The Best Choices We Can Ever Make
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 17, 2015
*All of us make choices in life, and when you think about it, it's amazing how many choices we make every day.
I am so glad that you chose to be here with us this morning.
You didn't have to be here.
Well, there may be a few of us who had to be here today.
But in that case, someone else made the right choice for you.
*This morning we are going to focus on the most important choices in life.
And in order to do that, let me ask you to open your Bibles to the Old Testament Book of Ruth.
*Before we read the Scripture today, we need to know a little background.
Ruth's story took place during the time when the judges ruled in Israel.
It was a period when God's people continued to move from disobedience to defeat to deliverance.
*The last verse in the book just before Ruth helps us to understand why.
Judges 21:25 says, "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
That sounds a whole lot like the United States in 2015.
But back in Israel, everyone did what was right in their own eyes, because God's people had hardened their hearts.
As a result, sin was rampant.
*In Ruth 1:1, we will read that because there was a famine in Bethlehem, a man took his wife and two sons to live in the country of Moab.
That famine was a direct consequence of the deliberate disobedience of God's people. . .
*At the time, Moab had rich soil and plenty of rain, so this man went to a place where he thought his crops wouldn't fail.
But Moab was a long-time, bitter enemy of Israel, much like the fanatical enemies that surround Israel today.
*Back in Numbers 25, the Moabites had led Israel into immorality and pagan worship.
And in Deuteronomy 23:3, Moses spoke these words from the LORD about Moab: "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the LORD forever."
*All of this tells us that Ruth's father-in-law was trying to flee the LORD's judgment on His own people.
But Ruth's father-in-law was doubly disobeying God by going to live among the Moabites.
*Well, Elimelech died and then about ten years later, both of his sons died.
That left the three widows in a desperate situation, especially Ruth's mother-in-law, Naomi.
She had no Social Security, no 401k, no IRAs, nothing but a desperate 80-mile walk to try and find some help.
*With this background in mind, let's read Ruth 1:1-16, thinking about the right choices for our lives.
*The story of Ruth reminds us that our right choices will make all the difference in the world.
And today's Scripture shows us four of the best choices we can ever make in life.
1. First: Choose the right priorities.
*That's what Ruth was doing in vs. 16, when she told Naomi, "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you."
That word "entreat" has the idea of sincerely or anxiously urging someone to do something, even begging someone to do something.
So in effect, Ruth was saying, "Naomi, please stop begging me to go back home to Moab.
I want to do the right thing.
I want to help you."
*Ruth made this right choice even in the worst of times.
Her husband was dead.
She was a poor widow.
She could have gone back to her family and friends, like Orpah.
But Ruth chose the right priorities.
She chose to stay with Naomi and help her.
*What matters in our lives?
In a bad situation, will we just help ourselves, or will we help others?
Ruth knew that Naomi had lost so very much and that she needed a friend.
Ruth chose the right priorities, and so should we.
*Brian Atwood explained that "the interesting thing is: We can help ourselves out of trouble when we decide to help others out of trouble. . .
You see, we usually get a bad case of the blues when we're focused on our self.
But when we focus on meeting the needs of someone else, it can also be good medicine for us.
God made it that way on purpose, because He wants us to be like Him: Giving, unselfish, and ministering to the needs of others."
*Dean Rhine said: "There is never a bad time to love other people.
And real love endures, no matter what the circumstances are.
As Proverbs 17:17 says: 'A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.'"
*Young Ruth chose the right priorities, and that's what God wants us to do.
But choosing the right priorities can be hard.
Sometimes you will not be appreciated.
Naomi did not appreciate what Ruth was trying to do.
Naomi tried to persuade Ruth to go back to Moab five different times!
*We see this starting in vs. 8-9:
8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. . .
9 May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband."
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud
*Then in vs. 10-11:
10. . .
(They) said to her, "Surely we will return with you to your people.''
But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me?
Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?"
*In vs. 12-13:
12. "Turn back, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have a husband.
If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons,
13. would you wait for them till they were grown? . .
*Finally, in vs. 15, Orpah had already left, and as Ruth was clinging to her mother-in-law, Naomi said: "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.''
*Now, Naomi was a believer in the one true LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But there she was in vs. 15, basically saying, "Go back to your gods.
Go back to your false gods, Ruth." -- What in the world was Naomi thinking?
*Young people, this reminds us that you are going to get a lot of horrible guidance as you go forward in life.
You are going to encounter teachers, co-workers, and misguided friends who will try to tell you that wrong is right, and right is wrong.
Don't let yourself be deceived.
Let God's Word be the ultimate guide for both your beliefs and your behavior.
*Naomi reminds us that even other Christians can give us some terrible advice.
Ruth will be eternally grateful that she ignored Naomi's guidance.
And in the end, you will never regret following God's Word.
*Naomi did not appreciate what Ruth was trying to do, but Ruth did the right thing anyway.
She chose the right priorities, and so should we, because it will always make a difference
2. Choose the right priorities.
-- And choose the right place.
*That's what Ruth did in vs. 16, when she said, "Where you go, I will go; and where you live, I will live."
Ruth was blessed beyond measure, because she chose the right place.
And only the Lord knows how much we will be blessed when we do the same.
*I remember 42 years ago, in June of 1973, when the Lord led me to Louisiana.
Living in Georgia at the time, I had no idea that I would be moving out to Louisiana.
In fact this was one of the last places I would have wanted to live.
*And I was as lost as I could be at the time, but God made it crystal clear that this was the place where He wanted me to move.
Three weeks later, I met my future wife.
Two years after that, I wound up teaching at Woodlawn Junior High in West Monroe, even though we had tried to move to Shreveport.
A few weeks after that, one of my co-workers invited us to McClendon Baptist Church, and we went.