immediate need for the moment

In the midst of our uncertainty God has provided witness to his grace and glory to bring us comfort in the midst of trouble

God brings mercy and actual truth to us when we are feeling foolish

See here how Paul addresses the Corinthian trouble

Two problems are raised
The first is about wisdom
In a church that claimed it was wise
The reality was their church life was chaotic
Relationships were messy

Paul makes them face who's glory are they in it for
God's or their own

Our goal is to know the joy in God
Where God starts curiously with the mess in us

God brings that through his redemption in Christ
In the midst of the mess, he is patient

1 Corinthians 3: 16-17

16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.


Paul addresses the household of believers together
In Jesus we are new creations the old is gone the new is come
With His Holy Spirit in us
We are now God's temple, God living in us

Our life is not to be about us, but God alive in me

These Corinthians claimed to have the mind of Christ
when really they were acting more like worldly individuals
living for themselves

in some ways we look on and go what on earth were they thinking?

Amazingly this same passage applies to us
We can see the same tensions 2, 000 years on

we are also in the midst of real spiritual warfare
So wherever you see anger and disharmony,
division and mean spiritedness

We can know we are looking at Satan trying all in his power
To disrupt and discourage us in following Christ

Wherever we start seeing our behaviour starting to look more like people living like now is all we have Paul's advice is

Remember you are a temple of God in which his Holy Spirit lives
We are bought at a price, we are not our own
We have the mind of Christ

So where do you run to for courage?
What are you using to replace trust in God?

Paul's challenge to us is to see where God is on the move in us

Just as where we come from
Impacts on where we are likely to turn back to
When it's tough or you're discouraged

we all feel the heat

as we read in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

3:1 Brothers (and sisters), I could not address you as people Spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

infants in Christ, prone to grumble and complain
in the habit of fighting
directing their anger towards one another

Confusion reigned and half truths ruled their conversations in the life of the Corinthian Church

they stepped into escapist flights of fancy
Like their actions didn't matter
Or their behaviour towards each other didn't count

These Corinthians Paul could not address as spiritually mature people instant he calls them infants

They were people who were guided by their flesh
Driven by their appetites and desires
Evidenced in their jealousy and strife

on the plain of relationships
On that horizontal plain with one another
They lacked real love as a household of believers

notice how Paul starts his conversation
with shifting the gaze of these loveless Corinthians

1 Corinthians 3:18-23

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; 20 and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Shift your weight
Create a climate of grace in your relationships
Just as you know the grace and love of God
move towards one another
as a household of believers

say and do what needs to be said and done to the one whose opinion matters and whose mercy helps

our refuge isn't this world
it is in God

Wisdom isn't what we know
It's what we apply
Not just outwardly showing we conform to God
But see and sense God's inward transformation in us

Don't throw your heart to the world
Come on your knees before the throne room of God

You are of Christ, and Christ is of God

We are to stand in the theatre of God's glory
To see the opportunity of his mercy and redemptive work in us

So where are you seeing things going on in your life
Is it time for you to have a candid conversation with God

Paul had to get these Corinthian Christians to face up to how their behaviour wasn't matching what they were claiming they believed

We have the God of life who truly makes us alive in him

We have the God who comes towards us

We need to cultivate a humble heart

20 and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Let's pray…

1 Corinthians 1:18- 2:5

Skit Guys Identify 3:20

Being someone who follows Jesus
The central thing in our walk with God
Isn't sin management

it is understanding who we are in Christ.

Our identity now in Jesus is not defined by our failures
or by our past
but only by Christ's work on the cross.

We sin and are sinned against
We want and waste in the things we do
So often we fall short of what we know we should be
Or who we want to become

Yet they don't define our walk with God

Jesus death on the cross wasn't for us to somehow manage our lives better

It was so that we would see the God who has come towards us

Who asks us what way is our life facing right now
So when you stand looking in the mirror of yourself
Do you see that God is turning your head
and heart and soul in his direction

Or do you feel the lack
Or the pride in your own achievements

Like has something or someone besides Jesus taken the title to your heart's trust and delight?

Sometimes we need to come back to what feels so basic
Yet what we most need to know is

the cross is where we face the mercy of the God who loves you and me more than we see and more powerfully than we realize

just as Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthian Christians
1 Corinthians 1: 27-29

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

God's kingdom turns things on their head
In many ways coming down to how we see ourselves

I don't know if you have ever been asked
Or maybe you've asked yourself
WHY follow Christ

Paul wants us to turn the whole conversation on it's head here

If your trust is in Christ, what we start to see happening
is a work of God,
God goes to work in our lives
The changes are progressive

The areas he changes us in are everyday parts of us
In how we speak, or the way we deal with our ill heath,
think about money or deal with that conflict
or poisonous tongues

in the most basic difficult human situations God comes into,
we get asked how are you reacting
When the heat of your life gets turned up
How do you respond

Because look at where Paul points us
Verse 18

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The gospel is a message of the God who turns to face us
Not as we would like him to think we're like
But just as we really are
Broken, inconsistent performers
People prone to hurt those we love
who seek our kingdom to come


In this very place the message of Jesus
point us to our foolishness and weakness
God shows us the cross as the place where we meet
face to face with his love

In the midst of that pain and anguish where Jesus gave up his life
We see God really wants you

So much so he was willing to pour out all his anger and judgment
for all and every sin you have you are and you will commit
and place that on his Son

Jesus as he died on the cross took the punishment for our sin and he died so that we might have new life, forgiveness and hope

The message of the cross sounds so foolish
Unless our heads and our hearts and our souls
are pointed towards God

We like to think we can save ourselves

God says we are foolish if we think that we are good enough
Or have enough to get God's favour

We are fools to not think that someone must pay for our sins
the incredible extravagant message of the love of God
Is that forgiveness is God's work towards us
Forgiveness from God moves us towards him

We soon see that forgiveness comes as an attitude

It's in Jesus that we become truly human

If you are someone here today who has never asked for forgiveness from God then we start with the cross
We start with seeing ourselves before God
Knowing that we deserve death
for all our actions, attitudes, thoughts

We have lived like God is not there

Forgiveness comes from God by asking Jesus to be Lord of our souls
To ask him to forgives us our sins

To take responsibility for our wrongs with honesty
bring them under the spotlight of God truth
and recognize the effect our sin and wrong has caused
on those we love or know

Part of that forgives from God then is dealing with us in our worst relationships

asking God for compassion to show sorrow
to those we have sinned against
moving towards those who we have hurt
Asking for their forgives of us

Our sin is not an accident
We apologise for accidents
We seek and ask for forgiveness for our sins

Forgiveness is an attitude bearing on our soul
And the direction our lives are pointing

As we read in verses 20-21

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

The question is with forgiveness
are you in it the way God is

The trouble for these Corinthian Christians that Paul was writing his letter to is that they had forgotten love points in God's direction
Even when we are relating with other people

The love of God and his forgiveness
Shows that just as God has forgiven me
He has turned my face and my feet so that they point
in his direction

the challenge from God is will I show the same sort of attitude towards those who sin against me or fess up to those I sin against


The Corinthian Church had hit the same problem
they got stuck with forgetting to love one another
forgetting that who they were was only brought about
By what God had first begun in them

We start by asking the same question as Paul does
In how do you live for yourself

The Greeks of Corinth lived for finding wisdom
The Jews lived for finding signs

When we live for ourselves
Our self takes on a thousand different shapes
and wears a thousand different disguises

who are we in Jesus verses 22-25
22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

The question is has someone or something else beside Jesus Christ taken title to your hearts trust and delight

If Jesus has captured your heart and soul
how have you been applying that love lately?

God turns our lives around
And turns the things we so often find ourselves
place our trust in on their heads

when we are weak in ourselves
we can know the strength of God

forgiveness is God accepting us just as Jesus Christ is
it is in Jesus we have hope life and future

it is in Jesus that we become real people
we share real needs
confess to real sin

and know a real Holy Spirit
the Spirit of God who is at work in each and everyone
who has asked Jesus to be their Lord and Saviour

we need Jesus
the merciful saviour from the large sins
of both our heart and our behaviour

so I will close with Paul's challenge to us
think about what direction your life is pointing
do you point your life towards God
are you walking in his direction

26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
Let's pray…

1 Corinthians 1:1-17

is sport a contentious game for you to watch or play
how loud do you get watching your team go round
how hard do you play when you're out on the paddock

the team you back
Ever find yourself having to defend them
While at the same time pull them apart for lack of effort

Ever found yourself feeling the need to make excuses
when your team isn't doing so well

we all follow something like on another tack
What about an author
One you like reading,
or an actor who's movies
you'll try and watch when they come out?

No matter what the critics review says

We can do the same in church circles like have you got a favourite speaker
Someone you often listen on catch up
the last conference they last spoke at
or read a book they just published

what do you say when someone says something about them,
ever find yourself go into bat to defend them?

We are born worshippers
we all take our influences from all sorts of places good or bad

as we see in this day and age where it's all about
The latest guru, or the latest trend, or the latest approach

In our churches we can be made captive to the same things but this is not new
Just as the Corinthian Christians did
Where they were arguing that their spiritual leader
was better, more persuasive
and more influential than the other

What they did was turn following Jesus into a whole new form of contention

Trouble was it wasn't unifying
it was simply tearing their community life apart
Through a lack of love

They had made Jesus a contentious Christ and Paul had something plain to say into that mess

Before we get there but I want to back up a sec and recap on this letter to the Corinthian Church

There are some ancient things about this community that help us to see what was going on with the church family tensions

So Some background

Corinth was a sea state rebuilt under Julius Caesar
on a map it sits on the southern part of Greece
from Athens you can take a 1 hour train trip to get to it

Ancient Corinth is a small land bridge half way up
on the bottom part of Greece
So sea travelers and goods pass across it
as a strip of land it is only 8km wide from sea to sea

so slaves were used to unload the ships and ballast
pull the boat along a row of tree trunk runner along the 8km
to the other side and put everything back in the boat

it was labour intensive
but worth it for time and safety
that bottom part of Greece was dangerous to shipping

Corinth was a frontier town
Where the slaves outnumbered free men 10:1
so you can imagine it
this town was ruled with an iron fist

Corinth was also known as an exceptionally religious city
As a place where so many passed through
Traders & sailors, wealthy merchants and slaves

It had many shrines, temples and gods
Corinth was a town where religion and politics
were linked

like the meat you bought at the markets was sacrificed at the local temple

all the citizens of Corinth were expected to make sacrifices at the pagan temples dedicated to the Roman Emperor, it's also where you did business if you were a business man in town

only the Jews were exempt from having to do this

it's into this cosmopolitan
bustling port and it's vigorous cults and temples
Paul arrives to share the Good News about Jesus Christ

staying with Priscilla & Acquila local tent makers like Paul
Paul sets about preaching the gospel and many respond

so we read in Acts 18:8

"Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized."


and so around 51 AD after spending roughly a year
Paul leaves Corinth to continue on with his missionary journey
in Ephesus (in modern day turkey)

while in Ephesus Paul hears news
from Cloe and Stephanas about problems brewing in Corinth

issues that disturb Paul sufficiently to write a letter to them

these were hard issues this infant church was facing
that came up after Paul left Corinth

others had come along trying to seize control of the church

these men rejected Paul's authority as an apostle
their teaching was emptying the church of it's love

issues were dividing them, they lacked love
their attitude spilt over into the way they lived
like a man was having an adulterous relationship
with his step mother & no one was doing anything about it

church members taking one another to the public courts
factions were apparent at the Lord's supper

to top it all off when the church was meeting
there was chaos in the meetings some babbling in tongues
while prophets talking over the top of each other
wives calling out questions to their husbands as they were leading church

the Corinthian Christians were getting known the world around
for their licence to please yourself

when they shared the Lord's Supper together
some were getting drunk while others had nothing to share in
others started thinking that Jesus had already come
so that what they did now in their bodies
didn't matter - you could do what you liked

into this situation Paul writes the letter we know of 1 Corinthians
starting not what they think of themselves
but what God has called them to be

as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:4-6

4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way--in all your speaking and in all your knowledge-- 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.

Paul goes on to point out

" It's Jesus who has sanctified them - that is made them holy (vs2)
" they have been given grace (vs4)
" they've been enriched (vs5)
" they do not lack in gifts for the work of serving Jesus (vs7)
" and that God is the one who called them (vs9)
the only thing missing was what was at the heart of their problems in Corinth


this was an awful unholy row going on here in Corinth

factions had grown
Paul appeals for unity where contention had arisen
Worship was being replaced by lovelessness

So he writes as we read in verses 10-12

10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."

the Corinthian Christians were playing their own version of Big Brother House with their ministers

this was a cult of ego
quarreling about who was more superior
Paul, Apollos or Cephas

3 factions formed, each member of the church identifying with whichever minister baptized them

Paul's runs at the wall and asks who have you let capture your heart
the question is, verse 13

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

All impossible questions to answer really
they're absurd questions - Paul knows it

our tendency is to self centeredness and false saviours
the questions they were being asked was about
who has your alegiance


the Corinthians were creating messiah replacements
which only underscores the scandalous way
they had been behaving in this church

Paul goes on, the only remedy, the only way they were going to get through the troubles that had now grown up was if they threw away their idols and come back to the cross of Christ

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Paul cuts through it by saying
It's the gospel what matters most
not wisdom - not pop stars only Jesus
his death for our sins
his resurrection from the grave for our new life in him

your idol reveals you
their the image towards which we aspire

so we are responsible for how we live
what we are shaped by

Paul's reminder is the gospel is about the transforming power of the cross

We are not what we were
We are not yet what we should be
Only by God's grace and God's work can we only become what he makes us

Paul was driving us to see that the cross is where our lives enter into the story of God

The power of the cross is all about the death of Christ for our sins

so that we could demonstrate that power in our lives transformed inside to out by Him

relationship is modeled by God himself
as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
a perfect model of relationship love

we are created for relationship with God
and relationships with one another

so if we take the love out of our relationships with one another
we cannot claim to be in sync with our relationship
with our heavenly father as well

the two are linked the vertical of worship and the horizontal of relationships here amongst us as God's people

Jesus is our model for how we are to go about loving one another
Jesus who willingly sacrificed himself for us
Who bore the pain of the cross for our forgiveness

So often we lack love because we love ourselves too much
So that we won't reach out across to someone

We are in the midst of a spiritual battle that wages all around us
We are called to have the eyes and ears for God

Which is the call for us to pray for and pray with one another

It's what Paul appealed to his brothers and sisters in Corinth to do
As he made them aware of the results
of them loving themselves
rather than their fellow member
in the household of Christ in Corinth

That fellowship is one of encouragement and seeking the others good
Of prayer and practical fellowship

It is also warning each other of the realities of the spiritual warfare that we are faced with whether we see that clearly or not

Where we are to come to the lordship of Jesus over our lives
In the gospel we are told that God accepts us just as Christ is

He accepts me not as I am but as I am in Christ Jesus
We are accepted because of the wondrous work of Jesus who fully pleased the Father and gave us of his own perfect goodness

Jesus reigns in power and so he makes us God's children

It is not about our acceptability or worth
It is about the big story of the God of salvation
Who calls on us to look outside ourselves
To allow the power of God to transform us
to be more like him

Ruth 4:1-22
Julie’s story: fullness

Intro:   Skit Guys “I am Redeemed”

Some words in our stories are sometimes hard words
    They are significant parts of how our life has been they impact on us BUT
        It does not have to determine our future
of who we will be

I am redeemed is all about the power of Christ
    To forgive and remove our sin and shame

Isn’t that what we have now in Christ
    To be redeemed is the bigger story of God’s work in us
His work is totally YES in Christ for us

I am redeemed is all about God and not about me

Just like God’s loving mercy can seem to hit us sideways
    That so often we don’t see his loving kindness
 being shown towards us when it’s right there

Just like Naomi saw bitterness as one of her words
    she doesn’t need to stay there 
as we see today God is on the move in a surprising way

In the time when the judges judged and when everyone was just doing
    What was right in their own eyes
        God would use a refugee Moabite widow and
 a wealthy farmer to bring about his plans
of the future King

today we add 2 more the last of Naomi’s words
the ones we know for her are
Emptiness, returning, seeking, finding

Today we add Fullness and with that Grandmother
As we keep on seeing right through the life and story of Ruth, Boaz and Naomi the big vision of God is always in small steps and the ordinary things of our day working through his plans step by step

Look at that in Ruth & Boaz’s life

as we read in Ruth 4:1-4
1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there.  When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.

2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. 3 Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said.

Boaz is a shrewd character
    He also is a man of standing in the community

The timing here keeps us hanging on,
when Boaz gets the elders of the town to sit at the gate 
who should be coming through at that time,
but none other than the very man
being sort to resolve Ruth’s future.

There is the sense in which things keep on being propelled along

now we become fully aware of what the threat is for Boaz & Ruth

Boaz won’t rest until he has his answer
    so we need to step back here a moment
        Ruth here isn’t seem as property

There is something ancient going on here we need to get a handle on,
if we are to get what Boaz is doing
it’s called Levrite marriage (from Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
    which was a way a family name could continue on and survive

you might know about that one already
    but levrite marriage worked like this       

if the husband died, a brother or close relative could take his wife as his own so that the first born son would carry on the family name

Here Boaz is about to honour Mahlon and his parents Naomi & Elimelech’s name by seeking marriage with Ruth it’s what was meant by being a kinsman-redeemer

Verses 9-10

9  Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.  10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!”

Boaz continues to be generous and kind to the living and the dead

they marry in time Ruth has a Son
    it’s here that Naomi gets a reminder of God’s loving mercy

Naomi’s return empty from having tried a hand at life far away
is now full in a way that will fill her up with joy
        she received a kindness she did not expect
            she is a grandmother

so it ends up Ruth takes us into a much wider view of God
we end up with David, King David
as the great grandson of Obed who has a son Jesse

King David is the reason for the telling of this story
    As it points us in the directions of Gods plans
 to redeem a people as his own

from the chaos of the time of judges 2 more generation would come and go before in the Kingship of David we would enter into a much larger and more grander promise of a messiah who would come

as Paul in 2 Timothy 2:8-10 spells that out a little clearer

8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.  10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

The love of God looked beyond always seeing Christ

Look down to how the women of Bethlehem greet Naomi with the news of this grandson now laying in her lap

Verses 14-15

14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!  15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Obed is the baby who fills Naomi’s emptiness
    As much as it fills Ruth’s as well
        The faithful daughter in law
Who chose her life to be lived as one of God’s people

we see the women of the town give a special place of honour to her

Underneath we keep on being brought back to seeing the bitterness that is lodged in Naomi’s heart

How as the returning prodigal daughter came back with her hands held out empty seeking the Lord she has to also learn the Lord’s loving Kindness again and anew

The town’s women honour Ruth in this time
    By reminding Naomi that her daughter in law
has been kinder and more generous than she still sees

In this most domestic of scenes comes something so fruitful
    It is the fruit of kindness

Kindness Ruth showed first to her husband
    Then to her mother in law

Kindness Boaz shows to Ruth and then Ruth to Boaz

It is kindness that will honour an obligation to preserve the living and the dead, even where we know there is also a genuine love here between Boaz and Ruth

Over all these kindnesses is ultimately the kindness of God

Here we come to the end of the story of Ruth, Boaz and Naomi
    we are left staring at a domestic scene
of mum dad the mother in law with Obed

and the family community all celebrating the supernatural loving kindness of God

God’s loving kindness invades the space of the ordinary

His loving kindness saw into the bitterness of a widows heart
    Showing mercy
He reached into the generosity of a wealthy farmer who got the law was always pointing to a relationship with a living and loving God

His loving kindness brought together a Moabite Refugee and an older farmer from Bethlehem and brought from this a family line that would see Obed bear a son named Jesse who would bear a son named David

Much later on in Matthew 1 Ruth and Boaz would also take their place in the genealogy of Jesus the one who God’s loving kindness would be seen in the flesh and through who each one of us would finally meet our redeemer the Son of God who comes to take away our sin

So now in your story
    What of God’s loving kindness do you point to?

If you looked at the words in your biography of your life
what word in them points out
the bigger view of God’s loving kindness in your life?

How is your life being intersected by the story of God

What of that story have you been sharing with someone else

have you been noticing
God has been on the move in you this last week,
this last month,

In your story what’s been helpful what are you thankful for in your walk with Christ? 

Sometimes we can see the faith that we profess we believe
    with the faith we actually live
        they aren’t always the same

our hearts are to prone
    to replace the sovereign place of God in our lives

Each day is part of a much larger story of God's salvation purposes going on all around us

So where are we seeing God on the move in us
        In our story

Just as we have been able to have the privilidge of seeing how God was on the move in the life and the story of a bitter widow who in returning home with a widowed daughter in law from a land far away

Bitterness gave way to fullness

Emptiness gave way to joy

Will we look up, will we look ahead

Will we see with joy the hope and the life we each have been given through that greater grandson of Boaz & Ruth

That through Jesus God brings us into his much larger story of grace, mercy and hope we need for the very small and ordinary things of today

In Christ I am not who is used to be I am redeemed…

Let’s pray…


Ruth 3:1-18
Cherryn’s story: finding

The story of Ruth is surprising when we peel back the layers
Today feels like a love story
With all the coy and cute steps in the courtship
of a refugee and a wealthy farmer

we know the pull don’t we to be settled down
to have and raise a family
to get into our own home
secure a job that will last us out

Marriage, Family and Home anchor us in place
The same as we meet in the story of Boaz, Ruth & Naomi

As we’ve been asking the question what’s your story?
When you look back at your life

When did you notice that it was suddenly part of the story of God, and where your life started taking it’s bearings off God for you, where you saw the Spirit of Jesus changing your attitudes or forgiving you that sin, or removing from you that shame

What of your character has undergone the most change as you think about your life story in the story of God?

We each have a story to tell
Just like Naomi, Ruth and Boaz

So remember back to those 6 words you’d use to describe yourself truthfully- the 6 word auto biography

Naomi keeps revealing her words to us
her first word was Emptiness
then she added returning and what would be
the other side of that coin of seeking
Emptiness, returning, seeking

the new word we add today is finding

in the book of Ruth we start intersecting the lives of where we live with the things from our past that are significant and we need to know them but that do not determine our future

For Ruth there is both the kindness she shows her Mother in Law
remarkably the sense in which she understands
through her own loss of her own husband

that her life and her future lay in the hands of Yahweh, the God of his people

Ruth was from Moab, a widow from a foreign land
A land far away from Bethlehem in both it’s place and future,

yet she was acting in a way that was more like God’s character in a time in Israel’s history where everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes

For Elimelech’s family the departure from Bethlehem was disastrous
Feeling the famine, Abandoning their home
Wasn’t met with what they dreamed it would be

A family group headed out,
the widowed wife and now widowed daughter in law return

No wonder Naomi’s first words on returning are bitterness
Naomi felt as if she had been abandoned by God

that’s where we meet with the surprise of the book of Ruth
Here amongst the sadness and loss and bitterness
God’s loving kindness keeps on surprising us

Naomi’s returning was without self-justification
returning with her hands held out and empty
looking and sensing
what repentance is like

I went away full and came back empty
Now I know that I must return and seek the Lord’s strength
To know the Lord’s forgiveness
To finally see the hand of the Lord

The emptiness of Naomi
Is met head on by a sense of fullness and now expectation

In the vulnerability of Ruth and Naomi’s situation
They are met with plenty


Just as Ruth found out when she went to see what she could get from the plenty of barley being harvested in the fields of Bethlehem

She ends up in the fields belong to Boaz
A distant relative to Naomi,
a man who will surprise us some more
in what kindness he will show

Boaz is a generous man who opens wide our view of God
he goes further in his compassion for those in need

He greets his workers in the field by saying to them “The Lord be with You” and they reply “The Lord bless You”

Just as he acknowledges Ruth’s kindness and care of Naomi

Ruth 2:19-20
Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”…20 “The LORD bless him!” “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”

We are not to miss it Naomi is the object of God’s kindness
Ruth gleaned enough food to survive on
There is generosity in her grief

Returning home to the Lord is now seeing his loving kindness and waiting patiently on his deliverance in her pain

In the times of the judges where everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes

Our eyes are going to be drawn wider to see the plans of God
his plans of salvation for his people
start with a widowed refugee from Moab
And a kinsman redeemer from Bethlehem

now the harvest is fully brought in the important work began
Where the potential of the harvest is fully understood
It’s here Ruth and Boaz will meet again

Things in this story keep moving Ruth and Boaz together
it’s the initiative of Naomi to find rest for herself and Ruth

Everything here is moving towards rest
The harvest is brought in and after the threshing is completed
there is rest

In Naomi’s case it is rest that will see her daughter in law married and settled in a home of her own

Naomi has a plan
As we read in Ruth 3:2-4
2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

Kind of reads like you might have gone through when you went out on a first date, well the first part anyway, everything is done to impress

Things are about to move fast in this relationship
Ruth shows us more of her character

Listen in to how now Ruth describes herself in her relationship to Boaz

No longer is she the trailing refugee widow who’s gleaning whatever left over barley she can find so she and her mother in law can survive

Ruth does exactly what Naomi tells her to
now she seeks to be brought in also under the claim
and the protection of the God she has come to put her trust in
Boaz had worked hard, the harvest had come in
After years of drought there was plenty in storage
He is relieved and full of the sense of accomplishment
That comes from when you get to where you hoped

We’re told he eats, drinks, things are looking up
So in good spirits he lies down
see how it unfolds next verses 8-9

8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!
9 “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”


Ruth had done everything Naomi asked of her
It’s not like she doesn’t understand what’s going on
She keeps on looking for kindness
as much as she gives out kindness herself, that’s her character

so maybe you’re wondering what’s going on here in this uncovering of Boaz’s feet

The simplest explanation is Ruth’s most boldest plea
It’s refuge

What Ruth asks for in uncovering Boaz’s feet
is exactly what Boaz had said to Ruth before
when Ruth first came to his attention

Ruth 2:12
May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wing you have come to take refuge.

The same wing of refuge is now sought by Ruth from Boaz
There is no clearer picture of refuge

Put your cloak over me, protect me so that I might find rest with you

It should draw us to see just how being brought under God’s wing
Is also his protection over us

Just as Jesus would say on his entry into Jerusalem say in Luke 13 the lament of those who refused to see the Son of God and come under his care, nurture and protection. The one thing stopping all this was the people’s refusal, they simply didn’t want him to do so

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Ruth came to Boaz for refuge
It’s a precious moment and one Boaz is poised between
Recognizing what is being asked for by Ruth

Look down at Ruth 3:10-13

10 “The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”

There’s something he knows she doesn’t
Boaz sees Ruth’s noble and kind character, he decides to act

Like in your story who gets who you are?
Are there people who see where God has intersected your life
Where his loving kindness has made it’s mark in you

In your life is the wing of God’s protection over you
Or are you just hoping unsure if you are good enough
If God can be trusted enough
For you to have his mercy and know his forgiveness

Sometimes we get talking about God
We ask WHY we are filled with sorrow for our sins
and those that sinned against us

The question is have we actually talked to God about it
Not just talked about God in it

Have we listened in to his questions of us
Owned up to where we carried our own sense of pride
Or the functional gods we set up in place of one true God

We seem to think all is well
here we are met with the surprise that keep us on tenterhooks
There is someone closer than Boaz who is a nearer kinsman redeemer

One last thing notice at the end of chapter 3
Boaz has been listening in
He’d heard Naomi speak the words
of a broken empty bitter women

Boaz sees to it that she is full and Ruth returns home with a pledge of food that also shows us he will act to see this through

so we are left dangling with Ruth and Boaz and the future we hope for will be the future that unfolds

Again for what happens next you’ll have to come back next week

so this week
What is it from your story that you will share with someone
that helps point them to Jesus

What is one word from your 6 words that you see the glory of God’s love for you shine through and where your life has been intersected by God’s plan for you

Until then let’s pray…

Ruth 2:1-23
Mark & Jane’s story: seeking

Martin Luther, the great 16th century reformer who spoke about life being about God’s grace being all about God’s work and God’s story once said
This life, therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness
Not health but healing
Not being but becoming
Not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it;
The process is not yet finished but it is going on;
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.[1]
So when you become aware of a shortcoming in your life, do you find yourself treating it as a great crisis? Do you find yourself run to despair, do find yourself reaching for excuses, do you wish for instantaneous perfection or deliverance.
So often we face the question for ourselves
What is our life like
What’s your story
Last week as an exercise I asked you to think about if you could use only 6 words to describe yourself, what would sum you up what would you write? A 6 Word Autobiography…
Like Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Friend
Seeker, Finder, Sought-After Found
Fearful, Forgetful, Ambitious, , Angry
Trying, Stumbling
6 words you’d use to describe yourself truthfully- not 6 words others have given you but 6 words from yourself
Naomi’s first word was Emptiness

Today Naomi adds another to hers returning
we start intersecting the lives of where we live
Where the things from our past are significant and we need to know
That they do not determine our future

so the recap on the book of Ruth so far

We started out with the story of a family from Bethlehem
Who head out to Moab to chance their hand at better fortune
After severe drought devastates the land they know

Elimelech leads his family out, his wife Naomi
His two sons Mahlon & Kilion who then marry a couple of local girls from Moab

The story we soon see spirals downwards
In this new town trying to settle in and make a new life
Within 10 years both Naomi’s husband dies followed by the death of her two sons

Naomi returns to Bethlehem
It’ s during the time of the Judges and everyone is doing what they think is right in their own eyes

Naomi’s return is a reminder for her of the loss and bitterness of the life she has now left behind in Moab

Moab is now the burial place for her husband and her only 2 sons

On the way to returning Naomi spells it out for her 2 daughters in law Orpah returns home Ruth clings to Naomi

The Moabitess will leave her land having never been before part of this new community except through marriage

Ruth sees things this way
16 “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

Naomi is bitter in her soul, she has returned empty and lacking
She too is on her journey with God and we soon see
God is about to show her grace

It is all about to turn because this is about the great story of God


Grace is something we receive even when we don’t go looking for it
Sometimes isn’t our story that in the hard things of life
We can keep seeing bitterness

Ruth will be for us that window to display the grace of God

It’s been a long start
But now we shift our gaze and come upon the story of a Moabite widow, the daughter in law to Naomi to the story of Ruth

In Bethlehem the Barley harvest has begun
Production is in full swing
It was all hands on deck

now two widows are about to see mercy reach out to them

As we read in Ruth 2:1-3
1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabitea said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”
3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.

Naomi and Ruth were living on the edge of poverty
In Boaz we meet a wealthy man, a man of standing

we are also about to meet a kindness that hinted at
it will unfold in its right time

when Boaz & Ruth meet there is an exchange of kindness

listen in to what they say
Ruth 2:11-12

11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to
live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

Ruth 2:10, 13
10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”

Boaz is as generous as he is kind
As we know Ruth gleans in the field
Takes a smoko with the harvesters and is invited to stay behind the harvesters gleaning until the field was finished

In Boaz we seem to strike a man who loves God
and is generous to the vulnerable and poor

These women need protection as we sense there is a dark shadow here where in another field Ruth as a foreigner and a widow by herself may have met with harm

Boaz is protective as well as providing

Boaz observes more than the spirit of the law
He moves beyond any sense of obligations

Like we might feel we have obligations to the poor or to our family, to those who are victims or those in need

true generosity begins when we do the those things but then also choose to go further to be surprisingly gracious and extravagantly loving in the situation

just like in forgiving someone Jesus was asked by Peter in Matthew 18:21-22 “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Not just forgive us our sins but forgive those that sin against us


Grace means that God meets us more than half way, and pours out on us more than what we deserve, sometimes we find it hard to stop looking at ourselves to look out to see what God is doing right now

the bitterness and grief and emptiness of Ruth & Naomi now starts to give way to promise and kindness

Seeking is something we find ourselves run to so often
How many of us seek answers starting with the question WHY?


The surprise we start running into with what goes on in the life of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz

Is a story that models grace
God is the redeeming God who goes out in pursuit
of those who are far off and brings them

Our God is the God who takes the low and the grieving the sad and the downcast and he lifts up their faces and points them his way

he draws us on a narrow path that leads to life

Naomi stayed home bitter in her soul she is soon caught up with God’s grace shining through a generous man Boaz who let her daughter in law glean a barley field and protected her from harm

We are drawn by an inkling that something else is at play in this generosity that we see as readers but that maybe Boaz or Ruth haven’t

Except that one is generous the other seeking survival is met with abundance that would ensure she or Naomi would not starve

All this happens close on to the dramatic return after 10 years of loss

Returning home is a rich word
How often do we return after struggle

Even when we may not have left where we live but we certainly put distance on the people we love and share our lives with

Returning is also a rich word in the Bible
That same word of returning Naomi used in Ruth Chapter 1
Is the same word the prophets used for repentance

Repentance is like someone who seeks their fame and fortune in a foreign land, who turn their back on following the God they love seeking to strike out without his hep or his assistance an then watching it all fall apart and when finally on our knees then cry out for mercy and to seek out loud for forgiveness

Oh Lord have compassion on me in your unfailing love forgives us our sins, help us to forgive those who sin against us

It is fitting with Naomi’s return that she comes without any element of self-justification

She returns home which she knows in her heart is where she belongs
Like the returning prodigal daughter –she casts her life in God’s care

The saving history of God is continuous and planned is at work in the ordinary moments of our most basic days

As Paul leads us here as followers of Jesus
What do we find ourselves seeking to drive us

Romans 8:28-30 , 37-39

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified…
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Is that your hope – is that part of your story

What’s your story as a traveller in Christ
For in the Story of Naomi and Ruth seeking gives way to finding and that we will have to wait until next week to find out

So let’s pray for each one of us now
[1] Martin Luther, *Defense of All the Articles*, Lazareth transl., as found in Grace Brame, *Receptive Prayer* (Chalice Press, 1985) p.119

Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church
EMAIL: minister@TCPC.org.au
PH: 02 6765 2865