Steven Furtick - It Will Come Together
We're not holding hands. I don't know how we are on the spectrum of being able to… Can we at least touch the shoulder of the person on either side of you? That'll work. Baby steps. Pray this out loud. "Lord, the person I'm touching needs you more than I do, because they're a mess. So bless them today. In Jesus' name". Just kidding. You're a mess, and you know it too. How many of you think you are the least spiritual person on your row? Raise your hand. How many of you all think, "There's nobody in this room who read the Bible less than I did this week"? Raise your hand.
It's such a weird icebreaker for me to say that, isn't it? I'm just excited to be here. I told the Lord after we weren't able to have public meetings that I wouldn't take it for granted when we could get back together. If you'll notice… Maybe you don't like this, but I go longer now. I take my time. There are multiple reasons for that. One thing… If you're going to spend $350 filling your tank with gas to drive to church, I ought to at least give you more than "a little dab will do you". The other reason for that is that the Holy Spirit has really been doing a work in my heart. The natural overflow of that is I just find myself less and less thinking of preaching like a performance.
Now I think about myself, "Lord, make me a vessel for what you want to give your people". I love that, because it's not up to the box how good the pizza tastes. If I can just be a box to get you what God wants you to eat today, that'll be great. Yes, I just called the Bible pizza, because Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life," and he didn't say what kind of bread. Do y'all remember Book It!? You used to get the personal pan pizza for Book It! It's going to be a personal word for you today. I'm in a good mood. That's bad news for the Devil. I'm happy and ready to preach. Hey, real quick, check and see if we're coming to a city near you… elevationnights.com. It'll be cities such as, but not limited to, Indianapolis, Chicago, Boston, Newark, Columbus, Grand Rapids… Why did you say "Grand Rapids" so loud? Are you from there? Are you coming over in a couple of weeks? Good. Do you have your ticket? It's not free. You can't just show up. It's not like regular church night, because the arena is not free, so we have to pay for it. But you'll be there? All right. Great. And you're here today from Michigan. God bless you, Michigan. That's going to be awesome.
I loved it so much last year. I really needed it, after ministering in an empty room for so long through COVID, to get out and see the way people have been impacted by our church, and see it firsthand. I needed it. I felt like something just came alive inside of me, like it needed to be watered. After we came back, I was just fired up and full of life. That's why I'm going back, selfishly, just to do ministry, because I get more out of it than I could ever give. I wish you could all come, but you get to come every week, so what are you worried about. I wish we could have this conversation just one-on-one from the Word of God today. That would be ideal, because I could walk you through it a little differently, but we'll have to do the best we can with all of us.
I want to take you to the book of Ruth, chapter 4, verses 9-17. I want to say, "What's up?" to Taylor Shytle at Elevation Columbia. He texted me before I got up that he was praying for me while I was preaching, and that's why I'm shouting him out. I'm reciprocating. I appreciate your prayers, too, as I preach today, that I would be effective for who God wants me to reach. I've never preached a sermon from Ruth before. Holly walked by the other day and saw my Bible open to Ruth, and she said, "Ooh, Ruth". My reluctance to preach on Ruth isn't just because it's a book about a woman. I'm not a sexist. I think it's one of those stories that just to give you a sliver or one scene of the story feels like it doesn't do justice to the beauty of the whole thing. But still, God directed me here and just sucked me in, so I'm going to do my best today. I'm not trying to be cute, but I just want to show you one truth from the book of Ruth. Let's look at this together.
Ruth 4:9: "Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, 'Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!'" Verse 11: "Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, 'We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.'"
That's a blessing right there. Tell somebody next to you, "I'm stepping into a blessing". Tell them, "Give me some room, because I'm stepping into a blessing. I need six feet because I'm stepping…" All right. But that's not the word today. We need to read the next verses. "So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: 'Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.' Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, 'Naomi has a son!'" "You're never going to believe it, but she who was gone for over 10 years because of the famine and came back bitter is holding a son". "And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David".
This is what the Lord told me to tell you today as our message: It Will Come Together. Who felt that when I said it? It might be online. Put it in the chat. Put it in the comments right now, or tell your 6'3" neighbor, "It will come together". Tell your 5'4"… Whoever is standing next to you, I'm trying to say. Just make the declaration. "It will come together". It's kind of one of those clichés. I don't like when people say stuff like that to me. "It'll come together". I'll be stressed about a sermon, and Holly will say, "It'll come together". I'll be like, "Yeah. It sounds good". That's just a millimeter better than "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Clichés. Yet I don't mean it in that trite way. It could sound like that. "Oh, I know you lost your job. It'll come together".
Could you tell the power company that for me? "Oh, I know you're single and your friends are married. Don't worry. The Lord has a Boaz for you". I'm not going to do it. She wants me to do it. I'm not going to do it. There's an old thing online that says, "While you're waiting for your Boaz, don't settle for Brokeaz…" All that. I'm not going to do it. Temptress! It's a whole thing. In Christianity, the book of Ruth is usually identified by chapter 1, verse 16, and it's always in the King James at a wedding. This is the famous verse of Ruth. You're going to know it when I say it. You're like, "Huh? What's he talking about"? You'll know it when you see it. This is the King James, where it says, "Whither thou goest, I will go".
You have to get the whither in there for the marriage vows. Doesn't that sound like a wedding? "Whither thou goest…" You've never said whither in your life, but now you're about to commit your whole self to somebody, and you're breaking out words you never use. "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God". I'm not making fun of that verse. That verse in itself is a sermon. That one verse shows you that when you decide who, you decide where.
Now, this is not how we think. We think, "I need to decide where I'm going to college". No, no, no. That's not as important as who you hang out with when you get to college, wherever you go to college. I teach that all the time, because who will ultimately identify not only where you end up physically… Holly wouldn't be in Charlotte if she hadn't married me, because she wouldn't have been a pastor's wife, or if she had, maybe the guy JJ she was talking to ends up somewhere else. When you say yes to someone, you say yes to something you don't know about at the time. The same with God. When you say yes to God, he'll take you places you never thought you would go…when you say yes to him. Who you say yes to, who you say no to, is very important. It's really important. Tell somebody, "It will come together".
I want you to get that in your mind so we can get it past your mind into your spirit so that you hear it differently when I finish in a few minutes than you hear it right now. We are all standing in a space in our lives where we are needing clarity on some things. Maybe you're not in the same situation as Naomi and Ruth. Both of them being widows were completely dependent on the kindness of someone else. Maybe it's not that bad in your life. Ruth not only lost her husband when she lost Mahlon, but Naomi lost her son. Naomi had already lost her husband Elimelek, and they were already in a strange place. I want to talk to you about this, because when you read a Bible verse in isolation, it's almost impossible to really make sense out of it.
I want you to have that app on your phone where they give you the verse every day, but I don't want you to always read the Scriptures in isolation, because if you just take it in isolation… Sometimes we don't even read the whole verse and we quote it, and then we think it didn't work. It's not that Romans 8:28 isn't true. "All things work together for the good…" You just stopped in the middle of the verse. It said, "All things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to his purpose". It means God doesn't decide what is good in your life based on your preference, but his purpose. So then you go through something, and "This isn't good. How can this be good? God is good, and this isn't good. What's going on? I thought it was all good".
God didn't say that. In the Bible, God didn't say that. He said, "All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose". So his purpose comes first, not my preference. His purpose comes first, not my plan. What happens to us is we get addicted to a plan, and if it doesn't fit the plan, we want to throw it back to God and say, "Fix this"! But God doesn't start with the picture called your plan when he is building the pieces of your life. He's God! The truth of the matter is you can't really judge your life in isolation. You can't really know when you're going through something whether it's good or not. Don't judge it just yet. One Scripture says, "Judge nothing before the appointed time". God will reveal hidden things and bring them to light, and the secret things will be laid bare. Judge nothing…no thing. "All things work together for the good of them that love the Lord".
Now, if you love something else more than you love the Lord, Romans 8:28 is going to be hard for you. If you love popularity more than you love God, when people leave you, you will think that's not good. But if you love the Lord's purpose more than you love popularity, sometimes you will praise God not for who stays with you, but for who leaves you, because you believe the Lord is leading your life. Wow! It will come together. We make the mistake of thinking everyone who starts with us will stay with us. It doesn't happen that way. This is not a sermon about abandonment or divorce, but I do want to talk about those issues. In the book of Ruth, you have this woman named Naomi who goes to a place called Moab where there is something to eat for her family, and through no fault of her own, she watches her husband and her sons, 10 years later, die in front of her eyes. Her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, are committed to stay with her.
There is a reason this is not called the "book of Orpah". She left. There is a reason I said, "Turn in your Bible to the book of Ruth". Ruth stayed. Put this in your heart: whoever left you in your life, whoever walked away from you in your life, was not part of God's purpose for your current season. It doesn't mean they're bad. It doesn't mean they're evil. It doesn't mean you need to make a voodoo doll and stick a pin in their left ear, trying to get them to have an earache. It doesn't mean any of that. It doesn't mean you need to talk crap about them. It doesn't mean you have to want them to fail. It doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a new car to show them you made it, and drive by their house, and they're not even home. It doesn't mean any of that. It just means… Can I preach?
God doesn't build my life on people who left. One thing I'm learning to appreciate at this stage of my life is the providence of God. The plans of man and the providence of God are two totally different things. The man directs his steps in his mind. God orders his steps in real life. Maybe I'm preaching to somebody today who is like Naomi. When we walked into Ruth, chapter 4, it looked like everything was going well. On the surface it sounds like this is a moment to be happy, and it is if you look at it in isolation. But understanding what led up to this moment, I think, gives me a greater appreciation for who God is and what he is able to do. Let's look at it a little deeper. Even the book of Ruth is an interesting book. You have Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and then Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings… What's Ruth doing between all of those big books? Why is there a book in the Bible about one woman from Moab?
Moab is not Bethlehem. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Moab. Moab was like you went to school in Chapel Hill and you are cheering for Coach K. Do you see what I've said? That level of hatred right there? You felt it coming through the room. This is a local illustration. I could use another one somewhere else. What is a woman from Moab doing between the five covenants in the Bible? A covenant is a concept we would do well to understand in our current contemporary society. We don't understand it at all. We don't understand commitment at all. We just understand convenience. Even when we say marriage vows, we don't really mean half of what we're saying. We're saying, "As long as you make me happy, I'll be with you". We don't really mean what we're saying. I'm not saying that to shame anybody. I'm just saying sometimes we would do well to understand these verses in their context.
God made a covenant with Noah. He said, "I'll never flood the earth again". That's the first covenant. There are five covenants. The Bible is structured around five covenants. The Noahic covenant: "I will never flood the earth again". It means there's going to be a limit on human evil. The Abrahamic covenant, which God said, "I'm going to make a nation out of you. Count the stars if you can. Count the sand if you can". And Abraham goes, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine… This is going to take a long time, God". God said, "Exactly. It's going to take a long time for me to show you what I'm going to do through you, and your descendants will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore. If you can believe it and receive it, even though you are past childbearing years, I am going to bring forth a life out of your wife's dead womb that will bless the whole world, and I will bless you, and you will be a blessing".
That's the Abrahamic covenant. Then you have the Davidic covenant, which God made with David, the second king Israel had. You remember Saul, the one the people wanted, and then David, and he's like, "This is my guy right here. He's after my heart". He said, "I'm going to establish a throne from you". Now, you forgot about the Mosaic covenant, where God had to bring his people out of Egypt, and then the new covenant… How many thank God for the blood of Jesus that lets me know that I can't keep the law, and what the law was powerless to do, in that it was weakened by my flesh, God did by sending his Son Jesus, the Son of David, to be a sin offering in my place. Upon Jesus was placed all my transgression and all my shame. So, whatever shame I carried into church today, as a child of the new covenant, I carried it illegally, because Jesus took it, and whatever he took, he intends to keep and deal with.
So, I have to give it back to him over and over and over, because God has already made up his mind about me. He's not looking to see if I get it right or if I get it wrong. He made a purpose for my life, and it will come together. I feel like preaching this like it's Code Orange Revival, but you won't help me. Touch three people and tell them, "It will come together". It will. I know it's taking a while. I know it has been on layaway and delay, and there's a shipping thing. I know they can't get it to you like they were supposed to, and I know you're three years past the due date of when you expected God to do it, but if Naomi encourages me about one thing, it's that after she lost everything she held dear, God still had something for her. I'm glad about it.
I love that verse they said in the blessing in Ruth 4:11. This is the one that got me. "We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel". That sounds so nice. "Rachel and Leah, who together…" Teamwork makes the dream work. "…who together built up the house of Israel". Remember, they're saying this hundreds of years after it happened. They're saying this after they have the benefit of seeing the blessing fully matured. They are saying this like a parent who is 91 years old, and all of their kids have kids now. They have lived long enough to know, "Don't stress about that. It's all right. Please don't worry yourself that much about that. It's all right".
See, we don't get to live through that lens. We don't get to live through the lens of knowing that Rachel and Leah built up the house of Israel together. We don't get to live through the lens of Naomi knowing, "I'm going to hold a baby named Obed in my arms, even though I'm going to cry for years about my husband, only to lose my sons". See, we don't taste life as a meal. We experience the ingredients in isolation. In God's mind, your life is a meal. In God's mind, your life is Thanksgiving Day. What do you all eat on Thanksgiving? I might come over. Put it in the chat. What do you all have at Thanksgiving? What do you like at Thanksgiving? What do you have at Thanksgiving? Mac and cheese? I might come. Can somebody do better than that? Mac and cheese and sweet potatoes. Like, sweet potatoes or a sweet potato thing with marshmallows in it? The sweet potatoes are the middleman for me. I just want the marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes, honestly.
So, yeah, that's good. I might come. What else? What do y'all have at Thanksgiving? I don't know. I'm making everybody hungry. I'm losing my audience. This is really bad public speaking. What am I doing? You have to understand that the moment Naomi is in her life right now is a blessing, but it's a mixed blessing. I noticed the room got happy when I said, "You're stepping into a blessing". It's like, "Yes"! I forgot to tell you it's a mixed blessing. That means you need to prepare for the blessing as it is actually going to be or you might miss the blessing because it's going to be mixed when you get it. In fact, Naomi was in so much pain there in Moab where she went to escape from Bethlehem where there was a famine… It seems like she did all right when she lost her husband, but when she lost her sons too, she said, "Don't call me Naomi anymore. Call me Mara".
Naomi has the connotation of pleasant. Mara means bitter. After what she has been through, can you blame her? When somebody has been through something like this, you don't tell them, "It'll come together". "What will come together? How can you replace those boys? Even if God gave me 20 more, it wouldn't replace them". That's how it is sometimes in your life. Don't try to tell me, "It's going to get better. Call me Bitter". When that kind of bitterness hits your heart, you don't even want to hear about better from anybody…not from preachers, not from teachers, not from Pinterest. "Don't tell me all things work together for the good of those that love God". When you taste the ingredient in isolation, it would be lying to say, "That's delicious". It would be lying. I was talking to a guy… I think he was in London. He said he had to lay off 40 of his 200 employees. He said, "But you know what? It's a good thing". I said, "I understand what you're saying, but for them… I hope you didn't tell them that". He said, "No, I'm not telling them that. I'm just telling you that". I said, "Well, make sure you don't tell them you feel that way, because they probably don't see it like that right now from your perspective". He said, "You've got a good point".
It is a good point. Have you ever walked in the kitchen…? I'll just use an example. I'm not a cook. Take a scoop of baking powder, and just down it. Did you ever do it? So, baking powder is bad. Anybody want a big heaping pile of baking powder for lunch today? Raise your hand. This is the message. Do you want the whole message in a moment? This is the whole message. This is why you came from Michigan. This is why you tuned in online. Just because it tastes bad in isolation doesn't mean it won't serve a purpose in the finished product. I'm not saying that. The Bible said that after Naomi had gone so low she said, "This doesn't taste good…" Honestly, I figured out why people in church often look so sour when they're in church: because what you went through this week didn't taste good. You are trying to praise God with a taste in your mouth of disappointment and fear. I mean, it's hard to say, "Hallelujah" when your mouth tastes like hurt. "Call me Bitter. You might as well". It doesn't taste good, yet what a strange blessing they gave.
Let me give you a little bit more background so I can make sure I'm not confusing. Graham is my guy. He told me the other day… He was like, "Dad, sometimes you have to slow down with these Scriptures. You've been looking at them all week, and we're just waking up. You have to slow down, break it down". Even though I can't do it justice, the book of Ruth is beautiful. You could read it in the time that you could watch half an episode of Ozark. When we move through it, we see Naomi, Elimelek, Kilion, and Mahlon. Mahlon is Ruth's husband. Orpah is married to Kilion. (Both of those baby names are available, by the way, if you want to have an original name for your kid.) When they went to Moab, they went to a place that they didn't (this is important) plan to go.
This message is for somebody who is in a place you didn't plan to go. I'm going to take it further. Sometimes it's a place you hate being there, because they're from Bethlehem, and they're in Moab. Kind of like when the Israelites went to Egypt. I mentioned it earlier. They didn't go to Egypt because it was their dream to go to Egypt. It wasn't on their bucket list to go to Egypt. They went to Egypt to survive. We've talked about that a lot. I think a lot of the sin cycles we get sucked into in our lives are out of survival mechanisms. If we don't deal with it that way, we just put so much shame on it, we can't help anybody get healed. People won't come to Jesus, because you don't understand the power of his covenant with you. You think Jesus is like other people and that there will come a point where he'll be ashamed of you and go, "Oh, that's too far there. I was going to use you, but really? You did that"?
You don't understand the power of a covenant, but Ruth did, because when Naomi said, "Leave me. I've lost my husbands. I've lost my boys. I've heard there's bread in Bethlehem. We've been here 10 years…" Ruth said, "I'm not leaving. I'll make a covenant with you. Whither thou goest, I go. Your God becomes my God". Your god will often become the same god as your friends. If you are around people who worship status and stuff, it won't be long until you're shackled to the same things they are. Touch somebody next to you and say, "You ought to hang out with me a little while. If you hang out with me, you're going to have strong faith. If you hang out with me…" Come on, Def Leppard. "If you hang out with me…"
So, they go back together, and Naomi, in this honest moment, says, "Call me Bitter. I still have the taste in my mouth. I'm going back to Bethlehem," which means house of bread, which makes it that much more depressing when there's a famine in Bethlehem, when there's a famine in the place that is named after bread. When the joy of the Lord is supposed to be your strength, and you are a Christian, and you're depressed. You are a Christian and you can't sleep. You are a Christian and you have addictions. You are a Christian… "I am a C, I am a C-H, I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N, but I have ADD, ADHD, A-D-D-I-C-T-I-O-N. I'm in the house of bread, but I'm hungry". "Call me Mara," she said. Ruth said, "I was with you when I wanted your son. Now you don't have a son to give me, but I'm still with you". I wonder who the Lord is saying that to. "I'm still with you". "I don't sell low and buy high".
God is not Warren Buffett. God doesn't trade like that. God said, "I'm still with you, because I made a covenant with you. It's not the kind of covenant I made with Noah. That was limited. It's not the kind of covenant I made with Abraham. That was limited. It's not the covenant I made with Moses. That was limited. It's not the covenant I made with David. That was limited. This is the covenant of my blood made with the life of my Son, and I am with you". In your bitterness, in your brokenness, God said, "I'm with you". "But I'm bitter". "But I'm with you". I love the Lord, because he wrote the Bible. He knew the woman who said, "I'm bitter, and it's over" in chapter 1 would be holding a baby in chapter 4. So he gave her someone named Ruth, the Moabite. He gave her a Moabite. Not somebody from Bethlehem… somebody from a place that she never wanted to be. Remember, it's God's kitchen. If you walk around God's kitchen tasting stuff… "I don't like that. I don't like that".
You know how you are. Some of y'all are faith foodies. You walk around. "Hmm. No, I don't like that". Now listen. You get to tell God certain things you want him to do. "God, I want you to grow me, mature me, bless me". You can say all that to God. It's good. You don't get to tell him how to do it. I'll go a step further. You get to tell God what you want. Do you know that's the first thing Jesus asked in the New Testament? He turned around to people following him and said, "What do you want? Let's just get right to it. Cut to the chase. Cut through all the niceties. I don't need a soliloquy. What do you want"? They said, "We want to see where you're staying". You have to follow me to know me. That means that if you judge stuff while it's happening, you'll call yourself by what you've been through.
I was in the kitchen the other day, and Holly was making breakfast. I was trying to be helpful, but I can't cook. But I wanted to help out. She had just finished the sausage, so I was taking the pan to pour out the grease from the sausage. I can tell who cooks in the room by your reaction. She said two things to me that I'm going to preach to you. She said, "Leave the grease. I'm about to use it". That's the first thing she said. I'm out of the book of Ruth. I'm in "Second Holly". She said, "Leave the grease, because I'm about to make your eggs. When I make your eggs, I'm going to take these eggs, and I'm going to…" All things work together. The grease on its own is not something you want to eat, but if you'll let me leave the right amount of grease for this recipe that I know… See, because if I make your eggs without grease… She looked at me and said the second thing. She said, "You need to get out of my kitchen".
I hear God saying to somebody who has been telling him what he can't do, what he shouldn't do… I heard the voice of the Lord. I was praying about it, and God said… Hit your neighbor and say, "Get out of God's kitchen". Stop asking God to bring people back who were supposed to go. Get out of the kitchen! Stop asking God to take thorns away that he left so you could know him. Get out of the kitchen! "Get out of my kitchen! Let me mix this, because when I get done mixing these eggs with this grease, when I get finished mixing your pain with my joy, when I get finished mixing your gift with your opportunity… Get out of my kitchen"! In my weakness he is strong. That's grease. That weakness is grease. Stop trying to get rid of it, and let God mix it. So, I put something in a song two years ago. It's going to come out on the radio in a couple of weeks, and you might hear it. Well, not some of y'all, because y'all don't listen to the Christian station. But it's a song, and it says, "If it's not good, then he's not done".
Let me break it all the way down. He hasn't mixed it yet. You keep walking over to the grease, going, "Hmm! God can't cook". Judge no thing before the appointed time. Why? Because all things work together. Did he say everything was good? Or did he say that when Ruth meets Boaz, when the thing… This is what had to happen for Ruth. She goes back to Bethlehem. She's gleaning in a field. A man named Boaz sees her. This is not a singles' conference. Do not get an "Are you my Boaz"? tee shirt made after this message. That's, honestly, quite off-putting. It really is. It attracts the crazy guys. All right? Don't wear that shirt. "Be my Boaz". Don't do it. I'm telling you, don't do it. It's a bad idea. But he sees her while she's gleaning. You had to leave a certain portion of your field by biblical law for the foreigners and for the orphans of which Ruth was both. Because she made a commitment to Naomi, she met a man named Boaz. He's called a kinsman redeemer, which ultimately, of course, points to Jesus.
In this situation, it is a real legal obligation, because he is a relative of Naomi, which makes him (here's a word we don't hear much in today's society) responsible. Responsible to redeem this widow named Naomi who is his relative, and along with her comes Ruth. That is what helped me to understand why they said, "May the Lord make her like Rachel and Leah". That goes all the way back to Jacob. Remember the covenant God made with Abraham? Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, you. You're in good company, and you have a better covenant, because all theirs had conditions to them. All you have to do is believe and receive and then obey to be blessed, but you don't have to obey to be his child. Amazing. I mean, you think Boaz is something? Do you have any idea what kind of acceptance and resource you have in Christ?
Now we use it as a picture, why they said… They give a blessing. This is obviously something they've said in this situation before. As Boaz goes to redeem, take Ruth as his wife, take Naomi in, to purchase Elimelek's land, to care for the family so that his name will not be blotted out…all this stuff that I really don't have time to break down for you, but maybe it'll whet your appetite to read it this week… That would be awesome. All that stuff leads up to this moment where they say, "May the Lord make this woman like Leah and Rachel". Now, Leah and Rachel are not exactly teammates, even though they're sisters. Right here, it makes it sound like they just agreed. "May the Lord make you like Rachel and Leah, Ruth".
Now, the reason that was strange to me was, first, when Jacob was running… Talk about mixed blessings. He tricked his father into blessing him, but then he had to run from his brother. Is it really a blessing if you have to run from it? Talk about mixed blessings. God called him Israel, which means prince or prevalent with God, but his name was Jacob, which meant deceiver. Don't we all know what that feels like to wrestle with both sides of ourselves? He came out of the womb wrestling. Then when he gets to his uncle Laban's house, he wants to marry this daughter named Rachel. Rachel… This is not in the Hebrew, but she's hot. Then her sister Leah is not hot. The Bible says Laban tricked Jacob, because it all catches up with you eventually. The way you get blessed is the way you have to stay blessed.
So, if you get stuff by manipulating, don't be surprised when you're stressed out about keeping it, but if you get it from God, it'll be a whole different thing. Yet these are the two names that were mentioned in the blessing. So, watch what Laban did. He said, "Okay. Work for me seven years. I'll give you Rachel". Jacob worked seven years. On his wedding night, he wakes up the next morning, and the Bible says something so crazy. "There was Leah". O Lord. Just for a side Bible study, did you ever think it was Rachel, but it turned out Leah? I'm not talking about women. I'm talking about opportunities. Did you ever wake up next to Leah? You went to bed with Rachel. You thought that was such a good idea, such a good investment. We've all had those moments. We have all had those moments.
Anyway, Laban said, "Oh, no, no, no. The way it works here in our custom… If you want Rachel, you have to first marry her older sister Leah. If you give me seven more years, you can have Rachel, but you still have to keep Leah". Jacob is like, "O God". That's how I know that Rachel was indeed attractive, because he did another seven years for her. So, she is not average by my reasoned deductions, or whatever. She was beautiful, but she was barren. She couldn't have kids. Leah, on the other hand, the one the Bible said had weak eyes… I don't even know what that means, y'all, but that doesn't sound good. The picture that comes into my mind is not attractive. She wasn't attractive, but she was productive. She started having babies so quickly. Boom! Reuben. Boom! Simeon. Boom! Levi. Boom! Judah. It's four to nothing. Rachel is not even on the board. Rachel is like, "I've got to do something about this. I heard what my grandma did. Jacob, you need to sleep with my maidservant Bilhah".
So she gives Bilhah to Jacob to sleep with. Jacob is like, "Okay". So they got two more babies by the servant. Now Leah all of a sudden hits a period when she can't produce. Here's her servant Zilpah. Now we're up to eight kids. Here comes a daughter. Here comes Issachar…baby after baby after baby. Finally, Rachel has Joseph, and while she's dying, she has Benjamin. "Why, Steven Furtick, did you slow down to tell us all of that"? Because it helped me to understand that, first, every Rachel comes with a Leah. Take it out of the realm of people for a moment. Rachel was what Jacob loved and what he wanted. What do you want? What do you love? Everything you love is going to come with something that you don't. Let that sink in. You got it? Everything you love… "God, I want success". Cool. It comes with stress, sleeplessness, and sacrifice.
Just the other day, my family rekindled the campaign for a dog. I thought we were through it. I thought I stood my ground. Y'all think I'm lying. The pressure they're putting on me about this dog… It has been years. How many of y'all have been at Elevation long enough? You've watched this whole thing go down. Graham made a song about it. Look. I brought something. On my way out of the garage… I don't even know why I left this up. Graham made this sign years ago, so every time I leave my garage, I have to look at this sign that says, "I want a…" I've been looking at that on my door for years now, and standing strong too. I didn't even remember this. At the same time, Abbey made one too. You can't really see it. That isn't even spelled right and it's heartbreaking. I wish you could see it. It says, "I wa god, dog". She wants God. She wants a dog. She wants everything.
What happened… I promise you I have a point to this. They caught me the other night. Elijah was out, and I was all alone. It was three on one. They took the opportunity… Graham said, "I'm a good kid. I've never wanted anything but a dog". Then he took it here: "If I died, you would spend the rest of your life thinking, 'Why didn't I get the boy a dog?'" I said, "I know you want a dog. You don't want what comes with it". Abbey said, "But, Dad, you love us. I know you'll give it to us, because you love us. You give us everything we want". I looked at Holly. I gave her a look too. She said, "What is that look"? I said, "This is the look of me imagining the reality". Graham said, "It's different". I said, "You can't even clean your room, Graham". He said, "That's different. My socks are not living things". Which, if you check the fungal composition on those socks, you might be wrong about that. He said, "The dog is a living thing, and there's no way I would let a living thing suffer. You know I would take care of a living thing, Dad. I'm a good kid". I said, "But what about what comes out of the living thing"?
This is the point. Do you want what comes with it? Do you know what comes with it? This is a good question to ask: If you knew Leah came with it, would you still want Rachel? If you knew the bitterness came with Naomi, would you still want to be a part of Elimelek's family? Would you still want it if you knew what came with it? So, guess what. Nobody knows this, but I'm getting you all a dog. I'm going to do it. I know you're suspicious. Hey, this is not a trick. This is not a game. They've been here many times before. I'll say, "I'm going to get you a dog," and they'll say, "Really"? and I'll say, "Yeah. You want mustard, relish, ketchup…"? I've got jokes. I'm going to get the dog because of something he said that changed how I felt. He said, "All right. I'm willing to say it'll be my job".
So now you get a dog, and you get a dog, and you get a dog, but it's not my dog, and it's not your dog. It's their dog. It's their stuff. Everybody, stretch your hand toward my family and say, "It's y'all's dog". Toward these three right here, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego. It's y'all's dog. Sit down. But now we're going to find out, saints of God. Do they want what comes with it? Because I will give it away a week from when we get it if they don't. I'm not cleaning up nothin'. We are about to find out. Remember, Boaz redeemed this family after another close relative had the opportunity to, but the other relative didn't want it because it came with a Moabite. Boaz said, "Not only do I want the land. I'll take what comes with it".
I have to show you this. It's beautiful. While Leah and Rachel were having all of those babies, really to compete with each other… From their perspective, they were trying to get Jacob to love them, but from God's perspective, it was all coming together to make a nation. So, I need you to know the dog comes with walking. The patience comes with pain. It will come together. It'll be a mixed blessing. It'll be Leah and Rachel. It will be Naomi and Boaz. It will be both. I'm telling you this in case you are holding a blessing but don't recognize it. The baby's name was Obed. His son's name was Jesse. His son's name was David. David was the king through which came forth somebody we're awfully fond of named Jesus. But if you go all the way back, it came from 10 generations after 10 years in Moab from a man named Perez, who came from a man named Judah. And who was the mom of Judah? Leah, the one Jacob didn't even want.
You have no idea what you're holding, and if you taste it in isolation, it might just be pain. If you taste it in isolation, it might just be failure. But let God mix it. You don't know who you're going to meet next year. You don't know what you're going to learn. You don't know what God might be protecting you from by getting you out of there. Get out of the kitchen. You're a terrible cook. Get out of the kitchen. That grease is there for a reason. Get out of the kitchen. Leah is the one who gave Jacob the baby that produced the king that produced your Savior. I want you to say this out loud: "God, I want your will, and I want what comes with it". I'm going to tell you what comes with it. If you go through a trial, you'll get grace with it. God will give you the grace to stand up under… How many of you went through something so dark you couldn't even explain how you got through, but there was a grace? There was a grace, wasn't there?
If somebody would have told you you could live through that, you'd say, "Call me Bitter. I can't make it. It's over". You would have said that, but watch this. When she was holding the baby, it wasn't Mara holding the baby. That's the name she gave herself. It said "Naomi". God still knew her name. As we close today, I want you to stand in every auditorium and in every living room. If you're in a hospital room with somebody and you're standing next to somebody whose life has become very bitter, if you're standing in need right now of something that only God can give, or you're in a desperate place called Moab where you never thought you would be, this prayer is for you to just lift your hands like this to God. Naomi said, "I went out full, and I went down to Moab. I went because I had to go. I lost what I can't replace. I went out full, and I came back empty".
That would be a summary of how some of us feel today, God, but we want to see that reversed in our lives, that we would say, "I came in empty, but I'm going out full," believing that while Rachel and Leah were fighting themselves, disliking themselves, and proving things to one another, you were building a nation. If that was true for their blessing, if that was true for Ruth and Naomi, maybe it's true for me too. For every blessing there's a burden. It'll come together, but our focus is chosen. Right now, Jesus, in your name, I'm asking you that you would put a baby in Naomi's arms today. It won't take the bitterness or the pain away, but it'll give us something to look forward to. He said you're holding Obed. Obed never would have been here without Moab. What you're holding, what you're walking in… It will come together. Say it. "It will come together". You have to trust God in this part. You have to trust God in this moment, knowing it will come together.
Almighty God; Jehovah-Shalom; Prince of Peace; Jehovah-Rapha, our healer; Jehovah-Nissi, our banner and victory; Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords… Change our name today. We came in holding bitterness, but we believe that the baby held in Naomi's arms is representative of the purpose we are holding. God, if I preached it for one person today, that's cool with me, because if they get this, great things are coming forth from their life that eyes have not seen and ears have not heard, and it hasn't even entered into their heart, but you know it and you spoke it and you can do it.
It'll come together if you don't give up. It'll come together if you don't mess it up and manipulate it. It will come together. I speak the blessing of the almighty over you today. May the Lord make you like Rachel and Leah who together built the house. All things work together. How many of you love the Lord? How many of you are called according to his purpose? If that's you… "I'm not called according to my experience. I'm called according to his purpose".