Mara or Naomi?

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Ruth 1:19-21


I.         Life has its ups and downs. How do you respond?

            A.        Do you rail at life and God? Do you decide life is a misery?

            B.        Naomi had a hard life.

                        1.         Famine caused her family to move to a foreign country - Ruth 1:1

                        2.         Her husband then died - Ruth 1:3

                        3.         Her sons grew up and married local women, but then they died - Ruth 1:5

                        4.         Life, without a doubt, was hard on Naomi and it got to her - Ruth 1:19-21

II.        The bad events in life can be bitter pills to swallow

            A.        Hannah was bitter because she had no children - I Samuel 1:10

            B.        Tamar was bitter after being raped - II Samuel 13:19

            C.        Job was bitter after Satan destroyed almost all that he had - Job 3:20

            D.        Captivity made life bitter for the Israelites - Jeremiah 22:10

            E.        The loss of children - Jeremiah 31:15

            F.        It is understandable to respond in bitterness to the blows in life.

III.       But some people create their own bitterness in themselves and in others

            A.        The immoral woman makes men’s lives bitter by the spreading of sin - Proverbs 5:3-4; Ecclesiastes 7:26

            B.        A foolish son makes his parents’ lives bitter - Proverbs 17:25

            C.        Turning from God brings bitterness into a person’s life - Deuteronomy 29:18-19

                        1.         You might think doing as you please is a path to happiness, but it isn’t

                        2.         Forsaking God brings evil and bitterness - Jeremiah 2:19

                        3.         It becomes rooted into your being - Jeremiah 4:18

            D.        Bitterness is something that others might not easily see- Proverbs 14:10

            E.        But if left, it can cause bad decisions - Hebrews 12:15

                        1.         It was bitterness that led Simon astray - Acts 8:23

                        2.         We should not be proud of our bitterness - James 3:14

IV.      Put away bitterness - Ephesians 4:31

            A.        It sounds easier than to do. But realizing that sin is behind much bitterness, the first step is to put away sin.

                        1.         We don’t have to stay in the bitterness of sin - Titus 3:3-8

            B.        Counter with kindness toward others - Ephesians 4:32

            C.        Realize that life is full of ups and downs. A bitter person focuses only on the negative things that happen

                        1.         For example, Naomi had a wonderful daughter-in-law who left her own people to just be with Naomi. I’m sure Naomi appreciated her, but she didn’t take it into account.

                        2.         Pleasant words - Proverbs 16:24

                        3.         Wisdom and knowledge - Proverbs 22:17-18

                        4.         Songs of praise to God - Psalms 135:3

            D.        You can’t control what life throws your way, but you can control what you focus upon - Philippians 4:8-9

V.        We don’t like unpleasant things, but it doesn’t mean we should become unpleasant people as a result. We have to remember that God makes use of everything - Romans 8:28, 35-37

            A.        We need confidence that God will aid - Hebrews 4:16

            B.        Don’t throw it away just because we suffer setbacks - Hebrews 10:35-39

            C.        Naomi eventually learned to let go of bitterness and her life became pleasant once again - Ruth 4:13-17

            D.        No matter how bad life gets, rejoice - Habakkuk 3:17-19

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