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Id like to start today with a question and have a bit of conversation. The question I have
is this:
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What is loyalty?
----------------------------Loyalty comes from the word loyal
The on-line version of the Merriam-Lexington dictionary defines loyal as
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Loyal: having or showing complete and constant support for someone or something
Many different people have written quotes about loyalty
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Luther

Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. Martin

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Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual
confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than
perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Ann Landers
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Loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In
fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart the center of selfrespect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly
right for it and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal. Maurice Franks
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Loyalty and friendship, which is to me the same, created all the wealth that Ive
ever thought Id have. Ernie Banks
Our culture doesnt value loyalty as much anymore. How many of us have seen incidents
in our work place where a loyal colleague was treated unjustly? How many of us have had this
experience ourselves.
One way to define God is through loyalty. Gods loyalty to us will far surpass any type
of loyalty that we will ever experience.
And one way I believe God wants to see each of us to be defined is through our loyalty.
God wants us to be loyal, and I believe God will bless our loyalty. One way to develop a
community of friends and family is to be loyal. There is quite a lot at stake in living with a high
degree of loyalty.

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Today we have an outstanding opportunity to learn about loyalty from a woman by the
name of Ruth. It is Paula Blairs favorite story.
Today Im continuing a sermon series called My Favorite Story. The AIM of this series
is simple. A while ago I asked you to share your favorite Bible Story. Many of you did. Each
Sunday were going deep into the story. I hope that well be planting memories and teachings
about these stories that you will carry with you.
Last week we looked at Mary and Martha. This was a story that Lena Truong chose
Today were looking at Ruth. This was a story that Paula Blair chose
Next Sunday Pastor Kate is going to preach about Esther, her favorite Bible story.
Well close on Fathers Day by looking at the story of Jesus and Peter on the beach. This
is Chris Audets favorite Bible Story.
Each week Ill share a devotion that revolves around the story. I encourage you to get out
the devotion that is in the bulletin. This week I wrote a devotion on the themes of Ruth. I think
youll be blessed as you use it each day. In the middle is a place to take notes. I believe God
might say something to you in this sermon that youll want to write down. On the back is our
congregations prayer requests.
Two weeks ago Friday I interviewed Paula. I asked her right away why she liked Ruth.
This is what she said.
When I was growing up we would go to church every Sunday. Everyone had the hymnals
and Bibles in front of them. I decided when I was probably in third or fourth grade that I didnt want to
listen to the pastor, I wanted to read. I took the Bible in front of me and I just started reading. I found
this little tiny book that I could get through in about the same amount of time the pastor would speak. It
was Ruth. I read it over and over again. It was just this sweet, (when I was a kid), It was just this sweet
love story about this woman who had lost her husband and decided to go, move back with her mother-inlaw to her land which was Israel. She found her true love, that sort of thing. That is my fourth-grade me
coming out.

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Ruth is a sweet, love story. Its only four chapters long, 85 verses. Its the ____ shortest
book of the Bible. Its easy to find as its the eighth book in the Old Testament. Thats easy to
remember. First five books of the BibleGenesis, Exodus, Levitiucs, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Noun, verb, noun. Joshua, Judges Ruth. You just memorized the first
eight books of the Bible.
I want to encourage all of us to read the story this week. It will only take you about
fifteen minutes to read. As Paula shared it is a sweet story. The more you read it the more youll
realize the many nuances to the story. If you knew Hebrew youd learn the story has a lot of
word play. Its a beautiful story. Its the type of story you could read to this children before they
go to bed.
Let me share it:
The story took place during a famine. A man by the name of Elimilech married a woman by the
name of Naomi.
They had two sonsMahlon and Kilion.

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The four of them went to live in the land of Moab. Here is a map that shows Moab. Moab is in
the purple
We dont know why they went to Moab. Perhaps they were looking for food.
While they were there, Mahlon and Kilion married two women from Moab. One was named
Orpah and the other was named Ruth.

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Then disaster struck. Elimilech, Mahlon and Kilion all died. Were not told how they
died. They died.
There was nothing worse for a woman than to be without a husband or a son. Naomi,
Orpah and Ruth were in big trouble. They had no source of income and there was a famine.
They heard there was food in Israel. Naomi decided to go back to Israel.
Think about this with me. You are Naomi. Youve come to Moab. It is most likely a
treacherous and perhaps even dangerous trip to walk back to Israel. Your two daughters-in-law
are both from Moab. They have families who live there. Naomi was a very practical woman.
What would you tell the two young women to do.
Stay in Moab.
Thats what Naomi did.
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But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, Go back each of you to your mothers house.
May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord
grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband. Ruth 1:8-9
The word kindly comes from the Hebrew word, hesed. It means kindness and it also
means loyalty. May the Lord be loyal to you. May you be treated fairly and justly.
Orpah and Ruth responded to Naomi by telling her that they would go with her to Judah.
We dont know why they said this, but we can guess that they saw the danger of a woman
walking by herself from Moab to Judah.
Then Naomi became aggressive in her request to tell Orpah and Ruth to stay in Moab.
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Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my
womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am
too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a
husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then
refrain from marrying? Ruth 1:11-13

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Naomis plea reveals what a sexist culture they lived in. Why couldnt Naomi help Ruth?
She couldnt give them a husband. Naomis plea also reveals how pragmatic she wasanother
reason I love Naomi. It made no sense for Ruth and Orpah to leave their country to travel with
Naomi back to Judah.
Orpah heeded Naomis plea. She went back. But Ruth. Ruth didnt want to stay in
Moab. But Ruth wasnt thinking about her own success. She was willing to share hesed,
kindness or loyalty with Naomi. She said this:
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Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people, and your God jy God.
Where you die, I will diethere will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!
Ruth 1:16-17
Wow. Ruth is sacrificing herself to show hesed or kindness or loyalty to Naomi.
I have a list of the top ten Scriptures in the Bible and this one makes the top five. Ruths
loyalty is amazing.
Paula recognized this loyalty when she said this:
Ruth decided to move with her mother-in-law who was an Israelite. Ruth was a Moabite. She chose to
leave everything she knewher parents, her family, any friends she had in Moab to go to this strange
land with her mother-in-law who she obviously loved very much. She said, your people are my people
your God is my God.
(1:24-1:56)

A week from this Tuesday, Amy & I are going to celebrate 15 years of marriage. Were
going to celebrate by driving our new car to Bayfield.
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Heres a picture of our wedding dayJune 16, 2000.


A long time before I got married to Amy I had decided that I wouldnt marry someone

unless they shared the loyalty of Ruth towards Naomi. I wasnt going to marry someone unless I
could trust her completely. In fact when I read these words from I decided a long time ago
long before I met Amythat I wanted them to part of my wedding vows.

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On Friday, June 16, 2000 at the First Presbyterian Church in Rochester Minnesota a man
and a woman took each others hands and each of us said:
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge I will lodge
Your people shall be my people, and your God my god
Where you die, I will diethere will I be buried.
Loyalty lives onRuth shared this loyalty over 3,000 years ago. Here Amy & I were
sharing this loyalty or hesed to each other over 3,000 years later.
Loyalty is deeply spiritual. It rises from a deep place within us. It comes out of a deep
respect for the other person; it comes from a deep level of care for another person; it comes from
a desire to see another person succeed. It comes from love. It comes from our faith. And really
it comes from the heart of God.
Like any spiritual quality we have to cultivate loyalty. Our spiritual practices help us to
do this.
When you read through Ruth this week youll discover that Ruth was rewarded at key
points for her loyalty. She met a man by the name of Boaz. Boaz was her kinsman redeemer.
I can explain a kinsman redeemer, but Paula can too. This is what she said:
now that Ive come to understand it a little more. Ruth and Boaz, Boaz is the kinsman
redeemer, which kind of means--a kinsman of a deceased or a destitute relative was compelled by
Mosaic law to come in and buy up property that they had to liquidate. Or they would take on the
responsibility of the family if they were deceased. They would take on the widow and take care of
them. Boaz, actually wasnt the closest kinsman redeemer. There was another man that had passed on
that opportunity to take care of Ruth. And so Boaz came in

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Boaz recognized Ruth and took care of her. This was confusing to Ruth. Why would
Boaz go out of his way to take care of and look after a woman who came from Moab.
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Then [Ruth] fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to [Boaz], Why
have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner? But
Boaz answered her, All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your
husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land

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and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord rewards you for your deeds,
and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have
come for refuge! Ruth 2:10-12
Boaz noticed Ruth because of her loyalty
We will be noticed for doing the right thing.
Let me wrap up by sharing a quality of God. Gods loyalty to us can help us out of any
situation.
When Naomis husband and sons died Naomi gave up. It wasnt fair. She was rightfully
angry about the way that her life had turned out. It wasnt fair that her husband had died and that
her two sons had died.

She couldnt see any way out of her awful situation. And it made no

sense for her two daughters-in-law to go with her to Judah. She couldnt see any way out.
Heres the thing. I preach about 45 sermons a year. If you can take one point from a
sermon in the year 2015 take this point. God can see things and do things that we cant
imagine. Even if we dont have faith that we can find a way out of our situation we can have
faith that God has a way. Even if we dont have faith in ourselves we are called to always have
faith in God. Never give up on God. God can find a way out of our situation that we cant
imagine.
When Naomi was upset at the start of the story she couldnt have imagined how Ruth
would be rewarded. All that she could understandably see was she couldnt provide a husband
for Ruth.
God had other ideas. Ruth went back to Judah, she met Boaz, they got married, they had
a son. Not only did they have a son, they had a son who was an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Ruth
had a son by the name of Obed. Obed was the grandfather of Davidone of the greatest leaders
in the entire Old Testament.

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Naomi couldnt have imagined this. God could. There is always a way out. Keep the
faith.
Today I started leading a three week small group on the gospel of Matthew. The writer
of Matthew started out the gospel with a genealogy of Jesus. Guess which person was included
in the genealogy of JesusRuth. Ruth was a great grandmother (times 31) of Jesus.
I asked Paula what message from Ruth she carried with her. This is what she said:
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Well. The interesting thing about Ruth. Ruth is one of the four women shared in Matthew as one of
Christs ancestors. Ruth along with Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba. The interesting thing that I only
learned recently (brushing up on the story because I hadnt read it in a while) was that Rahab was
Boazs mother. Those four women that I just named are all Gentiles. They werent genetically Israelites.
They were grafted into the line of Christ through marriage.

Thousands of year later Ruth was recognized by the author of Matthew as an ancestor of
Jesus. The example of loyalty spreads far. When Ruth and Naomi were at their most difficult
point, they never could have imagined that this could have happened.
Ruth is an example of why we never give up on God. Because God never gives up on us.