Loyalty, I’ll Be There – February 23, 2020 (Full-Length Version)

– Hello, Alex Sasser here
hosting another episode of “Touching Lives with
Dr. James Merritt.” We are so glad
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touchinglives.org/letter to register today. Thank you again for joining us and now here’s today’s sermon
from Dr. James Merritt. – So good morning to you. Good morning to those
who are watching online, those who’ll be watching by TV, to our campus at Mill Creek. For technology, it’s Apple. For search engine, it’s Google. For social networking,
it’s Facebook. For airlines, it’s Delta. For online retailers,
it’s Amazon. For fast food, it’s Chick-fil-A. So what am I talking about? I’m talking about the brands that have the highest
loyalty rating in their particular industries. These are the companies
that have more customers that keep coming back to them than any other company
where they are. They’re just some of the winners of the Brand Keys Customer
Loyalty Engagement Index which means they have the
highest customer retention rates of anybody that
does what they do. And it’s a crucial metric
because business executives actually watch this
very religiously because they know nothing
tops customer loyalty for building a business,
keeping a business, and growing a business. But loyalty’s not just
crucial for businesses. It’s crucial for friendships. It’s crucial for marriages. It’s crucial for the military. It’s crucial for a nation. We’re in a series that we’re
calling “Mirror Image,” and if you’re a
first-time guest here we have been in this
series for a few weeks. And what we’ve been saying
is if you could just imagine that you had a mirror
that you could look into and it would not show
you what you look like on the outside, it would show you what you
look like on the inside, what would you see? When you’re no longer
trying to put up a pretense, no longer got the makeup on, no longer putting on a big
front, nobody’s looking, if you had that kind of a mirror what kind of character
would you see? And we’ve listen already
three building blocks that should go into
the house of character. We’ve talked about integrity. That’s just doing what
you say you’ll do. We have talked about honesty. That’s just simply
telling the truth. And we’ve talked about humility, never thinking of yourself as more important
than you really are. Well today we’re gonna
talk about a trait that I believe is
seen less and less but is needed more and
more and that is loyalty. When we hire new
staff people here one of the things
that we talk about like my little pep talk, one of the things I emphasize
is we expect you to be loyal. You’ll get loyalty from me. I expect loyalty from you. And there is a book in the Bible that has as its title
and its main character a woman by the name of Ruth. And the only reason that
book is in the Bible and the only reason we even
know anything about Ruth is because of her
incredible loyalty. So to show you
where we are today Ruth is such an
easy book to find. You go to Genesis, Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and then Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Now I’ve been telling
Joshua he ought to stop but Joshua judges Ruth, okay. So I know you’ll that
in about two minutes. Okay, we’re here in
the book of Ruth. We’re in Ruth chapter one. Let me tell you about Ruth. You may not know the story. It is absolutely one of
the greatest love stories, not just in the Bible
but in all of history. Movies and novels and
books had been written about this story and there would have
been no love story, we wouldn’t be
talking about this had it not been for
her incredible loyalty. Now here’s what’s the shocker. The reason why this
book is in the Bible, the reason why we
know about Ruth is because it is the story,
now get ready for this now, it is the story of the
loyalty of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law. Now if you can write
a story about that you can write a
story about anything because those of us who
are married know this. It’s hard to understand
the whole in-law dynamic unless you have one or
unless you become one. And I can tell you in my
ministry I’d be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that I’ve
heard enough in-law stories to make me be
absolutely convinced that in-laws ought
to be outlawed. Because I want to tell you there are some family dynamics
going on with in-laws. Comedians have made a fortune just off telling
jokes about in-laws. I was reading the other
day about a magic show and after one amazing trick someone screamed out to the
magician, “How did you do that?” And the magician
kind of replied back and he said, “Well,
I would tell you “but then I’d have to kill you.” The voice came back and said, “Well would you tell
my mother-in-law?” So I want to tell you
that I do believe this. I believe a lot of
in-laws get a bad rap. And I’ll tell you I
have been so blessed. My mother-in-law
will be watching this
program down the road so I just want to
just let Lena know I could never have
had a better, sweeter, finer mother-in-law than you. I love you, Lena. You are the love of my life. And I can tell you
that is really true and I can tell you
when I read this story that I’m reminded of my wife and the way she treated
my mom and my dad. Because Teresa was
not a daughter-in-law to my dad and to my mom. Teresa was a daughter-in-love
to my dad and to my mom and that’s really
the way it should be. Now to kind of set this story up the book of Ruth is very short. It only has 85 verses
in the entire book and it’s really just
about ordinary people living ordinary lives who
deal with ordinary problems. The story’s simple. It begins with three funerals and it ends with a marriage
and the birth of a baby. But when you read the
entire story of the Bible it is no ordinary baby. It’s an incredible
story of how God used the loyalty of a woman
who wasn’t even a Jew to make sure that you and
I would have a savior. And when you read the story it really will make you
appreciate your family more, your friends more, your future
more, and your faith more. Now simple story. Israelites, there are two
of them, Elimelek and Naomi. They’re married. They have
two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. They live in Bethlehem
but there’s a problem. There’s a great
depression going on. Work is becoming scarce. Elimelek doesn’t think he
can provide for his family. He hears that things
are going a lot better in a land called Moab so he packs up what
little that he has and he takes his wife
and he takes his two sons and they go to Moab hoping
they can better their fortune. Well not long after they
get to Moab Elimelek dies. His two sons marry
two Moabite women. One is named Orpah,
not Oprah but Orpah, and the other one is named Ruth. Well after about 10
years the two sons die. Now Naomi is got a real
problem on her hand. She has no husband. She has no sons. And all she has are
two daughters-in-law. And in that culture that was a completely
impossible situation because there’s no way that
three women on their own, particularly widows with
no children, no relatives, in a time of famine would ever
hope to survive very long. So Naomi, this mother-in-law
is so wonderful, she’s so sweet,
she’s so precious, she says something to
her daughters-in-law that only a mother would say. You would never expect a
mother-in-law to say this. She’s heard that her relatives
back home in Bethlehem, she’s heard from them that things are a lot
better in Bethlehem. So she intends to go back. She’s gonna pack
up her belongings, what little she has. She’s gonna go
back to Bethlehem. But for reasons you’re going
to see in just a moment it really is not a good idea. As a matter of fact it
could be very dangerous for these two women
to go to a country where they’re not
going to be welcome. Plus Naomi knows if
you’ll stay in Moab which is where you were born, it’s where you were raised,
it’s where you grew up, you’re gonna have a lot better
chance of meeting a man, a lot better chance
of remarrying, a lot better chance
of having children. And by the way, you’ll
still be with the friends and the family that
you’ve grown up with and known all of your life. Well Orpah takes up her offer. She takes her at her word. She says, “I know you mean
well and I know you’re right.” She hightails it back home. But Ruth digs in her heels. She says to her
mother-in-law words that have become so famous. They’re used in weddings. They’re put on necklaces. They’re put in rings. It is absolutely one of
the greatest statements and definitions of loyalty
you will ever find. As a matter of fact, the
whole story of this book hinges on what
she says to Naomi. Listen to this. But Ruth replied: Don’t
urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my
people and your God my God. Where you die I will die
and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with
me be it ever so severely if even death
separates you and me. And when Naomi realized that Ruth was determined
to go with her, now that’s what in the
literal Hebrew it says. When Naomi realized that
she was talking to a wall she stopped urging her. Do you want to know what
loyalty sounds like? Play those words over again. You want to know what
loyalty looks like? Get a picture of
Ruth in your mind. You want to know what
loyalty smells like? Let the words, the
aroma of those words kind of linger in the air because in those beautiful words that this daughter-in-law
says to a mother-in-law she tells us four ways
we ought to be loyal every day of our life. Number one, we should
be loyal to our family. Be loyal to your family. Now Ruth’s loyalty begins where the seed of loyalty is
always planted, fertilized, and grown, and that
is in your family. Listen to what Ruth says. But Ruth replied, “Don’t
urge me to leave you “or turn back from you. “Where you go I will go and
where you stay I will stay.” Now we read those words
and we go how nice. Isn’t that sweet? I can’t believe
that daughter-in-law
would be so loyal to her mother-in-law. What you don’t realize
if you don’t know the background of the
story is just how much those words are going to
cost Ruth to say them. Because remember, she’s
in the worst state any young woman could be in. Number one, she’s not
married, she’s a widow. Number two, she’s
childless, has no children. Now in that culture younger
women who were widowed were encouraged to find a
husband as quickly as possible but there’s a problem. Naomi’s going to a country
where a) she’ll be a foreigner. She will be an immigrant
but because she is a Moabite and we’ll find out
about that in a moment, because of her
Moabite background she would find it basically
impossible to attract any male that would have any interest
in marrying her whatsoever. But it’s worse. If she goes to Israel
she will be condemned for marrying someone
out of a pagan, or he would be condemned
for marrying someone out of a pagan background and a country that was
at enmity with Israel. So when you think
about Israel and Moab think about America
and North Korea. That’s what you’re
talking about. I mean they hated each other. And then she would be condemned
for marrying a Jewish man and she would be
criticized and castigated for taking advantage of
her Jewish mother-in-law. So here she is. She’s going to
give up everything, her country, her social
standing, her friends, her relationships, her
chances of remarrying, her chances of ever
having children all to spend the
rest of her life with a woman she is not
even physically related to. It is unbelievable. Oh, and by the way, her
mother-in-law has nothing. At best they’re gonna
struggle to make ends meet. You say man, how do
you explain that? There’s only one explanation. When Ruth married Naomi’s son in her heart if not verbally
here’s what she said. “You’re not going to
be my mother-in-law. “You’re going to be
my mother-in-love. “And I’m not going to
be your daughter-in-law. “I’m going to be your
daughter-in-love.” And the point is
whether it’s your mother or your mother-in-law, your
brother or your brother-in-law, your son or your son-in-law, your daughter or
your daughter-in-law, we should be loyal
to our family. One of the things that’s
made us so wonderful and God has honored it, I
made a promise to Teresa. We got married March
it’ll be 43 years. We got married 43 years ago. I told her when we get married your parents become my parents. Your brother becomes my brother. Your sister becomes my sister. We made exactly the same
promise to each other and I don’t like to get
into this, you know this. There would be some families
listening to me right now that would be
absolutely transformed in your personal relationships if you totally
changed your attitude in that way towards
your “in-laws.” Be loyal, be loyal
to your family. I’ve told my boys, you know. I’ve said to the
boys that you know, as you get older
you start thinking about hey, my time’s
getting shorter and nobody knows how long
you’re gonna be here. So one of the things
I’ve said to my boys as they’ve gotten older, I said, “I want you to be
like my brothers.” I’ve got two brothers,
you know that. One is here. In fact they’re both here every
morning at the first service and we’re brothers. I mean we’re like that. We’re like I was gonna
say the Three Stooges but that’s such a bad analogy but we’re really,
we’re tight, okay. We’re really tight. And I told my boys over and over and I said, “Now
guys, when I’m gone “I’m telling you
right now as your dad “you three brothers
stick together. “You three brothers
stay together. “You always live like brothers “and you always love
each other like brothers “because that’s what
we do in our family. “We’re loyal to our family.” Be loyal to your family. Number two, be loyal
to your friends. Be loyal to your friends. Ruth goes on to say,
“Where you go I will go. “Where you stay I will stay.” Then she says this. “Your people will be my people.” Now when she said your
people will be my people she wasn’t just talking
about Naomi’s family. He was talking about
Naomi’s friends. She said your people. I mean Naomi, I’m
talking about the people that you grew up with, the
people you went to school with, the people that you know. They’re going to be my people. They’re going to be my friends because what Ruth
was saying to Naomi was Naomi, I’m not just
your daughter-in-law. I’m your friend and I
am your friend forever. And that leads me
just to say this. The one thing that separates
your forever friend from your fair-weather
friends is loyalty. So one of the things you
ought to teach your kids is how to evaluate
real friendships. You know, one of the biggest
trouble our kids can get into, this is true of all of us. One of the biggest troubles, you know this because
we worry about it, are the friends that your
kids choose to hang out with and the friends your
kids choose to have. Now I believe that all of us
ought to have unsaved friends and you know, that’s
not where I’m going. What I am saying is this. We need to teach our kids
how do you evaluate a friend. So don’t just ask well,
are they fun to be with? They may be fun to be with,
may not be a good friend. Well they’re nice
when I’m with them. Well they may be but
they may not be a friend. Well they make me feel good. Well they may make
you feel good. They may not be a friend and
please don’t evaluate a friend on how many Instagram
followers he or she has. That is just, I mean you know,
ask yourself this question. Do I really believe this
is the kind of person that would stand by me if the
bottom of my life fell out? Do I really believe this
is the kind of person that would come to my house when they just shut
the electricity off? When Ruth said these
words to Naomi, Naomi knew Ruth, you’re
not just a daughter-in-law. You’re a friend that would
stick closer than a sister. And Naomi knew something. You know, you never learn who your friends
are in prosperity. You never learn who
your friends are when things are going good. You learn who your friends
are when you’re in adversity. And so that leads me to say this and I’ve said it several times but it’s always
good to repeat it. I don’t mean to burst
some bubbles in this room because some of you
I know think you know that you know, you’re God’s gift to the human race
and that’s okay but let me just kind of
help you on one thing. None of us including me, none
of us has as many friends as we think we have. I mean, I’m just
telling you right now. And by the way, for all you
Facebook fanatics out there I don’t know if you
know this or not. I just found out the other day. I thought it was kind of funny. Did you know that Facebook
caps the number of friends you can have at 5,000? Can I just let Facebook
in on a little secret? Nobody has 5,000 friends. Can I let you in
on a little secret? You don’t have a
thousand friends. You don’t have 500 friends, at least not what
you think you do. By the way, if you ever
exceed the limit on Facebook, you know, the number of friends, they’ll send you a message:
You have too many friends. Wrong message, here’s
what they ought to send. You got a lot fewer friends
than you think you do because that really is true. You know there’s an old saying, you can’t have too many friends, but the real truth is
nobody has as many friends as they assume they do. But when you find a friend and you say this is a real
friend be loyal to that friend. If the whole world walks out
of their house you walk in. If the whole world turns
their back on your friend you have their back. One of my favorite stories, three months after Bill
Clinton’s scandal broke with Monica Lewinsky Time Magazine was celebrating
their 75th anniversary with this big dinner
in New York City and a thousand people had been
invited to come to the event and everybody had
been assigned a table. Well Joe DiMaggio, the
former great center fielder for the New York Yankees,
had been assigned to sit next to
President Clinton. Joe DiMaggio wrote the committee and said, “I don’t want to
sit next to President Clinton. “I don’t like President Clinton. “I don’t respect
President Clinton. “I don’t want to
sit next to him. “Move me from that table.” Billy Graham got wind of it. Billy Graham wrote to
the committee and said, “Would you please
give me the privilege “and the honor of sitting
next to the President?” because he was President
Clinton’s friend. When President Clinton’s
approval rating
was at its lowest Billy Graham’s loyalty
rating was at its highest. Be loyal to your friends. And the next one’s kind of hard to just understand at first. Stay with me. Be loyal to your faithfulness. Now let me tell you
what I mean by that. Ruth says to Naomi,
“Where you die I will die “and there I will
be buried,” okay. Now I hope she didn’t mean if we were in a
Mexican restaurant. That would be kind of
embarrassing but anyway. “May the Lord deal with
me be it ever so severely “if even death
separates you and me.” Now let me tell you
what she was saying. You talk about loyalty. Here’s what she was saying. Even if it costs me my life
I’m not gonna leave you. I am not going to forsake you. I am going to live
my life with you and if necessary I’m going
to give my life for you. I am not going to leave you. Wherever you live, that’s
where I’m going to live. And wherever and
whenever you die, that’s where I am going to die. I am making a promise
with my own life. So here’s something Naomi knew. Naomi never, ever had to worry that if they get to Bethlehem
and things are going bad, the fire gets too hot,
the food gets too low, the money totally runs out,
that Ruth will abandon ship and go back to Moab. She had made a
lifetime commitment. Naomi, you’ll never be alone. I may be the only
person with you but I will be one person
that will be with you. I will never leave you. I’m making a promise
on my life with my life and I intend to
keep it until I die. And I just say all
that to say this. She was basically saying Naomi, I’m gonna be faithful
to what I’m telling you, so much so that I’m
putting my life on the line and we need to learn to be
loyal to our convictions and what we believe. We need to learn to be
loyal to our promises and what we say we will do. We need to learn to be
loyal to our lenders to pay what we owe. We need to learn to keep
our vows when we get married and be loyal to our vows. We need to be loyal to stand
up for what we think is right and stand against what
we think is wrong. We need to be loyal
to our faithfulness. You know, can I just say this? And I get it, I understand the
day and age in which we live. Wouldn’t it be great,
wouldn’t it really be great if we could go back to a
day when you didn’t need to sign 15,000 pages of a
contract to buy something? You could just shake hands and just know I’m
giving you my word and I am making a promise and I will be loyal
to what I promised. True story, there were two men. One was named Jim, one was
named Philip, true story. They grew up together, grew
up nextdoor to each other. Became best friends. They went to elementary
school together. They went to high
school together. They did everything together. They went to college together. They joined the
Marines together. And in World War II they
were sent to Germany and they fought side
by side together. Well their platoon got into
one particularly fierce battle and the battle was
not going very well so the commanding officer
gave the command to retreat. Well as they were
retreating Jim looked around and noticed he
didn’t see Philip. He didn’t see his buddy. He was nowhere to be found. So he ran to his
commanding officer and he said, “Look, I’ve
got to go find my friend.” And his commanding officer
said, “No, you can’t go back. “It’s absolute suicide
if you try to go back. “I command you to retreat. “You’ll do what
everybody else is doing.” Jim literally turned his back
on his commanding officer and disobeyed him and ran
back into the flay of battle. His heart was pounding,
bullets are whizzing by, bombs are exploding,
everybody else is running, but he’s out there in the
middle of that battlefield calling for his friend,
“Philip, where are you? “Philip, it’s Jim. “Philip, it’s me. “Philip, where are you?” About an hour later his
platoon couldn’t believe it. Here came Jim staggering
back across the field carrying the limp, dead
body of his buddy, Philip. His commanding
officer was livid. He came running up to him. He said, “You
disobeyed my order. “You risked your
life for nothing. “Your friend was dead. “I told you he was dead. “I told you there was
nothing you could do “and you went just the same.” And Jim looked at
his CO and he said, “Sir, with all
respect, you’re wrong.” “What do you mean I was wrong?” He said, “I got
there just in time “because Jim’s last words to me “just before he drew
his last breath were, “Philip’s last words to me “just before he
drew his last breath “were ‘Jim, I knew
you would come. “‘I knew you would come.'” See, that’s loyalty. Jim and Philip
had made a promise no matter what happened we’ll always be
there for each other. We’ll never leave each
other on the battlefield. No matter what happens
we’re gonna be there. Never abandon the other
in a time of need. Be loyal to your faithfulness. But everything I’ve just said
really won’t do you much good and it really probably
won’t happen in your life unless you’re loyal
to one last thing. As a matter of fact it’s the most important
part of any loyalty and that is be
loyal to your faith. By far the most important
thing that Ruth says speaks to the most important
loyalty you will ever have and that’s the loyalty
she expressed to God because I want to show you the biggest, most life-changing,
unbelievable thing that Naomi heard her say. Listen to this. “Your people will be my
people and your God my God.” Now you talk about going all in. You talk about selling out. Let me tell you
what Naomi had done. Remember I told you
Naomi was a Moabite. Now you may not know
who the Moabites are so let me kind of tell
you just a little bit. The Moabites actually came
from an incestuous relationship that a man by the name of Lot. If you don’t know who Lot is
Lot was the nephew of Noah, Noah and the ark. He was Noah’s nephew. Lot had an incestuous
relationship with his daughter. The offspring of
that relationship became known as the Moabites. They entered into paganism. They worshiped false gods. They were guilty of polytheism. They worshiped a
lot of false gods. They used eroticism
in their religion. They used temple prostitutes. They even offered
human sacrifices, their own children on the altar
to practice their religion. The Moabite culture
epitomized everything that the Israelites
would hate and despise. If you were an Egyptian you
could become an Israelite. If you were an Edomite you
could become an Israelite. If you were a, an… I’m trying to think of
let’s just say a termite, you could be a part
of the Israelites. But, but the law was
laid down for Moabites. Now listen to this. No Ammonite or Moabite or
any of their descendants may enter the
assembly of the Lord, not even in the 10th generation for they did not come to
meet you with bread and water on your way when you
came out of Egypt and they hired
Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim
to pronounce a curse on you. However, the Lord your God
would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse
into a blessing for you. Because the Lord
your God loves you do not seek a treaty
of friendship with them as long as you live. For 10 generations, 400 years,
God had laid down the law. No Moabite, no
descendant of a Moabite could ever enter into
the assembly of the Lord. Now that time has already passed but the curse still
lingers in the air. So here’s a young woman who has everything
going against her. She has every reason
to reject God. Her past is against her. She was raised in
a pagan family. She worshiped pagan gods. Her present was against her. All she had was
her mother-in-law. No husband, no children,
no source of income. Her future was against her. She’s about to go to
a land and a people where her very ethnicity
would be a curse word. A no welcome sign would be put up all of the neighbors’ homes. She’s about to go into a country where they’re gonna let
her know right up front if you ever have kids
I don’t want them to have anything
to do with my kids. I don’t want you to meet
me when I’m on the street. You won’t be invited to
the neighborhood parties. You’re not gonna be invited
to anything that we have in the neighborhood. Don’t speak to us. Don’t talk to us. We don’t like you. We hate you. We don’t want you here. Go back to where you belong. All that was true but she said, “I’m
going with you, Naomi, “because your God
has become my God.” 10 years she had lived
with this woman named Naomi and for 10 years she
saw a woman say things she’d never heard a woman say. She saw a woman act like she had never seen
any other woman act. She saw a woman worship like she had never
seen any woman worship. She saw a woman that
didn’t worship a pagan god that she was afraid of
and tried to appease because she was afraid
that god hated her. She worshiped a God
that actually loved her and cared for her, wanted her
to be a part of his family. And in all those years her
heart began to be warm. And we’re not told
when it happened. We’re not told exactly
how it happened. We’re not told exactly
where it happened but somewhere along the line her life had been
radically changed by the God of Abraham
and Isaac and Jacob. And she had made a decision not just to turn
away from her family, not just to turn away
from her friends. She had made a
decision to turn away from every other false
God she had ever known and every other false God
her family had worshiped and she put
everything on the line to worship the one true God. It is one of the most
courageous confessions of faith you’ll find in the Bible. “Your God will be my God.” Now here’s what’s going on. Watch this, this is
where you come in. She says I’m gonna leave
my blood relatives for you although we have no
blood connection at all. You say wait a minute. I thought you just
said back in point one be loyal to your family. I did. Now you’re telling me that she’s doing a good thing
by leaving her blood family and going to be with someone she is not physically
related to. Yes, but here’s why. Because she learned something
that I want you to learn. The real family that we have and the greatest
family that we have is not our flesh family. It’s our faith family. Your real family is the family you’re gonna spend
eternity with. Now it’s because of
your faith family you love your flesh family. It’s because of your faith
that you want your flesh family to be a part of the
faith that you have but the greatest family
you’ll ever be a part of is not your physical family. It is your spiritual family. It is your forever family. And so Ruth had come to
know the God of Naomi. She had forsaken the
false god of the Moabites. She had given her
heart to the true God. And now to her, this
is what’s amazing. Did she love her flesh mother? Sure she did. Did she love her flesh father? Of course she did. But you know what she
was saying to Naomi? My mother-in-law of faith
is more family to me than the mother of my own flesh. Blood is thicker than water. It is not thicker
than the Holy Spirit. It is not thicker than Jesus. It is not thicker than
the God that made us. It’s just not and that is no way to
denigrate your flesh family. There’s nobody on this planet that loves their flesh
family more than I do. There’s nobody that
loves their kids more than I love my kids. There’s nobody that
loves my grandkids more than I love my grandkids. There’s nobody that
love their parents more than I loved my parents. There’s nobody that
loves their siblings more than I love my siblings. I absolutely adore them
but the end of the day you know why we are
such a fantastic family? It’s not because of DNA. It’s not because of blood. It’s because we
have a common faith in the Jesus that died for
us and the God that made us and one day we’re gonna
spend all eternity together. That is the real family. That’s the family that
Naomi was talking about. That’s the family that had
radically changed her life. And as much as you
may love your family, as much as I love mine, the greatest family
you’ll ever be a part of on this planet is
the family of faith. So what does God do? God honors her loyalty
because let me tell you how the story kind of winds up. She goes to Bethlehem. She meets a man, a great man. He marries her. She has a child in a culture that places far more value on
sons than it does daughters. She even wins the respect
of all the women in town because after she
has her firstborn son and all the women are
throwing the post-baby party here’s what they said to Naomi
about her daughter-in-law. Listen to this. “Your daughter-in-law
who loves you “and who is better to
you than seven sons “has given him birth.” Those mothers, all those
women in Bethlehem said man, sure wish we had a
daughter-in-law like yours. Boy, she is better to
you than seven sons. And oh, by the way, the
greatest blessing of all, the son that Ruth had,
his name was Obed. May not mean a lot to you. Obed was the
grandfather of David who became the
ancestor of Jesus. So because of the loyalty
of a pagan Moabite woman who met the true God and gave
her life to the true God, guess what happened? You go to the genealogy of
Jesus in the New Testament, you’ll find four women
listed in his family tree. There’s Tamar, she was
a real piece of work. She was guilty of incest. You upgrade to Rahab. She was a prostitute. You go first class
with Bathsheba. She was an adulteress. And then you got Ruth. She was a Moabite. But because of her
loyalty God used her not just to bear a son but to change the
history of the world. Now where do you
come into the story? What’s all this
got to do with you? Okay, you ready? Our God is a loyal God. He keeps his promises. He’ll never turn his back on us. He will never forsake us. He will stay in your house
when the whole world walks out. He doesn’t have to walk in
when the whole world walks out. He never leaves. He says I will never
leave you or forsake you. Now if that is true and
you say you know that God and you love that God then let
me just make it very plain. We owe it to that God
to be loyal to him and his church in worship. We owe it to that God to
find the place of service in this church. We owe it out of
loyalty to that God to grow in discipleship, to get in a small
group in this church. We owe it out of
loyalty to that God to allow ourselves
to be sent and to go and to share the life-changing
message of the gospel. Loyalty means that when you
can be here you will be here. That’s what you’re sowing. When you walk into,
don’t you, listen. Don’t you think it’s
a little small deal. I was out in the lobby a while and I was watching
people come in. Every one of you come in I said, “Oh God, thank you
that they came.” Nobody makes you come. Nobody pays you to
come but you came. You didn’t have to come and don’t think I don’t
take that for granted. I don’t take it for granted. I said, “Lord, thank
you that they came.” But let me tell you something. Whether you realize this or not next time you don’t
think it’s a big deal let me just tell you this. Every time you get up and I know sometimes
it’s hard to get up. Listen, there are
some, I’m the pastor and sometimes I
don’t want to get up. But every time you get up
whether it’s hot or cold, dry or rainy, you get
up, you get dressed, you come into the assembly
of the people of God, I’m telling you right
now God looks at you and says thank you for
expressing your loyalty to me and expressing your
loyalty to my family and expressing your
loyalty to my son. Thank you for serving whenever
and wherever you’re needed because when we needed
a savior to die for us you know what Jesus said? I’ll be there. You can count on me. I am so loyal to you
I’ll go to a cross to show you how
loyal I am to you. How much more should
those of us here today every time we get
the chance to worship and every time we get
the chance to serve and every time we get the chance to be an encouragement to
others in a small group and every time we get the chance to be sent out and
share the gospel how much more should we
say Lord, I’ll be there? – We are so glad
you tuned in here on the Touching
Lives digital channel and we hope you enjoyed
the sermon today. Be sure the click
and follow this page and feel free to leave
any comments below. We’d love to hear your
thoughts from today’s message. And finally I’m so
pleased to announce that Dr. Merritt will
be returning to Africa in November of 2020 for another Serve and
Safari tour of Kenya. This life-changing trip
combines mission work in one of the poorest
parts of Kenya plus a once-in-a-lifetime safari in the beautiful Masai
Mara National Park. Learn more at touchinglives.org or email us at
[email protected] to request a free brochure. Thank you so much
for watching today. I’ll see you right here next
time for another episode of “Touching Lives with
Dr. James Merritt.” – [Announcer] Touching Lives,
teaching people everywhere who Jesus is and
why they need him. This program is sponsored
by Touching Lives Ministries and is made possible
by the grace of God and your faithful
prayers and gifts.

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