Michael Youssef - God's Perspective
We often talk about hindsight being 20/20, and there are some who, when they see things in hindsight, they are full of regrets. For if your perspective on life is that you are living under the control of the sovereign God, then because of that perspective, you will live above the temporary setbacks. You will live not in constant regret, that you will live above that regret. When your life perspective is focused on the God of the impossible, on the God who overrules, on the God who gives us his best, on the God who uses the most unlikely people and the most unlikely circumstances and the most unlikely places to bless you, that, my beloved friends, will make all the difference in the world in your life and in mine.
This is the fourth and the last in this four-part series from the book of Ruth, that little tiny book of Ruth in the Bible. I think it's the only book in the Bible that's named after a Gentile, particularly in the Old Testament. First, we saw how Elimelech's family tried to short-circuit God's provision and God's protection, and they ended up in enemy's land in Moab. Secondly, we saw how God operates by appointment during those holding patterns that I talked about. Then we saw how our kinsman redeemer, just like Boaz, he spread his cover over us. He has redeemed us from our sin. He's redeemed us from our failures. He has redeemed us from our shortcomings. He redeemed us from our shortcuts, how he redeemed us even in the times when we wandered in the wilderness.
Here we see the eternal perspective. I call it the helicopter view, and this, chapter four, is the helicopter view. This is where the picture is so clear. And here we see in Ruth chapter 4, Ruth getting married to Boaz. Everybody loves a wedding except the father of the bride. He has to pay for it. But soon you'll find the deluge of God's blessings open from heaven, and Boaz and Ruth would have a baby boy. They named him Obed, which means "servant of the Lord".
From the grief and the sorrow of loss of the men in their family comes the father of Jesse. From the broken pieces that fall apart in the Elimelech family, the repentance and returning and coming back home comes the grandfather of King David. From that grief and loss and pain comes the human ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David, but there's something here I don't want you to miss. Don't miss it. Actually, if you read the book, I don't know how many times you've read it. You've probably missed that. I missed it several times until this time I was reading it carefully. And how this book is absolutely, that little book is saturated, it pulsates with prayer in every part of it. It was saturated in prayer.
Let me give you examples. In chapter 1, verse 8, Naomi prays for her widowed two daughters-in-law. In chapter 2, verse 4, Boaz greets his reapers in a form of prayer. In chapter 2, verse 12, Boaz welcomes Ruth gleaning into the field in a form of prayer. In 2:20, Naomi prays in thanksgiving to God for Boaz's generosity and graciousness to Ruth. And in chapter 3, verse 10, Boaz's response to Ruth's visit, you remember, her visit to him in order to encourage him, to say, "It's okay to propose to me". He does that in prayer.
And then, in chapter 4, verse 11, all of the people of Bethlehem pray together in thanksgiving to God as they see the transaction taking place at the gate. Every aspect of life is covered with prayer from the routine to the extraordinary, from the daily work to the daily interactions, from the private moments to the public moments, all, all of life lived in that perspective of the sovereignty of God in prayer. If you're like me, you have to confess that we do not have the same perspective on life when we are older as we do when we're younger, right? Any of you can disagree with that, raise your hand. Our perspective changed.
When we're younger, we have certain perspective, and when we are older, we change. When you begin to develop God's perspective, you become aware that the family you grew up in, the city you grew up in, the events surrounding you growing up, the temperaments that you have, they're all a gift of God. Why would you wanna change it when God uniquely gave you that temperament in order that he may uniquely be able to use it in you and bless others through you? Certainly, there are things in our lives, as believers, we're so grateful to the Lord that he changed. I am so grateful, and I know most of you are, that he has changed me from being a sinner and love sin to being saved and I hate sin. And when I sin, I can't stand it.
I immediately repent and turn to the Lord. That is a wonderful change that takes place when you receive Jesus to come into your life as Savior and Lord. That is one of the great blessings in life and for all of eternity. It is our perspective on what God has, is doing, and will do in and through us that will carry us through tough times in life. Can I get an amen? Here in the book of Ruth, everything becomes clear in chapter 4. As I said, it's like the helicopter. You're seeing things much clearer. You see the full picture. You see the full view, a picture of an endangered family name Elimelech, from the little town of Bethlehem in Judea, to become the ancestors of the most famous Jewish king in history, King David.
I believe the little book of Ruth, if it teaches us anything, it teaches us perspective. Say that word with me. I want you to hear me right because you may be going through tough time right now. You may be going through difficult times right now. You may be going through a dark tunnel right now. You may be going through inexplicable circumstances right now. You may be going through uncertain future right now. I want you to remember that the book, your book of life has not been finished yet. This is just a chapter. Can I get an amen? This is just a... what? The book is not finished yet. It's not finished yet. Hear me right, please. What God did for Naomi and Ruth, he can do for you. All you need to do is to trust him fully, to trust him completely, and to trust him without hesitation.
Listen to me: you may have given up hope. He will give you a new hope. You may have shattered dreams in your life. He could give you a greater dream. You may have lost your joy. He can restore to you greater joy. You may have allowed fear to seep into your life and to fill you with fear, but God can fill you with faith. You may have allowed doubt to threaten to choke you and choke the spiritual life in you, but he can set you free. You may have allowed the worry and the anxiety of this world to begin to swallow you up. He can deliver you from that. He whom have allowed Satan to walk all over you, he can banish him out of your life. You may have allowed the devil to intimidate you. He can empower you to step all over him because he's a defeated foe. Don't allow this fear to be your companion, for the God of Naomi is our God.
Look at verse 16. We see Naomi with unspeakable joy in the fact that's her old, holding baby Obed at her bosom. Verse 17, "The women in the neighborhood, they gave him a name, Obed, and they said, 'A son has been born to Naomi.'" Is that really true? No, he's a son to Ruth. "They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of King David". Of course, he was Ruth's son, but spiritually speaking, he was as much Naomi's son as he was Ruth's. Hear me right. Obed was a sign of God's restoring power. Because of Ruth's faith in the God of Naomi, because Ruth's faithfulness to the God of Naomi, because of Ruth's loyalty to the God of Naomi, God blessed them both, and he can bless you, and he can bless you.
I want to conclude by telling you an amazing story, an example of what God can do with a faceless, nameless person who is faithful to the Lord. Because, until you understand that and you realize that the book of your life hasn't been written yet, hasn't been finished yet, and whatever you're going through is only a chapter but more to come. That person, I know in my heart, 90% of you, at least, I want to be generous, 90% of you never heard of, you never heard of. He was less than an ordinary individual. He was not a famous preacher. He was not a famous teacher. He was not even a full-time minister. He probably was less gifted than 90% of you who are listening to me right now. All he was, was obedient to the Lord, and God used him to rock two continents for Jesus Christ. He was teaching a small class of boys in Boston, teenagers, 15, 16.
One day, he sensed the Holy Spirit saying to him, "You need to challenge these boys one-on-one, not just in teaching, but lead them to Christ one-on-one". And so he decided to go and visit those boys at their workplace. One of these teenage boys was a stock clerk in a shoe store in Boston. The Sunday school teacher nearly did not go into the store, and he had such doubt about going in, but then he literally felt the Holy Spirit was compelling him to go in and meet this young man and lead him to Christ.
Few moments of conversation, that young man came to Christ, and the moment he came to Christ, he became on fire for Jesus Christ. He immediately developed zeal of telling others about Jesus and eternal salvation and the gift of forgiveness of sins, and he went to the pastor of his church and he asked, "Can I teach a Sunday school class"? And the pastor said, "No". But he would not be deterred. Thank God for people like that. He would beg people to come and be involved in ministry. This guy wouldn't take no for an answer. So he went out in the streets, and he led some bunch of wayward boys to Christ, and until we reach about 30, he went back to the pastor. He said, "Now I've got my own class. Can you give me a room? I'll teach".
And the pastor literally had to concede and let him teach that group. And so he began that class, developed into a ministry that literally impacted the world for Jesus Christ. His name was D.L. Moody. One of D.L. Moody's biographers said that D.L. Moody de-populated hell by at least a million people. But that's not the end of the story. If it's the end of the story, it'd be a wonderful story, but that's not the end of the story. Moody preached in many parts of the U.S., but he preached in U.K., and he was invited to preach in F.B. Meyer's church. Some of you know that name. Now, F.B. Meyer was an Oxford graduate and very debonair and cultured British man. F.B. Meyer had very little in common with this kind of rough-talking American evangelist, and he did not get along with him.
When Moody shared his testimony in F.B. Meyer's church in England about how the Sunday school teacher came into the store and led him to Christ, a member of F.B. Meyer's church, a lady who was teaching a girls' Sunday school class, felt challenged by that, and so she went out and visited every one of those girls, and she led them to Christ, and then she came and told her pastor, F.B. Meyer, she told him about what happened and how these girls are coming to Christ, and literally, there is a revival going on in his church, right under his nose. At that moment, Meyer became very convicted of his arrogance, and he asked Moody to forgive him. And then the two of them became great friends. Moody invites F.B. Meyer to come and speak in the United States.
As Meyer was speaking one night, he felt the constraint of the Holy Spirit of God on him, and he said, "Somebody in this group, there's a person in this group who's wrestling with the Holy Spirit". And he said the following words. He said, "I want to say to that person that I'm sensing you're struggling in your spirit. Here and now, I wanna ask you, if you're not willing to do everything that God is asking you to do, would you be willing to be made willing"? That young man name was J. Wilbur Chapman, and that young man said to the Lord that night, "I'm willing to be made willing". He was struggling with the Spirit of God. Chapman became a great evangelist, and he traveled the width and the breadth of this great nation. Thousands of people heard the gospel message from Chapman.
But that's not the end of the story. As he was traveling across the land, he picked up an assistant, a helper, who was a YMCA worker, who happened to be a former baseball player. I mean, this man was a rough-talking dude, but he took him to help him set up the meetings, go ahead of him and prepare for the meetings. And when Chapman could not preach anymore, this former baseball player stepped behind the pulpit, and he brought a whole new chapter for gospel preaching in America. His name was Billy Sunday. Billy Sunday, in 1932, was invited to preach at the revival meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it was a great revival, a great crusade, a great opportunity for gospel preaching, and as a result of this, a group of men, mostly farmers from Charlotte, North Carolina, decided to start praying and started a prayer meeting, and they said, "Lord, do it again in Charlotte".
And as they prayed, "Do it again in Charlotte," the Holy Spirit of God began to convict them that they need to enlarge their vision. They need to elevate their vision. So they began to pray, "Lord, do something in North Carolina". And then, the longer they prayed, the larger the vision became, so they started praying, "Lord, do something in Charlotte that will impact the United States". And then, even then, God convicted even further, and they began to pray, "Lord, do something in Charlotte that will impact the world".
It was that group of farmers, this group of men, who invited a messianic Jewish evangelist by the name of Mordecai Ham to come and preach in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first night he preached was very little response. It was very discouraging. It was very disappointing for everybody, including the preacher, but there were three teenage boys sitting in the front who were coming under conviction. So the next night, they decided they're gonna sit at the choir loft so they'll be away from the finger of the preacher, but they were not away from the finger of the Holy Spirit, and they came under conviction that second night. They came and responded to the invitation. Their names? Billy Graham, T.D. Wilson, and Grady Wilson, who were Billy's right-hand, left-hand men.
They were his team all the way till they went to glory. And even when I think of the hundreds of ministries around the world, like Operation Mobilization, that came about as a result of the Moody Bible Institute, just think about this, and you realize it all began by the faithfulness of that Sunday school teacher. Listen to me: your story and mine might not become known like this when you see the hand of God in all of these steps, but I'm absolutely convinced as I am standing before you today that you will have countless members of people, numbers of people in heaven, who will walk up to you because the Bible said, in heaven, we will know everything.
And they will walk up to you and thank you for your faithfulness and for your faithful service because none of what I just told you that had taken place would have taken place if it wasn't for this nameless, faceless Sunday school teacher. I personally believe that, in heaven, this Sunday school teacher will receive all of the credit for all of the work, whether it be Moody or Graham. I believe that with every ounce of my being. For, without him, probably there would've been no... I know God is sovereign, but there'd probably be no Billy Graham, no Mordecai Ham, no Billy Sunday, no Chapman, no Meyer, no D.L. Moody. But the whole credit will be given to this man, who most of you never heard of. His name was Edward Kimball.
If Edward Kimball had not been faithful and obedient to the Spirit of God, perhaps Moody would not have come to Christ, and this whole ripple effect of changing the world for God in 150 years-plus, all this would've been told a different story. Now, beloved, you lose a blessing when you're not faithful. You lose a blessing. I'm always reminding myself of that. See, we are the blessed ones who can serve and give and sacrifice. We are the ones who are blessed.
Whether you're a Sunday school teacher, whether you're a greeter, whether you are a small group leader, home group leader, whether you are a Bible teacher, whether you are a Sunday school teacher or a student ministry teacher, whatever faithfulness you are exercising in your ministry, you will not know what that means until you get to heaven. And when you don't, you miss out on the blessing. And so this is a challenge and an opportunity for every one of us, regardless of where you are. Would you say with me, in a loud voice, these following words: "Lord, I'm willing to be made willing". Would you say that with me? And then watch, watch out how God can use you.