"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 17, 2014
Several months ago, Devin had got into trouble at school, which was rare for him. That evening, he fell down some steps at church. Janie asked him what was going on after they got home from church and he told her that he didn't know what was wrong with him; that he had had a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day"!
We have all had days like that! We feel like nothing is going right and we wish we could just crawl back in bed and start our day over again.
There may be some who feel like most of their life has gone that way; they've had a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad life". They see others whose life seems to be blessed and perfect and everything goes as planned. But the truth is, we all have things in our lives that have been terrible, horrible, no good, and/or very bad. Sometimes it may seem as if everyone knows about our personal business and everything bad that has happened. But other times, others may not be aware of what's going on personally in an individual's life.
I truly believe that many times, the outcome of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad circumstances is determined by the choices that person makes. They can turn to bad habits and allow it to make them bitter and negative, which generally leads to more poor choices. Or they can decide that it is going to make them a better, stronger individual who is going to rise above their circumstances.
Sometimes those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that occur may be due to the choices of others. We have no control over their actions, but are affected by their decisions. We didn't do anything to deserve it, yet we find ourselves in the middle of an adverse situation. We are hurt and angry and feel like we've been deceived or taken advantage of...... But we still have to choose our reaction.
Many times it's easy to justify bad behavior and choices by saying, "You don't know what I've gone through." Or "If you'd been through the things I have, your life wouldn't be so blessed either." Perhaps those who feel this way think that they have a right to wallow in self-pity, or indulge in bad habits that often lead to self-destruction, or go through life with a chip on their shoulder. They may feel that their choices don't affect anyone other than themselves, and they have a right to live their life as they choose; but the truth is our choices and behavior do affect others, whether we want them to or not. And honestly, I very likely don't know how they feel or what they're going through because I've not gone through similar circumstances; but on the other hand, I've likely gone through things that they have never dealt with.
I've heard others say, "It's just too hard to live for God." They feel like it's too hard to stay involved in a church, pray, read their Bible, surround themselves with godly influence, resist temptations, etc. But it's all about perspective. Let's look at the life of Noah.
I have recently been reading about Noah. If anyone had a right to make negative choices, be influenced by negative circumstances, and wallow in self-pity, it would have been Noah. We sometimes have a hard time being a christian in our society today, but none of us have ever had to endure what this man did.
In Genesis 6:3,5-7 (NIV) , "The Lord said, 'My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be one hundred and twenty years.'...... The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that He had made human beings on the earth, and His heart was greatly troubled. So the Lord said, 'I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created -- and with them the animals, the birds, and the creatures that move along the ground -- for I regret that I have made them."
The sin and wickedness on earth was so horrible, that God regretted creating human flesh. We think our world today is difficult to live in with mankind doing whatever pleases them with seemingly no conscience. Men and women were doing whatever their heart desired with no regard to pleasing God; much like many do today. They weren't living as God had intended when He created them. God created mankind so that He could have communion and fellowship with them, yet they had total disregard for Him.
Yet even though God regretted creating mankind, He chose to give them an opportunity to change their ways and repent. He chose to give them one hundred and twenty years to turn from their wickedness and repent before destroying the earth.
In the midst of all the wickedness and evil on earth, God found one man who was righteous. Genesis 6:8 says that Noah found grace or favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Genesis 6:9-22 tells the story of Noah, leading up to the flood.
"This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteousness man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. So God said to Noah, 'I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth! Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat -- lower, middle, and upper. Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat -- you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring a pair of every kind of animal -- a male and a female -- into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.' So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him."
This thought puts everything more in perspective: At that time, there were only eight righteousness people found on the face of the earth; Noah, his wife, his three sons, and each of their wives. That's it! Eight people who loved and worshipped God!
I don't know the population on the earth at that time, but a couple years ago, Jon and I worked on a genealogy program from Adam to Noah. We started time at the year zero starting with Adam, calculated ages and when sons were born and deaths, and came up with it being the year 1656 when the flood occurred. So I'm assuming that with there being births and families for 1656 years, there was very likely several thousand people populating the earth at that time. It's not like they were eight people out of a handful of people on earth.
Can you imagine your family being the only righteous people found on the face of earth right now? Yes, I know that the population is much larger now than it was then, so let me narrow it down: can you imagine being the only righteous person or one of eight righteousness in your entire city or community? No churches, no prayer groups, no Bible study groups, no Facebook where you can ask for prayer among your friends, no type of spiritual support whatsoever except for seven other family members. You are constantly surrounded by every type of wickedness, evil, sin, temptation known to mankind.
We sometimes think we have it rough today standing strong as a christian, but most cities and towns have numerous churches within driving distance and we can pick and choose which one we would want to attend. If we chose to utilize it, every single one of us could have a spiritual support of family and/or friends or a church to reach out to whenever needed. I daresay that we all have at least one Bible, and most of us probably have a few, in our homes that we can read freely whenever we choose. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any of us to feel like we have to go through life alone or struggle needlessly, when we have family members or friends or acquaintances or a pastor who would willingly pray with and for us and counsel us and help us walk through difficult circumstances. We are not one of eight righteous people on earth or in our community, but we have the privilege and honor or being surrounded by many who truly love God and would welcome us with open arms and give us support and love.
So whenever you feel that you're having a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day; or a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad year; or a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad life, remember Noah. Even though I'm sure he and his family were tempted to sin and do wrong, were surrounded by evil, and were mocked for building a boat when it hadn't rained in years and no one believed in what he was doing, they chose to be faithful to their commitment to God.
2 Peter 2:5 (NLT) says, "And God did not spare the ancient world -- except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God's righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when He destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood."
Some say that it took Noah 120 years to build the ark (using Genesis 6:3), some say it took anywhere from 50 to 100 years..... I do know that there was 120 years between the time that God said that His Spirit wouldn't always contend with humans and the time of the flood. I'm sure it had to have taken Noah and his sons many, many years to build the ark; then they had to gather the various animals, stock enough food for all the animals and his family. During those years, Noah preached to mankind, warning them of God's impending judgement. Yet no one would listen and no one repented. That would be heartbreaking to preach for 100-120 years and have no converts. And it wasn't like he was a young man. Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood!
God wants to take our horrible, terrible, no good, very bad days and life and make something beautiful out of it. It's never too late and we're never too old! Noah was probably somewhere around 500 years old (more or less) when he started building the ark. So it doesn't matter if you're in your 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's.... or feel like you're 500..... God can use you and has a purpose for you. Get your focus off what's wrong in your life or what's wrong in your family or what's wrong in your community or what's wrong in your church or what's wrong in your job...... and get your focus on God. Tap into the resources of family, friends, and a church that God has blessed you with. Don't be too proud to ask for prayer or for help. You too can find favor in the eyes of God!!
One of the most surprising things to me about Noah is how strong his faith was. There is no mention that God spoke to Noah in all the time between telling him to make the ark and when He told Noah to get in the ark with his family and all the animals. And yet, Noah kept working on it.
It was about as tall as a 4-story building. Including the 3 stories, it would be about 100,000 square feet. I've been involved in a new 80,000 square foot building over the last two years, and it took a big crew, ranging about 20-50 people, almost two years to construct. They had modern tools, bought all their steel, sheet-rock, and siding pre-made, and were paid to do the work. Noah and his family still had to farm, shepherd, or whatever they did to support themselves. They had to get their own lumber, probably make their own nails, pegs, or whatever they used for fasteners, probably had to go collect barrels of tar, gather enough food for everyone, and so on... They might have been wealthy enough to hire some of it done, but it would still take a huge fortune for that time.
I expect if I were in the same situation, I would need to hear from God at least every few weeks, or I would start to doubt it. It might be hard to remember that I wasn't just dreaming, or imagining God spoke to me, or hallucinating, or suspect it was some kind of prank.
I have to admire Noah for holding onto that kind of faith. Loretta and I have experienced God's protection, blessings, and prosperity given to us. And yet we still have trouble expecting Him to give us more. It feels like we have very little faith sometimes, even if we haven't gone 120 years since we heard from God.
2 cans Rotel
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 whole jalapeno, quartered and sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 whole lime, juiced
Combine the diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic, jalapeno (remove seeds and membrane to make it less spicy -- or leave it in if you want it spicy), cumin, salt, sugar, and lime juice in a blender or food processor. (This is a very large batch, so use a 12-cup blender/food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a very large bowl.) Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like; check after 10-15 pulses. Test seasoning with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
My niece has enrolled her two daughters in ballet and tap lessons. She felt like her 5-year old son needed an activity too, so enrolled him in karate. His grandma asked him if he had started karate lessons yet. He was so serious as he answered her, "No I haven't done karate, but I did watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie and that was really cool!"
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. (Hebrews 11:7)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon