Brother Greg continued his sermon series through the book of Hebrews at prayer meeting last night. I am loving Brother Greg and LOVING the book of Hebrews! I'm especially excited to be in chapter 11, "the faith chapter".
Last night we took a closer look at the story of Noah. Hebrews 11:7 says, "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not seen, moved with godly fear, preparing an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." A few things I've learned about this story as an adult that I never learned as a child, the first 100 times I heard Noah's story: 1) at the time that God told Noah there would be a flood, Noah had never even seen rain. At that time the earth had only been watered by dew which came up from the earth, not by rain. It took so much faith just to believe in something called rain that he had never even seen before! 2) it took Noah 120 years to build the ark. 120 years! Day after day for 120 years, way more than a lifetime to one of us, he carefully built the ark "according to all that God had commanded him." And God had very specific instructions. 3) This was no small project. The ark was over one and a half football fields long! Brother Greg said last night that perhaps the greatest act of faith on Noah's part was chopping down that first tree. :)
Brother Greg had an outline with notes, but since I was nursing Sam I couldn't take notes. :) Instead I wanted to share with you what I learned from this amazing story last night. Maybe it will encourage you in your journey, too.
1) To be "divinely warned of things not seen", in other words, to walk by faith, we have to walk with God. Genesis 6:9 says that Noah "was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God." This walking with God thing is a daily seeking His face and searching for His heart to know His perfect will. Had Noah not been walking with God, perhaps the whole earth would have been destroyed in the flood. We wouldn't all be here if Noah hadn't walked with God and heeded His voice. Pretty heavy stuff. I have to ask myself, What could I miss if I'm not walking closely with God? What does He want me to do that I have to be seeking His face each day to know about? Could He want me to "build an ark"? I will never forget the ladies Bible study I was in when God called us to homeschool. It was a small group of ladies- about 6 of us- meeting in a home. Our leader, my good friend Judy, said to the others, "Julie and Brian have decided to build an ark for the saving of their household by homeschooling." Wow. Really? I couldn't help but think of that last night. Some days of homeschooling feel like just chopping down another tree, just putting one more plank on this giant boat. Some days it looks like it might take 120 years to reach the goal. :) But "He who called me is faithful, and will do it." If I just keep faithfully putting God's Word out there, day after day, building that boat, God will see that the work is completed. My part is to make sure that I keep walking closely with Him, listening for His voice and His exact instructions about how to do it. And that I am "careful to do all that He has commanded" (Deuteronomy).
2) Our faith muscles are weak. It doesn't take much faith to live in today's world. There is a "fix" for everything. Sick? Put your faith in doctors and medicine. Overwhelmed? Put your faith in yourself or what others say- "Oh, you need a break, poor thing. God doesn't expect you to be that faithful. Take it easy on yourself." But what is the fruit of the spirit? Faithfulness. Self-control. We have "outs" for everything these days. If you don't want to do what God has commanded in Scripture, there is an excuse for it. Noah moved with GODLY FEAR. No excuses. What God commanded him to do, he did, even when it was hard. Because he feared the Lord and obeyed Him whatever the cost. He was faithful. When we revere and respect God's Word, we will follow it to the enth (sp?) degree, no matter what. Our faith will be in His Word and nothing else. We will "lean not on our own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).
I have to ask myself, Who or what is my faith in today? No doubt, if it's in anything other than the Lord, I will be disappointed.
3) There was one door and one window on the ark. One door to salvation from God's judgement on the earth. Just as there is only one way to salvation- Jesus. One window, way up high on the boat, looking UP. Not looking at the scary floods around them, looking UP. I believe God planned the design of this boat to teach us to do the same thing. "Set your mind on things above, not on the things of the earth." -Colossians 3:2
4) The Bible says that Noah "condemned the world" through the building of the ark. Is the way that you and I are living "condemning the world" or do we even really stand out at all? If we look just like the world, I think we need to reevaluate. If Noah had looked just like the rest of the world in those days, there would have been no ark and no saving of the human race.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -Hebrews 11:1