Amidst all the sin and degradation described in Genesis 6 we come across a man who found favour in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8b). His Name was Noah. Noah was a man who knew the gracious favour of the Lord undeservingly upon his life.
This grace was thereafter reflected in a life of obedience. It is striking how he was a man who moved in obedience to the call of God. So we see these statements.
- Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him (Gen. 6:22). This was after the Lord had given the specification for how the ark should be built.
- And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him (Gen 7:5). This was after the Lord had given Noah instructions about his entering the ark.
- Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah (Gen 7:8-9). This is the comment upon Noah entering the ark.
- They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in (Gen. 7:15-16). Again in going into the ark Noah has done all he was called to do.
- Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him (Gen. 8:15-18). In Gen 8:13-14 we read how the earth had been dry for 57 days. But Noah would only move when God said.
And so it must be with us. We must move in obedience to the holy will of the Lord. Blessed people are obedient people. It is of course that way around. The error that many religions peddle is that obedience leads to salvation. This is a lie. No! It is rather the case that blessing leads to obedience.
Those who find favour in the eyes of the Lord by being granted faith to believe in the Saviour who is Jesus Christ the Lord, display such in the ensuing obedient life. We can talk and talk; we can profess and profess some more, but all is meaningless unless there is obedience.
I saw a physiotherapist earlier in the year. She looked like a physiotherapist should look. She was slim; she wore loose fitting, but discreet medical type clothes. She was clean and her personal hygiene gave no cause for distraction. She looked the part. Her presentation “fitted the bill” for what her calling was. As a result I was put at ease concerning her treating me for my ailment
This leads me to consider the issue of how much we reflect in our lives, of what we profess in being Christians. Now, if the physiotherapist did not present in a certain way i would question whether she was a proper physiotherapist. Similarly there are expectations people have about how we present as Christians. As Christians if we present as miserable, stroppy, complaining, angry, bitter and a miscellany of similar attitudes then we deny our profession.
And when we contradict our profession in this way we give a certain message to people. And that is that the Christian message, that we profess, is not able to change lives for good.
A Christian living a life which is not commensurate with our calling is a deterrent for others coming to experience the medicine of the soul which our Saviour dispenses. Moreover, when we speak of the gospel of grace people will not hear because of the noise of our graceless lives.
Here is our Church Newsletter for May 2019. It includes an article on knowing the character of our teachers.
Let us think of a hypothetical man who stands before you and says “I am a Paraguayan.” You then proceed to quiz him a little further about his identity. Whereupon you find out that:-
- He does not have a Paraguayan passport.
- He was born in the UK and has been resident there for his whole life.
- He has never been to Paraguay.
- His parents were born in the Philippines and have never been to Paraguay.
Having established those facts you think for a while and conclude it is most unlikely that this man is a Paraguayan. His profession is denied by the evidence.
So let us think about the sadly not so hypothetical man who stands before you and says “I am a Christian”. You then proceed to quiz him a little further about his identity. Whereupon you find out that:-
- He does not go to church.
- He believes that being a Christian is about seeking to do lots of good works.
- He has neither been baptised nor ever been a church member.
- He does not have any display of the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal.5:22-23) in his life.
Having established those facts you think for a while and conclude it is most unlikely that this man is a Christian. His profession is denied by the evidence.
(Originally published at Venabling 13th January 2017)
Yesterday was a fine spring day in Feltham. Accordingly,given the clemency of the weather, we went for a walk in the late afternoon to the nearby disused running track. Later in the evening I saw a message on my phone saying: “How was Feltham Running Track?” Presumably, I had had my phone in my coat pocket and my location had been logged.
This all just alerted me to the fact that technology has made it so easy for us all to be traced. Similar experiences occur after a search has been made online to purchase a certain product. From this ensues the popping up on my screen, of all kinds of adverts for the product I had been searching for.
Now I do not want to get overly paranoid about these happenings, but it does provoke me to muse upon the amount of surveillance there is around. Through my online activity, use of mobile phone, bank/credit card use and car use so much data is available to the authorities about me, my movements, my interests and my activities.
Two thoughts arise:
- I should be careful of my behaviour. Of course that should always be the case given that we are being watched by our all-seeing and all-knowing God. But, what of our living out of His grace in our lives? We should make sure that nothing could be recorded, with or without the knowledge of ourselves which would mar our testimony for the Lord.
- With all this information available should the authorities turn hostile towards us as Christians (or for any other group for that matter), they could soon trace us and our activities and connections. Such leads on to some natural fear about what may be ahead. But we should be simultaneously reminded of how God knows all and watches over His people for their good.
David observes in Psalm 25:9 how the Lord guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Humility is a character trait of great value to God. We should be doing everything to cultivate this grace into our lives.
We must immediately confess that it is not a trait that is natural to us. It is pride which naturally characterises us. We want to exalt ourselves and push ourselves forward. It is grace which changes this situation. It is the Lord revealing to us our sinful weakness that starts us in the way of humility. True humility grows when we have God in view. When we see how majestic and magnificent He is, then we start to see ourselves properly; we are humbled.
Whenever we lose sight of the greatness of our God then we start to see ourselves bigger than we ought. Self-promotion starts to develop and we deviate from the way of humility. It is in the presence of God that we see ourselves aright. Every day I should be seeing myself afresh as an unworthy individual wholly dependent on God.
Humility leads to God showing His favour, as our verse teaches us. It shows us how He lovingly guides us into what is right and into His way. And thereby I will be living well. So may humility characterize us as we seek to move forward for the Lord.
Some weeks ago Mark Henderson, who is the Evangelist in our church, preached a sermon on King Josiah it is here At one point he provocatively mentioned about how many books there were about people who had lived half-heartedly for God. Of course, the answer is that there would be none of such. The books that have been written are about Christians who have poured themselves out for the cause of Christ. Only such lives are worthy of being so recorded as to be passed on to the reading public. This is because it is only such lives that are worth the reading public taking an interest in.
There is of course a greater assessment which is to come when God assesses our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul informs the Christians in Corinth of how we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. In that day God will examine our lives to see whether they are worthy of commendation.
Whether or not people write a book about us is ultimately of no consequence. What is of consequence is the verdict of God upon my life.
Also I need to mention that the Christian publishers may ignore many lives because they are not seen as being sufficiently interesting, but God will never miss a life that is lived wholeheartedly for Him. A wholehearted life can be quietly and effectually lived. Such a life may not impress man, but it will impress God.
Nevertheless Mark’s point stands provocatively challenging as it is only wholehearted lives that are worth recording whether that be by authors or more especially God Himself.