Long term goals are only ever achieved by short-term obedience. Or, putting it another way, today’s obedience is always the foundation for tomorrow’s miracle. The miracle of Noah’s Ark being available at the right time, as the means of salvation for the whole of the human race, was only achieved through many years of daily obedience by Noah and his family. For all of that time building the ark must have seemed to be a particularly useless activity!
But when it rained the ark took on a different perspective. Its availability was a sheer miracle of God’s grace – but it wasn’t built by angels in the sky and then lowered on angelic ropes, to save a grateful mankind! It was built by a man for whom holy fear of a holy God (Hebrews 11:7) had become his way of daily living.
God has not stopped asking people to build arks today! He is still calling on men and women to have a long-term goal for their life. I call it their destiny – something that can only be entered into through vision that comes from God – and something that they, and only they, have been asked to do. But be sure of this, whenever a vision is conceived in our hearts from God, the enemy will do everything he possibly can to either take us off course or kill the vision before it has even got off the ground.
So often, whether or not your particular ark gets built will depend on whether or not you live in the false enjoyment of today’s temptations or choose to respond to what God has said into your life. If you let all of today’s activities be controlled by having such a love for God, that you live in holy fear of ever stepping outside of His will and His best for your life, you will build the ark which only you can build.
Satan is so boring that he doesn’t bother thinking up new temptations to take us off course – for the simple reason that the old one’s usually work! He doesn’t even mind us thinking about those long term, even God given, goals provided that in the short term we respond to his temptations and put obedience to God off till tomorrow. That’s all he has to do to rob us of our destiny and to rob God of an ark that could have been an extraordinary blessing to you – and to all those who would have been blessed through what God had really called you to be and to do with your life.
No wonder Paul in Ephesians 4 and 5 lists a whole heap of temptations that believers were falling in to – everything from laziness, through greed, sexual immorality, wrongful anger and a whole catalogue of things that, surely, believers wouldn’t even think of doing – or would they? The fact is, Paul knew that they would think of doing them, so he warned these believers not to give a foothold to the devil by doing them (Ephesians 4:27)!
And therein lies the problem, because when we do something, we first think about it. And if we feel it’s OK to just think about sin, then eventually we’ll finish up doing it! And when we shelve the opportunity for today’s obedience to God and replace it with satisfying the fleshly desires associated with pride, money, sex or power, for example, then we are robbing ourselves of own destiny and robbing God into the bargain!
There is only one way that the arks of our lives will be built – by choosing holiness, one day at a time. Holiness is not the dreadful legalism of religious bigotry, but is simply doing today what God requires of us today! John summed it up in an amazingly simple way by saying “walk as Jesus did!” (1 John 2:6). So what did Jesus do?
Jesus only went were the Father told Him to go. He only did what the Father had told Him to do. He only said what the Father had told Him to say. The conclusion of His life of daily obedience was not the building of a physical ark that saved one family, but the opening of the gates of salvation to all (yes ALL) who believe and receive Him – for He is the only Way of Salvation (John 14:6).
The Father will never tell you to do those things that Paul listed as traps from the enemy in his letter to the Ephesians. He will never tell you to go places so that you can satisfy the lusts of the flesh. He will never tell you to say things, for example, which push others down so that you can push yourself up. For many years people have been taught to ask the WWJD question – What Would Jesus Do? I would like to stop suggesting people ask the WWJD question, and start asking them to simply “Walk As Jesus Did.”
Maybe we should start a new WAJD way of life for believers – something as dangerously radical as actually doing what the Father wants us to do today – instead of just talking about it as a future dream for tomorrow, that in our hearts we know will never be realised. For in reality tomorrow never comes – it’s always too late to do then, what the Father asks us to do today!.
I was once very frustrated by an Indian friend. He would say something like, “We’ll do that tomorrow.” Of course, the following day I was fully expecting to do what he had said. But when it never happened, I eventually realised I needed to ask him what he actually meant by the word ‘tomorrow’. His answer was very revealing, “Not today!”
Many believers have a similar attitude towards obedience to God – they say they’ll do it tomorrow – but in their hearts they are really saying, “Not today”. So there’s never any obligation upon them to actually do tomorrow what was promised today. And of course it never does happen, because “not today” becomes their permanent message back to God – and tomorrow’s promised obedience rarely happens.
I’m actually writing this blog in Singapore en route to Hong Kong for a special Ellel Ministries Training School. I flew with Singapore Airlines, and on the TV screen in front of my seat there was constant information being relayed to passengers about how far they had come, how far it was to their destination and how long it will be before the wheels touch down at Changi International Airport, Singapore. The short version of Singapore on the screen was simply Sin. And throughout the flight I was being told how long I had left to Sin! Only 9 hours and 52 minutes. Then 9 hours and 51 minutes and so on. I was constantly being reminded of how much time I had left to sin!
I wonder what the effect would be on believers if there was a flashing screen in front of our spiritual eyes, telling us how many hours there were left for us to sin before being called to stand before a holy God to give an account of our lives?!
Some, tragically, would rush off to make the most of the remaining opportunities to taste all the sins they had dreamt of? Others, however, would meet the challenge head-on, in repentance, realising that the time we have left to ’build our ark’ is finite and diminishing. How we would respond to such a sign would be a measure of whether or not in our hearts we were responding to the love of a holy God or responding to the impure selfishness of an uncleansed heart.
None of us know how much longer ‘we have to sin’. But one thing we do know is this – if we choose to walk in God’s ways and not to sin, we do know ‘how long’ we will have to enjoy the presence of God – it’s called eternity! Satan tempts us to trade a short-term sinful experience for the fulfilment of our destiny. It’s a bad deal – don’t fall for it. Never forget that today’s choices determine tomorrow’s blessings! Holiness is only ever realised one day at a time – that’s how arks get built!