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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - When You're Losing Hope

Craig Groeschel - When You're Losing Hope

Craig Groeschel - When You're Losing Hope
Craig Groeschel - When You're Losing Hope
TOPICS: The Book of Ruth

What I want to do is I want to ask you about your favorite genre of movies. Those of you online, you can type in the comment section whichever one is your favorite. But those of you at all of our Life.Churches, I need you just to shout out when I hit the correct genre. Because you know which one is right and your spouse is wrong. Right? So let's go ahead and start off, right. How many of you say beyond a shadow of a doubt, action movies are the best? Action movies are the best.

All right, I agree. Just so you know. How many of you would say no, not action, but we're gonna go with comedies? The world is complicated and people are mean. You gotta laugh sometimes. How many would say, not comedies, but oh my gosh, of course, it's superhero movies? Life is not right without some "Spider-Man," some "Superman," some "Ant-Man," right? Okay, let's go to, not that, but let's say thrillers. Thrillers? Almost no thrillers. You guys need some thrill in your life, that's what you need. "I see dead people". That's like the worst and best moment of my entire life. If you don't know what I'm talking about, that's why you didn't cheer for thrillers.

Now, gimme a second. I've got action, I've got comedy, I've got superhero, I've got thrillers. I think that's all of them. What am I forgetting? What am I forgetting? Oh yeah, I forgot, must be rom-coms. For every "Pride & Prejudice," I get to watch three action. That's the rule at our house. Some of you love the rom-coms. Well, if this book of the Bible that we're going to study were a movie, it would be a chick flick. Just need you to know. We're not talking no Sylvester Stallone, no Liam Neeson, we're all Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore. That's who's in this movie. Bad news for you action folks. There's no shootouts, no explosions, and no car chases in this story.

Instead, we've actually got a couple of women and a heck of a lot of talking. And just so you'll know how much I studied. Of the 85 verses in this book of the Bible, 55 of them are dialogue. That's why this is a chick flick. And as we look at this story, it's an amazing, powerful story. There's no way to express what you're going to experience from God in the next few weeks. But there's tragedy in this story, just as there's tragedy in the lives of so many people that we love. Sadly, we're actually gonna see two women that lost everything. And God is very, very present, but not in the way that you might expect. This is perhaps one of two books in the Bible where you don't see any physical miracles from God.

There's no parting the Red Sea. There's no healing of the sick. There's no raising of the dead. But on every page or in every verse, you will see the presence and the power and the providence of a very, very good God. This is a powerful, intimate life-changing book of the Bible that will speak to those of you that are hurting right now, or are discouraged right now, or maybe you're losing hope and you believe that God has something better for you. If you feel stuck in a place that you know you shouldn't be, this book will speak to you. We'll look in verse one. The very beginning of the book says this. "In the days when the judges ruled". Gotta stop there. "In the days when the judges ruled". In other words, in the days when there were no kings.

Now, in the Book of Ruth, if you're looking in a paper Bible, what book comes right before the Book of Ruth? Does anybody know? It's the Book of Judges, okay? The Book of Judges, and there's one verse you see over and over and over again in the Book of Judges, the very last verse in the Book of Judges says that in the days when the judges ruled, in other words, in the days when there were no kings, "Everyone did what was right in their own eyes". In the days when there were no kings, in the days when the judges rules, everyone did what ever felt right in their own eyes. Sound a little bit like today. Just want to show you the connection. "In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land".

And so we're gonna see a family that is going to be afraid they're not gonna be able to eat and so they're gonna make a move. "So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. This man's name was Elimelek". Everybody say Elimelek. Elimelek. I just wanted you to enjoy it. It's really fun to say. Elimelek. Okay. "This man's name was Elimelek, his wife's name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there". They were from Bethlehem and they went to Moab and they lived there.

So, let's break down the characters so we'll know the main characters in this plot. We have, first of all, Elimelek. He is the husband and the father and his name means my God is king. Then we have the wife, the mom, Naomi. Her name means sweet or pleasant. Then we have the two children. And to understand how they would name their children in this time is they would generally name their children based on one of two things. Either they would name them kind of prophetically based on what they wanted to see. Like we would call him strong, or we might call her godly or pure. Or, they would name them based on what they saw. Like they might say ugly feet. That's what they might've called me. And in this case, it's very likely they named their children based on what they saw when they were born. Their two names were Mahlon, which means sick or sickly, and Kilion, which means frail or tired.

So they probably were born and struggled early on. So their names are Sick and Tired. I'd like for you to meet my two sons, Sick and Tired. Some of you're going like, "I didn't know that was an option. Can I change the names of my kids"? You know, here we are. And so what you've got is we've got a guy named my God is king. We've got sweet and pleasant with sick and tired. And my God is King, Elimelek is worried about his family because of the famine, so he moves his family from Bethlehem to Moab. Give you an example of what this would look like. Bethlehem, he would've had to go around the Dead Sea to Moab. It's about a 50-mile journey.

So if you walk three miles an hour, it might take you 16 or 17 hours, maybe a long day or a couple days' journey to get to Bethlehem. He leaves, I mean you get to Moab, he leaves Bethlehem and he takes his family to Moab, which ended up being a horrible mistake. He moves his family to Moab where God had strictly forbidden his people from living in Moab. You may say, "Why, what's wrong with Moab"? Well, the Moabites were descendants of Moab. If you don't know who Moab is, you can read about him in Genesis 19. There's a story when Lot's daughters got him, their dad, drunk and they slept with him and conceived a son named Moab.

So the Moabites were conceived out of incest, and that was the beginning of their issues. They also worshiped the false god, Chemosh, and they honestly would sacrifice children to this false god. If you wonder what the God of Israel thought of Moab, in Psalm 60:8 he said, "Moab is my washbasin". In other words, this is where I wash my dirty feet. So Elimelek took his family from Bethlehem, which means house of bread, to Moab, to a place that God had forbidden them to go. So when you think about it, it's really interesting. Elimelek means my God is king, but he wasn't living like God was his king. Instead, he was doing what was right in his own eyes. Just like so many people today.

Now, I don't wanna be too hard on him because there was a famine. And so he was probably thinking, "If I go to Moab, there's gonna be a better economy, I can get a better job, I can provide a better life for my family". You can understand that. But I would just issue a gentle spiritual warning that may be for some of you. I've noticed that when it comes to our families, we're often tempted to prioritize economic provision over spiritual protection. In other words, if someone has a job offer somewhere else, and the job offer is for more money, most people just assume that must be the place to go. And oftentimes it is. Sometimes it is the blessings of God to go and to have a better provision for your family and so you can be more generous. But sometimes it's not.

I've seen many times people that are thriving spiritually, close to God, plugged into Christian community in an awesome church, go somewhere for a little more money, and they get somewhere else and they have more money and less God. Be very careful not to always prioritize economics over the presence of God. So, things are a little tough in Bethlehem. So he leaves and he goes to Moab, the sinful land of Moab because times got tough in Bethlehem. So what do you do when times get tough? When times get tough, do you continue to trust and obey God in Bethlehem? Or do you leave and go to Moab? What do you do when times get tough? Because most of you would say, "I'm a Christian". Or you would say, "My God is the king of my life and so I wanna trust and obey his Word".

And maybe you're dating and his Word says "We're not gonna have sex until we're married. It's reserved for the covenant of marriage, so I'm gonna obey God". And then you say, "But I've been dating and waiting and I've got this deep desire for mating. I've got my needs"! So, do you trust and obey God, or do you move to Moab? "My God is the king of my life and therefore I will honor him with what I have and I will return to him 10% of what he blesses me with in the form of the tithe that is not mine, but it belongs to him". And then money gets tight and that thing goes on sale and you wanna buy it. Do you trust and obey God or do you move to Moab? "My God is the king of my life, I'm a Christian. And so I'm gonna stop getting drunk".

And I stop getting drunk. And then I have a really bad day and I'm really stressed out. So do you trust and obey God, or do you move to Moab? Because I'll shoot straight with you, and it's true for me too, when times get tough, Moab looks tempting. You guys are being real quiet like you've never seen Moab in your life. I mean, listen, I'm not judging. I understand this guy's dilemma. He's worried about his family and so he does what feels right in his own eyes. Honestly, most of us have gone to Moab under far less pressure. My God is king of my life, but sometimes we do what's right in our own eyes. So what happened? They left Bethlehem, they went to Moab, and everything worked out fine. They did what they wanted. They did what they felt. They trusted their heart and they lived their own truth. And everything worked out just as they had hoped.

Scripture says this in Ruth 1:3. "Now Elimelek, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons". And they married not women that worshiped the God of Israel, but, "They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. And after they had lived there about 10 minutes". Oh no, I'm sorry, what was that? "After they had lived there about 10 years, both Sick and Tired also died, and Naomi," who left Bethlehem so that they would live, "was left without her two sons and her husband". Heartbreak.

First, her husband Elimelek dies. And we don't know what happened. Maybe he had a stroke, maybe got hit by a camel, we don't know. But what we do know is this left her in a really, really bad place. Now it's fascinating. Who remembers how far apart these places are? How many miles? About 50 miles. About a day's walk, maybe two days if you're stopping for some Waffle House, you know, and staying the night at Motel 6 or whatever. It's not a long walk, and yet she stayed there for 10 years. And because she was away from God's people, her sons married women that were not God's people. They married Moabite women.

Now I wanna give the boys a benefit of the doubt. 'Cause these girls were probably really cute and probably had a really good personality and they probably thought, "I can convert them". Because that's what many of you're doing right now. They're really cute and they got a really good personality and this one's got a job. The last one didn't even have a job. And so I can convert them. And yet in God's love for us, he actually gives us very loving boundaries. And so many people ask me, "Hey Craig, like is it okay if I'm a Christian and I marry someone that's not a Christian"? And the answer is, according to scripture, it's not okay.

The Bible says in the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 6 that we're not to be "unequally yoked with those who are non-believers". And, admittedly, that limits your playing field. Why is God so restrictive? Why is he trying to spoil your fun? He's not trying to spoil your fun, he's actually loving you. And I would ask you this, like sincerely. If God is the king of your life, why would you want to spend your life and raise your kids with someone who doesn't see him as their king? Thank you, Mom, for getting the clapping started. I always love it when Mom gets the clapping started, right? But he's so cute, he's so cute, he's so cute, but he's not a Christian. One day your kid's gonna get sick and he can't pray for your kid, so maybe you can rub his cute off on them.

Look at my, look at my, you know, whatever. Here's what's interesting. Why did they leave Bethlehem? They left so they wouldn't die. And what happened when they did what was right in their own eyes? Three of them actually died. And this is how this chick flick begins. You now have three widows with no homes, no money, no hope. And finally, Naomi, the mother, decides to return to Bethlehem. You can read about this in the text. Along the way, they have this conversation. Why? Because this is a chick flick and that's what happens in chick flicks. They have this conversation and Naomi tells her daughters-in-law, go back to your home, marry your own people, have babies. And or Orpah does that. And then she starts this TV show that blows up and it goes crazy and all that kind of stuff. And, that's not true, but is too good of a joke to not say.

And so Orpah goes back, but Ruth decides to stay. And she speaks for the first time in the story in verse 16 and here's what she says. She says, "Don't urge me, Naomi, to leave you or turn back from you". And here's the big wedding cake verse, okay? "Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay". She declares this fierce loyalty to her mother-in-law. Then, and the most important part of the verse, is not loyalty to a person, but a declaration of dependence on God. And she says this. "And your people will be my people and your God will be my God".

I'll no longer worship Chemosh, now I will worship the God of Israel. And she makes this dedication, this is her salvation. What did she do? What happened? Ruth and Naomi, essentially they did this. They left Moab and they returned to Bethlehem. This is a picture of what the Bible calls in the New Testament repentance. Re means to turn, pent is the highest, It's to return from the lower place of Moab to the higher calling of Bethlehem. It's to turn away from where you were, and to go back to.

Now what's interesting, in order to turn to Bethlehem, you have to turn your back to Moab. To go to where God wants you to be, you have to leave where you are. This highlights one of the most important truths, and that is this. To get to the right place, you have to leave the wrong one. To get to where God wants you to be, you have to walk away from a place that is not his will. I could say it this way. If you're dating someone who is not honoring you or honoring God. To marry the right person, you gotta dump the wrong one. To get to the right place, you have to leave the wrong one. And what's amazing is she made one decision to turn her back on Moab and to go to the God of Bethlehem.

And this one decision, this one act of repentance, this one choice changed her life, and it changed her legacy, and it even changed the course of the entire world. It did. Because have you ever heard of Bethlehem before? What does Bethlehem mean? It means the house of bread. The house of bread. Jesus, the Bread of Life, was born in Bethlehem. And I don't wanna give away the biggest part of the book, but I just can't not tell you. Jesus was a descendant of a sinful Moabite woman who left Moab and went to Bethlehem. If you don't clap for that, you're not gonna clap for anything.

This is how amazing God is. Through a woman who worshiped a false God, we're gonna see in the upcoming chapters, and I don't want to give it all away because oh my gosh, this is a chick flick I like. We're gonna see that through one decision, the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the Lord of all lords and King of all kings, the Alpha and the Omega is born. From one moment of repentance, one single decision. So what does this mean for you? I wanna ask you. And I want you to be very, very open to what the Holy Spirit might show you. I wonder if there is some part of your life that is still in Moab.

Is there some part of your life still in Moab? Is there some area of your life where you're saying, "My God is king," and yet you're doing what's right in your own eyes? Is there some area of your life where you're claiming, "Yes, I am a follower of Jesus". And yet you're following your own truth and not his truth? Speak to us, God. Show us, God. Convict us, God. Lead us, God. Lead us in the way of everlasting. So, the application question, because we don't just hear the Word, but we do the Word. My pastor said, "Never preach a message without asking, so what"?

So what? What do you do with this? This is the question for you to ask. What one decision could you make, what one action can you take that would change the trajectory of your life and legacy? One decision. One decision. What one decision could you make, what one action could you take to leave Moab and return to Bethlehem? If you need some help, my job is to help you. Some of you, you could cut up your credit cards. It could change your life. Others of you, you could be the first to apologize. "I'm sorry for my part of what I did wrong".

Some of you, you could break up and move out. Don't settle for somebody who's worshiping the false god, because you want someone who worships the King of kings. Some of you, you could block that person from your phone, or you could stop following the one that's bringing you down. Some of you, you could confess your addiction and ask for help. Some of you, you could live on less and give a lot more. What one decision, one action? Some of you, you could surrender something to God. Others of you, you could surrender someone to God. And there are many of you, you could fall on your knees in broken repentance and surrender to Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. To get to the right place, you have to leave the wrong place. It's all about the re.

Somebody say it's all about the re. It's all about the re. Touch a person to your right and say, "It's all about the re". Touch a person to your left and say, "It's all about the re". Online, type it in the chat, "It's all about the re". It's all about the re. Over 1,100 times in the Bible the word shuwb is used. Shuwb means to return. Over 1,100, it's all about the re. It's all about the re. Years ago I did a study on the re words. I just looked at re words and I wrote a one sentence re message. And it goes like this. It's all about the re. You just return to God. You leave Moab, you return to Bethlehem. It goes like this. It's all about the re.

When you rebuke the enemy and return to God by repenting of your sins and receiving Christ, your spirit will be reborn, your mind renewed, your life rebuilt, and you'll be reconciled by Christ redeeming work, and while you rejoice, you'll reap the rewards of relationship, causing revival to break free in your life. Come on, church, we're not praying for revival, we're living in the middle of one. God is here and God is working, his grace is ready for you. Leave where you've been and go to where he wants you to be. One decision, one moment, one choice can change the trajectory of your life.

Father, we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus, the sinless one who gave us life so we could live. Give us grace and the conviction to do one thing that takes us away from the brokenness and sinfulness of this world and leads us toward your righteousness, your kingdom, and your will.

At all of our churches today, some of you, you already know what it is. It's so obvious you should have done it a year ago. Others of you, you're just gonna ask God, "God, show me. What is it? One decision, one action I could take that would change the course, direction, and legacy of my life".

At all of our churches today, I'm gonna ask you if you would just ask God that prayerfully then in our LifeGroups this week we'll talk about it. Over dinner, we'll talk about it. With our close friends, we'll talk about it. With the people that we brought, we're gonna talk about it.

Will you ask God? If you will do this, just lift up your hand. How many of you will say, "Yes, I will ask God what one thing could I do to leave Moab and return to Bethlehem"? Would you lift up your hands if you'll pray that this week. You can type it in the comment section. "I'll pray that prayer. I'll pray that prayer. I'll pray that prayer".

God, show us this week. Speak to us. We ask that your will, your will would be done. Give us the courage, the faith to make this decision.

Some of you, you are about to make it right now. Bethlehem, the house of bread. Jesus was born in Bethlehem through the lineage of a Moabite woman who turned her heart to the God of Israel. Who is Jesus? He is the son of the living God. And our God loved you so much that he sent his only son, Jesus, the Lamb of God, the perfect one without sin, who shed his blood on a cross, died so that our sins could be forgiven. And three days later, when the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, he was not there. God had raised him from the dead. so that anyone, and this includes you. It doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter how dark your life is. It doesn't matter how stuck you feel or how much you sin. Anyone who calls on his name would be saved and forgiven.

Some of you, this is a very reason you're here. Many of you, you've called him king, you grew up in church, you prayed the prayer, you played the game, but he's not king of your life. Declare it today, "He is my king. I'm stepping away from sin. I'm stepping away from Moab I am declaring my need for Jesus. I need his grace. Today, I make him my king. Today, I make him my Lord". That's your prayer today. Lift your hands high right now, all over the place and say, "Yes, I need him". Jesus is becoming my king.

Praise God to others of you. Right back over here, lift them up high right now. Others of you, lift them up right back here. Come on, be bold, be bold, be bold, be bold. Jesus is my king. I need him right back here, praise God for you. Others today, right back over here. Jesus, I surrender. Be my king. Be my king. Be my king. Be my king. Online, just type it in the comment section. "I am surrendering my life to Jesus". Together, as the people of God welcoming the new people of God, would you pray aloud? Pray:

Heavenly Father. Forgive me for staying in Moab. Forgive all of my sins. I'm walking away from my sins and I'm running to the grace of Jesus. Jesus, save me, change me, fill me with your spirit so I can know you, so I can live for you, so I could show your love. Thank you for new life. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for salvation. Thank you for your blessings. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. In Jesus' name, I pray.

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