Craig Groeschel - Better Than You Can Imagine
Today I want to talk to those of you that might be disappointed in this season of your life. And for many of you, it's not that you don't believe in God, it is goodness you, you do believe in Him. But right now, you may not be seeing His goodness in your life. For some of you, you hoped maybe at this season that you would be financially strong, that you could be a blessing to a lot of people. But instead of being strong, many of you, you don't know how you're gonna make it through this month. You thought you'd be somewhere else and you're not. Or for some of you, you dreamed of having a God honoring marriage, but your dream got put on hold. Or worse yet, for some of you, your dream turned into a nightmare.
Some of you thought by this time in your life you'd be happy and content and have a great ministry and full of joy. Instead, you feel lonely and anxious and depressed. If you are hurting and maybe feel hopeless and you're trying to find the faith to hope for something better. I just wanna start by saying I am sincerely sorry and my heart hurts for you. And I get it because there are times when I'll preach with all the faith that I have, but on the inside, my heart is hurting as well. And so I'm praying that God would speak directly to some of you today, that He would give you hope and build your faith as we dive into the final edition of this study on the book of Ruth.
What I wanna do is I wanna give you some backstory and then I'm gonna give you the title and then we're gonna pray and then we're gonna dive in and God is gonna do what only God can do. So we'll look back, if you remember in Chapter 1, Ruth hit rock bottom. Do you remember that? She and Naomi both lost their husbands. They were widowed, they had no job, they had no means of financial support, they had no provision, and they really had no hope. We could say in Chapter 1, Ruth experienced heartbreak. She experienced loss and she experienced very, very real and deep pain. Then she makes a decision. Do you remember her decision? She decided to leave the sinfulness of the place she was in Moab and pursue the one true God of Israel in Bethlehem. And she went back to Bethlehem to pursue God. And in Chapter 2 we would see this that she worked and she waited and she served.
Instead of selling her body like many women would've been forced to do, she went and gleaned, she worked in the fields of a guy named Boaz and she served faithfully waiting on God. Boaz asked her to lunch. They had what appeared to be almost like a little date, and she got, she got pretty excited. Maybe this guy is the one. Maybe he's going to redeem me. He's an honorable man, he's a wealthy man. He's a man of standing. And then he kind of got busy and just overlooked her.
So in Chapter 3, we see she does a few things. She initiates, she surrenders and she trusts. She initiates, she put herself in the path of this guy very much in the path, meaning she put herself at the foot of his bed, which is not something we necessarily recommend in premarital counseling. But nevertheless, that's what she did. And she said, "Hey, remember me"? And she was available to him and she trusted God and she waited. And then this week we're gonna discover that Boaz actually redeems her and he marries her and God blesses them. And together they have a son called Obed, which means servant of God.
And in Chapter 4, we see God's goodness when she is redeemed by a man of God, she is restored by the blessings of God and all of the community starts rejoicing and celebrating the goodness of God in their lives. And it's a journey from Chapter 1 to 2 to 3 and to 4. I wanna talk to those of you who may feel stuck in Chapter 1. And I want you to hear me when I tell you that God loves you, He cares about you and He's with you. Some of you, you're in the in-between. You're waiting you, you're in Chapter 2. Stay faithful to God in Chapter 2. Keep trusting God in Chapter 3. And my prayer for you is that in Chapter 4, I pray that you discover... here comes my title. I pray that you discover that God's plans for you are better than you can imagine, because He's good, He's faithful and His word is true.
So God, today we pray for those who may be disappointed in their current chapter, that God, we would all find you, experience you, know you and be changed by you. We pray this in the name of your risen son Jesus. And all God's people said, amen and amen and amen.
Let's pick up where we left off last week. Do you remember Boaz wanted to redeem Ruth, but there was another relative who was more closely related and the author of the book calls him peloni almoni. Who remembers that? What does that mean? That means Mr. No name. That means muted name. That means John Doe. That means we're not even gonna say your name. And so Boaz goes and meets with peloni almoni. And basically Shrewdly works his plan and makes a deal so that he can marry Ruth, provide for her, protect her, bless her as his kinsman redeemer. And then he does this at the city gate, the place of business. And the elders there pray this prayer of blessing and they pray. May the Lord make Ruth like the women from whom the whole nation of Israel descended. May, may you prosper and be famous in Bethlehem.
The elders pray this one prayer of faith. And suddenly we see that one prayer resulted in a change life, a changed family, and ultimately a changed legacy that would impact us even to this day. One prayer. Never underestimate what God can do through the power of responding to one prayer. Some of you may be stuck right now and you may be one prayer away from the blessing that God wants to bring in your life. And so we actually see the answer to this prayer in Ruth Chapter 4:13. The elders prayed his prayer and then we see in one verse. "So Boaz took Ruth to his into his home and she became his wife. They got married, the two became one flesh. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant. And she gave birth to a son. The Lord enabled her to become pregnant and she gave birth to a son".
We see one verse as an answer to one prayer that clearly demonstrates how God can take years of brokenness and turn it into blessings. And when I say years of brokenness, you have to remember that Ruth and Naomi experienced 10 years of misery in Moab. In other words, sometimes a chapter may last for a little while and then she makes one decision. She decides to turn from Moab, turn to the God of Israel, return to Bethlehem. Someone prays one prayer of faith and the results are dramatic. It's not only a changed life, it's not only a changed family, but it is a changed legacy that even impacts all of us today. It's amazing. And how did this come about? There is a phrase in our verse that I don't want you to miss. And that is this, the Lord enabled. Who enabled, who brought it about? It was the Lord that enabled.
In fact, there is a phrase in Hebrew I wanna show you that is translated as the Lord enables it is the phrase Yahweh Way-Yit-Ten. Everybody say that. Say it aloud. Say Yahweh Way-Yit-Ten. If you wanna type that in online right now, let me just spell it for you so you'll type it the right way if you wanna type it in on online. Yahweh, Y-A-H-W-E-H, way, W-A-Y, yit, Y-I-T T-E-N. Everybody say it with me, Yahweh Way-Yit-Ten. I love that this phrase is actually translated different ways by different Bible translators. I'll show you four different ways, is translated the NIV says the Lord enabled, another version and ESV translates it as the Lord gave. Another version the CSB says the Lord granted. And finally the good news translation says the Lord blessed.
No matter how you say it, it was the Lord who did it. What did he do? He is a giving God. He is a granting God. He is an enabling God. And He is a blessing God. The Lord enabled. For you, there might be a different translation of the verb for you, it might not be the Lord enabled, but it might be the Lord provided or the Lord healed or the Lord answered, or the Lord restored for somebody it might be the Lord opened a door. The Lord proved Himself faithful. The Lord made a way when there didn't seem to be a way. It's the Lord who enables Yahweh Way-Yit-Ten. Whatever you're facing today, I came to tell somebody that God is able, our God is able. Our God is able. Our God is able. "Now to Him," Ephesians 3, "now to our God," who is what?
Say it with me, "Now to our God who is able to do immeasurably more. Not only what you can ask or think, but more than all you can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us". He is able. Whatever you need, God can do it and God can do even more than everything that you can imagine. Now, I know what some of you're thinking right now. Because I might be thinking the very same thing you're thinking. If He can, why didn't He? If He can do it, why hasn't He? If God is able, then why am I sitting here waiting on Him to do it? And I'm guessing, I don't know. But I'm guessing that might have been something similar that Ruth would've thought back in Chapter 1.
If you remember, her husband died, which wasn't her plan. And so she turned to God and she was very, very loyal to Naomi. Wherever you go, I go, wherever you be, you gotta be, my God, I'm sticking with you. And she's stunk with her grumpy, bitter mother-in-law. Then her sister or Oprah bounced. She's out. Her sister-in-law, she's gone. And so this woman who's broke, what does she do? She goes and works early in the morning till late at night, gleaning in the fields, just trying to have enough food to eat in order to survive. And finally after she's working her brains out and her fingers are raw, she meets a cute guy who might be the one who seems to be interested and then ghost her. "God, where are you? I thought you sent Boaz, a man of God, a man of standing. I thought he was gonna be the one to redeem me. And now here I am waiting. Where are you God? Why didn't you do what I thought you were gonna do?"
Maybe you ask, why didn't you heal the personal love when I prayed? Why didn't you save that marriage? Why didn't you come through in the way that I thought you would come through? Where are you God? And you're waiting. You're waiting. Stuck in Chapter 2 and stuck in Chapter 3. I wanna remind you, and this is for somebody today, that while you are waiting, God is still working. Even though you may not see it doesn't mean He's not active. And what I love about Ruth is even when she didn't see anything, she kept her faith and she didn't let her current situation or current circumstances define her view of God. She just kept on trusting. Why? Because Yahweh Way-Yit-Ten, God is able, whatever you need, He is able. He Has an answer for every problem that you face. We could say it this way, we could say, "He has a lifeline for every letter of the alphabet". In fact, I just went through the A, B, C, D, E, F all the way through just for fun to show you that God is able to give you whatever you need. What is God able to do?
A: He's able to answer your prayers.
B: God is able to bless you abundantly.
C: He can comfort you when you're hurting.
D: Deliver you from evil. He empowers you.
E: To do his will.
F: He forgives all of your sins. Praise God for that.
G: He gives you your daily bread.
H: He heals you when you are sick.
I: He illuminates your path.
J: He justifies you by his amazing grace.
K: He keeps you from stumbling.
L: God loves you no matter what.
M: He moves your mountains.
N: He will never leave you and He will never forsake you.
O: Our God overcomes all your enemies by the blood of the lamb and by the words of your testimony.
P: He provides for all of your needs.
Q: He quiets your darkest fears.
R: He restores what you lost.
S: He strengthens you when you're weak.
T: He transforms your life.
U: He understands what you're going through in your pain.
V: He vanishes your darkness.
W: He works all things together for good.
X: He extends you grace. And give me some grace too, 'cause I know that starts with an E, but there's an X right there and that is the best that I could do for you.
Y: He yearns for all of your heart.
Z: He zealously pursues you with this unconditional love.
Whatever you need, Yahweh Way-Yit-Ten, God is able, our God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than all you can ask, think or imagine. Whatever you can think of our God can do and He can do even more. Whatever you need, Yahweh Way-Yit-Ten. Our God is able whatever you need, and we see God show His ableness. We see the answer, the provision in Ruth 4:14. I love this. We see, "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".
Can we pause there for just a moment and notice why they're worshiping God? It wasn't for Boaz's financial success, it wasn't for a promotion. It wasn't that they finally got to go on their dream vacation, but it was that God was providing a family legacy to change the world. He gave them life. All life comes from God. Life is a gift from God. And we see them praising God that He provided for them. "May this child be famous in Israel. 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," what? Has been somebody said has been what, "Has been better to you than seven sons". They've been better to you than seven sons.
It is important to note that they're celebrating God's blessings now to Naomi. But this was not anywhere close to her plan. She never planned to leave Bethlehem to go in the Moab, but her husband took her there and she never planned for her husband to leave her to die and to be destitute. That wasn't her plan. That wasn't anywhere close to her plan. But God had a better plan. And this baby Obed, which means servant of God and Ruth loved Naomi and was better. Somebody say better. Better. Better than seven sons. Some of you right now are at a place that you did not plan. And you may be disappointed where you are. And I wanna remind you of the goodness of a God who is able and whose plan is always better. God's plan is better. Would you just politely touch the person next to you and say, God's plan is better.
Touch the person next to you on the other side, your second choice and tell 'em God's plan is better for you too. You may be my second choice, but God's plan is better for you too. Type it in the comment section. God's plan is better. God's plan is better. I'll give you a little example. My best friend Amy is here today and Amy was the second child of two. She had a older brother and her son and a daughter. I am the oldest of two. I'm a son and my parents had a daughter, Lisa.
And so when we got married, we had a plan, a very good plan. We were gonna have two children, a son first and a daughter second. That was our plan. And it was a good plan and we were confident in our plan and we were gonna work our plan. That's what we wanted. A son first and a daughter second, two kids. And God gave us something better than a son. God gave us a Katie, my first daughter, who is the love of my life, Katie, a love with all my heart. And so I knew that the second child would obviously be a son just in a different order. And God didn't give me a son. God gave us something better. God gave us a Mandy who is more precious and godly than about anybody I know.
And then I just knew the third one would have to be a son. And God didn't give us a son. God gave us something better. God gave us an Anna. This is a Christian version of Tiggeress of the tiger. This is Anna full of more joy, passion than you could ever imagine. And then we got pregnant again. And I just decided, you know what? I miss God's will. I am a girl dad. I'm full girl dad. So I wanted a fourth girl this time. God didn't give me a girl. God gave me something better. God gave us Sam, my son, Sam. And then we were done with four 'cause we had a son. And boom, surprise. God gave us something better. God gave us a Stephen, then we were done than done. So done. You have no idea how done we are. Stop the presses, keep your hands off of me. We're done. That's five kids and we're done.
And we were so done and we tried to be done and God has something better. God gave us a joy. And joy is the most joyful person you've ever seen in your life. And we had a plan and we tried to work our plan. And God's plan was not our plan. God's plan was better. And well, I want you to hear this in your life. God is able and his plan for you is better. And so when you don't get the job you want, tell yourself when you're in Chapter 2 or you're waiting in Chapter 3, that there's something that God has for you in Chapter 4 that is even better than what you wanted in Chapter 2. God's plan is better. And when you wanted to marry that person and you don't get to marry that person, tell yourself God's got somebody way better. Not fixerupper. God's got somebody coming for you that's gonna make you thank God all day long that you didn't marry that one along the way.
And there are some of you right now, you had different plans for your weekend or you were gonna watch something different on YouTube, but God had a different plan and you are here and you're watching this right now because God wants to say something to you that He is able and God's plan is better. Amen. God's plan is better. We see the story progress and it gets really emotional to me. In verse 17, we see this, "The neighbor women said, 'Now at last, Naomi has a son again.' And they named him Obed, servant of God. And he became the Father of Jesse and the grandfather of David".
Why does that matter? And then the end of Ruth goes into this kind of lineage of who came next and who came next and who came next. One of the major themes in the book of Ruth is the providence of God. The providence of God. What is the providence of God? That's when God uses natural circumstances to bring about His supernatural will. In the Book of Ruth, you don't see any physical miracles. You don't see any parting of the Red Sea. You don't see anyone walking on water. You don't see any raising the dead. But you see the miraculous providence of God when He uses natural circumstances to bring about his supernatural will.
Last week we talked about the providence of God and we said it's a lot like Hebrew. The Hebrew language for those of us who read English. When you read Hebrew, we actually read it backwards. And the providence of God is best understood when it's viewed backwards. I'll show you who are we as Christians? We are followers of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything about our lives is about Jesus. We seek Him first. He is our Lord. He is our savior. He is our redeemer. He is our king. He is our righteousness. He is the door through which we enter. He is the good shepherd. He is the living vine. His name is Jesus.
And as we look at the lineage we looked at last week, we see Jesus and we read backwards just like Hebrew, just like the providence of God is best viewed backwards. We look at Jesus, who came from Mary and Joseph, who came from Jacob. And I won't read all the names 'cause there's a lot of them and they're really hard to pronounce some of them. And I did pretty good last week, but I'm not gonna try it again. But if you go back through Jacob and Matthen and up the lead, Zadok, laid and down to Azor, down to Jehoiachin and Josiah, and up to Jotham and Uzziah and down to Rohoboam. And then you get to the names we just saw, we just saw Solomon, David, Jesse, who came from Obed, who came from Ruth and Boaz. Well, let's go back to who Ruth was in Chapter 1. Do you remember who she is? She's a Moabite woman.
Do you remember Moabites worshiped the false god Chemosh. They sacrificed babies to this false God, the demon God. And she came from a people that were not the people of God. And this sinful Moabite woman turned to the God of Israel and He redeemed her and He restored her. And she left Moab and went to Bethlehem. I want you to stop for a moment and think about this. When she married Boaz, that was her second marriage, her first husband died. This was not her plan. If you find yourself thinking you're at plan B right now, just remember God's plan is better, God's plan is better. If you wake up somewhere in life and you didn't want to be here and you're disappointed and you're hurting and you're waiting, remember, while you're waiting, God is still working. God has something better.
And I'm gonna show you something very emotional to me. I wanna show you the progression of Ruth's identity. This is what we might call a little Easter egg. This is a buried treasure. This is what we're gonna dig up next week when we learn how to study the Bible. I'm gonna show you how you find little treasures like this that you would miss as you read through. But we're gonna watch as Ruth's identity is strengthened by the presence of a loving God. And watch the way she sees herself changes as she gets to know God even better. Early on, she says this, she sees herself as a nochriyah. Yeah, nochriyah, whatever. She sees herself as that.
And in the Hebrew language, that means I am a foreigner. I don't even belong here. And then in Chapter 2, she sees herself as a shiphah in Hebrew. And that she says to Boaz, she says, "I'm lower than your servants". I'm not even worthy to be a servant. I'm lower than that. And then in Chapter 3, she sees herself as a step up. I'm an ahmah. I am your servant. And in Chapter 4, guess what she is. She's an ishah. I am your wife. And as she gets to know the goodness of God, her identity starts to change. Some of you right now, spiritually, you feel like a foreigner, not even good enough to be a servant. So low in the places and things of God. But as you get to know God, He changes how you see yourself. And you could become exactly who He calls you to be.
In the Book of Ruth, the Old Testament book of Ruth, the gospel is all over this book. Who is Ruth? She's a foreigner. She's a stranger, lost and broken in Moab. And she leaves Moab and pursues the one true God in Bethlehem. And she feels lower than a servant. She's not even worthy. She's a sinner. And Boaz loves her. And he redeems her and he restores her and saves her not even as a slave or not as a servant, but as a wife, as a family member. And that's why I came to tell somebody, if you are in Christ, this is your story. If you have been born and new by the grace of Jesus, this is your story. Because one time in your life, God felt far away and you were hurting and broken, and you felt hopeless, but God had something better for you than you could ever imagine.
And God sent His one and only Son Jesus, the lamb of God who was without sin, who shed His blood and died and rose again so that anyone who calls on Him would be safe and transformed. He sent Jesus to love you, to save you, to redeem you. And we see this very same story in the New Testament in the letter to Ephesus, to the Ephesians, when Paul told us this same story in the New Testament and said, "Don't forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. In those days, you were living apart from Christ. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now somebody," say, but now. "But now you have been united with Christ Jesus once you are far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ".
Scripture says, "So now, you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with God's holy people. You are members of God's own family". You're an ishah, you're a wife, the bride of Christ. You're an ambassador of the most high God. You are the light of the world. You are a child of the living God, a joint heir of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's who you are. When you know Him, you're not stuck in Moab. You find the blessings of God in Bethlehem.
So if you're stuck in the in between, stay faithful to God. Keep pursuing God because Yahweh Way-Tit-Ten, our God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than all you can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within you, He is able. And while you are waiting, God is still working. Even now, you may feel like you're in the middle of brokenness, but God's plan is better. There is a Chapter 4. His blessings are real. He's working in all things to bring about good to those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. And one day you'll look back Just like Hebrew and see the providential will of a good God who was with you all the time, even in this moment.
So Father, we thank you, we worship you. God, we thank you that you, you are loving us back in the book of Ruth and preparing a Moabite woman to be a part of the lineage of your son Jesus that would save us.
As you're praying today, those of you online or all of our churches, I know some of you, you're in a season that isn't really where you'd want to be. You're in a chapter that might be disappointing. Or maybe it's someone that you love, someone close to you. If those of you would say, "I really do, I need prayer today. I'm in a chapter that I don't prefer, I didn't choose, or there's someone close to me that is, and I wanna pray for them". Would you just lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up online. You can just say, "Yes, please pray for me". Just that much. Please pray for me.
And God, we're gonna come to you now, and I pray on behalf of our church family and those people even around the world online, that you would give them what only you can give them. And that is a peace from heaven right now, that in the middle of turmoil and pain and chaos and heartbreak and disappointment, we thank you God, that there is a peace from heaven that goes beyond our human ability to understand, show us God through your word and by your presence that you are good, that you are loving God, that you are with us and you are always able. God give us the faith to trust and to believe in you.
You are able God and you're good as you keep praying today, nobody looking around. There's some of you that you might be a little bit kind of like Ruth was in Moab. Maybe you're not walking intimately with God right now. You may be lost and broken. This isn't a popular word today in our culture, but I'll just say it the way the Bible says it. You're dead in your sin. What does that mean dead in your sin, that your heart kind of feels dead. You feel hopeless. You've done things that you know that are wrong. How do you know that? How do you know that? Well, God gave you a conscience, and there's something in you that says that's wrong.
And you may feel guilty and you may feel ashamed. But I want you to know is that right now, at this moment, you're not here by accident. You're not watching by you had something different planned, but God's plan was better. And you're here right now because God wants you to understand this, that He loves you and He loves you so much that He sent Jesus through the lineage of a Moabite woman to say to the world, you can have life and life abundantly. Jesus, the son of God, perfect in every way, died for the forgiveness of all of our sins. And God raised Him from the dead, defeating death hell and the grave.
So that anyone, and I want you to hear me and I'll tell you this, this includes you. It doesn't matter what you've done. Doesn't matter how alone you feel. Doesn't matter how far away God feels. Anyone who calls on that name, the name of Jesus, when you cry out to Him, He hears your prayers and He makes you new. Just like Ruth was made new, you're made new to experience the goodness of God. Wherever you are today, those who say, I need His forgiveness. I know I've sinned. I know I've done some wrong things. I wanna know you God, I wanna be changed. We're not just praying a prayer, we're devoting our life to Jesus. Wherever you're watching from today, those who say, I'm ready to step out of Moab. I'm ready to leave that old life. I wanna be a follower of Jesus. I want him to be first. I want him to be the Lord of my life.
When you cry out to Him, He'll hear your prayer. He'll forgive your sins. He'll make you brand new. He'll fill you with the spirit. You will never be the same. You're not a foreigner. You're a family member. You're a child of God. Those wherever you are today say, I need that. I need the grace of Jesus today. I leave my old life. I choose Him. I give my life to Him. That's your prayer. Put your hands high right now and say, "Yes, Jesus". Yes. As we have hands going up today at all of our churches, we praise God for all of you saying yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Online type in the comment section. I'm surrendering my life to Jesus to say it. I'm trusting Jesus. And wherever you are today, we're gonna pray together. Nobody prays alone. Pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. Jesus save me. Be the Lord of my life. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for making me new. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine in Jesus' name I pray.