Praying Within Relationship

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Archive for February 6th, 2008

Who can pray 7. The ark is built, the message is preached

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

Not only did Noah have to cop flack from his neighbours, he also had to cop it from his family; his brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties, nephews and nieces. Not only them, but also his in-laws – though most likely they were all related any way. I wonder what Lamech thought of it all. He died about two years before the flood; did he come alongside and help Noah build the ark? Did he encourage him by telling him stories about his grandfather Enoch as well as what he knew about Adam? Perhaps Lamech was a typical boy who loved his grandfather and trailed him about wherever he went? Was Lamech there when God took Enoch? Was he a witness just like Elisha was a witness of God taking Elijah? We don’t know, in fact we don’t know any thing about their relationship. We do know however that someone told Noah about the past, for it is recorded for us today, and that most likely would have been his father. And in the same way Noah passed it onto his sons.

Imagine the conversation that could have gone on between his wife and her mother if she was alive, or her siblings.

Mother – I’m worried about you dear… Is Noah alright? … I think he needs to see someone…

Wife – Don’t worry about me mum…Noah is fine mum… He is seeing someone; he talks to God every day…

Mother – That’s just what I mean dear…don’t you think he has gone to far with this God stuff?… I mean it’s all a bit of a mythical story about God and how he made Adam and Eve, and kicked them out of the so called Garden of Eden…

Sister – I’m worried about you as well sis; don’t you think you are taking it all a little bit too seriously about this God stuff? … I mean who believes you? … Surely God would have spoken to other people about it as well, if it was really going to happen … if he really does exist that is…

Brother – Sis, this has gone far enough, who does Noah think he is? … Why would God pick him? … Look at him, Mr Goody two shoes… Does he think he is better than us?…

Wife – Come on mum, you know full well that God is not a mythical leg-end! …. You all know the history of Noah’s great grandfather, the history of Cain and Able, and that Adam and Eve were real… You really know that the Garden was real…. You only have to look around at what is happening today to know that sin is prevalent in today’s society… Noah believes God, he knows God, and I believe God as well… Come on guys, don’t get left behind, come help us build it, and you too can be saved…

Mother – What will the neighbours think?…Nothing is going to happen dear… just wait and see…Rain, what an imagination…I wonder what he will think of next…I just hope no one will think to badly of you dear…

While the above conversation is fiction, we do know that only 8 people boarded the ark, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. There was no one else. No neighbours, no extended family; only Noah and his family. So perhaps there could be some truth to what I have written after all?

In speaking of Noahs family issues, lets turn to our own walk with God and ask ourselves some questions about where we stand with God.

1. What does your neighbourhood think of your faith?
2. What does your family think of your relationship with the living God?
3. How do you cope with criticism?
4. What has God asked you to do?
5. What have others said to about that?

So Noah and his sons built the ark, which took them one hundred years to do so. The ark was 136 metres long, 22.7 metres wide and 13.6 metres high. I live on a quarter acre block of land, which is 50 metres long by 20 metres wide. The ark was over two and a half times the length of my block of land and slightly wider. And it was about 3 times the height of my house, which is a normal single story home.

One hundred years of sawing, cutting, nailing, chopping and sanding. They didn’t have the luxury of being able to duck down to the local hardware if they needed something. They didn’t have the luxury of power tools nail guns, and chainsaws. Nor did they have a local timber mill to go to, and give them the order for all the timber they needed, pre cut into all the different lengths and sizes that they needed. If they needed a plank; they had to cut a tree down to make it. If they needed tools, they had to make them themselves, or perhaps there turned to their distant relatives who were tool makers and had them make them for them.

At first Noah worked on the ark by himself, perhaps with the aid of his wife and father. Two years after God asked Noah to build it; his wife gave birth to his first son Shem. Picture Shem, following Noah about as he chopped, hewed, heaved, carried, and nailed or tied every thing together, and asking his father questions about what he was doing. Can I help you dad? What’s this for? What was it like for him to grow up in awareness that the community around him did not share his father’s enthusiasm nor heed his warnings? Then there were his other two sons who were born afterwards, and not only them, they met and married their wives. What was their reaction to father in-laws antics? Did they have the same kind of discussions with their families like I wrote of Noah’s wife having with hers?

The time came, when God had them cover the inside and outside of the ark in pitch to seal it from leaks. They started the gathering of food, both for them-selves and for all the animals who would come on board. What sort of questions do you think Noah was going to ask God while he created and gathered? How much food do we need? How long will we be on the ark for? And his sons as they helped him asking, “Have we made enough hay dad?” How much longer dad? And yet for one hundred years they kept at it, gathering, cutting, heaving, making, storing. Talking to God as they went about doing what he called them to do. And then the rain started to fall, and God brought the animals to them, two pairs of every kind of unclean animal, and seven pairs of every kind of clean animal. Finally Noah and his family entered the ark and God shut the door on them.
I wonder what the community’s reaction about the rain was. What was it like to suddenly realise that Noah was right after all, and they were wrong? To late to board the ark for it had been sealed shut by God. Do you think perhaps they would have been asking questions, crying out,

“Why God why?”

only for their cries to go unheard. For one hundred years, Noah was warning them of what was to come. For one hundred years his community ignored his message of hope, and instead of turning back to the Lord their creator, walking in right relationship with Him they continued to ignore Him and went about their own ways.

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Who can pray 7. Noah is ridiculed

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

Not only did Noah have to cop flack from his neighbours, he also had to cop it from his family; his brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties, nephews and nieces. Not only them, but also his in-laws though most likely they were all related any way. Imagine the conversation that went on between his wife and her mother if she was alive, or her sister…

MotherI’m worried about you dear… Is Noah alright? … I think he needs to see someone…

Wife – Don’t worry about me mum…Noah is fine mum… He is seeing someone; he talks to God every day…

Mother That’s just what I mean dear…don’t you think he has gone to far with this God stuff?… I mean it’s all a bit of a mythical story about God and how he made Adam and Eve, and kicked them out of the so called Garden of Eden…

Sister I’m worried about you as well sis; don’t you think you are taking it all a little bit too seriously about this God stuff? … I mean who believes you? … Surely God would have spoken to other people about it as well, if it was really going to happen … if he really does exist that is…

Brother Sis, this has gone far enough, who does Noah think he is? … Why would God pick him? … Look at him, Mr Goody two shoes… Does he think he is better than us?…

Wife – Come on mum, you know full well that God is not a mythical leg-end! …. You all know the history of Noah’s great grandfather, the history of Cain and Able, and that Adam and Eve were real… You really know that the Garden was real…. You only have to look around at what is happening today to know that sin is prevalent in today’s society… Noah believes God, he knows God, and I believe God as well… Come on guys, don’t get left behind, come help us build it, and you too can be saved…

MotherWhat will the neighbours think?…Nothing is going to happen dear… just wait and see…Rain, what an imagination…I wonder what he will think of next…I just hope no one will think to badly of you dear…

While the above conversation is fiction, we do know that only 8 people boarded the ark, they being Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. There was no one else. No neighbours, no extended family; only Noah and his family. So perhaps there could be some truth in it after all.

What does your neighbourhood think of your faith?

What does your family think of your relationship with the living God?

Noah would have known about his great grandfather, though he had never met him. He certainly would have heard a lot about him as well as the full history of Adam and Eve. Perhaps he was caught up with the tale of Enoch walking with God? Perhaps he thought, if Enoch could do it, so can I? Noahs father Lamech, named him Noah, for it means comfort. And at his birth, Lamech says,

“He will comfort us in the labour and painful toil of our hands caused by the
ground the LORD has cursed.” (Gen 5:29)

Noah was five hundred years old when God spoke to him about what he wanted him to do, those around him knew his name, they would have known what Noah meant, and still they did not believe him.

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Who may pray 6. Noah

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

Leaving Enoch, we continue to read how the earth was increasingly filled with wickedness, violence and the inclinations of men’s hearts were evil (Gen 6:5)

We could be talking about today.

We read of another man who was righteous and who walked with God (Gen 6:9) and who also did every thing that God commanded him to do (Gen 6:22.) A man called Noah. Who by the way was a descendant of Enoch!
Let’s truly think about Noah, what it really meant to obey God and do what God had called him to do? Imagine your-self in Noah’s position. Up till that time there was no such thing as rain, the earth watered itself from springs of water that bubbled up out of the ground. Imagine the conversation God and Noah had.

God – “Noah, listen up, I’m going to make it rain.”

Noah – “Rain, what’s that?

God – “Rain is water that comes down from the sky, instead of coming up out of the ground.

Noah – “Oh OK then, you want me to build a what?

God – “I want you to build a boat Noah; I want you to build it according to my plan, and on this boat I want you to take two each of unclean animals and seven each of clean animals as well as any one else who wants to join you”

Noah – “So let me get this straight, you want me to make a boat, to hold a heap of animals of every kind, gather enough food and water for them, for you are going to send, what’s that stuff called again? Rain out of the sky and so much of it you are going to flood the world and put an end to all this wickedness?

God – “That’s right Noah, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, and that’s exactly what I want you to do.”

Noah – “Well OK God, I’ll do it for you, because you have told me to do it, if you say it will happen, IT is going to happen …HELP”

God – “Of course I will help you Noah, you better get cracking.”

Neighbour – Hey Noah, what are you doing there…Your what?…Its going to rain…what’s that? Water that falls from the sky and is going to flood the earth…Noah, you are crazy, Gods not going to do that.

Noah – God are you sure about this rain and flood stuff…I’m sure copping a lot of flack from my neighbours who think I’m a crazy ole coot.

God – It’s OK Noah, keep doing what I have asked you to do, it will be OK, you will be saved from the floods, trust me.

Shut your eyes for a moment; think about your own reactions and dialog you would have with God if you were Noah. What do you think your conversation with God would have been like during that time and as you built the boat? What sort of flack do you think you would have to cope with in building that boat?

Since I first wrote draft of this, a movie has come out called “Evan Almighty”, which is a modern day tale of the story of Noah, where God calls a man called Evan to build an ark, though with a few major differences. If you have seen the movie, think of the flack he copped, yet because of Gods faithfulness, his obedience though reluctant was truly rewarded.

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Who can pray 5. Enoch walked with God

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

A few short verses later, though historically many years have passed, we read of Enoch walking with God and then he was gone! Taken away! No longer here! Scripture says he was taken by God. (Gen 5:23-24) The Bible doesn’t say what this walking with God meant, it doesn’t tell us much about Enoch, apart from the fact that he walked with God and then was gone.

I personally believe that Enoch walked with God in the same way that Adam and Eve used to walk with him when they were in the Garden in Eden. For while it is true human beings were banned from the Garden, that did not, and does not prevent God from walking any where through out his creation with his creation. How did God take Enoch? We don’t know, perhaps he took him like he did Elijah with a chariot from heaven. Or perhaps he just walked with God one night into eternity, stepping from one creation into the next. A bit like a scifi movie where someone steps through a portal into another realm….Or perhaps it is just a colloquialism to say he died.

What ever it means, those few verses pack a powerful punch, it speaks a powerful message that breaks up the history of sin, for where up till now only one other person had walked a pleasing walk with God and who had been murdered by his brother, this person lived a Godly life and God took him to himself.

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who can pray 4. Cain and Able

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

God tells the woman she would begin to suffer more pain in childbirth,
reflecting the groans of creation, though denying the serpents goal with the promise that one day her child would crush once and for all the serpent’s head; though after it had struck his heel, promising that Man will have dominion once again.
Adam’s punishment was to work the ground, combating against weeds and thistles, eating by the sweat of his brow having to work hard at making the land be productive.
God did not completely cast them away from himself; for he tenderly clothed them, and then placed them outside His garden guarding it in case they took upon themselves to eat of the tree of life.

After they were sent outside in the world, outside the garden, their relationship continued with the Lord. Eve gave birth to Cain, after which she worshiped the Lord, worshipping him by thanking and acknowledging His help in giving birth toCain. (Gen 4:1) Then sometime after gave birth to Able. The story now continues with Cain and Able, We see they have continued having a personal relationship with the Lord. Though there were a few distinct differences. For;

Able walked with the Lord, as the Lord required.
Cain walked with the Lord as Cain wanted to.

God was pleased with Able for the offering he gave and was displeased with Cain for his. We need to make a note here; that God wasn’t pleased with Able because he offered up animals and was displeased with Cain because he offered up the fruit of the soil.

God was pleased with Able because he offered up quickly the first and best portions of his flock.
God was displeased with Cain, for he took his time bringing some of his produce; instead of the first and the best he had.(Gen 4:3)

The scene now shifts from the relationship Able had with God, and focuses on Cain. Here we see God’s compassionate all seeing nature, for he sees that all is not well with Cain. He see’s his anger, his depression, and his jealousy towards his brother and perhaps towards Him as well. God speaks frankly to Cain, asking him questions about himself and why he was feeling that way? Finally God gets to the point that Cains real trouble was sin and that it was crouching at his door, wanting to devour him. And again God tells him that he must master it. Yet Cain ignores Gods warning, instead takes his brother out to a field, and kills him. The Lord speaks to Cain once again, asking him about his brother, to which he replies,

“I don’t know…Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The Lord again gets right to the point, challenging Cain directly as to what he has done. Telling him straight as he knows what it is he has done. As a result of his sin, he tells him that the very ground he loved is not going to produce any produce for him, and that he will be a restless wanderer for the rest of his life.

Cains response is one of woe is me, as he complains about the consequences of his actions. I believe that the restlessness that God speaks of, which is to happen in Cains life, is not only about his physical status as not having a home to live, for Scripture tells us that Cain went on to build a city. (Gen 4:17) Rather it speaks about his brother’s murder being on his conscience and that he cannot avoid the continual stabbing pain of unresolved guilt, which causes him much shame. This same guilt causes Cain to add words to what God has told him will happen, in that “Now someone will kill me, and I will be driven out from your presence” The Lord tells him that it will not be so, for he will put a mark of his protection on him, and he will watch out over him. (Gen 4: 15)

Notice the similarities between the sin of Cain and his parents.

  • Both were warned by God not to do something, yet both did. Both were told to have dominion over sin, yet both failed to do so.
  • Adam failed in shutting up the serpent.
  • Cain failed in conquering the sin that was whispering into his soul.
  • Both were asked, “What have you done”?
  • Both were guilty of not facing up to their guilt, rather unsuccessfully trying to hide their actions from the Lord.

And both suffered the consequences of not doing what the Lord had asked them to do.

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Who can pray 3. creation is shattered

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

Yet perhaps the relationship between God and His creation is not as perfect as we thought, for we read of Gods creation adding to Gods word, twisting Gods word, and in doing so losing sight of the clear truth of Gods word regarding life and death. It would seem that not only is the serpent guilty of manipulating Gods word, so is Adam. For it had to be him who told Eve they were not allowed to even touch the tree, yet alone eat from it? In the fullness of this conversation, the truth of Gods warning was forgotten and they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And for the first time in history creation had felt shame.

1.the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame. 4

This very shame caused fear to move into the emotions, replacing intimacy and trust. Imperfection had taken hold, intimacy and trust had been destroyed; not only between Creator and created, it had also been shattered between creation itself. For we see creation trying to hide from God; filled with a fear that they had not known before. Blame taking the place of accountability, Adam now blaming both God and Eve for their problem, declaring…“That woman you placed here” (Gen 3:12.) Eve in turn found fault with the serpent; saying, “It was he who had deceived her.”

As God declares the payment for sin, all of creation began to groan under the weight of it. (Rom 8:20-21) Beginning with the serpent, God declares enmity between it and the woman. The woman would begin to suffer more pain in childbirth, reflecting the groans of creation, though promising one day that her child would crush once and for all the serpents head, and it would strike his heel. Adam’s punishment was to work the ground, combating against weeds and thistles and they were placed outside Gods Garden in case they took upon themselves to eat of the tree of life.

4. http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=shame

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Who can pray 2. In the beginning …God

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

In answering these questions; let’s take a trip back in time before the beginning of creation, where the Bible tells us,

“In the beginning God” Gen 1:1

Pinnock speaks of the Trinitarian relationship where each member of the Godhead gazes at each other, creatively working together in perfect love. In unity they speak about what they are going to make, their creative results reflecting their perfection. Finally saying, “Let’s make mankind in our image” Gen 1:26 and with their creation were totally satisfied, for He saw His work was very good. This goodness was a natural result of Gods creativity, His creation mirroring His goodness, mirroring His likeness, mirroring His attributes. Because of this mirroring, all of creation was created for all of mankind, to fulfill Gods purpose for them in having dominion over the world, and in doing so bring glory to God4
God set them to work, with the responsibility of tending and caring for His creation. There we see our ancestors reflecting Gods creativity as He dele-gated His job in the continuation of naming His creation…Something we are still are doing today. There we get a picture of Adam and God working to-gether in the Garden, as God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would name them. Here we see Gods open invitation towards his final creation, to join in the Trinitarian dance, adding a fourth dimension to an already perfect relationship. God saw that Adam needed a helpmate, someone of his own kind and from Adam he created Eve.

Think of the power of the relationship between Adam and Eve as they re-flected the relationship of the Godhead, in whose image they were created. To try and think of the perfection of the unbroken relationship they had with each other, creation and God is nearly unimaginable in today’s sin fallen world. Conversation with God was natural, it was face to face, and indeed we can see this illustrating the truth of Calvin’s quote.

3. Jim Castelli, How I Pray (Ballantine Books, New York, 1994) p.iv.

4.John Piper, Desiring God, (Intervarsity Press, England, 1996 ) p. 256

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Who can pray?

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

There is one common area within Christendom that all are agreed on; and that is as Christians we are expected to pray. The Scriptures declare many times that we are to do so. Jesus expected us to pray, saying specifically to His disciples, “When you pray.” Three times he repeats himself in a passage in Matthew 6:5-7, and once in Luke 11:2. While we agree that prayer is an important part of our lives, many of us are in confusion as to what prayer really is?
Calvin says of prayer that it,

“…is an intimate conversation of the pious with God”

And indeed there is much to commend within this comment, in that prayer is conversation with our living God. Yet, is Calvin completely correct in his exclusive description that prayer is only for the Christians whom he speaks of? Or is prayer inclusive of all people, made in Gods image to pray, work and seek God.

Do Non – Christians pray as well? Is Castelli right when he says, “That every body prays; whether it be the daily lengthy prayers of the faithful or the non – intentional outburst of non – believers crying out, “God NO!!” when hearing bad news”? What is prayer? How are we to pray? Who can pray? Is there a certain way we should pray?

1. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960) 3.20.16.
2. Jim Castelli, How I Pray (Ballantine Books, New York, 1994) p.iv.

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