Faith Church

Epic Stories – The Story of Noah | Sermon from 10/9/2016

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The Faith Bells performing “The Story of Noah” directed and composed by Linda Hoffman.

Today we are looking at one of the most familiar bible stories we know, the story of Noah.  One thing that makes this such an epic story is that it is universal and visual.  It is universal in that it is a story that speaks to all generations.  Noah and the ark is a great story that captures the imaginations of young children but Noah was also 600 years old when he went into the ark which tells us that God has a plan for us no matter what age we are.  It is also universal in that just about every culture has some kind of a flood story as part of their history so it is a story of God that speaks to all people.

The story of Noah is also very visual.  There is the ark

and all the animals.

There is the storm and 40 days and nights of rain

and then at the end we have all the colors of the rainbow

which still stands as a symbol of God’s promise to us. Our fascination with the story of Noah continues to draw people to Mt. Ararat in Turkey to search for the ark and just this summer a true to life ark was built in Kentucky so people can feel like they are part of the story.

The Ark Encounter

 

Today as we look at the story of Noah we are going to focus on all Noah had to overcome during his life to be faithful to God’s call.  His perseverance, persistence and patience are truly epic and these are qualities we need today as we face obstacles, problems and frustrations in our own lives.  What is interesting about Noah is that he was an overcomer before God called him, in fact, maybe that was one reason God did call him.  Genesis 6:5-9

In a wicked and self-centered generation where people were only looking out for themselves, Noah was different.  Noah was righteous, meaning he did the right thing and he treated people the right way.  Noah walked with God.  So from the very beginning we see that Noah was willing to be different from the people around him.  He didn’t care if he didn’t fit in, he didn’t care if people made fun of him or ridiculed him for his words or actions, Noah was going to live life his way and for him that was to live life God’s way.  So right from the beginning we see that maybe the single most important lesson on how to overcome anything and everything in life is to be willing to be different and walk with God.

Walking with God means we are going to look different.  More and more people today are defining themselves as being non-religious or having no faith so just saying we believe in God and that we trust in Jesus means we are setting ourselves apart from the world around us.  Living like Jesus will make us different.  Responding with grace and kindness on social media is not what we see in the world today.  Being honest about our shortcoming and owning up to our mistakes instead of shifting the blame or changing the subject is not what we see in the world today.  Being willing to sacrifice our time and schedules to place our faith first and our families second is not what we see in the world today.  Walking with God might mean putting our career on hold or shifting our priorities and there will be people who won’t understand our decisions.  We will look different.

Imagine how Noah must have been the talk of the town or the butt of people’s jokes even before he started working on the ark because he didn’t live the way the people around him lived, but because he did walk with God and was able to overcome the evil ways of the world, God knew he would be able to overcome the challenges found in building an ark.  Overcoming anything in life, whether it is issues with our health, finances or in our relationships, begins by being willing to walk with God knowing that when we walk the walk and talk the talk we will look and sound different.

So Noah was already an overcomer when God called him but he would have to overcome so much more and the first challenge he faced was to actually build the ark.  Genesis 6:14-16.   What God calls him to build here is huge.  Using one of the standard measures of a cubit, the ark would have been close to 500 feet long and as tall as a four story building.  It would have been able to hold the capacity of 500 semi trailers of animals which means that it could have held 120,000 sheep, in other words, there was plenty of room for all the animal.  Again, here is what the ark might have looked like and for one man and his family to build something like this was a huge obstacle but Noah overcame the problems and he did it.

It took a lot of hard work, persistence and perseverance for Noah and his family to build the ark but he overcame the obstacles and finished the project.  But this was just the first step, now Noah had to gather the animals and get them into the ark.  Can you imagine the challenge this posed for Noah?  A neighbor of mine has a cat that got out of their home and they have just recently seen the cat in the back of our yards but they have not been able to catch it.  She has been able to sit and talk to her cat, but they have not been able to catch it or trap it.  Can you imagine trying to catch or lead and place 2 of every animal in the ark?  Building the ark may have been the easier part of the job, but God doesn’t abandon Noah to the task.  Because of his faithfulness, God helped Noah overcome this obstacle.  Genesis 7:8-9.  So the animals came to Noah.  Because of his faithfulness, God now worked with Noah to help him overcome this obstacle and there is a tremendous lesson for us to learn here – when we are faithful and work hard and do our best, God helps us.

When we are faced with challenges that seem too much for us, we need to remember that as long as we hold on to our faith, do our best to walk with God and work with God, God will meet us and God will help us.  During a difficult time in my life I was doing my best to walk away from God and when everything fell apart I finally cried out to God for help and when I did that, when I turned back to God – God was right there to help me overcome.  As long as we are running from God, it’s hard for God to help us but as soon as we turn toward God – God is there help us.

Jesus told the story of a young man who had done his best to run from his father.  He insulted his father, took his father’s money and spent it all on himself.  Like the people in Noah’s days, he was living only for himself and his heart was directed to his own pleasure and well being.  When he finally had nothing left and hit rock bottom, the son decided to return home and ask for his father’s mercy and help.  As soon as he turned and began to make his way home the father saw him and ran out to greet him.  When we are willing to walk with God and work with God, God is there, but listen to this, when we are willing to turn toward God and start in God’s direction, God will run out to help us.  God wants to help us overcome and find victory in our lives and we can find it and God will help us overcome if we will turn to Him.

So God helped Noah by bringing to him all the animals which gave Noah the confidence and the courage needed to tackle the next obstacle which was to get inside the ark with the animals.  Think about the confidence Noah must have had in God to get into the ark and shut the door.  There were no flood waters when they started.  People must have thought Noah was foolish to hide away in the ark, but Noah overcame their words and Noah had the courage to close himself in the ark and live with the animals not for 40 days and 40 nights but for a year.  Genesis 7:11-12  and Genesis 8:13-19.

For over a year Noah was on the ark with all the animals.  Once again Noah overcame all the struggles and trials and hard work that must have been required of him during the year.  He endured the smell and the sounds that must have been terrible and after a year it says that Noah and his wife and his sons and their wives came out of the ark.  Here is another important lesson for us to learn, we never overcome obstacles alone.  Noah didn’t face any of the obstacles in his life alone, he had has family to help him and as we saw last week, family is important and family is not just defined as those who are related to us by blood because we a part of the family of God.  God gives us the support, love and encouragement of others to help us overcome and together we can overcome all things.

With our family and with our church family and friends for support, we can overcome the fear of health concerns and the limitations that come with surgeries and cancer treatments.  With our family to help us we can overcome financial setbacks and job losses.  With our family to help us we can overcome marriage and relational problems.  One of the great things about the church family is that whatever we are going through today there is someone here who has gone through the very same thing and they can encourage us or at least share with us the pain and burden.  There are people here who have faced the obstacles we do today and they have overcome them which means that we have a family that can help us overcome.

As part of the next steps this week, we ask you to think about both the obstacles you have overcome in life and the obstacles you face today.  I want to encourage you to identify those areas where you have been an overcomer and open yourself up to sharing how you found victory with others.  If we are willing to help others, God will bring people to us who need our specific help and support.  I also want to encourage you to identify the areas in life where we need to overcome obstacles.  What are the problems we face?  What are the struggles we wrestle with?  As we identify these things we need to ask for help as we are comfortable.   No one is an overcomer alone – God calls us to help and encourage and love others and God places us in families and among friends where we can both offer and seek help and support.

There is one more part of Noah’s story as an overcomer that we can learn from and that is the power Noah found in trusting God’s word.  All Noah had to go on was God’s word.  We don’t know how God spoke to Noah, but in some way God did and Noah had to trust that word.   By trusting God’s word, Noah found victory and by trusting God’s word, Noah and his family were saved and through them all the world was saved.  Trusting God’s word is still important if we want to overcome all that we face in life.

The Bible really does have answers for us today.  There are answers on how to be wise in our finances and how to build healthy marriages and strong families.  There is teaching here on how to develop a solid work ethic and excel in our jobs.  There is instruction on how we should treat others in our world and how to help solve the problems we face as a nation and world.  There is instruction here on how to live as a strong and safe community and if we will trust God’s word and learn how to follow it in our lives, we will find victory and peace.  God’s word helps us overcome all things and so reading it and knowing it and living it is important.

Noah listened and obeyed God’s word and overcame great obstacles in his life but what makes his story truly epic is that it is also a foreshadowing of Jesus.  Jesus overcame great obstacles – the biggest one being the cross and the power of sin and death.  Like Noah, Jesus overcame all things by walking with God and trusting the word of God.  And just as Noah overcame obstacles with the help of others, Jesus also leaned on others for help and support.   Jesus had the disciples for help and when they failed him Jesus had the help of God His father and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Noah overcame many obstacles and his faithfulness saved his family and world, Jesus overcome sin and death and his faithfulness saved the world.  The story of Noah was just a foreshadowing of the story of Jesus who overcame sin and death and brought new life to us all.

The story of Noah is epic because it teaches us how to overcome.  To overcome we need to walk with God and if we aren’t walking with God then we need to start walking toward God.  We need to look for God’s help because God will help us and we need to trust God’s word, both written and spoken to us in the silence of our hearts.  We also need to remember that we never overcome obstacles alone; God gives us the help of family and this includes the full family of God.  The story of Noah is an epic story of overcoming great obstacles and with God’s help it can be our story of overcoming as well.

Next Steps
The Story of Noah

1.  Read the full story of Noah in Genesis 5-9.  List all the things that Noah had to overcome before and after God called him.

2.  Who helped Noah overcome all the challenges he faced?  List all those in your life you can turn to for help in overcoming challenges and obstacles.  Who might turn to you for help?  Would you be willing to help them?

3.  How does the epic story of Noah reflect the story of Jesus?  What did Jesus overcome?  How does Jesus help us overcome sin?  Problems?  Pain?

4.  Where in your life have you been able to overcome obstacles both big and small?  How can you share these victories with others and help them overcome similar obstacles?

5.  What obstacles and challenges do you face today?  Where can you turn to find help from others who have faced similar obstacles?

6. As you feel comfortable, share your responses to #4 and #5 above with family, friends and members of your small group.

 

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