January 4: Listen, Build, and Listen Again
Genesis 6–7; Matthew 6–7:11; Ecclesiastes 2:1–11
More often than not, what we want is not what God wants. We desire wealth, notoriety, or influence. In our ambition, we can lose sight of the very God who created us.
In the story of Noah and the flood, we see the same dichotomy: the world wants one thing and God desires another. The two aren’t congruent. In this case, selfishness has led to catastrophic levels of evil: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence … all flesh had corrupted their way on earth” (Gen 6:11–12). So God tells Noah that He is through—He’s going to end it all. But Noah and his family will be spared if they’re obedient to God’s will.
Noah listens; he builds the ark. And God honors His work by closing the door (Gen 7:16). He’s there at the end, sealing the deal. Being faithful means getting an opportunity to witness the power of God.
When our ambitions aren’t guided by God’s will and His goals, the result can mean corruption or corrupting others. We might wonder how we got there, but in reality, we know how it happened: selfishness is to blame.
Instead of doing things our way, we must listen, build what God wants, and then listen again. We have a choice: we can seek our own ambitions—like wisdom or knowledge—or we can choose Christ’s way, realizing that “in much wisdom is much vexation, and [that the one] who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (Eccl 1:18).
Ambition alone does not offer a happy ending. The only ending that results in joy is the one that focuses on God’s kingdom and His desires. Rather than justify our current desires, we should acknowledge the dichotomy and the problem. Individual ambition may result in selfish desires, but a focus on Christ will result in blessings: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9).
What ambitions need to be set aside in your life? In what ways do you need to refocus your life on Christ’s goals?
JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- So when men began to to be multiplied upon the earth, and there were daughters born to them, Then the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all that they liked. Therefore the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, because he is but blesh, and his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days: yea, and after that the sons of God came unto the daughters of men, and they borne them children, these were mighty men, which in old time were men of renown. When the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and all the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually., Then it repented the Lord, that he had made man in the earth, and he was sorry in his heart. Therefore the Lord said, I will destroy from the earth the man, whom I have created, from man to beast, to the creeping thing, and to the fowl of the heaven: for I repent that I have made them, But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just and upright man in his time: and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God: for the earth was filled with cruelty. Then God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt: for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, An end of all flesh is come before me: for the earth is filled with cruelty through them: and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an Ark of pine trees: thou shalt make cabins in the Ark, and shalt pitch it with the earth. And thus shalt thou make it: the length of the Ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make it: the length of the Ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make in the Ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above, and the door of the Ark shalt thou set in the side thereof: thou shalt make it with the low, second, and third room. And I, behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life under heaven: all that is in the earth shall perish. But with thee will I establish my covenant, and thou shalt thou cause to come into the Ark, to keep them alive with thee: they shall be male and female. Of the fowls, after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing on the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, that thou mayest keep them alive. And take thou with thee of all meat that is eaten: and thou shalt gather it to thee, that it may be meat for thee and for them. Noah therefore did according unto all that God commanded him: even so did he. And the Lord said unto Noah, Enter thou and all thine house into the Ark: for thee have I seen righteous before me in this age. Of every clean beast thou take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: but of unclean beasts by couples, the male and his female. Of the fowls also of the heaven by sevens, malat e and female, to keep seed alive upon the whole earth. For seven days hence I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days, and forty nights, and all the substance that I have made, will I destroy from off the earth. Noah therefore did according to all the Lord commanded him. And Noah was six hundred years old, when the flood of waters was upon the earth. So Noah entered and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him into the Ark, because of the waters of the flood. Of the clean beasts, and of the unclean beasts, and of the fowls, and of all that creepeth upon the earth. There came two and two unto Noah into the Ark, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. And so after seven days, the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundreth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, in the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, And the rain was upon the earth forty day and forty days. the selfsame day entered Noah with Shem, and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them into the Ark. They and every battle after his kind, and all cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth and moveth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, even every bird of every feather. For they cam to Noah into the Ark, two and tow, of all flesh wherein is the breath of life. And they entering in, came male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in. Then the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters were increased, and bare up the Ark, which was lifted up above the earth. The waters also waxed strong, and were increased exceedingly upon the earth, and the Ark went upon the waters. The waters prevailed so exceedingly upon the earth, and the Ark went upon the waters. The waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth, that all high mountains, that are under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, when the mountains were covered. Then all flesh perished that moved upon the earth, both fowl and cattle and beast, and everything that creepeth upon the eartth. Everything in whose nostrils the spirit of life did breathe, whatsoever they were in the dry land, they died. So he destroyed everything that was upon the earth, from man to beast, to the creeping thing, and to the fowl of the heaven: they were even destroyed from the earth. And Noah only remained, and they that were with him in the Ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
- Also when ye pray, use no vain repetition as the Heathen: for they think that to be heard for their much babbling. Be ye not like them therefore: for your Father knoweth whereof ye have need, before ye ask of him. After this manner therefore pray ye, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done even in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:7-11)
- I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with joy.: therefore take thou pleasure in pleasant things; and behold, this also is vanity. I said of laughter, Thou art mad: and of joy, What is this that thou doest? I sought in mine heart to give myself to wine, and to lead mine heart in wisdom, and to take hold of folly, till I might see where is that goodness of the children of men, which they enjoy under the Sun, the whole number of the days of their life. I have made my great works: I have built me houses: I have planted me vineyards. I have made gardens and orchards, and planted in them trees of all fruit. I have made cisterns of water, to water therewith the woods that grow with trees. I have gotten servants and maids, and had children born in the house: also I had great Possession of beeves and sheep above all that were before me in Jerusalem. I have gathered unto me also silver and gold, and the chief treasures of Kings and provinces: I have provided me men singers, and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as a woman taken captive, and women taken captives. And I was great, and increased above all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired, I withheld it not from them: I withdrew not mine heart from any joy: for mine heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my travail. Then I looked on all my works that mine hands had wrought, and on the travail that I had labored to do: and behold, all is vanity and vexation of the spirit: and there is no profit under the Sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)