Blessing Follows Obedience

Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did (Genesis 6:22). 

Noah did ALL that God commanded him to do. Noah was asked to…

  • … remain pure in a depraved, everything-goes generation 
  • … build an ark in a place nowhere close to water, when it had never rained on the earth, let alone flooded 
  • … gather animals from all over the world 
  • … secure food for himself, his family, and all of the animals he had collected
  • … convince his family this ark was needed to escape the world-wide flood God was sending, and 
  • … keep convincing his family to hang in there with him for the next 100 years! 

And Noah did all of this: Everything that God told him to do. 

“No matter how unusual, or unconventional, or even unheard of, if God commands I must fully obey. I must do according to all that God says.” —Craig T. Owens 

In doing so, God saw that Noah was “righteous before Me in this generation” (7:1). This allowed God to pronounce a blessing on Noah and his family (9:1). 

God’s blessing always follows our obedience. 

God doesn’t say, “I have blessed you, now obey Me.” But He says, “If you obey Me I will bless you.” 

Holy Spirit, help me to obey all that You are instructing me to do. May my obedience be as pleasing to my Heavenly Father as Noah’s obedience was. May God be glorified by my full and quick obedience, and may others be drawn to Christ as they see the blessings that follow obedience. No matter how unusual, or unconventional, or even unheard of, may I be quick to obey. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

Handling Tough Texts

How do you handle a hard passage in the Bible? Peter wrote this about Paul, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand….” But if we don’t take the time to wrestle with that passage, Peter says this is what happens next: “…which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

So here’s a 5-step plan I use when I am working through a challenging passage of Scripture.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you

All Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), and the same Holy Spirit lives in a Christian (1 John 2:20). Think about that: the same Holy Spirit that inspired an author to write the words of Scripture is the same Spirit that will illuminate them to you!

  1. Read the difficult passage in context

We will make our task much easier when we “zoom out” from the difficult text and read the whole passage surrounding the difficult verse/phrase. Perhaps we need to “zoom out” even farther to understand why the whole chapter or book was written.

  1. Identify the parts that are clear

Start off by identifying the parts that you do understand, and then see what light that shines on the tricky text.

  1. Cross reference with other Scriptures

Never, ever, ever draw a conclusion from just one passage of Scripture. Paul reminded his audience that he used the “whole counsel of God’s Word” (Acts 20:27) in forming his sermons. If the challenging passage contains an Old Testament passage, look it up; if it references an historical event, read that history. I also like to use biblegateway.com’s excellent search feature to find cross references.

  1. Draw conclusions on what appears to be the main point

Only after you have done step #1-4 should you attempt to draw some conclusions. You will set yourself up for error if you draw a conclusion first, and then try to find other texts in the Bible that agree with you.

The Apostle Peter writes something rather challenging in his first letter. In fact, Martin Luther said this about 1 Peter 3:18-22: “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” If you would like to see how I walk through the 5-step plan on this “obscure passage,” please check out the video below.

Our Portrait In Genesis (book review)

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersI love having Oswald Chambers walk alongside me as I study the Bible. He is like a wise, insightful friend pointing out, “Did you see that? Did you notice what God is doing here? What do you think that means for you?” In Our Portrait In Genesis, Chambers walks with us through the first book of the Bible.

Previously I reviewed Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers, which looks specifically at the life of Abraham in Genesis 12-25. In Our Portrait, Chambers turns his attention to the other notable people in Genesis.

As he looks at Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Noah, and the other patriarchs, Chambers is constantly pointing out the lessons we can learn from their lives and apply to our lives. Because of his training in psychology, Chambers is so skilled at knowing what was going on in the minds of these biblical examples, and then helping us examine our own thinking along the same lines.

Our Portrait and Not Knowing Where are tremendously helpful commentaries to read as you work your way through the book of Genesis. As always, you can’t go wrong picking up an Oswald Chambers book!

Live Blessed And Peaceful

SpockI think most people are familiar with Spock’s famous Vulcan hand signal that means “Live long and prosper.” But long before Star Trek, the origins of this idea were displayed in the pages of Scripture.

The Hebrew word for grace or favor is first used in relation to Noah: “BUT Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). The conjunction BUT at the beginning of this verse tells us that the favor Noah experienced is being contrasted to something exactly the opposite. Here’s what we read two verses earlier, “The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain” (v. 6).

Noah had to make a choice: would he fear God, or would he fear man. It’s a choice we all have to make today. We have to weigh and decide:

  • Fear of God vs. fear of man
  • Pleasing God vs. pleasing myself or someone “important” to me
  • Humble reliance on God vs. self-reliance
  • Objective obedience to God vs. subjective agreement when it feels okay

In the section of Psalm 119 called shin (vv. 161-168), the psalmist wrestled with this as well. He decided that he wasn’t going to be afraid of government officials that could persecute him, BUT “my heart trembles at Your Word.” He decided that he wouldn’t look for worldly treasures, BUT he would “rejoice in Your promise” (v. 162). That he wouldn’t praise temporary things, BUT “I praise You for Your righteous laws” (v. 164). That he wouldn’t try to find satisfaction in the temporary, BUT he would bask in the “great peace [for them] who love Your law” (v. 165). On and on it goes…

  • …I wait for YOUR salvation
  • …I follow YOUR commands
  • …I obey YOUR statutes
  • …I obey YOUR precepts (vv. 166-168)

People that live this way experience the same favor and grace that Noah experienced.

The Lord BLESS you and keep you; the Lord make His face SHINE upon you and be GRACIOUS to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you PEACE. (Numbers 6:24-26)

You can live blessed and peaceful by choosing God above all else!

Next Sunday we wrap up our series on the 119th Psalm, and I would love it if you can join us!

Here is the video from yesterday’s message—

Links & Quotes

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Some links to some interesting reading and quotes I found today.

Good thoughts from John Stonestreet: How Will Your Church Deal With Same-Sex “Marriage”?

If we divide ourselves between God and Mammon, or Christ and self, we shall make no progress. We must give ourselves wholly to holy things or else we shall be poor traders in heavenly business, and at our stocktaking no profit will be shown.” —Charles Spurgeon

A very intelligent post on the Noah movie: Gnosticism And Kabbalah In Aronofsky’s Noah. And if you want to read Dr. Brian Mattson’s complete post (which is referenced in the Gnosticism article), read Sympathy For The Devil. Here is one passage from Dr. Mattson’s post—

“In Darren Aronofsky’s new star-gilt silver screen epic, Noah, Adam and Eve are luminescent and fleshless, right up until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit. Such a notion isn’t found in the Bible, of course. This, among the multitude of Aronofsky’s other imaginative details like giant Lava Monsters, has caused many a reviewer’s head to be scratched. Conservative-minded evangelicals write off the film because of the ‘liberties’ taken with the text of Genesis, while a more liberal-minded group stands in favor of cutting the director some slack. After all, we shouldn’t expect a professed atheist to have the same ideas of ‘respecting’ sacred texts the way a Bible-believer would. Both groups have missed the mark entirely. Aronofsky hasn’t ‘taken liberties’ with anything. The Bible is not his text.

Fathers, here are 7 Things A Good Dad Says.

Parents not allowed to cheer for their own kids on the basketball court?! Yep! Check this out from Dr. Tim Elmore: The Rules We Create When We Lack Emotional Intelligence.

“When we cannot climb the ladder of prayer, surely God comes down to the foot of it where we lie. … We are His and He is of our kind—only all that is infinitely better.” —George MacDonald

“Are you aware of a brother or sister whose marriage is in turmoil? If so, what do you do about it? Do you merely tell others what a shame it is that they are about to break up? Or do you bring up their names to the Lord and strive for them in prayer? Do you desire this ministry of being a helper in prayer? If you don’t know anyone with a need, start by praying for all Christian marriages and all of God’s saints. Your prayers do not have to be long. Simply state your request, and trust God to hear you.” —David Wilkerson

Links & Quotes

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These are links to some interesting quotes and news stories I was reading this weekend.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder still thumbing his nose at the law he has sworn to uphold.

Apparently it’s more important to win games than it is for student athletes to get an education. Check out this whistleblower report.

[VIDEO] Congressman Bruce Braley thinks only lawyers are qualified to serve in Congress … certainly not “a farmer … from Iowa” !

“May God raise up more ministers like William Booth, who support gospel proclamation with practical ministry to those who need it most.” Amen! Check out this great article about Salvation Army founder William Booth.

The Hollywood movie Noah has been called “the least biblical biblical movie ever made” by its director Darren Aronofsky. But check out this article: The Folly Of What Noah Preached.

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.” —Rick Warren

Tell your Congressional representative and senator not to turn control of the internet over to the U.N.

Glad to see that World Vision reversed their decision on same sex couples.

“I fear John Knox’s prayers more than an army of ten thousand men.” —Mary Queen of Scots

Astronomers have found a new planet! Think what else the Creator has out there for us to discover…. “It goes to show that there’s something we don’t know about our Solar System, and it’s something important,” says co-discoverer Chad Trujillo.

Generation Now

Interbellum, Greatest, Silent, Baby Boomers, Busters, MTV, Gen X, Gen Y, Post-Millennial, Gen Z. It seems we’re obsessed with naming and defining our past and present generations. The “experts” tell us what each generation is motivated by, what they’re thinking, what they dream of, and what they are afraid of. I have stacks of books on my shelf about how to relate to people in each of these generational groups, and I constantly get emails which tell me the newest way to get each generation’s attention.

However, when I look in the Bible I only see two generations: this generation and next generation. God is not concerned with description, but with action. I love what God said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.” What you and I do in this generation reverberates into the next generation.

The most important generation is Generation Now.

Yesterday I discovered something a whole lot easier than reading all of these books and sifting through all of the data to learn about GenNow. I discovered this by accident. I discovered it by fun. And I discovered it was exactly the same way Jesus connected with and related to His GenNow.

All I had to do was hang out at my office.

Throughout the day people saw my car in the parking lot, so they just stopped in. It was a blast! Just as Jesus spent times at parties, wedding banquets, in the market place, and with His friends, I got to know GenNow by simply being with them. We talked, we played music (great jam session!), I got beat in ping pong, we ate pizza, we worshipped God, we threw marshmallows at each other.

Through all of this I learned what GenNow is dreaming about, laughing about, and worrying about. I also affirmed what I already knew: GenNow is a very special group!

Do you have a family member or friend that you want to connect with more deeply? Follow the example of Jesus: just spend time with them. I did, and it was great. In fact, I can’t wait to do it again and again and again!

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