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Pursued By Grace Series-Sermon #3
COMING HOME THE HARD WAY
Intro: A foolish old farmer, so the story goes, concluded one day that the oats he had fed his mule for years were simply costing him too much. So he hatched a plan: he mixed a little sawdust in with the feed, and then a little more the next day, and even more the next, each time reducing the amount of oats in the mix.
The mule didn't seem to notice the gradual change, so the farmer thought things were fine and kept decreasing the proportion of oats. But weeks later, on the day he finally fed the poor beast nothing but sawdust, the mule finished the meal and fell over dead.
A silly tale, perhaps, but it serves as a parable of the backslider--the Christian who slips further and further away from God through unrepented sin or neglect. Though we know our souls cannot survive on spiritual sawdust, we may well convince ourselves that a little won't hurt too much, and a little less real spiritual food won't be missed. Then, over time, the proportion of sawdust increases while the oats gradually disappear. Before long, the change is complete, and our starved, sawdust-stuffed spiritual life has collapsed.
Surely this is how Naomi found herself in Moab with a dead husband and two dead sons. She never meant for it to happen, but one day she woke up to find that she was miles away from where the Lord wanted her to be. This passage is all about how Naomi found her way home to Bethlehem and to the place fo blessing.
I know that I am preaching to some people who have allowed a little sin here or a little slackness there and today, you find yourself in a place, spiritually, that you never thought possible. You look around at all that you have lost as a result of your you backslidden condition and you wonder if there is hope for your spiritual restoration. The answer to that question is "Yes!" And this passage has something to say about how that can happen in your life. Let's watch as Naomi returns to Bethlehem and think on the thought "Coming Home The Hard Way."
I. V. 19a THE ARRIVAL IN BETHLEHEM
(Ill. The trip from Moab to Bethlehem would have taken between 7-10 days. It would have required them to cross the river Jordan and to climb the 2000 plus feet in elevation required to reach Bethlehem. It would have been easy to stop short of the city, but they continued until they were where they were supposed to be! Ill. Repentance is the same way! Don't stop until you have come all the way back!) (Note: There is no record of their conversation as they traveled. This reminds us that a person's repentance is a private matter. It is between them and the Lord and we cannot judge their condition by what they do or by what they don't do!)
II. V. 19b-21 THE ANNOUNCEMENT TO BETHLEHEM
(Ill. "Moved about them". Means the city was disturbed and in an uproar. Naomi's return to Bethlehem alone, broke and in the company of a Gentile made news all over town!)
III. V. 22 THE ANTICIPATION IN BETHLEHEM
Conc: My friends, where has this message found you today? Has sin and worldly living stripped you of all the Lord has done in your life? Do you need a fresh start today?
Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ told the story of a boy who left his father's house to find fun and adventure in the world. When he had lost everything he owned and wound up in a place he never thought he would be, he decided to go home. What he found was a father ready to forgive him, love him and restore him to a place of perfect fellowship and blessing. Is that what you need today? If so, then what you need is just steps away. Will you come?
Others need to come to the Lord for salvation. You have nothing but the sorrow of sin today and the prospect of Hell tomorrow. Jesus Christ died for you. If you will come to Him today, He will save you by His grace.