Sunday, December 25, 2011
ABRAHAM: FOLLOWING IN THE STEPS OF FAITH, 12/25/2011
Genesis 19:1-26 Luke 17:32
REMEMBERING LOT'S WIFE, Part 20a,
In the Luke 17:32 passage, Jesus has just been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come. His answer is to warn them to be ready for the coming of the kingdom, because it is like the flash of lightening that instantly lights the sky. It is compared to the coming of the flood in Noah's day, and to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Lot's day. Those who hear are warned to be ready to go when the Lord comes, and they are warned against turning back for anything. Then, in the midst of His teaching, the Lord tells those listening to Him that they should "remember Lot's wife."
Nowhere in the Bible are we told to remember Abraham, Isaac or Jacob. We are not commanded to remember Ruth, Rahab, David or Joshua, but we are commanded to remember Lot's wife! We are told to awaken our sluggish memories and look back to the death of one soul who passed through this world, lived in sin and died in sin. We are told to remember Lot's wife. What is there to remember? She was married to Lot and she lived in Sodom. Before God's judgment came on Sodom and Gomorrah she, along with her husband and two unmarried daughters were forced from the city. They were all commanded not to look behind them as they fled, but she disobeyed and was instantly judged, killed and transformed into a pillar of salt. That is what we know, but when we study her story, we can learn even more about her, how she lived and why she died like she did. There are some lessons that can be learned from Lot's wife. Our instructions from the Lord is that we remember her. Therefore, in keeping with the Lord's command, Let’s look today on the thought, Remembering Lot's Wife. Let me just say that there is a message here for both saint and sinners. There is a word here for both the saved and the lost. There is a word from God for your heart in “Remembering Lot's Wife“. Let’s consider Lot's Wife and her spiritual condition today. There are three areas of her spiritual life that need to be remembered.
CONSIDER HER SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGES
She Was Privileged In Her Relationships - She was privileged to be married into a family on the earth that was known to be serving the one true God.
She Saw The Clear Faith Of Abraham - This man, who was called "the Friend of God",( James 2:23), was her husbands uncle! She had witnessed his dedication to the Lord. She had seen his altars and his worship. She had seen him operate in the power of God and deliver her husband from sure death in Gen. 14. She was privileged to be associated with one of the greatest godly men who ever walked this planet!
She Saw The Cloudy Faith Of Lot. Lot was a man of many spiritual failures. His story is found in Genesis 13:9-13; 14:12. He traded his tent for a townhouse! In spite of his failures, the Bible calls Lot a righteous man, (2 Pet. 2:6-8). His wife could have benefited from his faith, but she failed to do so. One's relationships with each other is not what saves us; although we can learn from each other. Faith and obedience in Jesus is what saves souls! The responsibility of parents, especially fathers, then, is to set the right example.
She Was Privileged In Her Revelations - Because of her relationship with Lot and Abraham, she learned a few things about God. We can teach and learn from each other.
She Was Acquainted With Deity - She certainly knew who God was and how one approaches Him. She had learned this from her husband and his uncle. Yet, she never followed through with it. How many sit in church and know Who God is and how to come to Him, but they fail to act on what they know? It has to move from the head to the heart before it can save your soul. Knowing John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10; 10:13; 10:17 is one thing. Acting on them is what saves the soul!
She Was Aware Of The Destruction - God had even graced her by sending angels to warn her and her family of the impending doom, (Gen. 19:1-13). Still, she refused to flee from the wrath of God, (Gen. 19:16). Gen 19:26, "from behind him" carries the idea that she was lagging far behind the others. She knew, but it didn't phase her! How many here today know of the judgment that is coming and still they do not flee to Jesus for refuge? How many have run to Him for shelter? Only a fool walks into Hell with his eyes open to its reality and closed to God's proximity!
She Was Privileged In Her Responsibility - Here is a woman who knew the facts and was given every opportunity to act upon them. She was given the chance to change, the chance to believe, the change to be saved. Yet, she squandered those chances and died without God. That’s the privilege of conviction! When God calls, it isn't to harm you, but it is to remind you that He loves you and wants to save you by His grace, (John 6:44; John 6:65).
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING,
Psalm 9:1-10, NIV
1 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. 3 My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. 4 For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. 5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. 6 Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished. 7 The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. 8 He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. 9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
ABRAHAM: FOLLOWING ON THE STEPS OF FAITH, 12/24/2011
THE PRIVILEGES OF THE GODLY MAN, Part 19b, Continued From Yesterday!
THE PRIVILEGE OF AN INVOLVEMENT RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FAMILY
Abraham’s privileges extended beyond his relationship with the Lord. According to the last phrase of verse 18, all the world would be blessed because of this man. What a privilege to be used by the Lord to touch those around you. What a privilege to be used to impact the lives of those yet unborn! Yet, that is how the Lord used this man and that is how He intends to use each of us to influence the lives around us! Notice how the grace of the Lord allows us to be involved in the lives of others.
We Are Involved Through Our Counsel - (v. 19) The word “command” carries the idea of “issuing orders”. The godly man has the great privilege of counseling others to follow the commands of the Word of God. We have been given the charge of sharing the Word of God with the generations which will follow us through this world. We have the privilege of passing on truth through our words! This speaks of our personal witness. As we pass through this world, we should leave behind a trail of heavenly counsel for others to follow. Let us be quick to share the message of the cross and the word of God with a lost world, (Acts 1:8; Mark 16:15). We only pass this way once, let’s make sure we leave a mark for the Lord as we do!
We Are Involved Through Our Character - (v. 19) The little phrase “after Him”, has the idea of “leaving a legacy for others to follow.” In other words, it isn’t just our words that are important, it is also our walk that matters greatly! We have been given the privilege of walking in integrity before a lost and dying world. We have a responsibility to the young ones, to our peer groups, to those who are weaker in the faith, to anyone who is walking the path of life and may watch our steps. We have a great duty to walk in integrity! Just as our speech is important so are our steps. It has been said, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say!” May we strive to walk the right kind of walk as we pass through this world, (Phil. 1:27). People are watching, let’s be sure they see the right thing (Matt 5:14-16)! One of the greatest privileges of life is that of being able to walk like Jesus, (1 John 2:6)!
We Are Involved Through Our Continuation - (v. 19) “and they shall keep the way of the Lord”. The godly man need not fear that his involvement with the family and others around him will be in vain. This verse points out the fact that the godly man can invest his life without fear, knowing that in due time, the Lord will see to it that a harvest is reaped for the glory of God! What you do and say will not die when you die! Your involvement with those around you will continue to bear fruit long after you have departed this world. A preacher who didn’t see fruit during his lifetime, will reap it after death. Men have been given the privilege of leadership within the home and within the church, (Eph. 5). That places a tremendous responsibility upon each of our shoulders. Yet, it also places before us blessings that men and women will never otherwise experience! It is time that the men in our churches and in our homes stepped up to the plate and take the responsibility of leadership seriously before the Lord!
THE PRIVILEGE OF AN INVESTMENT RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FUTURE
Abraham doesn’t realize it yet, but his investment in the generations unborn are going to make the Lord’s promises to him a reality. Because Abraham understood and walked in his privileges as a godly man, his future was far more glorious than his past. His investment continues to pay dividends today, and will continue to do so forever! In fact, you and I enjoy the fruit of Abraham’s investment every day we live on this earth! Our investment is guaranteed in three ways:
Guaranteed By God’s Promises - “that which He hath spoken of him”, indicates that God is as good as His Word. When we see the investment of our lives as a privilege before the Lord and we exercise that privilege in faith, we can rest easy knowing the Lord will honor His promises to us! When you share His Word, remember that He has promised to honor that Word, (Isa. 55:11). When you sow that Gospel seed, know that He will water it and give the increase in His time, (1 Cor. 3:6). Do not be afraid to live full tilt for Jesus, knowing that He will honor your sacrifice and that He will keep His promises to you, (Rom. 4:21)!
Guaranteed By God’s Presence - “LORD” - God refers to Himself by the name of LORD. This name refers to the “Self-Existent One. The One Who fills all things, sees all things and knows all things.” In other words, Abraham is being watched over by One Who is always there! What a privilege to exist in the presence of One Who will never leave us, (Heb. 13:5). What an honor to dwell with One Who knows us intimately, yet loves us still and Who refuses to leave us!
Guaranteed By God’s Power - “may bring upon Abraham” - We still serve a God Who is able to do everything He has promised and more! The vastness of His great power is seen in Isa. 40:12, Job 42:2; Luke 1:38. It is a privilege to serve a God Who is so powerful and so mighty. We serve a God Who not only proposes, but He also disposes! In other words, your future is safe in the hands of the Lord! Brethren, invest everything you have in Him and in His work today, He will see to it that the harvest is matured, and gathered for His glory!
Conc: Let’s live up to our potential in Jesus and exercise the privileges we have been given! Thank God for the privilege of being a man! Let Him use you to accomplish His will in the world. Be a man after God’s Own heart! Be a man who fulfills God’s design for making man (Eph 5:25-33)! Be intimate with God. Be involved with those around you for His glory. And, always invest your life in the future. Those are your privileges, God help us all to be all we can be for His glory!
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING,
New International Version (NIV)
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Friday, December 23, 2011
ABRAHAM: FOLLOWING ON THE STEPS OF FAITH, 12/23/2011
THE PRIVILEGES OF THE GODLY MAN, Part 19a,
God is about to bring His wrath to bear upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Before He does this, He takes the time to speak to Abraham about His plans. In this passage, we are permitted to see a glimpse of the special relationship that existed between Abraham and the Lord. From this glimpse at their relationship, we are also permitted to see a snapshot of the relationship that is possible for every godly man living today.
As you know, there are many advantages to being saved today! For instance, missing Hell ranks near the top of my list! Having my sins forgiven, being able to fellowship with God, etc. are all wonderful possessions enjoyed by the redeemed man. But, along with those precious possessions also come some tremendous privileges.
What are the privileges of the godly man? This text points out a few of the more prominent ones. Allow me to share these with you today. But, as I do, also allow me to say that with great privilege comes great responsibility! God gives us the privileges we enjoy so that He might use us for His glory in this present world. While we have a few minutes together today, let’s take some time and look into these verses. As we do, I want to point out The Privileges Of The Godly Man.
THE PRIVILEGE OF AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FATHER.
Few of us grasp the intimate relationship that we possess with our Heavenly Father! These verses give a little insight into the matter. Abraham looked upon the Lord with awe and reverence, and rightly so! But, verse 17 seems to indicate that God looked upon Abraham as a friend, (Is. 41:8)! How does God see us? Probably with a desire for far more intimacy than we ourselves desire (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6)! I would just remind you that, if you are saved, you are a child of God, (1 John 3:1-3). His Spirit dwells within your heart, (John 14:16-18). You are on intensely intimate terms with the Lord in three ways.
1. Involves Divine Discernment - (v. 19 - “I know him...”) God knows us, (Heb. 4:13; Pro. 15:3), and His knowledge of us should cause us to gravitate toward honesty with Him. All His knowledge of us involves and evokes privileges! Isn’t it time God’s men became transparent in their walk with the Lord? Regardless of what we try, we can never hide anything from the Lord!
2. Involves Divine Dialogue - (v. 17-18; 20-33) The Lord opened a dialogue with Abraham, giving Abraham the opportunity to become and intercessor for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The godly man has the privilege of being an intercessor for his family, friends, neighbors, strangers and even enemies. He can, in a sense, become Jesus to others as he intercedes for them, (Heb. 7:25; Job 1:5). One of the greatest privileges enjoyed by redeemed men is the privilege of prayer. Just the fact that we have unhindered, unfettered access into the presence of God is a blessing without compare (Heb. 4:15-16)! May we be careful to exercise the gift of dialogue with the Almighty as we pass through this life! It has been said that “prayer changes things.” I know prayer is mighty in power through the power of God (Eph. 3:20), but what is changed more often in those engaged in prayer is our privilege! As you spend time before the throne of grace, you become more like the One to Whom you are praying! Abraham didn’t “Jew” God down, (vs. 23-33)! Abraham was just brought to the same place of grace, Love and mercy that God already occupied!
3. Involves Divine Decrees - (v. 18) This relationship brings with it glorious blessings that flow to us from the Lord. We have the privilege of enjoying His blessings and plans for us! What a great privilege to be known of the Lord; to be the focus of His precious plans (Jer. 29:11). In Ps. 139:17, God has His eye on our life! We may not know where the path of our lives will lead us, but when God does the planning of those paths, they always lead into glorious avenues of spiritual delight and power. Elijah never imagined where his path would take him, but in the end, it took him home to be with the Lord, a great demonstration of divine power and glory! Other examples are: Abraham, Job, Daniel, David, etc. God had greater plans for each of them than they could have ever imagined! Never fear to walk with the Lord, for He always orders our steps along the best path (Ps. 37:23; Job 23:10).
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING,
New International Version (NIV)
18 The blameless spend their days under the LORD’S care, and their inheritance will endure forever. 19 In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. 20 But the wicked will perish: Though the LORD’S enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke. 21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; 22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be destroyed. 23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. 25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. 26 They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
ABRAHAM: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith , 12/22/2011
THREE SIDES OF A MAN NAMED ABRAHAM, Part 18b, Continued From Yesterday!
Gen 18:9-21 THE MESSAGE FOR A SAINT
God always rewards the faithful service that is rendered to Him. In Abraham's case, He does this by reassuring Abraham regarding the birth of Isaac. Verses 18-19 tell us of the great affection, knowledge and care God possessed for this man Abraham. God knew what caliber of man Abraham was. He knew that Abraham would stand the test and be all that God wanted him to be. He is clearly pictured as God's saint in these verses.
V. 9-15 A Message About A Child - God had given this promise repeatedly to Abraham. The last time, (Gen. 17:17), Abraham had laughed for joy when he heard again the glorious promise of hope from the Lord. This time, the promise is repeated for the benefit of Sarah. All she had heard was second hand promises from Abraham. This time she hears the promise directly from the mouth of God. Her reaction is vastly different from that of her husband. He laughed for joy, she laughs from doubt! She is confronted and rebuked for having doubted. This episode is a reminder that God knows everything there is to know about you and me. He knows our motives, our secret sins and all things that we do. Nothing is hidden from His eyes (Heb. 4:13).
V. 16-21 A Message About A City - This is a precious point in Abraham's relationship with the Lord. Because of who he is, how he has conducted himself and the future he is to enjoy, God is determined to share His heart with Abraham. Imagine being in a position of closeness to the Lord that motivated Him to share His heart with you. No doubt this is among the passage that prompted the Jews to refer to Abraham as "the friend of God.", (James 2:23; Isa. 41:8; Ex. 33:11). God wants to have that same kind of relationship with each and every one of us today! When we are in a position of closeness to Him, He will share His heart and His will with us. Never feel that this kind of relationship is only for the super saints! I will remind you of the great truth that as we seek to get closer to Him, He responds by moving closer to us (James 4:8).
Gen 18: 22-33 THE MEDIATION OF A SON
The message that the Lord had shared with Abraham was a difficult message to hear. It had been revealed to him that his kinsmen, Lot and his family, were in danger of death and destruction. "The cry" of that place and their "grievous sin" was the reason for the coming destruction. To many, Sodom must have been viewed as a showplace and a success story. They probably bragged about how it had been rebuilt after the great war of Gen. 14. Abraham knew different. He knew the city was slated for destruction. Those of us who know the Bible know that our world thinks awfully highly of itself. However, it too is slated for destruction! May we learn to pray like Abraham did so that we can see the world saved! He received the message and it motivated him to action before the Lord. Perhaps this was a factor in God's desire to share the message with Abraham! Perhaps he wanted to motivate Abraham to move deeper in his relationship with God. We have seen Abraham the servant. We have seen Abraham the Saint. Now, we are given a chance to see Abraham the son speaking with his heavenly Father!
V. 22-23 The Distance Between Them - Abraham stood before the Lord and when the angels departed, he drew near to the Lord. I praise the Lord for the truth that God's children can approach Him and draw as near as they please to their heavenly Father. Listen to His invitation to you and me (Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:15-16; Rom. 8:15-17).
V. 24-33 The Dialogue Between Them - Abraham's prayer to the Lord arises out of several burdens he carries because of the revelation he has just received. First, he is concerned about God's reputation. If the Lord simply destroys the people of Sodom, Abraham is concerned that people will get the wrong impression of God and of His love for sinners. Secondly, he is thinking about Lot and his family, who live in Sodom. He wants to see them spared, at the very least. So he begins to talk to God about the situation and gets God to agree to spare the city if just 10 righteous people can be found there. In Lot's family, there was Lot, his wife, two unmarried daughters and at least two married daughters and their husbands. This was a total of at least eight people in that family. Abraham must have thought that Lot would have at least won his family and a few others.
Although Abraham did not know it at the time, his prayer was answered! God did spare the righteous when He destroyed the wicked. This will be true also in the judgment! When the morning came and Abraham looked toward Sodom and saw the smoke of that place (Gen. 19:27-28), he must have been discouraged. However, his prayer had been heard and it had been successful (Gen 19:29). Sometimes, our prayers seem to be very ineffective and weak, but only in eternity will we know the full impact of our personal ministry of prayer in the lives of others. Therefore, do not be discouraged, just pray and trust the Lord to bring it to pass!
Conc: If there is anything that you need to take away from this lesson, it is this: a close, personal relationship with God is possible for anyone who seeks it! Are you in your heart honestly as close to the Lord as you would like to be? Are you His servant, running eagerly and speedily to do His will? Are you His saint, listening intently as He reveals His will and ways to you? Are you His son, His child, interceding before the throne of the Heavenly Father on behalf of those who do not have access to Him? Do you need to work on one or more of these areas of your relationship with the Lord? If so, there is help to be found at His altar!
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING,
New International Version (NIV)
1 Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD. 2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.
3 May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
ABRAHAM: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith , 12/21/2011
THREE SIDES OF A MAN NAMED ABRAHAM, Part 18a,
Everyone today wears many different hats. For instance, I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a minister, a teacher, a friend, among many other things. This passage reveal three sides of the life of this man named Abraham. In this passage, he is visited personally by the Lord, and gives us a glimpse at three sides of this great man's life. As Abraham is revealed to us here, we see some characteristics in his life that need to be seen in every Christian’s life. For a few minutes, let’s look into this personal encounter between the Lord and Abraham, about THREE SIDES OF A MAN NAMED ABRAHAM. Let's examine our lives to determine whether or not we are made of the same stuff as this great man was.
Gen 18:1-33, THE MINISTRY OF A SERVANT
The identity of Abraham's visitors. One of these beings was the Lord Jesus Himself. The other two were angels. It seems that Abraham recognized the heavenly origin of his guests, because he sprang into action to serve them when they appeared. That reaction sets a good example for us because you never know when the Lord will show up at your place! When He does, He is looking for the same servant heart He found in Abraham. Notice three aspects of that servant's heart.
V. 1-6 The Quickness Of His Ministry - Abraham springs into action speedily trying to supply every need of his heavenly visitors. He may be 100 years old, but there is no hesitation as he flies from one task to the next, until all is completed. Here is a man who recognized his duty and set about to do it as quickly as possible! May I just remind you that the Lord deserves the best service we can give Him? When we are serving Him, regardless of how menial the task, we should do our best to recognize Who we are serving and we should seek to do the best possible job for the glory of the Lord! (Col. 3:23; Eph. 6:6-7). If it is worth doing for the Lord, it is worth doing right (2 Cor. 10:13).
V. 7-8 The Quality Of His Ministry - Not only was Abraham swift in his service to the Lord, but he was also sacrificial in his service to the Lord. He went to his flock and personally selected, killed and prepared a calf for their meal. You haven't really become a servant until your service costs you personally. Being willing to sacrifice for your master is a sign that you possess a servant's heart. Whether the service is time, tithe or talents, it is willingly rendered at the request of the Master and for His glory. The greatest sacrifice you can offer, of course, is yourself (Rom. 12:1)! That is a sacrifice that no one else can give to Him! By the way, when He has you, He has everything you have anyway!
V. 8 The Quietness Of His Ministry - While his visitors were eating their meal, Abraham stood quietly by to serve them in any way they might need. He simply stood beside them, adopting the pose of a servant, listening for the voice of his Lord! Imagine the reaction of Abraham's servants as they watched him assume the role of a servant to the Lord. What a powerful testimony it was to them! Others may be watching, so make sure your service and testimony are all they should be! Real servants of God are those individuals who make themselves ever available to the Lord and His work. They are ready and willing to serve Him on a moments notice. When there are no orders to follow, they continue to do the last thing He told them until new orders come. They are His and they have no will of their own, but they are lost in His will for their lives! That is a servant's heart!
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING,
New International Version (NIV)
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
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