Michael Youssef - No Short Cuts In God's Plan
Whenever I tried to short circuit God plans in my life, whenever I tried to short circuit God's purpose for my life, whenever I tried to short circuit God's vision for my life, I go through unnecessary pain, unnecessary suffering, and discontentment. Short circuiting and shortcuts never works for me. And I know they don't work for you either. Short circuiting God's plan can take you far, far, far away from your home in Christ. But thank God that his grace, always, always, how many times? Always, always calling you to come home, always calling you to come home.
In the book of Ruth, you find a reminder of the incredible, indescribable, unfathomable grace of God. We see a reminder of how his grace overruled the foolish decisions to take matters into their own hand. And I'm beginning the short series today. I hope you're not gonna miss any of it. This is a story of a nice Jewish family who lived during the wild days of the book of Judges. In case you don't know about the book of Judges and the time of the judges, I want to tell you a few things about that. It was a period of time after Joshua died, who is the successor of Moses, and before the coming of the Prophet Samuel and the ushering of the period of the kings.
Those were terrible days for God's people. There were days not unlike our days. Those were the days of which the Bible says everyone there was doing what is right in their own eyes. Consequently, they got themselves into trouble again and again and again. And then they will cry to God. And every time, God would send them a deliverer whom they're called the judge. But as soon as the trouble was over, as soon as dangers gone, as soon as they begin to experience peace and prosperity again, they turn their backs on Yahweh, and turn to the gods, fertility gods of Canaan. In the midst of this wholesale departure from biblical truth, we read about this family, a family that tried to short circuit their way into prosperity in times of trouble. But alas, they ended up in the dead end road of tragedy, sorrow, and pain.
But again, bless God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This story is not the end. This part is not the end of the story. You will see the amazing grace of God overrules and overrides even our foolish decisions, and the shortcuts and the short circuiting. You will see how the grace of God brings good out of evil. You'll see how the grace of God brings joy out of bitterness and sorrow. You will see, by the end of this short series of messages, how the grace of God can bring out of pain, grief, and sorrow. The ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ, I trust that by now you all have the book of Ruth chapter 1 open in front of you. This family name was Elimelech. Eli, that's the name of God, Eli. Melech, king. God is my King.
That's the name of this family, God is my King. And yet, alas, they did not live up to this name. This family thought that they were buying their ticket into prosperity, they're buying their tickets into paradise. But they ended up in the graveyards of Moab. The book of Ruth is a magnificent little book. It was not called the book of Naomi. It was named after a Gentile woman, Ruth. I'm gonna explain this as we unfold the series of messages together. It's an amazing grace of God because it teaches us a great deal about how God cares for an ordinary believer. It teaches us that our extraordinary God can do great and extraordinary things with an ordinary believer.
Three things I want to share with you from chapter 1, three things. Write them down if you're taking notes. Whenever you short circuit, or you try to short circuit God's plan or God's will for your life, there is an initial comfort in that process. There's an initial comfort. I'm gonna come to this. Secondly, there is an inevitable consequences to short circuiting God's plan for your life. Thirdly, there is an indisputable cure. Initial comfort, inevitable consequences, and indisputable cure. Listen, there is a euphoria. There is an initial comfort in getting away from the will of God and doing your thing. I'm not gonna deny that. Elimelech's family thought that the grass was greener on the other side of the septic tank, show they left the house of bread. That's what Bethlehem means. Beth, house.
Lehem in Hebrew, bread. The house of bread. They left the house of bread and went to Moab. Why, why? Because they ran out of food, and when they run out of food in Bethlehem, they looked for solutions outside of God's promises, outside. They looked for solutions outside of God's people. They looked for solutions outside of the land of promise. Don't miss this. Don't miss this. Don't miss this. How you act and what you do when you are facing crisis situation in your life says a great deal about your spiritual discernment. Elimelech did not take the family into another part of the Promised Land. That would have been fine because this is the land of promise. God promised it to Abraham. God promised it to Abraham's descendants. They could have gone to another part of the land of promise, but they didn't. They went to enemy's territory. They went to the pagans.
Let me tell you about Moab. See Bethlehem? Moab is today in modern Jordan. I've been on both sides of the Dead Sea. I've seen them from both sides. You see, it's not very far, really. Depending on how your travel, it's ten miles. That's all it is. It's a short trip, not too far geographically. But listen to me, spiritually, it's the other side of the world. On a clear day, you could stand and see the fields of Moab from the ridges of Bethlehem. I've done it. Oh, these green fields of Moab were beckoning. They're all Elimelech and his family. Day after day, day after day, he looks on the other side and see the green land. And he says, "This is where I should go".
These bright green lands were inviting him. When things are not going well at home, the allure of adultery and unfaithfulness to your marriage always beckoning. Elimelech could not resist the temptation anymore. He just couldn't resist. So, he packed the family camel wagon, and they headed for Moab. Question, why not wait for the Lord? Why not just got to provide? You read in the book of Deuteronomy and all the promises of God that he gave to Moses, all the promises of God that were to Israel. Why not keep on trusting in the promises of God that he never leave you nor forsake you? Why do you have to go into enemy's territory? Why not believe the promises of God given to Israel through Moses? Here's another question. What's wrong with Moab? Yeah, one city as good as the other, one town is as good as the other. It doesn't matter. Yahweh why is everywhere. What's wrong with Moab?
You see, everyone was thinking about Moab. Eli did it. He just went over there. He didn't just think about it, he did it. But what's wrong with Moab? Well, the people of Moab had no moral compass. Everything goes in Moab. There was no preacher to rebuke people that they're going the wrong way and need to come back. As long as they don't forget about Yahweh way and remember him on occasions or on the high end holidays, they will be all right. As long as they think that they're good people that belong to the people of God, doesn't matter where they are, they'll be okay. As long as there is mutual consent, it's okay. Elimelech and his wife and two boys were just beginning to get comfortable in the land of Moab.
Remember, there is what? Initial comfort, remember that? When you short circuit the will of God and the Word of God, there is initial comfort, initial comfort. Can you say that with me? Initial comfort. In their newfound prosperity in Moab was just beginning. Things are really gonna go good for me here. And just as they were enjoying their new life of prosperity in Moab, tragedy struck. Remember, short circuiting God's plan has an initial comfort. The Bible said sin is pleasurable for a moment.
See, the Bible doesn't deny that, not for a moment. But the consequences are the consequences. And that's what I come to secondly here, the inevitable consequences. Please hear me right. Any comfort outside of the will of God for your life has deadly consequences. I know it. I've experienced it. I tried to run away from God as far as I could. Any comfort from the shadow and the shelter of the Almighty has disastrous results. And so, verse 3, 4 and 5, look at them with me please. There is an immediate consequence, and then there is a longterm consequence. And here what I know from the Word of God are from my own failures. Here's what I know. These consequences come as a surprise to a sinning believer. They really do.
"Whoo, what happened? What happened? What happened to me? Why is this happening to me? Where are you, God"? He's never moved. Did you know that? You moved, he didn't. Dear old Naomi, now she's a widow, she's widowed. And so, when she was widowed, she placed her hope in her two sons. They'll provide for her. But the two boys were even more comfortable in the land of Moab than their father was because they married two pagan girls. The Old Testament is very clear not to marry a non-Jewish person. The New Testament is even clearer. "Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever".
And so, short circuiting God's plan and God's purpose not only has an initial comfort, but also has inevitable consequences. Verse 4, they were there for ten years. God waited and waited, then he waited some more. Listen to me. He may be waiting for you. He may be waiting for you. And you are here by divine appointment because God wants to say, "I'm not gonna wait forever". You are in your own Moab, whatever your Moab is, and it's different for every one of us. You might be comfortable in Moab now. You might have thought that God had forgotten where you are spiritually now. But he hasn't. He doesn't. He loves you too much. He loves you too much to leave you in your Moab.
Let me tell you a couple of things about spiritual Moabs, just in case you don't know. Figuratively speaking, Moab has a way of making a short stay to be a longterm one. Figuratively speaking, Moab has a way of saying to you, "Do it just this once, and then once it's over, you don't have to do it again". And then before you know it, you are in Moab's clutches. Figuratively speaking, Moab has a way of saying there's plenty of time to live holy and pure life. There's plenty of time only to discover that time has gone. Here in Moab after ten years, Elimelech, Naomi, and their two boys, intended to go to Moab for a short period of time just for that one bad crop year. But they found themselves entrenched in Moab. Verse 5, after the father died, in rapid succession, both boys die.
Now, try to put yourself in Naomi's place. I really do, I try. She comes into this utopia with her husband and two sons. She loses all of them, all of them. There is no support for her. Back then, as you heard me say many times, widows who have no male members to support them were really worse than being destitute. And here you find Naomi in a strange place, a stranger, and she felt it for the first time now that her support base gone in a strange country. The first thing you do is what? Initial, there is inevitable. But praise God. Say, "Praise God".
Praise God there is the third. There's indisputable cure, indisputable, indisputable. And those of us who've experienced it can testify to you. Indisputable cure. You know what the cure is? Honestly, there are only two words. All the mumbo jumbo and big theological terms and everything else is fine, but I'm a simple guy. Two words, the indisputable cure: go home. Say it with me. I know people say you can't go home again. Well, in the physical sense, yes. But spiritually, it's the only way. Home is your only place to go. It's the only cure to you soul. It's the only spiritual healing that you can receive. It's the only way to happiness and joy and peace. Come home, come home. Naomi was not just at the bottom of the barrel, the barrel actually crashed on her. And it was an overwhelming force. In her experience of bitterness, she wanted to go home.
Look at verses 8 and 9. She asked both of her daughters-in-law to go back to their homes and find other husbands. One of them decided to just do that. Oh, but Ruth, beautiful Ruth, lovely Ruth, loyal Ruth, would not leave her mother-in-law. But Ruth made an ironclad commitment to Naomi and to Naomi's God. Beloved, listen to me. God honors those who keep their word and keep their commitments. And the truth is this, Naomi's faith was such that it made an impact, made her faith attractive to Ruth. Naomi's testimony and her truthfulness led her daughter-in-law into wanting to follow Naomi's God. Ruth saw God, Naomi's God, to be a loving God, to be a forgiving God, to be a restoring God, to be the God of new beginnings, to be the God of second and a hundred and a thousand chances.
Although Naomi, whose name means pleasant, if your name is Naomi, now, this is a freebie on the house. Your name means pleasant. That's what Naomi means in Hebrew. But then she said, "Don't call me Naomi anymore because I'm not pleasant. I'm a Mara". Mara from remember when the kings came from the east and brought three gifts to Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Bitter, and that was to predict his cross, bitter. And the word "Mara," it's the same in all three Semitic languages, Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew, bitter. Naomi was in pain, but she does not stop caring. Verse 9: She prayed for her daughters-in-law. She might have been coming home without a husband, without two sons, but she was coming home with a faithful daughter-in-law. And in verses 19 to 22, mark it in your Bible.
You see, the two women make the only decision that pleases God. Let me tell you something. You might not be sure if your decisions, pleasing God or not, is one decision you can make that I promise you, on the authority of God's Word, that pleases God. Come home. Say it with me again. And so, they come home, and we're gonna see the unfolding of how God honored that decision of coming home. Now, beloved, please listen to me. I'm about to finish. Jesus the Son of God came all the way from heaven for you and you and you and you and you. God's Son shed his blood on that cross for you. Wherever you are, whatever you've done, however long you've been away, Jesus is saying to you, come home. His arms open on that cross is an indication of his longing for you to come home.