Noah’s act of obedience did not exempt him from experiencing the flood, but it allowed him to experience the flood differently. People of God are not insulated from the storms of life, but there is something about being in the ark of safety that gives us an advantage over the wicked. God promises that in this life we will have difficulties, but when we are in Him, the difficulty will never have the final say! So He tells us we are to rejoice when the storms come. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Additionally, James 1: 2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The storms of life destroy the wicked but for those submitted to the Lord, the storms purify and promote!
Speaking of storms, remember in Mark 4, Jesus was sleeping in the middle of one while His disciples were panicking. Jesus’ response is a template for us to follow. Sometimes, we panic when we see the storm. Similar to the disciples, we ask God, “don’t you care if we perish?” When we remain connected to God, it is possible to be in a place of rest in the middle of the storm. We know that a part of true rest is trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross (Hebrews 4). Since Jesus conquered death and the grave, what do I have to fear (Psalm 27)? My job is not to avoid the storm, but I am called to obey God, that when the inevitable storms come, my experience will be redemptive instead of destructive.
Even if what God is directing us to do is unfamiliar or makes little sense from our perspective, He still requires obedience. God is good and faithful so we can trust that whatever He leads us to do has great purpose and will work together for our good in the end. In Genesis 6, God instructed Noah to build an ark because He was going to destroy the earth because of the ongoing wickedness. Noah was unfamiliar with what an ark looked like, and he had never experienced what God was about to do. He had no previous frame of reference. God gave Noah unfamiliar instructions, but I love Noah’s response. Genesis 6:22 tells us, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Wow! Even in what was unfamiliar, Noah fully obeyed God. Noah may not have understood all the instructions, but he knew God, and that was enough for Noah to move in obedience.
I think as humans we sometimes give ourselves too much credit and think we are smarter than we really are. God gives us instructions and we want to explain to Him why what He is telling us to do makes little sense, or we just respond to the parts that make sense to us and disregard the others. God is calling His children to obey Him fully, even in what we may not understand. There really is no such thing as partial obedience. What is God calling you to do? Have you fully obeyed or are you questioning God? Consider that Noah’s act of immediate and complete obedience to God’s instructions provided safety when the flood came.
If you remain connected to God and truly desire to please Him, it is 100% possible to stand and not bow to the world’s system. It is easy to make excuses for not walking in holiness. Somehow, we think that because most are choosing the broad path to destruction that it is near impossible to live holy. We excuse our ungodly behavior by in so many words saying, “well everyone else is doing it.” Or “I know what God’s word says but God understands I am human.” If tempted to believe you cannot stand in this vile generation, the account of Noah in Genesis 6 and 7 will encourage you. Genesis 6:6 lets us know God regretted He made human beings because they had become so evil. However, we see in contrast Genesis 6:9 where it says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” Noah saw the surrounding evil, but it did not consume him. He was definitely in the minority, but he still had a resolve to please the Lord, and He did! We read how God destroyed the entire earth and all the people in it except for 8, Noah and his family. Don’t tell me that God’s grace cannot keep you on the narrow path regardless of what everyone else around you is doing. The real question is not whether it is possible to live holy in an evil world. What we really should ask ourselves is, do I want to live holy? As you ponder that question, remember that regardless of how evil the world is, God keeps those who want to be kept.
Titus 24-25 NIV
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Will the thing you desire bring distance between you and God? If so, it is not worth it? Adam and Eve were in perfect fellowship with God. They were content and at peace. But once the devil entered the picture, he planted seeds of doubt in Eve. He caused her to question God’s motives. The devil made her think God’s restrictions concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil were not for their protection. He made her think God was holding out on them. Eve took the bait, and she and her husband ate from the tree. Once they ate the desirable fruit, they realized their nakedness, and they hid from God. The thing they desired created a distance between them and God. This is a story for the ages and one not worth repeating. However, we continue to repeat this destructive narrative. God puts restrictions in place, we listen to the lies of the enemy, and our disobedience creates distance between us and God. Sometimes we complicate very simple matters and we struggle to come to the right conclusions with the decisions before us. Should I pursue this relationship? Ask yourself, are there warning signs letting you know that this individual, while he may say the right thing, his actions reveal his true heart. Is there a job that seems perfect on the surface but you know that the time commitment will take you away from communing with God or the integrity of the company is questionable? Is there a popular movie that is out, but you know fully that the plot is displeasing to God and watching it will only feed your flesh? Does God put restrictions in place for His children? Absolutely! But we understand these restrictions are not to harm us, but they are there to protect us. Are you struggling with desiring the very thing God said was off limits? You must ask yourself, is indulging in this desired thing worth the distance it will create between me and God? The devil specializes in making the wrong things look right! If we hang out long enough with him, we will desire the forbidden fruit. Forbidden fruit, no matter how sweet it may be, leaves a bitter aftertaste, a separation between us and God, and it is simply not worth it!
Years ago, I heard a speaker say that as believers we live in an upside-down kingdom. The kingdom of God has principles that are the total opposite of this wicked world system. Scriptures echoes this idea of an upside-down kingdom. God tells us He considers the wisdom of this world to be foolish; it is the polar opposite His wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19). The world tells us that if we want to succeed, we must put ourselves first. In the upside-down kingdom we are told to imitate Christ and think of others more than we think of ourselves (Philippians 2), and that if we want to be great, we must be a servant (Matthew 20:26). The world tells us we must fight to live and hold on to our lives, the upside-down kingdom tells us we are to die to ourselves so that we can come alive in Christ (Romans 6)! And finally, the world tells us to do all we can to pursue comfort while the upside-down kingdom tells us to rejoice when we experience trials/discomfort because it will bring us to a point of maturity (James 1:2). Through what lenses are we living our life? What blueprint are we following-the world’s script or the word of God? If we truly understood what it meant to be a part of the kingdom of God, we wouldn’t fight as hard for the temporal, that which perishes. We would not be so filled with fear and worry. We would not insist on our own rights and the need to always be right. Take inventory of your actions and thought life. Do they confirm that you truly belong and embrace the principle of the upside-down kingdom, or do they prove otherwise? Simply put, we cannot claim to belong to Christ yet resist the principles of the upside-down kingdom.
It’s been a year since they diagnosed my son with type 1 diabetes and if I am going to be honest, I felt defeated early this morning. Until this point, I was doing well; I was encouraged, but this morning I hit a wall. I woke up at 2am and Elijah’s blood glucose was at a number I thought I would never see again. Until about two weeks ago, we had things figured out. We have been able to accomplish normal blood sugar levels through diet, but the last two weeks things have shifted and we are back to the drawing board, needing to make some adjustments. And there was that high number staring at me & mocking me. Weariness and defeat replaced the strength and encouragement I had been feeling. But as I sit here and type, I can’t help but to think of what the disciples must have felt that Saturday morning over two thousand years ago. They had high hopes and thought they had things figured out; they had seen Jesus do miracles. Certainly He was just warming up, and the best was yet to come. But they were met with His crucifixion and then on Saturday morning, He was still in the tomb along with all their sense of hope. Jesus was not the only death they were mourning. Their hopes, dreams, and faith also died. They laid in a tomb of their own. The beauty of the scripture is that I know how the story ends. Unlike the disciples on that Saturday morning over two thousand years ago, I know that Sunday morning is coming! If they could only see that resurrection was around the corner, they would have been rejoicing instead of mourning. But wait, if I know how the story end, then I too should rejoice in trials and tribulations because Sunday morning is coming. Sunday morning, King Jesus was resurrected, defeating death and the grave! He rose with all power in His hand. He didn’t promise me a life of comfort and ease on this side of eternity. However, He promised that if I place my trust in Him, I too reap the benefits of His resurrection, mainly salvation. But I cannot deny the peace that is also extended because of what took place Sunday morning. Peace in a time when I and the ones I love have to deal with the side effects of living in a fallen world, one of which is sickness. I planted myself in His presence this morning to be reminded of these truths, and it encouraged my heart! What about you, what circumstances are you facing that makes you feel defeated? You do not have to remain a place of despair because if you are in Christ, Sunday morning is coming!