NOAH FOUND GRACE

INTRODUCTION:

1.       As you look around at the world in which we live it is easy to see lots of problems. There is corruption in the government, an obvious moral decline, and an ever prevalent disregard for the lives and possessions of others.

2.       We see a growing lack of respect in youth toward their parents and elders.

3.       And as we see these things we often say in despair, "What can one person do?" We throw up our hands and conclude that we are helpless to effect any real change.

4.       In the book of Genesis we are amazed at how God used various individuals to change the world. Perhaps the most famous of these figures in Genesis is a guy by the name of Noah. He was only one man but God used that one man to save mankind. So this morning I encourage you not to listen simply to the historical account of Noah. Listen also to learn what God can do through one person.

I.                    THE STATE OF THE WORLD.

1.       In order to understand what God did through Noah we have to understand what Noah faced. We need to know what the problem was. Listen as the world at that time is described.

§         The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth--men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air--for I am grieved that I have made them (Gen. 6:5-7).

2.       Sobering words, aren't they? "Every inclination of the thoughts of the heart were only evil all the time." It doesn't take much imagination to guess what was going on in everyday life. The people of that day disregarded God. They may have talked about Him in conversation but He was absent from their lives. Religion was an academic exercise. Morality was something that was determined by personal choice rather than by God's standards.

3.       I suggest that Noah's days were not that different from our own. The flood wiped those people out. But only a few chapters later in Genesis we read of the people of Babel and how they had reached a similar state of decadence. And in Romans Paul states, "there is none righteous, none that do good, no one who seeks God." Things have not changed much. If you don't believe me, try a little experiment…

4.       This week as you watch television notice how many times the ten commandments are scorned in a typical half-hour comedy or hour drama. Look at the innuendo regarding illicit sexual relationship, look at the deception, the violence and the utter disregard for human life that is brought into our homes.

5.       Listen to the radio (talk or music) and notice the values of the people involved. Notice that the standard for right and wrong appealed to is personal preference, not God's eternal standards.

6.       Pay attention when people talk about God in our world. Their description of God is nothing like the God of scripture. Lot's of famous people talk about their belief in God. Notice what this God they describe is like. Generally God is concerned that we feel good. His only goal is to help us have a fulfilling life. There is no talk of holiness, sin, or judgment. The God of the world is a caricature created in the image of man.

7.       Watch a recent movie. Pay attention to the language, the morality, the ethics, the behavior and also notice the way Gods people are often portrayed as lunatics.

8.       When you have done some of these things, ask yourself a question: "Why didn't I notice this before? or "Why don't I find this repulsive?" The answer will startle you. It's because these things are mainstream and we have grown accustomed to it. In fact, perhaps we have even embraced it! Chuck Swindoll wrote,

Because of sin, man has taken
the deity out of religion,
the supernatural out of Christianity
the authority from the Bible
God out of education,
morality and virtue out of literature,
beauty and truth out of art,
ethics out of business,
fidelity out of marriage.

9.       Such is the nature of the world in which Noah lived . . . and the world in which we live.

II.                  THE CHARACTER OF NOAH.

1.      The next thing we should notice is the character of Noah and how it contrasts with the world he was living in.

§         (6:8-9) But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

2.      In the midst of this immoral society, one man stood out . . . a man by the name of Noah. Notice what we read about him.

Noah Found Favor

3.      In the New International Version we read that Noah found favor. In the old King James it is, "Noah found grace." Either way it is important that we don't miss something here. Noah did not EARN God's blessing . . .he was given God's favor. Noah was not a perfect man. We have a tendency to see Noah as someone extra-ordinary. It then becomes easy for us to relegate his obedience and faith to the "that's not reachable for me" status. Truth is, he was a common man who was willing to follow the Lord.

4.      I don't know when Noah was transformed by God's grace. He came from a family of faithful people so he may have come to faith early. It really doesn't matter. What does matter is that Noah trusted God. In so doing, Noah stood alone.

He was a Righteous Man

5.      Noah was a man who did what God wanted him to do. In other words he did what was right (thus the term righteous). He allowed God's standards to effect and direct his life. Noah was unafraid to live differently from the status quo.

He was a Blameless Man

6.      In that godless society no one had any charges against Noah. We can conclude that he had a good relationship with his friends and neighbors. They may have felt he was weird, or one of those "holy rollers", but they respected him. No one wondered if Noah was dealing honestly with them. They knew his ethics were solid. No one had to question whether Noah was cheating on his wife. They knew Noah's was committed to her. No one questioned Noah's methods. They knew he was not seeking to manipulate them when he acted loving. No one questioned Noah's sincerity. . . they may have questioned his sanity . . .but not his heart.

7.      This is the same experience believers may have today. In fact, God says we should select leaders who are of good reputation. Having a good reputation may not mean that you are invited to all the gatherings people have. But what it will mean is that when these folks have a need . . .they will turn to you. When they have a crisis they will ask you to pray. They may not feel comfortable around you . . . but they will respect you.

He Walked with God

8.      Noah "walked with God" He didn't just visit with God. He didn't "stop in to see God" on the Sabbath . . . he walked with Him on a daily and hourly basis. Noah's relationship with God was not a temporary fascination, it was enduring and steady. It was a relationship that was nurtured over hundreds of years. It was steady and constant.

III.                GOD’S PLAN.

1.      So, in light of man's condition and Noah's faithfulness God comes up with a plan. The plan is to start over. God is going to bring a worldwide flood that will destroy every living thing. And his plan is to preserve humanity through Noah and his family. Listen to the text,

§         (v. 13-21) God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them."

2.      This story is so familiar that we may miss the magnitude of what is being asked of Noah. Noah was asked to build a vessel that was 4 1/2 stories high and as long as a football field and a half! Someone has done the math and figured that the ark had a carrying capacity of 522 standard railroad stock cars. Or the equivalent of eight freight trains of 65 cars each! This was no little recreational vehicle.

3.      To make matters worse, Noah and his family lived 500 miles or more away from the closest body of water! And believe it or not, it is likely that it had never rained before! Can you imagine explaining a need for a boat and the concept of a flood under these conditions?

4.      So, not only did God ask Noah to build this great vessel for which there was no precedent, he had to do so in the midst of public ridicule. Certainly he was known by others as "crazy Noah". I wouldn't be surprised if families traveling on vacation would made it a point to drive by and see the man who was building something "God told him to build". He was a freak. Certainly his family even wondered at times if dad may have "lost it".

5.      Even today, with all the modern tools and resources this would be quite a task. Listen to this humorous piece,

The Lord spoke to Noah and said: "In six months I'm going to make it rain until the whole earth is covered with water and all the evil people are destroyed. But I want to save a people, and two of every kind of living thing on the planet.. I am ordering you to build Me an Ark." And in a flash of lightning he delivered the specifications for an Ark..

"OK," said Noah, trembling in fear and fumbling with the blueprints..

"Six months, and it starts to rain," thundered the Lord. "You'd better have my Ark completed, or learn how to swim for a very long time."

Six months passed. The skies began to cloud up and rain began to fall. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard, weeping.. And there was no Ark..

"Noah," shouted the Lord, "where is my Ark?" A lightning bolt crashed into the ground next to Noah..

"Lord, please forgive me!" begged Noah. "I did my best. But there were big problems. First I had to get a building permit for the Ark construction project, and your plans didn't meet code. So I had to hire an engineer to redraw the plans. Then I got into a big fight over whether or not the Ark needed a fire sprinkler system. Then, my neighbors objected, claiming I was violating zoning by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission. Then I had a big problem getting enough wood for the Ark because there was a ban on cutting trees in order to save the Spotted Owl. I had to convince Fish and Wildlife people that I needed the wood to save the owls. But they wouldn't let me catch any owls. So no owls.Then the carpenters formed a union and went out on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or a hammer.. So, we have 16 carpenters going on the boat, but still no owls..Then when I started gathering up animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They objected to me taking only two of each kind. Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I couldn't complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood.. Let me tell you, they didn't take kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of a Supreme Being. Then the Army Corps of Engineers wanted a map of the proposed new flood plain. So, I sent them a globe. They weren't amused. Now I'm trying to resolve a complaint from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over how many I'm supposed to hire. And on top of all that the IRS seized all my assets claiming I'm trying to avoid paying taxes by leaving the country.

6.      This is a monumental undertaking. Building the Ark would have cost Noah lots of money, and led to unending torment by the neighbors and others who thought he was nuts. He may have faced constant doubt from his family about his sanity. Who knows, there may have even been intervention from the city leaders trying to "stop Noah for his own good."

7.      And all this time Noah is preaching to the people. How frustrating it would have been to have such an urgent message and get nothing but scorn and ridicule in response. He preached but no one responded. But Noah continued doing what God called him to do. He trusted God's Word and God's promise. And that's what made him a man of faith.

IV.               APPLICATIONS.

1.           Think about what happened as a result of this one man. First, Noah was able to save his family. Second, Noah stood as a contrast to the world . . . he condemned the world by his faithfulness. He showed the justice of God's action. And lastly Noah established himself for all time as an pattern of faith.

2.           You see, this is not an old yarn about the "good ole days". God is still using people. He won't ask you to build an Ark in your backyard but he does still call people to be faithful.

3.           He may ask you to befriend and reach out to people that might taint your reputation,

4.           He may ask you to take a risk financially in order to reach others .

5.           He may call you to embark on something no one has ever done before.

6.           He may call you to take a stand at your place of employment.

7.           He may call you to care for someone who won't appreciate what you are doing.

8.           He may call you to show love even in a situation where the other person is the one who is wrong.

9.           He may ask you to leave that which is comfortable and go where He leads.

10.      One person can make a difference. God can use you to do what you never dreamt possible. You may not be used in a worldwide setting . . . but He can use you. But we must remember some things.

11.      FIRST, remember that God is not looking for perfection or even talented people . . . .He is looking for willing hearts. God knows we are sinners, that's why He sent Christ. He is not looking for people who have innate ability. You see, He doesn't want someone who believes in themselves . . . He wants someone who believes in Him!

12.      Just because you have failed in the past does not mean that God can't use you in the present. God can still work through you. It's not dependent on you. He is looking for someone who will dare to trust Him as Noah did. Someone willing to simply do what He says. Someone who will take Him at His word. Are you willing to do that?

13.      Are you willing to do things God's way rather than your own? Are you willing to trust His ability rather than your schemes and devices? Are you willing to wait for Him to work rather than to force the issue with your manipulative ploys? Are you willing to let God set the agenda? Are you willing to let God use you rather than you using God?

14.      SECOND, God is looking for long term consistency rather than occasional experiences. God is not looking for hype and flash . . .He is looking for that which is solid and strong. God is looking for the person who will be steady and walk with Him on a daily basis. He is not looking so much for people who will talk boldly, but people who will live consistently in His grace. God is looking for ordinary people who are willing to trust a great God.

15.      Over and over God used ordinary folks. God chose the reluctant Moses, the bashful Saul, the child David, the socially awkward fisherman. He used the Shepherd Amos. the foreigner Ruth, the woman of questionable reputation in Rahab, the teenagers Mary and Joseph. God specializes in taking ordinary people and using them in extraordinary ways. He can use you. He WILL use you . . . if you will let Him.

CONCLUSION:

1.      Friends, realize that the stakes are just as high as they were in the days of Noah. There is no coming flood. But there is a coming judgment. And God offers you the chance to be saved. You don't have to board a boat but for proud Americans perhaps He asks something just as difficult. God calls you to admit that you are lost and helpless to save yourself. He calls us to trust Jesus. To believe Him when He tells us that when Jesus died, He died for our wrongdoing. He asks us to believe that in Jesus we are set free from the past and given a future we do not, and could not deserve.

2.      He asks you to trust your life, your future, and your hope of eternity to Him. As in the days of Noah . . . we are faced with a choice. You can be among those who are saved . . . or when the judgment comes you can be among those who destroyed. The story of Noah is more than a fascinating historical account . . . it is a summons to make the choice of lifetime. Listen carefully and choose wisely.

sermon adopted from Bruce Goettsche