Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks: When no one understands your goal.
Have you ever had a dream or a vision that no one else seemed to understand? In this message, we take a look at the life of Noah who — despite doubt from those around him — followed God’s plan to save the human race. This lesson focuses on the heart of Noah, rather than the miracle of the storm. You’ll learn the three choices to make in order to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
Something To Talk About:
- I must be different from my culture: One of the greatest challenges that American Christians are currently facing concerns the question of how should they interact with present-day American culture. The Bible calls us to engage, redeem, and restore culture. The Bible does not tell us to hunker down and hide because culture may influence us. We want our faith to positively influence our communities, but how do we keep from getting sucked in by the gravitational lure of culture away from God? Noah faced the same conundrum. In the New Testament, we read how Noah responded to the evil of his day: “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah is not worried about fitting in. He’s not worried about getting the approval of other people. Nor does he care about the latest trend. Noah ignored the culture around and the distractions that culture produced. He did not let culture keep him from fulfilling the purpose that God called him to do.
- I must dismiss the voices of doubt, in favor of the voice of God: The life of every great man and woman in the Bible was marked by the ability to hear and recognize the voice of God. As clearly as He spoke to these men and women, He has promised to speak to us as well. God has not stopped talking and revealing Himself to His people. Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” The Bible is the primary instrument through which God will speak to you. The antidote to the voices of doubt is to instead listen to the voice of God. Just imagine all the critics that were in Noah’s life. “That guy Noah thinks God speaks to him, but he’s just a crazy man building a big boat.” The Bible tells us that Noah listened to God. And what did he hear? He heard God’s warning that the world was going to be destroyed. He believed what he had not yet seen. That’s what faith is—being certain of something we don’t see. Noah didn’t turn away from the vision God had given him. Instead, he built the ark.
- I must never lay down the dreams God has given me: The evidence of Noah’s faith is seen in his trusting God, believing in His Word, and acting in obedience to God’s command to build the Ark. This was a gigantic task. This ark was to be enormous —some 437 feet long, 73 feet wide, and 44 feet tall. Did Noah back off from this assignment, complain about its challenges, or alter the details to make it easier on himself? The Bible answers: “So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis. 6:22) Some people estimate the work took many decades. Yet, Noah and his family never quit. Even though they lived in a world that was geared toward making their primary pursuit in life seem trivial, misguided, or foolish, they still kept at it faithfully. Christians can learn a great deal from the faith of Noah and his family. If the world reacts to the message about God’s Kingdom with apathy, ridicule, or even persecution, Christians do well to remember Noah and fulfill the tasks and dreams God gives us.
- We learn from Genesis 6 that God spared Noah because he walked in close fellowship with God. (Genesis 6:9) What does that mean to you?
- Can you imagine Noah’s patience as he worked for so many decades, to build the ark while other people probably mocked him?
- As a Christian, should we expect or anticipate a cultural collision because of our Christian beliefs? Why or why not?
- Is it more likely that culture or people in your life influence you more? Where does entertainment, work, money, faith, and approval of others fit in?
- On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being under culture, and 10 being under God, what do you think is a reasonable number to be at? Why?
- “You don’t obey who you don’t trust.” Is our disobedience to God an expression of our distrust of God?
- What are ways you’ve allowed fear or criticism to keep you from doing what God asks you to do? What dream would you pursue if you were not afraid of criticism?
- How can you practice listening for God’s voice?
- Jesus is our ark. He is our salvation. He is the only one who can save us from the final judgment we deserve. How does this truth affect you? How should it affect you? How should we encourage one another with this reality?
- What are your expectations for this week as a result of Sunday’s message?
Take one thing home with you:
One of the most beautiful sights on earth is when the sun bursts through the clouds and a rainbow appears on the horizon. How startling the rainbow must have been to Noah, and how amazing the promise of God it represented. In the story of Noah and the flood, we see the devastating consequences of God’s wrath against evil. Three times God reiterated His promise to “never again” destroy the earth by such a flood. Not only did God reassure Noah by repeating His promise, He sealed it with a sign. In Genesis 9, God sealed His promise with a rainbow in the sky. God did not promise we will never experience storms, but He has promised He will be with us during them.