God care for the World?
There is a
well-known book titled, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
Let me suggest another: Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Noah. Here are
just some of the lessons we learn from Noah:
1. Plan ahead. It wasnít raining when Noah built the ark.
2. Stay fit. When youíre old someone might ask you to do something really big.
3. Donít listen to critics. Do what has to be done.
4. Build our future on higher ground.
5. For safetyís sake, travel in pairs.
6. Speed isnít always an advantage. The cheetahs were on board, but so were the snails.
7. When youíre stressed, float a while.
8. Donít forget that weíre all in the same boat.
9. Stay below deck during the storm.
10. Remember that the ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals.
11. Remember that the woodpeckers inside are often a bigger threat than the storm outside.
12. Donít miss the boat
13. No matter how
bleak it looks, thereís always a rainbow on the other side.
On Thursday I went for a special eye test. The optician warned me I would not be able to drive for four hours afterwards. In order to check the back of my eyes she needed to dilate the pupils with special eye drops. So for a whole afternoon I enjoyed blurred vision so I travelled to London courtesy of Network South East. I wonder whether your vision is blurred this evening? What is your vision of the future? What about your vision of Christ Church? Is it God-given, God-driven? Does it coincide with our published vision? In the next couple of weeks we are going to be writing to everyone at Christ Church inviting you to help us sharpen our vision. We have some important strategic decisions to make on the horizon that will determine our future direction - about our pattern of services, about personnel and about our buildings. We are trusting that the Lord will continue to guide us as we align our vision with his biblical priorities for the future - to know Jesus and make Jesus known. And what about your personal life? Do you know Godís plan for your life? Do you have a clear idea? So how can you begin to seek the vision God has for your life? Here are some basic principles of vision.
Principles of Vision
1. A reality of conditions that do not now exist Ė Noah believed what did not yet exist.
2. Always entails change Ė Noahís relatively happy, peaceful life was changed.
3. Is always God given, not man-centered Ė Noah allowed God to bring him the vision.
4. Always involves risk; invites criticism Ė Noah was laughed at and ridiculed regularly.
Phil Grant describes vision this way:
A vision is the
dominant factor that governs your life.
It determines all the choices you are making.
Itís whatís left after all the layers are peeled away like an onion.
Clinging like glue to the inside of your rib cage...
Itís what your mind naturally gravitates toward when it is not legitimately concentrating on something else.
Itís ... what determines your friendships and your relationships that you are cultivating ...
Itís what your prayers are about--what you dream about and are giving money toward.
This evening we are going to take a close look at Noah. Noah had vision. A God-given, God-driven vision that sustained him for 120 years. †Most of us are familiar with Noah, probably too familiar and we lose sight of how much of a challenge God gave him.
For Noah to build the Ark was about as difficult as it would be for you to build a space craft.
Last Monday SpaceShipOne rocketed into the history books to become the first private manned spacecraft to fly to the edge of space and back twice in a week to claim the $10million dollar Ansari prize. The craft, built by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, went over space's 100km (62 mile) boundary, said mission control. Burt Rutan has already announced that his company will build five rocket planes like SpaceShipOne for British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. The founder of the Virgin Group of companies plans to offer flights into space for £115,000.
building a boat the length of one and a half football fields and as high as a
four-story building. The ark was exactly six times longer than it was wideóthe
same ratio used by modern shipbuilders. This huge boat was probably built miles
from any body of water by only a few faithful men who believed Godís promises
and obeyed his commands.
The story of
Noahís life involves not one, but two great and tragic floods. The world in
Noahís day was flooded with evil.
Eugene Paterson in the Message translates Genesis 6:5-7 like this: ďGod saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil - evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said ďIíll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds - the works. Iím sorry I made them.Ē (Genesis 6:5-7)
Of Godís people,
only Noah was left. Godís response to the severe situation was a 120-year-long
last chance, during which he had Noah build a graphic illustration of the
message of his life. Nothing like a huge boat on dry land to make a point. Now
letís pause here and consider what is going on. God has informed Noah that He
regrets having created mankind. As a result He is going to wipe mankind along
with the animal kingdom off of the face of the earth. God then informs Noah
that He is going to preserve He and his family IF, and hereís where the vision
begins, IF Noah will build an ark 450í long, 75í wide and 45í high! Now why in
the world would God ask anyone to build an enormous ship hundreds of miles from
the nearest ocean? It was because God was giving anyone who would pass by this
unmistakable structure a second chance. When Noahís neighbours took their dogs
for a walk in the evening, as they passed by his house, they had to make a
choice. Either they believed that there was a God in heaven Who was worthy of
their respect and worship, OR, they decided that Noah was a madman and there
was no God Who was preparing to destroy the earth.
Either way, Noah was the man whom God had called upon to do His work. For Noah, obedience meant a long-term commitment to a project. Many of us have trouble sticking to any project for more than a few weeks, whether or not it is directed by God. Isnít it interesting that the length of Noahís obedience was greater than the lifespan of people today. For 120 years Noah worked at constructing the Ark. The only comparable long-term project is our very lives. But perhaps this is one great challenge Noahís life gives usóto live, in gratitude of Godís grace, an entire lifetime of obedience to Him.
How does a man, for a period of 120 years, constantly preach Godís Word, warn against Godís coming judgment and build an ocean liner all at the same time? Can someone please tell me how this can be done? Because, truthfully, if it had been me, I think I would have told God to just include me in the flood because thereís no way I could do it. Noah was able to faithfully fulfill Godís will because He had received Godís vision for his life. Noah was a man of vision.
If we want to experience life as God intended, then we had better be seeking Godís vision for our life because itís vision that give us purpose, itís vision that drives us and itís vision that enables us to live above mediocrity. When we seek and embrace the vision that God has for our lives, we live life at the highest possible plane, right in the lap of Jesus Christ!
God used Noah in a mighty way. Noah preserved mankind through the Great Flood. Hereís a fact for youÖ God wants to use you and I in mighty way as well. What is your God-given vision? What specific mission has God called you to pour your life into? I invite you to observe four reasons God was able to use Noah - four ways Noah developed a sustainable vision that secured the future of humankind.
1. Noah Walked with God
First, we learn that in order to receive Godís Vision for our lives, we must be connected to Him. There is no substitute to a daily walk with God. Listen to how Genesis 6:9 puts it: Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.
The message translates Genesis 6:9 like this ďNoah was a good man, a man of integrity in his community. Noah walked with God.Ē
Noah is one of
only three, along with Job and Daniel, who are declared as righteousness in the
Bible (Eze 14:20). And Noah and Job were the only biblical characters who were
known as blameless. Noah was a shining light in the darkness, a shimmering star
in the night, a single spark lit and aflame for God. It is not easy to maintain
integrity, character and uprightness when people, the society, and even your
family are surrounded, seduced and shaped by evil.
Three centuries ago, Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), who single-handedly influenced the Great Awakening, wrote a list of 70 resolutions over two years, in his own words, Ďto fight against the world, the flesh and the devil to the end of my life.?
Here are his 10 shortest resolutions:
(1) Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
(2) Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
(3) Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
(4) Resolved, to be endeavouring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
(5) Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
(6) Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
(7) Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
(8) Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
(9) Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find to abate my assurance.
(10) Resolved, never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity (truth).
How old was Jonathan when he wrote his 70 resolutions? He was then 19, exposed to temptation like other youngsters but was mature beyond his years. The revival would occur under this spiritual giant twelve years later. If you want a God-given vision you need to walk with God blamelessly and with integrity. Noah walked with God
2. Noah Obeyed God
Second, we learn that when God gives someone a vision, it is usually pretty specific. God wanted to use Noah to preserve the human race. He wanted Noah to build an ark and gave Noah specific dimensions. God then gave Noah specific instructions regarding animals and provisions. And, finally, God gave Noah specific instructions on when to enter and when to exit the Ark. Godís word is very specific about how we should live and what our priorities should be. Godís Spirit makes Godís word personal. God has created each of us uniquely, he has wired us differently - what we have in common is a God-given gift set with talents and abilities he wants us to use for him. If you want a God-given vision youíve got to walk with God and obey Godís word.
3. Noah Trusted in God
Third, we learn that when God gives us a vision, He also empowers & equips us to see the vision through to completion.
Noah had plenty of reasons to doubt. Noah had never seen rain. (Genesis 2:5-6 tells us that God watered the earth from underneath). Noah lived a long way from the sea. Noah had no experience of caring for large numbers of animals. Can you identify with Noah? Feel like you are being asked to do things beyond your experience? Beyond your comfort zone? Are there areas of your life where you need to trust Godís word, even though you cannot understand his reasons or comprehend his motives? ďTrusting is an act of worship. Just as parents are pleased when children trust their love and wisdomĒ trusting God makes him happyĒ Also.† Isnít it interesting that just before the writer to the Hebrews mentions Noah, he says ďWithout faith it is impossible to please God.Ē (Hebrews 11:6). The next verses reads, ďBy faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.Ē (Hebrews 11:7)
because trusted him completely.
Noah was not completely alone in his mission, but had three sons to help him, along with his wife and daughters-in-law. Most significantly, God Himself, will use His own power to make things happen. Remember who shut the door after they had entered the ark? Genesis 7:16: ďThe animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God has commanded Noah; and the Lord shut him in.Ē (Genesis 7:16). If you want a God-given, God-driven vision you must walk with God, obey God and trust God with the unknown. Trust God with the future.
4. Noah was Sustained by God
Fourth, we learn
that when God gives us a vision, He will sustain us throughout the entire
process. Noah and his family were in the ark along with a host of animals for
months. Can you imagine being cooped up with all those animals? Feeding them
must have consumed most of their day, not to manention dealing with the waste
products. Noah may have been wondering, ďLord, have you forgotten us down here
trapped in this floating zoo?Ē But then in Genesis 8:1 we read: But God
remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the
ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. Noah
had a God-given, God driven vision that consumed him for 120 years and saved
the world from extinction because he walked with God, he obeyed God, he trusted
in Gid and God sustained him. Lets learn from Noah as we model our lives on
Jesus. Letís pursue God with all of our might! Letís seek Godís Vision for our
personal lives and for our church so that like Noah, God might use us to save
some of those who are perishing. †Exciting isnít it?
With grateful thanks to Darron Khan, Victor Yapp, John Bugg and Matthew Wright for their own sermons on this passage †from which I have been able to draw much inspiration (as well as content) - their sermons on this passage are freely accessible from www.sermoncentral.com