Craig Groeschel - Finding the Love You Want
For those of you that are committed followers of Jesus, you are all in wanting to follow Jesus and honor Him with every part of your life. If you're a committed follower of Jesus, how in the world do you meet someone and date someone and marry someone in a way that honors God in our culture today? Because if any of you noticed it's complicated. Type it in the comment section, it's complicated. If you think it's complicated, somebody say it's complicated It's complicated. It's incredibly complicated, man.
How do you even like meet someone if you're a Christian? Do you need like some Christian pickup lines? You walk into LifeGroup carrying your YouVersion Bible app on your phone just so they see it, and you walk up to someone and you say, "Is it hot in here? Or is that just the Holy Ghost burning inside of you"? Do you see someone praising God with no wedding ring on their praise finger? And after church you say, "You must be a Bible verse, 'cause I wanna memorize you". How do you do it? Do you walk up, I've got more. Do you want more? I've got more. Do you walk up to someone and say, "Your name must be Faith because you're the substance of all things I've been hoping for".
Now I kind of just joking, but like for real, how do you meet and how do you date and how do you marry and how do you honor someone in this very complicated culture? Because if you haven't noticed, the culture's view on marriage is changing right before us every single moment of the day. And in fact, for the first time in our lifetime, the majority of adults are actually not married. And I'll give you some statistics that are quite revealing. I'll give you three of them. The first one is this. In the last five decades, marriage rates in the US have dropped by nearly 60%. Another thought that is sobering is that 63% of men under the age of 30 are choosing to be single. They're choosing, so if you're looking for a man under 30 and you're going, "Where are they"? They're intentionally sitting on the bench. And if you ask them why, they would say, "Because dating's a hassle. It feels like going on a job interview. We like the freedom. And besides why buy the cow if the milk is free"?
Can we be adults in here and talk about what kind they might say? That's kind of what they're thinking along the way, that's where the world is. And then a big issue that we see right now is that 77% of millennials prefer to live with their partner before marriage. And they might argue, you know, why would you buy a car without test driving at first? And this is kind of a mindset today that marriage is not as important, marriage is not something that the culture values. And so people are delaying marriage or avoiding marriage. And yet almost everyone you meet still has this craving for that someone special. And so if they do get married, when they do get married, tragically about half or so of those marriages end up in divorce.
That's heartbreaking and breaks the heart of God. And then perhaps the other half that don't divorce, many of those still struggle. When we look on at the state of marriages today, we'd have to agree that something is not working yet the culture continues to do what the culture does. And that's why I've always said, "If you do what most people do, you'll get what most people get. If you want something different, you have to take a different approach". And that's what we're gonna look at today in the book of Ruth. We're gonna look at a different approach to getting to know someone and working toward a marriage that honors God. I'm calling this message: "Finding The Love That You Want".
God, we pray that your word would speak life to us, build our faith. And God give us the tools and the resources to date, marry, and honor you in all of our relationships. We pray this in Jesus' name and everybody said amen. Amen.
Let's dive into Ruth. We're gonna do a little review because the backstory is really important. If you miss last week, let me go over the highlights to catch you up the book of Ruth. This is a story of an ordinary family of four that lived in Bethlehem. And when there was a famine in Bethlehem, the father, the husband got worried about feeding his family. So he left Bethlehem and he went to Moab about 50 miles away. And this was a massive mistake beyond measure because number one, God said, "Don't marry the people of Moab. Don't even go to Moab because this was a people that was founded through incest". They worship the false god called Chemosh. She would actually make child sacrifices to this god. God even said that Moab is his Wash basin. That's what God said in scripture.
So this dad is worried about his family. So during the famine they leave Bethlehem, they go to Moab in order to save the family. And the dad and the two sons ended up dying in Moab. It's a heartbreaking start to the story. Chapter one, it starts with heartbreak and loss. And so Naomi turns Moab, leaves Moab and returns to Bethlehem. And in Moab she actually had two sons that were there, they married Moabite women. And at the end of this, she decides to go back, but one of them stays back in Moab. And we see the story pick up when Ruth makes her famous statement to Naomi. Naomi's going back to Bethlehem, she's leaving Moab to go back to Bethlehem and Ruth, one of the daughters says, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God".
She makes the declaration of loyalty and she turns away from the god of Moab. She turns to the God of Bethlehem. This is her moment of salvation and she becomes new. What happens? Naomi, the mother-in-law and Ruth, the new believer, new follower of God returned to Bethlehem, they're homeless, they're hopeless and they are hurting. Some of you are hurting today. Some of you're in a very painful place today. Chapter one of Ruth starts with heartbreak. The good news is today we're turning a page. We're starting in chapter two. Today, chapter one comes to an end and we're in chapter two. Chapter one is behind us and we're in chapter two.
I don't know who this is for, but metaphorically speaking, for some of you, I believe God is gonna turn a page in your story. You've been stuck for a long time in chapter one, and right now in God's Word, God is going to do something in your life, show you something, move in a way, He's going to turn a page in your life. Chapter one will be behind you, today we're in chapter two. You're going to discover some good news whenever you leave Moab and you go to Bethlehem. When you turn away from Moab, you'll find God's blessings in Bethlehem. Today we're in chapter two. If you're ready for chapter two say, "We're ready for two". Type it in the comment section, we're ready for chapter two.
Let's dive in chapter two, verse one says this, "Now Naomi had a relative of her husband on her husband's side, a man of standing". Everybody say, "A man of standing". Type that in the comment section, a man of standing. A man of standing. Another version says he was a strong man, a man of standing. He was a strong man. "From the clan of a Elimelek, and his name was Boaz". He is a strong man, he is a man of standing. Now, when it says he was a strong man, this does not necessarily mean he had nice arms and wore a tight fitting T-shirt. But as some would say, "If his shirt fits, wear it". I don't know. He wasn't necessarily strong in that way. What it means as a strong man or a man of standing means he had internal strength. It means he had character. It means he had integrity.
Interestingly enough in the Hebrew language, it actually means that he was a man of wealth. Or even more literally, he was a man of property. He had property, he was a man of standing. Which if you can allow me to play with this for a moment, I would say, ladies, that a man of standing is way better than a man of sitting, right? You don't want someone who is passive. You don't want someone who is complacent. You want someone who is standing, is a man with a work ethic, with some drive, who might even own something and have a job. What you want is you want a Boaz. A Boaz is a man of standing. You want a Boaz. Everybody say, "I want a Boaz". You want a Boaz. This one country preacher said, he said, "You don't want no lazy Az. You sure don't want no broke Az. And you don't want no dumb Az. You want a Boaz". You want a Boaz.
Can we have a little fun today? Are you okay with that? I said az, A-Z. I said Az. Az is what I said, in case you get all freaked out. Some of you say, "You just described my last three boyfriends". You don't want that, you want a Boaz. And we see a little bit about this story. Look at the next verse, says this. In verse two, "Ruth, the Moabite said to Naomi, 'Let me go to the field and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone else in whose eyes I find favor.' Naomi said to her, 'Go ahead, my daughter.'" So you go, get to work. "So Ruth went out, and entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters".
Now you may say, "What does that mean to glean"? Is very interesting. To glean is something that you can read about in Leviticus 19 when God commanded the Israelites to let the poor follow behind them. And so if you were harvesting something and you dropped a little bit of the wheat or a little bit of the grain on the ground, you were not to pick it up so that those who are widows or those who were outcast or those who were poor could come behind and you would leave it for them and they would pick it up. And that was God's way of providing for them, like God's food bank or his soup kitchen to say, "I wanna care for those who don't have what everyone else has". And so this was what Ruth was doing as a widow. So to go out and glean and pick up what they left over.
So we see in the next verse, "As Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened," another version says, "It just so happened". Everybody say, "It just so happened". "And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz". And as it happened. It just so happened. And this when you read that is God winking at us. It just so happened. And this brings up one of the major themes in the book of Ruth, it just so happened. When you look at the book of Ruth, you're gonna notice that there are no supernatural miracles from God. There's no burning bush, there's no parting of the Red Sea, there's no voices from heaven. But though you don't see supernatural miracles in the book of Ruth, what you do see is the supernatural providence of God, the providential power of God all the way through the book of Ruth.
What is the providence of God? That's a fancy way of saying it's whenever God uses natural circumstances to bring about his supernatural plans. It's when you think you're just so happening, going to this one place and you just so happen to meet someone. And that just so happens to lead to something else. And it just so happens to lead to the blessings of God. This is the providential power of a good God. Romans 8:28 says, "We know that this God, He works in all things, in everything. In the good things and in the bad things".
In the chapter one that you don't like, in the blessings of chapter two. He works in all things to bring about His good will. He works in all things to bring about good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. She just so happens to be working in the field of a man named Boaz. If this story were a movie, we know it's a rom-com, right? It's a chick flick. And in every chick flick there's gonna be the plot twist. This is where Ruth is at her lowest. She's gleaning, picking up the leftovers. Enter the handsome hero.
Now, he may not have been handsome, we don't know, but I like to visualize him in handsome. He might might've been ugly, but even if he was ugly, he was a business owner and that was a good thing. We don't know what he looked like. She might've been happy when she saw his looks, he might not have been. When I met Amy, people told her it was a blind date, we had never met before. They told her, "He looks like Tom Cruise". I walked up to her apartment, I knocked on the door, she opened the door, a big smile at her face, and she went, "Oh". But I'm here to tell you I was a man of standing. I was a man of standing. And I talked my way into closing that deal as fast as I possibly could. So she just happens to come across a man named Boaz. Why do you think she just so happened to come across Boaz? We got a little clue.
If you remember last week in chapter one, Naomi, the mother-in-law actually prayed for Ruth. Do you remember what she prayed? She prayed, "May the Lord show you kindness and may he bring you a husband". She prayed that in chapter one. And when she prayed, God listens. And I wanna remind you, every time you pray to God, He's always listening. God cares about what you care about. And when you cry out to God, God just so happens to show up. That's why praying for, if you have the desire in your heart one day to get married, praying for your future spouse is a really wise thing to do.
If you're a parent and you want your kids to marry well, it's a wise thing as a parent to pray for your children's future spouse. I shoot straight with you like some of the kids that came around my kids, we prayed some of 'em in, and we prayed a couple of 'em out, you know. And because we wanna be praying and when we pray, God just so happens to show up and God just so happens to do what only He can do. So, she's just out working the fields. She's just doing what? She's just being responsible. She's working in the field and she just so happens to meet Boaz. And verse four tells us this, "While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters". And what did he say to his workers? He said, "The Lord be with you. The Lord bless you".
What do we see with this guy? We see very clearly he's a leader, he's kind to his people, and the first thing he's talking about is the Lord. The Lord bless you, the Lord bless you. Now, I've said this before and I made a lot of you mad. So if I haven't made you mad yet, I'll go ahead and try to make you mad right now. If you're a serious disciple of Jesus and you want to marry someone who is a serious disciple of Jesus, and you meet someone and you don't hear about Jesus or God or church or their faith somewhere relatively early in the conversation, chances are they are not serious about their faith.
"Oh, but Craig, that's too way, blah, blah, blah, people have their interests". Listen, people tend to talk about first what they value most. If you are a committed follower of Jesus and you're not hearing something about their faith early on, chances are they may be a Christian but they're not as passionate as you're gonna want somebody to be when you go through life needing the power of God to help you through every single day. "The Lord bless you, the Lord keep you". He comes out and saying to his people. And what I love about Boaz is notice he's not a priest, he's not a prophet, he's not a pastor and yet he has a ministry, right? He's working his mission field. His fields of harvest is also his fields of ministry.
And that's a reminder to every single one of you, you don't have to be in full-time ministry to be in full-time ministry. Meaning, you don't have to have some kind of title or work for a nonprofit or go to some other country as a missionary to be a missionary in your school. You don't have to go to overseas to preach the gospel, to let the way you live preach the gospel. So this is just an ordinary business owner who's letting the light and love of God shine. And while he's serving God, he just so happens to notice Ruth. And what did he notice? Well, to be candid, if she had an online dating profile, it wouldn't have been ideal.
Think about it. If you looked her up and if she was honest 'cause not everybody's honest. Everybody has one good picture. One good one. Well, how'd they do that? Well, that was that one good one they took seven years ago. To be candid, if she had an online profile, it wouldn't have been something to be really drawn to. What do we know about her? Well, she was a Moabite. Meaning she was from the wrong people group, and she used to worship the wrong god. And she was widowed, which means she was not a virgin, which was a big deal at that time. She was homeless, she was destitute, and she came with worse of all, a grumpy, old mother-in-law. Her travel partner has some real baggage, right? We could say she had a complicated past. She had a complicated past, but she did not let her past define her. I'm gonna tell you right now, don't let your past talk you out of God's plan for your future. Amen. Don't let it happen.
Some of you right now, "Well, I can never because I whatever". I had a complicated past before I was a Christian and lived in a sinful lifestyle, and all that disqualifies me. At who might prepare me to speak to someone who's there to say, "If God can redeem me, He can do the same thing for you". Don't let your past talk you out of what God wants to do in your present and in your future. So let's look at what happened as they're gonna meet. Boaz asked his foreman, "Hey, I see that girl over there. Who's that young woman over there? Who does she belong to"? That was the old version of creeping on somebody's profile. That's what he's doing right now. He's gonna find out I want some more details. And the foreman said, "She's a young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. And this woman, she's been hard at work ever since".
All of a sudden, Boaz, a man of standing, is looking on at this unlikely woman, and he notices some things that stand out in her. Gentlemen, what are you looking for in a woman of God that stands out from what you're gonna see in most people in culture today. We see four things that he would've noticed in her. What do we see? We see, first of all, she's faithful to God. The second thing we see is she's loyal to her family. The third thing we see is she's a hard worker. And finally, she honors God morally. First of all, she's faithful to God. She turned away from her people and the false god to serve the God of Israel. She's loyal to her family.
The other one, Orpah, she stayed back in Moab. But Ruth made the sacrificial decision to stay with Naomi and go to Bethlehem. She's a hard worker. She's not waiting around for someone to meet her needs, she's not crying out she's a victim. She's up early gleaning in the field. And finally she honors God morally. How do we know this? Because almost every widow during that time was forced into prostitution in order to pay the bills and she refuses to do what most do, and she's out working hard, sweating in the heat of the day. She honors God morally. we see some qualities that stand out. If you want something different, you wanna be something different. You wanna honor God, you wanna be faithful to people, you wanna be a hard worker, and you wanna honor God by living a life that's pleasing to God morally.
And the text goes on to tell us this. Scripture says, "Boaz went over and said to Ruth, 'Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain.'" Now watch this, he says, "Don't go to any other fields. I've warned the young men not to treat you roughly". In other words, I'm gonna protect them from being inappropriate to you. And then watch as he said, "And when you're thirsty, help yourself to the water that they have drawn from the well". He's protecting her, he's caring for her needs. And then what does he do next? The next thing he does is he prays for her. He prays for her in verse 12 and this is what he prays. "May the Lord repay you for what you've done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge". And all of a sudden we see some qualities that stand out in Boaz.
What are the four qualities that stand out in Boaz? Let's look at 'em. Number one, he honors her. Number two, he protects her. Number three, he provides for her. And number four, he prays for her. He honors her. Ladies, sounds old fashioned, and it is. You want someone who opens the door for you, and lets you go first, and takes you to a restaurant that you have to tip, and pays the bill. He protects her. He's gonna protect her from ungodly men. And you want someone who's gonna protect you, not just from men, but protect your heart and protect your purity. He provides for her. We're gonna see next week, he's incredibly generous, and he prays for her. You want someone who prays for you and prays with you because you need the power and the presence of God in your life. That's what you're looking for in a man.
And so men, that's what you wanna develop in your own heart. You wanna be someone that honors women and would protect them and be a blessing to them. And we see what happens next, it gets pretty emotional to me. This, scripture says, "At mealtime Boaz said, 'Come over here. Have some bread, and dip it in the wine vinegar.' When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. And she ate all that she wanted and she had some left over". She had all that she wanted and she had some left over. Because we serve a God who does exceedingly and abundantly more than all you could ask, think, or imagine according to His power that is at work within His people.
What you want is you want someone that doesn't just meet the needs that you have but exceeds your expectations by blessing you with the blessings from God in heaven and loving you in a way that would honor God and help you feel secure in all that you do. This is a very different approach. Instead of sliding up into someone's DMs going, "Hey, what's up? Wanna chill? Hey, let's go to the bars and hump and bump". Right? I'm being serious because this is very, very different approach. We're gonna see much more next week of how to take a different approach if you want a different result.
I wanna pause and slow it down, and try to bring this to a very powerful moment with God and summarize what we've seen so far in this story. Because in so many ways, all of us, we are a lot like Ruth. What do we know about her? She was a Moabite and she had sinned against God. And in a very similar way, we're all Moabites. We've sinned against God. We've fallen short of His standards and sinned against Him. She came empty handed with nothing to offer. And so do we, our hearts are deceitful above all else. Everything good she had would be given to her in the same way everything good we have is gleaned from the goodness of a God of love, a God of mercy, and a God of grace.
And Boaz blessed Ruth with more than she ever expected. And our God will bless us with more than we ever deserve. His grace that covers our sins, His power to make us new, His peace that goes beyond our human ability to even understand. And I want you to notice, Boaz invited Ruth to his table in the same way that Jesus invites us to His table, where He offers us the bread and the wine, His body and His blood. So that no matter what your past is like, you can be made new. If you're stuck in chapter one, it's time to make the change. It's time to turn away from Moab and turn to the God of Bethlehem. Because when you turn away from Moab, you find God's blessings in Bethlehem. If you're hurting and you're stuck, maybe today God will turn your page.
If you're caught in an addiction, maybe as you cry out to him today, God will turn the page. For those of you that are losing hope, maybe God will turn the page, a new chapter. You're battling depression or anxiety, fear, mental health issues, maybe today you turn into chapter two. Because whatever you're going through, God hears the cries of your hearts, He hears your prayers. And when you pray, God just happens to show up. And through His providential power, He takes natural circumstances and uses them for your good to bring about His divine purposes in your life. That's how good He is. So no matter what you're going through, it just so happens that you're hearing truth from God's Word today. It just so happens, God may speak to you a word that builds your faith.
Today, chapter one is finished. Chapter two has begun. You may be struggling in your marriage and it just so happens God may speak to your spouse today. This is the kind of wife that you can be. This is the kind of man of God that you can become. It just so happens that if your faith is low, God may build your faith. When you hear His word, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. It just so happens God brought you here to hear this word, to build your faith. Chapter one is closing, chapter two begins. God is here, He is with you, and He is for you.
God thank you today that you're gonna do a work in the lives of so many people. Holy Spirit, do what only you can do. By your providential power and the truth of your word, build our faith, God, as we trust in you.
With everybody eyes closed, nobody looking around. I wonder how many of you're stuck somewhere in a chapter one right now and you're ready for chapter two. Would you lift up your hands. Lift up your hands and say, "Yes, I'm ready for God to do something new. I'm ready for God to do. I need a miracle from God". Lift up your hands. I need a touch from God. I'm crying out to God.
Father, I pray today that for those that are stuck in chapter one that your Holy Spirit would do a work. If you're online, just type in the comments section, "I'm ready for chapter two". God, we thank you that you make all things new. That even if we're stuck in a chapter that we don't like, you can still work in that chapter to bring about good by faith, God. We ask that You work, God, that You move. That by Your providential power, You would work in the very things that we may not even want to bring about something good. Build our faith, God as we trust in you today.
As you keep praying today, some of you, you're about to get the new chapter that you've always wanted. You might feel very stuck in Moab. You feel stuck and dead in your sins. Lemme just speak very, very clearly because sin is not a popular word today at all. It is word that is very true to all of us. It's in scripture that every single one of us, we've all sinned. What does that mean? That just means that we've fallen way, way short of God's standards and you know it, you feel bad for some things you've done. There's a part of you, if you're honest, you're gonna, "Yeah, I've done some things that are wrong".
And so when we think about God, we wonder like, you know, how do we qualify for him after we've done so many things that are wrong? And the amazing thing is that we just can't on our own. And in His love and mercy, and we're gonna find as we go through this story, out of the brokenness of a Moabite woman comes the lineage of our savior, Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus? He is the son of God who never sinned, who is perfect in every single way. Jesus, the Son of God, invites us to His table. We don't deserve to be there, but He gives us the bread and the wine. It's His body that was broken for us. It was His blood that was shed for us on a cross. He died and rose again so that we could be forgiven.
Whoever you are today, if you know that you're not walking with God. Even when I talk about it and say, "Hey, if you're a true disciple of Jesus". There are some of you like me. You grew up kind of believing in God, kind of going to church, but you're not really walking with Him. Let's just call it what it is, you're really not. You're really not. What are we gonna do today? We're gonna step outta Moab, we're gonna step into Bethlehem, we're gonna step away from our sin. We're gonna say, "Jesus, we wanna trust you as Lord". When you call on Him, He will hear your prayers, He'll forgive every sin and you start a new chapter. All the old is gone and everything becomes new, you belong to Him. Wherever you're watching from today, you just so happen to hear this message 'Cause your life has just so happened to be changed.
"I want His forgiveness, I need His grace today, I step away from my sin and I call on Jesus, I call on Him, I make Him my Lord, I make Him my Savior." - if that's you today, you know you need a salvation. Step away from Moab and step toward Bethlehem and say, "Yes. Jesus, I give you my life". That's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now. All over the place, lift them up high and say, "Yes". Right over here, praise God for you. Right back to your others today saying yes. That's my prayer right up here in this section. Say, "Yes Jesus, I'm surrendering my life to you". Right back over here. Come on church, let's thank God for what He's doing. Others today say, "I want His grace. Jesus, I need you, I surrender to you". Those of you online type it in the comment section, "I am surrendering my life to Jesus". And as you do, we're all gonna pray. Nobody prays alone. Pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me. Fill me with your spirit so I could know you, and I could serve you, and I could follow you for the rest of my life. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. I'm leaving Moab, I'm coming to Bethlehem. I give you my life. In Jesus' name I pray.