Thursday, August 2, 2007

The First Thing: A Sermon.

Gen 8:20-22- 'Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and Summer, And day and night Shall not cease." (NKJV, for these and following verses)

The context for this verse:
Gen 6: 1-9- God was sorry he made man for "every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." God determined to destroy both man and earth, but "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God." Noah took after his grandfather Enoch.

Gen 6: 13- 8: 19- God instructs Noah to build the ark and take his wives, sons, and his son's wives plus the animals. The Flood destroyed man and beast and Noah and family remained upon the ark until the waters receded.

Gen 8:20- 9: 17- What was Noah's first action when he left the ark? Did he built shelter, did he plant crops? No. He sacrificed what I calculate to be one-seventh of his food supply. The Lord was so moved by such a sacrifice that he swore never to destroy the earth again by flood. Not only that, but he reversed much of the curse that Adam brought upon man and earth. Man's domination was to be restored, but not totally. Man would dominate other creatures by force. The rainbow would serve as a sign of the Covenant. Now man could depend upon the seasons to guide him in his survival. Noah's worship produced the conditions in the natural world described by Paul in Rom. 1; through the natural world man can know not only that there is a God, but man can can discern His attributes, His divine nature.

Today we still benefit because Noah knew and performed what he knew needed to be done first; Noah worshipped God, and God was ministered to, He was moved in his heart. All humanity benefits from what Noah knew in his heart he must do. We prosper or suffer because of who have gone on before us. This is true in the secular as well as the spiritual realm. We are formed for good or ill by people we have never met, and how we live our lives today will affect those whom we will never know. How about you? Do you love God and worship him? The state of your heart and who we worship will affect the eternity of the following generations. You don't believe me? Then listen to God's words to Moses when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments: "...For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments." (Ex. 20: 5-6)

When we worship, we live the life in the Spirit God intends for us to live. We just don't survive, we become overcomers. Often when I ask believers how they are doing, their stock reply is "Well, I'm still breathing." Well praise God for that, but God has more in store for us and the Church. In Acts 13, as the Church at Antioch "ministered to the Lord and fasted" (worshipped), the Holy Spirit instructed that Paul and Barnabas be separated for the work for which they were called, which was to preach to the Gentiles. All of us who are not of Jewish ancestry therefore profit by the obedience of the Church at Antioch to worship. John was in the Spirit on the Lord's day when he received the visions contained in the book of Revelation. When the body of Christ worships corporately, or as individuals, God moves on the Church's behalf. And it is not just the acts of worship themselves that move God. Remember that Noah was perfect, he walked with God. When God senses that he is being worshipped out of a pure heart, then God is truly pleased. What is the chief end of man? Why does God choose to save us? Just because He loves us? Well praise God He does love us. But God's salvation is not just for the forgiveness of sins. "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..." (I Pet. 2: 9) Just as Jesus intercedes for us, we join in His intercession through the Holy Spirit interceding for the body of Christ and for our broken world, lifting these things up to the Father in our worship of Him. When we meditate upon our roles as Priests unto God, our whole outlook on life and subsequent behavior changes.

Do you still dispute the importance God places upon our worship, whether corporate or individual? Turn to Rom. 1. We all have heard numerous sermons on this chapter, particularly the progressive downward spiral that sin ensnares man into. Yet what is the cause for these sober warnings from Paul? "...because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Rom 1:21) In other words, there is no worship! And when we refuse to worship, we begin our own journey down that spiral. And we drag others down with us. Even those whom we will never meet on this earth. But, if are obedient and worship from a clean heart, those future generations who will be blessed will join with us around the throne to eternally worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

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