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October 13, 2019 Speaker: Pastor Braun Campbell Series: First Fruits Giving - Fall 2019 Stewardship Series

Topic: Biblical Verse: Ruth 1:1–19a

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost[i]
St. John's Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA
Ruth 1:1-19a (Psalm 111)

“First Fruits Giving: Our Time”

You’re investing wisely.  I’m not talking about finances – I’ve got no idea what you’re doing on that front, though that sort of investment is also important.  I’m talking about how you use your time.  Today, specifically, you’re investing it well.  You’re in God’s house to receive the gifts He gives here to equip you for life out there.  You’re spending time in God’s word.

Tick-tock.  You’ve only got so much time.  So how are you going to use it?

God gives you the same 24 hours in a day that He gives everybody else on earth.  It’s a finite resource.  With money, you can usually work to earn more or invest some of what you’ve got in the hopes of earning a return later on.  That’s not how time works.  You can’t stretch out your days or years, no matter what tricks you might try, no matter how many clever lifehacks you learn.  You’ve got what you’ve got; that’s all.

In today’s Scripture readings, you heard the start of Naomi and Ruth’s story, women who lived during the time of the judges, before King Saul or King David.  Time had run out for Naomi’s husband and for her two sons, leaving her and both her daughters-in-law to fend for themselves.  So Naomi, having heard that the famine in Judah had ended, decides to return to her family’s home, this little town called Bethlehem.  (Fun fact: Bethlehem sounds like a good place to go when you’re looking for sustenance: it means “House of Bread.”)  Her daughters-in-law have no connection to that place or that people – other than Naomi.  She tells them to remain behind, to stay in the place they know with the people they know.  Why should they go with her, wasting their time on an uncertain future?  Naomi blesses them in the name of her God, Yahweh, the Lord, letting them go in peace.  There’s a lot of love here.  They’ve spent years together as family, getting to know each other – time enough, apparently, for Ruth to start to know Yahweh, the God of the Hebrew nation.  While Orpah tearfully yields to her mother-in-law’s appeal to go back to her people and her gods, Ruth remains steadfast.  “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth trusted that Yahweh would see them through, so she committed her time, her future, to follow Him and live among his people.  Ruth trusted the Lord as her God.  It was the right call.  Considering what we heard today in Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.” – we can say it was the wise call.

Tick-tock.  Today, God is inviting you to make the wise call in how you use the time you’re given.  Invest that time well by getting to know Him better, as Ruth did.  As you do, you’ll find that wisdom will shape your life and serve as a foundation for all the other choices you’re making each day.

How do you get to know Yahweh better?  You can start by dedicating time each day to hearing from Him in His Word, the Bible.  This time doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be regular.  Knowing full well how busy life in our area can be, I recommend putting these appointments with the Lord on your calendar, sort of like you might already do for the other important things that you want to make sure happen in life.  Start simply, reserving 5-10 minutes each day.  If you can, choose a quiet space where you can read and reflect.  (If reading is an issue, you might use an audio recording of the Bible instead.)

So what comes next?  I have no idea how many approaches there are for spending time with God in His Word, but I can offer you one right now that’s pretty straightforward.  It’s the same one that Greg Finke mentions in his second book, Joining Jesus on His Mission: Show Me How.  As you read through the Scriptures, ask three questions:

  • Know what?
  • So what?
  • Now what?

Talk with your heavenly Father in prayer, asking what He would have you know from the passage you’re reading.  What difference would He have it make for your life?  And what would He have you do with it?  As we hear in Hebrews (4:12), “the word of God is living and active,” and He knows you better than you know yourself.  The Holy Spirit works through the Word to shape Christ’s people, so the time that you’re spending in that Word will be time well spent!


It’s possible that even 5-10 minutes a day spent with the Yahweh in His Word might seem like a challenge.  It probably will be, especially if you’re not used to setting aside that time.  Every day, each of us is going to be tempted to keep this finite resource of time to ourselves.  If you’re going to give God any time at all, let it be what you can get here and there – the leftovers of time: that’s the temptation.  But as a steward of time who has been called to first fruits giving, reject that lie.  God has redeemed you, and that means He has redeemed your time, too.  Christ took our poor stewardship of time to the cross, exchanging it for life in the resurrection where we get to know the joy of spending time with God.

Ruth went with Naomi to Bethlehem, trusting in Yahweh as her God.  And He made use of Ruth’s stewardship, her first fruits giving of time, to bless the world.  When you read through the rest of Ruth’s story, you’ll see that she would be the great-grandmother of a giant(-slaying) figure in Israel’s history: King David.  And centuries later, an even more important person would be a descendant of her family, one who would be born in the “House of Bread” to be the Bread of the World.

Jesus has redeemed the time you’ve been given.  Use it wisely, getting to know him better so that you might see his love at work in your life.  Go out to spend unhurried time with the people God puts in your life, people who need His love in this hurried and busy world.

Tick-tock.  You’ve only got so much time.  So how are you going to use it?




[i] Passage for memory:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever!
– Psalm 111:10

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