Perhaps We’re too Practical

Devo Scripture: Genesis 8:20-22
Key Verse: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

They made it! The flood Noah had been anticipating for decades was over. Now what? What’s the first step when life as you knew it is changed forever? When the loss around you is completely overwhelming? When you’ve got questions, doubts, fears? When there is much work to be done? The rebuilding that preceded them must have felt at least a bit overwhelming. The rebuilding of people, animals, homes. The rebuilding of businesses, farms, flocks, herds, food. Everything had to be rebuilt. Everything. All they had was on that boat. Where would you even start?

Knowing me I’d start with one of my well formulated plans. I’d probably make a list or two; take inventory of our current provisions and determine how much we could spare per person per day until we could grow or gather more. I’d assign a brother-in-law or two to start taking apart the boat. We’d need it for firewood and shelter. Then I’d kiss my husband and ask him if he wouldn’t mind finding me something warmer to put on. The climate was so different and cold. The unexpected weather was going to add an interesting element to things. It would be a long few years but we could do it if we were smart, worked together, and lived practically. After all practicality was of absolute importance right?

But I don’t read any of that in Genesis 8. None. Instead of building a house what does Noah do? He builds an altar. Instead of taking inventory he sacrifices not just one animal but one of each clean animal. That took some serious effort and time. And wasn’t time of the essence? It’s survival mode people! Noah had limited resources; limited provisions; yet there he was burning animal after animal (when there were so few left) on valuable wood to a God who just delivered judgment on the entire world. Noah wasn’t thinking practically at all. No…he was thinking spiritually.

And he had never been more right than he was that day on the side of a freshly washed mountain. All practicality aside, Noah offered to God burnt offerings that so pleased the LORD, he declared “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” Huh, did God suddenly have a change of heart? No. He is not a man that he should change his mind (Nu. 23:19). What happened that day on the side of the freshly washed mountain signified the necessity of sacrifice; shed blood; for the sin of mankind. It was an act of atonement because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). Noah’s burnt offerings foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, offered once for the sin of all people (1 Peter 1:18-19). And for that reason God’s wrath was appeased. The intention of man was still evil. The flood didn’t change that. But on account of the burnt offerings that foreshadowed his son, God restored his favor to man. Though Noah’s sacrifice may seem a bit impractical, even a bit absurd to the average onlooker; spiritually speaking – it was the most pragmatic and responsible act he could have done.

But if there had been a world watching might they have esteemed him as crazy? Wasting such valuable resources. It was so impractical. Oh that the world might esteem me as impractical for the sake of Christ. Don’t get me wrong I’m all about practicality. But what if we worship when it makes absolutely no sense to the watching world? What then? When life is upside down; when I’m hurt to my very core; when the watching world sees nothing but loss; when life holds so many questions; when I’m in a different place than I ever thought I’d be; when it appears as though God has turned his back? What if then I worship? When I don’t have time. When there’s kids to chase, dinner to make, laundry to fold, bills to pay. What if I took the time to worship right then? What might God do then? For you; for me? Genesis 9:1 tells us what God will do. “And God blessed Noah…” Blessing will follow. The kind of blessing only God can give. The best kind of blessing. But much of the time this blessing…well….it just doesn’t come under the pretense of practicality. Yet falls fresh on every knee bent hard, every face flat to the earth worshiping when the world looks and seeing marvel’s because it makes no sense.

So really then…what if we weren’t so practical? What if we sacrifice when we have little to give? Noah had nothing to spare yet one of every clean animal was slain. Was that a hard decision? Giving to God out of their limited resources? Or out of reverence for the God that spared them was it easy? I wonder, were they hungry? And I mean h.u.n.g.r.y. At the smell of the bbq did their mouths water insanely and their stomachs yearn for just a little. Yet they could have none of it. (except the hide). A burnt offering was offered in it’s entirety. All of it belonged to God because all of Christ was offered to God (except his robes). Sacrifice. It’s supposed to cost us something but does it? What if…what if we sacrificed when we had little to give? little strength. little time. little sleep. little money. little experience. little knowledge. What if we sacrificed then? When it seems so impractical to a watching world? What then?

Perhaps with a little less practicality the world might see in us the God who is worth it all. Perhaps then they might see Jesus; who saves, sustains, and protects the soul that seeks him. My friends, perhaps it’s time we live a little less practical and a lot more spiritual. Perhaps then we would find that we’re living the most pragmatic and responsible life possible.

At the moment when worship seems the least practical option it’s likely the most sensible solution.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Put yourself in Noah’s place, with limited resources would you have sacrificed all those animals?
In what area of your life might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to think spiritually instead of practically?image

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