New Wine for New Wineskins April 2009

By , March 31, 2009 4:58 pm

Let the Weak Speak 

Part 8 – Noah – Learning to Say No! (1)


 

Remember – our goal in this series is to release anyone who is bound and limited by weakness into the fullness of their potential so that they can fulfil their reason for being and the purpose of their existence in bringing glory to God and living in and enjoying the fullness of the life that he has planned for us!

The good news of the gospel is not that God is mad at you for your sin and so you better shape up or else – although it has been presented in that way by some people.  The good news is that God loves you so much that he has made his power available to you in order to supernaturally enable you to overcome sin and all of its destructive effects in your life!  Remember – all change in the kingdom is EXCHANGE!  God is inviting us bring our weakness to him and exchange it for his strength!  All God wants from us is our weakness so that his supernatural strength can be seen in us.

Remember – God’s plan is for us to be signs and wonders and to be the most exciting thing that is going on wherever we are!  The power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was anointed with is no longer limited to one person or restricted to one geographical location! 

Isaiah 8: 18

18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.

And our foundation scripture for this series – Let The Weak Speak! 

Joel 3: 9 – 10

9 Proclaim this among the nations:
“Prepare for war!
Wake up the mighty men,
Let all the men of war draw near,
Let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”

There are many voices in the earth competing for our attention.  There have never been so many ways to bombard people with messages and the enemy of our souls exploits them all in order to expose the weakness of our flesh and bring us under his control.  That is why we must tune into the voice of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of truth – who comes to lead us through the minefield of temptation and keep us free from the consequences of sin.  Although our flesh is weak our spirit is willing to hear and apply what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church, and so it is essential that we not only tune in personally and individually but also corporately as a church because none of us is an island and the destructive effect of sin rarely stops at one person.

Jesus said to beware of the leaven of the pharisees.  Paul said that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  We must always remember that the war we are engaged in is a war of words, and so it is vital that we are always aware of what or who we are listening to or giving our attention to.

Words are seeds and seeds that have been sown will always come up if the environment is right.  Remember – our enemy is subtle and he often wraps his deceptive argument in flattery or at other times in fear or doubt.  He is a rebel and so the deception that he brings will inevitably bear the hallmark of his character and will ultimately incite rebellion against authority because the fruit will always identify the tree. If we give entrance to his words then they will begin to infiltrate our thoughts and breed confusion that will choke the life out of us!

Wake up you mighty men and women of faith!  Your spirit is willing but your flesh is weak!

Some of us are too ‘nice’ to shut someone down or get up and walk away from conversation that our spirit is disturbed by.  Sadly, that ‘niceness’ has been considered by many to be a strength when in fact it is a dangerous weakness!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  IT IS TIME FOR THE WEAK TO SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

We are winners in the war of words when we enforce the victory that is already ours over a defeated enemy that is too proud to acknowledge that he has been defeated and stripped of his   power!  The only access that he has into our lives is through deception and the only power he has is the power of persuasion.  There is only one adequate defence against his subtle tactics and that is the shield of faith that works through love.  Measure everything against love!  Anything that is sowing seeds of discord and strife is not from love!  I remember hearing a well-known minister who is a fine example of someone who walks the love walk say that there is one thing that he can never allow among those who are a part of their ministry, and that is strife!  Anyone who is unwilling to deal with strife is asked to leave because it is so damaging and will always seek to spread its seeds of destruction. 

Those who choose to walk in love do not give blanket approval to everything that they encounter and throw open the door to everyone who wants a platform to spread their personal agendas – they take responsibility to protect everything that is within their sphere of influence from the damaging effects of anything that is not a definite demonstration of faith working through love!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  IT IS TIME FOR THE WEAK TO SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

We have been looking at some of those people who are listed in the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith”, and have seen that they were not perfect people and in some cases were, in fact, far from perfect – but by bringing their weakness to God they received his strength to overcome by faith!  We also of course looked at two men listed there – Cain and Esau – who are not there by faith,  because although they had weaknesses in their lives they chose not to exchange their weakness for God’s strength.

Last time we looked at Enoch.  This time we are going to look at Noah.

Hebrews 11: 7

7 By faith Noah (INFORMATION > MEDITATION), being warned of God of things not yet seen (REVELATION), moved with godly fear (MOTIVATION), prepared an ark to the saving of his house (APPLICATION); by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (TRANSFORMATION).

Remember – INFORMATION > MEDITATION > REVELATION > MOTIVATION > APPLICATION > TRANSFORMATION

Genesis 5: 28 – 29; 6: 5 – 22

28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. 29 And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed……..5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it:

God then goes on to detail how the Ark should be built.

22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

Noah was the great-grandson of Enoch.  Enoch was the first man in the seven generations since Adam fell to walk with God – and now three generations after Enoch there is another man who chooses to separate himself from the wickedness surrounding him and to walk with God just like his great-grandfather.  Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD!  How do you find grace?  You seek it by faith! 

Ephesians 2: 8 – 9

8 For by grace are all of you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Faith believes that God has supernatural ability available for those who seek it!  Noah had heard of how his great-grandfather had walked with God and so he chose to do the same even although he was the only one of his generation to do so!  It takes courage to swim against the current!  In every generation there is the opportunity to conform to the status quo or to choose to move forward by faith into the fullness of God’s purpose which will always separate you from the ordinary and release you into the extraordinary!  It will cause you to be a sign and a wonder and the most exciting thing that is going on wherever you are!  Building a massive boat miles from the sea is going to get attention!  I heard a demonic voice say some time ago, “How dare you try and build a church here!”  Obviously we have someone’s attention!

When you walk the walk you also talk the talk. According to 2 Peter 2: 5 Noah was a preacher of righteousness.  He wasn’t lambasting the people around him with threats of the judgement that was coming against them – he was simply testifying as to why he was doing what he was doing which included the message that judgement was coming!

Noah was a ‘yes’ man – he had said, “yes, LORD” for years – diligently obeying God’s directions and following God’s plans as he built the ark.  Some people scorn ‘yes’ men but as a leader I have worked with ‘no’ men who seemed to feel obligated to question, criticise and debate every decision, and it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who was the easiest to work with and who got the job done most effectively.  In fact, the ‘No’ men spent most of their time having a go at the ‘yes’ men!  ‘Yes’ men are a blessing as long as they are saying ‘yes’ to the right people and to the right things. 

Noah had said, “yes, LORD” for years – he was one of the good guys – and so he would have thought when he came out of the ark that he was in a safe place.  God blessed him and his sons, told them to be fruitful and multiply, and made a covenant with them.  However, it is often after our  biggest success that we can experience our greatest failure.

1 Corinthians 10: 12 – 13

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
 
Regardless of how successful our ministry may be we have not yet arrived and there is still a war going on.  We must continue to watch and pray because although our spirit is willing our flesh is still weak!

It is quite possible that Noah didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the task he was undertaking when he first said, “yes, LORD” to building the ark but as he continued in faith and obedience the work grew and the task was accomplished.

As you read the stories of the majority of the very well-known and highly successful ministries of our generation you get to see that they didn’t for the most part set out to be mega-church builders or Christian celebrity superstars!  Their rise to fame is oftentimes inspiring as they simply obeyed God’s leading and direction and walked in his favour. Their success is generally the result of their wilingness to say, “yes, LORD!”

However, the tragedy is that often the biggest failures can occur on the back of our greatest success.  In recent years there have been too many high profile failures involving well-known ministers.   We need to understand that generally speaking they haven't fallen because they are the bad guys – often they are some of the good guys and yet somehow they have got tangled up in a mess.  How can this happen?  Well, let’s see what happened to Noah.

Genesis 8: 20 – 22; 9: 1, 7 – 9, 11 – 13, 16 – 17

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I
will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
22 “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night
shall not cease.” 

1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand….
7 And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.”

8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you….11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth….

16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Noah’s faith and obedience were responsible for saving the human race and all other living creatures from extinction.  He must have been flying high!  God blessed him and his sons and released them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, gave him authority over all of the other living creatures, and made a covenant with them that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood.

Then see what happens next.

Genesis 9: 18 – 28

18 Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.
20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.
24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 Then he said:
“ Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.”
26 And he said: “ Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.”
28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.  

Noah gets drunk, his son sees his father’s nakedness and chooses to expose his father to his brothers.  Noah wakes up from his drunken stupour, realises what his son has done and releases a curse over his son’s son – his own grandson Canaan.  What a mess!

The reality is that we are often more susceptible to failure as we ride the wave of success!  It is at the point that we feel and appear to be at our strongest that our weakness can be exposed.  Our most humiliating defeat often comes right after our greatest victory!

There can be several reasons for this but probably the most common one is a temporary lapse of focus on the the One who is ultimately responsible for our success and whose strength and blessing made it happen!  Even the good guys can get it wrong!  That is why we are exhorted to pray for our leaders – not to worship them!

As I was meditating on what happened in Noah’s life these words rose up in my spirit: “Noah got drunk on the fruit of his own success!”

As I continued to meditate on this I began to realise that these words have a strong message for all of us as we continue on this journey of life – believing God for great things and looking to him for the release of the potential that he has placed within us.

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Again, as I was meditating on this dilemma and seeking the root of Noah’s weakness I received the revelation that after a lifetime of walking with God, loving God, and being a “yes” man and saying, “yes, LORD”, Noah found it difficult to discern when t was right to say, “NO!” to what appeared to be a part of the fruit of his success!  Noah’s weakness was not knowing when to say, “NO!”  And so the title of this part of this series is: “Noah – Learning to say No!”

It is when the “good guys” think that they have made it or finally arrived and become successful in ministry after years of faithful obedience and saying, “yes, LORD” to the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit that it is essential that they maintain the resolve to say, “NO, FLESH!” to some of what appears to be the genuine fruit of their success!

The truth is that those who receive God’s word with faith and meditate upon it, releasing the revelation that is the motivation for application of that word and that leads to supernatural transformation will always prosper and succeed.

Joshua 1: 8

8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 

But the world is never a safe place – it is always a battlefield and a war zone – and so we must be diligent to maintain the standard raised up by the Holy Spirit!  It is not necessary for us to indulge our flesh at every legitimate opportunity, or to gather overly excessive amounts of the treasures of this world in order to impress.  There are times when we must learn to discipline our flesh and say, “NO, FLESH!”

2 Timothy 2: 2 – 4

2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

Noah didn’t recognise when it was right to say, “NO!”  There comes a time when you need to be able to discern between what is right and what is wrong, what is necessary and what is not, what is legitimate and what is illegitimate, what is holy and what is profane!

This is quite heavy but it still needs to be said because it is the word of God!

Ezekiel 22: 25 – 27

25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD had not spoken.

I believe that we have seen too many of the ‘good guys’ fall because they didn’t know when it was time to say, “NO!” to what they discovered could be extracted from the fruit of their success!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

As the LORD comes to release the potential within us to birth successful ministries, kingdom businesses, etc it is essential that we understand that the spirit is willing but the flesh is still weak!  As we move on to success and prosperity in faith by saying, “YES, LORD” we must bring the weakness of our flesh to the LORD so that we can exchange it for the strength to say, “NO, FLESH!” when it is right to do so!

We need his supernatural strength to say, “NO FLESH!” to every temptation – to immorality, to divorce, to financial excesses, etc, etc.  Otherwise, our nakedness will be exposed by someone – whether rightly or wrongly (we will look at this later).  There will be shame – and a curse will be released in the family of God!

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Remember – Noah got drunk on the fruit of his own success.

There is an intoxication that can affect those who achieve great success or victory. It is not the result of alcohol consumption but its effects are the same.  According to an encyclopedia: Intoxication frequently leads to a lowering of one's inhibitions, and intoxicated people will sometimes do things they would not do while sober, often overlooking social, moral, and legal considerations.

Wow! Those who have not learned to say “NO, FLESH!” and who are intoxicated with the fruit of their success are in danger of overlooking social, moral, and legal considerations.  Does that make sense to you?  Are you waking up and smelling the coffee?  Have you wondered how the “good guys” who have blessed you so much could end up having their nakedness exposed?  Can you see how it happens now?

Listen to this!

Isaiah 28: 5 – 7

5 In that day the LORD of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people, 6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. 7 But …The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

There are six stages to drunkenness – euphoria, lethargy, confusion, stupour, coma, and death.  They all have associated symptoms and they can all be applied to those who are drunk on the fruit of their own success.

Euphoria –  Subject may experience an overall improvement in mood and possible euphoria (a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness). They may become more self-confident or daring. Their attention span shortens. They may look flushed. Their judgment is not as good — they may express the first thought that comes to mind, rather than an appropriate comment for the given situation.

Lethargy –  Subject may become sleepy. They have trouble understanding or remembering things, even recent events. They do not react to situations as quickly. Their body movements are uncoordinated; they begin to lose their balance easily, stumbling; walking is not stable. Their vision becomes blurry. They may have trouble sensing things (hearing, feeling, etc.)

Confusion – Profound confusion — uncertain where they are or what they are doing. Dizziness and staggering occur. Heightened emotional state — aggressive, withdrawn, or overly affectionate. Vision, speech, and awareness are impaired. Poor coordination and pain response. Nausea and vomiting often occur. (Isaiah 28: 8)

Stupour – Movement severely impaired; lapses in and out of consciousness. Subjects can slip into a coma; will become completely unaware of surroundings, time passage, and actions. Risk of death is very high due to alcohol poisoning and/or pulmonary aspiration of vomit while unconscious.
  
Coma –  Unconsciousness sets in. Reflexes are depressed (i.e., pupils do not respond appropriately to changes in light). Breathing is slower and more shallow. Heart rate drops. Death usually occurs at levels in this range.

Death – Can cause central nervous system to fail, resulting in death.

Can you see the spiritual parallels here?  We need to recognise the warning signs!  It is time wake up from our lethargy!  Jesus came to his disciples and he found them sleeping!  They still thought everything was trucking along as usual!  They were blinded by intoxication to the reality of what was about to take place even though they had heard it clearly stated to them!  They were drunk on the fruit of their own success!  But Jesus woke them up and told them to watch out because their spirit was willing but their flesh was weak!  The stuff that they had seen and done – after all, even the demons were subject unto them in Jesus’ name – and the successes they had experienced were no protection against the subtleties of temptation in the hour of testing!

It is not sufficient to merely say, “YES, LORD!”  We must also learn to say, “NO, FLESH!”

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

After a lifetime of saying, “YES, LORD!” and successfully saving humanity from extinction Noah failed to say, “NO, FLESH!” and by reacting to his son’s actions while still under the ravages of a raging hangover pronounced a curse upon his son’s posterity.

Noah was not in the best frame of mind to react to what his son had done.  It can be the same when one of the ‘good guys’ are exposed today – they don’t always react in the right way immediately.  It is as though they have just woken up from their drunkenness and have realised that their nakedness has been exposed.  Sometimes they will initially deny their wrongdoing or lie about the circumstances or counter-accuse their accusers, etc.

What Ham did was wrong in the sense of how he went about it as Noah’s weakness actually only served to expose his own weakness in his willingness to so readily uncover his father’s failure.    But how Noah reacted was also wrong.  Ultimately, it was Noah who was wrong first and yet it was Ham whose family had to bear the consequences.  None of us are an island – none of us can sin and think that sin’s effects will stop at ourselves.  It was Ham’s son Canaan who was cursed. 

Very often when stuff like this goes on it can cause great disillusionment and bitterness in the next generation and turn them away from God as though it was his fault!

I believe that we have not always  dealt with the failure of others in the way that God would have had us to and so we have exposed our own weakness and released a curse into the future generations of the church that can only be turned around by the one antidote for the curse – the blessing!

Remember – the blessing consists of words and so we must always go back to the word for the way out of our mess.

Isaiah 28: 9 – 10

9 “ Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message?…10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”

God didn’t design the church to be an instrument of his judgement  – but to be a vehicle for his mercy!  We must surrender our own weakness to the LORD and exchange it for his strength that will enable us to not just say, “YES, LORD!” but also to say, “NO, FLESH!” in the hour of temptation!

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Noah blew it with his drunkenness but he still made it into the “Hall of Faith” and there are those of us and others who have blown it but for whom failure does not need to be terminal.  We can recover from the shame of our nakedness and go on to make an impact on the world around us and in the church.  One of the things that should cause us to stand in awe of our God is the fact that he can turn evil around for good!  A scripture that has blown me away for years is:

Psalm 130: 3 – 5

3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.   
   

It doesn’t say that there is judgement with him that he may be feared – but forgiveness! 
 
We are not talking about out and out charlatans here who have infiltrated the church with the deliberate intent of exploiting and manipulating God’s people for their own dishonest gain.  We are talking about the ‘good guys’ who sometimes get caught up and intoxicated on the fruit of their own success and so their ability to say, “NO, FLESH” is seriously impaired and their weakness and their  nakedness is exposed.

In the next part we are going to look more closely at the curse that can be released in the church when we don’t do things God’s way and deal with things in love from a pure heart and with pure motives.

We need God’s strength to not only say, “YES, LORD!” but also to say, “NO, FLESH!” 

We need to learn to say, “NO, FLESH!” now rather than when we are already drunk on the fruit of our own success and it is much harder to say it!

Will you come to the place of Divine exchange today and lay down the weakness of your flesh and pick up God’s supernatural strength?

IT IS TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

 

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