Yes means yes and no means no, neither are to be confused with maybe.
When I reflect on the word "yes" I realize how often I've instructed my children to learn how to say no. The conversations are numerous where instruction is given to saying no over yes.
Parents preach it, true friends endorse it and financial advisers live by it.
Maybe this is so because life is replete with example after example of people saying yes to things they ought not. I know personally I have said yes to many things I wish I had not. I have said yes to dishonesty and disrespect; gossip and selfishness. I've said yes to promiscuity, lying and self righteousness; arguing and arrogance.
It is safe to say that I've said yes to poor choices and poor behavior more than a few times in my life.
It has been said many times over that we are what we do. Let me rephrase that; we are what we decide to do.
Everything starts with the mind; a thought. Proverbs 23:7 states; "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."
We are what we think; what we do.
Many words and phrases have been written about our thoughts and behavior; below is my favorite:
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
In 1902 a literary essay written by James Allen entitled; As a Man Thinketh states; "A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts."
The guiding principle to be reminded of from God's word and James' mouth is to focus on our thinking and realize what we think about will shape our actions, and decide what we say yes to and what we say no to.
In the end our decisions determine our destiny.
Our choices shape our future.
Our choices shape our future.
Remember, it pleases God, and ultimately us, when we say YES to God.
4 Points; 2 men
Throughout God's word there are examples of men and women that said yes to God, and sadly, there are many accounts of people that chose to say no to God. If you were to read 1st & 2nd Samuel, Kings and Chronicles you will realize that all six books are made up of many things but most notably they are books filled with scripture that demonstrate in great detail the surmise of those who said no to God and the many blessings to those that said yes.
Noah and David were two men that said yes to God; saying yes early and often.
In Genesis chapter 6 we as the reader are introduced to the story of Noah; verses 5 through 7 highlight God's dismay with all of his creation:
5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.”
God chooses to start over and He chooses Noah. I think it's important to pause for just a moment and reflect upon the fact that God saw in His infinite wisdom the importance and the positive impact starting over can have. There isn't a figure in the bible, a seat in church that isn't occupied or any redeemed soul that doesn't have a story of "starting over".
Starting over implies promise; new beginnings provide and restore hope.
And with Noah God decided to start over.
A new beginning was to be created with Noah at the helm because as Genesis 6:9 states; "Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on earth at the time. He consistently followed God's will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him."
God's word reveals to us that Noah's core character was being formed, his outside reputation was secure and he consistently walked with God enjoying a close relationship with his savior.
God gave Noah the plan that He was going to flood the earth and the instructions that He wanted him to build an ark. I think it's important to note that God will never have a plan for any area of our life without providing instruction to us that will be revealed through His word, and through fasting and prayer; instructions that will aid us in carrying out His plan if we are obedient to His calling.
God's plan for our lives takes an active participation on our part.
Point 1: Obedience
Though God gave Noah the plan and the instruction, Noah still had to be obedient and say yes to God. Noah said yes to something that had never been seen; something that had never been experienced, an ark and a flood. The only promoting of his replied yes of obedience was the spoken word of God.
Obey is a late 13th century word derived from the Latin word oboedire, which literally means for one to give ear; listen to (ob = "to" and audire = "listen, hear"). Webster defines obey as to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of; to submit or conform in action to some guiding principle, impulse, one's conscience, etc. To be obedient.
In Hebrew the word Shama is primarily used throughout the Old Testament to describe obedience. The word has as its primary root the meaning, "to hear intelligently." In Greek the word Hupakouo is widely substituted in the New Testament for the word obedience. The word is made up of two words that have two distinct meanings: hupo meaning under or beneath, and akouo meaning to hear. Thus the meaning of the word could be stated as "to hear under." Hupakouo carries with it the idea of subordination or the recognition of authority and wisdom.
It is an attitude of hearing.
To be truly obedient we have to first listen to the correct thing with a discerning ear. We have to listen to the correct source and then we have to act upon what we heard with full submission, and without hesitation or reservation.
Obedience is an attitude of heart toward a higher authority.
Obedience is about hearing and acting.
It is very tough thing to do, but that's what obedience is all about.
Point 2: Pro-active & Steadfast
Not only was Noah's yes pro-active in the sense that he agreed to be committed to the task at hand before a drop a rain was seen, he was also steadfast in his resolve as he and his family waited on the ark, with all the animals, for seven days before the rain began. I don't know about you, but I can't keep my family quite for longer than two minutes in a traffic jam on I-270 let alone keep me and my families sanity, or belief, on an ark for seven days waiting for something that had never been seen and standing in something that had never before been built. As Genesis chapter seven reviews in great detail the seven day drought that Noah and his family experienced it also revealed to the reader Noah's persistence. Noah stuck it out in the midst of a dry spell and stuck with it after the promise was given and before the fulfillment was experienced.
Sometimes the yes of faith starts with a flurry, ends with a bang, but struggles to hold true in the middle and in-between times.
The good news is that God is with us in the beginning, in the middle and in the end of any journey of faith we entertain or encounter.
He will see us through. He always has and He always will.
Point 3: Faith & Action
Like obeying, faith requires action. Noah's YES required his faith to be put into action, enabling him to cooperate with God's desire in order for God's plan to be fulfilled. The key principle for all is to heed God's instructions, do the work with diligence and persistent, and then wait.
Waiting most times is the most difficult task. Waiting is difficult because it requires faith in the midst of seeing nothing.
In the end, what Noah's faithfulness built was more than an Ark. What Noah built was a safe refuge for his family and future generations of all of God's creations. What Noah also built was hope for generations to come.
Noah was a generation changer.
Point 4: Sacrifice
The last point or characteristic to saying the kind of yes that pleases God is introduced by a man that was truly after God's own heart. He was a flawed man that had the deepest desire to serve God in every way he could, that man was David.
In 2 Samuel 24 David is the King, preparing to offer sacrifice to the Lord. The chapter reveals to us that a local farmer realizes that King David is on his property and insists that he take his land, his oxen to give to the lord. David replies:
"No I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing flour and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them."
-2 Samuel 24:24
David understood what it meant to sacrifice.
Sacrifice is defined as the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim. Sacrifice is derived from the Latin word oblatio that literally means "to offer." We get the word oblation, the act of making an offering, from oblatio.
Another way to explain sacrifice is to remember it as the willingness to give up something you love in order to give something to someone you love more.
In the end, sacrifice is an act of worship.
Yes Equals Sacrifice
Today many people across our state and local communities will be saying yes and no to political personalities, policies and issues. As many of us exercise one of our greatest rights and privileges by voting at the voting polls we will again crowd the voting booth with belief and bias; concern and assumption. The reasons are many and volumes have been written about why we decided to say yes or no, but the underlying reason we say no and say yes is because of what we believe deep within us.
What we believe is our reality, at times which can be good; other times that which can be awful.
Over the years, understanding how people arrive at the choices they arrive at has received much attention in the area of cognitive psychology.
As I mentioned, people make political decisions, they make decisions in the areas of finance, health and career. We all make personal decisions and decisions concerning romance.
Countless studies have confirmed that some of the most consistent and major influences for decision making is past experiences, cognitive biases, age and individual differences, belief in personal relevance, socioeconomic background and finally, the escalation of commitment.
And though I could go into great detail why each of these qualities are good qualities to entertain while making a decision, many, if not all of them, will fail us if we solely depend on them when making a decision.
Faith is the key.
Faith is needed in something greater than our past experiences or education level. A kind of faith that is entrenched in something more powerful than our thought patterns that are based upon observations, generalizations and, or socioeconomic background. Faith is needed that is even greater than how we were raised or what we have grown to believe.
Our Faith must be in God and His sovereign hand and His divine providence.
Noah, many of his contemporaries and countless others since biblical times have made decisions based on faith.
Good decisions; decisions that pleased God.
Faith is what makes the academic elite roll their collective eye and drive the non believer crazy. But it is our faith and decisions based upon our faith, which is consistent with God's word, which pleases God the most. John 20:29 states; Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me." And Hebrews 11:1 shares with the reader; "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
It is impossible to believe in God or to please God without faith.
Below is an excerpt from the book; Obedience: The Key to Our Problems by Stephen J. Hulshizer where he say's this:
"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear [reverence], prepared an ark" (Hebrews 11:7). There are several things that immediately become apparent about Noah as we consider this verse: he had faith in God, he listened to God, he had a fear of God, and he acted for God. How do we know that Noah had faith in God? Did he fully understand the reason for building such a large ship in a place where it had never rained? Did he question God's wisdom or authority? No, Noah heard under (Hupakouo). His trust was in God. What He said, Noah did. Note that Noah acted out of reverence for God. That is a holy fear, or recognition of the authority resident in his God. Is this true of us, or do we question the reason or want a full explanation before we act?"
I wish I could add something to that, but I can't.
Finally, at the church I attend, Cypress Wesleyan, we have begun a campaign called YES. Speaking in the affirmative, the YES campaign is about moving forward and saying YES to Christ. Saying Yes to God is about inviting Him into your heart and starting a personal relationship with Christ. For those that already have made a personal commitment to God based on the commitment He first made to us by allowing His son to die on the cross for our sins saying YES is about saying YES to God in the small details and the large areas of our lives.
Saying yes today, tomorrow and forever.
And as we go forward with our YES campaign at Cypress we move forward with the foundation being built upon touching & transforming lives, sparking a kid's revolution, building a Sports Health & Wellness Center and being fiscally responsible while doing so.
We are not just building physical structures; we are building a future, a future that can, and will, impact thousands upon thousands of lives for generations to come. When Noah built his ark, he built more than ship. He built hope for future generations. He became, like Cypress has the chance to become, a generation changer.
That is powerful... read it again.
In the end saying Yes to God and His will for your life is what really counts.
The YES campaign is more than a campaign purse' or just another building project, saying YES is about making a difference in other people's lives and while doing so making a difference in our own life.
Yes Equals Sacrifice.
Yes Equals Strength.
Yes Equals Service.
Yes Equals Servanthood.
Yes Equals Selflessness.
Yes Equals Salvation.
And isn't that what saying Yes is ultimately about?
...Yes it is!