BY FAITH NOAH, WHEN WARNED ABOUT THINGS NOT YET SEEN, IN HOLY FEAR BUILT AN ARK TO SAVE HIS FAMILY. BY HIS FAITH HE CONDEMNED THE WORLD AND BECAME HEIR OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES BY FAITH. (Hebrews 11: 7)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP.
OPENING HYMN (CH-25)- ONLY ON GOD DO THOU, MY SOUL, still patiently attend; my expectation and my hope on Him alone depend.
He only my salvation is, and my strong rock is He; He only is my sure defence: I shall not moved be.
Ye people, place your confidence in Him continually; before Him pour ye out your heart; God is our refuge high.
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, The God whom we adore, be glory, as it was, and is, and shall be evermore. Amen.
LET US PRAY:
ETERNAL AND EVERLASTING GOD, You came to us in Jesus Christ, sharing our humanity. You come to us each day through Your Holy Spirit, sharing in our every experience, so now we come to You, to share together in fellowship with You and one another. We come to seek Your forgiveness, Your strength, Your guidance and Your will. We come to read Your Word, to listen to Your message, and to discern Your purpose. We come offering our discipleship, our gifts, talents and abilities, committing all once more to Your service. Come to us now in this time of worship – renew our commitment and vision, our faith and our love. Open our eyes to Your presence: open our lives to Your grace and power. For we ask it through Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – GENESIS 6-9 / SELECTED.
NOAH WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN, BLAMELESS AMONG THE PEOPLE OF HIS TIME, AND HE WALKED WITH GOD. NOW THE EARTH WAS CORRUPT IN GOD’S SIGHT AND WAS FULL OF VIOLENCE… THE LORD SAID TO NOAH, „GO INTO THE ARK, YOU AND YOUR WHOLE FAMILY AND … EVERY KIND OF LIVING CREATURE THROUGHOUT THE EARTH. I WILL SEND RAIN ON EARTH FOR FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS, AND I WILL WIPE FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH EVERY LIVING CREATURE I HAVE MADE… THE WATERS FLOODED THE EARTH FOR A HUNDRED AND FIFTY DAYS. THEN GOD SAID TO NOAH, “COME OUT OF THE ARK, YOU AND YOUR WIFE AND YOUR SONS AND THEIR WIVES. BRING OUT EVERY KIND OF LIVING CREATURE – SO THEY CAN MULTIPLY ON THE EARTH AND BE FRUITFUL AND INCREASE IN NUMBER UPON IT….AND NEVER AGAIN WILL I DESTROY ALL LIVING CREATURES, AS I HAVE DONE…I HAVE SET MY RAINBOW IN THE CLOUDS, AND IT WILL BE THE SIGN OF THE COVENANT BETWEEN ME AND THE EARTH”.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – MATTHEW 7: 24-27.
“THEREFORE EVERYONE WHO HEARS THESE WORDS OF MINE AND PUTS THEM INTO PRACTICE IS LIKE A WISE MAN WHO BUILT HIS HOUSE ON THE ROCK. THE RAIN CAME DOWN, THE STREAMS ROSE, AND THE WINDS BLEW AND BEAT AGAINST THE HOUSE; YET IT DID NOT FALL, BECAUSE IT HAD ITS FOUNDATION ON THE ROCK. BUT EVERYONE WHO HEARS THESE WORDS OF MINE AND DOES NOT PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE IS LIKE A FOOLISH MAN WHO BUILT HIS HOUSE ON SAND. THE RAIN CAME DOWN, THE STREAMS ROSE, AND THE WINDS BLEW AND BEAT AGAINST THAT HOUSE, AND IT FELL WITH A GREAT CRASH” -Jesus said.
NOAH is a well known person from the Old Testament. The Bible characterises him (Genesis 6: 9) as one who was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. People usually remember Noah for building an ark on a dry land, without having any water around, and getting into it with his family and all kinds of living creatures only because God told him to do so. The Epistle to the Hebrews remembers Noah for his Faith in action, demonstrated by heeding God’s warnings: – By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family, by his faith he condemned the world and became heir of righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11: 7). You do not need to be a child to resent warnings in life only because somebody warns us about something, and we tend to resent that too. Now, God always knows more than we do, and God always knows the proper course of action to take. This morning we will look at Noah’s faith by heeding God’s warnings, and at Jesus’ answer to how we should live by His Words, in the story of The wise and foolish builders.
HEEDING GOD’S WARNINGS BEGINS WITH TRUSTING IN GOD. Not all warnings that other people give us in life are accurate or well-intended. We need to use wisdom and common sense to evaluate their warnings. If we know that they have good knowledge and are trully motivated for our welfare, then we will trust the warning. The same is with God’s warnings. Believing that God knows everything, and that He is always on our side, then His warnings are always meant for our good, never for our harm, and all the warnings from the Bible should be treated with Trust and Faith, not with doubts. Responding in holy fear meant that Noah took God’s warning seriously. The flood was not yet seen because it was still in the future. But just because it was in the future did not made it less real for Noah. He believed that if God said it was going to happen, then it was definitely going to happen. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11: 1). Noah took God’s warning seriously. He had a deep conviction, or certainty, about the unseen realities based on the Word of God. That is the true Biblical Faith. Treating God with reverence, awe and respect is because God is The Giver of Life, and He is The taker of Life. Noah knew this and believed what seemed highly improbable but absolutely possible. Heeding God’s warnings must always begin with the right and faithful attitude towards God.
HOLY REVERENCE AND FEAR WAS THE ACTING FORCE IN NOAH. Faith was the living principle for Noah, and Fear was the moving power. He so believed that fear came upon him, and that fear made him act exactly as God instructed him. Noah had not a despairing fear that can paralyze people, but became a witness of true obedience. Actually, the Ark was God’s idea, not Noah’s idea. After God told Noah He was going to destroy the world, God gave him detailed instructions on how to build the Ark. He told him what kind of wood to use, giving him precise dimensions of the Ark, and on how to bring the animals into it. And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him (Genesis 7: 5). Noah followed all of God’s instructions exactly because he treated God with reverence. To build the Ark must have cost Noah a great deal of money and labour. He could not get anybody to work at his “absurd task” of building a vessel on dry land as they would be laughed at. And any workmen would be surely demanding extra pay. Noah was content to put all his capital into the building project despite being mocked by the men of that generation. He rather went out and preached to them; but many would not hear him, for they thought he was mad. It is admirable his going into the Ark and coming out again when called to do so. His fear was finally transformed into worship as the first thing he did was to build an altar to the Lord, and so prove that he was at home with God. Noah’s world did not avoid God’s condemnation, but Noah’s faith was vindicated and life on earth was blessed through him.
NOAH’S OBEDIENT FAITH BROUGHT HIM GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of my covenant between me and the earth, – said the Lord (Genesis 9: 13). A visible sign for Noah that all that happened had been done through God’s love for His Creation, through an established Covenant. The last thing Noah earned by his faith was his Righteousness. God declared him righteous; not by his works, but by his Faith. He believed God, and found grace in the eyes of the Lord. By faith he was adopted and became Heir of righteousness that comes by faith.
DOING WHAT WE HEAR FORM JESUS’ WORDS. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7) involves three major themes: (1) – Message about the good news of the Kingdom of God, (2) – Righteousness as a matter of heart, and (3) – the practicality of the human faith in God. In the final section of His Sermon Jesus drew all these themes to a close with a powerful, brief, but compelling story about two builders and their houses, two different kinds of house – one that lasts, and one that does not. Laying these two builders and their houses out next to each other, He encourages His past and present audience to have a personal reflection on life. We all want to build something beautiful, meaningful, productive, valuable and lasting in our lives. We all want to leave a legacy; something that will endure. But for how long will it last? Christians should always plan things in the context of ETERNITY.
THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE TWO BUILDERS AND THE HOUSES. Each reference involves a builder and his house, and Jesus uses many identical phrases to describe both. The Lord is telling a story with universal implications. There are no exceptions to what He says about either builder in the story: both of them heard “these words of mine,” both built houses, and both houses were tested. Jesus is using almost identical language to describe the testing, and the idea here is that we will all encounter storms in life – Covid-19 Pandemic included – and the trials of life will reveal our faith or lack of faith.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO BUILDERS AND THE HOUSES. The main difference between the two builders was that one of them put Jesus’ words into practice, and the other one did not. In fact the contrast in Jesus’ story is not between hearing and not hearing, but between hearing and doing. Reading the Bible, going to church, listening to the sermons – these are all good, but what will the practical result be in those lives? The other difference is the: – wise man / foolish man, with devastating consequences. The Bible says about the Wisdom’s Call: – whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord, but whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death (Proverbs 8: 35-36). The foundation is the most important part of the house. One built his house on the rock, the other built it on the sand. As a strong foundation is needed for a house, we all need strong foundations for our lives. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ, – says Paul in 1 Corinthians 3: 11. Only Jesus and His Word are a solid foundation on which to build our lives. All other ground is sinking sand. Or – When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever (Prov. 10: 25).
In many ways Noah’s Ark serves as a type of foreshadowed Christ and His teachings. Christ Jesus is our Ark now: big enough for the whole world, strong enough to withstand the shocks of life, the running waters of death. There is safety here in the Son of God, sent to be for us all the shelter, the salvation, that we so desperately need; Christ our Ark is the safe passage into the New World God has planned for all who believe in Him. (Peter Lewis,- Jesus our Ark of Salvation). AMEN.
LET US PRAY:
LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER, we thank You that You are a God who daily teaches us more about Yourself, who has always more to reveal of Your love. We thank You for the many ways we can hear Your voice – through the Scriptures, the world around us, and the people we meet; through prayer and reflection; through the experiences of life, and our daily walk with You. Help us to be open to everything You would say, ready to receive Your instructions and to accept Your guidance. Save us from closing our ears to what we do not want to hear; from becoming so fixed in our ways and opinions that we become spiritually deaf; from limiting Your Word or denying Your call through our unwillingness to listen. Help us to recognise prayer as Your gift to us, rather than ours to You, and so may we learn from it more of Your purpose, and more about You. Strengthen our faith, deepen our fellowship, direct our witness. Help us to grow inwardly, finding our Spiritual Ark in Jesus, and outwardly, reaching out to You, and to all around us. When we cannot see any answers to our own needs or those of others, when life seems like sinking sand, and we are drowning in our stormy problems, be our Rock and Salvation through Jesus Christ. When we see only problems that seem beyond us, when we do not know what to pray for, teach us to leave all things in Your hands. We pray for the sick and suffering, the poor and hungry, the oppressed and exploited, the lonely and unloved, the aged and infirm, the frightened and anxious, the sorrowful and the bereaved, the helpless and the hopeless. There is so much need around us, in our neighbourhood, our town, our country, and our world – so many people crying out for help. Reach out to them in Your love. Give us the will, the commitment and the love, offering something of ourselves to others, as You offered Your all to us. Be with Your Christian Church Universal in all its branches, and with our Church of Scotland in all its presbyteries and parishes. Bless us all here in our congregation, and hear our prayers for all those whom we now name quietly in our hearts … through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN (CH-411): – MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust my sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name. CHORUS: – On Christ, the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to veil His face, I rest on His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. CHORUS – On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, and blood, support me in the whelming flood; when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay: CHORUS – On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALL. (2 Corinthians 13: 14)
Sandor, your Minister.