Monday, October 19, 2015

When God Calls

My Sunday School lesson for October 18, 2015 ...

FIRST THOUGHTS

One of my favorite childhood movies is "The Goonies."

The premise is that a subdivision is set to be demolished to make way for an expansion of a country club. A group of boys and girls end up on an adventure to find pirate treasure to save their families' homes and keep from moving away.

My favorite moment is when the kids find out they're under the wishing well in town, and many want to end their quest for One-Eyed Willie's ship and go home.

Sean Astin, even before he was the Lord of the Rings hero, stops them with a speech: "Don't you realize? The next time you see sky, it'll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it'll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what's right for them. Because it's their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.”

When God calls us to move, we can't rely on a bag full of jewels to show us the way. We have to confront change and an unknown future.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Genesis 11:10–14:24

*** This week we begin our look at Abram, or “Father Abraham.” He took a major leap of faith to follow God to a land far far away that he knew nothing about.

--- Hebrews 11:8 features him in the Roll Call of the Faithful: "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."

--- We'll spend the next several weeks studying how he became the father of the nation of Israel.

*** Abram's family came from the cuty of Ur in Mesopotamia on the Euphrates River (about 200 miles southeast of modern Baghdad), then moved to Haran in northwest Mesopotamia.

*** Abram married Sarai (Sarah), heeded God's call to go to Canaan, and his story of faith takes off from there.

--- Acts 7:2 says that God actually spoke first to Abram while he was living in Ur, way before these verses: "To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran."

GOD CALLS (Gen. 12:1-3)

1 The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

*** Stepping out in faith.

--- God didn't just tell Abram to feed the homeless or volunteer for parking lot duty at FBC.

God told Abram to:

A. Leave the land he'd known for his whole life;
B. Leave his dad's house and relatives behind, and;
C. Move to a land that isn't even specified here.

This is going to take a lot of faith on Abram's part!

(Think of it this way. If God didn't tell Abram where to go, then God would have to travel with him for the trip. That's comforting.)

--- God's looking for people who are will follow Him even if they have to leave their comfort zones.

(Abram was part of a rich family. Leaving could mean taking a hit in his finances. His contacts list would be useless. Also, he wouldn't be sure how he would feed his family and animals.)

--- Question - How scary can it be when God wants us to do something we don't think we're prepared to do?

*** In return for Abram's obedience, God provided seven big time promises, broken down into three categories given as an act of God's grace and purpose (as Bro. Joseph shared on Facebook):

Vision:

1. God promises to make Abram into “a great nation.” (Remember, at this time Abram was elderly and had no children.)
2. God promises to “bless” Abram.

Envision the future:

3. God will “make” Abram’s “name great.” (Today, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam each trace their roots to Abram.)
4. Abram will be a “blessing” to others.

Provision God has given:

5. God will “bless those who bless” Abram.
6. God will “curse those who treat” Abram "with contempt."
7. “All the peoples on earth will be blessed through” Abram. (The call of Abram was part of God’s plan to send Jesus into the world. Jesus is God’s true blessing. All who place their faith in Jesus have been truly blessed through Abram.)

*** QUESTION - What are some examples of difficult things God may call us to do today?

ABRAM GOES (Gen. 12:4-9)

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people he had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the site of Shechem, at the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your offspring.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.

*** God said "Jump": and Abram said "How high?"

--- In 12:1 God told Abram to "go," and in verse 4 we see that Abram "went." (Even at 75 years old!)

--- When God calls, you have to respond. You either obey in faith, or you rebel and disobey. Abram obeyed and went to Canaan.

--- Let’s think about how Abram, Lot and Sarai felt about this. We know Abram took everything and went. How do you think his nephew Lot (his brother from another mother), or his wife Sarai thought about all of this? How is their faith?

(They didn’t even get the word from God, they are going on Abram’s word. Imagine if a husband told his spouse, "Hey, I know we're wealthy and comfortable here, but God called and we're driving west to move everything but I won't know where until we get there.")

(Like in "Peter Pan" and quoted in "Star Trek 6," God says, "Go toward the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.")

*** Question - In what ways might it be easier to follow the Lord as you get older? In what ways might it be more difficult?

*** Abram’s altars.

--- Wherever he camped, Abram built an altar out of stone and dirt to sacrifice and worship the Lord. ((((Abram was a thankful man!)))

--- Worship is one way of demonstrating obedience.

*** Question - What are some ways we can show obedience and worship today?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

Luke chapter 7 tells the story of the centurion who had a sick servant, so he went to Jesus to ask that the servant be healed. Jesus was about to head to the house to do so, but the centurion sent word saying" Lord ... I am not worthy to have you under my roof ... say the word, and let my servant be healed."

Jesus wasn't surprised often, but at least acted surprised here because the Scripture says he "marveled" and told the crowd, "not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

The centurion - a gentile, not a Jew - didn't need a wonder, or a vision, or angels swirling around holding a giant sign. He simply believed Jesus would do it.

"Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible." (Adrian Rogers)

Or, as Hebrews 11:1 said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

One way our group is showing faith out of our comfort zone is those who are leaving us to start the new young adult class. It’s not easy, probably a little scary and they won’t see as many familiar faces, but the rewards are great as well. More people can get involved in Bible study, new relationships can be formed, and there’s a sense of personal spiritual growth. And it’s all just down the hall and not 500 miles away, so we’ll all still be in the same place!

*** Abraham was 75 years old when God called him to leave the familiar and set off on a new adventure. None of us are too old to start something new.

*** What is God asking you to do that will stretch your faith in Him? What’s keeping you from obedience? Ask God to give you strength to step out in faith.

*** Share with someone how you have been blessed by God not because you deserve it but because of His goodness!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cooper at the Lego store birthday party

Cooper went to a birthday party for his friend John Michael at a store that sells nothing but Legos ...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cooper's Fun Run

Cooper's school held a fundraiser during which the students ran laps to raise money. Cooper did all 35 in an hour!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Scattered!

(My Sunday School lesson for Oct. 11, 2015 ... )

FIRST THOUGHTS

Burger King's slogan for years has been "Have it your way."

Companies make a lot of money out of telling us that we deserve what we want and when we want it.

There is certainly something about our sinful nature that delights in self-centered pursuits, in doing things the way we want to do them.

Life ultimately is about the choices we make and whether we give any consideration to God and His purposes.

It didn't take long for humanity to forget all about the flood and God's judgment to wipe every living thing off the face of the planet. People went right back to disobeying God and going after their own selfifsh ambitions.

The builders of the Tower of Babylon were certainly neither the first nor the last to insist on doing things their own way.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Genesis 10:1–11:9

*** This is a very simple and straightforward explanation of how nations developed all over the world and how languages developed; God did it in one single act.

*** Even though Noah and his family were righteous enough to be saved from the flood, it didn't take long for mankind's sinful nature to show itself again.

*** Prior to the Tower of Babel, humanity was still unified by a common language and culture.

*** Following the events of chapter 11, humanity was scattered and divided into the various groups seen around the world today.

--- Genesis 10 is often called “The Table of Nations.” From Noah’s sons, Japheth (vv. 2-5), Ham (vv. 6-20), and Shem (vv. 21-31) came the various people groups that populated the earth. Some of the names of the people groups are easily recognizable, like the Egyptians (v. 6), Philistines (v. 14), and Canaanites (vv. 15-19).

UNITED BY A SINFUL PURPOSE (Gen. 11:1-4)

1 At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary. 2 As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let us make oven-fired bricks.” They used brick for stone and asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

*** It’s gonna be huuuge!

--- The builders were trying to make a name for themselves, a monument to their greatness, a Trump tower for the ages, so to speak.

--- Check out the words used by the builders of the tower: "Us" is used three times. "We" is used once.

--- QUESTION - What do these words suggest about the attitude of the people who settled in Shinar?

*** Out of one, many.

--- Genesis 11 says that humanity was still unified by a common language (v. 1). (This isn't surprising, since they were all from the family of Noah.)

--- After Noah's ark settled on Mount Ararat in Turkey, the family migrated east into Mesopotamia, or present-day Iraq, where Shinar was located. (Shinar is a synonym of Babylon.)

--- Interestingly, in Genesis, going east is consistently associated with moving away from God. When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, the cherubim stood on the east side to prevent their return (3:24). When Cain left the presence of the Lord, he journeyed east (4:16). When Lot moved toward Sodom, he went east (13:11-12). Abraham’s sons by Keturah were sent east to separate them from Isaac, the child of promise (25:6). Jacob fled his homeland and “went to the eastern country” (29:1).

*** The tower into the sky.

--- This was going to be a tower that reached into the heavens so the people would have easy access to God (or "gods.")

--- Religious towers were called ziggurats, and many have been found in the region. Ziggurats are like pyramids, except the sides have layers like steps.

*** Pride comes before the fall.

--- Proverbs 16:18 - ”Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

--- One of the goals of the builders was to "make a name for ourselves."

--- When we're arrogant enough to think we can solve our own problems, God becomes irrelevant.

--- Another of their goals that disobeyed God was to avoid being scattered, which went against god's command to Noah's family to "fill the earth" in Genesis 9:1. (God wanted them all over, but these guys wanted to collect in one place.)

*** Question - What structures today impress people? How can the impressiveness of these structures make people think that the greatness of man lies within himself?

REVIEWED BY GOD (Gen. 11:5)

5 Then the LORD came down to look over the city and the tower that the men were building.

*** God had to come see this for Himself.

--- God is all-knowing, of course, so He did not need to come down to see what was happening.

--- By saying "the Lord came down" the Scriptures are mocking the men who dared believe they could build a tower so tall to reach God. No matter how high they built it they wouldn't get close.

--- God came down to hold the people accountable for their prideful project that was built without His approval and without regard for Him.

--- World leaders make their plans to rule the world. But God has demonstrated multiple times that He is in control of history. History will go the direction He determines.

(Think of the conquerers who thought they had it all, only to see their kingdoms fall away - Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler.)

*** A pattern of destructive behavior.

--- The tower of Babel is the first among many occasions in Scripture that illustrate the truth that pride often goes before destruction.

*** Question – What are some other examples of people putting themselves before God?

SCATTERED BY CONFUSION (Gen. 11:6-9)

6 The LORD said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So from there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babylon, for there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

*** A pattern of insubordination.

--- If you’ll try this now, what won’t you try to get away with?

--- God knew that if the people were allowed to stay on this course, it would lead them further away from Him.

--- This was a pattern throughout the time of Israel in the Old Testament of moving away from God, then being corrected.

--- Unfortunately, Israel descended into the kind of national pride that omitted obedience to God. The result was that Israel, too, was scattered throughout the world.

*** "Let Us go down there."

--- Verse 7 is again mocking the builders for saying, "Let us build" a giant tower to the heavens.

--- It's also an indication of the Holy Trinity. "Us" means more than one.

*** Confusion separates the people.

--- God had originally intended for us to “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28, 9:1), so when they left Him out of their plans, He changed it for them. God’s way prevailed.

--- God didn’t just scatter everyone, he changed their language so they couldn’t understand one another.

(Think of a time you were in a foreign country, or in a situation in which you couldn’t understand the language being spoken.)

*** Bringing it back full circle.

--- Centuries later, God reversed the confusion of languages on the Day of Pentecost.

--- Acts 2:8-11 - 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontusand Asia,[a] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

That event demonstrated that when the Spirit fills a believer, He nullifies the effects of the life of the flesh and makes possible new life in the Spirit.

--- Ultimate power corrupts ultimately, and God's not going to allow it, at least not for millennia, not until the end of human history, when there will be one-world government, one people, one ruler, the Antichrist, empowered by Satan, who will be destroyed by the returning Christ.

*** QUESTION - God is able to ultimately bring good things out of seemingly difficult situations. How have you seen God use the gospel to bring unity among people?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

Two workmen were asked what they were building together. One said he was building a garage. The other replied that he was building a cathedral. A day later there was only one man laying bricks. When asked where the second was, the first replied, “Oh, he got fired. He insisted on building a cathedral instead of a garage.” (Our Daily Bread)

The people in Babel were unified, devised a plan to build a city, worked together to meet their goal, and produced significant accomplishments. That’s good. Sounds like Nehemiah getting Israel to rebuild Jerusalem. Yet the folks in Shinar omitted God. That’s bad. Therefore, their efforts were futile, and God judged them.

Think about this: Shinar, where the events in these verses takes place, is right about where the Garden of Eden had been. So mankind was once again shamed and thrown out of the most beautiful area on the planet.

--- We can expect the Lord to respond to pride with judgment. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6). The Lord said, “I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:2).

*** The point of the Scripture isn’t that God doesn’t want people to work together. It’s that He wants us to work together to honor Christ and not ourselves.

*** Our faith does not rise out of our own dreams and solutions. The foundation of faith is in God alone and what He can do in and through us.

*** We must ask: Am I trying to make a name for myself? Am I focused on my project? My plan? My agenda? Or am I humbling myself before God to get in on His plan?

(Resources: Lifeway Explore the Bible Adult Leader Commentary)

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

God Saves

FIRST THOUGHTS

Two weekends ago we had our kids' birthday party. We spent a week cleaning and organizing, trying to make it as free from chaos as possible. Five minutes after the last guests left, we closed the door to the backyard and left it, and have barely had the energy to clean up inside the house, either. We have let our house be a mess. Nothing destroys a house like having kids. It takes seconds for everything to be tossed on the floor, on the wall, on everyone's clothes.

It's like the Book of Genesis. Humanity's downfall meant that things escalated quickly from bad to worse. After being kicked out of paradise, mankind looked more like the fights in "Anchorman," folks throwing tridents, dragging people in nets behind horses, anything goes. There may have never been a time when humanity was farther from God.

When people get caught up in sin they lose sight of two things. First, no one is exempt from the consequences of sin. Second, sin must be judged. Because God is holy, He cannot look the other way when it comes to sin.

Today we're gong to take one of the most familiar Bible stories of all time and dive deep into it.

Whether you belive the story is literal or just a morality tale, there are important details to take away from it.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Genesis 5:1–7:24

*** Two weeks ago in Genesis chapter 3 we studied humanity's fall from grace.

*** Noah lived in what may have been the most corrupt period in human history. By the time Noah was born, the earth was filled with wickedness. God decided that He would flood the earth and start over with a clean slate. God would save a remnant—Noah and his family—to repopulate the earth and begin anew.

--- As a result of humanity’s sinfulness, God was sorry He had made man. The word translated “regretted” appears in verses 6 and 7. It can refer to a change of mind or to the emotions that caused that change. God’s emotion is emphasized with the statement, “He was grieved in His heart” (6:6).

(Seriously, we messed up. Big time.)

*** Noah was different from the rest of humanity. He “found favor in the sight of the Lord” (6:8), and he was “righteous … blameless … [and] walked with God” (6:9).

WICKEDNESS OBSERVED (Gen. 6:11-13)

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth. 13 Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.

*** Mo' people, mo' problems.

--- After Adam and Eve, mankind had gone from bad to worse. As we said last week, once you start on the path of avoiding God then you are on a bullet train to Sinville.

--- First, Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating forbidden fruit. Then, Cain had killed his brother (Gen. 4:8). Lamech then killed a young man and boasted that he would be avenged if anyone tried to retaliate (4:23-24).

--- Humanity - and "every creature" - had turned its back on God so much that God was ready to start over.

*** God hits the RESET button.

--- We see in verses 11 and 12 the word "corrupt" is used three times. God made it abundantly clear that what He was about to do through the flood was just. God’s decision to destroy the earth was not impulsive or arbitrary.

(He would have to go against His own Holiness not to respond in judgment.)

*** Noah stands alone.

--- In all of this wickedness Noah still managed to be the one light on the hill.

--- Noah's example proves that righteousness is possible in the middle of evil.

--- Contact with the world's sin is unavoidable, but imitating the depravity of the world is avoidable.

--- When we do that, just as Noah, we will be found in "favor in the sight of the Lord” (6:8).

*** A fruitless witness?

--- 2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah “a preacher of righteousness.” 1 Peter 3:20 implies that the people knew of the coming judgment, since “God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared.”

--- Evidently, while Noah was building the ark—a significant period of time—he called on people to turn to God, and God waited on their repentance. Since only Noah and his family went on the ark, it seems clear that Noah’s preaching did not result in conversions.

--- So, for 120 years the people who lived around Noah laughed at that Goody Two-Shoes and rejected his witness.

*** Question - Would God have been diminished if He hadn't acted against the corruption in the world?

(Sin must result in judgment, but God wants to save people from the coming judgment, so He offers opportunities to turn from sin and to Him. God informed Abraham of His plan before he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (18:17-21). He sent Jonah to warn the city before He judged Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2).)

PROMISE UNFOLDED (Gen. 6:14-18)

14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and outside. 15 This is how you are to make it: The ark will be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 16 You are to make a roof, finishing the sides of the ark to within 18 inches of the roof. You are to put a door in the side of the ark. Make it with lower, middle, and upper decks. 17 Understand that I am bringing a flood—floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.”

*** Years of preparation.

--- God told Noah what to do, and Noah obeyed.

--- The Lord uniquely specified the design for the building of the ark, just as He did the ark of the covenant, the Exodus tabernacle, and Solomon’s temple. (When God is planning something important for his covenant, He provides detailed plans.)

*** Noah's ark.

--- Ark is similar to an Egyptian word meaning “box, chest, or coffin.” The ancient Greek translation rendered this Hebrew term “wooden box.” The same term is used to describe the basket that protected Moses as a baby in the river.

--- God told Noah to make his ark of gopher wood. This kind of tree is mentioned only here in the Old Testament, so we're not sure what kind it is. It was probably a kind of cypress, pine, or cedar.

--- The dimensions of the ark indicate it was 450 feet long (1 1/2 football fields), 75 feet wide and 45 feet high, similar in size to a modern day battleship.

--- It had three decks, an 18-inch window all the way around and was flat, so it looked more like a giant barge. As far as we know it had no rudder except God.

--- Some have questioned whether Noah could have fit all the animals on the earth into one boat. A vessel this size would have been more than adequate. The space in the ark was 1.4 million cubic feet. Scientists estimate the total number of animal species at over a million. However, the great majority of species would have survived in the water (e.g. fish, arthropods, mollusks, etc.). The species that would have needed the ark for survival number about 35,000. These would fill the space of approximately half of the ark’s carrying capacity, leaving room for Noah’s family, food, and roaming space.

*** None shall pass.

--- God’s purpose for the flood was "to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it." God emphasized to Noah, "Everything on earth will die."

--- Clearly, there is a misunderstanding of God by the many who struggle with how a God who loves people could also destroy people.

--- He created and owns the universe. His prerogative as God is to do what He wishes with what He created and owns. He says, “I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” (Rom. 9:15).

*** A new covenant.

--- Once the earth was cleansed of our foul stench, God confirmed the covenant with Noah to preserve creation (6:18).

--- This is the first covenant in the Bible. This covenant was not an agreement between two equal parties but between a greater and a lesser party.

--- He fulfilled the covenant—He rescued Noah and his family from the flood, and He has never again destroyed the earth by flood (Gen. 9:11). The recipient of the covenant contributed only obedience to God, and the flood story affirms that Noah obeyed God (6:22; 7:5,16).

--- Noah’s salvation from the waters of the Flood is an example of God’s covenant grace and mercy. Through the centuries, millions of people who have put their faith in God have testified that when they trusted God, He kept His promise to be with them, to bless them, and to save them forever.

*** Question - How do people today presume upon God’s patience? In what ways would our community be different if everyone took seriously God’s holiness?

ACTION TAKEN (Gen. 7:11-14)

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the sources of the watery depths burst open, the floodgates of the sky were opened, 12 and the rain fell on the earth 40 days and 40 nights. 13 On that same day Noah along with his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Noah’s wife, and his three sons’ wives entered the ark with him. 14 They entered it with all the wildlife according to their kinds, all livestock according to their kinds, the creatures that crawl on the earth according to their kinds, all birds, every fowl, and everything with wings according to their kinds.

*** And the rain rain rain came down down down …

--- Rain wasn’t the only source of water. Verse 11 says the depths “burst open.” So something underground? An ice dam breaking?

--- So much water covered the land that even the mountains were covered by at least 20 feet and it took a year for all the water to recede.

*** Against the grain.

--- God called Noah to build a huge boat with no body of water in sight.

--- God called Noah to preach to a generation that was “nothing but evil all the time” (6:5).

--- God commanded Noah to herd male and female animals of every species into the ship.

--- Imagine the challenges of going against the grain of a wicked culture, or preaching to people who responded negatively. The Bible doesn’t mention it, but we can imagine the fatigue, isolation and rejection, and yet Noah obeyed.

*** Not just 2 X 2.

--- God told Noah to take “seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female” (7:2).

--- Why the extras? Noah needed extra animals to sacrifice after exiting the ark (8:20), or else they would have to wipe out a species!

(Hmm, is that what happened to unicorns and mammoths?)

--- The day the first rains fell, Noah and his family entered the ark with the animals. They didn’t wait a week to see how it would play out. And God shut the door (7:16), which means He shut out the rest of humanity.

*** 40 Days and 40 Nights.

--- Rain fell 40 days and 40 nights. (Though "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" says 42 is the answer to everything.) Forty is an important number in the Old Testament. Both Isaac and Esau were 40 years old when they married (Gen. 25:20; 26:34). Moses was with the Lord on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights (Ex. 24:18; 34:28). The Israelite spies were in the Promised Land 40 days (Num. 13:25). When Israel disobeyed and did not enter the Promised Land, the Lord sent them to the wilderness for 40 years (Num. 14:33-34). This repetition introduces the possibility that 40 is a symbolic number, but there is no compelling reason not to conclude that it is either a literal or a rounded number.

*** Question - Noah’s experience in building the ark, waiting for the rains, and entering the ark was a test of faith. What kinds of tests of faith do Christians face today? How do these tests compare to Noah’s test?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

How many of you have decorated your kids’ rooms with a Noah’s Ark theme, or have Noah’s Ark toys? Or did you as a kid?

Researchers are always searching around Mount Ararat, on the border of Turkey and Iran, for evidence of Noah’s Ark.

A new, $3 million documentary called Finding Noah , narrated by actor Gary Sinise, is headed for 640 screens on Oct. 8 for one night only. Right now filmmakers are being hush-hush on what they found, but does it matter?

What is it about this story that is so captivating for both believers and unbelievers? Do you think the success or failure of any expedition to find the Ark would make a difference to someone’s faith? Would it make a difference to yours?

Many people take the story of Noah as myth or fantasy. Ultimately Noah’s story is about God’s judgment and God’s grace.

*** The worldwide flood of Noah’s generation was God’s judgment against wickedness and the wicked.

*** When we live independently of God and rebel against His will, we are on a collision course with pain and God’s judgment

*** However, God rescues from judgment those who are faithful to Him.

*** Just as God made a covenant with Noah, we have one with Jesus. (Luke 22:20: "In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.’")