No sermon audio for this Sunday’s message. If I have time this week, I’ll do my best to make a “studio” recording. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s a busy week with Soup Supper and Trunk or Treat coming up (hope to see you there)!
Sunday’s sermon dealt with how God can use circumstances and events to draw us closer to Him and change our lives. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the arrival of our three kids has certainly changed our lives. It did the same for Enoch, too.
Speaking of having three kids, I must admit that I’m still getting used to the fact that the Todd family is now a family of five instead of just four. On more than one occasion, I’ve caught myself saying under my breath, “Oh yeah! I have three kids now!” It certainly takes more planing and energy with three children. If you want to find out more about our journey to a family of five, you’re welcome to read about it on my personal blog, Life in the Fishbowl: Or maybe it’s a ZOO!
While you’re busy not holding your breath in anticipation of the audio from this past Sunday’s sermon, the manuscript is after the jump…
In The Beginning: Walking With God
October 25, 2009
Dave was a chain smoker most of his adult life. His mom was a smoker. His dad was a smoker until the day he died. Dave followed in his parents’ footsteps and took up smoking at a relatively young age. He tried several times to quit – especially after his daughter started nagging him. But he just couldn’t break that nasty habit that he had been practicing for so many years. It was engrained in him.
Things changed the day he dropped his daughter off at college. After a weekend of moving items into the dorm, chatting with other anxious parents, and countless trips to the local Walmart, it was time for him to leave. He gave his daughter one last hug, got into his car and drove away. A small Post Office sits near the main entrance to the campus and Dave had to pull into the parking lot. Tears had been rolling down his face and he couldn’t see anything. As he sat in the parking lot that evening, trying to settle himself down, Dave made a decision that night. He picked up his pack of cigarettes and threw them in the trash. He resolved right then and there that he would not take another drag from a cigarette. It was time to stop smoking.
And he hasn’t picked up a cigarette since that day. I know Dave’s story is the exception, rather than the rule. Quitting cold-turkey is a difficult, if not impossible, task for many smokers to accomplish. But Dave’s story is an example of how a dramatic, emotional event in his life led him in a different direction.
Sometimes it takes a dramatic event like this to bring about a change in someone’s life. We saw that in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. On the streets of New York City, which is not necessarily known for its spiritual sensitivity, lines to enter church buildings went out the door and around the block – just so people could pray for and with one another. In the Sundays following 9/11, churches nationwide saw a substantial increase in attendance. Those tragic events sparked a spiritual awakening in many people. We saw unity unlike any that had been seen in quite some time. U.S. flags appeared outside neighborhood homes overnight. Congressional leaders from both parties stood on the steps of the Capitol building and sang God Bless America in a display of solidarity. People appreciated their families more. The events were eye-opening and spurred people to realize that life really is short and we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. I was involved in student ministry at the time and attended a lot of graduation ceremonies at the end of that school year. And every valedictory address I heard from the class of 2002 included the same line: “9/11 changed my life.” And for many, I know that life-change was fueled by a decision to follow Christ.
The arrival of a child serves as a catalyst for many life changes. Every parent knows this. Your life changes when you have a child. Every decision you make seems to revolve around your children. And many times this leads to changes in our spiritual lives.
Such was the case with a man named Enoch. If you have your Bibles with you, please turn with me to Genesis 5:21. If you don’t have your Bible with you, you’re welcome to use the one in the pew in front of you. Genesis 5:21 is found on page 4 in those red Bibles. We’ve been watching the story of God unfold during these opening stories to the book of Genesis. The book of Genesis doesn’t merely tell the stories of the lives of people thousands of years ago. It also tells our story – the story about how God created us to have a relationship with us…the story of how our sinful choices have caused division – not only between us and God, but also in our relationships with each other…the story of how we need a savior – that we cannot do it on our own.
Although creation began in perfection and in harmony with the Father, everything was upended with the arrival of sin. Things are still dark. And as the story of Genesis continues, we begin to see the results of the effects of sin on humanity. The verses before the text we’re looking at this morning provide a link, tracing the connection between Enoch and Adam. But this link also serves as a graveyard.
The genealogy begins with Adam. After Abel was murdered and Cain was exiled, he and Eve had another son named Seth. They also had other sons and daughters. And then it says “Altogether Adam lived 930 years…and then he died.”
In verse 8, we learn what happened to Seth.
He had a son named Enos.
He had a son named Kenan.
Kenan had a son named Mahalalel.
He died, too.
Mahalalel’s son was named Jared.
And what happened to him? He died.
Paul reminds us in the book of Romans the same thing that God promised Adam and Eve when He commanded them not to eat of the forbidden fruit – the wages of sin is death. Sin has its consequences. And the ultimate consequence is death. These were dark times. Things were spiraling further out of control. What was once peace and paradise had become violence and chaos. And in the midst of this darkness, one man had a life-changing moment.
I don’t know what the first 65 years of Enoch’s life were like. It could be reasonably assumed that he was like the rest of the crowd. As we’ll see next week, humanity was in a downward spiral, dominated by sin and the violence it brings. It was a careless, godless era – a far cry from the paradise Adam and Eve experienced just a few generations before. But we do know that when Methuselah was born, everything changed for this man. Did the responsibility of raising a son in such a chaotic world so challenge Enoch that he knew he needed the Lord’s help? We know from the letter of Jude that Enoch did begin to preach a coming judgment to his neighbors. When the baby was born, did God give Enoch insight into the future so he knew the Flood was coming? We don’t really know. But we do know that the arrival of this baby changed Enoch’s life. Or maybe the beauty of the arrival of this new, innocent life spurred him to know the Creator even more. It was a dramatic, emotional moment and it served as a catalyst, leading him to turn to the Lord. And he walked with him for the next 300 years.
The word translated here as “walk” has the same root as the word used to describe the relationship between Adam and God back in the Garden. The walk Enoch had with God was the way it was intended to be – it was a close friendship with the Lord.
The only way I know to describe this is the way a little girl described it to her mother when she came home from Sunday school one day. She said, “Teacher told us about Enoch and how he walked with God.” Her mother said, “Well, what about Enoch?” And the little girl put it something like this: “It seems that every day God would come by and say to Enoch, ‘Enoch, would you like to walk with Me?’ And Enoch would come out of his house and down to the gate, and he’d go walking with God. He got to the place that he enjoyed it so much that he’d be waiting at the gate of his house every day. And God would come along and say, ‘Enoch, let’s take a walk.’ Then one day God came by and said, ‘Enoch, let’s take a long walk. I have so much to tell you.’ So they were walking and walking, and finally Enoch said, ‘My, it’s getting late in the afternoon. I’d better get back home!’ And God said to him, ‘Enoch, you’re closer to My home than you are to yours; so why don’t you come on home with Me?’ And so Enoch went home with God.” That’s what it appears to have happened here. And this wouldn’t have happened if Enoch hadn’t responded to God’s use of the circumstances in his life.
Sometimes, God uses the circumstances surrounding us to draw us closer to Him. It can be the blessings in our life – the entrance of a new life into the world, a the freshness of a new love, or an unexpected financial bonus, or a healing from an illness – God can use the good things to call us into a closer walk with Him.
But God also uses the difficult and ugly times in our lives to draw us closer to Him as well. It could be the death of a loved one. Or employment and financial hardships. Or emotional stress because of a strained relationship. Or there could be chronic pain caused by something the doctors just can’t figure out. God also uses these circumstances to draw us closer to Him.
Jeremy is a Christian musician, originally from Lafayette, Indiana. He attended a Bible college in Southern California and was soon leading worship services all over the area. It was while at one of these worship services that he met Melissa. They began to date and got pretty serious.
Then Jeremy received a call that would change his life forever. He was summoned to the hospital to see Melissa, then 20, who had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While he visited her, he was amazed at her perspective and her desire to see God glorified. When Jeremy left the hospital that day, he found himself making a promise. He drove away saying, “God if you want me to marry Melissa, knowing she could die from this cancer, then I will. If she tells me she loves me, I’ll marry her.” She’d never told him she loved him before. So this was going out on a limb. To make a long story short, she soon told him she loved him and he said the same thing. He went and bought a ring the next day.
Five months later, Melissa was feeling better, on the road to recovery. The young couple said their vows in front of a thousand well-wishers. Unfortunately, their happiness was short-lived. During their honeymoon, Melissa started having stomach problems and when they returned, the doctor delivered news they dreaded.
She had mere months to live.
On February 5, 2001, Melissa died. Less than 5 months after she had married Jeremy.
The death of his bride could have driven him away from the Father. But this circumstance brought him closer to the God who loves him. In the midst of his grief and loss, Jeremy composed this song:
Scattered words and empty thoughts
Seem to pour from my heart
I’ve never felt so torn before
Seems I don’t know where to start
But it’s now that I feel your grace fall like rain
From every fingertip washing away my pain
Though the questions still fog up my mind
With promises I still seem to bear
Even when answers slowly unwind
It’s my heart I see you prepare
But it’s now, that I feel, your grace fall like rain
From every fingertip washing away my pain
Well the only place I can go is into Your arms
Where I throw to you my feeble prayers well in brokenness
I can see that this was Your will for me
Help me to know that You are near
I still believe in Your faithfulness
I still believe in Your truth
I still believe in Your holy word
Even when I don’t see, I still believe
(click here for the video)
Countless lives have been touched by this song. God used the painful, ugly circumstances in Jeremy Camp’s life to draw him closer. And in the midst of the dark world that surrounds us, this song shines like a beacon, pointing other people who are going through similar circumstances and doubt and pain to the cross.
How is your walk this morning? When you wake up are you seeking Him in all you experience? Or are you allowing circumstances to drive a wedge between you and your Father? Are you allowing the darkness that surrounds us to change your attitude and your lifestyle, or are you living a life of faith in spite of this present darkness? Enoch’s decision to walk with the Lord was public. He was a beam of light in a darkened world. His life and witness remind us that it’s possible to be faithful to God amongst a crooked generation. No matter how dark the day or how bad the news, God wants us to draw nearer to Him.
Another thing Enoch’s life reminds us is it’s never too late. God doesn’t care what you’ve done in your past. You can still turn to Him. Enoch was 65 years old before he started walking with the Lord. That’s 65 years of history that could have held him back from drawing nearer to God. But we cannot allow what has happened in the past keep us from turning to Him in the present. When Jesus Christ spread out His arms and died on the cross, it wasn’t for just the little fibs or “white-lies” that He made such a sacrifice. He came for all of our sins. Even the ones we think should never be forgiven. So come as you are and allow God to change you into who He wants you to be. It won’t happen overnight. It took God 300 years to shape Enoch into the person who walked home with the Lord. But it begins by turning to Him and walking with Him.
Are you walking with Him? Have you committed your life to Christ’s leadership? If you haven’t I encourage you to do so today. We’re going to sing a song of invitation in a few moments and if you know that’s a decision you need to make, you’re invited to come forward and share that with us. We want to celebrate that with you.
Every day we have an opportunity to walk closer to the Father. Are you doing that? Don’t allow past mistakes or current circumstances to keep you from the relationship you were created to have.
Even when we don’t see God’s hand, He is at work in our circumstances. It is my prayer that we allow these things to draw us closer to the God who loves us.
 Many thoughts have been borrowed from W. Wiersbe, Be Basic, and J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary Series: Genesis Chapters 1-15
 J. Vernon McGee, p. 115.