Steven Furtick - Blown Away!
Hey, did you hear the news? Elevation Nights spring 2022 tour, April 26 through May 5th. Oh you got to come. I mean you really got to come. I'm going to be preaching. Holly's going to be sharing. Elevation Worship, your favorite songs, old songs, new songs, kind of old new-ish songs. I want to see you if you are anywhere near these cities. I want to see you, no excuses, no delay. Get your ticket right now. Let me know in the comments what night I'm gonna see you and what's your name so I can try to shout you out. But I'll probably forget but this is going to be amazing, the best night of our year. Go to elevationnights.com right now. Get your ticket, leave a comment. Let's go to the word of God. I'm excited.
Tell somebody, "It's not a sin to have a good time in church". You don't have to just endure it. God gave it to us to enjoy it, and I intend to do that. I'm going to have a good time if I have to do it every seven days. The truth of the matter is I believe you are too. I don't know what you're expecting today. I think God is going to beat it. I know that's bold. I'm not talking about me. I'm saying what he said for me to tell you. It's so meaningful. I want you to find that little book called Ruth in your Bible one more time. This accidental sermon series from the book of Ruth. The Lord tricked me into preaching a sermon series on Ruth. I used to plan my series in advance, and now I call them series in reverse.
I know this will at least be the end of the series for now, because we have Easter on Sunday. I'm sure I could preach Ruth for Easter, but the Lord gave me another message for Easter, and then we'll see. I don't know. One thing I know about God is he's taking us from glory to glory. I mean, from good to better, and the best is yet ahead in your life. Amen. Get your expectation up. You know how they say, "Don't get your hopes up"? Nuh-uh. Do it. Get them up. Lift your hands right now and say, "Lord, I'm reaching for you today. I want to experience you today". That's the spirit of faith God wants. Okay. Will y'all be mad if I read 20 verses? Do your feet hurt? Because you've been running through my mind all day.
Ruth, chapter 2, verse 1: "Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz". All the single people, shout, "Boaz". Shout to the Lord, "Bring me my Boaz". We've been learning about this. Ruth, who the book is named after, does not go into the field looking for Boaz; she's just looking for barley…food. She's just doing what she has to do to survive. She's not even on a dating app. Really, the story is not about marriage at all. It's not so much a romantic story; it's a redemption story. What is so refreshing to me about Ruth (I don't know for you)… Her sense of responsibility is refreshing for me, because I live in a time of such entitlement.
So, to watch her stay with her mother-in-law, although she had the option to go back to her people, and to choose something new that God was leading her into really just blows my mind. I look around and see so many people who are celebrated only when they step out in faith. Ruth impressed me because she stayed in a situation that was hard. I think every year you live, what impresses you is a little different. Even pastoring a church, I've gone from being impressed when somebody can sing well… That's cool, and it can be a blessing, and I want the people who sing here to be able to do it skillfully, but that, in many ways, is a gift from God. What you do with that gift is your act of worship.
So, I'm equally, if not more impressed by somebody who takes two talents and turns them into four as somebody who takes five and turns them into ten. It's just amazing. How many know that's true? Sometimes the most impressive people… You don't even notice them at first. That's who Ruth is in this passage. Verse 2 (I will not stop after every single one and talk that much, I promise you): "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.'" "I just want to pick up grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor". One note I wrote was "Don't be too picky about who God can bless you through". Don't be too picky about who God can bless you through. We get too picky. We forget God is our provider. Whoever he chooses to use in whatever season, that's good with me.
I don't care if the DoorDasher has blond hair and blue eyes. I just want to know, "Did you get in the bag what I'm supposed to have to eat"? Some of us want to treat God's will like à la carte, like, "I want this, and I want that, but not that. I know this comes with that, but I don't want that. God, can you customize my calling to be meaningful and convenient"? Verse 2b: "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…" The narrator is winking at us. "As it turned out…" It just so happened that the field belonged to Boaz. "…who was from the clan of Elimelek. Just then…" Wink, wink. "…Boaz arrived…" Coincidental. "…from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, 'The Lord be with you!' 'The Lord bless you!' they answered. Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, '[Who is that?] Who does that young woman belong to?' The overseer replied, 'She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, "Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters".
She came into the field and has remained here 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…'" Imagine how shocked Ruth was when the man who owned the field spoke to her. She must have been scared. "Did I do something wrong? Are you about to kick me out? Please. I promise I won't take too much grain. Just let me glean behind the harvesters". But he called her "Daughter". He doesn't even know her name, but he speaks to her with affection. It must have shocked her. It must have blown her mind.
"'Stay here with the women who work for me. 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, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.' 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, 'I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law 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.'"
I hear the Spirit saying to somebody, "It's payback time". You thought nobody saw the sacrifices you made. You thought nobody saw the treasure you invested into the kingdom of God. You thought nobody heard your cry, but God saved your tears in a jar, and it's payback time. "'May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.' 'May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,' she said. 'You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.'" She can't believe it. "At mealtime…" Now it gets crazier. "At mealtime Boaz said to her, 'Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.'" I mean, she's just coming to survive, and now she's invited to lunch.
Watch what happens next. "When she sat down with the harvesters…" She's sitting down with the same harvesters she needed permission to even stand behind just a few hours ago. God can do amazing things quickly in your life, suddenly in your life. "…he offered her some roasted grain". "You don't even have to cook it, girl. I'll roast it for you and dip it in this vinegar". "She ate all she wanted and had some left over". Wow! "As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, 'Let her gather among the sheaves and don't reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her. [Spill some extra for her.]' So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered". "Oh my god"!
"Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. Her mother-in-law asked her, 'Where did you glean today? Where did you work? [This is ridiculous!] Blessed be the man who took notice of you!' Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working". She keeps her in suspense. "'The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,' she said. 'The Lord bless him!' Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. 'He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.' She added, '[What you didn't know, Ruth…] That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.'"
Here's what the Lord told me to preach to you today. He told me to preach to you and call the message Blown Away! Oh, blown away. Do it God. In Jesus' name, amen. You know what the hardest thing for us reading the book of Ruth is? We read it wrong. Not only do we not understand the context of this little book wedged between the book of Judges and the book of 1 Samuel, which only serves, in the broader schemata of Scripture, as a bridge between the time of the judges and the time of the kings, as an apologetic, almost, to let the nation of Israel know that David has the right to the throne.
See, Ruth would be the great-great-great-great-grandmother of King David. But I want to step out on a limb theologically and speculate for a moment. I know it's dangerous, and they might clip this and put it on a social media blog or something, but I'm going to speculate for a moment. Just a speculation that I don't think Ruth read Ruth 2:20. It's just a speculation. I don't think Ruth knew… You know, "Hey, Ruth, it's going to be all right. I know you're hungry. I know you're heartbroken because you lost your husband, but just turn to the book of you, chapter 4". She would be shocked most of all to know there would be a Bible book bearing her name, because she's a Moabite. Yahweh wasn't even her God when her story started. Her background and ancestry suggested nothing that she would be a part of the lineage of our Savior Jesus Christ.
So, we read the book of Ruth through the lens of our knowledge, but she had to live the book of Ruth through the pain of her present situation. The challenge is that I have to live my own Scriptures out not knowing what's in Ruth, chapter… You never read the book of you, chapter 2. When her husband Mahlon dies in chapter 1, she doesn't even know there is a chapter 2. Now, if she knew about chapter 2, perhaps chapter 1 wouldn't have hurt so much, but you don't get to read the book of you, chapter 2. You don't get to know that it won't hurt like this forever. You don't get to read the part of the Scripture where you flip to the back of the thing. Joseph, all the way in Genesis 50, says, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good". We get to shout over now what he had to doubt about then. Did he really know it would turn out this way?
Invariably, when Holly and I speak to people about dating or marriage, which I don't do too much… The reason for it is I feel like most of what I did right in marriage was in the selection process. I'm like, "Just pray. Pray that…" I mean, because if you were married to Holly, you would probably do pretty good too. She is not hard to be married to. And I mean that. Okay? You're like, "Eh, you're just sucking up so she'll kiss you today after lunch and all that. You just want to look good". No, I'm serious about it. That's really how I feel about it, but I think she kind of feels that way about me too. We were talking the other day. I said, "I know it's hard to have me for a husband sometimes. I know it's hard. Not because I'm abusive or mean or don't love you, or anything like that, but there's so much you didn't know about me when you said you would marry me". She says this thing a lot of times. She says, "I love everything there is to know about you". That makes me feel good.
So, I always teach (I know it's an unusual Scripture to teach about dating) from Matthew 13:44, to bring a New Testament verse right alongside this Old Testament story about Ruth and your current situation. In Matthew 13:44, it says, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that [treasure]". No. He bought the field the treasure was in. Jesus said the kingdom is like that. I would say that being married is like that. You don't just buy the shiny stuff. Oh, oh, oh! No, no. You buy the whole patch of field. "I'm not marrying their family; I'm marrying them". But on Christmas… Guess who you get to kick it with every Christmas. Yeah. They'll ask Holly, "How did you know that Pastor Steven…"?
I remember one time at intern teaching they said, "How did you know that he was the one"? I was irritated that day about something, so I said, "She didn't! She didn't know. She hoped". In a moment of candor. Probably the interns couldn't handle that. That was probably malpractice on these young hearts, just thinking it's going to be this total Jerry Maguire moment, if y'all remember that movie. I'm just imagining Holly going, "I think, I think, I think he's probably the one. I think, I think…" How did she know? You don't know. She hoped, and then she held herself to a standard that she would be the kind of woman who would find the man she wanted God to bring in her life. That's very important. "How did you know"? You don't know.
"Ruth, how did you know when you got up that morning that you were going to be in the field of Boaz? Did you just sense it? Did you wake up that morning, Ruth, and say, 'I have a good feeling that today I am going to bump into my Boaz'"? Ruth said, "No. I was just hungry. It was do or die. I had no husband. My mother-in-law was depressed. My mother-in-law was so depressed she started saying, 'Call me Mara.'" She changed her name to reflect her situation. She has a conflated identity that is informed now by her experiences. I've been thinking a lot lately about how our experiences affect our identity. I've been thinking about the entanglement that happens when you can no longer know the difference between who you are and what you've been through or who you are and where you come from.
Ruth, the Moabite, was a part of the lineage of Jesus, the Messiah. That makes no sense. Ruth knew none of it. "Why are you slowing down to tell us all this instead of just preaching the verses"? Because I want you to realize that you've been reading the book of Ruth wrong, as if she had some great faith, and as if you have to have some great faith that knows, "I'm exactly where God wants me to be, doing exactly what God has called me to do, and this is going to turn out okay for his glory". No. You don't know. "But you just had to know. Right"? No. I hoped. I worked, but I didn't know. "You had to know that 'Jireh' was going to be nominated for a Grammy after you wrote it. Right"? No. I loved it, and I thought, "If they don't give us a Grammy for this album, they're stupid". I did. I thought that, but I didn't know. You don't know.
As a matter of fact, in the middle of trying to process that particular album… Have you all heard the song "Jireh"? After we wrote it, I loved it so much, and I sent it to my friend, and he didn't say anything back about it. (You know who you are.) I was hanging out with my friend and my son. Elijah and I really loved "Jireh". We thought it was the greatest song, and we just loved it. I was talking to my friend, and he said something about "Jireh," which he never responded to on the text message. Look. I was so scared that maybe I liked it more than other people would, because when you put something out there, you never really know if they're going to judge it or not. That goes for everything from an outfit to an opportunity you try to seize to an encouraging word you try to give. That potential of rejection can be a really difficult thing. So I said to him, "I know 'Jireh' isn't a banger, but I like it".
Afterward, Elijah said, "What was that crap about 'Jireh' is not a banger? I thought we liked 'Jireh.' I thought we loved 'Jireh.' I thought we felt the presence of God in your truck when we listened to 'Jireh.'" I said, "You caught me red-handed. I was so scared that he didn't like it that I brought myself down so he couldn't do it to me. I did it to myself". "You had to know that song was special". No. I knew it was special to me. So, all of these little things… Do you see it in the Scripture? All of these little things that whoever wrote down Ruth wrote down way after it happened… You know that, right? This is not a live feed. Even when it says in verse 1… I love stuff like this. Even in verse 1 when it says it was the field belonging to Boaz… That was added after…years after.
Ruth did not know Boaz was Boaz. Even after she met him she didn't know who he was. So, it sets me free to know that certainty is not a prerequisite for faith, that understanding is not a prerequisite for blessing. Okay. Let me do a poll. This is for online too. You can participate in the chat. How many of you believe that God is guiding your life? Raise your hand. How many of you believe that from time to time you get off track? How can both be true? If God is guiding your life and he's good at what he does, how can you be better than God at your job disobeying…? Because that is what you do. The Bible says we all like sheep have gone astray. Sheep are "baad" at following directions. But the question really is… God is guiding my life. Yes. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths". "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord".
All of these Scriptures… I love those verses. I need God to lead me. What else am I going to let lead me? My feelings? My friends? Sometimes I think they're dumber than I am. I love them, but they're just as dumb as I am, if not dumber. I can't follow them. I'm sorry. I can't follow another frail human. I need the Lord to lead me. But the question I have deep beneath the veneer of that verbalization of a theological belief that God is leading me is "How detailed will he be? How involved will he get"? When you say, "God leads me…" Some people say that… In fact, from a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you believe God is leading your life? Where would you fall on a scale of 1 to 10? How much would you believe it?
Watch out for the people who shout "Ten" really quickly, because they think God speaks to them about everything. Everything. They put God in stuff that I don't think God cares about very much. Do you know what I'm saying? I mean, they really do. They just put God in the craziest stuff. "The Lord told me to wear pink". But pink does not look good on your skin tone. That wasn't the Lord. Be careful. When people say "Ten" like that, it's just a sign they're overcompensating a little bit, because probably, if they're saying "Ten," they don't want to have to make decisions. "Oh, I believe the Lord is leading me, and that's why I've been fired four times in the last 18 months". Because the Lord was leading you to another place to get fired from because you're irresponsible? That's what it was? Oh, it was the Lord who made you late to work 14 times. That was the Lord? How much can I trust God to lead me? You know what I'm saying? Will he step in…?
You know, like Jonah, will he send a fish to spit me out in Nineveh? Maybe. Will he send a wind if I'm trying to go to Tarshish and I'm supposed to be in Nineveh? Maybe. He did that in the Scripture sometimes. Will he completely redirect me? Is God like a GPS who will reroute me with a polite British accent? What does he sound like? How does God lead me? Now, remember, in the book of Ruth, we started with eight main characters, and now we're down to four. We started with a man named Elimelek. He died 10 years ago in Moab during the famine at the very beginning of the relocation of the family. We started with his sons, Kilion and Mahlon. They're dead too. All we're left with now are Ruth and Naomi, and there is no record of whether or not they even like each other. There is no record, and I guarantee you both of them would have rather had Mahlon (NaomI's son, Ruth's husband) back than to have to live with each other.
Now they're making do with what's left. The tension of the text is that God is doing something that will result in a king named David and a king named Jesus, and they don't get to read that part. You don't get to read that part. That's why it's not easy for you to raise kids, and that's why other people who have sent their kids far, far away and only have to see them three times a year can tell you how to raise your kids. They got to read the last sentence of the book where the kids left the house, but yours are still here. You don't get to read how it ends. You don't get to know how it ends. You don't get to know "Is this the end"? You don't get to know "Is my best behind me"? You don't get to know any of that. You have to live in the tension. That's hard to do, yet there is this note of grace. It's almost implied that Naomi and Ruth are walking along together, back in Bethlehem, Ruth away from everything she knew.
Do you know the god Chemosh she grew up serving demanded human sacrifices, according to their mindset? Now she's learning how to worship a God she has only heard about through the lens of Naomi, who is bitter about what God has allowed to happen in her life. She just makes a decision one day in the Scripture… I love this Scripture. It really got my attention to know that the Bible doesn't say the Lord led Ruth to the field. It just says she went to work. Now, if you are not a "10" person… "The Lord is leading me every step I take, every breath I take…" What's the song? "Every step you take…" It's so creepy. It's such a stalker song. If you're not a "10" on that, it's okay.
If you want to believe that the Lord is leading you, but it doesn't feel like it or seem like it right now… If you want to believe the Lord is leading you, but you know it's your own stupidity that got you in the storm to begin with… If you are somewhere in the 6, "I think God is leading me here…" "I'm going to go out today, and I'm going to see if I can glean in a field". That's all Ruth said. That's what we talked about last week. Were you here last week when Ruth was going through the field? It was so powerful. She had to look for what other people left behind. When the reapers would go through the field, they had to leave what they dropped for the foreigners, for the widows, for the people who couldn't have their own field.
So, Ruth is just gleaning behind them. We talked about how sometimes in our lives we need to learn to glean in our own field, in our own life, in our own situation, to be able to say, "You know what? I walked my own body into church today. Somebody else didn't do that. They would love to have walked into church today, and I did". That's gleaning. That's when you're like, "But my back hurts, my hip is out of socket, and I have these bills, but I walked into church today, and somebody else is in a wheelchair". While that doesn't mean I'm better than them, I have to learn to go through my own field and glean things… You have to do it for yourself. Nobody is going to do this for you. You will never reach a moment in time where you'll go, "I have arrived. God is good, and I'm blessed and highly favored".
That is a statement of faith you have to make. You have to make it daily. Somebody shout, "I'm blessed"! You call that a shout? Let me tell you something. A lot of people died because they couldn't breathe in the last two years, and I told you to shout, "I'm blessed". The Bible says, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord". Now breathe deeply and say, "I'm blessed"! That's how you glean, and that's what you have to do to the Devil, not only when I tell you to do it, but you have to shout… Now, I'm crazy, because I'll be sitting there having a panic attack, almost, and I'll just start shouting, "I have peace"! I'm not sure who I'm trying to convince. I'm trying to glean peace. Glean doesn't mean it just pops up. Ruth didn't wake up and pray for bread. Ruth didn't wake up and pray for kernels. Ruth didn't pray for seeds. She went into a strange field to find it.
Are you in a strange field, trying to figure out, "What am I doing"? Nobody knows that you don't know what you're doing either. They have you making budgets for the department, and if they saw your bank account… Oh my! Show me in the Scripture where Ruth went to "Gleaning University". She had to do it. You have to do it. Some of you won't rejoice over simple stuff because you haven't been low enough yet. You don't know how good sunshine feels because you haven't been closed up yet where you couldn't get to it. You look at people in church… Some of you are so judgmental of how other people praise God. "Eh, I don't like how they say, 'Wow!' every time Pastor Steven says something. 'Wow!' What's going on down there? I don't think it takes all that".
I don't think they asked you. Maybe they were so hungry when they came that they can survive off a syllable. "I don't live by bread alone. I need a word". When you get hungry enough, you won't be so picky. "I don't like that song. It's repetitive. Oh, Ruth again? Ruth, Ruth, Ruth". I'm a bad parent. I told Holly, "Quit fighting with Abbey, telling her she needs to eat her dinner, and starve her". Put a padlock on the pantry. Then when she sits down, she will not be able to wait to see what Mom made. All this arguing back and forth… That's not going to get it. She's not hungry enough. Ruth was hungry enough. Oh, oh, oh. Desperation looks just like faith. "Oh, you have so much faith". No. I'm just that desperate. I've been depressed, so I know the value of joy. I've been broke, so I know the value of when God provides for my needs physically. My dad was a barber.
When we would go to a Chinese restaurant, he would calculate how much the meal would cost and say, "That's seven heads of hair I have to cut to pay for this meal". "I can't eat with that guilt on me. I'm sorry". When they showed me my first job, they said, "Here's your salary. Here are the benefits". I said, "The what now"? I know it makes me sound stupid. I was 22. I didn't know. My dad was self-employed, so I didn't know that somebody else would pay your benefits. I had already done all of the division and the calculations on this much per month, and we could do this, and the apartment is 410, and the Internet. "I have to have high-speed Internet, Lord. That's a necessity. I can't be serving Jesus out here in Shelby on a dial-up modem". But then I was buying my own insurance, and when Rick Bowling said, "And that, of course, doesn't include your benefits," I said, "My what"?
I had to pretend like I expected it, because I didn't want to look as dumb as I was. I was like, "Oh, yeah, yeah, the benefits". When I got out to my car, I picked up my car phone. Y'all know about the car phone? I picked up my Zack Morris Motorola car phone. I called Chunks. I said, "They've got benefits on this job. I don't have to pay the health insurance or any of that out of my pocket anymore". I wish I could feel the way I felt that day again about benefits. Now I've been getting benefits so many years, so many benefits… Let me ask you this. Why does the Bible say in Psalms, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits"? It's like he already knows that the longer we stay in a field, the less we will respect the treasure and get more focused on the dirt that's around it. I have to practice gratitude. I am not naturally good at it, because I am naturally good at catastrophizing.
I can imagine everything that could possibly go wrong. I told you about this a little bit last week, but that's why gleaning was so meaningful to me. I realized that the $500 bonus they gave me that year… Same job. He said, "Oh, and here's your Christmas bonus". I said, "My what"? He said, "Your Christmas bonus is $500". I wish I could tell you how $500 felt that day. I didn't expect it. This is where Ruth, a widow and a foreigner, had an advantage over everybody else in Boaz's field. As she walked through what they were used to, it was new to her. So, Lord, show me how to walk through my salvation and my relationship with Jesus and my relationship with that woman on the front row, and show me how to walk through that field again and focus more on the treasure than the dirt. You follow me?
Life will layer you with dirt. Life will layer you, like Naomi, with bitterness, with experiences that all of a sudden become the focus. The Bible does not say the treasure was sitting in the field waiting to be discovered. The treasure was actually hidden beneath something that had to be dug through to recognize what was there all along. This is a message for somebody who is guilty as charged. "Lord, I have gotten more focused on the field, the work, the stress, than I am the blessings and the treasure. I have gotten more focused in my relationships on what annoys me about that person". May I remind you that's what attracted you to them in the first place?
Now you want to be annoyed by what you were attracted to, because like the country preacher said, "Before marriage, opposites attract. After marriage, opposites attack". You loved he was quiet. "Oh, he's mysterious". Ten years in that field, talking about, "I can't get him to talk. He's mysterious". Now you're miserable. Now you're magnifying everything that makes you miserable. I wish I could do a Bible study on this. Sometimes I hate this format. I wish I could have the 10 people who are the hungriest. I wish I could just come over to the house, and Holly could cook something for you, and then I would serve up the dessert of the Word of God.
I would say, "Did you save room for dessert?" and you'd be like, "Yeah, yeah. I was hungry today. I went through a breakup last month. I've been asking God why. I've been wondering is there anybody for me. I'm hungry today. I don't have the money my neighbor has. They think I do. I'm driving a car. What they don't know is every time I stop and think about the payments, I almost wreck. They're impressed with my car, but they don't know I can't even afford what I'm driving in. I'm hungry today. Tell me something. I made some mistakes. Tell me something. I passed up the best thing that could have happened. Tell me something. I could have bought Apple for $3 a share, and I didn't. All these regrets in here. I'm hungry today. Give me something".
If I could talk to the 10 hungriest people in the room, here's what I would tell you: when Ruth said, "Why would you notice me, a foreigner"? it's a wordplay. The Hebrew word for foreigner means notice. Don't you see what's happening? She's blown away. When's the last time you were blown away by God? When's the last time you were blown away by his benefits? I'm not talking about a BMW. I'm talking about forgiveness. When's the last time you thought about, "Oh my you, Lord. You didn't have to love me. You didn't even have to give me the chance to live. I'm not even supposed to be here". When's the last time you thanked God for your church? (Just slipping that in.) You've been here a minute. What used to blow me away is now just benefits. I think we have to walk through our field and glean.
"Lord, I'm thanking you for this. Lord, I am thanking you for that. Lord, I'm thanking you for the thing that I don't like right now, trusting that you are going to use it in my future". That's the beauty of this text. You can walk through your own field. This is my challenge to you. What would it look like for you to walk through your own life like a foreigner in the field? What would it look like for you to go back through the things God has done for you and the things he is doing? Because here's the trick: it is easy to see what God did after you're on the other side of it. That's when we say things like, "It was the best thing in the world that they broke my heart. It was the best thing in the world that I had to move. It was the best thing in the world. If I hadn't have gone through that, I wouldn't have this".
The trick is not recognizing God's guidance later. The trick is…Can you recognize God's guidance in real time? To say like Jacob, "The Lord was in this place, and I was not aware of it". To say, "Oh, God must be here too. Oh, God must be using this too. Oh, God has a plan for this too. Oh, I can't wait to see how God works this in. Oh, I can't believe God let me be in this field at this time". She gleaned and gathered and gleaned and gathered and gleaned and gathered, not knowing that Boaz was going to end up being her husband, not knowing that Naomi knew who he was, not knowing that God would put her in a position to be a part of the lineage.
Can you stand there in the field, surrounded by dirt, or are you going to say, "God, I don't want the dirt; I want the treasure. God, I don't want the pain; I want the progress"? I used to always say, "God, I don't want the V-ups; I want the six-pack". You know what I'm saying? "I don't want the discipline, but, God, I do want the benefits of commitment". You have to glean and gather in those moments when you don't even know why you're here or how this is going to turn out. The most delicious verse in the text to me is verse 17. After Ruth got done gleaning in the fields and gathering, the Bible says something. It's almost something you would skip over. It said that after she gleaned in the field until evening, "Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah".
See what I'm saying? That is the least sexy verse in the whole passage, but it talks about the next thing Ruth had to do and that you and I have to understand too. It said after she gleaned in a field where she didn't even have the right to be, after she gathered everything she could, she threshed the wheat before she took it home. When she finished threshing it, they measured it, and it was an ephah, which means nothing to us, but if you look it up and search the word ephah in the Bible… Do it. You'll find it again in 1 Samuel 17:17, the chapter where David fought Goliath. It said the day he went down there, his dad sent him to his brothers with an ephah of grain. So it's a measurement. He had three brothers who were down at the battle, and his father sent him with an ephah of grain. So, we still don't know how much it is, but that must be a lot of grain if it fed three teenage soldiers in the heat of battle.
Remember, we're down to just Ruth and Naomi. They are the only two left. They don't know about Boaz yet. They don't know who he is yet, what he's going to do yet. Oh, and there's God, the character who is not named by the other characters but is implied, because he's always working. Even when he's not named, even when he's not seen, even when he's not felt, even when he's not speaking, he's still speaking. Even if you're not hearing it, he's still speaking. She gleaned an ephah, enough for three teenage soldiers for just her and her mother-in-law. That made me wonder if we can find out about how much grain is in an ephah.
When I found out how much an ephah was, I was blown away. It turned out that an ephah is somewhere between 30 and 50 pounds. In a day! She has only been in this field one day, and she's not even an experienced laborer, and she's one woman. When she measured it after she threshed it, it was 30 pounds. Thirty pounds of grain after she threshed it. See, you can't really measure it until after it has been threshed. You don't really know what you have until it has been threshed. You think you know what you have, but you don't really know what you have… You don't really know what you have until Naomi turns to Ruth and Orpah and says, "Y'all, leave," and Orpah says, "Okay," and Ruth says, "I'll stay," because she was being threshed.
Naomi was being threshed. She lost her husband. She lost her boys. She's being threshed. That word doesn't even sound appealing…thresh. It sounds violent. It is violent. It's a violent process. The process of threshing is not nice like gleaning. It's not taking a journal and writing to Jesus a love note for all of the beautiful sunsets. "O Lord, I saw that sunset today. I'm just so proud that you did that just for me. Lord, you are such a great artist. I saw the sunset, and I saw your eyes, and I'm so thankful". Threshing is different than that. When they threshed the grain, they would have the cattle to beat the grain out until the stalks and the seeds were separate, until the grain and the husk were separate.
When it says Ruth threshed… It was a process of separation. It was a process of separating the grain from the husk, or what they call the chaff. The way they would do it is that after it was beaten, after it was trodden, after it had been laid out on the threshing floor… Now, all a threshing floor is… It's not fancy. It's just a solid surface in a high place. The reason it's in a high place is because you would thresh at evening. The process of threshing was very simple. After it had been beaten, you would take the grain that was left on the floor. You would sweep it up and gather it from the clean surface. You would throw it up into the Mediterranean wind, and the grain would fall back down to the ground, but the chaff wouldn't fall back to the ground. The chaff would be blown away. The chaff, the stuff that couldn't stay on the threshing floor, would be blown away into the evening wind that came off the Mediterranean Sea.
I see a lot of you on the threshing floor of life right now. I hear from you. I meet you. Even when I study, it's like the Spirit of God brings you to my mind. I see the things you're going through in your life right now not as a process of destruction, but as a process of threshing. See, you don't know what you have until it has been threshed. You don't know what's real until it has been threshed. You don't know what's edible, you don't know what's sustainable, you don't know what is substance until it has been threshed. A lot of us have been in a big wind lately. The winds will blow and beat against every house. Whether you build it on the rock of Jesus or whether you build it on the shaky foundations of the world, the wind will blow. The wind has been blowing, but you have been misinterpreting the wind. You have been thinking that the wind was sent by the Enemy to destroy you, but it wasn't. It was sent so that all the chaff could be blown away.
See, God is dealing with your insecurities right now, and he has you on the threshing floor. You're watching people walk away and opportunities evaporate and things you used to know that you're now separated from. But this wind is not sent by the Enemy. This wind is under the control of the mighty hand of an all-seeing God. The grain that falls back to the ground is all you need to live on. The rest will be blown away. The Lord told me to preach to you Blown Away!, and he said to tell you, "When you see what I'm going to do after you get done going through what you're going through, if you will keep gleaning and stay in my hands through this process… When you see what I'm going to do through your life, when you see what I'm about to do… Your eyes have not seen, your ears have not heard, nor has it entered into your heart what I have prepared"!
When you bump into Boaz, you're going to be blown away! "Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably…" Blown away! High-five at least six people and tell them, "You're going to be blown away". It's a promise. It's not a problem; it's a promise. Everything you're going through is going to serve the purpose of the God you belong to. You're going to be… Threshing hurts like hell, but sometimes it comes from heaven. You can't even really measure the blessing until after it has been threshed. My advice, as your brother in Christ… Let it blow. Don't try to control it so much. Don't even try to understand it too much. The grain will stay. Do you hear me? That's what I know about God. The grain will stay. Thirty pounds is not a day's worth of food, y'all. They lived off this for weeks.
One rabbi said that would have been four months of wages in a day. That's why Naomi was like, "Whoa! I'm blown away". And Ruth was like, "Me too. I'm blown away". Boaz, when he saw Ruth, was like, "I'm blown away". Everybody is blown away except God. He knew exactly where to put Ruth, exactly where to put Boaz, exactly who to let her glean behind, and exactly who to send her home to. When you see what you cannot see with your spirit instead of judging what you're going through with your eyes… By the Spirit of God, I prophetically declare if it's not your word, get out of the way so somebody else can receive it. You will be blown away. My prayer lately is, "God, I'm assuming that it's either you doing this or it's something you will use if it's not". Don't you love that prayer? It's really just a threshing floor prayer. It's going, "Here it is, God. Whatever is not meant to stay, blow it away. Blow it away, God. I don't want it if it's chaff. I don't want the attitudes I clung to".
I saw the whole story of Ruth through a different lens when I read it like that. I said, "Of course she had to thresh the grain, because she herself was being threshed". A Moabite leaving her gods, a Moabite leaving her family, a Moabite leaving her customs… That has been you lately, and it has been windy. Just lift your right hand if it has been windy in your life. We don't have to talk about why. We don't have to talk about who. We don't have to talk about what. Just it has been windy. Raise your hand if it has been windy. All right. Catch the wind of the Holy Spirit in this moment, and allow it to carry you forward in the field you're in until you find the treasure from it, because that's what the kingdom is like. It's like a man who found a treasure in a field. It is like the grain that stayed after the wind blew.
So, in this season of my life, God, on the threshing floor of failure, on the threshing floor of frustration… For whoever this word is for today, I declare prophetically that they will stand here a year from now and be blown away by what you did through an ephah. I declare over them that their ephah is enough. Come on. Let's minister together. Your ephah is enough. I want you to begin to believe again in the "enoughness" of God. Yeah, I made the word up. I want you to begin to believe that whatever has left your life, you still have something to live for. Come on. Shout it for the Devil to hear. "I still have something to live for"! I will not die in Moab. I will not die in bitterness. I have something to live for. God, by your eternal Word, would you sanctify those who you are calling to yourself? We don't want to be in Bethlehem in our body but be in Moab in our mind, living in the things you did. God, your Word said you could do exceedingly, abundantly above what we ask or imagine. I don't want to hold so tightly to what I thought you'd do that I can't be blown away by what you have in store.
Your eyes have not seen, your ears have not heard, neither has it even entered into your heart… You don't even have the capacity to imagine what God is going to do through your life. Ruth knew none of that. If we would have told her, "We're going to turn to the book of you at Elevation Church in April of 2022," she would have said, "Who"? We would have said, "You, Ruth". See, if you only knew the glory God is going to get. I can feel that your faith is weak. I can feel that your faith is worn. I can feel that your mind is weary, but I'm calling you back to that place of surrender in God to let the wind of his Spirit blow on your situation. If it's something with your kids, if it's something in your body, do everything you can do. Don't say it's God's plan but you ate sugar. Go on the diet.
"Well, when the Lord wants to take me out, he's going to take me". No. You can eat some broccoli and stay another 10 years, so don't do that. But sometimes we get separated from everything we knew and everything we planned and everything we thought, and that's the threshing floor. God, after that we have gleaned your Word today, we accept the process of your threshing. We're giving it up to you, letting you blow away whatever doesn't belong. I have something to live for. I'll tell you something else. I've lost a lot, but I have a lot left. Do it real quick. Look in the eyes of the person you're next to and say, "You've got a lot left". You do. You have a lot left.
Now bow your head and say it to yourself. "You've got a lot left". You said that softer. Why can you encourage them, but you can't encourage you? Close your eyes and say to yourself, "You've got a lot left". "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who redeems your life from the pit and who crowns you with love and compassion". You have a lot left. You have a whole ephah. You have 30 pounds to take back to Naomi. You have a basketful to take home. You can live off of this word for a week. You can live off of this word for a month. You will be blown away. Come on, let's lift up a sound of anticipatory praise! "God, I praise you for what I haven't seen. I praise you in the unknown". High-five everybody you can reach. Say, "You're going to be blown away"! Boom! Mind-blowing blessings. Boom! Boat-sinking blessings. Boom! Basketfuls, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!