Faithlife Sermons

New Beginnings

Interludes  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  20:01
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Ruth accompanied a despairing Naomi home to Bethlehem out of a strong bond of loyalty. She did not expect anything from the move. Yet she gained a protector and a son, and even a place in the ancestry of the savior of the world! What pleasant surprises have we had in our own new beginnings?

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Introduction

This is our last regular Sunday gathering at the Groves’ place for the foreseeable future. I’m sure we all have mixed feelings about this, especially Nicole and Graham!
Whenever we change some part of our lives there is always a combination of trepidation and anticipation. I remember when Mable and I decided that we should move to Hong Kong. Our motives were primarily focused on Atalia, and giving her a chance to experience the Chinese half of her heritage, but we wondered how our business at the time would survive the move. That turned out to not be so important, since other factors hit the business much harder leading up to our move.
Obviously Mable wasn’t worried about the foreignness of Hong Kong, and I had visited quite a number of times, and lived in Asia for some years, so I wasn’t too worried, either. We did wonder how we’d handle the lack of space and pollution. None of us looked forward to leaving behind friends or family, but we could look forward to spending more time with Mable’s family, and I was pretty sure we’d make new friends (we did).
In the end, one of the joys of Hong Kong, for all of us, turned out not to be Hong Kong at all, but rather where it sits geographically. We found ourselves enjoying summer holiday trips to Europe! That was an unexpected pleasure of Hong Kong, and one I’ll always treasure.
You see, no matter how well prepared we are for changes, there are always surprises. Some are unpleasant, but there are always completely unexpected pleasant surprises, too. That’s what I want to talk about today.

Bible

I racked my brains for a new beginning in the Bible that wasn’t overtly religious, and finally realised that one we looked at last year fit the bill: Ruth’s move to Bethlehem with Naomi.
Now we’re all familiar with the story. Here’s a “Character Map” diagram that shows how the characters in the story move about in relationship to one another. You can see how Elimelech and Naomi’s family left Judah for Moab together, but eventually all died, except for Naomi, leaving her with her two daughters-in-law. Only Ruth returned with her. Ruth’s faithful care for Naomi attracted the attention of Naomi’s kinsman-redeemer, Boaz, and eventually Boaz offered to marry Ruth.
Let’s read the conclusion to this lovely story.
Ruth 4:13–22 NLT
13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!” 16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. 18 This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron. 19 Hezron was the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab. 20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon. Nahshon was the father of Salmon. 21 Salmon was the father of Boaz. Boaz was the father of Obed. 22 Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David.

A wonderful surprise

What a wonderful surprise it must have been for Naomi and Ruth for Ruth to end up giving birth to a baby boy. After so many years of misery—barrenness and death—both women are blessed with a strong defender and the blessing of a child. In our modern Western culture, this doesn’t sound as good as it should because we’ve forgotten the value of children and family. But for most people, there couldn’t be a better surprise.
Except that this child isn’t just any child. He’s the ancestor of the king of Israel, as the final paragraph of the story reveals! Wow, surprise on surprise.
And then on top of that we know, from our perspective many years later, that this child was the ancestor of an even more important person: Jesus.

Our new beginnings

Which brings us to our own stories of new beginnings. Now none of us are going to have as impressive a surprise to share as Ruth’s, but that’s OK. I shared my own story of a pleasant surprise in the new beginnings of moving to Hong Kong.
Let’s hear from others now, including Zoomers.
[Share stories]

Close

It’s worth remembering that God works all things together for the good of those who love him, so we can approach new beginnings with anticipation and joy.
Let’s pray,
Father, thank you that you work through us and through our circumstances, even when we don’t know what’s coming. Help us to trust you as you work in our lives.
In Jesus name,
Amen.
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