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I was reading recently a story of a cat that went on holiday with it’s Florida owners (obviously well loved), 300 kms from home. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view of cats), the cat got lost. 3 months later the cat arrives back home, 300 kms later, warn out paws and bleeding feet. That is a high level of homing instinct!
I want to use the story of Ruth, in the Bible, to illustrate how we can develop an instinct also. An instinct for blessing. We are born with a nature that can lean us the other way. In fact even after finding Christ we can still find ourselves with a fear of success, an instinct for making the wrong decisions. But there is another way.
1 In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there. 3 Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband. 6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland.
Naomi and family run from the House of God in a time of famine – tragedy hits. Out of the frying pan into the fire!
What do we do in a time of famine? Do we run from or do we run to? Do we try and escape or do we stay planted and dig deeper to find water. If you have an instinct to run from rather than to – your instinct is not for blessing – but you can turn that around – this is a turn around year for you.
Fortunately Naomi, and therefore Ruth, found her instinct for blessing:
- she RETURNED – ‘come back’ is first instinct of blessing – come back to Christ, come back to Church. Come back to prayer, come back to worship, come back to giving… do the ‘come back’ – there is blessing in the instinct to return.
Naomi told her daughter-in-laws to go home – she couldn’t give them a future, she had no more sons. Yet Ruth had an instinct about something … she knew there was benefit in sticking to Naomi.
14…they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth CLUNG TIGHTLY to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people & to her gods. You should do the same.” (Naomi was encouraging her back to false gods – Naomi was not in a good space – yet her instinct was to come home – your instinct to return to where you belong can save you)
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. … 19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked.
Church is a place of grace – we celebrate turn arounds. Friends bring friends to Church and they get saved here! Naomi wanted to change her name to Mara, wallow in her famine, but the Church did not allow it, they insisted on calling her Naomi. This is what Church does, it doesn’t let you stay the same!
The first thing we learn from Ruth about an instinct for blessing is :
- She was RELENTLESS for God AND His House
Ruth’s instinct for blessing made her determined to pursue God.
* Maybe today you have to get passionate again for Jesus. In order to get an instinct for blessing.
Now of course you can’t separate God from His Church, or loving His people. You can’t love God and not love and serve His Church. Jesus is passionate about His Church.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.
* Maybe today you have to get passionate again for the Church. In order to get an instinct for blessing.
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.
Jesus went ‘as usual’ to Church. It was habit. A habit is something we do automatically, daily, weekly, routinely, it overrides other possibilities.
* When habit rules over famine you will find water
After Naomi and Ruth return, Ruth doesn’t want to sit and do nothing, she goes out to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by the harvesters. She finds herself in the field of Boaz, a relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.
5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?” 6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been HARD AT WORK ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”
The next thing we learn from Ruth about an instinct for blessing is:
2. She matched her desire for God with appropriate ATTITUDE
She served, she worked hard, she did what it took. She could have said, well I’m from a place of famine, I deserve to be helped. And in fact people would have. But her attitude was different.
Her attitude was that of gratitude. I am grateful I am here, I will do what I can to build a future of blessing, I will serve others and find that place of blessing.
* Are you waiting for something to happen? Or are you moving yourself toward a place of blessing? It takes movement. Our attitude is everything. Our instinct for blessing is connected to our attitude.
As she did this she found doors opened for her, because she followed her instinct for blessing, with attitude. Boaz provided protection and on-going work.
11 Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
Your reputation is important, how you live will speak: if your out of work, find a voluntary job, whilst you are looking for employment. Got stuck at work, volunteer your time for a new project. Look to serve, look to encourage, be a voice that has a positive attitude in it.
At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.
* You will be invited to a table this year, if you have the right attitude.
Naomi encouraged her to pursue Boaz – Ruth remained true to the right way to go – she didn’t go after just any man, the easiest thing that came along – she went where the blessing was, one who could keep her close to the house. She didn’t pursue her future elsewhere – Abraham tried that with Hagar… don’t take the short cut – not everything that glistens is gold!
Her God instincts continued to win the day for her.
3. She wisely ATTACHED herself to blessing
She ended up marrying Boaz. She attached herself to blessing. In fact Boaz was from the family line of Perez, which means breakthrough, she attached herself to breakthrough.
This would not have been easy. She was not from the House of Israel, she was from a different culture. Sometimes we have to crossover in our thinking, in our cultural restrictions, in our fears to attach ourselves to that which has breakthrough and blessing in it.
We attach ourselves to people further down the road than we are, positive voices, friends that keep us on the right path.
Being relentless for God and His House, keeping the right attitude and building your life on principles that endure and alining yourself with blessing – this will develop an instinct for an incredible 2016.
See you in Church.