In This Month’s Issue…
What we do Grows Out of What We Are
Proud mankind always rebels against God’s way of salvation. Noah did what God told him to do. And when the flood came, God’s way was the only way out!
When the Lord Shuts the Door
We are always looking for new adventures, new places to go. But sometimes it is God Who closes the door!
A Message in Tongues
Since Babel the world has been divided. But the message of the cross unites.
Outline No. 944: What we do grows out of what we are
Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis chapters 3 – 6.
Our thoughts today are about Noah. His name means rest, but he worked hard.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 711:
The #1 question Christians ask is: “What does God want me to DO?”
As Christians it is more important what we ARE than what we DO!
We are obsessed with doing. And some people get very depressed because they think they are not DOING enough.
But there are things that God created us to do.
Noah was called to restore the world! But Noah is a type of Christ, not a type of you and me.
If the salvation of the world depended on you and me then the world would not have much hope.
What Noah did grew out of what he was.
First of all he was a righteous man, though he wasn’t perfect. And he couldn’t merit God’s favour.
There is nothing in man that deserves God’s favour. We have no merits that we may parade before God’s throne.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Genesis 6:8.
“For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” Psalm 11:7.
If you desire holiness and righteousness today, I have good news for you:
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6.
Then again, Noah was fearful. He was far different from the world in which he lived. The people of Noah’s day were complacent – they just couldn’t care less.
“They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.”
On the other hand Noah feared, and his fear moved him to action!
Now let’s be careful here. He wasn’t scared. This was a godly fear. A holy reverence! And that is the kind of fear that does something. It is motivational!
More than complacent, the population was wicked. There was more to this marriage of theirs than meets the eye! Marriage had been corrupted. They had marriages with those whom they should not. These seemed to be demonic relationships. It refers to the “sons of God” marrying the “daughters of men.” The offspring of these marriages was giants. See Genesis 6:1-6.
Today the law permits what the Bible condemns.
But Noah became an heir of righteousness.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” — Hebrews 11:7
Faith is the only reason Noah has for being included in this list of great believers in Hebrews 11! Just look at what Noah’s faith achieved. It produced more than a big boat. It produced righteousness.
“These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9.
There was no other like him. He was one of a kind. Unique. The only one in that generation whose life was moulded by faith!
By faith he prepared an ark. He believed what God said, would happen.
He was laughed at because a flood was unknown.
Imagine trying to convince your neighbours that something that had never happened before in recorded history, was indeed going to happen!
He believed what God told him to do, would save him!
Boat-building wasn’t common in Noah’s backyard.
“What’s that?” His neighbours jeered!
But this man believed that this huge edifice of wood and pitch would save him and his house.
His neighbours thought of simpler, more convenient ways to avoid an imaginary flood.
Proud mankind always rebels against God’s way of salvation.
We see it illustrated in the life of Naaman. He would have preferred to bathe in other waters!
Noah did what God told him to do. And when the flood came, God’s way was the only way out!
Outline No. 945: When the Lord Shuts the Door
Bible Reading: Genesis chapters 7 – 10
“The Lord shut him in.” Genesis 7:16
In the biblical narrative, when Noah and his family and the animals are all aboard, the Lord shuts them in.
The Spanish Bible says the Lord shut the door. (Lit. in Spanish).
The Bible talks about open doors. Paul asked people to pray that he might have an open door of ministry (Colossians 4:3). John saw a door opened in Heaven, and was granted a glimpse of celestial grandeur. Jesus stands outside the closed door of the last days church, and asks them to open the door, so He may come in!
But what about when God SHUTS the doors to us?
When God shuts the door: Be aware of the perfection of His direction
God is perfect in all His ways.
The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord. If God wants us locked out of places, we should not want to go there. Paul was locked out of several cities (see Acts 16). But then he had a vision of a man in Macedonia and a voice calling for help. And so from locked cities in the east, the Gospel came to Europe!
When God shuts the door: Be secure in His will
When God closes doors, we can know we are safe. Did you ever leave home, and then wonder if you locked the door properly? And so you had to return to make sure it was locked.
If Noah had locked the ark door I suppose he would have gone back again and again to make sure it was locked. But he knew God had locked it. He must have felt very secure.
When God shuts the door: Be sure that there is nothing for us outside
The dove returned to the ark when she saw that there was just muddy water outside.
I once sat beside a “Mafioso” at a church dinner in New York. It seemed he had come to know the Lord while locked away in prison. I think the chaplain had led him to the Lord. He seemed very nervous, and as we got into conversation he admitted that he was a little concerned about the future. He told me that it was easier to be a Christian in prison, and much harder on the outside.
Paul and Silas sang hymns of praise locked away in a filthy prison.
When God shuts the door: Be alert to God’s presence
We like going through doors. We like new adventures. But sometimes God wants us to just be still and get to know Him better!
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalms 46:10-11.
Keep Calm and Don’t Carry On!
Christians who are alone are alone with God. Enjoy the fellowship with the Lord!
We know quite a bit now about being locked away after more than a year of lockdowns. People who are free do not like to be behind locked doors. But a lot of Christians have found that during lockdowns their relationship with the Lord has got better and better. Their Bible reading and prayer-life has improved so much that they do not ache to go outdoors all that soon.
Outline No. 946: A Message in Tongues
Bible Reading: Genesis 11
In our Bible reading today we see how God confused the work of those who were disobedient. Unwilling to be scattered abroad, they started to build a tower so they could always stay together, with their tower as a focal point and muster station.
Since then the world has been divided by language.
But then thousands of years later when Jesus hangs on the cross there is no confusion. The message is written in the main languages.
“And sitting down they watched him there; And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” — Matthew 27:36-37
In Roman times it was customary to hang a plaque above crucified criminals depicting their crime.
Notice that Matthew calls this title “His accusation!”
As the people milled around those three crosses they could see clearly the accusations.
On the first cross the title read “THIEF!” When they approached the unrepentant criminal on the third cross, they saw his accusation: “ROBBER!”
The accusation on the middle cross should have read: “Murderer!” It should have been the cross of Barabbas – but on public request the murderer had gone free, and Jesus of Nazareth had been substituted!
“Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.” — Mark 15:6-11
And so Pilate had a new accusation hurriedly inscribed:
“THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
The accusation shames Pilate – who believed in Him, yet washed his hands of Him. Pilate said that He was innocent. Pilate’s wife called Him a just Man.
Oh, dear friend, you cannot just ignore this Man. He is the King – you must bow to Him, or you must revolt against Him!
The accusation discomfits the religious leaders who envied Him. Pilate was aware of that! “For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” He had become popular with the people, and their own position had been threatened.
Oh my dear friend: if you will let this Man into your home, I must tell you that He will be the most popular Guest you have ever had. Your wife/your husband/your children/your mother/your father will all give HIM first place in your home. And you will be second. But you will be second after the King of Kings.
The accusation embarrasses Peter who had denied Him.
At the fireside, he had denied the King of the Jews! Perhaps that’s you today? At work you have been timid! Or at school you have failed to mention your allegiance to the King of Kings!
It always amazes me that a mere maiden could provoke such a negative response from a burly fisherman!
Since Babel mankind has been divided by language. But on Calvary there was no possibility of anyone missing the message. And that middle cross has become a tower that has united millions in surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Luke tells us this title was written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin!
“And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” — Luke 23:38
This was the language of the religious. The ritualist. The person who trusts in their pomp and ceremony. We all have different ways in which we worship. But there are many who put their trust in the actions of their worship rather than in Christ Himself.
Mr. Ritualist: today as you light your candles, and repeat your liturgy, and ring your bells, and wave your incense – a message is waiting for you on Calvary’s cross, and it is written in language even you can understand: “JESUS IS KING!”
Will you bow before Him?
Greek was the language of the reader, the scholar, the philosopher.
Mr. Reader: today as you pore over your dusty books, and open your heart to the foolishness of ancient Greece – there’s just one page for you on Calvary. It is not a message from so-called lovers of knowledge like Plato, Aristotle, and Pythagorus – It is a message from the Lover of men’s souls, and it comes from the God of Heaven. It is a revelation – it cannot be arrived at by study. Simply it says this: “JESUS IS KING!”
Will you bow before Him?
Latin was the language of the occupying army. The language of Rome. It was the language of the ruler!
Mr. Ruler: today as you raise taxes, and plan punishments, and speak of justice, Calvary utters a message that you should easily understand.
It speaks of One Who became poor that we could be rich.
Of One Who received not only Barabbas’s punishment – but ours also.
Of One Who satisfied the justice of Almighty God, that we may go free!
And today you are asked to lay down your authority at this Man’s feet.
In a language you can understand it says this: “JESUS IS THE KING!”
Will you bow before Him?