Steven Furtick - The One Who Seeks... Finds!
Hey, clap those hands if you love Jesus! Be patient with the old boy today. I've been up a long time. I want to mention that Easter is coming soon. Now, we're not waiting for Easter to live a resurrected life, but imagine how many people you might be able to invite to church on Easter this year who haven't been back yet. We should call it Comeback Sunday. The Blue Devils couldn't do it last night, but a comeback is possible. A house divided. I felt it when I said it. Look at you, though. Look at you in the house of God today. Look at you joining us online. Look at you standing at attention, ready to see what God will speak. Well, I want to mobilize you. In two weeks, on April 17, Easter Sunday (easteratelevation.com for all of the times and locations)… I would really, really urge you to pray and say, "God, is there somebody I could bring with me"?
Y'all know this. The church comes last for a lot of people. It shouldn't. Back at Target. Back at the ball field. Back everywhere else but church. But you don't have to condemn people. You can just invite them. Just invite them. So, that's going to be awesome, and also, Elevation Nights is three weeks away. That's where we take our ministry, and we mobilize in arenas all over the United States, but this particular leg we're going to be in Chicago; Grand Rapids; Indianapolis; Columbus; Washington, DC; Reading, Pennsylvania… Shouts for Reading, Pennsylvania. I didn't expect it, but okay. Newark, New Jersey, and Boston, Massachusetts. You need to go to elevationnights.com because tickets are going fast. You can meet with Jesus anywhere, but if you want to come into the arena, you have to have a ticket for those nights. It will be amazing, and we can't wait to see you there.
Tell somebody next to you, "I'm happy to be here today. I'm happy to be here for part 2 of that sermon Pastor Steven started last week". We're going back to Ruth. Now, just to set your expectation, we are actually going to go backward. We were in the last chapter of the book of Ruth last week. We're going to go back to chapter 2. It was no sooner that I said "Amen" on the stage and sat down at my desk back there that the Lord started to show me what to preach this week. I've been waiting since then, so you will forgive if I'm a little overheated. My engine has been revving for seven days. Tell somebody online… Put it in the comments of the chat. Say, "I'm ready too". Ask them, "Are you ready"? If they don't look ready, give them a little stretch or a little shove or something. I'm so excited.
Ruth, chapter 2. Actually, let's go to chapter 1 so we can get the context. I think that's important. This will not be a Bible study on the whole book of Ruth, but what I hope to do with the help of the Holy Spirit today is lift a principle from this Old Testament story as a picture that we can then apply a practical New Testament principle for our lives. That's what I hope to do today. You might get mixed up on some of the history and go, "I don't really know who that is or what that means. He said a name there, and it had 17 syllables, and I don't really know all of these Bible names". That's okay, because we're really going to lift one principle today from Ruth. But I do want to read enough of the Scripture where you can get the context, so let's go to Ruth, chapter 1, and let's do verse 19.
"So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, 'Can this be Naomi?' 'Don't call me Naomi,' she told them. 'Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi?'" Naomi means pleasant. She's carrying so much pain that she is changing her name, and her identity is now being not spoken by God, but spoken by her experiences. She has lost two sons and a husband, so she didn't just have a bad day or get fired from a job she didn't really like anyway. She has every reason to say this. Now watch how good God is. This is what I want you to watch with that context. Verse 22 says, "So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning". Chapter 2, verse 1: "Now Naomi…"
I love that word now. After all she has been through, the author wants us to know this is not chapter 1 anymore. This is chapter 2 of the book of Ruth, and it starts with one little three-letter word. "Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz". Boaz means "The Lord has made me strong". Isn't it good to have somebody strong on your side? "Oh yeah. Be nice to me. I have somebody strong on my side. Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. I have God on my side". Wow! Martin Luther said: "Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing, Were not the right man on our side, The man of God's own choosing. Dost ask whom that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; Lord Sabaoth his name, From age to age the same; And he must win the battle. That's for free". That's Martin Luther. Martin Luther said that.
Ruth, chapter 2, verse 2: "And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, 'Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.' Naomi said to her, 'Go ahead, my daughter.' So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek. Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem…" Imagine how God had to orchestrate all of this. Boaz had to get stuck behind a slow car with an Elevation sticker or he would have been to Bethlehem too early while Ruth was in the shelter. Just look, because the narrator doesn't really say it was God, but it's implied.
If you look for it, you can see the hand of God, but it's not always named that. It didn't say God led Ruth to the field belonging to Boaz. It doesn't say that, but he did. It didn't say Boaz got there when he got there so that Ruth could be there when she was there so they could meet at this moment. It doesn't say that God was Match.com, but he was. You don't always know it was God who put a delay in your life so you wouldn't get there too soon. You call it stuff like coincidence. That's just God's pseudonym…coincidence. That's just a name God goes by when he doesn't want you to know it's him yet. Coincidence is just God in a costume.
So, Boaz walked out into his field and greeted the harvesters, and he said, "The Lord be with you"! They replied back, "The Lord bless you"! "Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, 'Who does that young woman belong to?' The overseer replied, 'She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.'" He doesn't even know her name. God does. "She said, 'Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.' She came into the field and has remained here…" She came and remained. Do you see that? She came and remained here. Do you see it? "She came and remained from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter". "So Boaz said to Ruth, 'My daughter, listen to me. Don't go and glean in another field…'" "Hey, baby. You're in the right field". "…and don't go away from here. Stay here with [me]". Try that for a pickup line this week. "Don't go glean in another field. Get Starbucks with me". But then he told her something to do.
Pay attention here. "Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty…" "I know the women are supposed to fill the jars for the men, but you go get a drink from the water jars the men have filled". Okay, Holly. Do not underline that verse. "At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, 'Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?'" Boaz replied, "Because you're cute". No, he didn't say that. It was more than an appearance. Watch this. "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law…" "I heard about you". "…since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge".
He answered the question Ruth asked him. That's what we want to do today with this principle. "Why have I found such favor in your eyes"? The word of the Lord today… This is the principle that's in this chapter of Scripture: the one who seeks finds. Isn't that the truth? The one who seeks finds. I need to point out something to you from the background of the text that is not boring. Always, when I go, "Let's get a little background," some people check out. They wait until I tell a story or talk about getting my kids a dog, or something, and then they perk up. Or when I say something that rhymes or starts with all of the same letters.
I'm not even going to put my points on the screen today. You'll have to find them in the message. The moment I tell you there are four points in this message, you will only hear the four points in this message. What are you…10? You are grown enough now to glean the parts of this message that God has for you, and the part that's not for you, you leave it. But make sure you don't leave the thing you need the most because you don't like it. The important thing about me reading chapter 1, of course, was that we needed to continue the conversation about what Naomi and Ruth lost, because without understanding what they lost, it'll have very little relevance to our lives if we also feel like we're at a loss.
Now, you can be at a loss for words. You can be at a loss for money. You can be at a loss for knowledge. It doesn't necessarily have to be "Oh, I lost my husband. I lost my sons". But one thing about this lens, you have to admit, is it doesn't get much worse. You already left your homeland because of a famine. That was what happened in chapter 1, verses 1-3, where Naomi had to leave with her husband Elimelek. They had to leave Bethlehem, and they had to go to Moab where they worshiped other gods. Then her sons had to marry other women from Moab, and they had to eat Moabite food. They had to be on a Moabite diet when they had a Bethlehem appetite. They were surrounded culturally by enigmatic idolatry that they couldn't understand or process, but they ate there.
The Bible doesn't specify exactly when Elimelek passed or from what, but he died. Perhaps Naomi at that point still knew her name was Naomi because she still had two sons. Ten years pass, and they leave too. Her grief is no longer concealable. I don't know if that's a word, but it's definitely a state where you can't hide what you're going through anymore. You're smiling, but not with your eyes, only with your teeth. Even the things you say to try to counteract it sound empty. So, you might get to a point, like Naomi, where you begin to reject anything that contradicts the pain you have assimilated as a part of you. She said, "Don't even call me by my real name anymore". We don't typically tell people that. Right? Like, "Don't call me Steven. Call me Seth".
We start answering to different stuff. (I just said another word that started with S.) It's really just that we start responding internally to a different understanding of who we are based on what we've been through. I mentioned that already, but I want to juxtapose it now. Go with me here, because the Bible says, in verse 22, something very good: it was the beginning of the barley harvest. So, they went back to Bethlehem. They went back to where the bread was. I could preach a whole sermon on that, but I don't want to get distracted. Going back to Bethlehem should be a happy moment. To go back to their homeland… It has been a decade. They're going back to Bethlehem. Bethlehem means house of bread. Of course, you know it best for its primary resident, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who would be born in Bethlehem later…not yet. But it's the house of bread. They are going back to where the bread is.
Let's take just a moment and have a commercial interruption and tell somebody next to you, "The bread is back". That's good news. Naomi hears at some point, "The bread is back in Bethlehem. The famine is over. God has answered the prayers of his people. It's safe to go back. You can leave Moab, this horrible place where all of these horrible things have happened to you, because the bread is back. There's bread in Bethlehem. You don't have to hide out in this foreign, strange place anymore. The bread is back". I want to say to everybody watching online who hasn't come back to church since the pandemic started: the bread is back. God never left, but the bread is back. There are seasons in your life where you come into a reality that what you went through is leaving you, but Ruth still had to make a decision once she got to Bethlehem to go into the fields and begin to glean.
Did you see that in chapter 2, verse 3? She went into the field and began to glean. It says she started gleaning, but it doesn't say she ceased grieving. The first thing I want to talk to you about that might be like a point is gleaning in the grieving. What we think is going to happen is that when our harvest comes of what we ask God for… How many times do you think they prayed, "God, bring bread to Bethlehem"? What they didn't know was that when the bread came back to Bethlehem, they would also be bringing their bitterness with them. Gleaning in the grieving. We think, "God is going to bless me, and I'm going to feel better. That's how I'll know I'm blessed".
Gleaning is like… I don't think any of us know that much about gleaning, so let me try to explain it. My agricultural knowledge is very low, but from the biblical perspective, they would go through the field, and it was actually required by Levitical law. You can check this out in Leviticus 19, because I know you've been looking for an excuse to dive into the book of Leviticus. You can go to chapter 19 of the book of Leviticus and read about how they commanded them in the law… They said, "When you, the wealthy landowners, are gathering your crops, you have to leave a little on the edges, and if you don't pick something through the first time, you don't get to go back through and pick it up again. That's for the gleaners".
Who are these gleaners? The gleaners consist of three categories. It's the destitute or poor, it is the widows, and it is the foreigners. Ruth is all three. She is uniquely qualified through her disadvantages to go through the field and glean. We keep thinking it takes stuff it really doesn't take for God to provide for us…you know, our educational level. But if you're good at gleaning, it doesn't mean you have stopped grieving. There is no indication… I defy you to find it in the text…you can seek, and you won't find…where Ruth danced and Naomi high-fived her. You won't find anything in the text that suggests that the sadness ceased. The bread was there, but so was the bitterness. That's why I told you last week, almost as a warning, it will come together.
The biggest blessing of your life might come at the worst time. You can have a great blessing at a horrible time…truly, surely. You don't believe me? Have some kids. I mean, they're a blessing from the Lord. Right? But they will walk in and want to talk to you at the worst times. They never come talk to you after you wrote in your journal this morning and prayed to Jesus and asked the Lord, "God, give me an opportunity today to speak wisdom into the next generation. God, I just want to train up my children in the way they should go". It's going to be when you are tripping over something that was on your schedule that day that you are going to have the opportunity to glean. Glean doesn't mean the field is full and you just go through picking. Glean means you notice what was left on the ground that somebody else didn't even see.
So, pop quiz. Are you good at gleaning? On a scale of 1 to 10, how good are you at gleaning? "What do you mean, Preacher"? I mean, how good are you at taking a regret in your life and, by the Spirit of God, turning it into a lesson and recognizing it maybe as the hand of God, even though you don't call it that? Are you good at that? I am not a graduate-level gleaner. Truth be told, God is teaching me to glean every single day. I just started back two weeks ago doing my gratitude journal again. I stand up here about once a year, and I say, "Y'all, keep a gratitude journal". I do it for two weeks, and then I forget to glean. So, what usually has to happen to me is I have to get to a point of so much anxiety in my life and so much worrying about stuff that's stupid and doesn't matter and so much being mad about stuff that other people said or did or didn't say or didn't do or are going to do, maybe do, hypothetically do in the future at some point… I'm sitting there all tied up in knots about things I'm going through.
So, I just started back the practice a few weeks ago. I have to start my day with caffeine. I can't glean without caffeine. (It came to me on the spot. I just went with it.) The thing about that is it causes me to go back through my day and see what things I got to do that I thought I had to do. I need that constant training. I can't just do that once a week. Maybe you get all you need of that on Sunday. "Once a week, I come and worship God, and I thank him for all he has done". I can't do it six days without him. I can't, because if I do, grief will overtake gleaning. You don't live to be 42 and not have tears in the fiber of your faith. You don't pastor a church that just grows and grows and not lose a lot along the way. You don't believe with faith and expectation…
I know you know what I'm talking about. You don't live this long and not have some grief. The thing that really arrested my attention… I hope you see it. If you look for it, you'll see it in the text. It doesn't say they stopped grieving in order to start gleaning. I want to set you free. You might not feel better yet. That has nothing to do with God's hand on you or not. I love this. It said there was a man named Boaz on their side. They didn't know that yet. Read it in the text. It says they had a relative named Boaz. Naomi knew about Boaz. She didn't know he was still around. They had no idea, and neither do you, my friend.
So, you cannot let the grief overtake the gleaning. There is still something left on your life. There is still something left in your life. The process of gleaning… I mean, you have to go through the field. You have to learn how to not only go through somebody else's field, but go through your own field and see what's on the ground. That's what the gleaners would do. They would follow behind. You could either follow at a distance or, if you got special permission, you could glean among the sheaves. That means you could get close. You could get more than six feet close to the sheaves, and whatever fell out, you could grab that too. They didn't have the permission to lay a hand on you, because you were gleaning among the sheaves. That means you get to stay close to the reaper.
That's what Ruth wanted. She said, "I want to glean behind the reapers among the sheaves. Just let me see what they miss, because I can live on what they miss". You will meet somebody, every once in a while, who is so good at gleaning it'll make you feel guilty over how grumpy and gripey and ridiculous you are. I'm speaking from personal experience. I meet people all the time going through things that would grieve me so much… I know my tolerance level. People say, "I have a high pain tolerance". That's a sign they don't. True story? Chunks used to be a physical therapist. He said, "When you hear somebody come and say, 'I have a high pain tolerance,' they are a wimp".
That is sign number one. Because they're deceived. They think they have a high pain tolerance. But when you meet somebody who truly gleans while grieving… Like when Laymon texted me this week, and he was like, "Oh, thank you for that word". How do you lose your son while you're in church…? It has been about a decade, about 10 years, about the same amount where Naomi had lost Elimelek. I know he's still grieving. How can he be grateful to a God who let his son be taken so soon? He never stopped grieving. He just started gleaning. His son loved to fish, so he started a fishing club in his son's honor.
Do you know how many people they bring to Christ through Riley's Catch? Look it up…Riley's Catch. You'll see it. Shout-out. Free advertisement, Tom Laymon. You're welcome. I always text him, "You're my favorite Laymon," like, the play on words, laymen and clergy. Because he teaches me to glean, going through my own life just recognizing… That's the thing about gleaning. I want you to know that somebody else could walk through the field of your life and find 10 things to be grateful for that you take for granted. I'm not trying to make you feel bad. Trust me. God gave me this message early last week, and he whipped me with it all week. Just over and over again. I was listing a bunch of things to Holly that I was stressed about this week. All of them were things I put on my own schedule. All of them were decisions I made.
Many of them were blessings I prayed for, just full grown. They're not puppies anymore. A scheduling commitment is a puppy, but when the appointment comes, it's a full-grown dog, and it has to be walked. By the way, Graham said he's naming his dog, apparently, this Boston Terrier, Boaz. So that's good. It's going to take a while. Even when he was begging me for a dog… If you missed it last week, it was a whole thing. Don't worry about it. When he used to ask me for a dog, he said, "All you do is bring up all of the things about the dog that we're going to hate". I said, "That's right. And all you do is think of all of the things with the dog that you're going to love. I'm accurate, and you're ignorant". But sometimes you can know too much. Sometimes you can know too much, where you get to a point where you stop looking for the Lord. "Don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara".
Now, when you name yourself Bitter, Mara, you become magnetic for Mara. So, the second thing that's kind of like a point in this message is the mind on a mission. That's what I told Elijah the other day. He was going on and on and just complaining. I said, "Son, is your mind just on a mission trip to be miserable today? Did you just wake up this morning and say, 'Dear mind, here's what I'd like for you to do for me today, you fascinating computer called the human brain. I want you to collect everything I can be stressed about and sad about today and put it all in one big pile. I am gleaning everything today that I can feel terrible about. I don't want any good thoughts. I don't want any grateful thoughts. I'm going straight to misery incorporated. Call me Mara.'"
I asked him that. I said, "Did you just wake up today and tell your mind, 'We're going on a mission today. We are going to find misery. Wherever we can find it, we will nurture it in its various forms. If we see potential misery, we will feed it. We will nurse it at our breast until it becomes full-grown misery. We will look for offense, and we will nurse it at our bosom until it becomes full-grown resentment, until it takes over and we are depressed at the end of the day, praying for God to give us peace.'" He said, "No, Dad. Not on a mission trip. I'm just not a morning person".
You have to go through the field and glean in the morning. I'm not a morning person either. I don't think I'm a night person or an afternoon person at this age of my life. I'm like a 1:33 p.m. person…right after lunch. Catch me then. But you can't just give over to that. Bitter is not a personality type; it's a decision. "Nuh-uh. She had no choice but to be bitter. Look at what she went through". Ruth lost her husband too, and she said, "Go let me glean". Are you good at gleaning? Gleaning mentally… Let's break this down a little bit, because if we keep this in the fields of Bethlehem, I really don't think it'll do you that much good at your job. If we could break this right down to where you live… I kind of want to know, what are you even looking for right now while you're listening to me preach?
Some of you are just looking for the words "In conclusion…" It's the strangest thing to me. Two people can come to the same church, and it's not like they're sitting even that far apart…on the same row. They hear the same sermon. One of them, six months later, says, "It was that day when Pastor stood up there, looking good in his suit…" I'm just having fun, man. "I don't even remember what he was wearing. I remember he said there's bread in Bethlehem, but he mentioned about bitterness, and he talked about gleaning. I put a practice in my life that day. I decided I need to get good at gleaning, because I'm good at grumbling naturally. Nobody has to train me for that".
How many of you are good at grumbling? How many of you are Olympic-level grumblers? If we sent a recruiter through this church, seeking for the gold medal grumbler… Raise your hand right now. Oh, I mean, I could turn anything into a gripe. Watch me. I'm really good at this. I can do joy judo. God can send something to bless me, and I'll turn it into an attack. It's like this reverse gratitude thing. I have a knack for it. The church used to be full sometimes, and I would be like, "This is unacceptable. Where are the first-time guests going to sit"? The staff would be looking at me… This was years ago. I'm much better than this now. They'd say, "Can we have five minutes to be happy that the church was full"? "No! We've got to fix it. We've got to fix it right now! Where are the guests going to be? I told people to bring their friends to Easter, and the church is full, and there's nowhere for them to sit".
I am good at gleaning things to be anxious about. "The dog is going to poop. The dog is going to pee. The dog is going to whine. The dog is going to yelp. We're going on vacation. You're going to college in seven years. Who's going to take care of the dog then"? I can do all of that naturally. What I'm not good at is gleaning. I don't even receive encouragement that well. I can glean insecurities like a boss. When people say, "I don't like Elevation for all of these reasons," I want to say, "That's your whole list? Let me give you a few more. If you're just looking for a list of what not to like, let me save you the time. I'll put it online. You don't have to do a mission to find that. I already have things…"
But somebody else will sit in the same service and hear the same sermon, and they'll say, "Did he say he was getting a Boston Terrier? That's a stupid dog. You should get a 'hyper doodle.'" The one who seeks finds. I'm going through the field. I'm going through the field. Oh, I'm going through the field. It didn't say Boaz's field. She had no idea whose field she was in. Pick a field, any field. "God, just show me what you want for my life and your will for my life. O Father, I am waiting for you to show me your will so that I may serve you with my whole heart". Ruth wasn't looking for Boaz. She was just looking for barley. Any field will do. "Oh, that's easy for them to say". No, it's not. You can always find fruit in somebody else's field that you can't see in your own.
That's why the foreigners could see stuff that the people who were there every day couldn't see. That's why sometimes people who come to this church from somewhere else in the world will cry through the whole service: because they don't get it all the time. So, they're walking through the field going, "My God! Look at this beautiful expression of Christ in the church". The one who seeks finds. But somebody else said, "This parking lot… If I were the pastor of this church, I would have the parking figured out by now". No, you wouldn't! You're just picking in somebody else's field now. "Oh, if that were my kid…" It's not your kid. Are y'all mad at me now?
You could go through my field and find stuff I'm grumbling about, and you'd be like, "Are you serious? You're annoyed about that with Holly? Holly is amazing to you, you dummy". I'd be like, "That's Pastor Dummy to you. Who do you think you're talking to"? I could do the same with yours. When you put your mind on a mission to find misery, the Devil will help you look. The Devil is rubbing his hands. "Ooh. You want to feel bad. Oh, I'll help you harvest that. Oh, you want your feelings hurt. I will help you harvest hurt feelings. Oh, you want to be pissed off. I'll help you pick". Some of y'all got pissed off because I said pissed off. The one who seeks finds. Somebody else said, "Thank God he said it like that. That's real. I can relate to that. That's real. That's real"!
Your mind is magnetic. That's why the Bible says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind". When you have the sensitivity level set… Do you ever go through the airport, and the thing has the sensitivity level set, so when you go through the detector, and they start putting their hands all over you, because I guess they have to… See what I'm saying? I'm a complainer. You're going through the metal detector, and it goes off in one airport and not in another. You're like, "I was just in Charlotte, and I wore all this through the thing, and nothing happened.
Now I'm in Cincinnati, and it's beeping and buzzing and flashing and all of that. What's going on? There are strobe lights, and there are people coming out of the ceiling with handcuffs. What happened between Charlotte and Cincinnati"? They had the detector on a different setting. I didn't change anything. It's not what you go through that defines you. She went through the same field they had just picked over and found enough to live on and (I give you this) bumped into someone she wasn't even looking for. Here's the real beauty in the passage…not that she found a grape here and an olive there and the grain that the bozo dropped. Boaz finds her.
Isn't that awesome? She was just doing her responsibility, taking care of her mother-in-law, no less, making sure they had enough to eat, just gleaning for a purpose that was not only hers. She had to eat too, but she didn't only think of herself. Because she didn't only think of herself, and because she didn't sit in what she just went through, because she went out and remained in a field that she didn't even know who it belonged to… Here comes Boaz, and Boaz noticed Ruth before Ruth ever noticed Boaz. Do you ever wonder if we seek the wrong things? Especially in this culture. I just wonder. Are we so busy trying to get somebody to notice us…? Are we so busy trying to get somebody to "like" something we posted that we miss something God has given? We spend our whole day going through somebody else's field on social media.
To me…take it or leave it…social media is a minefield. I have to use it. Sometimes I have to be on it. I am not critiquing it. I pay staff members to run it. There. That being said, I have to be very careful, because even good things… You're going through the field, and you're on social media, and all of this. I know Ruth isn't on Instagram in the passage, but I'm updating the passage to make sense to our lives. As you go through the field of your life, you have to be very careful and selective about what you pick up. That's why I got so mad at the table, Abbey, because I don't like phones at the table for dinner. It's a constant battle, because sometimes I break my own rules, but I don't like it, because it shifts the mood. It shifts the mood for our family. Even if we're just going to fight, I want us to have a fully focused fight at the table. Let's put all our attention on beating the crap out of each other. All right?
Let's do this right. If we're going to fight, let's fight right. That's why I got so mad last night. Somebody was pulling up something on social media, and then they were saying how stupid and how dumb. They were complaining about what they just scrolled to. I said, "Why are you crawling in a dumpster and complaining that it stinks"? Did I say that? I said that. I do it all the time. My version is more sophisticated. I go to the YouTube comments to see if people are responding positively to our messages through sermon and song. At least that's what I tell myself my motive is. You know, you write these songs… We wrote a song called "This Is the Kingdom". I had them sing it a minute ago. It's just the Scriptures. Right?
I wrote that with Pat Barrett, Jason Ingram, and our very own Chris Brown…the real Chris Brown, the Elevation Worship Chris Brown. When we started writing it, God just gave it to us as the Beatitudes, Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. I was so happy because it was word for word the Scriptures. Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven; Blessed are those who mourn, For they will be comforted; Blessed are the meek, For they will inherit the earth; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they will be filled… Then we sing, "This is the kingdom of heaven". Then we sing, "Seek first the kingdom and all will be added," and we sing that over and over again.
When we put out the song, part of me was a little bit like, "This is cool, because nobody can say that this song isn't biblical". So I thought…until I went to the comments, the comments of YouTube, where all happiness goes to die, the cemetery of joy. I saw this comment where this guy said, "This is not biblical". I'm like, "It is nothing but biblical". When we wrote the song, we made a rule. "We can't put any words in the verse that are not from the NIV 2011 copyright in the thing". It was a rule that it was all Bible, nothing but the Bible. Those were my dad's favorite verses, the Sermon on the Mount. Before he went to heaven, he would read that every single day. Every day he would read it.
So I was so happy. I was like, "I wrote a song for you, Dad, and none of the Pharisees can say anything about it, because it's just the Scriptures. They can't say anything about this one, because it's just the Scriptures. They don't like 'Might Get Loud.' That's not a Bible verse". Well, it actually is. "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth". So that's in there too. Hey! But I thought, "They can't say anything about this one. They can't pick on me this time, because it's just the Bible". I went to the comments, and I found out that the one who seeks finds. This dude, "Boogaloo74," or whatever the username was (I wouldn't call him out even if I remembered it), goes, "This is not biblical. It doesn't say, 'Seek first the kingdom and all will be added.' It says, 'Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all will be added.' You can't just seek God for whatever you want, for this will give way to temporal theology that results in fleshly, carnal motivations posing as worship and posturing as…"
I got so mad. I had a harvest of righteous indignation. I'm going, "Dude, it's in the verse. 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.' It's in the verse of the same song. You just came here looking for something to be mad about. You didn't want to see it in the verse, so you didn't see it in the verse. You skipped the verse to get to the part because you were looking for a…" I was telling the Lord that. "These people, Lord, these stiff-necked Israelites, Lord, your people, Lord… He just found something wrong. He was just looking for something wrong". The Spirit of the Lord said, "You did the same thing. How many good comments were there here that said, 'I just love singing the Scriptures. This really comforts my soul. It reminds me of my grandmother, helps me through a hard time. Lord, thank you for your Word'? But you skipped those. You just had to glean the grossest thing in the whole comments section".
Do you do this? Find the one thing… "They said 'Love you,' but they didn't say 'I' in front of it". "They texted me back and said, 'Can't wait to see you,' but it didn't have three exclamation marks, only two. Are they really excited"? "They said 'Hi,' but not a bunch of I's". Just looking for something. You're good at gleaning. You just glean for garbage. "You're doing it too. You went past dozens, if not hundreds, of comments saying, 'This song blessed me,' looking for a battle. You were picking a fight when you came to the comments. You were looking for it". You know you do that. Right? You look for rejection. I texted Holiday, who produced the RHYTHM album. I said, "You're surprised people like it, aren't you"? He said, "Yeah, because I had been telling myself that people don't know good music". I said, "I do that all the time". It's called pre-jection. It's when I reject something about myself before you get the chance to.
So, when you try to give me something, I can't even take it, because I'm not looking for love. I'm looking for you to leave. The Devil will help me collect the evidence. Do you want to find evidence God has left you? You can probably find it. The one who seeks finds. Do you want to find evidence that the world is falling apart and we're probably all on the brink of destruction? There are 73 channels of evidence on your TV, and if you turn on those channels, you will find every reason to believe that if Jesus doesn't come back today, we're all screwed. But there are also still people doing a lot of good in the world. There are. There are still mighty revivals happening in churches. There's still the glory of God covering the earth like the waters cover the sea. You can find that too in the field.
Why was I in the comments anyway, looking for validation? Why was I in the dumpster? Going through the comments section on YouTube to find creative validation is about like going in the dumpster behind Cracker Barrel looking for a biscuit. You could probably find some, but it's going to be crumbs. God didn't put your favor on a social media platform. He put it in the field. Favor is in the field. Ruth's responsibility positioned her for God's favor. We are a high-entitlement generation. We pray for stuff and don't pick through anything, but the one who seeks finds. The one who seeks finds. Isn't it crazy that I was going through the comments for a song that says Matthew 7:7? "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find…" That's in the same song. I'm disobeying my same song, looking for something that contradicts what God has promised me. And he said it in the song. "…seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds…"
What are you looking for? Are you looking for Boaz? "Oh, I just need an opportunity". You just need an "obedience-tunity". The one who seeks finds. You've been gleaning and gathering in the wrong fields. What I really wanted to tell you today is that if you are not able to find God right now, that's all right, because the one who seeks has never really been you to begin with. The Bible says in Romans 3:10 that there is none righteous, not one. There is no one who seeks after God. But I'm really grateful for what the rest of that Matthew 7 passage says in verse 8. It says, "To him who knocks, the door will be opened".
I read in Revelation that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. He finds in the field the foreigner somebody else has passed over. If that's you and you are gleaning and grieving in the same season today, I want you to read verse 9 so you really get this message in your spirit. Like, really get it. It says in verse 9, "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake"? Or if he asks for a dog, will give him a cat? All right. I slipped that in. It's not there. He said, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father give good gifts…"?
Now, Ruth wasn't looking for Boaz. She didn't have to. All she had to do, and all you have to do is get in the field. Put yourself in a place of the last thing God told you to do. That's where you have to be. That's all you have to do. You don't have to pick the right field, know the right field, predict the right field. You don't even have to be in the right city. God will find you in the wrong field, because the eyes of the Lord scan the earth, 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, looking for someone to show himself strong on their behalf. He's looking for you. He's looking for you. He sees the fig leaves you made to cover yourself up, Adam. He knows you're naked under there. He knows you're hurting under there. He knows you're addicted under there. He knows you're broken under there. He knows you're impotent under there. He knows you're disappointed under there. He knows you're frustrated.
He's looking for you, and guess what: the one who seeks finds. I know the Father found you, because he brought you here. He found you, just like the Prodigal Son's dad, where it said he saw him a long way off, covered in mud. He knew that was his son, smelling like pigs and dumpsters. He knew that was his son. He saw him a long way off. The eyes of the Lord have never been blind to your cries, and the eyes of the Lord have seen how you have been mistreated. Boaz said to Ruth, "The Lord Almighty saw what you did, and he has come to reward you". Will he find you in the field when he comes or will you be in your frustration? Will you be in your failure?
Your heavenly Father is on a rescue mission today to find you…the real you, the one you try to hide, the one you try to bury, the you who knows better. Boaz said, "Who is that"? "We don't know her name, but she came and remained". This woman ended up not behind the harvesters. By the time you get to the end of this passage, the foreigner has a position in the household. That's exactly what the Lord wants to do for you: to take you from slave to son and daughter and to raise you up and put a ring on you. The one who seeks finds. God doesn't give up if he doesn't see you in church. He'll send a YouTube link. He'll come through the minefield and put a 15-second clip on Instagram so his Word can find you. I want you to know there is treasure in your field. Why would you dig through a dumpster for crumbs when there is treasure in your field?
Lord, today, it is my prayer, my earnest desire, and really, God, the only thing that matters that you would find, Lord, who you're looking for. I have no way of knowing who you sent this word for, but I believe you did.
Jesus said, "I came to seek and save that which is lost". I want to give an invitation today. This is a significant sermon, but for somebody it's more than that. For somebody, this is going to be a saving word. He has been looking for you. Some of you have been far away from God for a while, and he has been missing you. He never leaves you, but you've kind of left him, haven't you? You've kind of left his love, haven't you? You've kind of left the field where he put you, haven't you? I have good news. Your Father is looking for you, and the one who seeks finds. That's why you're here…not because you found God; he found you.
Father, wherever you find us today, we know that you love us, and we know that your grace and mercy have followed us to this point. I just thank you for what you showed us through Ruth today.
For somebody, this is not just a principle. For somebody, this is an invitation. I want to pray right now for those who need to give their lives to Jesus. You need to really, really come out of your hiding and receive his love and mercy in your life. Repent and turn from your sin. Receive his righteousness as a free gift. Right now, if that's you, and you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit… You didn't know that was the Holy Spirit. You didn't know that was the hand of God drawing you, but it was. You didn't know to call it that, but that's what it was.
If that's you and you're coming to God for the first time today or you're coming back to him… You've been in a far country, and you're coming back to him. You're coming back to Bethlehem. You're coming to the place where God's presence is. Right now, I want to lead you in a prayer. You can repeat after me. If you mean this in your heart… The Bible says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. This is the promise. So, right now, we're praying out loud, as a church family, and online for all those who are receiving the grace of God. Repeat after me if this is your moment.
Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and today I make Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life. I believe he died that I would be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive your new life. This is my new beginning. I'm coming home to my Father.
If you just prayed that, shoot your hand up on the count of three. One, two, three. I want to celebrate with you. Awesome!