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Empty Cupboards, Empty Stomachs Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2021 1:00 am

Empty Cupboards, Empty Stomachs Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 21, 2021 1:00 am

Advertisers say that having more is what life is all about. We need more money, a bigger house, and nicer vacations. But having less can be a greater blessing. Having less means reaching out to those around you because you have to. Family and community mean much more when tough times come. As we face tough times, let’s learn important lessons from the life of a woman in the Old Testament.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The media is always saying that having more is what life is all about, but having less can be a greater blessing.

Having less means reaching out to those around you because you have to. As you face your tough times, take some lessons from the life of a woman in the Old Testament. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, can we be certain that God will care for us when we hit bottom like Ruth did?

Well, Dave, the answer to that question is not as simple as it appears. On the one hand, of course God is with us no matter how much and how many times we hit bottom. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that all of our life is going to come together as it did in the life of Ruth. You know that because of Naomi, you actually have a genealogy that even goes to the New Testament.

That isn't always true, of course. God looks after his people in different ways, but we can be assured of this. He is with us to the end. And the Apostle Paul made sure that we understood that when he said that the love of God is with us and we won't be separated despite all of the things that we can imagine. Life, death, angels, principalities, powers, the sword, which of course refers to martyrdom, nakedness, total destitution. God is with his people to the end. That's why I think that this sermon series will be a great blessing to all who listen.

It'll give you an opportunity realistically to apply the promises of God, but at the same time to understand that faith in Christ, faith in his promises is often difficult but possible, and God stands up to what he has promised us. For a gift of any amount, this series of messages can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again right now. I want you to listen carefully to God's word. But one of the things that God does during hard times is to expose our consumerism and our need to live large, and he brings us down to a level of commitment and valuing those around us. Did you know that 28 percent of all college students now live with their parents because of our economic challenges here in America? People have to rediscover family. If you have a family, if you have a family, you are full, even if you're going through a hard time.

There's another lesson that we must learn, and that is we discover the value of community, the value of community. Now I'm summarizing here, but Naomi and Ruth, they come back to the land. Naomi somewhere finds a place to live, I'm sure, and Ruth goes out in the fields. She's willing to do anything, she goes out to the fields, and she in the field is gathering grains that have been left over from the reapers, and now develops a romance because a man by the name of Boaz, who is the of the family of Alem Alek, he notices her and he says some very beautiful things.

He finds out who she is, and verse 8 of chapter 2, Boaz said to Ruth, now listen my daughter, don't go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping and go after them. Have not I charged the young men not to touch you?

And when you're thirsty, go and drink, etc. And he says in verse 12, the Lord repay you for what you've done and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge. What a beautiful phrase. And then he instructs the young men in verse 15, he says deliberately leave some grain for this young woman to pick up. You know, don't take it all, let her get some. And as a result of that, Naomi and Ruth are able to live. In fact, she takes the grain home, and when you have grain, you have bread. And you know, when times are tough, what you need is other people to help you.

You need, you need the encouragement of those who really even don't fit. I haven't made much of it, but Ruth, after all, was a Moabitess. Strictly speaking, there were some things that were said in the Old Testament about Moabites, not being able to enter into the sanctuary, etc. The question is whether or not the sons of Naomi should have even married these, their wives, Ruth and Oprah, Orpha, etc. And Ruth, after all, was a Moabitess. You knew I was going to do that, didn't you?

And so what Boaz does, and I know there's romance involved here, is he helps them. Could I throw out a challenge to you today? Could you find somebody to help? And when I say somebody, let that be somebody who's poor, somebody who may be of another race, somebody who's been rejected, marginalized, who feels as if they don't belong, who aren't going to necessarily be sending out signals and saying, here I am, please help me. Would you reach out and help those who cannot help themselves?

Would the community of God rise up when things are difficult? And while I'm at it, we here at the Moody Church have a fellowship fund. And that is because the fellowship committee gives out money to people who are in financial need.

And I'll just simply lay it on the line and tell you that it is essentially empty. And the reason is we have more people making more requests, and this fund is investigated. That is to say the committee investigates the need so that they're not giving out money frivolously. So the point is this, that what we need in hard times is community. If you're going through a hard time, don't isolate yourself. Don't say to yourself, I'm into a difficult period of time and so what I need to do is to simply live alone and spend all of my time thinking about my fate. You need the body of Christ in a moment of need.

That's the way God arranged it. There's something else that I find interesting in the text, and that is that we discover the opportunity to witness an evangelism. This is a beautiful story. Ruth is converted to the God of Israel. She said that when she was asked to leave Naomi. Your God shall be my God.

Don't you love it? In other words, I'm leaving the gods of Moab and your God is going to be mine. Just think of Ruth. She jumped through all kinds of hoops. First of all, there was the racial hoop. She was a Moabitess, not a Jewess. The religious hoop. She had to leave behind her pagan gods and accept a brand new religion, a brand new God, the true God, I might add, just like some of you. You need to leave behind possibly the religion in which you were born, and you need to jump through that hoop and accept God as he is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Ruth believed in the Jewish God under whose wings she had found refuge.

And then culturally, you know, you have different language barriers, you have different issues. Now Naomi was not the best witness. Naomi was somewhat having a pity party.

She felt sorry for herself. She was angry at God. She explained that to her daughter-in-laws before they even got to Bethlehem. And yet there was something in Naomi that attracted Ruth to Naomi's religion. I'm always gratified to know that God doesn't expect us to be perfect, that even in our imperfections and our sins and our failures, God can use us right there, and oftentimes he does it in very hard and difficult times. But what I'd like to do now is to give you, and by the way, evangelism always takes place in most instances on the basis of meaningful relationships.

You know, it's not because people listen to sermons, it's not because they come to church, though we invite people to come to church and they come to trust Christ, but in most instances it is meaningful, caring, personal relationships that lead people to saving faith in Christ. But now we come to the bottom line. We come to the real purpose of all of this. Why was this book of Ruth included in the Bible?

That's a good question. Well, you say it's an interesting romance, it's an interesting story, because Ruth and Boaz end up being married, and you can read that story on your own, though you do need some help in terms of the customs of that time. But is that why God told this story? No, there's another reason, because all of the Old Testament has what we call salvation history. God is moving forward his plan of redemption, and this little jewel of a book inserted in the midst of a difficult time of Israel's history helps us to understand God's real purpose in having it included in the Scriptures. In order to understand why, we turn to the end of the book and Ruth and Boaz are married, and verse 14 of chapter 4 says, Then the women said to Naomi, Blessed be the Lord who has not left you this day without a Redeemer, that's Boaz, and may his name be renowned in Israel. He shall be to you a restorer of life and nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, that's a wonderful remark in light of the fact of the value of sons in Old Testament times, has given birth to him, that is to the child. Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became her nurse. That might mean that she formally adopted the child as her grandchild. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name. That's also interesting. You'd think that Boaz and Ruth would have some say in it, but the women, they gave their opinion and apparently the family voted and agreed, and they named him Obed.

And then lo and behold, do you see it there? He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Verse 22, Obed, father Jesse, and Jesse, father David.

Now think about this moment. Naomi gets to hold the grandchild, Obed. And in holding that grandchild, she is greatly blessed. I'm sure that she got over her bitterness.

She is greatly blessed. But then Naomi dies. Obed grows up, marries, and Obed has a son, and he is going to call him Jesse. Then Jesse grows up and he has a son, he marries and has a son, and lo and behold, one of his sons is called David. And because David is in the kingly line and the promise of God given to David for a kingdom and so forth, and because Jesus Christ on his human side, I know that he was virgin born, but on the human side, his genealogy, his legal genealogy, goes back to David. And who shows up in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1?

But Ruth. Naomi dies not knowing any of this. All that she is is she is glad that she can hold the baby in her arms, and then I'm sure somewhat after that, she dies. Does she see God's hidden purpose to move along redemption history? What if God in heaven were to say, Naomi, I want to tell you this, okay?

And now I'm using my imagination. Naomi, do you remember how difficult it was for you when you were there in Moab? Your husband dies, two sons die, you have, of course, the story of your loneliness, your despair, how bitter you were because the hand of the almighty was against you.

Do you remember all that? Do you know what I had in mind? I wanted a Moabitess in my genealogy, Jesus might say, because I wanted to prove right from the get-go that the gospel is not just for the Jews, it's for Moabites, and it's for Ammonites, and it's for all the other people that are in the Matthew 1 genealogy, and that's why you suffered, but you didn't know that, and you became bitter because you didn't trust me to believe that I knew what I was doing. My purposes are so much higher than yours, and I say to you today that God in heaven has multiple purposes that you and I have multiple purposes that you and I know nothing about, we may know about those purposes someday, but we don't know about them now in this life, but if we could only see God's ultimate purpose, oftentimes only after we die, we would say, oh so that's why I went through this trial, that's why I went through this difficult, oh so that's what God was doing, but there's no way for us to know that now, all that we see is we have bills to pay, we have relationships that are broken, but if we trust God, we will discover in the end that even through famine and heartache, God has a purpose that he is working, and he has not left us without a witness. The other day someone sent Rebecca this quotation. It says, when you are going through a trial and you don't know where God is, always remember that a teacher is silent during an exam or a test.

Of course he's there. Dozens of purposes that you and I know nothing about, if only we would trust him. Some of you need to forgive God. You say, oh God doesn't need forgiveness. I understand that, but you're bitter with God. You are bitter, you are angry, you are mara, because the almighty has dealt harshly with you, brought calamity into your life. This past week on the radio there was a testimony of a woman who who was so angry, virgin the whole time and then angry, you know, Mr. Wright is supposed to come along, he doesn't, so what does she do? She goes and lives her own way and ends up in all kinds of heartache and brokenness and trouble, but she said I was mad at God. Everybody else seems to be blessed.

I'm left out. I am mara. Don't call me by my name because the almighty has done harshly with me. That was Naomi's take. God was saying, Naomi, don't you understand that your bitterness was actually to be a blessing if you had had faith to believe it and to trust me. God knows what he's doing and in the midst of the greatest heartache, the taking away of people, the sons of Naomi, the heartache of financial stress, God says, just trust me and don't be bitter. You're meant to be a blessing. I'm going to pray in a moment and I'm going to ask those who have been designated as prayer partners, would you get up right now and take your places in the aisle. In a moment we're going to be singing together. If you have a need, we have only a very brief time to pray, but you can connect. You can give to God your need and a prayer of trust in the midst of hardship. And the prayer partners will continue to pray for you all week. Let us see the glory of God even in that which we do not understand. Let's pray together. Father, help us to understand that your purpose is so much greater than what we can see, to genuinely believe that you are here for us. For those today, Father, who need to release their feelings of pain and anxiety and perhaps even bitterness, to believe that you are in the midst of heartache, show them today your glory if only we can trust you. In Jesus' name we ask.

Amen. Well this is Pastor Lutzer and I don't mean to imply that trust is easy. Oftentimes we have to fight against Satan who puts doubt in our minds. But if we are persistent and if we believe, God is going to show himself strong even in the midst of situations which appear to be hopeless.

But on the other side, we will once again see the providence of God. I believe that this series of messages titled Famine's Deserts and Other Hard Places will be a great blessing to you. That's why we are making this resource available to you. It's our way of helping you in your Christian walk. Of course when these resources are yours, you can listen to them again and again.

Share them with your friends because as we together hold our hands, figuratively speaking, we are saying that together as the body of Christ we want to be faithful to the end. Want more information? Of course you can go to By that I mean for a gift of any amount, these messages can be yours. or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Perhaps I gave that to you too quickly so let me say it again. or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us because together we are making a difference.

We're helping you make it all the way to the finish line. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The church is divided about how God currently treats the nation of Israel.

Mitch has been looking into this and wants your take on an issue, Dr. Lutzer. He asks, do you believe in replacement theology? That is, that the church replaces Israel and that God no longer has any special plans for the Jewish nation.

Mitch, the answer is no. I do not believe in replacement theology. And you're absolutely right. Replacement theology says that the church actually takes the place of Israel in God's economy and God is totally finished with the nation Israel. But you know, when you read the Old Testament and you might want to read, for example, Jeremiah 33 and other passages where it says so clearly that as long as sun and moon endure, the nation of Israel shall remain before me.

And then think of it this way. Think of the words of the angel to Mary. He shall be great. He shall be called the son of the highest. The Lord God shall give onto him the throne of his father, David, and he shall rule over the kingdom of Judah, et cetera. Now, has that been fulfilled?

I don't think so. And yet Jesus is going to be sitting on the throne of David. I interpret that to mean ruling from Jerusalem someday. And so I don't believe in replacement theology.

There are other implications to this. I could go on a long time, but just read the prophets of the Old Testament. Read the continual repetition of God saying again and again, I will bring a remnant back into the land. And then ask yourself, has this been fulfilled? No, because even after the captivities, after Israel has been so disciplined by God, you still have those promises.

So I believe in a future fulfillment for Israel. Thank you, Mitch, for your question. And thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635, North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. It's possible to go from great blessing to times of great trial. That's what happened to Jesus, who was led by God into the wilderness. Next time, lessons we can learn from the desert, the devil, and you. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-01 22:27:55 / 2023-11-01 22:36:15 / 8

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