5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Dear Friends in Christ,
I’d like to begin my sermon this morning by giving you a little quiz that could very appropriately be entitled “Love Matches and Mismatches.” See if you can identify some of these famous and not-so-famous couples that appear in the pages of Holy Scripture.
- What famous couple in the Bible is known for playing “the blame game”? (Adam and Eve)
- What fellow could say that his wife was also his sister-in-law? (Jacob)
- What husband’s wife became a mover when she did what God told her to do and a “shaker” when she did what God told her not to do? (Lot’s wife)
- Whose wife’s quick action caused pain to her son, yet spared the life of her husband and ultimately resulted in the liberation of a nation? (Moses’ wife, Zipporah)
Well, I so enjoyed coming up with those questions that I decided to toss out one more riddle to you from information that I pulled off the Internet even though it has nothing to do with couples in the Bible. And it goes like this: There are 18 different ways to do this bodily function. It can take up to 17 muscles to do it, the major one of which is the zygomaticus major. Dalmatians are the only dogs with the ability to do it. And when you do it, it adds a lot to your face value. What is it? SMILE.
Have you ever noticed how smiles are contagious? If you don’t believe that, I’m going to prove it to you right now. (Show pictures on the screen of different smiles)
Well, have you ever considered that one of the purposes of your life is to put a smile on the face of God? Last Sunday in my sermon we talked about bringing pleasure to the heart of God through a lifestyle of worship whereby we reflect in all that we do how much he is worth to us. Today and next Sunday I want to share with you five different ways whereby we can put a smile on God’s face which in turn will help us to live a good news life in a bad news world, the theme of my current sermon series. And to help us accomplish that goal, I felt we needed a good model to pattern ourselves after. So using our text as our guide, we’re going to be spending some time taking a look at none other than that ark-building, animal-attracting, flood-surviving, God-believing fellow in the Old Testament who is going to be the focus of our VBS this week and whose name is Noah. For in Gen. 6:8 The Living Bible says: “Noah was a pleasure to the Lord.” And because Noah was such a pleasure to the Lord, you and I are alive today. So what can we learn from him about how to put a smile on the face of God?
Well, for starters, God smiles when we love him supremely. Noah did that. He loved God more than anything else in the world. And I might add that he did so when nobody else did. The world had become so wicked and rebellious back then that we’re told in Genesis 6:6: “The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” But in Genesis 6:9 we read that for his entire life, “Noah consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him.” (NLT) And that’s what God wants from you, my friends: a relationship. So often we think of Christianity as a religion – and it is – but it’s more than that. It’s really a relationship, a relationship that the Creator and Ruler of the universe longs to have with you. Now that has got to be one of the most astounding, mind-boggling truths in the universe! God made you so that he could love you, and he longs for you to love him back. In Hosea 6:6 he says: “I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love; I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me.” (LB)
Can you sense God’s passion for you in that verse? He longs for your love. He hungers for your love. He earnestly and fervently desires your love. Have you ever found yourself in that situation, where you felt as though you were head-over-heels in love with someone? All you could do was think about that individual. All you could do was picture yourself spending time with that person – laughing with them, talking to them, enjoying their company. And then when you finally worked up the courage to let them know how you felt about them, if they didn’t respond the way you had hoped they would, what did that do to you? It crushed you, didn’t it? It devastated you. But if they had similar feelings about you and responded favorably to the interest you had shown in them, what did that do to you? Why, it plastered an ear to ear grin on your face that nothing in this world could wipe off! And that is exactly what we can do for God, my friends, when through the power of the Holy Spirit we respond to the interest that he has shown in us.
And you know what’s so great about all this? God has revealed himself to us in the Bible as a Supreme Being who is really very easy to love when you stop and think about it. I remember reading sometime ago one single sentence that describes the difference between the god the Muslims worship, Allah, and the God we Christians worship. It went something like this: “While the god of the Muslims calls for his people to give their sons to die for him, the God of the Christians gave his Son to die for his people.” That says it all, doesn’t it? And that’s why God is so loveable. He loved you and me and the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Is not such a loving God worthy then of all the love that we can give to him? Apparently Noah felt so. And I pray that you do too.
Getting back to Noah, another lesson we learn from him is that not only does God smile when we love him supremely, he also smiles when we trust him completely. Again, Noah did that. In fact, he trusted God under some very difficult circumstances. Imagine the scene that took place one day when God came to Noah and in essence said to him, “Noah, I’ve got a problem. I’m very disappointed in the human beings I created. They’re evil. They’re rebellious. They’re disobedient. They don’t care about me at all. But Noah, when I look at you, I start smiling because I can see in your life how much you love me. So as much as it hurts me to do this, I’m going to start all over again with the world. I’m going to send a great flood that will destroy everybody but you and your family. All I’m asking you to do is build a huge boat that will save you and the animals.”
Now it would have taken a lot of trust on Noah’s part to believe all of that, wouldn’t it, especially when we take into consideration that there were three major problems or issues that could have very easily caused Noah to doubt what God said. For one thing, many Bible scholars believe that at this time Noah had never seen it rain because Gen. 2:5-6 seems to indicate that in the beginning God irrigated the earth with underground springs. So God might have had some explaining to do with Noah about what rain would even be like or look like. Secondly, Noah lived hundreds of miles from the nearest large body of water. So even if he could get this huge boat built, the question must have entered his mind how he was going to get it to water. And as if all that wasn’t enough to shake Noah’s trust in what God was asking him to do, there was the final problem of rounding up all the animals and then caring for them for however long they would be on the ark.
Lots of uncertainty involved in all this, right? But there was still more, for I don’t know how many of you realize it, but it took Noah 120 years to build the ark. Can you imagine the scorn, the ridicule, the discouragement he must have faced during that time? With no sign of rain day after day, month after month, and year after year, the wicked people of the world must have had a hey-day with old Noah, ruthlessly criticizing him and referring to him as that crazy man who thinks God speaks to him.
And as tough as it was to be Noah, can you imagine what it must have been like being one of his sons? I can remember the days when I was a kid and I would slide down in the back seat of our car so that none of my friends would see me riding with my mom and dad. And they hadn’t even done anything to embarrass me. They were just older and I guess it wasn’t cool to be seen with your parents back then. But imagine what it must have been like to be one of Noah’s kids. Talk about embarrassing. Here you’ve got your dad building this huge boat in your front yard 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. And then comes the day when he asks you to pitch in and help. So there you are, planing wood and pounding nails and climbing ladders while all these people are gawking at you and laughing at you.
Yet Noah kept right on building and right on trusting God. In fact, Peter gives us an interesting insight to this story that the original account in Genesis doesn’t provide when he refers to Noah in his 2nd epistle as a “preacher of righteousness.” In other words, all the while Noah was building, he was also preaching. He was pleading with the people to repent and turn from their wicked ways and come back to God, lest they all be swept away and killed when the flood came. That’s how strongly Noah trusted the word of God. And there is no doubt that that trust put a smile on the face of God. For Ps. 147:11 says: “He (God) takes pleasure in those that honor Him; in those who trust in His constant love.” (TEV)
So let me ask you, my friends, how are you doing when it comes to your trust in God? In what areas of your life do you need to trust God more? Maybe it’s in your prayer life. You have trouble believing that God pays any attention to your prayers when he’s got so many other more important ones to listen to. Or perhaps it’s a relationship you’re involved in where things have gotten so bad that you can’t imagine how he could ever make them good again. Maybe you struggle with guilt and you have trouble taking hold of the incredible thought that God could ever love or forgive someone who has done the things that you’ve done.
I sincerely doubt that there’s a single person here today who doesn’t struggle at times with this issue of trust. And that’s why God speaks to us so much about it in his Word. In Prov. 3:5-6 we’re told to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” In Ps. 40:4 we’re told: “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust.” Nahum 1:7 reminds us: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” And at no other time in history has God proven himself worthy of our trust than when he put his own Son to death on the cross for us so that all of our sins could be forgiven and washed away in the flood of Christ’s blood and so that we might one day know the joy of spending eternal life with him.
So you want to put a smile on the face of God? For starters, love him supremely and trust him completely, like we’ve talked about today. And come back next week when we’ll look at 3 more ways to do this, using Noah as our guide. Until then, may the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding keep your hearts and minds firmly anchored to the Rock of Ages Jesus Christ at all times. Amen.