Noah: God’s Assignment – Provisions Available

If God chooses us to be His earthly partner on a particular project, let us consider carefully.     Our partner has limitless resources…which make it possible for Him to have the standard of “rightness” for his assignment – and righteousness for His partner. 


God is righteous – and created us in His image.  Our righteousness is made possible through a true desire to live a life pleasing to God, accepting the forgiveness of our sin through Jesus Christ.(Galatians 3:11)     The words righteous and righteousness, with regard to God or man, are used 514 times in the Bible.  .


The “Noah Assignment” we are aware of was to build an ark.   God said…this is your God assigned project…therefore I am in this with you – You Will Be In Partnership With God.   God asked Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the 12 apostles, Paul and others to be His earthly partners for a particular project.   The projects we are aware of were history changing.  I am confident that God gave each of them much smaller, seemingly insignificant, assignments before and after the “biggie”.   This principle is confirmed in Matthew 25:23 “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”


Noah’s assignment:  build the ark.    The resources to build the ark were available – or the Ark could not have been built!  We know Noah was unable to call the lumber yard and ask that the materials be delivered.    There is no suggestion Noah was able to call an engineering firm and a construction company.  And there is no suggestion that Noah had to build the ark by himself.   Noah had three sons, and it seems likely they would work on building the ark.   And there seems to be nothing to rule out the possibility that Noah was able to hire other workers to assist – but the assignment was Noah’s.    …”and Noah did all that the Lord commanded him to do”   (Genesis 6:22, 7:5).  


I knew when I became Assistant Pastor/Minister of Education in the “deep south city church” that I would be in a tough situation.   In the previous two years three Assistant Pastors or Directors of Christian Education had come…and gone.  Yet, even knowing this, I could move forward with confidence – for I was In Partnership With God.   But…oh my!


In June, the first month on assignment, I had asked for the responsibility of managing the custodian – the House of God was physically in a mess.   The custodian quit – BUT another, super capable man was supplied by God.


In that first month I also told the 32 Sunday School teachers that if they did not desire to continue teaching when Sunday School started up in September, to let me know by the end of July.   My reasoning:  Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 teach that the church is a body and give indication that all of the necessary parts of the body exist within the church.    No one should be teaching the Lord’s truths who did not feel called to be doing so. 

I was not expecting that 30 of the 32 teachers would resign!


With confidence I had made the right decision (and a knot in my stomach) I set out to find 30 teachers who were qualified and wanted to teach beginning on the first Sunday of September.   I do not remember how it happened, but on that first Sunday in September there were 34 teachers excited by the opportunity to teach God’s truths to others.


God proved Himself faithful to me….and, during that next year, to 34 teachers – People living In Partnership With God”  

Noah: Righteous Living and Excellent Work Require Obedient Faith

When God told Noah to build the ark, God gave to Noah all of the instructions He knew were necessary to complete his assignment.   “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” Genesis 6:14-16. Noah believed his God given assignment was do-able.  Noah lived In Partnership With God.     


God has often given to me a significant task – and the information He deemed necessary to complete it.  


I have never heard the voice of God or  seen the handwriting on the wall, but I am confident that   as I keep my heart’s desire to know and obey God’s directions for my life, God has lots of ways of getting his message through to me.  Biblical history proves this.   Consider how God surprised Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Samuel, David, Matthew, Mark, Saul/Paul and many others. God has directed my life through the reading of the Bible, the words of another person, circumstance, a dream – and always with the confirmation of peace in my heart.   We can “Trust in the LORD with your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)


After I graduated from seminary, I became the Assistant Pastor/Minister of Education of a significant church of a city in the Deep South.   I knew that everything about a church “teaches”. The church in which I was to minister, God’s house, was dirty and un-kept. So I said to the Senior Minister:   “For six years I was the janitor for my dad’s office. Can I take over the supervision of the custodian?”  His immediate response:  “yes!”  


The custodian’s name was “Lightening” – which referred to the white lightening he drank, not to the speed at which he worked. Lightening and I took a tour of the facility and looked at the general state of affairs.   I told him what I expected of him.  If he asked how to do something, I told him.  Immediately Lightening went to work.


The next week he was scheduled to go on vacation…and he did not return to work!   Here I was – I had essentially asked for the responsibility for the cleanliness of the facility, and the custodian was no more! “Lord…what do I do now?”  I knew almost no one!   A couple days later a very large, muscular black man came to tell me he had heard I needed someone who could work…and that he could work!  T. B. Ethridge was hired on the spot.    T.B. was an exceptional person – a wonderful man. I soon learned how sharp his mind was.  Late one afternoon I retuned to the church and T.B. told me he had some telephone messages for me.  Out of his memory came six messages, who had called, and their telephone numbers. I was amazed – and told him so.   Then he told me how, when he returned from the war, no one was willing to teach a black man how to read or write.  


Soon after T.B. became the custodian, a church member asked me if T. B. could teach his mentally challenged son (about 25 with 4th grade reading level) to be a janitor.   T.B. told me he would enjoy working with the man.  Soon T.B had his assistant reading the labels on the cleaning products.   They worked together for over a year – until the family moved to another city.  The son had learned a trade – and the church sparkled from top to bottom.  


When I asked the senior pastor if I could be responsible for the supervision of the custodian, I knew why I was asking for the responsibility, but had no idea what I was getting into, and no idea of how we would see God’s hand of provision!   


“Noah – build an ark.”   “Chuck – care for my sheep.”


Yesterday and today, we can live In Partnership With God .

Noah – God’s Expectation is Holiness and Excellence

When God does something, he does so with excellence: creation, the 10 commandments, the design of the temple, the provision of Jesus Christ to be our Savior.   When God gives a person an assignment, God gives essential directions and expects excellent results!  God may not let us know the total picture – but we do know the next step to be taken.   This is true when it comes to daily living – and to special assignments. 


Excellence is the very best a person can do. God expects us to do our best….not someone else’s best.    As we work we can know that God is with us, that He believes we have the ability to do His work, and that He will provide the necessary resources.  God does not even hint that our assignments will be easy, without opposition, without fatigue, without being stretched. 


Noah is already “passing” the “righteous living” assignment.  And now Noah is given an additional assignment.    “make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. “This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.   Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.”  Genesis 6:14-16.


The directions are not extensive: here is the job…here are the basic directions…and do it right or your boat will sink! God knew Noah could handle the job.   That Noah’s assignment was difficult goes without saying.


Deerfoot Lodge work weekends begin on Friday evening and continue through Monday afternoon every Memorial Day and Columbus Day weekend.   During this time 55-90 volunteers come and go, each with different work and leadership skills.  As each person must complete a “registration form” a week before they arrive, the DL facility manager knows arrival and departure times, skill levels, and projects on which each person does or does not want to work.  As most volunteers come every work weekend, the DL facility director knows them well.    


There are typically 15 – 20 projects to be completed during the weekend work including cutting trees, splitting wood, building a log cabin, pine paneling a room, repairing the screening on camper cabins, replacing a building’s foundation, mowing   grass and food preparation.     


The greatest challenge in planning for each work weekend is to select the right person to head up each project – and then to select the right people, and the right number of people, to work under his leadership.   Hours are spent on this people placement challenge.  


Each crew leader knows the project for which he is responsible, has his essential directions, his time frame, who his people are, where the needed materials and tools are located – and the knowledge that he is expected to do his work with excellence!!  “John, will you and your crew convert this staff cabin porch into a kitchen, and build a new porch.  Charlie, will you and your crew handle the pine paneling of Eagle. Nick, will you and your crew split the logs in these three locations and deliver the split wood to the office, Founders Lodge, and each staff cabin – remember to deliver the right size wood for each location.   Brent and Paul, take your crew and continue to work on building the log cabin….aim to have the rafters in place before the weekend.” 


The challenge for each person is real.  Friendships develop, great food is enjoyed together – and the Breaking of Bread service is special to the believing community.   About 2000 hours of labor enhance the facility – and thus the ministry of Deerfoot Lodge: Building godly young men in a Christ-centered community of wilderness camping”.      


God’s standard of excellence is our objective.  We are always to do our work with excellence, whether this be splitting wood or caring for a person in need.   As we do our work, let us remember that we live/work In Partnership With God, a privilege indeed.

Noah was a righteous man. Perhaps God’s only requirement for usefulness. – an integrated missions conference 1963 in GA

“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9)


God sees me as righteous, but only through the forgiveness Jesus Christ has provided.   I believe that God continues to take righteous people and give them special assignments.   For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”   (Ephesians 2:10).   God gives assignments that directly relate to how God made us – and to the experiences he has already enabled us to have.  Our only decision is:   Will we work at doing what is right before the Lord every time, or not?  


When I believe I know what is right before the Lord, I must simply get on with the doing!   There is no point in asking “do I have enough faith to do this?”  God’s directive is my marching order!  Yes, I may get thrown into a lion’s den like Daniel, or stoned like Paul – but most likely my assignment will be like Noah’s…just a lot of work! 


I am here to testify that these words to Joshua are true today: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” ( Joshua 1:5) The context of these verses is also true:  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-10)


In 1963 I was a “Yankee” attending Columbia Theological Seminary – just outside of Atlanta, Ga.   There were  signs over drinking fountains and on toilet facility doors, “White” and  “Black”.   The unwritten law: Blacks – to the back of the bus.  I took a very dark man from India into a restaurant – and they would not serve him.  This was before the Selma, Alabama civil rights march. 


It was into this very segregated world that I was elected President of the seminary’s Society of Missionary Inquiry.   This organization had one function: to run an excellent mission conference for the high school students of the “Southern Presbyterian Church”.  When the Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer and I got together to learn about the conference, we learned that no black people had ever been able to attend.  We knew this could not be pleasing to the Lord.


The V.P. was about 45 and had been a corporate executive, now on his way to becoming a medical missionary.   The Secretary/Treasure was also in his 40’s and his career had been working in intelligence in the Pentagon.   And then there was me – I was 23, and of very limited experience! 


We did our homework…and our work behind the scenes.   Yes, we did think: “What if” white parents would not let their teenage children come? “What if black people were afraid to come to a rural 4 H Club facility to be with white kids for a mission’s conference?    “What if” the KKK decided to come?  “What if” the cooks from the area refused to serve food to black young people?


Obedience mattered…not the “What ifs!”


The results of our decision to do what was right before the Lord? an incredible, integrated mission’s conference for the young people of the Southern Presbyterian Church – and an experience of

 Living in partnership with God.

Noah – God’s man in a pagan world

Noah?  Ark!


Perhaps Noah’s toughest assignment was not building the ark, but living as God’s man in a pagan world – for over 500 years before God asked him to build the ark.      


Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people. (Genesis 6:11-13)


At a 7:00 AM Deerfoot Lodge staff meeting, counselor Austin Dover pointed out that we want God’s special assignments, God’s unique interventions, when what God wants of us is to live a life pleasing to Him – every day.   Forget about the big assignments.  Yes, God may give us a special assignment, but don’t go looking for it. 


Whereas God has chosen to give me several “special assignments”, there continue to be times when I fail at the challenge of living a righteous life day after day.    A current example.


Joe (not his real name) was in the teenage Sunday school class I taught in the small church our family attended.   Joe was in the class for several years so he knows what I believe, how I try to live my life.   Fifteen years have passed and he still lives in our town, now with his wife and two children.


When I need physical help around our house, I call Joe.  Recently he was over to fix my riding mower.   As Joe was leaving for town to buy a drive belt, I asked him to buy 6 road flares from NAPA.  He laughed!   “I can get you better ones where I work – and they won’t cost you a dime”.  I questioned him about this…and he assured me “no problem, we give them to everyone.”   Two days later I had 6 road flares. 


Was it corporate policy that employees could give out road flares to anyone who wanted them?   Knowing where he worked….I am sure that it was not!!!   So now I have 6 stolen flares in my garage….and I agreed to have him get them for me.    No question: I am at least as guilty as Joe.    For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have something in my possession that is not rightfully mine!   This is a story about me that I would not want printed on the front page of the news paper!!!  “Minister caught with 6….”    


The item size does not matter! Disobedience does.  I ate the apple!   I destroyed my righteousness for 6 flares!   


Joe will be back this Wednesday.  I have confessed this sin to God…and now I must confess it to Joe when I return the road flares to him.    Yes, this will make him uncomfortable – and what is he to do with the flares he got for me?  If only I had said, “Joe, I appreciate your offer, but I can’t go that route”.


“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”

  (1 John 1:9).   Confession involves confession to God, to other knowing people, AND turning from sin.


Noah was after Adam…therefore we know that Noah was a sinful man! (“ For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive”. I Corinthians 15:22).    We also know that Noah appeared to God as a righteous man. When Noah did what was displeasing to God…Noah must have turned to God – asking for forgiveness.   


And God must have turned to Noah and said…you are righteous.   Here is your next assignment –