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Friday, April 13, 2012

Finishing the Boat

I just read the story of Noah and the ark he built. I guess I had a Hollywood depiction of what happened in my mind. I imagined that Noah was frantically building the ark because he knew on a certain day there would be a flood. That isn't the story in Genesis.

Noah builds a huge boat, the largest ever built for a long time. A hundred years lapsed between the time Noah is commanded to build the boat and the flood comes. A hundred years doesn't reflect desperation. It shows determination. Noah had to build the boat as it had been prescribed. He had to procure the wood and work on the design. No doubt, he needed his sons help to build this monstrous boat.

The ark was finished and an indetermined time lapsed. Of course, I don't know whether he finished the boat on one day and was ordered to enter it the There was a week between this order and the coming of the flood. The animals were gathered and filled the boat.

Water came from the sky and from below. It didn't take long to flood everything. Noah, his family and the animals were safe. They were safe because of their obedience. Noah had not convinced one other person of God's coming judgement. Everyone must have thought he was a fool.

Now, here is my thought: Are the things I am doing today in obedience to the Lord going to result in seeing God's protection, proclamation and glory in the future in a way that I cannot immediately determine?

Not every thing I will give immediate positive results. My job is to do what I have been told. God will use what I have done to protect me, build a testimony for Himself and show His glory.

Sometimes the Lord's work is extremely tedious. Hard work often seems to produce no results. Shouldn't obedience to God's commands always produce immediate positive results? Of course not. Noah had a hundred years of working very hard before he really saw what he was working for.

One day, Noah looked up and must have said to himself, "The ark is finished." He knew he had done what he was called to do. He was not responsible for causing the flood nor those who would be drowned. God called on Noah because He knew Noah would becompletely obedient. How many people start out for God and quit before their boat is finished? God calls all of us to finish our own boats.

I suppose I need to look at what I do in obedience to the Lord each day in this way. I am not doing what only God can do. I am merely called to finish the boat.

2 Timothy 4:5-8 (NIV) 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.


high-expressions said...

How the messages mesh together? If you read this entry of Ps Prentis, perhaps, you should read also, the comment I have just put up for the preceding entry of Ps Prentis (Ps Prentis, I hope you will allow that comment of mine through).

It is indeed, “I am merely called to finish the boat”. Jesus finished His boat too. We are to emulate Jesus. Jesus’ own words were also like that, “I have come to finish what my Father wants done.” Perhaps, Jesus’ building started much further back, and the earthly phase was short, but it was nevertheless a very difficult phase – to live as a man, completely sinless, to suffer at the hands of men, and to die a most cruel death, crucifixion. Jesus was building, and built a boat or a ship that would take us to Heaven. In terms of jigsaw puzzles, as a metaphor, we can view the many phases of our lives as jigsaw puzzles within jigsaw puzzles, and they, in the entirety, paints out who God is, and His dealing with Man.

Noah did NOT try building an aeroplane instead. Jesus did NOT try to be the man-king of Israel or the Roman Empire. We are to be what God wants us to be; we are to do what God wants us to do; we do NOT need to go create who we are or invent what we are to do. Now, this is NOT to say, in the ways of God, there is no creation or invention for us, far from it; God gifts men, and topping the list of Noble Price winners, are the Jews, the very original people of God. When we say, you are NOT to create or invent, we mean you are NOT to go do the things God does NOT intend for you to be engaged in. But how do I know, what is what? I mean, what am I supposed to do? One may say, “Ps Prentis, good for you, you know you are to build that boat of yours, but I don’t know what I am to build!”

There is no magical answer. Of course, the basic things of life, like we got to have a livelihood; we got to get some money regularly, to feed ourselves, to put a shelter over our heads, and our family’s, etc., Scripture plainly said it in Matt 6, that God knows, but He also said that we must put number one priority to seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness. So, to begin, the biggest circle in which we can operate in, is that bound by His Kingdom ways and His righteousness. If a thing is outside of that, you and I, just don’t do it.

If you hear directly and clearly from God, that is fine, you just do as you are told, i.e. obey., and obedience to God, does NOT mean you need to have understanding of why you are to do such and such, it is only you are just to do, or NOT to do, as the case maybe. Noah did NOT demand to know, for example, how come God wanted a boat instead of him building his home on stilts high enough to stay above the water. Does it NOT make sense, to build a house on stilts; a boat would be “driven” to “don’t know where” by the flood waters. Does it NOT make sense to desire that; men do NOT like uncertainty, isn’t NOT; nobody likes “Don’t know where?” But Noah just did as He was told. Jesus did NOT tell God the Father, “Surely there can be another way, instead of me dying on the Cross!” No, difficult to comply, but He nevertheless complied and went to the Cross.

I am NOT trying to teach pragmatism, but it is the thing to do, to start with a big circle and then narrow it down, as we go along; to come closer, and closer to our calling in Christ Jesus. It sure beats, saying, “Since I do NOT know what exactly you (God) want me to do, I just do nothing”. Can we narrow the circle further? Yes, certain general will of God for men are prescribed by the Word, and so, one of the place to start is to do those things referred to, in the Word, like: works related to the Great Commission; and loving people in the name of Jesus. Many people are philanthropic, but they give for various other reasons than to be giving “unto the Lord”. In the name of Jesus, does mean, it is to lift the name of the Lord, it is to glorify the Lord, and it is that people may come, with thanksgiving praise unto God.

Cont. on next page...

high-expressions said...

Cont. from preceding page

Walk in the general will of God, and then God will come alongside you, and as time goes by, when He has observed you, He may say, “Why don’t you follow me to do ...” Don’t be a stone; the Thinker freezes there so long, that he turned into stone! We are merely to piece together a jigsaw puzzle; so get going; we are NOT asked to create the jigsaw puzzle; just put our hand to it, or put the hand to the plough, so to speak. Forget about those people who suggest, you “abracadabra”, and the pieces will fall into place themselves; that kind of thing is God’s part, our part is to put the hand to the plough. Angels have power in the name of the LORD, they still went and go to work. We, we have powers in the name of the Lord; still we are to go to work.

Is NOT my working and earning money to look after my family, doing things within the will of God? What is wrong with holding that as my boat; the boat I am to build and to finish? The point is, ultimately everything boils down to who or what you want most! The answer has to be God. If your answer is NOT God, you have much distance/mileage to go, to get to the point that the answer is God. If you have to choose between God and your spouse, who would you choose? If you have to choose between your son and God, who would you choose? Who says these are irrelevant posers? God is a jealous God. Did God NOT test Abraham? Did NOT God test Abraham to see if he would give up his son, Isaac; have him killed as a sacrifice? Did God NOT allow Satan to take away everything Job had, except his life? Even Job’s children died at the tests of Satan. All of that, was to see if Job would curse God and die! Do you replace Matt Redman’ s song of “Blessed be your name”’s bridge lyrics to something else, other than “You give and take away, You give and take away, Still my heart will choose to say, “Blessed be your name”, to something like “You bless every time and everyday! There is nothing wrong with loving your family, but your love for God must precede and supersede ALL. Because of your love for your family, you would work “your tail off”, so to speak, but you would NOT spare a little time and a little effort to do something for the Lord whom you claim you love? Maybe just complete a mini-jigsaw puzzle within a large jigsaw puzzle? Or in the lingo of Ps Prentis, build a small boat for Jesus, NOT one that consumes your entire working life, but one that takes some of your time and attention which you can devote to your family or to any other thing. Building boats or fitting together of jigsaw puzzles are similar in one respect, and it is that we start doing the smaller ones, and the simpler ones, and then we graduate to bigger ones and more complicated ones. But if you do NOT even want to attempt the small and simpler ones, what is that showing of your love for your God. Don’t you do something for the one you love? How about God? Don’t you love Him, or you only love Him in your empty words?

Some boats and jigsaw puzzles are easier and take short time and concentration, others, longer and require longsuffering. Noah’s case, we can be quite sure that it is closer to 100 years to build than “one day to build, and the rest of many years in waiting”. It was a mammoth task, for it was a gigantic boat; it sure would require much time and perseverance, as in any significant assignments from the Lord. It is also possible that, at times, significant assignments from the Lord may NOT entail long time of working at the matter, but would demand great sacrifice. Jesus’ early walk is one example. Many martyrs whom we remember, we remember because of their past accomplishments before they were martyred. But there are more martyrs than that, in God’s records, and it includes the many who died or sacrificed without even directly converting anyone to Christ Jesus, in the so-called martyrdom. But they were nevertheless of right heart attitude of love for the Lord to go where He had wanted them to be.

COnt. on next page...

high-expressions said...

COnt. from preceding page

If people cannot imagine how it can be possible that people could die despite them doing the will of God, Scripture had the recording of God killing prophet Ezekiel’s wife just for the purpose of creating the opportunity for Ezekiel to tell the Israelites of God’s judgment against their city. There was no mention any fault whatsoever of Ezekiel’s wife or Ezekiel. Apparently, there are ways of God which we find it difficult to accept, and yet we are to accept on the ground that God cannot be evil. Death got to be viewed in God’s way. Even when death comes to us, or to our loved ones, God is still NOT bad; He is good, and good all the time.

On death we transit to where He is. Is that a bad thing? I know we do think about those we leave behind. We have to trust that God will take of that, too, according to His ways. Until then, that we depart, we are to do what we have NOT finished doing. Jesus said, “It is finished”, and He left. The Apostle Paul said in the 2 Tim 4:5-8, the passage that Ps Prentis quoted, he has run his race, ready to go to be with the Lord. Paul exhorted no quitting for his protégé, Timothy. Paul exhorted us to run to win, don’t quit, if we quit we drop out of the race. How would you and I like to go? Will you and I, be like Jesus, Paul and similar people, when the time is near, we can say the same, we have run our race, finished our work, and we await to come into the presence of the Lord, and hear the Lord say to us, “Good and faithful servant”. As for me, I am preparing the hand-gift to bring to my Lord. For me, it is very simple, it is NOT that my Lord lacks anything or cannot have anything, yet I should NOT go to Him empty-handed. I want to bring a fruit-basket, and I am asking the Lord to help me fill it with what He would like. I am a Chinese, and was brought up to know it is NOT honoring and loving to go empty-handed. Nothing “big and expensive”, just like to “do up” the fruit-basket before I go.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions