Pursued By Grace Series-Sermon #3
COMING HOME THE HARD WAY
Intro: A foolish old farmer, so the story goes, concluded one day
that the oats he had fed his mule for years were simply costing him
too much. So he hatched a plan: he mixed a little sawdust in with the
feed, and then a little more the next day, and even more the next,
each time reducing the amount of oats in the mix.
The mule didn't seem to notice the gradual change, so the
farmer thought things were fine and kept decreasing the proportion
of oats. But weeks later, on the day he finally fed the poor beast
nothing but sawdust, the mule finished the meal and fell over dead.
A silly tale, perhaps, but it serves as a parable of the
backslider--the Christian who slips further and further away from
God through unrepented sin or neglect. Though we know our souls
cannot survive on spiritual sawdust, we may well convince ourselves
that a little won't hurt too much, and a little less real spiritual food
won't be missed. Then, over time, the proportion of sawdust
increases while the oats gradually disappear. Before long, the
change is complete, and our starved, sawdust-stuffed spiritual life
Surely this is how Naomi found herself in Moab with a dead
husband and two dead sons. She never meant for it to happen, but
one day she woke up to find that she was miles away from where
the Lord wanted her to be. This passage is all about how Naomi
found her way home to Bethlehem and to the place fo blessing.
I know that I am preaching to some people who have allowed a
little sin here or a little slackness there and today, you find yourself
in a place, spiritually, that you never thought possible. You look
around at all that you have lost as a result of your you backslidden
condition and you wonder if there is hope for your spiritual
restoration. The answer to that question is "Yes!" And this passage
has something to say about how that can happen in your life. Let's
watch as Naomi returns to Bethlehem and think on the thought "Coming Home The Hard Way."
I. V. 19a THE ARRIVAL IN BETHLEHEM
(Ill. The trip from Moab to Bethlehem would have taken between
7-10 days. It would have required them to cross the river Jordan
and to climb the 2000 plus feet in elevation required to reach
Bethlehem. It would have been easy to stop short of the city, but
they continued until they were where they were supposed to be!
Ill. Repentance is the same way! Don't stop until you have come
all the way back!) (Note: There is no record of their
conversation as they traveled. This reminds us that a person's
repentance is a private matter. It is between them and the Lord
and we cannot judge their condition by what they do or by what
they don't do!)
A. To The City Of God's Praise - (Judah = Praise) Bethlehem
was the place where the Lord was honored and exalted.
There was no praise in Naomi's heart when she was in
Moab. That child of God who is away from the Father's
house cannot have a heart of praise, nor can their life be
honoring to the Lord!
B. To The City Of God's Presence - (Ruth 1:6) God had
visited His people in Bethlehem. While Naomi was in Moab,
she was away from the Lord's presence! When a saint is
away from the Lord's will, he cannot enjoy the presence of
God! (Ill. Jonah - Jonah 1:3) When a believer returns, he
can once again enjoy the blessed presence of the Lord, Psa.
C. To The City Of God's Provision - (Bethlehem = "House Of
Bread") It was in the city of Bethlehem that Naomi would find
the best of God's provisions. It was thee where she could be
fed! So it is with the saint. God's best blessings are reserved
for those who will stay close to where He is working!
D. To The City Of God's People - She returned to a place of
kindred spirits and like-minded people. In Moab she was
different! In Bethlehem, she belonged! So it is with the
wayward child of God! Can you think of those who have
wandered away from the place where God meets with His
people? Thank God, they (or you) can come home again!
II. V. 19b-21 THE ANNOUNCEMENT TO BETHLEHEM
(Ill. "Moved about them". Means the city was disturbed and in
an uproar. Naomi's return to Bethlehem alone, broke and in the
company of a Gentile made news all over town!)
A. V. 21 She Spoke Of God's Providence - "The LORD hath
brought me home again." She told of how the Lord worked
to bring her home. I wonder how many times she had to tell
of the death of her husband and her sons? (Note: It was still
home! Ill. "I will return to my father's house.", Luke 15.)
(Ill You can run from the Lord, but you cannot hide - Ill. Jonah!)
B. V. 20-21 She Spoke Of God's Punishment - "Hath
testified; hath afflicted" She seems to blame all this on the
Lord, but it was all the result of her own choices! (Note: Her
words revel her heart, "I went out...") (Note: "Naomi" =
"Pleasant"; "Mara" = "Bitter") (Note: Evidently, Elimelech
was a wealthy man when he left Bethlehem for Moab, v. 21
She left full and returned home empty. The Lord will fill you
up, but the plan of the devil is to empty you out!) (Note: God
knows how to get our attention!)
C. V. 21 She Spoke Of God's Patience - She brought about
her own troubles, but the Lord worked hard in her life to bring
her home! Why her and not Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion?
Perhaps his heart was fixed, but Naomi's was still teachable,
she had not allowed her heart to be hardened. (Ill. A Seared
Conscious - 1 Tim. 4:2.) (Note: Thank God for His
patience in our lives!)
III. V. 22 THE ANTICIPATION IN BETHLEHEM
A. It Was A Time Of Blood - The time of barley harvest was
also the time of Passover. A time to shed the blood of the
lamb and commemorate the deliverance of God's people
from sin, Ex. 12. It is a picture of coming home through the
blood, 1 John 1:7-10. Thank God ,the blood of the Lamb is
sufficient to take care of the sins of the wayward saint!
B. It Was A Time Of Bounty - This was also the time of the Feast of the Firstfruits, Lev. 23:1-14. A time when the first
of the barley harvest was offered in a wave offering before
the Lord as an of gratitude for the harvest that was about to
be reaped. When the priest made the wave offering, he was
saying, "This is just the first, there is more in the way!"
(Note: Jesus is presented as the "Firstfruits from the dead"
in the New Testament, 1 Cor. 15:20; 23!) (Note: It is always
a time of harvest when a wandering child returns home!) (Ill.
C. It Was A Time Of Beginning - Naomi wanted her name to
be changed to "Mara." But, when the Holy Spirit mentions
her in verse 22, He calls her "Naomi". She may have been
"bitter" in heart, but the Lord had some "pleasant" blessings
ahead for this woman. (Note: "Is this Naomi?" The people
of Bethlehem were amazed at her appearance and
problems, (Ill. Sin brings along trouble!) but the Lord was
about to give her blessings and glories that she could not
have been imagined! While people may mourn over the
troubles of the sinner, but there is joy in heaven over a
repentant sinner, Luke 15:7.)
Conc: My friends, where has this message found you today? Has
sin and worldly living stripped you of all the Lord has done in your
life? Do you need a fresh start today?
Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ told the story of a boy who
left his father's house to find fun and adventure in the world. When
he had lost everything he owned and wound up in a place he never
thought he would be, he decided to go home. What he found was
a father ready to forgive him, love him and restore him to a place of
perfect fellowship and blessing. Is that what you need today? If so,
then what you need is just steps away. Will you come?
Others need to come to the Lord for salvation. You have nothing
but the sorrow of sin today and the prospect of Hell tomorrow.
Jesus Christ died for you. If you will come to Him today, He will save
you by His grace.