Friday, July 12, 2013

God's Favor is Always Unfair

By Odon Bulamba

Ruth 2:10, “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?”

For those who want to know the story of Ruth:

Naomi and her husband and her two sons were living in Bethlehem and from nowhere; hunger struck – no food, they tried to survive but it was impossible and so they decided to leave their nation to find food.  They went to Moab where they found food.  Their sons reached the stage where they should marry and they married women from Moab.  One married Orpah and one married Ruth.  Naomi’s husband died; God is good, sometimes he takes people while we need them.  Maybe Naomi thought, I still have my two sons and I can manage. So maybe God said, “oh, you put your hope in your two sons” and maybe because of that, he removed them too.

Without a husband and children, Naomi wondered how she will survive without men to work for her and feed her so she decided to go back home to Bethlehem.  Ruth and Orpah decided to go with her but Naomi advised them to go back to their families and remarry.  The two ladies decided to go with her anyway.  What a courage, to leave your country and follow an old lady and go to a country you don’t know.  To follow a lady who doesn’t have a husband and to go to a country that the old lady left for a reason.  We as human beings would think twice.

Naomi tried to encourage the two girls to return home but Ruth said that she had to come, “please let me”.  The more that Naomi insisted for the girls not to go with her, the more that Orpah started to take think about going back...maybe she was afraid of the future wondering how she will take care of this old lady; better to find a husband to take care of her.  So Orpah cried, hugged Naomi and said good bye.  Was that cry a sincere cry or was it a cry of freedom?  Many people today in the church are trying to follow Jesus just because others are doing it, maybe to give the impression to other they are a part of Jesus but in their heart they want to drink, party, just like those in the world but they don’t have the opportunity because maybe a Christian might see them and maybe someone in church will talk and judge so better not to.  They fear human beings and they try to impress people more than the Lord.

Ruth said, “wherever you go, I’ll go, your people will be my people, where you die, I die”.  When Jesus says, follow me, do you really follow him or will you be like Peter in the gospels and deny Jesus?

Naomi walked with Ruth back to Bethlehem which means house of the bread of God.  In that Bethlehem which is the house of the bread; there is no food.  It sounds strange.  Food was there but the people didn’t open their eyes or didn’t try to push their hands deeper to find food.  God gave to Israelites everything they wanted, heat, water, food and clothing in the desert.  Here, now because of famine, Naomi could not feed herself or her daughter in law.  Naomi advised Ruth, “there is no men here, you have to find food”.  If someone tells you to find food and you have no money, where would you go?  Police, neighbors, family?  For Ruth, she thought, harvest is taking place, let me go there and she walked onto someone’s farm. 

If you see a stranger on your farm, what will you do?  You will ask yourself who is the person and why are they there.  We have to present ourselves somewhere in order to be identified.  People will only identify us when we walk near the farm (God’s work).  God says there is a harvest but there are no workers.

Ruth went onto the farm and started to collect what remained behind from the wheat.  How much do you think was left behind?  To leave behind means you will lose so unlikely you will leave too much.  Boaz walked in and he was told her identity is Ruth and he allowed her to work and told his workers to leave a handful of food behind...put it on the ground and go.  When it was time for lunch, Ruth came and ate with the workers and she put aside a small portion of food to feed Naomi.

God’s favor is unfair:  Ruth is coming from nowhere, she is a foreigner, they don’t know her and she met with harvesters who are not allowed to take without permission and suddenly Boaz lets her; give her the chance to collect food.  How many times has God done such a thing in your life where you don’t have right to do something and God does something for you.  E.g. you wake up and you are alive, you are thirsty and there is water, you go outside and the sun is shining.  In other parts of the world, people are crying because their brothers are dead, they don’t have sun and they don’t have all the blessings and privileges that we have here in New Zealand…God is not fair.  But, the more you are blessed, the more you need to bless others.

The church is like Ruth, God asks us to pick up what others have left behind and you will have enough provision for you and your family.  You read the Bible, what did you get from it?  Most will say, “nothing really”.  We are encouraged to make notes when the preacher brings a message but what do we do with those notes?  Ruth was in a position to collect.  To collect is not easy, to pick up from the ground you have to bend down and put the grain in the bag.  Collecting can give pain to your back but God will ask you regardless of your pain; blessings are here, it’s up to you to collect them.

In your life, when you are blessed like Boaz, how often do you purposefully give others blessings?  It is a shame for the church to day, when it’s time for offering…I’ve seen people, open their wallet and find the smallest bank note and if they don’t have a small one, they won’t give it to the church.  Others believe they have their own needs and forget that the church building has to be paid for and the church has many needs.  When you don’t give, how do you expect God to give to you?  The measure you give, that is the measure you will get from God.  If you choose a big bowl, great but if you choose a small bowl…shame on you.

In the book of James we are told that we don’t have to only be talkative, we also have to be doers; your actions are important for Jesus.  Ruth collected what others had left behind and suddenly, life started to change; she had much food and could enjoy the meal.  When God blesses you, do you really know that others deserve it but they don’t get it.  Others have been working so hard to achieve what you are getting but they don’t get it.  For example, there will be people who grumble, “Colleen gets it all and she doesn’t deserve it, how come she can have it?” and we start to judge her but God says, “I know what I am doing, my favors are always unfair”.

Tyrone is there asking God for a handful of blessing and God gives it to Tyrone and Tyrone is able to pick it up and his bag fills up and I say jealously, after praying for years and  working hard, “why do You give to Tyrone?”  How many favors have you received this morning? Your stomach works, your heart is beating, everything about you is a favor and all those favors that you get, how many people are jealous about them and how many people are crying, Lord our God.

Ruth was collecting the food and later she becomes the owner of the land; God made her someone special. She moved from a to z without having to go through b, c, d, e and f.  I was asking myself the other day, “for how long will I continue to live this life, God I don’t want to be stressed” and suddenly a thought came into my mind and so I started to google mansions and I could see all those beautiful houses and I asked God, is this what I will have and the more I looked, the more I found the best ones and then I looked at the prices and the cheapest was around $40M and I asked God is this is a joke.  While I was looking, someone past by and said, “If you can’t pay the power bill, how will you afford such a thing?”  “If you can’t even pay your power bill how will you pay for such a house?” but I felt joy in my heart and I know that for God it is possible

Tell God, I need to get what you have for me.  God leads us to the levels.  When Naomi went to Moab and lost her husband, she learnt not to put her trust in her husband anymore.  Sometimes we put our trust in something and God shuts that door.  I was saving for a house but God shuts that door.  I was studying so I could become something, and God shuts that door and when that door is shut…God opens a door in your heart.  You find things hard with your job and then suddenly there is no job and you wonder how you will live but God finds a better way.

God gives us stairs and we go up them.  The first stair for Ruth was the loss of her husband, the next step was collecting food, the next step was to lie next to Boaz, the next step was to marry Boaz and then finally Ruth is the owner of land.  Who doesn’t know the name of Ruth from the Bible?  God has given her favor to be known.  You and me have a favor, our names are in the book of life and therefore we should move with God.  If Ruth couldn’t accept to go up and up, the stairs, Naomi could not benefit, the church could not benefit (we learn from Ruth’s experience and also, Jesus comes from the line of Ruth). 

Do you leave a handful of food behind for others?  If your offering is an issue, how will you give to others or give to God as a favor?  Many families and marriages have been broken because of tithing.  The husband says, “I can’t give this month” while the wife says, “God says we must and we have to because it is God’s money, it’s no ours, it belongs to God”.  The husband justifies, “We can pay God back later”.  We can even give from the little blessings we have; we need to teach others the Word of God; how to play the guitar if you know how; share your knowledge…rather than criticize others, teach them.

There is an African song that says, “my God is goodo”.  These people are not aware that the word “goodo” is not english and no one tells them.  We have to teach our children, our nieghbours and community and by giving we also will receive.

Ruth became the wife of Boaz and gave birth and at the time she gave birth, Naomi was old and her job was to nurse the baby.  Miraculously God provided milk for Naomi to be able to breastfeed.  You should never say, “I am too old to look after the drunkards or spiritual babies”.  They need you to feed them.  When God blessed Ruth, others started to complain that God was blessing her while she is a foreigner.  People can take distance from you and talk against you but God will never leave you. Count your favors and from them, how many do you leave behind?

I have a friend who loves burger and once was asked for his expensive shoes in exchange for a burger.  He ate the burger and then his boss came and he had to represent the company at a meeting.  My friend now had no shoes and when he walked in front of people with his tie and jacket but no shoes; imagine what impression people had.  He started to apologize and tell lies but couldn’t admit the truth about the burger.

There are other things that attract us and lead us to shame and we don’t have to exchange our knowledge and faith with those things.  Naomi could easily could get the chance to ask Boaz to help since he was a family member of her husband but she didn’t because she wanted God to do what He wanted in his own time.  Naomi is like us, we are called to show people the right way, “Ruth go to Boaz and do this and that”. 

At the gym there are trainers to motivate you. I once went to Te Rapa gym to do the cycle fit and the majority of people were women and I am a man so I believed that I could defeat them.  On the bike, my heart was pumping and 15 minutes felt like 15 hours and when we finished, I couldn’t walk.  After a few hours, pain was everywhere.  What type of women is this, she can make us suffer while she didn’t even look strong?

When God gives us preachers and brothers and sisters...their job is to motivate us, push us to another level.  Most Christians want to stay at the same level but your potential can make you go higher if you are supported.  How much do you want to read the Bible by yourself and interpret it?  When we read it by ourselves there is the temptation to pull what we want from it and leave the rest.  If you go to church, if you try to share your message with others…you will become stronger.

If Ruth could not accept the advice of Naomi, you could never hear about Ruth in the Bible.  Imagine being told to wake up in the night and sleep next to another person.  Are you crazy? In our head, we have a preconceived idea but for God it is different.  Sometimes God will tell you to stand up and talk to those people.  We need to be open. 

You go to restaurants and you make your order of food.  Some choose based on the price and make an order for the most expensive but the next day there is no money for offering.  If you want to become dark skinned, there is only one solution…jump in fire and get burned.  If you want to become extremely white/red, jump in fire.  If you want to know what hell is, jump in fire.  If you are in fire, people will rush and save you but you can die.  Fire has a lot of meaning.

Naomi pulled Ruth and told her what to do while Naomi didn’t do any work.  Who shows you the way, your husband, daughter, yourself, who do you talk to?  Be careful, because you might be misled. 

I went to Animates, I see a lady in her early 40s and she looked at me and said, “oh” and I wondered why she did that.  I thought I might sin so I said, “hello”.  I asked her why she said, “oh”.  She answered, “oh, no I was thinking about your car…” the girl next to her said, “just tell him”.  The friend said, “no she loves your car but she doesn’t love black people”.

Why do people love you, why does God love you?  He loves you because he loves you with a pure heart. Sometimes people love you because of the interest they have in you.  Find someone in your life that you have to pray for and ask God to make that person to love you like Naomi.  Ruth followed Naomi because she was living a Christian life.

We will praise God for the favors and tell God we want to be changed to see how great God is in my life and I want also to feel strong when I am weak, see when I am blind, rich when I am poor.  Lord this is the time to increase.  Don’t limit yourself, tell God what you need.

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