Pray as if everything depends on God
Blessed people, hope your weekend was great? Definitely Yes, we look forward to a greater week ahead! Have you ever felt discouraged in your prayer life? Maybe it feels you can’t connect with God like you used to, as if prayers stop at your ceiling and do not reach God. Maybe you lack a desire to pray and wonder what the big deal is? I have been there. trust me it is really frustrating. The Truth is, if you have felt this way, you need to seriously examine some things and see what may be killing your ability or desire to talk to your loving Heavenly Father.
The most obvious hindrance to a potent prayer life is the presence of unconfessed sins in the heart of the one who is praying. Because our God is holy, there is a barrier that exists between Him and us when we come to Him with unconfessed sin in our lives. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 ). David concurred, knowing from experience that God is far from those who try to hide their sin: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18 ).
The Bible refers to several areas of sin that are hindrances to effective prayer. First, when we are living according to the flesh, rather than in the Spirit, our desire to pray and our ability to effectively communicate with God are hindered. Although we receive a new nature when we are born again, that new nature still resides in our old flesh, and that old “tent” is corrupt and sinful. The flesh can gain control of our actions, attitudes, and motives unless we are diligent to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13 ) and be led by the Spirit in a right relationship with God. Only then will we be able to pray in close communion with Him.
One way living in the flesh manifests itself is in selfishness, another hindrance to effective prayer. When our prayers are selfishly motivated, when we ask God for what we want rather than for what He wants, our motives hinder our prayers. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14 ). Asking according to God’s will is the same as asking in submission to whatever His will may be, whether or not we know what that will is. As in all things, Jesus is to be our example in prayer. He always prayed in the will of His Father: “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42 ). Selfish prayers are always those that are intended to gratify our own selfish desires, and we should not expect God to respond to such prayers. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3 ).
Living according to selfish, fleshly desires will also hinder our prayers because it produces a hardness of heart toward others. If we are indifferent to the needs of others, we can expect God to be indifferent to our needs. When we go to God in prayer, our first concern should be His will. The second should be the needs of others. This stems from the understanding that we are to consider others better than ourselves and be concerned about their interests over and above our own (Philippians 2:3-4 ).
A major hindrance to effective prayer is a spirit of unforgiveness toward others. When we refuse to forgive others, a root of bitterness grows up in our hearts and chokes our prayers. How can we expect God to pour out His blessings upon us undeserving sinners if we harbor hatred and bitterness toward others? This principle is beautifully illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant in
Matthew 18:23-35 . This story teaches that God has forgiven us a debt that is beyond measure (our sin), and He expects us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. To refuse to do so will hinder our prayers.
Another major hindrance to effective prayer is unbelief and doubt. This does not mean, as some suggest, that because we come to God convinced that He will grant our requests, He is somehow obligated to do so. Praying without doubt means praying in the secure belief and understanding of God’s character, nature, and motives. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 ). When we come to God in prayer, doubting His character, purpose, and promises, we insult Him terribly. Our confidence must be in His ability to grant any request that is in accordance with His will and purpose for our lives. We must pray with the understanding that whatever He purposes is the best possible scenario. “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:6-7 ).
Finally, discord in the home is a definite obstacle to prayer. Peter specifically mentions this as a hindrance to the prayers of a husband whose attitude toward his wife is less than godly. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7 ). Where there is a serious conflict in family relationships and the head of the household is not demonstrating the attitudes Peter mentions, the husband’s prayer communication with God is hindered. Likewise, wives are to follow the biblical principles of submission to their husbands’ headship if their own prayers are not to be hindered (Ephesians 5:22-24 ).
Fortunately, all these prayer hindrances can be dealt with at once by coming to God in prayers of confession and repentance. We are assured in 1 John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Once we have done that, we enjoy a clear and open channel of communication with God, and our prayers will not only be heard and answered, but we will also be filled with a deep sense of joy. Remain blessed and prayerful.
Can a person be a fisherman if year in year out, he never catches any fish?
Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.
Week after week, month after month, and year after year these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.
Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and “A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.” They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fisherman to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered.
These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however:
they didn’t fish.
In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what is needed is a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived.
Also the board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.
Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But
the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish.
Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing.
Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and programs to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing. A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.
Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fisherman back home they never fished. Like the fishermen back home they engaged in all kinds of other occupations. They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to
furnish fishing equipment. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.
After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?”
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?
May we follow and act on our calling duely in Jesus’ Name.
It is commonly taught in churches, “whom the son sets free is free indeed”. There is absolutely no question about it; God does not want us in bondage to anything, but to be free, no matter where on earth we live or what government we live under. And of course we know there are some very oppressive governments and people out there who would rule over everyone if they had the chance.
The devil would like nothing better than to rule the whole world, oppressing and afflicting mankind until he destroys them and everything else on earth, because he is a thief, murderer, and destroyer, all rolled up in one. He is actually the driving force behind every manner of oppression, whether it be political, economical, or social or physical. Let’s make sure we understand this: God is not in the oppression business, He is in the “freedom” business. Some would have us believe that we can confess our sins to God, and go our merry ways with no further action on our part, and be granted a “Get out of hell free” card, no matter what we do for the rest of our lives, but is that the whole story? Let’s have a closer look, as it is written in John 8:
Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Joh 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Joh 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
Joh 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
One might be led to think, if God wants us free, then what is to stop us from being free? Isn’t God the Supreme Being of the universe, omnipresent, all-powerful, and almighty? Yes, but there’s something we may be overlooking here. God has also granted us free will as a part of our creation, which means, we can choose to be free, or not. Here’s where things start getting complicated. Everyone wants to be free, right? Perhaps not; because we keep choosing to make more laws for ourselves to be governed by. If we truly wanted to be free, would we not do away with all laws? In an ideal world, we would not need laws. But this is not an ideal world, is it? Why do we need laws? Apparently so politicians and crooks can break them.
In an ideal world, there would be no thieves, so we would not need locks to protect our properties. Think about it, wouldn’t it be nice to park your car and not have to lock it? You wouldn’t have keys for it, just a switch to start and stop it because nobody would steal it or break in. No need to lock a house because no one would bother your stuff. There would be no such thing as a locksmith. If there were no robbers or murderers we would not need weapons. There would be no war because there would be no covetousness or oppressor. There would be no prisons, for there would be no crime. Everyone would live in harmony, and if there was a natural disaster, everyone would run to their neighbor’s aid. We would have no need of border security because we would all be securely living by our neighbor’s side. There would be no need for government bailouts because there would be the highest integrity in all levels of business, and no man would steal from another nor do them hurt.
Because God gave us freedom of choice, some choose to allow greed to run their lives, ruining the lives of others. Some have no regard for the lives of others, nor their possessions, nor their right to live safely without fear. We wonder why God allows all these oppressors to roam free, harming others. But because God honors our free will, He has allowed us to choose our own path, with Him, or without Him.
Life would be so simple if we simply chose to worship God and obey Him. And for those who do, life indeed is better, however we are not immune to the effects of the evil around us. Everywhere we look, there is waste, ruin and destruction going on around us, due to sin abounding in the earth. That’s why we look to God to walk us through the obstacle course of this life. Not everything in this life is good and pleasant, thanks to the workers of evil around us. But by making the choice to continue to follow God, willingly obeying Him from the heart, we become disciples of Christ Jesus. Notice I said “continue”, as our freedom of choice allows us to continue, or quit, anytime we choose. We can choose whether to let sin rule in our life, or not. We can choose whether to do things God’s way, or not. Only by choosing to continue to submit ourselves to the will of God are we set free from the sins of the world. The key here is “continue”. Walking with the Lord Jesus today does not guarantee you will choose to walk with Him tomorrow. Sometimes the desire to have things our way is just too strong.
Knowing the truth alone does not set you free. A person in a burning house knows that if they want to live, the truth is, they must get out. Yet they can choose to stay and try to save their belongings, thereby perishing in the flames. Will God let someone die in a burning house? Yes, if it’s their choice. I’ve often seen God set smokers free from their nicotine addiction because they truly wanted to quit, but couldn’t do it on their own. But I’ve also seen people whom God has set free, start smoking again, and become entangled once again. He will not violate your choice, even though it might be in your best interest to do so many times. How do you stay free once the Lord makes you free? by not returning to that thing which had entangled you in the first place. There is an account in the Bible of a man whom Jesus healed, let’s read about it in John 5:2-16:
Joh 5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
Joh 5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
Joh 5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
Joh 5:5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
Joh 5:6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
Joh 5:7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
Joh 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
Joh 5:9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
Joh 5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
Joh 5:11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.
Joh 5:12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?
Joh 5:13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.
Joh 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
Joh 5:15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
Joh 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
Jesus warned the man who was healed to go sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon him. So He clearly told the man there was a way to stay free, and a way not to stay free. There are people who have lived their lives in fear, worry, and panic attacks, and the Lord Jesus has made them free from fear and worry. Will the devil attack and try to put fear upon them again? Absolutely! He kills, steals, and destroys, remember? Once the Lord Jesus makes us free, we have to choose to resist the devil and stay free, and don’t think for a minute that you will not have to make a stand for your freedom! God’s will is for us to overcome, and you don’t overcome by letting the devil suck you back into the captivity from whence you’ve come. Again, it’s your choice! God already made His, and He chose to send His Son Jesus and buy your freedom, and He paid the price in full to make you free. But as a free person, you have the ability to submit yourself to the devil if you wish, though I certainly can’t understand why you’d want to. If you’ve been set free from alcohol or drugs, there’s nothing stopping you from going back to them, for God will not stop you. If God has made you free from sexual perversions, you have a choice, stay free, or go back to them. You can’t blame the devil or God if you don’t stay free, you can only blame yourself. We are the products of our choices, both as a society, and on a personal level.
I’ve personally seen people whom the Lord has healed of cancer, with every sign and symptom gone, and they ran back to the doctor, and the doctor prescribed a course of chemo or radiation to “make sure THEY got it all”, and that person ended up dying from the effects of the treatment. They were made free, and gave it up, because someone pressured them to go against the Lord. Did God take their healing away? No, they chose to forsake it. We can choose to forsake the freedom God gives us, and suffer for it. But there’s a better way: we can CONTINUE in the Word of God, minute by minute, hour by hour.
Sometimes we look at the big picture and say, I don’t know if I can be a disciple of Christ Jesus long term. You do it just like you eat a big steak: one bite at a time. By continuing in the Word of God, you shall be His disciple indeed: and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free! The truth of the Son of God shall not only make you free, if you let Him, He shall keep you free. Choose wisely.
“God remembered Noah, all those alive, and all the animals with him in the ark. God sent a wind over the earth so that the waters receded.” Genesis 8:1
I must warn you, this is a lengthy message, we have to rub it in to reach the depth of the heart of the matter; but in long run it paid off. Let’s go!
The notion some people might have about God forgetting about Noah comes from a misunderstanding of Genesis 8:1 , which states, “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.” Since God remembered Noah, then He must have forgotten about him, right? Not at all!
Even in English, “remember” does not necessarily refer to bringing something to mind that had been forgotten. It can also apply to something that has been kept in mind, like a birthday card that states, “remembering you on your special day.” The Hebrew word zakar can have similar connotations.
This verse isn’t telling us that God forgot about Noah, his family, and the animals.
Genesis 8:1 teaches an important truth in the Flood account: God’s attention was focused on Noah and those with him on the Ark.
THE BIBLE FREQUENTLY SPEAKS OF GOD REMEMBERING HIS PEOPLE.
The Bible frequently speaks of God remembering His people. God remembered Abraham (Genesis 19:29 ), Rachel (Genesis 30:22 ), and Hannah (1 Samuel 1:19 ). Before freeing the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt, the Lord “remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24 ). Also, many Old Testament figures prayed that God would remember them, such as Samson (Judges 16:28 ), David (Psalm 25:7 ), and Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:3 ).
Great comfort can be drawn from these truths. The Lord focused His attention on Noah during the Flood. Similarly, Jesus Christ promised His followers that He would always be with them (Matthew 28:20 ). He will never leave or forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5 ).
“And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The word “remembered” doesn’t mean to call something to mind that may have been forgotten at some point. God can’t forget anything because He knows the end from the beginning.
If the word remembered doesn’t mean call something to mind that may have been forgotten, what does it mean then? The word “Remember” simply means, in the midst of the great flood of, Poverty, disappointment, failure; God stays true to His promises.
Have you ever felt forgotten by God? Once in a while you hear a heart-wrenching story of a child who has been abandoned by his parents. Well, thankfully, God never abandons His children. But probably you’ve felt forgotten by God at times. You prayed, but God didn’t answer. You read the Bible, but it didn’t speak to you. The trials in your life made you think that God went on vacation and forgot about you and your problems.
Noah may have felt like that after being on the ark for a while. The whole world had been destroyed by the flood. The rain had beat down in torrents upon that lonely ark for 40 days and nights. Finally, the rain stopped and the only sound was that of the water sloshing against the sides of the ark. Noah probably expected to hear from the Lord about then. But if God spoke to Noah, the Bible doesn’t report it. When we heard God finally speaks to Noah again, telling him to come off the ark (8:15), the impression you get is that He hadn’t spoken since the last time recorded in the text, over a year before, when He told Noah to get on board (7:1).
What do you suppose Noah was thinking during all that time on the water? At times he probably felt forgotten by God. Maybe you’re there right now. You need assurance that God hasn’t forgotten you. That’s what Genesis 8 and similar passages are all about. We read words of hope in verse 1 of Gen. 8: “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark.” Not just Noah, but the animals! It reminds us of Jesus’ words that the Heavenly Father’s eyes are on each sparrow, so you know that He cares for you. And while the Lord remembered Noah, we see Noah waiting patiently and obediently in the ark until God tells him to go out. Then Noah offered a sacrifice to the Lord. So the two themes of Genesis 8 are that God remembers Noah and Noah remembers God. We can apply it by saying: Since God in faithfulness remembers us, we by faith must remember God.
The dominant theme of the chapter is that:
1. God in faithfulness remembers us.
When the text says, “God remembered Noah,” it does not imply that somehow He got busy with other things and Noah slipped from His mind for a while. Then something reminded Him and He snapped His fingers and said, “Noah! I forgot all about him down there!”
Rather, in the Bible the word is used often of God in the sense of God taking action on His promises. When God was about to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He “remembered Abraham” and spared Lot on his behalf (Gen. 19:29 ). When Rachel wanted to bear children, but could not, we read that “God remembered Rachel” and she conceived (Gen. 30:22 ). When Israel was in bondage in Egypt, we read that “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exod. 2:24 ). When Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit, she praised God who remembered His mercy as He had spoken to Abraham and his offspring (Luke 1:54-55 ). The penitent thief on the cross asked, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42 ). In every case, the idea is the same: God remembers in the sense of taking action on His promises.
So here, God remembered Noah and those on the ark. It points to God’s faithfulness. From our point of view, it may seem that God has forgotten. Perhaps He has been silent for a long while. But He will act on our behalf in His time. He remembers. He is faithful to those who are His. God’s faithful remembrance is seen in three ways in Genesis 8 :
1. In His past salvation.
2. In His promise of future preservation.
3. In His present provision.
A. GOD’S FAITHFUL REMEMBRANCE IS SEEN IN HIS PAST SALVATION.
God’s past salvation is seen in the ark. Noah and everyone on board the ark had been spared God’s judgment. It was not a luxury liner, but those on board were safe. As Noah and his family felt the ark come to rest on the mountain, even though God was yet silent, they knew one thing for certain–by God’s grace they had been spared His awful judgment. If you have trusted in God’s only means of salvation, the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, even if God seems silent at the moment, you can rest assured that you are safe in Jesus Christ.
A man once came to D. L. Moody and said he was worried because he didn’t feel saved. Moody asked, “Was Noah safe in the ark?” “Certainly he was,” the man replied. “Well, what made him safe, his feeling or the ark?” The man got the point. It is not our feelings that save us. Christ saves us by His sovereign grace, and if we have trusted in Christ, we know that God in faithfulness to His promise has saved us from His judgment.
When it seems like God has forgotten you, stop and think about the salvation God has granted to you in Jesus Christ. It is not based on anything in you. Noah found grace (6:8), and so has every person who has trusted Christ as Savior. John Newton, preacher and author of “Amazing Grace,” was a drunken sailor and slave trader when God saved him. He wrote a text in bold letters and put it over the mantle of his study, where he could not fail to see it: “Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed thee.” Newton wanted to remember God’s faithfulness as seen in His past salvation.
B. GOD’S FAITHFUL REMEMBRANCE IS SEEN IN HIS PROMISE OF FUTURE PRESERVATION.
As he came off the ark, Noah must have had some mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was grateful for God’s deliverance. But on the other hand, he must have felt a bit apprehensive. God had wiped out every other person and all other animals on the face of the earth. Noah must have thought, “What if we disobey Him? Will He wipe us out?”
But those whom God saves, He keeps. Our final preservation doesn’t depend on our grip on God, but on God’s strong grip on us (Jude 24 ). It doesn’t rest on our great faith, but on His great faithfulness. In 6:18, God said to Noah, “I will establish My covenant with you.” While this is the dominant theme of chapter 9, God mentions His promise here in 8:21, when He vows never again to curse the ground on account of man or to destroy every living thing as He did in the flood.
Note that God’s promise of sparing the earth from such severe judgment is not conditioned on Noah’s or anyone’s obedience. In fact, God promises to do it in spite of man’s sinfulness. The Hebrew word translated “for” (8:21, NASB) can be translated “though” (see Josh. 17:18 , “though”). So God is saying, “Even though I see that man’s heart is still the same [the flood did not eradicate man’s sinful nature], I will look ahead to the atoning sacrifice of Messiah and will spare the earth and its inhabitants for Messiah’s sake.”
Aren’t you glad that your future deliverance from God’s judgment depends on God’s faithfulness, not yours? While those who truly know Christ will be growing in obedience, there isn’t a saint who has a perfect track record. Satan likes to come and say, “You claim to be a Christian? Look at your sins! How can you possibly expect God to save you?” At such times of doubt, I have to say to Satan, “I’m not trusting in my track record to commend me to God. I’m trusting in the faithfulness of the God who has said, ‘Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more’ (Heb. 10:17 ). I’m trusting in His Word which declares that ‘He who began a good work in [me] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 1:6 ). So, Satan, if you can disprove God’s faithfulness, I’m in trouble. But if not, be gone! You have no basis to trouble me.”
Thus God’s faithful remembrance is seen in His past salvation and in His promise of future preservation of His people from judgment. But also,
C. GOD’S FAITHFUL REMEMBRANCE IS SEEN IN HIS PRESENT PROVISION.
God had provided all that Noah and his family needed to survive, both on the ark and once they set foot on dry ground again. The earth again sprouted with vegetation, as seen in the olive leaf in the dove’s beak. (The olive tree can sprout even under water.) The olive leaf showed Noah that the water had greatly subsided, since olive trees grow at lower elevations than where the ark came to rest.
God’s provision is also seen in that He had instructed Noah to take seven clean animals on the ark, rather than just two. He used one of the seven for his sacrifice (8:20). But in 9:3, God ordains that man may now eat meat. Thus the clean animals provided food for the survivors of the flood until they could grow new crops and until the animals multiplied.
God’s provision is also seen in His promise (8:22) that “while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” We often forget, God gives us many reminders of His faithfulness: Each new day, every changing season, and the food we eat should remind us that He is a faithful God who provides for all our needs.
Genesis 8 reminds us of the creation account in Genesis 1. In both accounts, the earth is covered with water. In Genesis 1 the Spirit moved; here God caused the wind (same Hebrew word as “Spirit”) to blow. In both accounts the dry land is separated from the waters, vegetation sprouts and the earth is prepared for man. Both chapters show us God’s gracious provision for His creatures.
Often when God is silent in our lives, it’s because He wants to bring us into a situation where He makes all things new. But sometimes He has to destroy the old before He can remake the new. But we can count on His faithfulness during the silence, knowing that He has saved us in the past, He has promised to preserve us in the future, and He is providing for us in the present. Noah clung to those assurances when God was silent for that long year in the ark. You can cling to those assurances right now, if it seems as if God has forgotten you.
So first we see God’s remembrance of Noah; we also see Noah’s remembrance of God. Since God in faithfulness remembers us,
2. We by faith must remember God.
Noah’s remembrance of God is seen in three ways in this story, ways we can imitate as we seek to remember the Lord.
A. WE REMEMBER GOD BY TRUSTING IN HIS SALVATION.
Noah obedient faith is seen in his building the ark and by getting on board when God told him to. If he hadn’t trusted God’s word by doing that, he wouldn’t have been delivered from the flood.
JESUS CHRIST, OUR ARK
God has provided Jesus Christ as the “ark” which will carry you safely through the judgment to come. Just as Noah had to believe God by building the ark and getting on board, so you must believe God by “getting on board” Christ as the only One who can deliver you from God’s judgment. In the world’s eyes, the ark was Noah’s folly. But in God’s plan, that which was foolishness to the world was His means of salvation. Even so, as Paul said, “The word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18 ). If you have never by faith entrusted your eternal destiny completely to Jesus Christ, laying hold of His death in your place, you must start there.
B. WE REMEMBER GOD BY WAITING PATIENTLY AND OBEDIENTLY FOR GOD’S TIMING.
Once God has saved us, like young children, we want everything instantly. We want all our problems solved now. We want answers to our questions now. But God shapes us by making us learn to wait on Him. After a year in a crowded, dark, smelly ark, Noah must have had a bad case of cabin fever. But we find him patiently and obediently waiting for the Lord to give the word. God didn’t dry up the water instantly, but used the wind and other natural processes. It took time. That’s usually how God works.
Finally Noah sent out a raven. Ravens will alight on anything, no matter how foul. Perhaps it landed on carcasses floating on the water, and fed off them, but it never returned to the ark. Next Noah released the dove. Doves want a clean, dry place to land. Not finding such a place, the dove returned. Noah kept waiting. Seven days later, he tried again. This time the dove returned with an olive leaf. Noah waited seven more days. This time the dove did not return. Still Noah waited. In the 601st year of his life, on the first day of the first month, the water was dried up (8:13). Still Noah waited. Finally, on the 27th day of the second month, God told Noah to disembark (8:14-16). Only then did Noah leave the ark.
When God shut you in, it is only by His command you can come out. God had shut Noah in; God must bring Noah out by His command. Noah kept waiting on God even when God was apparently silent. Obedience during the silent times is the best guarantee that you’ll obey God in those critical moments which determine the course of your life. If God has shut you in to some difficulty, wait patiently and obediently upon Him to bring you out in His way and time.
Maybe God has shut you up to being single, but you want to be married. But God doesn’t seem to be listening to your prayers. If you disobey God and take matters into your own hands by dating unbelievers, you will thwart what He is trying to teach you about waiting on Him and you may miss His provision for you later. In the silent times, we must remember the Lord by waiting patiently and obediently for His timing.
C. WE REMEMBER THE LORD BY OFFERING A SACRIFICE OF GRATITUDE.
Noah got off the ark and offered a sacrifice to the Lord. You may think his action was a matter of course. But it was hardly a matter of course, but a matter on course. Noah would have been a busy man once he set foot on dry ground again. He had to build a shelter for his family. They had to tend to the domestic animals. They had to move everything off the ark to their new homes, and there was no Bekins! And yet Noah took time to remember the Lord by building an altar and offering sacrifices.
Noah’s sacrifice showed that he still must approach God through shed blood. Noah wasn’t presuming on some new privileged relationship with God since he had survived the flood. He still knew himself to be a sinner, and he offered sacrifices as the only way he could approach a holy God. Noah’s sacrifice also was an expression of gratitude for God’s salvation. Noah knew his own heart. There was no reason God should have spared him, but He did. And so Noah expressed his thankfulness with this sacrifice.
In the same way, God wants us to remember Him by coming to Him through the blood of Jesus Christ as our only basis of approach. He wants us to reflect often on our deliverance from judgment, and to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15 ).
One of the ways God ordained for us to do that is through the Lord’s Supper (also called the “Eucharist,” from the Greek word for thanksgiving). When we come to the Lord’s Supper, we reflect on His salvation for us in the past; on His promised coming and the future salvation we will enjoy; and on the present provision He has given us for life and godliness. We remember Him and give thanks for His salvation.
Like Noah, most of us have a million other pressing things we could be doing with our time. It’s so easy to get busy with life and forget the Lord and His blessings to us. Forgetting, we grow ungrateful. And ungratefulness leads us away from God. We must guard against thankless hearts by regularly setting aside time in our busy schedules to remember the Lord and the great salvation He has granted us. Since God in faithfulness has remembered us, we by faith must remember Him.
At times we’ve all felt abandoned by God. The nation Israel felt that way. Isaiah wrote, “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’” But God answers, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you” (Isa. 49:14-15 ). God remembers His children. Even when He seems to have forgotten us, we, His children, can rest on the assurance of His faithful Word and obediently remember Him.
Jesus said…”I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die”… Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. — John 11:25-26, 43-44
Lazarus did not have a near-death experience. Even Miracle Max from The Princess Bride would have realized that he was not simply “only mostly dead.” He was completely, undeniably dead. First, he was miserably sick, and then he passed away. He expired. He kicked the bucket. He bought the farm. He bit the dust. However you want to say it, make no mistake about it: Lazarus died. His sisters washed his body and wrapped it in linen. Weeping, they laid his corpse in a cave-tomb and leaned a flat stone across the opening.
We like to read this story because it ends so well, with Jesus arriving apparently too late–four days later–only to dramatically raise Lazarus from the dead and gave him back to his family.
“Do we really get it—that we need to be dead people ourselves before Jesus can infuse into us with His divine Life?”
The 3 cheeky Hebrew rascals were not delivered from king Nebu, until they experienced unquenchable inferno that supposed to kill them, before the Lord turned it into a air-conditioned room (Daniel 3)k. I wonder, though, if we devote enough time to thinking about the implications for our own lives. In our excitement about the resurrection part, do we forget that you can’t raise a person from the dead unless he or she is actually dead? Do we really get it–that we need to be dead people ourselves before Jesus can infuse into us with His Life?
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Colossians 3:3 says it even more clearly:
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” The expectation is obvious: When Jesus invited us to follow Him, it’s an invitation to die. Only when we die to ourselves can we truly live for Him, it is an invitation to die. That kind of surrender goes against every instinct we have. We want to hang on to life, hang on to families/relationships/friendship, hang on to properties, hang on to familiar environment, hang on to our character traits or identification. We can’t seem to let go. We refuse to pull the plug. But it is only when we die to ourselves that we can finally experience the resurrection power of Christ.
It is not necessarily physical death, but something much more to gain eternal life.
The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the true essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3–7 ). Not only are Christians born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process.
Jesus spoke repeatedly to His disciples about taking up their cross (an instrument of death) and following Him. He made it clear that if any would follow Him, they must deny themselves, which means giving up their lives—spiritually, symbolically, and even physically, if necessary. This was a prerequisite for being a follower of Christ, who proclaimed that trying to save our earthly lives would result in our losing our lives in the kingdom. But those who would give up their lives for His sake would find eternal life (Matthew 16:24–25 ; Mark 8:34–35 ). Indeed, Jesus even went so far as to say that those who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for Him cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27 ).
The rite of baptism expresses the commitment of the believer to die to the old, sinful way of life (Romans 6:4–8 ) and be reborn to a new life in Christ. In Christian baptism, the action of being immersed in the water symbolizes dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection. Baptism identifies us with Christ in His death and resurrection, portraying symbolically the whole life of the Christian as a dying to self and living for and in Him who died for us (Galatians 2:20 ).
Paul explains to the Galatians the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. Paul’s old life, with its propensity to sin and to follow the ways of the world, is dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him. This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or insensible, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24 ). Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, that which pleases God.
Dying to self is never portrayed in Scripture as something optional in the Christian life. It is the reality of the new birth; no one can come to Christ unless he is willing to see his old life crucified with Christ and begin to live anew in obedience to Him. Jesus describes lukewarm followers who try to live partly in the old life and partly in the new as those whom He will spit out (Revelation 3:15–16 ). That lukewarm condition characterized the church of Laodicea as well as many churches today. Being “lukewarm” is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live for Christ. Death to self is not an option for Christians; it is a choice that leads to eternal life.
Someone said that the hardest part of dying to ourselves is that we have to do it daily. Write out a prayer for today, laying your life at the feet of Jesus. Reaffirm that He is not just your Savior, but your Lord. Don’t hurry through this, and prayerfully write only what you mean. For today, list what attitudes, priorities, or sins-what part of you-you will allow to die.