Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sermon Ideas for Genesis 9

- The Rainbow of Hope - God says that it's going to rain again, but He won't make it rain so much that all life is swept away again. God gives the rainbow as a sign to show humanity that we need not fear the rain again. We can apply the same truth in our own lives. Bad things may happen to us - the rain and the storms may come - but we will not be overwhelmed if we stand strong in Him. He is our source of hope, our rainbow to life's storms. Even when we die, we have not been overwhelmed because He will welcome us into eternal life and raise us back to life. The hope that we have in Him is a rainbow that will always shine afterward, no matter how big the storm that preceded it.

- "I Will Remember" - I have a horrible memory. I can barely remember what happened two weeks ago. I read a book and immediately forget the details. I go on a vacation and almost immediately forget the places I visited. I make a new decision in my spiritual life and...well, the pattern continues.

Maybe you're like that too. It's not that you don't mean to follow through; it's just that you forget. It slips your mind.

Until God reminds you of it again.

Luckily, God understands needing reminders. He gave us an example of how to remember important decisions in Genesis 9:12-16.  God created a physical symbol, the rainbow, to serve as a reminder of His decision not to completely flood the earth again.

Now, I don't believe that our omniscient God who exists outside of time really needs a reminder about anything, but I do believe that it serves as a great example for us.

If something important happens, be INTENTIONAL about remembering it! Get creative. God created a rainbow that He would see every time it rained. Maybe you can create something that you'll see periodically. It could be something as simple a bookmark in your Bible or in the book you're currently reading, or a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or computer screen, an email reminder that you schedule to send to yourself every day or week. You could ask your spouse or accountability partner to remind you of certain things.

The decisions that we make in life, the changes that God moves us toward, are too important to forget. Set up a way to remember them, and follow through victoriously.

- What's Wrong with Ham? - Seriously, drunk people are funny. They do silly things. And it wasn't like Ham was the one getting drunk - it was his old man - so why is Ham the one getting the bad rap here?

Let's answer that question with a question. Has anyone ever taken advantage of you when you were in need? Maybe you were vulnerable and someone saw your moment of weakness as an opportunity to get something for themselves, rather than giving you support.

Has anyone ever spread word of your mistakes?

That's what Ham did. 1) He didn't help Noah when he saw him in need. 2) He saw Noah's mistake and spread the word about it for his own amusement.

Rather than showing grace to his father, he left him as he was and then exposed his mistake needlessly to his brothers.

Let us not be like Ham. When we see someone who has made a mistake, let's not further shame them by telling others about it. Instead, let us quietly help them correct the mistake as Shem and Japheth did for their father. We are called to be full of grace, helping one another, not taking joy in another's downfall or spreading gossip about it.

- Noah's Notorious Hissy Fit - How do you react when someone catches you making a mistake? Do you get defensive? Do you get embarrassed? Do you lash out at them? Or do you humbly admit your fault and move on?

Noah worked patiently on the ark for years, but quickly lost his patience when his youngest son, Ham, made fun of him to his brothers as Noah lay naked in a drunken stupor. In fact, Noah becomes so angry with Ham that he curses Ham's descendants (Canaan was Ham's oldest son) to be slaves to the rest of the family.

How is that fair? Canaan didn't have anything to do with it and yet he's the one Noah curses? And laying down a curse on someone just because they laughed at you when you made a mistake?

No doubt that Ham should have shown more respect for his father, but Noah's reaction is certainly blowing the situation out of proportion.

What would have happened if Noah had given Ham a firm look and a few stern words instead? What would have happened if he had admitted his own fault in the affair and resolved to be more careful in the future?

When we make a mistake, let's not further it by becoming defensive or lashing out at those who witness it. Instead, let us fix our spirits toward humility and grace as we seek to resolve our fault.

- Last Word? - There are two stories about Noah in the Bible. The first is the Flood. The second, as told in Genesis 9:20-27, is about Noah getting drunk, shaming himself, and then reacting in anger to his son.

He goes from awesome obedience in building the ark to a drunken, over-reacting mess. What are we supposed to think about that? Why would the Bible tell us these two stories, one after the other?

It's easy for us to see this story as the last word on Noah's life, as if this were a major moral failing on his part, or a spiritual downfall.

Notice, though, that when people think of Noah, they don't think of this story, at least not at first. They think of the Flood and about how he was the only man God saw worthy of being saved. He was the only person whom God found fit to re-start the human race. This mistake of Noah happened, but it's not the final word on his life. It does not diminish his success in the Flood. He is still remembered more for his success than this one failure.

When we make mistakes, we have a tendency to focus on them, to allow them to define us.

But they don't. They are one thing that happened. They are not all that happened in our life. They do not erase or overshadow our good moments and our triumphs in obedience. Giving in once to temptation does not nullify all the times you were victorious in resisting that temptation. Losing your temper once does not go back in time and steal the time you kept calm. Not keeping up on your spiritual disciplines for a few days does not mean that God no longer honors you for your past practice.

What is Noah remembered most for? His obedience. The mistake happened, but it wasn't the end. It was one black mark against a field of white, a side note on a life of obedience, just like our momentary failings will be.

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