Archive for January, 2009

2008 Year in Review

January 30, 2009

It might be a little late for a “2008 Year in Review” video, but it’s still fun to watch. Our guys put this together for our elder retreat this weekend. Enjoy the peek inside the ministry of Immanuel Bible Church.

Trust and Obey

January 27, 2009

Then God said to Noah . . . “I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood.” Genesis 6:13-15a

I’m amazed that the God of heaven and earth shares his plans with a mere mortal, even if he was a righteous man like Noah. God announces the coming of judgment and then he details an escape plan for Noah and his family.

Noah was a recipient of God’s grace who was asked to walk by faith by building an ark. Make no mistake about it. Salvation has always been by grace and through faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 11:7).

God gave Noah specific instructions on how to build the ark in Genesis 6:15-22). He left no detail unmentioned. Size, dimension, and materials all mattered to God. He told Noah where to place the door and the window, and how many decks to build. He also gave Noah a passenger list. “You shall bring two of every kind into the ark.” He told Noah what food to bring on board the boat as well.

Fortunately, Noah did “all that God commanded him” (v. 22). God knew he needed a man who would obey orders. Noah obeyed God meticulously. Because of what one expert says about the design of the ark, it’s a good thing he did.

“The ark had a ratio of 30 x 5 x 3. According to modern shipbuilders this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of shipbuilding since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The ark, designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize – to do so, it would have to be tilted over 90 degrees” (The New Manners and Customs of the Bible).

Had Noah been the type to cut corners or shrug off obedience, the ark would have been the first Titanic. Noah and his family would have drown like everyone else on planet earth. Instead, Noah obeyed God. He built the ark to the exact specifications God gave him. What a model for us to follow.

We never outgrow our need for obedience in the Christian life. In fact, if you want God’s favor and intimate fellowship, learn the first steps of obedience. Jesus said it this way, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he is it who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21).

Noah could have been the inspiration for the old hymn that says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

Noah Walked with God

January 25, 2009

Thomas Jefferson wrote the epitaph on his tombstone. He wanted to be remembered for three things: his authorship of the Declaration of Independence, his founding of the University of Virginia, and his forming of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. He did not mention his presidency.

The summation of Noah’s life is found in Genesis 6:9. These words could fit well on a tombstone. “These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”

I want to live the kind of life where words like that could be chiseled into my gravestone, don’t you? Noah chose to walk with God while surrounded by wicked people like the world had never seen. His story gives us every reason to believe that one man or woman really can make a difference.

My son came home the other day talking about how hard it is to be a Christian at school. He attends public school and he doesn’t find very many boys who love Jesus the way he does. He says they use bad language and the teachers don’t seem to correct them. He’s only 12 years old. We told him it’s only going to get harder as you get older, but you really can enjoy God’s favor when surrounded by evil.

Noah did. He was a man of faith. The word “faith” bookends Noah’s epitaph in Hebrews 11:7. “By faith, Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

It takes faith to build an ark when the world has never seen a catastrophic flood.

It takes faith to do something nobody else has done.

It takes faith to continue doing what God has called you to do when everyone else is mocking you.

It takes faith to do this for more than 100 years without growing weary in well doing.

It takes faith to walk with God when everyone around you is walking to the beat of their own drum.

It takes faith to walk with God and not know where you’re going.

It takes faith to impact your family by the way you walk.

“Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). Noah too walked with God and found God’s favor. He walked by grace and through faith and received salvation. What about you?

A Lesson from Les Mis

January 24, 2009

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . . But Noah found favor in the eyes of God. Gen. 6:5-8

On Friday night Cathryn and I spent a miserable evening with friends at the Signature Theater, located in a chic urban village near Washington D.C. It’s not what you think. We had a great time with our friends, but we went to see a musical called The Miserable Ones. How’s that for a catchy title? Actually, you probably know this play by its French name, Les Miserables, or Les Mis for short. It was my first time to see the musical, Cathryn’s second. She’s twice as cultured as I am.

We thoroughly enjoyed the play. I was blown away by the talent. The music was everything people said it would be and more. Our friend’s daughter had a coveted role. She was outstanding. I was also struck by what the Atlantic Monthly calls the “sentiments abstractly Christian” found throughout the famous musical based on the 1300-page book written by Frenchman Victor Hugo.

“The Miserable Ones” is an appropriate title to a play that explores how humans find grace, mercy and justice in a world filled with darkness, injustice and the haunting shadows of one’s past. Though Hugo lived his life on the periphery of Christianity, he touched masterfully on themes such as despair and hope, condemnation and redemption, works and faith, legalism and grace.

Jean Valjean, the story’s main character, serves 19 hard years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. When finally released on parole, he finds life as an ex-convict hard and dissatisfying. A tattooed number on his chest reminds him of his past, a past from which he is running. Furthermore, a rigid, rule-keeping prison guard named Javert plays Valjean’s parole officer and nemesis, vowing to track him closely all the days of his life.

For a while Valjean lives the life of a starving outcast until a kindly old bishop named Myriel takes him in. Against the warnings of his sister and housekeeper, the bishop gives Valjean a room and a warm bed.

That night Valjean does something truly evil, seemingly for the first time. He steals all the fine silverware in the bishop’s kitchen and makes a run for it. When caught, Valjean is broken but surprised when Myriel extends to him something he had never experienced before, certainly not from Javert, grace and mercy.

Bishop Myriel turns to Valjean and says, “Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition and I give it to God.”

Valjean embraces his second chance at life. He assumes a new identity, becomes a successful factory owner and ultimately mayor of a city. He spends the rest of his life doing his best to extend to others the same favor he received.

The dark, merciless world in which Valjean lived reminds me of the After Eden world found in Genesis 6. Scripture records that evil and corruption began spreading on the earth faster than technology changes in today’s world. God was grieved in his heart that he made man from the earth. He was ready to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord like a man named Valjean.

A righteous and blameless man who walked with God by faith, Noah “prepared an ark for the salvation of his household” (Heb. 11:7). Like wasn’t easy for this man who walked alone before God.

Has life been hard for you? Are you running from the dark shadows of your past? Like Valjean and Noah, you can find God’s favor through faith in Jesus Christ. And when you do, remember this lesson from Les Mis: you no longer belong to evil, but to good.

"We Chose Life!"

January 21, 2009

I am so proud of Fleming and Karen Saunders. They made a courageous choice for life. They chose life over death, the hard road over the easy one. I believe their reward is great, on earth and in heaven. I pray that their story will inspire others to choose life.

Sanctity of Life from Immanuel Videos on Vimeo.

Ron Jones is a pastor whose greatest passion is to introduce people to Jesus Christ through anointed biblical preaching that transforms lives.


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