The First Step

The First Step

Step out on faith, and begin to trust God for the rest.

Those of you who have tried it, know that that’s harder than it sounds. However, once you do it and you see the end result, you realize it was all worth it, and many times it really wasn’t as hard as we thought it was going to be…It’s funny how God does that.

Our world is made up of atoms and electrons and all that good stuff. But our lives are made up of moments. Moments that will either tears us down or build us up. Moments that are planted in our memories forever, that when we think of them again make us smile. Moments that teach us…teach us to trust in God. Moments when we choose what we’re going to do.

Did you ever see the movie Evan Almighty? Evan is ultimately a modern-day Noah in the movie and lives in a high-class development that is just being built up. He’s a political figure who wants nothing to do with God because he’s got his own plans – plans to change the world. But God keeps talking to him and giving him signs like Gen 6:14 on his alarm clock and on his new license plate. Evan finally gets curious and looks it up in the bible and reads…. “Build a large boat from gopher wood.”

God provides an empty lot beside Evan’s house for space to build the boat, drops off the lumber and tells him to begin. Evan still says no. So God taunts him with animals, a beard that just won’t quit growing, and finally, Evan says OK. His neighbors and the housing committee were not too pleased with the eyesore. But in the end, a damn broke, caused a temporary flood, but everyone was saved because, crazy as it was, Evan followed God’s plan.

That’s not quite the same story of Noah, but in the same context, it’s just as crazy if not more.

God told Noah to build a boat, not just any boat. This enormous boat that two of every animal would board, and only he and his family would board.

Last week we read that God was broken-hearted because everything the people He made “thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he ever made them.”

So He decided to destroy every living thing and people. But he didn’t actually do that. Someone changed his mind. One big difference from our world to Noah’s world is that we have millions of faithful Christians acting as Salt and Light in various ways, whereas in that time, there was only one, one man, it’s doesn’t say his wife, his sons, their wives, just one man was trying to make a difference in an evil world.

He found favor with God, was blameless, righteous, and walked in relationship with God. And God wanted him to do something that was totally crazy and insane. Build a boat. Not just any boat, but a boat big enough to hold two of every living creature, him and his family. His family would have been was the least of the space. Do you even know how many living creatures there are? Big, small, the ones that scurry along the ground and the birds of the sky? Can you imagine how big this boat was going to have to be?!

Well, the good thing is you don’t have to guess. The guy in the video ran a lot of numbers by us, so let’s recap:

  • 75 ft deep, 450 ft long, 45 feet high (that’s at least 4 times the height of this room)
  • 1.5 football fields long
  • Capacity was equivalent to 522 railroad cars
  • 4 builders
  • 100 years

How do you think you’d start a project like that? One board at a time? But where did he get that? Lowes? Noah would have had to plan out the supplies and brainstorm where in the world to begin, and then every step to get to the end product.

And just how do you think his neighbors felt about that in his back yard? Probably a lot like the Evan Almighty movie.

Just in case you thought the guy in the video was making this up, let’s read Genesis 6:11-16.

Genesis 6:11-22
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,c for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.d Make rooms in the ark and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,e its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks

What a huge task! How in the world do you not get overwhelmed with a job like this…from God or not. I get overwhelmed with just what’s on my desk and that work sure isn’t going to take me even a year to get through.

There had to be a reason Noah said OK. Some motivation…

Genesis 6:17-21
17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come into you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

What we see here is a covenant! God would spare Noah and his family from the destruction faced by the rest of the world. He just had to “enter the boat”, which of course means he had to build it first.

Another part of the covenant was that he had to bring the animals onto the boat. And enough food for them and his family. His job would continue by taking care of these animals for well over a year that they would be on this boat. How many farmers do we have in the room, or ever was one, or grew up on one? Can you imagine taking care of two of all the creatures God had made?

And what was Noah’s response to all this craziness?

Genesis 6:22
Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

He did it. He did it from start to finish. All the way. Every step. But how did he feel about it? I wish the scriptures told us that part.

Did he feel overwhelmed by the task at hand?
Was he glad God was finally doing something about all the evil in the world?
Was he sad that so many of his neighbors would perish?
Was he afraid of not getting the boat done in time?

Let’s look at a couple of other biblical stories where God asked someone to do something pretty crazy.

RAHAB (Joshua 2: 6:25)
A prostitute living in Jericho, used by God to hide two Israelite spies who are about to conquer the city where she and her family live. God knew Rahab’s heart though and therefore led the spies to her, but He asked her to do the unthinkable, put your life on the line with your own kind and protect my spies. She made her own covenant with them and trusted that their God was big enough for even her to follow…a person with a very ugly past.

But Rahab didn’t allow her past to keep her from the new role God had for her. God often uses people with simple faith to accomplish His greatest purposes, no matter what kind of past they have had or how insignificant they seem to be. Do you remember who came along in the lineage of Rahab? Who she was the ancestor of? She was the great-grandmother of King David, which makes her an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

ANANIAS (Acts 9:10-22)
He was asked to do something he wasn’t so sure he wanted to do. Saul (Paul), a man who caused huge devastation among Jesus’ followers, a man who was given permission from the leading priest to arrest Jesus’ followers and even kill them, was blinded by God to stop him in his tracks. But that was not the only plan God had for Saul. Saul was God’s chosen instrument to spread his message literally to everyone he could.

And it was Ananias who was going to give him back his sight and even baptize Saul. And Ananias feared meeting Saul for good reason. But he didn’t let that fear make his decision to follow God or not. God came to him in a vision and told him to do this. Even though he thought, “No way. Not this guy. It’s impossible. He could never become a Christian. His heart is too hard!” But Ananias heard what God said, and didn’t limit what God could do, so he chose to obey.
And as a result, Paul went on to be a very powerful minister. Saving many people, forming church after church.

These actions that Rahab and Ananias did were not physically hard to do – it wasn’t physically hard to throw some flax over the spies or to put hands on a guy’s eyes. BUT they WERE… emotionally difficult to do. They were risking not only their futures but their lives.

Has God ever given you a task that was physically easy but emotionally difficult?
Apologizing?
Witnessing?
Confronting an out of control friend?
Quitting a bad relationship?
Standing up for an unpopular person?

OR Has God ever surprised you by asking you to do something you didn’t expect? That’s one element we can see in all of today’s stories.

1. Ananias actually argued with God about it. “Surely the Lord had picked the wrong guy to help Him.”

2. Why didn’t God just use Noah to preach to his neighbors about Him? He did that with prophets? Instead, God wants him to build a boat!

3. And why on earth would a holy God (meaning clean and pure) ask a prostitute to save His spies?

God is always doing the unexpected, and he invites us to join Him in His amazing, but surprising, crazy work.

Imagine what Noah’s friends thought of him and what people said about him. I’m sure they thought he was absolutely crazy. And maybe he was. Maybe we all need a little crazy to do some of the things God asks us to do because they just don’t make sense at the moment.

But when people say yes to God to do the task He asks of them – they end up finding blessings, the fulfillment of promises, victories, healing and effective ministry.

When people say no, sometimes God keeps asking…sometimes He asks someone else. And sometimes people get so used to saying no to God that they drift away from Him altogether.

1. Remember at the burning bush, Moses said no to God’s task. But God kept asking and convincing Moses that he could do it with God’s help, and Moses eventually agreed, and his people, who had been in captivity for hundreds of years, were set free.

2. Remember Jonah said no to God’s task. He even tried to run away, but God found him. And eventually, Jonah did what God wanted, even though he wasn’t happy about it, and people changed their ways.

3. In various ways, King Saul said no to God, and a distance grew between him and God, and eventually, God asked someone else to lead God’s people instead, King David.

What task is God asking you to do?

It may be big or small. It might be difficult or rather easy. But He IS inviting you to be a part of His amazing work. He IS asking you to do something to further His Kingdom. And He IS very likely asking you to do something you don’t really want to do or think you are qualified.

But knowing your agreement is going to make a difference in someone’s life, knowing God is going to bless you for it, that a victory is going to be won, healing and saving are going to happen, how can we say no?

How will you start to say yes?

Chris’s words in the video are worth repeating:

Is it possible that following God means that we pursue crazy, big dreams that seem humanly impossible – that maybe you and I are called to do things that everybody else would think are crazy, things that when we begin, we can’t imagine where they may ultimately end?”

BUT we don’t have to complete the journey today, but we do have to begin to take the first steps, to drive the first nail; we pick up the first board, step out on faith, and we begin to trust God for the rest.

Noah was faithful and committed. He actually did it. He built the boat! It may have taken him 100 years, but he did it.

Look, the first step will always be the hardest. But once you take it, and begin to trust God, it will turn into something beautiful. Be brave. What do you really have to lose?!

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