So Noah Went Out – Genesis 8

So Noah went out, and his sons
and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.
Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird,
everything that moves on the earth,
went out by their families from the ark.

Staying with our visualization of Noah going into the ark and waters rising, let’s think for a minute about how it would feel being in the ark, if after more than a month of rain, it suddenly stopped (or slowly tapered off). The silence would be almost deafening, except for the lowing of the cattle and an occasional roar from a lion. What would happen next?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m floating, I don’t know how deep the water is under me. It was probably a blessing for them to not know how deep the waters were.  They continued to float, day after day, until they heard that creaking sound again, as the ark groaned as it rested on land. 

My guess is that they opened the window as soon as they could, at least I would have! What they saw was tops of mountains. This would probably be their first realization of how high the waters had actually gotten. I’m sure they searched the ridge for landmarks on the mountains, to let them know where they were.

We’re not told that God told Noah to send out the raven or dove. Noah must have had the sense to know what to do to see what the conditions were around him. Patient with the process, he continued to send out birds, until God told him that he had brought him to safety.

And then, Noah worshipped God, and I’m sure that was quite the worship service! God had brought him through the worst disaster the world has ever known. It was by God’s grace Noah and his family were spared.

It’s by God’s grace, we are spared.

Floating – Genesis 7

The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth,
and the ark floated on the surface of the water.

We don’t know a lot that goes around this story and about this time in history. We don’t know if there was ever a boat before now or if Noah had any experience with oceans or seas. Building this huge structure in the middle of land must have seemed peculiar to those around him, and yet Noah himself must have been peculiar as someone who was separate, not participating in the sin around him.

And then there was the parade of animals walking up and getting into the boat. I wondered what those who saw it thought…was the Noah the “animal whisperer.”

We have no record that Noah shared his conversations with God or called those around him to repentance. I think God’s decision was already made. I think those who were sinning had made their decisions.

And then the rains came.

And the ark “floated.” I try to visualize those moments inside the ark, the door closed, the sound of rain. The ark creaks as the water rises, maybe swaying a little side to side as water gathers on one side and then goes to the other. I picture Noah and his family, waiting, listening, hoping…a little fearful and a little amazed.

And then the feeling of floating…no longer connected to the earth, rising above all that they knew, what had always been a firm foundation to them. There was no anchor, holding them steady. If there were winds, there may have been a sense of movement, going with the current, and yet no ability to see.

Floating on God’s grace.

I can’t help but relate it to my life, the times when I’ve lost the security of what I have known, when all I could do was trust Jesus. I knew I had been obedient, had made preparations in my heart and life for what was coming. And yet in those moments of letting go and letting God take over, I heard my own creaks and moans as I left the realities of the world for the realities of his grace. I was lifted up and all I could do was rest, floating, abandoned to his will. 

It hasn’t happened often in my life, but it is so like Noah’s experience. We do need to prepare ourselves spiritually for what is to come, as much as God reveals it to us. But there is a point in which we rest in him and the hope of his salvation.

Grace – Philemon

Epaphras, my fellow prison in Christ Jesus, send greetings to you,
and do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

This book begins and ends with grace, and grace is throughout the middle.

Remember, the greeting was, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And now we end with “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

And the middle was the request for Philemon to extend grace, unmerited favor, to Onesimus, just as Jesus had extended grace to Philemon, and Paul extended grace as he discipled Philemon.

Grace is everywhere!

Sometimes I wonder how we get caught up in our uptight little worlds. We lack grace, unmerited favor, towards others. And we often lack it for even ourselves, instead of grace going before us, with us, and flowing through us.

So I guess I want to leave this study acknowledging that we are not alone. Others are with us in the journey, just as we have been together through this journey. 

And we are surrounded by grace. God’s grace. Grace to forgive others. Grace to believe better days are coming. Grace to give to ourselves and others.

God’s grace. 

Saved by Grace – Philemon


So, if you consider me you partner,
receive him as you would receive me.
If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything,
charge that to my account.

Don’t you hate those darn “if’s” in life? If you do this, then I will do that? It makes life “conditional.”

And yet, life is conditional. There are tradeoffs and consequences for actions.

First, “If you consider me your partner,” Paul, once again, takes a position of humility, not as Philemon’s leader or elder, but as a equal partner.

After all, they are both sinners saved by grace.

Then, “receive him as you would receive me.” Just as Jesus takes our place in payment for our sins, Paul draws a dramatic picture of Onesimus taking Paul’s place, as a “partner,” not a runaway slave.

After all, they are both sinners saved by grace.

Second, “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything” Paul acknowledges the wrong done. He knows this is not easy. Onesimus is a sinner who has been saved by grace. Before God, he is holy. But, he still has debts here on earth that need to be reckoned. 

Then, “charge it to my account.” Just as Jesus took all our actions, our wrongs, our debts, and paid for them through the cross, Paul steps into position to take on Onesimus’ debts and put them onto his account. Remember, Paul is in prison. How would he pay? He doesn’t know, but he does know…

After all, they are all sinners saved by grace. 

It’s hard to forgive others, even if they are brothers or sisters in faith. The physical things they did, and maybe still do, grind within us. We want payment. At the very least, we want a confession. It‘s hard to move forward without it.

For me, it’s only when I’ve been able to say in my heart, “OK, God, put it on my account. You’ve saved me when I owed so much more, and you are continuing to save me as I continue to sin. Put it on my account, because I know…”

We are sinners…

saved by your immeasurable, freely given, sacrificial…


Greetings – Philemon

We have lots of ways of greeting others. “Hi! How are you?” is a common greeting, but have you noticed how few people really seem interested in the answer?

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace seem to be a common greeting from Paul. It’s used in Titus, the book right before Philemon (1:4b). It makes you wonder if it’s just common or if Paul really meant every word he wrote. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt…

Grace – grace is what they both had in common. Philemon and Paul had both received saving grace. They were also receiving grace for daily living, although in different circumstances: Philemon was in his nice house, free to live his life, while Paul was in prison. 

Peace – peace is something we all desire. Philemon certainly did not want trouble with the church in his home, although he knew every service was a risk, every newcomer suspect. And Paul certainly didn’t want things to get worse in jail. At least in peace he could continue to do ministry.

But where do grace and peace come from?

Ultimately, God the Father – he is sovereign and all powerful. He is the one in control of the world and everything in it, that he created and set into motion.

But even more, personal peace comes our Lord Jesus Christ. When we were far from God, Jesus bridged the gap. Romans 3:23-24 says, 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And are justified by his grace as a gift,
Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Through Jesus, we not only have grace, but peace.

In the midst of an election season, we need both grace and peace. We need to extend grace to others, just as we ourselves have received grace. And we need to find peace, not as the world experiences peace, but as Jesus gives us peace.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you;
Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
(John 14:27)

Grace and peace I want to leave with you today —