I forgot

Genesis 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

forgotI forget things sometimes.  We all do.  We forget to grab our lunch or return a phone call.  We forget our coat at school and our laptop charger at the office.  That’s just part of the human brain, I guess.  The other day I received a phone call from a friend.  I had left him a message a few weeks ago and he had forgot to call me back.  It’s okay though; I understand.  I wasn’t upset or worried.  I knew he cared…  He just forgot.

There are times, though, when we wonder if everyone has forgotten about us.  These are the times when we are going through something hard and no one seems to notice.  We feel trapped, shut in, alone, and in the dark.  I wonder if Noah felt that way.  After all, he was trapped, shut in, and alone.  “But God remembered Noah…”  He remembered His plan and His purpose.  He remembered His promise.  He had not forgotten or forsaken him.  God remembered.

And God has remembered you.  You may feel like Noah did after months and months on the ark.  You might even feel as though it has been years.  You wake up each day wondering if anyone can see you.  You wonder if there is anyone who understands.  You aren’t sure you can bear to walk this out alone.  God has not forgotten you.  He is present with you in the places that no one else can see.  He meets you there and loves you.  And like with Noah, He desires to draw you out of the ark safely onto land.

*Do you feel like everyone has forgotten about you.  But God remembered ____________________(insert your name here). 

The deadline

Genesis 7:1-4  1 The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. ”

AA009358I used to work really well with the pressure of a deadline.  I remember being in school and working full time.  Assignments would be given and I might have procrastinated a bit… but when the deadline was approaching, it was go time.  I would kick into some weird high gear and crank out quality work.  It was like a late night superpower or something.  I have since lost that power.  Deadlines kind of stress me out now.

Noah had a deadline.  But his deadline wasn’t the difference between an A and a F on a homework assignment.  This was a matter of life or death.  God was going to flood the earth in seven days and Noah needed to be ready.  His instructions were clear and the Bible says that he followed those instructions.  At the end of those seven days, Noah was ready.  I imagine he was hanging out on the ark with his family and those animals waiting for the rain to come.

I wonder if things would have been different if Noah wasn’t given the deadline.  Like what if God said “I am going to flood the earth someday.  When it comes, be ready.”  After a few weeks or even years, would Noah have become complacent and forgot about this huge flood thing? Would he procrastinate gathering up the animals?  Or would he have woke up every day of his life determined to be ready if today was the day?  I just wonder.

Because God has made a promise to us and gave us instructions too.  The promise is that Jesus is coming back and the instructions are to be ready.  The stakes are high and life and death is at hand.  It’s not animals that need to be brought on to the ark, it is people.  People who, if not brought on board, will die.  If we knew we had seven days, we would be doing everything within our power to get ourselves and others ready.  But we don’t.  And if we don’t, His return will catch us by surprise.

*What are you doing to be ready?

Holding His Hand

Genesis 6:9 Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

holdmomshandWe have a rule in our family and you probably do too.  We expect our younger children to hold our hand when walking across a street or in a parking lot.  Now sometimes they just want to hold our hand and hang on tight with love.  But other times, we have to squeeze a little and remind them that our hand means safety.  On occasion, I have pulled my daughter back when a car was coming.  She felt free to run but I saw the car.  So I gave a tug and kept her close.  Close to my side.  Close to my voice.  Close to safety.

Noah lived in a wicked time – a time like no other.  It says in the text that every inclination of the thoughts of every heart was all evil all the time.  But Noah was different.  He was man who found the Lord’s favor.  While the other kids were running through the parking lot, Noah held God’s hand.  Yes, Noah walked faithfully with God.  With his hand tightly would around the fingers of God, he was safe.  When the traffic of life came his way, God pulled Him close.  And because he walked with God, his steps were in sync with his Lord.

Noah sets a example for us even today.  The life we live is like a giant parking lot.  There are many routes and many cars.  Danger lurks from every direction and every turn.  So we must grab the hand of our Savior.  We must walk in step with Him so that he can direct us.  When danger comes, He will give us a tug and keep us close.  Close to His side.  Close to His voice.  Close to safety.

*Is your hand grasping His today?

God holds the trump card

Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

4 of spadesOccasionally, my wife and I get the chance to play cards with some good friends of ours.  We usually play a game called “500.”  It’s one of those games where the high card wins, except that there is also a trump suit.  So there are those times when you are sure you have the winning card and someone lays down trump and takes the round.  I lay down my Ace of Diamonds with confidence waiting to grab the stack of cards about to be played, but then comes the lousy 4 of Spades – it’s just a 4!  But not any 4, it’s the trump suit 4.  And I lose my Ace to that stupid low card because someone trumped me.

In Genesis chapter 5, we read about the genealogy of some of the first dudes in the Bible.  They were living some amazingly long lives.  Now I don’t mean like 100 years.  No, these guys were living 800-900 years.  Some of them didn’t even start having kids until they were over 100.  Can you imagine?  Methuselah lived just shy of a millennium!  Then there’s this one guy whose story stands out among the rest.  He only lived 365 years.  While that seems like a long time, it’s not even half of what these other guys lived.  His name was Enoch.

I noticed something different about Enoch as I read.  Every other guy in this chapter has a story that reads like this: “He lived this many years, had kids, and died.”  But Enoch doesn’t die, which is strange.  After all, this was the cycle of life that God prescribed to Adam as he left the garden.  From the dirt you came and to dirt you will return.  Every human has at least two things in common.  You were born and you will die. That’s just how it works.  It’s the Ace of Diamonds.  That’s how it’s played.

But for Enoch, God laid down the 4 of Spades.  He trumped order.  He trumped the cycle.  He trumped death for a man who walked faithfully with God.  So Enoch never died.  He walked with God on earth and went on to walking with God in heaven. This little slice of Enoch’s life reminds me that God holds the trump card.  At any moment, He can play it.  In His hands, He holds the power to win any round.  He can trump despair, addiction, sickness… even death.  Amen!

Oh, one more thing about this card game that I play with friends.  It is a game of partners.  There are times when my hand doesn’t look so good.  I think we are doomed.  But then my partner comes to the rescue.  When I think all hope is lost, he plays the trump card.  It’s not just about the hand I have been dealt.  I may have nothing good and he may have a whole bunch of trump.

*Do you feel like you were dealt a lousy hand?  God is your partner and He holds all the trump! 

Lessons from video games

Genesis 5:7 “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

video gameI liked playing video games when I was younger.  I still do from time to time, actually.  It’s just that there isn’t usually time and I’m okay with that.  My kids are the ones who play now and I get to watch them struggle through figuring out how a game works.  But when I was a kid, I was the one trying to figure it out.  When a kid gets a new game, they want to win instantly.  My son bought a Madden football game last year and was frustrated that he couldn’t win at first.  I had to explain to him that he had to learn it, figure out how to master it.  When I was a kid, I would try over and over to figure out the right strategy for a certain game.  I would ask friends how they did it.  If I had the option of looking online, I would have done that too.  It took work, strategy, and commitment.  But it was worth it in order to master that game.

You see the computer is programmed to defeat you and you’ve got to figure out strategy to master it.  In the same way, sin is programmed to defeat you and you need a strategy to master it.  That’s what the Lord told Cain in Genesis 4.  Sin is Bowser, the big boss, the bad guys.  You are the player trying to figure out how to overcome. So how do you do it?  Who can help you beat the game?

You know who knows the winning strategy?  The game designer.  God is the game designer.  He knows all the plans of the enemy and has already gone before you to defeat him.  He sent His Son Jesus to attain victory for you on the cross.  He sent His Holy Spirit to transform you.  He sent His Church to surround you, encourage you, and hold you up.  He has given you the tools, but you need to use them.  Sin is crouching at the door and desires to win, but you must master it.  Let’s stand with Jesus in victory today and overcome!

*Do you need to master some sin in your life?

God makes better clothes than you do

Genesis 3: 7-8, 21

7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

fig_leaves300I don’t know how to sew.  If I lose a button off of a shirt, this guy won’t be fixing it.  Oh, I’ve tried and can get the job done, but it will likely fall off again soon.  My 11 year old niece, on the other hand is amazing!  She can sew all kinds of stuff.  Seriously, I’m not above asking an 11 year old girl to fix my clothes.  She’s got talent!  She certainly makes better clothes than I do.

We find here in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve tried to make some clothes, too.  It all started with their sin.  They were doing just fine there in the garden sans clothes until sin opened their eyes.  They realized they were naked and assembled some fig leaves together.  Fig leaves don’t make very good clothes.  They are probably itchy and provide zero warmth.  No, Adam and Eve’s fig leaves weren’t the best clothing choice. So God made them some better ones out of animal skins.  These ones provided much better coverage, protection, and warmth.

When it comes to sin, we are all naked.  We are like Adam and Eve in the garden trying to wear a fig leaf in hopes that God won’t notice.  We strive to clean ourselves up so that God won’t be mad at us.  We work really hard to read our Bible a few days before asking Him for anything.  We try being really nice to people and hope He notices.  We try to measure up to God with our works, yet our works are nothing more than fig leaves. 

God makes better clothes than you do.  He comes walking through the garden of your soul calling out for you as you hide among the bushes.  And He reaches out, handing you a garment, beckoning you to relationship.   “Wear this,” He says.  Through Jesus, He gave you a garment of righteousness that you can wear with confidence.  You are at peace with God because you wear the better clothes that were given through His Son.

*What clothes are you trying to wear today? 

Need some life?

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

breatheThere’s a big difference between dirt and a man.  Dirt just sits there.  It serves a purpose, but it has no life.  It can’t experience joy or sorrow, love or betrayal.  It’s just dirt.  It’s not among the living. Dead stuff doesn’t do much.  Have you noticed?

At the beginning of time, God created the heavens and the earth.  He made dirt and from dirt He made man.  They had both been made.  But God did something different with man than He did with dirt.  He gave him life.  And it wasn’t just life that was given, it was the very breath of God that was breathed into him.  God breathed His life into us so that we could live gloriously with Him.  Since then, however, some things within us have died.  Our dreams have died.  Our motivation, our peace, our joy, our love… all dead.  We search for the shock paddles hoping to jump-start those dead places.  But it doesn’t seem to work.

What we need is His breath.  We need His life.  He wants to take the places in your life that have become dirt and breath life into them again.  He desires to breath into your dreams and into your joy.  His heart longs to breath into that place that can’t give or receive love.  He has been in the business of breathing life since the beginning of time.  If he can do it with Adam’s entire being, don’t you think He can do it with part of yours?

*What places do you need God to breath life into?  Write them down and begin to ask Him specifically to breath life into these areas.