Before God changes circumstances, He wants to change our hearts. If our circumstances change for the better, but we remain the same, then we will become worse. God's purpose in providence is not to make us comfortable, but to make us conformable "conformed to the image of His Son".
Naomi was bitter against God, but Ruth was willing for God to have His way in her life. If we want God to work in our lives and circumstances and accomplish His gracious purposes, then there are certain conditions that we must meet.
I. We must live by faith in the Lord. v1-3
A. What does it mean to live by faith?
1. Believe what God has said in His Word.
2. Then act upon what we believe.
3. James tells us that faith without works is dead.
B. Ruth was acting upon her faith in God's Word.
1. Le 19:9-10, "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God."
2. Ruth believed that God loved her and would provide for her.
3. She went out by faith trusting that God would direct her way.
C. We are introduced to Boaz in this chapter.
1. He was a relative of Elimilech's.
2. He was very wealthy man and had standing in the community.
3. Boaz = in him is strength.
II. We must live by the grace of God. v4-16
A. Introduction: (4)
1. When Ruth set out that morning to glean in the fields, she was looking for someone who would show her grace.
2. Grace is favor bestowed on someone who doesn't deserve it and can't earn it.
3. Ruth certainly had no claims, she was at the lowest rung on the social ladder.
4. We see an example of God's grace in the was Boaz related to Ruth.
B. Boaz took the initiative. (5-7)
1. As Boaz comes to the field that morning to encourage his workers and pray for them he saw someone different.
2. It appears to have been 'love at first sight' for Boaz.
3. Grace means that God makes the first move to come to our aid, not because we deserve anything, but because He loves us and wants us for Himself.
C. Boaz spoke to Ruth. (8)
1. Ruth had no basis to approach the 'lord of the harvest' and speak to him.
2. In grace, he first spoke to her words of acceptance and assurance.
3. He directed her to not go to another field, but to stay close to the other servants.
4. God, in His grace, has spoken to us and given us directions through His Word.
D. Boaz promised to protect and provide for her. (9)
1. Boaz instructed his young men to protect her from harm.
2. He told her that when she became thirsty to go and drink from the water that has already been drawn.
3. He gave her the best place to glean, right after those who harvested.
4. We learn later that he instructed his reapers to drop some "handfuls on purpose" just for her.
5. God has promised to protect and provide for us.
E. Boaz encouraged her. (10-13)
1. Ruth's response to Boaz was one of humility and gratitude.
2. She acknowledged her own unworthiness and accepted his grace.
3. She knew that he would care for her because he had promised to do so, and she believed his promise.
4. So it is with the Lord, we can be encouraged knowing that He has promised to care for us.
E. Boaz saw to it that she was satisfied. (14-16)
1. All of this happened to Ruth because of her faith in the God of Israel.
2. He returned to have lunch with her and fed her from his provisions.
3. Not just a taste, but until she was full.
4. He instructed that the reapers were to leave some handfuls just for her so that she would have enough.
5. God's grace is complete and will meet our every need.
III. We Must Live In Hope. v17-23
A. Ruth had hope.
1. She labored all day with a happy and hopeful heart.
2. She didn't have to worry about anyone harassing her.
3. She had food to eat when she was hungry, water to drink when she became thirsty, and a place of rest when she grew weary.
4. She gleaned enough grain to feed her and Naomi for about a week.
B. Naomi found cause to hope.
1. Because of who Boaz was: a near kinsman who was wealthy and influential.
2. Because of what Boaz did: he showed kindness to Ruth and took a personal interest in her.
3. Because of what Boaz had said: the words of Boaz revealed his love for her and his desire to make her happy.
4. We can live in hope because of who Christ is, because of what He did for us, and because of His Word which reveals His love and concern for us.
Ruth's faith in God's Word led her to the field of Boaz. The love of Boaz for Ruth compelled him to pour out his grace upon her and meet her every need. Ruth's experience of grace gave her new hope as she anticipated what her kinsman redeemer would do.