Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The nest

"Set your affection on things above, not on the things on the earth." Col 3:2

We have a rather interesting drama going on here at our home. No, we're not having a major family problem or anything. Let me explain.

Attached to our home is a covered deck. There is also lattice attached to the side area of the deck near the door. As such, our front door area is somewhat protected from the elements. The door is surrounded by glass panes. The top panes have 2 x 2's surrounding them. It's an older home, but the front door area is nice and inviting.

Especially to a certain bird. You see, for the better part of a week now. A bird- a robin, I think- has been steadily trying to build a nest onto one of the wooden lips where the glass is around the upper right side of the front door. Here's the problem.

You see, the lip is far to small to provide a quality base for the nest to sit on. The parts of the nest that aren't firmly on the window sill are constantly falling off due to simple gravity. Then there's the wind that blows through the lattice (about two feet away from the nest). The parts of the nest not taken down by gravity, are systematically scattered around by the wind. Yet, the bird continues its futile efforts to build a nest for it's family. What it really needs to do is change the surroundings and find a better foundation to build it's nest on.

How like that Robin most of us are! We get so caught up in the temporary. We like the looks of something and, usually with very little forethought, we go running after it- never once considering the possible future ramifications to ourselves and our loved ones. We chase the better job, the better car, and the better house. We pursue the corporate ladder, the higher educational degree, the more prestigious neighborhoods and churches.

Then, like that Robin, we find ourselves in a seemingly never ending battle to pick up the pieces of our lives. All the while wondering why God allowed us to go through all that. Meanwhile, God, just like me watching the bird's struggles, wonders when we're going to quit throwing effort after foolishness. His desire is for us to have our lives built on the firm foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

That's not to say that life is easy or even prosperous when we are living for Jesus. However, we have the priceless gift of knowing that we're not alone. We have his spirit to lead, guide, and comfort us throughout our lives. Then, we also have the gift of avoiding some of the life winds and great falls that we otherwise would have if we chose to go our own way!

No, God doesn't promise us great riches and glory. However, he does promise to never leave us nor forsake us. He does promise to guide us. And he does tell us that, if we will but endure unto the end, he will one day take us to be with him forever- where there will be no more pain, no more tears, and no more suffering. What a day that will be!

What is that CEO position, when compared to the streets of Gold? What is that PH.D., when compared to eternity with Jesus? What is that big home on the golf course, when compared to walking the streets of God's city- hand in hand with the family he gave us and helped us to guide them in his ways? What is the praise of this world, when compared to hearing our Savior say, "Well done my good and faithful servant- enter ye in..."?

Where are we building our kingdoms today? Where is the foundation of our lives today? Is it on the temporary things of this world? Or are our feet set firmly on the rock of our salvation?
Just something for all of us to think- and pray- about.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What exactly did Noah find?

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Genesis 6:8

The word for Grace here, in the Hebrew, is the word, "chen" (pronounced khane) and it means, "graciousness, i.e. subj. (kindness, favor), or objective (beauty)" It comes from the Hebrew word "chanan" (pronounced khaw-nan), which means "to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow; causative to implore (move to favor by petition)."

This is the first appearance of the word Grace in the whole of Divine scripture. With one exception (Ezra 9:8- where the Hebrew word is techinnah and means "graciousness, caus. entreaty") this is the same word for the English word, Grace, that is used every single time in the Old Testament.

What exactly was it that Noah found here? How did he find it? The situation around this verse, as well as the word meanings, holds our answers.

Genesis 6 begins with a detailed explanation of just how far mankind had fallen since our ouster from the Garden of Eden. In only some 1600 years or so, mankind had become so reprobate in our thinking that God says that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (verse 5). God became so fed up with this, as well as the many other sins listed here (that I won't get into right now), that he decided to destroy everything and everybody and basically start over again. He would surely have done just that, were it not for one man: Noah.

The scripture states, unequivocally, that Noah and Noah alone found Grace in the eyes of God. It has been presented to me for many years, as an explanation for this, that God was making plans to destroy everything, when he just happened to come across one righteous man and decided to make an exception of his family due to what he saw. I believe this to be only partially true.

I believe that, in the definitions listed above, lies our answers. It states that Grace is not only
'kindness and favor", but that at it's core, it is that God was "moved to favor by petition". It is my belief that Noah was not only a righteous man in a very ungodly generation, but that he was moved to prayer by the evil that he saw around him. I believe that he constantly was in a state of supplications for God to intervene in the lives of those around him. I believe that he looked around him and prayed, as many of us do today, "Lord, this is terrible, you've got to do something about all this!"

Scripturally, the vast majority of the time, whenever someone was allowed to hear a personal message from God, it was because they had already spent time in prayer talking to and listening to their creator. I believe that it was in one of those times that the Lord spoke to Noah with the answer to the many petitions he'd been making! "OK, Noah", the Lord said interrupting Noah's prayer time, "you've been asking me to do something about all these evils, here's my plan".

To everyone that has prayed and prayed for their loved ones, to all that have begged a righteous God to intervene in an increasingly vile and evil world, don't give up hope I give you Noah!

Noah began to build the ark, using God's blueprints. For 100 years Noah (called a preacher of righteousness in the New Testament) cut lumber, sanded it, nailed it all together, pitched it (to water proof it), and preached that if the people would only join them and get in the boat (when the time came), they'd be saved from the judgement to come. 100 years of sweat and toil. 100 years of hard and frustrating labor. 100 years of enduring everything from mockings to angry unrest. 100 years of standing alone for God's truth. 100 years of continued prayer and wondering if he'd misheard God or if it was all worth the effort. Was it?

Noah's prayers found favor with God and Noah's prayers caused God to give him the plans for anyone to escape the flood. Grace is NEVER unearned and Grace is never accidentally found.
The New Testament says that God is a rewarder of them that "diligently seek him". Jesus said that the straight and narrow way to avoid the coming judgement, at the end of this age, will have "few...that FIND it". In other words, a person must be looking for it, in order to find it!

Our enemy would have us to believe that it's not worth the trouble. Our enemy would try and persuade us to give up the fight and stop praying. our enemy would tell us that we've misunderstood the Lord and are being foolish. After all, who else out ther stands for what we do? In the world, ours is a very small voice. Surely the majority must be correct, right?

The majority in Noah's day were not only wrong, but dead wrong. Of all the millions of souls alive at the time, only EIGHT escaped on the ark. As God's judgement fell and the mocks turned to terrified cries, Noah and his family were safely rising above it all on the ark that came from God's blueprint and provision of materials, and Noah and his families hard work faith and obedience! Millions died, but I can Garuntee that Noah thought the hard work and confusion had been worth it all!

Confusion? What do you mean? There is not one biblical record of God speaking to Noah between the time he gave him the blueprints and 100 years later when Noah was told to get on the ark with the animals that God sent. That could cause some frustration and confusion, when you're facing the upset people Noah had to face. But, when you've truly heard the voice of God tell you to do something, not a voice on this earth can sway you from that path, if you've a made up mind and a God fearing heart.

Can one person make a difference? Noahs family was saved, due to his commitment. The hundreds of animals on board (except those that were eaten to sustain Noah's family) were spared, due to Noah's dilligence. The whole climate of the earth itself was changed due to Noah's obedience to God's plan's. Mankind recieved a fresh start, due to Noah's love of God, family, and others. Can one person make a difference? Oh Yes!

Just as in Noah's time, it takes obedience and faith on our part to make it. When we willingly yoke (bind) ourselves to Jesus and willingly let him lead us- doing what he asks us to do along the way (with his help), we'll make it, and escape judgement. If we do not, we will be judged, just as surely as the millions who died in the flood! God didn't build the ark for Noah. He gave him the plans and told Noah what to do.

Then, as now, Grace is still a partnership with almighty God. I beg all to willingly enter into this divine partnership (Acts 2:38, John 3:3-5) with Jesus! If we will follow his plan, though we are mocked by the world, though it goes against the modern grain, though we are persecuted and killed, we will escape the coming judgement. As the old song says, "It's gonna be worth it all one glorious, happy day. It's gonna be worth every long mile, every heartache and every trial. It's gonna be worth it all, one beautiful, happy day!"