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“In God We Trust”

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

A Sunday School teacher, having trouble finding subjects to talk

about, was discussing with her class how Noah might have spent his

time on the Ark.

A girl volunteered, “Maybe he went fishing.”

A boy countered, “With only two worms????”

*************

Here’s a quote from John Adams in a letter to his wife dated July 3, 1776.

“It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be no blessings…But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence; in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”
John Adams, July 3, 1776

Did you catch that last sentence in the quote above? I’ll bet that Noah had many quotes very similar to that as he carried out God’s instructions to build the ark, enter the ark, and begin his stormy journey. His faith and hope was realized when the ark slowly rested on solid ground. We know that Noah had nothing but God on his mind when this happened because directly after the exit door opened, an altar was built in honor and praise of the one who brought the storm and kept a family safe through that storm. Noah firmly believed.

Do we firmly believe…even though Christianity may be “unfashionable”?

Do we just give lip service to our belief or does our very life reflect our heart’s secure hope? Do our words and our actions show a belief that someone would “write home about?” Or, do our words and actions seem current and fashionable? Do people see us living as though a flood is about to begin, or are do we look like the crowds around us?

Some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence have quotes referenced to them that speak of the treason their committing…treason befitting death at the hands of the British Monarchy. What is our risk of believing in the freedom that God has given us through Jesus? Some of these men were not full and complete Christian believers, but they all recognized that God has the only and best way to live and live together in community/country. They recognized His sovereignty. They recognized His plan for freedom. They recognized His Lordship. They recognized Him as Creator. Thus, they looked to Him in their time of need and direction. In God they trusted.

Noah trusted God no matter what happened…and God gives us a glimpse of the trust He has in us as well. If you’ve read Genesis chapter 8, you’ll see that at the end He promises to never flood the earth again…even though our ‘hearts are evil from childhood.’ We see here His love for us…even in our guilt. He recognizes the created potential in all of us. He made us like Him. His long term plan is for us to be with Him forever. For that plan to work out ‘perfectly’ Jesus had to be here as a sacrifice for our sins. This is the final reason that we have a God to believe in…to trust in. God sent Noah plans for an ark. God sent us Jesus.

This is basically one of those texts that is a story for life in general. Here’s a two part saying that I’m adding third part to. God either brings or allows storms to surround us. There are also storms that He asks us to jump into. In our lives there will be storms that God plans for our growth. There will also be storms from the enemy that God knows we can handle with His help. Then there are those storms of life where God simply says, “Get involved and make a difference…jump into it!” I can see from history that our founders jumped into a storm that was brewing. They could have just accepted the storm, but they took the storm to an entire new level for the Cause…and I believe…with the blessing of Providence.

Noah knew there was a storm coming. He obeyed God when the storm began. He trusted in God through it…and recognized and honored God for His faithfulness by way of an altar built with praising hands.

How do we teach our students…how do we lead our congregation to honor God through the storms that come and that we jump into? First, I think we need to do it through our very own lives. There has to be more than just sermons and lessons. People need to see us in the middle of the storm, surviving and trusting. Does that mean we make storms for ourselves? I don’t think so…but I think we should try to be open and honest to share our personal storms…as leaders…so others can follow our successes and be watchful when we fail. If we fail and a storm overtakes us for a time, people need to see us rise to the occasion…standing on the Trust and Faith we claim with our words.

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The Perfect Storm

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

A couple had two little boys ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew that if any mischief occurred in their town, their sons would get the blame.

The boys’ mother heard that a clergyman in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The clergyman agreed, and asked to see them individually. So, the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the clergyman in the afternoon.

The clergyman, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, “Where is God?”

They boy’s mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there with his mouth hanging open. The clergyman repeated the question. “Where is God?” Again, the boy made no attempt to answer. So the clergyman raised his voice some more and shook his finger in the boy’s face and bellowed, “Where is God!?”

The boy screamed and bolted from the room. He ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, “What happened?”

When we hear the word ‘discipline’ we probably thing of one of two things. First, there’s the thought of a child getting into trouble or being disciplined. The second might be discipline in life…as in an athlete being disciplined in training or a Christian being disciplined in daily prayer. This week’s sermon uses a similar word, with a completely different meaning. Judgment. Judgment is often thought of as a courtroom term…and correctly so. It is the final statement. It is the final decision.

In the Scripture that Steve has chosen to use for this week’s sermon, we SEE judgment. God had told Noah his plans for the flood. God also told Noah the reasons for these plans. There was not only sin on the earth, there was the result of sin…Violence. There was a complete and utter discard for the beauty of human life. The Bible reads a few times in our previous chapter that the earth was “full of violence.” It wasn’t just that kids were lying to their parents. It wasn’t just that there were greedy businessmen. It wasn’t just that there were people who were thieves or drunkards. There was violence. Add that to 100 years of building the ark. I’m just guessing here, but I’ll be Noah had to deal with more than just teasing.

God’s judgment for this lack of obedience and this disregard for human life was to start over. Many might say, “See God failed.” Nope, God didn’t fail, man failed God and His plans and His love. Noah undoubtedly told family and friends the plans of God and the reasons for those plans…he had 100 years to persuade, preach, teach and live out his devotion to God. I’m sure his family saw that devotion too. The Bible doesn’t say if they were or weren’t devoted friends of God, as it did with Noah. But let’s take a peek inside the ark and use our imagination for just a bit.

For 100 years, Noah’s family watched, helped, and stood alongside Noah as he built a structure capable of withstanding a worldwide flood…a worldwide judgment. The news was out that rains were coming…and I’m sure that the countryside had heard of this news. Then the first rain drops fell.

Have you ever seen a kid’s eyes when his parents, maybe you, drop judgment? My three kids respond completely different. First there are the warnings. We do three. On the third is a grounding from something…maybe TV or computer. It always amazed me that nothing happens when I say “one.” When the word “two” comes out of my mouth I begin to get responses. Hannah talks back, Micah gets quiet, and Naarah ignores. But when I get to “three, your grounded,” judgment becomes reality. Reality hits hard. Hannah then screams. Micah usually whimpers and tears up. Naarah continues to do the wrong thing…she’s still learning. J

Can you picture the faces of the people who began to feel the rain fall from the sky? Can you see them begin to look at the clouds just a bit differently. Life instantly changed…dramatically. Judgment was at hand, and they knew it.

Think about it from Noah’s side. He and his family had…as the Bible states…150 days to float on the water and ponder judgment. That’s a lot of time to think. No radio. No TV. Lots of animals to feed, but feeding the animals gave lots of time to think…about a flood, being the only people on earth, and God.

God has said that there is another “end” coming. The world as we know it is going to stop at some point. We don’t know that day or time, but we’ve been told about it in the Bible. How we respond to that information is up to us. We can believe it all we want…but how we give God evidence that we believe it and are shaping our lives accordingly is our responsibility. Change of the heart is evidenced by change in behavior. We want our behavior to be in obedience with God’s will.

We do not want to feel that first rain drop and realize that we’ve done nothing to move towards God.

So how do we teach and lead this concept? We need to, again, help our NICC family realize that judgment will happen because Jesus said it will. And Jesus is not a liar because there’s no body in the tomb. Given that there will be a judgment, we have the choice to move towards making God smile, or move away from Him and his life plan for us. The simple point is, when narrowed down, is this; if you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal savior, cool. If not, you’re on the bad side of judgment.

Now, many people in today’s world look at God as a loving God, incapable of looking down on any behaviors (judgment) and one who will be taking everyone to Heaven. Actually, a perfect love is just, and perfect justice holds perfect love. You can’t have one without the other. I love my kids, therefore, I’m going to teach them things that keep them safe, polite, God fearing, healthy, loving…and to form those characteristics (character) in my kids, I have to use discipline and judgment. God is no different. However, there is an end to His judgment. The final judgment will be just that…final.

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