The readings today caused me to remember God’s goodness, His provision, and His protection.
21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. 24 And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days. (Gen. 7:21-24 NLT)
What must it have been like on that ark knowing everything around you was being destroyed while you trust God for your life? I have been inside my house when really fierce winds and rain raged outside—it was the kind of storm that take down trees and rips off roofs. I must admit to feeling a sense of fear as to my fate. What struck me most reading the chapter this time was how God not only protected them but also provided for the needs of the eight passengers and all the livestock, animals, and birds contained safely within. Noah had no idea how long they were going to be afloat and he was told by God to load enough food for all of them. Only God alone could have made the food last for the year from the time they got on the boat until the time they got off! God’s goodness, His provision, His protection.
27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:27-28 NLT)
The Israelites were finally able to go home after their long exile. God caused the King of Assyria to favor them to the point he even provided the means with which they could rebuild their Temple. He had protected a remnant of his people and sent them back to their own land. God is good!
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matt 7:24-27)
As I thought back to the worst storm I could remember, I was thankful God had protected me and my home. The neighbor’s roof had shingles blown over the neighborhood, there were downed trees, and lots of debris. That is such a physical example of what Jesus is talking about—the other type of storm that enters our life. His teachings are the bedrock we build upon. He is that safe harbor in a storm. I’ve lived through several storms of that type—the kind that almost take you out because of the pain they cause to your spirit. I am not sure I would have survived the storm without Jesus to cling to. I truly learned of God’s sovereignty. I learned of his protection, his provision, and his goodness. I can trust he will be there again whenever the next storm hits.
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56)
Lord Jesus, I look forward to seeing your face one day as Stephen did. I will be able to thank you in person for your protection, your provision, and your goodness in my life. I thank you for the storms I’ve endured so far because they drew me closer to you. I know it was only after the storm had blown over that I could see your purpose in it and it was always for my benefit. I lift my voice with Ezra’s and sing, “Praise the Lord”. In your precious name I pray, Amen