Revisiting the Past: Children’s Stories Today (Part IV)

Sermon Title: Revisiting the Past: Children’s Stories Today—A Voyage of Faith

Good News Statement: Jesus leads us on a voyage

Summary: Noah believed God, and he built an Ark to save his family. What can we learn from Noah’s faith, and what is there in the story of God’s judgment that we need to share with the world?

Preached: Sunday, June 23, 2024 at Dogwood Prairie and Seed Chapel UMC

Pastor Daniel G. Skelton, M.Div.


Scripture (NRSV): Hebrews 11:7 Today’s scripture reading focuses on the faith and belief of a man who built a boat, saved his family, and did what God asked him to do. This man goes by the name of Noah, and because of his faith we are here today. Let’s read Hebrews Chapter Eleven, Verses Eight thru Ten. May the hearing and reading of this scripture add understanding and meaning to your life.

By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.


Noah Pleases God

These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of cypress[a] wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 Make a roof[b] for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die…. 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

This is the Word of God for the People of God; And all God’s people said, “Thanks be to God.”


Do you remember the first Bible story you were taught as a child? Were you taught about Adam and Eve? Did you read the accounts of Noah, the Ark, and the Great Flood? Were you in fascination of Daniel in the Lion’s Den? Were you caught up in the love story of Samson and Delilah? Did you ever find yourself wanting a technicolor coat like Joseph? Did you want to march around Jericho or use a sling-shot to take down giants? Did you want to build a basket and float down a river like Moses? Maybe you were curious about a tower that went by the name “Tower of Babel”? Perhaps, it was the story of Jonah and a whale that inspired you to dive into the Word of God? Or was it the story of Jesus feeding five-thousand people on the shores of Galilee with only two little fish and five loaves of bread? If you can’t remember the first Bible story you were taught as a child, maybe you have a favorite Bible Story that has helped you deepen your faith and strengthen your trust in God.

If you are trying to remember some of those famous Bible Stories you may have learned or heard about as a child, let me jog your memory of a few. According to Dr. Oliver Tearle of Loughborough University, here are the top twelve stories of the Bible that many people have been raised on: “Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark and the Flood, The Tower of Babel, Moses in a basket, Moses parting the Red Sea, David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, Jonah and the Whale, The Nativity Scene, The Raising of Lazarus, and the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.” There are many, many, more stories that probably come to mind, but these are the twelve most popular Bible stories that most of us can remember learning as a child. But, what do the stories of back then teach us today? When was the last time you revisited the first stories of your faith?

Over the span of the next few months—June, July, and August—we are going to explore some of these early childhood Bible Stories. As we explore these stories, each of you will be encouraged to think about the first time you heard that story and what that story means to you today. Dr. Tearle notes, in his article titled 12 of the Best Stories from the Bible Everyone Should Know, “The Bible contains many well-known stories, but how much do we know about them? And what are the best Bible stories everyone should know? Many people, even those raised in countries where Sunday school and religious assemblies are a mainstay of many children’s education, may find they’ve misremembered, or got the wrong impression about, some of the iconic tales from the Bible.”

So, what do you remember about some of those “iconic tales” from the Bible; and what about them today can help deepen your faith and strengthen your trust in God as you strive to be the disciple and church Jesus needs you and us to be? We continue the journey by examining the faith of Noah…



“I’d like to say everything got better right away. Or got better at all, even a tiny bit. But sometimes when people hit rock bottom, they start digging. Or, in this case, they started dodging raindrops.”[1] These are the opening words to the story of Noah according to author Kevin DeYoung in his children Bible titled The Biggest Story Bible Storybook.

We have all heard the story of Noah and the Ark: the great flood. Genesis 6:9-22 lays out the foundation of this very story. So, let me remind you of how the story of Noah and the Ark began: “These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch [the same material that is used to cover the basket of Moses].

This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. [Remember, we are told that God “breathed life” into Adam in Genesis 2:7 suggesting that God’s breath resides within His creation and He wants to take that breath away.]

But I will establish my covenant with you, says God, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up, and it shall serve as food for you and for them.’ Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”

Noah, a righteous and blameless, and not to mention faithful man, who walked with God, similar to that of Enoch, was chosen by God to build an ark which would only save his family and several animals of every kind. What was left, God was going to destroy; not just destroy, but annihilate by a flood that would last for several months to possibly a few years. From forty days of rain, God’s creation would be no more. This flood would be greater and destroy more than when God, through Moses, closed the Red Sea upon Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s officials and army (Exodus 14). And this flood is the cause of people walking away from and sinning against God; much like us choosing not to walk in the footprints of Jesus. Wickedness and deceit corrupted the hearts of the people. The creation that God loved soon became the creation that He despised.

According to DeYoung, “Although the Lord loved the world he had made, he didn’t love how worldly it had become. God saw that the people he created in his image had become super-duper naughty. Everything they were thinking about and dreaming about was really bad all the time, which was absolutely not very good. So God made it rain. A lot. Nonstop. Without a break. For forty days and forty nights. It was God’s way of wiping away the stain of sin.”[2]

Like I said, we have all probably heard the story of Noah. We heard it as a child, we heard it as a teenager, we heard it as a young adult, and we are still hearing of it today; so what could we get out of this story that we haven’t heard already? Probably nothing. However, there are lessons from this story that we need reminded of from time to time and that is what the author of Hebrews does when they talk about the faith of Noah. The author doesn’t talk about the people becoming “super-duper naughty” but rather about a person who was warned, remained faithful, and who did something he wasn’t comfortable doing because God saw something in him that he didn’t see in himself. Has God ever given you a warning? Has God ever called you to do something that you didn’t know how to do? How do you remain faithful so that God won’t flood the earth again?


Movement One: There’s  A Warning…

The first part of Hebrews 11:7 tells us that God WARNED Noah—and Noah believed God: “By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household…” Faith is, essentially, believing in God. Believing that God did what He did, said what He meant, and He’ll do what He promised.

Back in 2007, Reuters, a news agency, wrote a story about the Creation Museum in Kentucky. They wrote: “The Christian creators of the sprawling museum, unveiled on Saturday, hope to draw as many as half a million people each year to their state-of-the-art project, which depicts the Bible’s first book, Genesis, as literal truth. While the $27 million museum near Cincinnati has drawn snickers from media and condemnation from U.S. scientists, those who believe God created the heavens and the Earth in six days about 6,000 years ago say their views are finally being represented.” And Reuters lamented “almost half of Americans believe that humans did not evolve but were created by God in their present form within the last 10,000 years.”[3]

Now, of course our faith doesn’t depend upon the applause of the media, or approval of scientists. I could spend Sunday after Sunday giving you true geological and historical reasons why I can believe that there was a literal man named Noah who built a huge boat out of cypress wood filled with every kind of animal—a boat that survived a world-wide flood that washed the earth clean of all evil. I could give you all kinds of useful information to encourage your faith in that, but I only need ONE SOURCE of information for me to believe all of that is true! That source of information is God, God’s word. God said He would call upon a righteous and blameless man to build an ark covered in pitch to be a safe-haven for this man’s family and animals. God said this, and it happened. God warned Noah about a flood and made it happen; and Noah never lost faith. Change came upon Noah’s life, but he still had faith. People disagreed with his actions, but he still had faith. Noah didn’t know what he was doing, but he didn’t lose faith. God warned Noah about what was to come, and Noah, through his faith, stayed afloat because he understood that what God says, God does.

In Genesis 7:20-22, we read, “The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep or forty-five feet. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. EVERYTHING on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died” (NIV). Ironically, it’s the blast of God’s nostrils that the waters of the Red Sea piled up during the exodus story (Exodus 15:8) before they came crashing down upon the Egyptian army. Peter wrote: “… by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged (flooded) and destroyed” (2 Peter 3:5-6, NIV). And most importantly, Jesus said: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27, NIV). What God said, God did and He gave a warning to the people who He wanted saved.

To tell you the truth, that’s all I need. I don’t need my faith to be confirmed by geology. It is, but I don’t need that. I don’t need my faith to be confirmed by history. It is, but I don’t need that. If God said it happened… it happened. And that’s how Noah reasoned. God warned Noah, and Noah believed him – and then he acted on that belief. Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is not based on what we can see: it is based upon what we hope for. What do you hope for in your life? What do you hope to see but can’t see yet? How is God warning you, sending you signs, that it is time to put your faith in hope of His kingdom on earth rather than putting your faith in what we see?

Did you realize that Noah had probably never seen a flood? In fact, the Bible implies that he’d never even seen it rain. Genesis 2:5-6 tells us “God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.” So, for 120 years… while Noah built the ark: Noah preached to people about a flood they’d never seen before. He warned of massive rains they’d never experienced. And he built a boat unlike any they’d ever beheld. And the wonder is not that the people of his day did not believe. The wonder is that Noah did believe! But that’s why Noah was chosen. He was a righteous man—a man of faith. When God warned of “events not yet seen” Noah believed God, he didn’t question God. But how could Noah POSSIBLY believe in something he’d never seen? He believed because God told him so, and that was enough.

We must believe. We must believe that God is working in our life. We must believe that God is working in our church. We must believe that God has something planned for us. We must believe that God sent His only Son to die on the cross for us so that we would be forgiven of our sins and not perish but have salvation. We must believe that we have a future together. We must believe in what we cannot see because what God does what He says He will do. We must believe in the warnings that God is giving us and be ready to build an ark so that we are here tomorrow. Noah believed. Noah had faith. Noah was warned. You have belief. You have faith. You have been warned by God about something in your life: so don’t ignore that warning, but find a way to live it out faithfully. Noah believed because God told him so, and that was enough. Are you willing to believe?


Movement Two: God Needs Us To Do Something…

So many in this world despise Christians and the Church (not that there aren’t church goers and churches who give them good reason to despise them because of their self-righteousness and hypocrisy), but if we do our faith right, our very commitment to holiness will convict people of their own sins. They are not going to like us! But notice it was Noah’s building of the Ark that condemned the world; not what he said, but what he did. People didn’t like him, but he kept his faith. He did something, and what he did made people uncomfortable, because it pointed out their own sinful lives. Noah built an ark and put God’s words into actions. Bob Perks, President of Creative Motivation, once said,  “It’s one thing to say you believe in something, but so much more to prove it.”

It’s kind of like Reuter’s response to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. It was just one museum! Reuters reported that when the museum wasn’t even opened yet “Scientists, secularists and moderate Christians pledged to protest the museum’s public opening. An airplane trailing a ‘Thou Shalt Not Lie’ banner buzzed overhead during the museum’s opening news conference.” Why would these people do this? Well, because this museum stood for God in a world that rejected God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Reuters wrote: “Opponents argued that children who see the exhibits will be confused when they learn in school that the universe is 14 billion years old rather than 6,000.” But that wasn’t really the problem! The problem was that the museum refused to conform to the thinking of our world. And that’s exactly why Noah probably got all kinds of grief from his neighbors and the gawkers who’d travel for miles around just to see this strange boat he was building. And that’s exactly why you—when you take your faith seriously—will encounter people who will mock you, or avoid you, or will give you a hard time in the hopes of making you trip up in your faith.

Jesus told us: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-11, NIV). People will challenge your faith, your beliefs, because they have a tough time seeing something through a different lens. Throughout history, people have been mocked, tortured, ridiculed, and tormented because of their faith. However, throughout history, though, people have been saved by their faith, have been redeemed by their faith, and have walked in the footprints of Jesus because of their faith. Persecutions didn’t stop them from sharing the gospel story, differences and disagreements didn’t stop them from worshiping Jesus Christ, and people who are more keen on pointing out flaws didn’t stop the faithful from reminding themselves that they are a beloved child of God who Jesus calls upon (Romans 8:19; Matthew 19:13-15).[4] Your faith is stronger than what you realize, so lean in to it and let it breath.

In spite of the mocking and laughter and even hatred he probably experienced, Noah still had to build the boat. And you have to believe that, at times, it had to be lonely and uncomfortable. Someone once wrote: “Noah built the Ark and voyaged alone with his family. His neighbors laughed at his strangeness and they perished in style. Abraham wandered and worshipped alone. The Sodomites smiled at the simple shepherd. They followed the fashion, and fed the flames. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Jesus loved and died alone.” Sometimes following God can be a lonesome experience. That’s why Jesus said we needed to count the cost. We need to decide whether it’s worth it to (sometimes) stand alone to follow God. And standing alone sometimes means noticing that God needs us to do some uncomfortable work for His kingdom on earth. Sometimes we have to build the ark to save the faithful. We have to do work to keep our ark floating on the waters.

Hebrews 11:7 says“…in reverent fear (Noah) constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” He built the boat to save his family. True, Noah preached to everyone, and tried to save others: 2 Peter 2:5 says he was a “preacher of righteousness” (NKJV), but his major focus was that his life’s work would save his loved ones. Similar to what Jesus did: Jesus saved those whom he loved. The same should be true for all of us. We should build our faith in Jesus so strong that our lives influence our children/grandchildren, so that they will love Jesus as much as we do and as much as Jesus loves us. Because we want to save them and be with them in Heaven.

God needs us to do something. God needs us, as a church, to not only show that we love each other and that we love the story and legacy that we are creating, but that we love being a church of today for tomorrow. God needs us to put our faith in action: to pray, to fulfill the needs of those that surround us, to look around and ask God, “How can I help you today?”, and to not give up when others persecute us for our faith. God needs us to simply realize that not everyone will agree with our ways, with what we say, with what we believe, or even by what we build, but in those moments we must realize that our faith in Jesus Christ trumps the words of this world. We are all called to do something, but do you have faith in yourself that you are capable of doing something for God?


Movement Three: What Is God Up To In Your Life…

Now, a couple final thoughts. Did you realize… there were some things that were left out of the plans for the ARK that even a ship built only for survival should have had?[5] First, there were no lifeboats. Not a single one. When Titanic hit the iceberg, one of the great tragedies of that collision was that they didn’t have enough lifeboats. They didn’t think they would need them. But the Ark had NO lifeboats. There was no “Plan B”. If the ARK didn’t float—it was all over—everything was lost. Noah’s total faith and trust had to be in GOD and in God’s ONE PLAN of salvation. And that’s the way with us. There is no Plan B. Apart from Jesus there is no hope. Jesus is the only way this thing works for us, and Jesus only works if we place ALL of our trust in Him. After all doesn’t Jesus tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). On this voyage of faith, if we trust in Jesus, put the world behind us and the cross before us, then there is no need for a lifeboat since Jesus is our source of salvation and is always in our boat.

Second, there was no rudder and no ship’s wheel on this giant boat. Noah had NO WAY to control which way the ship was going to go. He was TOTALLY at the mercy of God. He had to let God take control. He had to let God take him wherever God wanted him to go. We could learn a lot from Noah, because God had a direction He wanted Noah to go, and God has a direction that He wants us to go, that he wants our church to go. Ephesians 2:10 tells us “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV). God wants us to do good works. God gave us a living example of what those good works look like through Jesus Christ. God gave us commandments and promises that show us and remind us of the good works we need to be doing. And these good works don’t involve doing harm to others, or excluding others, or even putting others down when God needs us to build them up. God is the wheel, Jesus is the rudder, and the Holy Spirit is the wind pushing us to the shore, to the place, where the gospel stories need to be heard.

I once read about a guy who mocked the idea that God has a blueprint for our lives, essentially ignoring what Jeremiah 29:11 tells us. He didn’t think God would do such a thing for us. BUT GOD DOES HAVE A BLUEPRINT! Ephesians 2:10 says that God has prepared good works in advance … for us to do. It sounds like a blueprint to me! God has a plan for your life, and the adventure is finding out what He can do in your life. God had a plan for Noah just like he has a plan for you. Rudder or not, wheel or not, sails or not, God will get you to where you need to go if you trust Him, if you allow him to have control; if you surrender all.

One last thing. The story of Noah and the Ark, is the story of the Gospel message. The first part of the Gospel message is this – there’s a judgment coming. And if you don’t get on-board, you’re going to drown in your sins. Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us that before we became Christians, we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience —among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and [we] were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” We were (like those in Noah’s day) children of wrath… doomed to destruction. However, we have a choice to change that.

We must BELIEVE that God wants to save us, and all we have to do is REPENT of the wrathful lives we have lived—to leave our past lives and get on board the one vessel that could save us. Because, on our own, we don’t stand a chance. And that’s what God wants us to realize—you can’t make it on your own, you’ll drown in your own sins; you’ll perish in your despair and misery. But there’s ONE WAY, and only one way, to avoid the devastation sin can cause in your life. That way is through Jesus Christ!



Noah took a faithful voyage. He was warned by God that something was going to happen that would drastically change the world and his life. Unlike so many of us, Noah didn’t dismiss this warning but listened to God and began building a boat—a boat without a rudder, a wheel, and life boats. Noah did something with what God was telling him to do. Noah didn’t hesitate, but acted upon God’s word and found salvation.

What is God telling you today? Are paying attention to the warning signs that God is laying before you? What are those warning signs? Are you willing to take a faithful voyage to reach the other side where Jesus needs you to do some work? Do you have enough belief in God to get on a boat that doesn’t have a rudder, or wheel, or sails, or even a lifeboat? The story of Noah is about having faith, belief, and trust in God; but it’s also a story about allowing God to take control, about letting Jesus “take the wheel,” so that you can have a new beginning, a new life, in Christ. It’s about doing something and not letting your faith go idle or the mission of the church to simply be put on a plaque and hung on a wall. The story of Noah reminds us of what faith and belief look like in action.

The time has come to take a faithful voyage: to see creation through the eyes of Jesus Christ. But, are you willing to get on the boat? Or is there something in your life that is preventing you from getting on the boat? God’s got a plan for you and a plan for our church; and I’m excited to see where God is taking us on this faithful voyage. Let it be so…


Closing Prayer:

Dear God, guide us in life to have a faithful voyage. Nurture our souls to do the things that you need us to do so that we effectively share the message of Jesus Christ. And strengthen our trust and belief in you so that we don’t ignore the warning signs but do something about them today and every day as we become who you need us to be for your kingdom here on earth. In your name we pray, Amen.



Who would have ever thought that a boat without a rudder, wheel, sail, or even a life boat would be the kind of boat that would help us live more like Christ. I’m praying that you have enough faith and belief to set sail on this boat as God grants you a new life. May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; and May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26). In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, set sail on your faithful voyage. And all God’s people said, Amen. Amen. Amen.


[1] Kevin DeYoung, The Biggest Story Bible Storybook, 2021, Crossway Publishing: Wheaton, IL. pg. 34.

[2] Kevin DeYoung, The Biggest Story Bible Storybook, 2021, Crossway Publishing: Wheaton, IL. pg. 34.

[3] Jeff Strite, “A Voyage of Faith,”

[4] In John, Jesus told His followers: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19, NIV).

[5] Taken from a sermon by Chris Talton

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